Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Off My Game

Let me preface this post by saying that every time I think about writing, I get a little spurt of anxiety – whether it’s performance anxiety or whether it has to do with the subject matter, I’m not sure. At any rate, I get a nice shot of adrenaline that lands square in my very upset stomach, precipitating a surge of nausea that makes blogging completely out of the question. I can’t even read your blogs. I get through work, drive home, and collapse on the couch in a teary ball because I’m so tired and my back hurts and and I’m hungry and turned off by food at the same time.

I am sooo off my game.

It was a week yesterday since my 6 week ultrasound. A horrible horrible surreal experience. I don’t think I have ever felt so keenly how my life can turn on a dime. It wasn’t a “what if” moment. This was an honest-to-god fork in the road and there I was laying helplessly on a table, legs spread, U/S wand invading my space – you know the drill. It really felt like a life-or-death game of Russian Roulette. Bullet or no bullet.

As you all know, this was the moment in which I found out if my husband and I were going to give up the dream of parenthood or whether we got to play more of the “waiting game.” I was at the mercy of the ultrasound tech who – irritatingly - didn’t seem to realize her pivotal role as the messenger of the Rest of My Life. Those ultrasound techs have no idea what an enormous impact they have on our experience and memory of these emotionally-laden moments. Little do they know they become very strong characters in the narratives of our fertility journey. I remember every one of my techs. Every one. Not what they look like, but how they delivered the news. How they reacted to my grief or my joy. I was pretty underwhelmed by the gal that told me she saw a heartbeat.

I couldn’t look at the monitor. I looked at my husband and made him look at me and just tell me over and over that we were going to be all right. No matter what. The ultrasound tech took too long for my comfort to tell me that there was a heartbeat. I’m sure it was a matter of, like, 15 seconds. But when she didn’t say something right away, I was halfway to me and Jason in a beach house we could now afford as a 2 person family.

So obviously, very good news. Heartbeat was 136 or 139 b/m and the fetus measured at 7 weeks. Bonus week! That is one less week of worrying. Turns out I ovulated really really really early. Like 3-5 days after the last day of my period. Guess my body wanted to get this whole mess over with as expediently as I did.

I am now at 8 weeks and our next hurdle is on Nov. 15th when we have the CVS procedure. In the meantime, I am treading water and I will try to be a better support to you all.

Friday, October 8, 2010

One of the Boys

Jason just left for a fishing trip; his buddies picked him up and they are on their way to the Gulf to tuna fish.

Jason was telling me yesterday that both fishing buddies weren't even married last time they fished together and they are now both married and pregnant ... well, their wives are. I asked him how it made him feel and he said he was happy for them and wished them well.  Typical Jason. We didn't talk any more about it.

Well just now, when they picked him up, I congratulated them on the good news and there were thanks all around. Then his friend said, "And congratulations to you!" I hardly knew what he meant and it dawned on me (too slowly for my comfort) that Jason had told them! Which was fine with me, I've decided to be open about this pregnancy. Not that I took out an ad or anything, but I'm not in my dome of secrecy anymore. Being that Jason doesn't share much, I assumed he hadn't told these friends; and it took me way off guard because he's not particularly close to these guys. But who am I to know what constitutes "close" in manland.

But this is what killed me. After his friend congratulated us, Jason excitedly said, "Yeah. It's weird. last time we went fishing, only one of us was married and no one was pregnant, now we're all married and all pregnant! How far along are we now, babe?"

"4.5 weeks," I said.  "Very very very early."

Oh my god. My heart sank because he is excited, he's hoping, and he wants so badly to be a part of the tribe of fathers. He wanted to be able to chime in proudly with how far along we are. I want him to get it; I want to be able to give it to him. I need my body to perform.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thank you

Thanks everyone. I guess I actually DO feel better after receiving y'alls thoughtful responses and encouragement. I feel complete after having shared the story, and now I will try not to dwell on my ill will. I will admit that every time one of you indicated your disgust for her behavior, I felt a warm fuzzy glow inside. She's not such hot shit after all.

Sharing the story clearly doesn't change how I feel about her and the pain is still there. But I do feel like I have taken a little of my power back by standing up for my hurt and indignation. Perhaps she didn't intend to hurt me, but goddammit she did! And I have to stand up for my belief that she - unlike other friends who might not be able to parse the finer points of IF etiquette because they have no previous context for it - has almost no excuse.

One thing in her defense - I really really nailed the "I'm so happy for you" act. It was an act, and I was fully aware of it at the time. But there was no way to express the complexity of my feelings after having been ambushed like that. So I stuck a smile on my face and was peeerfectly charming. For that reason, I suppose that I bear some responsibility for being included on her U/S email list. But I made a firm decision that I was not going to playact any longer at my expense. So I did not email her back any response. And I think that sent a pretty clear (and yes, passive-aggressive) message that that was not gonna fly. I know she knows the sex by now, and I don't - so mission accomplished.

In sum, there seems to be no better place, except perhaps for a therapists office, to unload your demons than an anonymous blog. And I guess that's what we are all here to do.

Roscoe and Duke

My dogs. They are a handful. Before I came along and whipped them and my future husband into shape, they had a very bad reputation around our rural neighborhood. 

The escaped multiple times, once killing a rabbit (some poor child's 4-H project) and they were accused of killing some sheep. Jason even got a visit from the Sheriff and the owner of the sheep. It was all hearsay mind you, no one witnessed the marauding. But our dogs were accused and probably rightly so.

I repeat - this was before I came along. I will be generous to Jason and just conclude that he was going through a learning curve with the dogs - learning that they like to escape ... and disappear for days at a time   ... and kill things while they are out roaming.  It's not the dogs' fault for being dogs; it was Jason's for being a negligent owner, which he readily admits. He's lucky they are still alive since according to the "law of rural America" they could have rightly been shot several times over.

Anyway, did I mention this was all BEFORE me? When I knew I was in the picture to stay and was going to have to worry about those dogs, all that (most of that) escaping stopped and there have been no more 4-H tragedies.

We now try to spend their endless energy at the dog park ... in the city. It is a ludicrous situation to have to drive your dogs to the city from the country so that they can run free. But there it is. The picture is them at the dog park.

They are wonderful, sweet creatures - Roscoe and Duke (son and father). But they are ALL black lab - full of energy and instinct.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


WARNING: very long post; time required: 15 minutes

I have been thinking a lot about jealousy lately and wanted to see what sort of input you all had. The following post may seem very judgmental, and I really don’t mean it to be so. I am having some personal struggles and know that you smart ladies will have some perspective on this topic and I need to voice my doubts to see if I can make sense of my discomfort and guilt regarding jealousy.


In general, of course, we are taught that jealousy is bad. We are taught not to give-in to jealousy and envy nor to express it. It’s a hallmark of weak character and misplaced values, breeding dissatisfaction and resentment when one should more appropriately express gratitude for what she does have. Hence, all of the hair pulling we do in these IF blogs about feeling like horrible monsters for the intense animosity we feel towards pregnant women.

Despite the guilt – or maybe because of it - we all seem to dive headlong into the cathartic release of our pent-up resentments. We seem to revel in it, in fact; not just engage in it. It’s an orgy of frustration, characterized by its intensity as we all FINALLY feel safe to express taboo thoughts and feelings. It’s a wonderful supportive safe place that allows us to express with very little reservation emotions that may otherwise eat us up from the inside out.

But here’s what I am wondering …. while I desperately want to continue engaging in self-righteous and indignant rants against the injustice of IF in general and I’d love to tell you all about the affront of my inconsiderate pregnant friend in particular, I feel unsettled about it. It’s not that I’m afraid that anyone is judging me, because I know you all feel the same way I do and none of my IRL friends know about my blog. So there is no fear of being caught or being judged. But I still don’t feel right about it.


Why do I feel uncomfortable with it? In the first place, it makes me feel bad about myself. I will admt to you that I am an unbelievably jealous person, I’m not just jealous about fertility. I constantly compare myself and my life those of others I admire, though it usually isn’t expressed through anger so much as self-flagelation. "She has such a beautiful house and beautiful kids and smart husband. She’s so accomplished and popular. What happened that I’m not more like her?" I’m jealous of what "she" has, and I blame myself for not having it. So that’s the first thing, being resentful of someone else’s talents or good fortune ends up actually damaging me because I feel that I am either incompetent (I control my destiny) or unworthy (the Universe/God controls my destiny). Either way, I am “less than.”

Secondly, as I gorge myself on indignation and self-righteousness and am supported in these feelings in the blogospere , I feel distance growing between me and people I used to feel more connected to. I also judge them very harshly for … whatever. I am very easily offended by lack of attention or “incorrect” attention. The “us and them” divide is growing and I find myself becoming one of those tiresome people who is always expecting others (in my head at least) to be totally PC about infertility and not offend me in any way shape or form.

And then I wanted to ask – does jealousy have a positive function at all? Anger definitely does; even though anger is arguably something that must be carefully managed, we still recognize it has a valid place within the constellation of expressable emotions. But jelousy is usually completely off the table. There is just no context in which it is OK to express it? Why?

Just so that you know I am not “above” basking in indignation, I will unload what I've been holding in until now about my horrible awful friend.

My Horrible Awful No-Account Friend

So this friend of mine (I’ll call her Belle) - she was the source of intense jealousy before she ever got pregnant. In the first place she is gorgeous. The effect she has on men AND women when she walks into a room is remarkable; I have honestly never seen anything like it. People offer their seats, buy her bottles of wine, remark on her beauty – they are enchanted by her. Even me. I can hardly look at her without constantly thinking how goddamn beautiful she is every single second. Really, to look at her is just distracting because all you can think about is her beauty.

But she’s not just beauty – she’s brains too. Big, double-wide brains, she’s eloquent and analytical and is on the cusp of earning her PhD in psychology.

She is also extremely personable and popular and friendly and she is one of those people who strangely doesn’t gossip about others. She talks about people, sure, but there is never that edge of maliciousness that I know sneaks into my tone of voice when I talk about some people. Her approach is if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

And she is going to make an extremely comfortable living once she gets out of school. She is a very, very hard worker and has worked hard for everything she has, but I can’t help including in my list of complaints that she will soon make at least 4 times what I make.

There are aspects of Belle’s life and her personality that I find distasteful. For instance, she is inordinately focused on her looks in a way that reveals that much of her self-worth is wrapped up in it. She presents the conundrum of being very comfortable walking around with unwashed hair and jogging pants, but still self-conscious enough that she got liposuction in her fucking twenties (she’s not skinny, but she is certainly not overweight and didn’t need liposuction at all). For someone who could literally step out of bed and in front of a camera, her obsession with her looks is confounding. It’s also irritating because she knows she is beautiful and will use it to manipulate people.

And she talks a lot. She talks too much and it’s irritatingly self-promotional about 90% of the time. For someone who is going to get paid to listen to other people’s problems all day, she is awfully bad at it. She constantly monopolizes a conversation and interrupts you with ways in which she has experienced what you are talking about or things that she has done or accomplished that trump yours.

Plus, she places a lot of value on money and appearance and all of those surface things. I, while not beyond wishing I had more money or was more beautiful, obviously don’t care enough to seek a higher-paying job or put on makeup. So with respect to how we live our lives, we are very different and now live in 2 different cities and had generally begun to drift apart anyway. But she continued to be one of the few women in whom I confided because I could trust her, and she can be a very caring person with a great deal of compassion when you need her to be.

Cut to late May when I told Belle over the phone that I had just had a miscarriage and that it was my third one. She knew about the first one, but not the second. I generally glossed over the second one with everyone so it wasn’t weird that I hadn’t told her about it. We talked a little on the phone and I wasn’t very emotional about it at all. I was matter-of-fact and full of information, but didn’t really express my sadness. I’m not sure why, but that’s how it was. She told me that she and her husband were still trying (which I knew) and we talked a little more about being older and trying to get pregnant (she is 38 or 39) and that was that.

Then a month later, she wanted to arrange a dinner date with me and some of our mutual acquaintances (who have no idea about my RPL). This is something we do periodically and it wasn’t at all out of the ordinary, so you can imagine that I was not at all prepared when our mutual acquaintance showed up to dinner 20 weeks pregnant with her second child (she’s also 39) and then Belle promptly announced that she was 12 weeks pregnant.

I was reeling. Just spinning. I couldn’t believe that she had done that to me. I just couldn’t imagine how she could be so out of touch with the fact that that might be incredibly painful for me. She explained in the bathroom that she was afraid to tell me over the phone and wanted to do it in person. Really? In person? At a table with 2 other people, one of whom you knew was going to make a simultaneous announcement that she is 20 weeks pregnant? REALLY? You don’t think it would have more appropriately been a private conversation!!!???? I know she’s not stupid, so that leaves self-involved or so scared of my reaction that she PLANNED it that way - in public with 2 other people who had no idea about my RPL so that there was no way I could express my true feelings without revealing my losses to 2 people I had no desire of informing.

And then, of course, the ENTIRE dinner conversation revolved around pregnancy; and this was about a month and a half after I lost my third pregnancy in a row. If this is a reflection of how able she is to muster empathy for people, then she will SUCK as a psychologist. Clearly she is way more self-involved than I originally suspected.

Here’s something even more incredible. Her older sister went through YEARS of IF and Belle knew as much as anyone can know without actually having gone through it themselves the brand of pain that IF brings. Her sister and her husband tried for years to get pregnant via IVF – I don’t know how many failed attempts there were, but it was more than 2. They finally did get pregnant and lost the baby late in the pregnancy because the umbilical chord had wrapped around the baby’s neck and asphyxiated her. Following that loss, they decided to adopt and chose a mother who backed out at the last minute, AFTER they had paid for lots of medical bills. They did finally manage to adopt a beautiful little girl, but what went before was heart-wrenching. So to think that Belle was so selfish and clueless, having walked that road with her sister, just really confused me.

But there’s more. I apparently did such a good acting job at dinner (thanks to popping a Clo.nopin as soon as I could) that I convinced her I was emotionally resilient enough for her to email me GODDAMED ULTRASOUND PICS, gushing about how miraculous it was to see the baby moving etc etc. This was a 13 week ultrasound. The same week I miscarried. I did not respond to that email (which was addressed to several people) and have not talked or heard from her since.

God. After writing all of this, I really don’t know why I would ever consider continuing a friendship with her.

I feel complete after having told this story and slightly avenged; but I do not feel better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And another

IVF in the News

FYI everyone. 2 article on IVF.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Interviewing my Husband

It’s been a grumpy day because I didn’t feel pregnant.

Also, blogging is TIRING – lovely and enriching and satisfying - but tiring nonetheless. So I am grumpy that I can’t just blog and read blogs all day instead of having to do it at night when the last thing I want is to sit in front of a computer after a full 8 hours of doing so. But I HAVE to do it because it is such a life-saver for me right now.

I’m sure I’ve made the process much more cumbersome than it needs to be. I am an extremely organized person and operate much better when things are in their place – then I know where to find them when I need them and life proceeds efficiently. So my approach to blogging has been predictably systematized. I should have been a robot.

Point in fact, as I get deeper into the blogosphere, I realize that consistent interaction (both posting and commenting) is necessary in order to reap the benefits of blogging. So I am trying very hard to leave thoughtful comments and remember at which point each of you is in your journey (even those who don’t even know I’m reading yet). But I have started getting confused with the CD’s and MTHFR’s and IUI’s etc. etc. on top of the piecemeal way I have to sneak in a read here and there at work, maniacally minimizing and maximizing my internet browser all day. So no wonder I can’t keep straight which one of you works for a Jewish school, which one IS Jewish, and which one is exploring Judaism. This can only end badly. I just know one day I will post a great chicken and sausage recipe on a vegetarian’s comment area and feel like a total ass.

To avoid feeling like an ass, I have, in my overboard (aka thorough) way, started to keep notes on each of you so that I can scan them during those times I get lost or have to remind myself of some detail of your situation. It’s kind of ridiculous and insanely time-consuming, but kind of cool. Maybe I’ll share my synopses one day. It’ll be like playing your blogs in fast forward.
In other news:

I got the digital voice recorder from UPS (they sent it from Los Angeles to Louisiana via ….. you will never guess …. Ottawa. WTF. Needless to say, it did not arrive while my mother-in-law was still here). It is the cooooooolest and I feel like Ira Glass who I have a total crush on - although I think he may be a tad arrogant which would be a turn-off. I love love love radio programming and listen to it religiously. If I had a religion, it would be National Public Radio.

I decided to interview my husband, and since it was just 2 days after we had gotten the BFP, I thought it would be good to document our thoughts and feelings. The interview went well, aside from the interference that my cellphone created because it was lying next to the microphone. You’d think I’d have learned basic lessons about double checking recording equipment in the 6 years I studied cultural anthro. Total newbie mistake, man.

Because we have been talking the fertility issue to death, there were no new revelations on that front. Same old same old, you know, talking big talk about not letting ourselves hope too much while knowing full well we are hoping our hearts out. But Jason did reveal something that I have been thinking about a lot since the interview.

You see, on the exterior Jason looks like a bouncer. He’s tall and thick with a shaved head (sometimes he sports a Mohawk which I think is ridiculous because he hardly has any hair and it’s all thin on top and thicker in the back and he just ends up looking like he’s growing a stripe of hair down the back of his head. Plus it makes him look so mean and he’s so not. But whatever, he thinks it looks awesome). He also doesn’t say much most of the time; strong, silent – you know the type. But he is the deepest pool of love and loyalty I have ever known. He loves his family and friends fiercely. It is easy to forget that his emotions, because they are not evident, are very strongly felt. Part of our breakdown over the summer had to do with me underestimating the toll that the miscarriages have taken on him.

He shoulders everything so silently and pushes it to a place I can’t see – and he apparently does it to protect me. In fact, he spends a lot of time worrying about me and protecting me emotionally and his distress over my unhappiness is sometimes so intense that I used to think he was transferring of all of his own grief into worry about me so that he wouldn’t have to deal with his feelings. For someone with a less attentive husband, this may sound heavenly, but it was very often irritating because I didn’t feel like I had permission to express my very appropriate grief after each miscarriage. He didn’t want me to be sad, he was desperately worried about my sadness; and I just wanted him to let me be sad and by the way, Jason, you could be a little sadder yourself since it was your baby too, thank you very much.

But that wasn’t the revelation. The revelation was that the reason he gets so twisted up when I start to spiral downward is because when I was admitted to the psychiatric unit after my first miscarriage, it scared him like he has never been scared before. Given his exceptional loyalty and love, I realize now that he was prepared to stick by me till my dying day and was scared to death that I might mentally disintegrate to the point of psychosis or something. Not to mention it’s just fucking scary to see someone you love in so much pain that they have to be admitted to a hospital.

I can’t believe that before he pointed it out in this interview, I never ever realized how very much that episode in our lives scarred him. It’s like he has PTSD and every time I start to show signs of the person that he knew before I went into the hospital (depressed, raging anger, hopelessness and epic anxiety) he is revisited with fear that I may end up in that place again. Obviously, post-miscarriage me is very very hard on him and probably has a lot to do with why he really needs this attempt to be our last.

As we grow together, I think he might become more comfortable with the rhythm of my depression and realize that as long as I am appropriately medicated, the depression is totally manageable. I have never felt like I was on the edge of my sanity –desperate, sad, hopeless and angry, trapped by a brain that can only provide painful thoughts and feelings over which I have almost no control, yes - but I have never felt in danger of losing screws. My time in the hospital was very perfunctory (3 days) – we just needed to get me stabilized on medication again – and the healing was slow but steady.

I never considered, however, that he wasn’t in my head and so couldn’t know that the danger of me crossing the line of sanity was slim, nor did I consider that he had no historical context for my breakdown like my parents had (this wasn’t their first rodeo though it might have been the worst). Those were extreme circumstances and as long as I have access to SSRI’s , it never has to be repeated. But he didn’t know any of that.

You can imagine, then, after putting myself in his shoes, how amazed I am that he is still here. And I definitely have more empathy for the amount of time he spends worrying about me and my moods.

Friday, October 1, 2010


My abdomen feels heavy and achy and I love the discomfort because I am reassured that something is going on in there. I imagine for women who have had an easy time with pregnancy, the discomfort is an irritation. But I am so thankful for it.

I'm not loving, however, the "outbreak" I am having due to a compromised immune system; but it's more proof so I won't complain about it one single solitary second more.


I have decided to take some Fridays off to give myself a few long weekends and short work weeks to bide the time till the ultrasound. Tick tock tick tock tick tock.