Monday, May 20, 2013

The Scary Talk

This weekend I bit the bullet and had a scary conversation with my pregnant litte sister, Juice (childhood nickname), that I should have had long ago. It was so much harder than I ever anticipated. And lord, so much more crying than I thought was possible. And yet, very necessary.

Juice's pregnancy has been going swimmingly, as it should. Two weeks after the announcement, I am still bursting into tears nearly every time I talk about it. As of the end of last week, I still hadn't seen her and beyond a few random texts here and there, I hadn't had real contact with her. I figured my options were thus: A) Pretend that my sister is not pregnant and avoid all contact with my family despite the fact that they live 30 minutes away. I could then resurface either for the birth of the baby - if I'm up for it - or months/years from now when I get pregnant, adopt or am accepted into an elite convent despite my halfie Jew blood. Perfectly reasonable. OR B) Talk to my sister, let her know I'm still having a hard time, and ask her to respectfully limit the pregnancy and baby talk in my presence. I had a session with the resident therapist at my fertility clinic and she insisted that "B" was the only real option. Ugh. Fine. Logic wins again.

On Saturday after I got my hair did (at least I looked good), I went over to Juice's house. I rolled into my pre-planned, therapist-approved spiel almost immediately. The abbreviated version is as follows:
 Since going through the past year and a half of infertility and especially since my miscarriage, it has been really hard to be around pregnant women and babies because they are a reminder of what I want most, what I can't have, and of how sad I often feel. But, now it's you that is pregnant and I really truly am happy for you. I can't wait to be an aunt. I am sad that I am not able to do the things I'd like to do for you as a big sister during your first pregnancy. I wish I would have already started knitting for you and planned out your nursery. But I can't do that right now and I won't be able to for a while. I need to figure out the best way to be with you, because I love you, and support you but also protect me. I think the best way to do that is for you to be able to be happy about your pregnancy and talk about your pregnancy in front of me, but in a more limited way. What do you think?

It must be mentioned that I sobbed through that entire soliloquy.

Juice responded by crying which she NEVER EVER DOES. I am the dramatic, sensitive one in the family. She is the warrior. It was disarming to see her cry. Though it came in starts and stops, Juice let me know how she was feeling and how honestly hard this has been for her as well. She's sad for me, wants to help me however she can, but doesn't want to have to hide her pregnancy (which is not what I've asked of her but in the end might be a question of semantics). She feels that no one in the family is genuinely excited about her pregnancy. The sad thing is she's not wrong. I'm not the only one that's been bowled over by infertility struggles and loss. My parents have been going through it too. My mom told me that Juice's pregnancy feels unreal to her. I concur. We, as a family, are excited but if I can speak for my mom, dad and husband (and by blog, I can), we're also struggling with the timing of what should be purely happy news. Shitty, shitty timing for everyone. I so sincerely wish for Juice's sake that her pregnancy had occured even a month or two before or after when it did. After a lot of mutual crying, we were no closer to making things all better again but we did understand each other. My sister is one of my very best friends and any discord between us is just a dagger in the heart.

I cannot go an entire weekend with only fertility-pregnancy-related crap dropped on my lap. I need fun, unrelated things dropped on my lap, too. Though it's been bubbling up for a while, Saturday I had this grand realization that I had let a lot of what I've considered to be intrinsically "me" drop along the way. It was totally thrilling and requires more explanation. But, duty calls and I must stop blogging and work. I shall return.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Belated Mothers' Day Post

A quick post on Mama's Day. This could have been a really hard Mothers' Day. Honestly, I don't think anyone would blame me for spending it in bed. I didn't mostly because I was still in Boston and would have had to perform my elaborate and vocal mourning rituals on S's living room sofa. S & L wouldn't have minded and probably would have plied me with cocktails and bad television but S's husband might have felt uncomfortable. I called my mom to wish her a happy day and left the formalities at that.

I decided that this Mothers' Day, I was "opting out" of the conventional celebration. Opting out is my new thing for potentially difficult situations. I realize it's not necessarily the mature choice (please, I'm only thirty) but it is my current method of self preservation. My only rule is that I don't hurt others. Fair, right? After giving love to my own sweet mama, I spent the morning playing with S's unbelievably adorable daughter, Peanut*, and the afternoon scouring the weekly vintage market with S & L. In some ways, I think I did a great job of honoring Mothers' Day. No, I didn't sit on my aunt and uncle's back patio eating hockey puck burgers with the rest of the family but I did spend the day with one of my favorite mothers of all time, S. I feel very lucky to be a part of their lives and to watch Peanut grow up into this beautiful and funny little girl. S's family reminds me of why I am on this long, tough journey. It will be so worth it. What a miracle to witness your friends' mini-hybrid model blossom before your very eyes.

*A note: While S is generally a creative genius and odd in her own right, she did not name her daughter Peanut. It is simply her frequent nickname.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Love to my ladies.

It's been a week since my last post. I'm getting lazy in my old age. Life has been continuing, progressing, despite my frequent desire to drop into the fetal position and roll under the nearest piece of furniture. My lows are still frightfully low but thankfully getting farther and farther apart. Some things have been very good. This past weekend, I got to luxuriate in the company of two of my dearest friends, S and L, in Boston. I travel to Nantucket for work fairly frequently (a hearty "thank you" for crying me a river and playing tiny violins) and make it a point to schedule weekend-long layovers at S's house in Boston. Whenever possible, L drives up from New York and we make a high school reunion out of it. This weekend we laughed a lot, ate great food, and drank a little too much. It was glorious. Where last week in Wisconsin I was reminded of who I was outside the hamster-wheel of infertility; this week my oldest and truest friends reminded me that we have all stuck together through very hard times before. In this pack of 6 girls - some of us who have been friends since grade school - we have seen each other through a sibling's fight (and win) against cancer, a bunch of shitty breakups, bouts of depressions, big and small family issues and a thousand difficult episodes in between that have faded into the past. I am so grateful to have their support now as always. I only wish I got to see them more often. I'm holding out for advances in the time-space continuum and Harry Potter chimney travel to increase the frequency of our visits.

This week also brought relatively good news on the miscarriage front. I have a hard time mentally framing any news about my miscarriage as positive, particularly in the face of my family's recent pregnancy pact a la Gloucester High, but anything that suggests that this could be over sometime in the next fiscal quarter can't be all bad. On Monday, 4 days after my methotrexate shot, my HCG levels dropped from 300-something to 93. On Friday, the date of my 7-day full blood panel, I learned my liver had gotten through the methotrexate with flying colors (hence the weekend cocktails) and my HCG went down to 57. That is barely pregnant. Just a little bit pregnant with nothing. Were I not consistently lightly spotting and still nodding off at work at 4 pm, I wouldn't know anything was amiss. My next beta is scheduled for this Friday. Come on single digits!

It has been a great relief to know that this miscarriage is finally on its way out the door. It will be an even greater relief when I stop spotting, perhaps ovulate on my very own (look ma, no trigger shot!), and get my period. Then we can get this show on the road and I can finally step out of limbo. When that time comes, I'll have to decide whether I want to start another round of IVF or hold off for one more cycle. Let me get this straight. I absolutely 100% want to do another round of IVF immediately. Preferably 5 minutes ago, however, I have to flush this foul methotrexate out of my system and wait for my period which in the past has never come when I called. For my first round, I was so careful. I cut dairy, gluten and alcohol out of my diet. I rested whenever I felt tired. I treated myself really, really well and I believe that it helped result in a pregnancy. My period and next shot at IVF will most likely come in early summer. Between work, personal obligations and lots of travel, June and July are going to be slammed for me. Should I be patient and wait for the perfect window (um, never?) or push forward with this next cycle? Ugh. I hate being a grown up. Why couldn't I get knocked up at some inopportune time like the other kids? 

Wait, who's going to remind me to stop planning for things (uterus, I'm looking at you) I have absolutely no control over? Anybody?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Emerging from the Depths

It has been exactly one week since my sister announced her pregnancy and I officially dove off the deep end. Diving is perhaps not the verb to use. Really, it was more like a belly flop. Designed for maximum impact, searing pain, and the general discomfort for those around me. I can see the anxious looks on everyone’s faces as I emerge from the water.  Awkward. Well, I’m alive. Still here, still kicking.

I attribute three things to my quickly surfacing from what was certainly one of the darkest, deepest mind fucks of my life:

1)      J, who went miraculously from being baffled/annoyed by my grief to the most amazing, supportive, understanding husband ever. I don’t know what happened. I’m not sure I care. I’m just incredibly grateful and more in love than ever.  I have loved J deeply for the past 10+ years and he has been there for me through this whole fertility business. But this never-ending miscarriage plus familial pregnancy boom combo has been the moment where he’s proven himself as my partner and constant champion. I never needed him to “prove himself,” but my God has he done it.

2)      My girlfriends, who reached out, listened and affirmed that I had been dealt a shitty deck and that a mental breakdown was entirely warranted. Hearing that things are as just bad as you think they are and that your behavior is permissible is somehow very comforting. Despite the fact that they’re sprinkled across the country, I feel like they’ve been emotionally spooning me this whole time.

3)      The state of Wisconsin. Well, not the whole state. Just the southwest corner. This past weekend, I dragged my very sad and angry ass up to my parents’ cabin to half-heartedly celebrate my friend Vlad’s 32nd birthday. Maggie and Vlad are our very best “couple friends.” They share our love of escaping the city for the wild farmlands of Wisconsin and do so with us as often as possible. While I initially decided to go through with the weekend for the sole purpose of avoiding lying on the couch and crying for two days, a strange thing happened. I actually enjoyed myself. What’s more, I felt like myself. I remembered that my life was made up of more than a series of tragic ultrasounds and the relentless, tiring pursuit of pregnancy. It was a tremendous relief to simply relax and laugh for two days. I got a brief reprieve from reporting my condition to my mom on an all too frequent basis. I refreshed.

On the way home from the cabin I called my mom. She has been endlessly supportive throughout this rollercoaster. She sprang into action when I fell apart at the seams last week. And then she said one thing, one simple thing last Wednesday that made me furious at her. It doesn’t even matter what it was. In grief-addled mind, I think I felt she had it coming. Who did she think she was, this formerly Fertile Myrtle creating one equally fertile kid and one reproductively-challenged misfit?!? I didn’t express my anger that way nor did I conceive of it as being  that ridiculous. It felt very real and well-reasoned at the time. I thought she was choosing my sister’s elation over my pain. She wasn’t. She was being a mom. She was trying to take care of us both. Having two kids can at times mean having your heart ripped in two different directions. This is one of those times.

So at any rate, the call. The sweet Wisconsin dairy air cooled down my blinding anger and lifted just enough of my sadness that I was able to call and apologize. We both cried all over again. Once again and as always, my mom was wonderful. She let me explain what I could and said she understood. Last week I could not grasp how someone so sad could participate in a family that was bursting with so much new pride and happiness. I’m still not entirely sure how though it appears that my family is willing to figure it out with me.  It feels sad to write that. Never in my 30 years have I felt such a disconnect from my loving and sweetly co-dependent family. Regardless, the gulf is lessening. I'm feeling more and more human and therefore inherently hopeful.

I write to you on a second tear-free day.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Special Update from a Special Girl

A quick update post.

First, this little blog has over 1,000 views as of today! I know a chunk of that is from spam sites but I feel confident that there are infertile spammers that have benefitted from my wit and wisdom.
Second, I had my follow up blood work after my cancelled D&C. On Monday, my HCG was 323. Today, Thursday, it was 334. What? I don't get it. I'm increasingly pregnant with nothing. Tomorrow morning I will be given a Methotrexate injection to put an end to all this. With my luck I'll still need further intervention. (A tip: don't google 'methotrexate' because it will scare the poop out of you.)

Third, for those of you who have found me via the blogosphere and are embarking on your IVF journey please know that this is not normal. There's very little chance that any of this will happen to you. Sadly, you may get pregnant and miscarry just as normal fertile ladies do, however there is virtually no chance that you will 1) fail to miscarry naturally, 2) schedule and cancel a D&C, and 3)have to medically induce a miscarriage. For a typical first trimester miscarriage, it's just one of the three: natural, D&C, or medical. I'm just very special and have gotten a taste of all the flavors. Don't steal my thunder.

Finally, in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (which admittedly was last week), I recommend you pass out condoms and birth control laced sweets to your overly fecund loved ones.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Biblical, Country Song Post

In the past 24 hours, I feel like my life has made a turn towards maudlin country lyrics. The current plot trajectory is such that, were I to read it in a novel, I would roll my eyes and criticize the author's obvious choices and overly dramatic, hit-you-over-the-head-with-an-attempt-at-irony plot twists on This is some bad, grocery store checkout aisle non-fiction.

Here's the good news: my D&C was cancelled. It was cancelled as I lay pants-free in the stirrups. During a pre-procedure ultrasound I requested, my doctor found that my uterus looked the way that he'd want it to after a D&C. My uterine lining was a svelte 6mm with no gestational sac or obvious pregnancy tissue. Apparently I've passed it. Some tissue is hanging around giving me elevated HCG levels but they expect that to pass on its own. I left that appointment feeling pretty good. My body handled this miscarriage all by itself. I didn't need intervention. Maybe this was just a completely normal, random miscarriage like anyone else's as opposed to another locust in a forthcoming plague.

Nope, totally a locust. As I'd taken the day off work and it was 80 and sunny in Chicago, I decided to continue playing hooky and had brunch with my mom. She had been scheduled as my anesthesia chaperon. We then went back to her place and hung out with my sister who had a half day of work. We sipped limeade, my family's summer beverage of choice, watched the dogs play and enjoyed ourselves. And then my sister spoke up.

"Is it okay if I ruin your day?"
"Yeah, sure." (Thinking the only thing that could possibly ruin my day was to find out that my little sister was pregnant.)
"I'm pregnant."

And then basically the world stopped. It was one of those times where all ambient noise ceases and all you can hear is your heart beating. I then started breathing again and recovered. I think it took all of 3 seconds. I told her I was happy for her. I actually really am. I want my sister to have kids. I want us to have kids around the same age. That could happen. My mom, sister and I then spent the next few hours talking about names, nursery themes, her HCG levels and her litany of pregnancy symptoms. They are many. I reminded myself to continue breathing and did so successfully.

J came over after work. After perhaps the longest afternoon and evening known to mankind spent smiling with my family, we got to go home. I cried the whole way back. Went to bed. Woke up crying. Got myself together, put on a cute dress and new sandals, and then cried on a public city bus. Cried on the walk from the bus to the office. I called my mom and made her cry. Made one of my best friends cry last night. J alternately looks at me with helplessness and then holds me. At one point last night he told me to stop being negative and I ate him alive. Now he just holds me.

I'm not sure what else can happen but I'm pretty sure something will. Two of the three women of child-bearing age in my family announced their pregnancies in the last 48 hours. I expect my mom to announce that a miracle has occurred and that she, at age 65, is pregnant. My dogs might get hit by cars. I might get mugged. At the very least my car might breakdown. I'm not sure what else can happen. I know that it all sounds very dramatic but this feels so dramatic. Miscarriages happen to so many women all the time. That I can accept and deal with. I felt like I was really dealing with my sadness over that and was ready to look towards the future. And then my cousin. And then my sister, the hardest, most confusing blow of all. There is something innate that forces you to feel happiness towards a sibling's pregnancy.  I have no idea how to store that alongside my grief and anger. It's simply too much.