Friday, April 30, 2010

The Okavango

If you've spent any time at all watching nature shows, chances are you've heard of Botswana's Okavango Delta. This part of the earth is subject to a seasonal flood. Much of the year it's dry as a desert, but for a few months, it becomes a lush swamp. Large numbers of animals (elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions...basically the whole roster of African wildlife) come here to drink. It's like Africa's luxury spa. The mud baths are the best!

Now...and be sure to read this section in the voice of David it goes with my vagina. Since begining Lupron, it's been hella arid up in there. Nary a drop of fluid to be found on my panties for weeks on end. long last, the floods have come! And even though it will be six weeks (SIX WEEKS!) before any...uh...hippos...will in, it's still great to see some signs of life returning. I like to imagine my husband as a dust covered elephant (you know, might as well be kind to his ego...) slowly treking his way towards my region. Let's hope he doesn't die of thirst before he arrives.

I also wanted to say a few words about why fibroids are not necessarily a problem for the baby makin' machine. Like some of you, it's hard for me to look at those suckers in their bucket and not think I'll be cured. But there's a ton of research suggesting that the situation is more complicated. There are a couple of ways fibroids can interfere with conception. Fibroids in the uterine cavity prevent implantation, and it's well established that those are stone cold baby killers. Fibroids outside the cavity, like mine, can still be problematic if they prevent egg pickup, or if they reduce blood flow to the uterus, or fuck with its shape or contractility. It's clear one of mine was fucking with egg pickup on the left, but it's not clear that the situation will be improved. And it's not clear whether blood flow, shape, or contractility were impacted by the others. Seriously, there are women with fibroids the size of FOOTBALLS (vomits a little) that conceive perfectly well and carry to term. I guess I'm saying this in case there are any readers with fibroids who are thinking AAAAHHHH! And contemplating getting them out. Mine were removed because of the egg pickup biznazz, and because they were unusually large for such a wee tiny girl, and because my RE was not about to let them fuck up his IVF success rate.

Anyways, like I said before, I am hopeful. Just super cautious.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wanna see my GUTS?

Seriously, at the end of this post are photos of my insides, so if you're squeamish, CLICK AWAY! Though they're not really that gross--I think they're endlessly fascinating, but that's 'cause I'm a real navel gazer. HA! Good one, Bunny!

So here's a little interlude where we speak of other things in order to make sure there's some space before the GUTS. Let's see. Yesterday I got an e-mail from my husband the totality of which was OMG DUCKS, followed by this link: If you check out the link I believe you'll see what he meant... Sometimes I love humanity!

Recovery update for Gurlee, who will be having this surgery soon. Though performed by ROBOTS! Because we live in the FUTURE! Things are still going way better than I imagined. No pain to speak of, though there is a low-level perpetual discomfort. A sort of tightness. And my abdomen is numb, which will apparently last for months! I've been waking up at 5 am and taking pain meds, but only so I don't wake up in actual pain. The oxy makes me short tempered and incapable of really doing anything that requires multitasking, so do budget some time for watching movies and snapping at your husband. The incision has started to bruise, so I'm all yellow and black and blue bellied...

Okay! GUTS! Figure one is the fibroid I like to call Big Mama. My RE said he'd use it as a "handle" to "yank" (his fellow corrected him to "gently lift") my uterus out of the incision. That pink blob is my uterus! Why is my uterus made of Bubblicious? And can it really be the case that there might someday be a baby in there? Clearly NOT. I included Figure 2 for the purposes of orientation, since you can see my belly button under that mysterious blue tube. And Figure 3 is the "after" shot. How cool is that! I imagine they are kinda charred from having blood vessels cauterized, but, um, to me they look a bit like...CHICKEN! NOM! Let's get the grill fired up! ....Why are you vomiting? Anyways, to think that Big Mama was twice that size...amazing. My RE worked on developing this Lupron protocol for fibroids early in his career, and I must say, I'm awfully grateful.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good news, everyone!

(Said in the voice of Professor Farnsworth, of course.) My infertility is totally SOLVED. Turns out I didn't need surgery or IUI or anything more than.......this VIKING RUNE CANDLE.

This delightful object was presented to me by the woman I mentioned a while back who I thought maybe could be my real life IF friend. It reads, The rune of success puts something you have been striving for within your grasp. I had two opposing reactions to this gift. On the one hand, I was genuinely touched. A gift from a woman who's been through hell, that acknowledges the yearning of my heart...really sweet. For someone like her to say I hope you get what you made me tear up for sure. And it's not like I'm above believing in charms or signs. I think even the most rational of us can't help but look for messages that things will go our way. On the other hand, there are a couple of features of the VIKING RUNE CANDLE that I am not so excited about. First, the self confidence message. Little did I know that conception was just a question of confidence. If only I'd belieeeeeeeved in myself all those months ago! And then there's the fact that it's a VIKING RUNE CANDLE, for fuck's sake.

In an oddly symmetrical turn of events, I learned today that the dear friend from grad school who miscarried in January is pregnant again. She's only a few weeks in, so of course I'm terrified for her. But also...god, I'm total scum for having this thought, let alone voicing it...I wish she could have waited for me. We'll be at this conference in Germany together and I was looking forward to commiserating a bit. I'd allowed myself to visualize drinking some beers and talking about the heartbreak of the empty womb. I know this moment of left-behindness will pass quickly, and I hope you guys will forgive me, a lucky, lucky girl who has honest-to-goodness reasons for optimism (not to mention a VIKING RUNE CANDLE), for even having it at all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I find myself in an odd state of mind. I've got a week ahead of me (I was told to take two weeks off work, but I suspect I'll be able to head back on Monday) and don't know what to do with it. There are certain constraints on my activities. For example, I'm not allowed to drive, so I can't go anywhere not within walking distance, and I'm not really strong enough to walk very far. It's too cold for me to want to sit outside and there's nothing I can do yet in the garden. Nothing that wouldn't require more exertion than I'm allowed... I've got a huge stack of books to read, and plenty of bad downloaded TV. I have a couple of sewing projects I could work on... But my mind recoils from all these perfectly nice options as though they were smeared in shit. I feel...antsy. I think the reality is that I want something to happen on the reproductive front IMMEDIATELY. I mean, I did my bit by enduring a surgery, so I get to be pregnant now, right? RIGHT?

My post-surgery paperwork notes that I might experience "emotional thoughts". Maybe this is what they meant... In any event, I had better find a way to chill the fuck out or the next three months are going to be ugly.

Some assorted flotsam:

I looked back over my last post and saw that it contained a SHOCKING number of typos. I wonder if those fibroids were the locus of my ability to spell...

Last night I had numerous elaborate and vivid dreams. In one I was floating through the air, higher and higher. I floated down a street near my house where the branches of huge old oak trees arch over the road. As I floated beneath them, I saw squirrels sitting on the branches, eating peaches.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The short and the long of it

Thank you all so much for your messages of support! Below you will find a quick recap, and then an absurdly detailed account for the none of you who might be interested.

The short. As I said somewhat LOUDLY on Friday, the surgery went very well. Thanks to my buddy Lupron, my RE was able to remove all three fibroids without danger to fallopian tubes or uterine arteries. And because he didn't have to leave any tumor behind, the risk of recurrence will be a bit lower. My left tube is still intact, though eggs may never be able to find their way in. And I'm at a slightly increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy because of that stretched out tube. I asked him a few more times whether he thinks these fibroids are the cause of my infertility, and again he was non-committal. As all my reading suggested, the location of my fibroids is not well-linked to IF. But he does hold out some hope that egg pickup was prevented not just on the left side (which may not be improved now) but also on the right. (There was a fibroid on the top of the uterus that might have caused trouble when the right tube drops down before releasing an egg.) Which makes sense to me--I figure if implantation were the issue, I'd have had more chemical pregnancies. So I may or may not be "fixed". My situation is ambiguous, and only time will tell. I am charmed that some of you are already waving goodbye to me, but really and truly, I'm not just being an Eyore when I say that I may well be here long after the rest of you have moved on. On the other hand, I am overjoyed to have this surgery behind me, and cautiously optimistic that I will make progress before the fibroids return. I was in the hospital for two nights, and the whole time felt pretty good. Almost no pain or nausea! Not that scary at all!

The long. On Friday, my husband and I left for the hospital at 7:15. Interestingly, as I was waiting for my husband to finish getting ready (men take foreeeeeeeever, don't they?) I found a mouse in the living room. It just sat there when I came in. Probably it was about to keel over from some disease, but I chose to interpret it as a good omen. I love mice. Not so much in my house, but still. We checked in at the hospital and made our way to the women's surgery waiting room. The location was the same as when I had my lap, and having it all be familiar was soooo comforting. I put on my gown and got into my wheely bed. Mr. Bunny came and sat with me and we cracked jokes while my IV was installed and many doctors and residents and nurses and fellows came by and asked me the same things. Occasionally the reality of what was about to happen would intrude and I'd feel a bit of fear, but primarily I was excited to get the show on the road. A sedative was put into my IV (you know, to prevent me from running in terror when they took me into the OR), and I kissed Mr. Bunny goodbye. I was wheeled away. I remember the surgical lights over my head, and people bustling around me. Then........................waking up. A cold cloth on my forehead, oxygen tube in my nose. Answering questions (how would you rate your pain? Any nausea?) and being utterly incapable of opening my eyes. I was given a hot pack for my incision. It's amazing how good that feels. Something was put into my IV for the (very mild) nausea. My oxygen thingy was removed. I didn't feel much pain at all. Time passed. I had a button to push to administer morphine. I pushed that bitch, just in case. I opened my eyes occasionally. Eventually I was taken to my room. I kept my eyes closed most of the time but the trip seemed long. The elevator gave me a bit of vertigo. I was brought into a dark room and had to shift from my wheeled bed into my hospital bed, which was not so bad. They settled me in with my pain button and went to search for Mr. Bunny. I was lucid enough to remember what he was wearing, and even that he has a beard and glasses! I had a catheter in, and a pair of...I don't know, inflatable gaiters. My legs alternated inflating and deflating every minute or so, which was a bizarre feeling. (These are to prevent blood clots.) Mr. Bunny came in. I'd been in surgery for about an hour, and in recovery for about three hours! He told me that everything went really well, and that my doctor would be sending some pictures taken with a CELL PHONE! Sweeet. I love the idea of someone leaning over me snapping cell phone pix. The fibroids were the size of golf balls, having shrunk about 50%. So there were three objects twice the size of golf balls (what would that be? An egg?) in mah belleh that are now gone. PSYCHED! People looked at my incision, and I looked too. It's not bad. It's about four inches, low on my abdomen, so will be hidden by my underwear. I felt quite good, all things considered. I was not in any pain. I wasn't nauseated. I had horrible cotton mouth and my throat hurt a little. I didn't want to move at all because of the catheter, the IV, and the leg things. I spent the rest of that day dozing in and out. Pushing my button frequently, sipping water. When I'd been told about the catheter I was bummed, but now I appreciated the amazing luxury of being able to drink all I wanted and yet not needing to get up. And it wasn't actually uncomfortable to have it in. My RE's fellow came in and gave me the same basic report. She seemed very pleased. I slept. In the evening someone brought me some food-like substances (jello, lemon ice), but just as they arrived, I felt a bit sick. I slept. I woke up. I ate a few bites of jello. I slept. Mr. Bunny departed for the night. I was very happy that I did not have a roommate--having some stranger around had been another of my fears about this experience. All night long, every hour or so, someone would come in to check my vital signs and observe my urine output. I was a good little pisser! I pushed my magic button about once an hour, just to make sure I never gave pain a chance to catch up with me. I felt like I was sleeping in between these visits, but it was not a deep sleep. A sort of twilight state. Morning arrived. My catheter was removed! (That seemed scary but was no big deal.) I ordered some breakfast. (Coffee, yogurt, peaches.) It arrived at the same time Mr. Bunny did. I was a little cranky, partly because by now I rather needed to pee. I ate my food and then the magic Out of Bed For the First Time moment arrived. My leg gaiters were removed, which felt fantastic. A nurse helped me to the bathroom door, wheeling my IV on a tree. It took about ten minutes for my body to remember how to urinate, but AAAAHHHH, the glory of emptying my bladder! It's the little things, you know? I dozed on and off. My IV was removed and I was switched over to pain pills. Gooodbyeeeeee morphine! It felt so absolutely wonderful to be free of all tubes and restraints. I rolled over on my side and felt like a hippo wallowing in the mud. There had been some suggestion that I might be able to go home that very day! Mr. Bunny suggested that we assume not, so as not to get our hopes up. I ate some lunch. (Soup, ginger ale.) Mr. Bunny went off to do some errands. My doctor visited and gave me the same report, but also informed me that I was staying the night. Then he delivered a little monologue on how the brain is not adapted to vegetarianism. I have no idea where this came from. I mean, it started when he asked me if I'd lost weight. No, I hadn't. Then he said something about not losing any more (I hadn't lost any! Shut up!) or I might not ovulate. Dude. I know that BMI is important for fertility. And I know my BMI is a little on the low side of normal, but it's NORMAL. And I've weighed a lot less and still had regular periods, which suggests regular ovulation, ever since puberty. And I KNOW that vegetarianism is not the norm for humans. It didnt' really feel like a scolding, though, just my doctor being the total weirdo that he is. When Mr. Bunny returned, we took a walk around the floor. We did several laps, and then someone mentioned that there was a library. I was like, I bet it's full or Reader's Digests! Sure enough! There were also some romance novels, so we played a round of Find the Sex Scene. I won, encountering throbbing manhoods mere moments after opening my bodice ripper. However, the library also contained one of our absolute favorite books, one we read aloud to each other early in our courship: C.S. Forester's Beat to Quarters, from the Hornblower series. (An absolutely brilliant series, if you don't know it.) So we took that back to my room, and Mr. Bunny read me a few chapters. I was happy. I felt great. Not drugged up great, just not in pain, not sick to my stomach. Doing something I love with someone I love. I ordered dinner. (Veggie burger, chocolate pudding.) And then we watched the (illegally downloaded) Projec.t Runw.ay finale on Mr. Bunny's laptop. It was lovely. Mr Bunny departed for the night. I went to sleep. A nurse checked on me at 1 am, and again at 5. I slept quite well in between. I was now able to sleep on my side, which is my norm, and it felt splendid. I'd had Mr. Bunny bring my normal body pillow from home, which made all the difference. I woke up at 7:30, feeling great. I ordered some coffee and yogurt. My doctor checked in. I packed up my belongings. By the time Mr. Bunny arrived at 9, my paperwork had been processed. My wheelchair arrived and I was wheeled away. Fresh air! Home! Mr. Bunny tucked me into bed, and I slept. In the evening there was a tremendous thunderstorm. I lay in bed feeling so much happier than I expected to. Thus far, this surgery has been no big deal. Yes, I'm on drugs (oxy.codone), yes I can't move around too vigorously. Yes, my belly is a bit distended and my bowels are not quite in working order yet. (They are behaving hilariously, though. The moment I'm comfortably settled in bed, they'll be like, YES! NOW! LET'S DO IT! RIGHT AWAY! I'll scuttle to the bathroom and fling myself upon the toilet. Then they'll be like, Naw. Never mind. We're good. Forget it. But I' not have any concerns about actual problems in that region.) Yes, I'm still having hot flashes despite the estrogen patch I've got stuck to my ass. But I'm not hurting. I'm not sick to my stomach. I don't feel any worse than after the lap, though obviously it will take longer for me to be back to normal.  Things might get worse, I suppose, but I don't think they will. So whether this surgery turns out to be the magic bullet for my infertility or not, at the moment I'm so glad I had it. I'm feeling elated that it's behind me. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about my childbearing future. I'm even feelign okay about the fact that I've said goodbye to natural childbirth. There will be plenty of time to mourn that experience if I ever have the real prospect of a child. In the meantime, I'm going to focus on eating chocolate pudding.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Aliiiiiiiiive!


Thursday, April 22, 2010


My preop visit was AWESOME! First, the Lupron did the job. My RE was practically jumping up and down with delight at the shrinkage in my fibroids. I was quite anxious that he'd want me to do another month of it and that my surgery would be pushed back. But no, I am GOOD TO GO! In addition, I asked him to recap our game plan going forward, and it turns out my timeline has gotten better, not worse!

I love my doctor, but he is complete shit at communication. Every time I've asked him about this timeline, he's told me something different. First it was surgery, then IVF as soon as I recovered. Then it was surgery, eight weeks of recovery, then six months to a year of what he referred to as regular intimacy (Not sure if that means intimacy regularly, or regular old intimacy as opposed to ART, but either way it cracks me up.), then IVF. That resulted in  weeping meltdown. Today it was surgery, three months of recovery, then three months during which we can either engage in some smokin' hot regular intimacy...OR do IUI! I was like, what the fuuuuuck? But whatever. The important point is that IVF just got three months closer.

So that's pretty rad. As I sit here (listening to my guts churn guts as my bowel prep does its glorious work) contemplating getting cut open tomorrow, mainly I'm feeling excited. Here's what it sounds like in my head. It's going to be fiiiiiiiiine. A few days of grogginess and bad pain in the scary old hospital, a few more days of grogginess and moderate pain at home, a week of mild pain, a week of discomfort, a few weeks of needing to take it big deal! A blink of the eye in the context of my whole life. And after the worst is over, I'll be able to revel in the fact that I'm on the road to recovery, counting down the weeks until this old uterus is BACK IN ACTION!

But because I am me, anxiety does keep intruding. Here's what that sounds like: I'm going to diiiiiiiiiiiiiie! Even if I don't actually die, I'm going to wake up to be told all my reproductive bits are in some biohazard bag of hospital waste, headed for the incinerator. I can so vividly imagine my RE's face and manner as he tells me this. Unfortunately, you were bleeding severely, so we had to perform a hysterectomy to save your life. I'm so sorry. Here he pats my knee. Or even if I still have a uterus, he'll say, I'm afraid it was worse than anticipated. There will be lots of scar tissue. Your prognosis is grim. There are lots of variations on this scenario, all involving him shaking his head gravely.

I suspect that the first version is more likely, but also that it will be less awesome that I am telling myself. In any event, I'm glad it's here. I think the hospital has wireless, so in a few days you might get a post that goes something like, im rilly fucked up on morphien.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Death sucks

Tomorrow you will be treated to an account of my pre-surgical anxiety (I know, be sure to tune in for that super fine treat), but today I'm dealing with the other aspect of my life that made 2009 such a fucked up year. A year ago today my father died. He was a brilliant guy. A painter, jeweler and sculptor who never had any commercial success, but still made art nearly every day of his life. He was the person in my life who most understood the strange combination of cynicism and whimsy and love of this earth that forms the core of my personality. Doubtless because I got it from him.

By the time he died, it was a relief. He'd been suffering for a while. And I'd been worried about him for years, constantly plotting how to convince him to let me make his life easier. I'd always planned to force him to come live with us when we had kids. He was too proud to let me take care of him unless he gave something back, and I figured child care could be the trade that might finally convince him to give up his back-breaking job. It breaks my heart that I never got the chance.

It breaks my heart that my notional kids will never meet him. It breaks my heart that I may never see him looking out at me from my child's face.

I'm told you don't get over death, you just integrate it into your life. So far it feels very much un-integrated. Let's hope year two feels better. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Things move so quickly in YOUR life...

I've been struck recently by how quickly time passes in other people's lives. Several people whose blogs I read have taken huge steps forward while I've been waiting and waiting, and it's seemed to come out of nowhere. One moment someone's considering IVF, the next she's in the two week wait after her transfer. Someone doesn't post for what feels like a few days, and suddenly she's about to have her IUI. And I know it happens to you guys, too. Doesn't it seem like just yesterday I was soliciting your advice about this surgery? BAM! It's in three days!

This experience reminds me of the work Oliver Sacks and others have done on our perception of time. It's a fascinating universe of research. For example, in a New Yorker article, Sacks describes a person pouring a cup of tea. Time slowed down so much for her that she kept pouring and pouring, unaware that the cup had overflowed. This nice article summarizes some of the extra neat stuff.

I wonder if, in a dystopian future, the phenomenological experience of waiting for things will be medicated out of existence. That is, we'll still wait, but we won't feel it. Like, I'm imagining meeting with my RE after my recovery, and him saying, Everything looks good, so you're cleared to try again. Don't forget to take your prenatal. Oh, and here's a prescription for meth. Take this once a day and it will help the time pass more quickly. Meth is bad for baby, you say? Whatevs! It will be worth it, I promise. Plus, it will give you extra nice teeth and skin!

Of this dystopia, people like me won't even be allowed to reproduce, but will be forced to live underground like moles. OH WELL.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Crazy head

This weekend the BFB family came over for tea. I was sitting across the table from BFB, and at some point I realized that every time she looked lovingly down at her child, or kissed her, or stroked her face, she would then look up at me. Gaze lovingly into Jane's eyes. Look at Bunny. Tenderly stroke Jane's head. Look at Bunny. I tried avoiding her eyes, but I could feel her continuing to do it. Now, I'm guessing what was going on in her universe was something like, Bunny and I enjoy cooing over this baby, so by looking at her I'm encouraging her to share in the baby experience. But what it felt like on my end was, See me lovin' on my fine specimen of babyhood? Oh, I bet it makes you feel soooo bad that you have no baby to kiss, like I'm kissing this one! Look, I just gazed into my baby's eyes! Don't you wish you had a baby whose eyes you could gaze into? Smug. Self important. Looking for signs that I was about to burst into tears...

Not being a paranoid crazy person, I DO realize that this was all in my pretty little head. I'm not sure why my head was so crazy. Could be that I haven't had a real night's sleep in a month, and then there's the part where I get gutted like a fish in a few days. Maybe I've got my reasons. Maybe this is just a normal part of the my-best-friend-has-a-baby-and-I'm-a-defective-husk experience. Whatever.

Moving ON! My best birthday present overlock machine! Mr. Bunny got it for me. What the fuck is that, you ask? An overlock machine creates nice finished seams (like the ones you find on t-shirts and such, with the loops of thread whipped over the edges). I've wanted one for a long time, but never thought I actually deserved it. And now I do. Have one, that is. It remains to be seen whether or not I deserve it

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thirty-four year old toes

My birthday was...well...nice, if I'm honest. I'd been dreading it, and dreading my husband feeling like his efforts to make me happy were a failure. I'd even told him that he shouldn't take it personally if I was unhappy. But I wasn't! I shed a few tears, sure, but I do that every damn day.... I think I was IF-happy. You know, as close to happy as I get these days.

It helped that the weather was amazing. Jesus up in heaven cut me some fucking slack, and gave me a perfect 75 degree day, with a mild breeze. Because I have the incredible luxury of being able to skip work without anyone caring, I spent most of the day lying out in the yard. (Wearing a big hat and SPF 40 sunscreen, with loads of avobenzone in it, never fear!) My husband served me like a remarkably cheerful slave. Around lunch time he gave me a giant box of...fancy liquor! SO RAD! So I drank me some of that right away, greatly adding to the mood of mellowness.

It helped that I'd e-mailed BFB a few days before (basically right after reading all your nice validating comments...) expressing my "sadness" over "how things worked out" (i.e., my ANGER over what an THOUGHTLESS TOAD she'd been). She wrote back immediately saying that she'd been feeling awful about it and realized she'd fucked up and had been trying to figure out how to fix it and was very very sorry, thus resolving the Birthday Incident of Oh Ten. I'd suggested she sneak over if the in-laws went back to their hotel for a nap, and so she did, bring several charming presents that reminded me why I love her so.

It helped that all these nice people who I've only internet-known for a short while left me birthday wishes and hilarious shit stories! Thanks, y'all! You're the best!

After we returned from dinner, we ended up engaging in an oddly enjoyable nostalgic activity. We googled "top 100 songs" from every year since around 1989. Even though Mr. Bunny and I had quite different musical tastes in our youth, and even though neither of us was at all top-fortyish, it turned out that pretty much every year there'd be a song (usually around number 50 or so...) where both of us were like Oooooooooh! That SONG! It totally did it for me back then! And then we'd youtube it up and listen, and just freak out about the memories that came flooding back. The experience might not come across well in writing, but give it a try sometime. It's a great way to finish off a year / start a new one.

In my next post I will reveal my best birthday present! Can you BEAR the anticipation?!?!?!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

They say it's your birthday

Happy fucking birthday to me. If you don't recognize this product, you're lucky. Well...probably not, if you're reading infertility blogs. Come to think of it, what's a little protracted diarrhea compared to an IVF cycle, or a D&C? I take it back. I embrace my bowel prep with loving arms. (Next week, that is. No sense in rushing it. And no, it wasn't an actual birthday gift, I just picked it up today. And tied a festive bow on it. Using some leftover ribbon from BFB's baby shower for a dash of irony. 'Cause if I'm going to have to look at it, it may as well be pretty.)

That said, I don't want to turn 34. I know, I'm still young. I'm an asshole for complaining about turning thirty-four. I'm just so scared of crossing that damn 35 line. Even if it's more of a statistical division than a biological one. It's not like the day before I turn 35, my ovaries will be replete with top notch eggs, and when the clock chimes midnight, they'll all mutate or die. But the part that makes me cry is that I have a whole year ahead of me in which I honestly don't expect to get pregnant. By the time I'm done with my forced march of timed intercourse, it will be January. I expect to be completing IVF number one right before I turn 35, and I'm--for whatever reason--assuming it will take more than one cycle. Sure, things could work out better than I anticipate, but that's not going to comfort me until it happens.

So I was moaning about this, and my husband said, Think of it this way. 33 was absolute shit. 34 will most likely be better. Even if it isn't, it's not like you want to stick around in 33. The sooner you get the hell out of 33, the better. That had the ring of truth... if it didn't actually make me feel better.

So...finish your taxes, then have a big shot of something alcoholic in my name, if you can.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I talked to my husband. It was a wise choice. As usual.

When I got home from work yesterday, I found my husband sitting on our bed reading the letters we wrote to each other when we first met, back when he was in Boston and I was in Chicago. Because I'm a monster, I pounced on this moment and forced him to talk about infertility. (Okay, not immediately. I let him get a drink under his belt first.) The most interesting thing to emerge from our conversation was the following: he hates talking about it because he hates thinking about the future. The future-oriented strategy (always planning my next steps) that is so crucial to my ability to cope is depressing to him. He likes to think each individual step will work. So his progression has been:
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.
We'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.

We'll do IUI and  I'll get pregnant.
We'll do IUI and  I'll get pregnant.
We'll do IUI and  I'll get pregnant.
We'll do surgery and then we'll do IUI and I'll get pregnant.

And now,
We'll do surgery and then we'll have sex during my fertile window and I'll get pregnant.

With each failed cycle, I become more and more distressed. He feels impatient, sad, envious of our friends with kids, sorry that he can't do anything to help me, but NOT ANY LESS HOPEFUL ABOUT THE NEXT CYCLE.

He's not wrong to take this attitude. He's more optimistic than I am, and his optimism makes sense. Why not think it will work? What's the point of thinking otherwise? Our long-term prognosis IS good. He's just as entitled to his feelings as I am to mine and I genuinely don't blame him or feel angry at him about this. I guess I'm just so...utterly un-psyched...about this difference in our approaches. The one thing that makes me feel better is something that makes him feel bad. He doesn't want to talk about how to make six months of timed intercourse easier on us because he doesn't think we'll be doing six months of timed intercourse. He expects the magical wonderful rainbows and flowers future to actually appear. Dude.

I don't have a real point here, just needed to express my astonishment. But I did want to say in response to the (as always, totally brilliant and insightful) comments y'all left, to anyone who tells us to get a hobby to take our minds off our empty wombs, I say: TAKE THAT BULLSHIT REMARK AND SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS UNTIL YOU HIT ELBOW. My husband told me to get a hobby once, too. Now he has a remark shoved up his ass, and apparently it's very uncomfortable. But he brought it on himself. OMG, do you think it might affect his sperm count?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Everything sucks

(Except Al's surprise pregnancy after a negative beta. I've always been skeptical when people say it's not over until you get your period, but here's some evidence! Anyway, back to my tedious and empty existence...)

I found out yesterday that the paper I submitted to an important conference was a poster. Getting a paper accepted as a poster instead of a talk is a slap in the face (for this conference--for some conferences a poster is perfectly prestigious). It's what happens when your work is interesting enough to avoid complete rejection, but not good enough to warrant a time slot in the program. Poster sessions are a sad land of graduate students who aren't ready for the big time, and sub-standard scholars. Like me. I feel awful about this. Awful because I'm such a failure, awful because there's no way in hell I'm flying all the way to Portland, Oregon to do a poster (I hate Portland with a burning passion. I spent the worst year of my life in Portland, and while it wasn't Portland's fault, I don't think Portland made it any easier. YOU SUCK, PORTLAND.), and awful because I can't quite convince myself that I can not go. There are multiple excellent reasons why I should go...but the idea of being in Portland, a place I hate with a burning passion (did I mention that?) doing something that will make me feel like worthless shit is more than I can really contemplate at the moment. So this whole thing sucks.

Things at home also suck. I'm so dispirited that I don't even want to talk to my husband. He's been very busy finishing up his MBA, and I've been very busy weeping uncontrollably. So a bit of distance has crept in. But I also think I'm angry at him, because I feel so scared and alone. As all women know, however wonderful and supportive our husbands are, there are moments when we are simply alone. I know it's stupid of me to be angry that he can't comfort me out of my fear and sadness, particularly if I don't even ask him to. But when I think about how we need to have a nice talk, I just feel overwhelmed with the pointlessness of everything in the world. Like I can't muster the energy to make my situation better. FUCK.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Petty or justified?

I'm super miserable. But I can't articulate why, so here's something really trivial.

On Friday, BFB told me that her in-laws are coming to town at the end of the week to check out their new grandchild. This was part of a lengthy rant about how lame they are, and how they are always doing thoughtless, selfish things.

While I responded to the surface shit, inside I was thinking, You mean...they'll be here on my birthday? You won't be able to hang with me on my birthday?

We have a stable tradition of getting together on our birthdays and our husband's birthdays. It's a given that they'll at least come over for presents and cake, if not for something more elaborate. So I was filled with bitterness. And hurt. I mean, who knows how long it will be before we are in the same place for our birthdays again? How could she not stave off this in-law invasion? I know she had plenty of input into the dates... And even if this is the best time for the visit, I'd at least have expected her to say, Sorry, Bunny, but ...  I also know she didn't forget my birthday--she's been asking Mr. Bunny what to get me. But when it came to planning the visit, my sad little birthday didn't even register for her.

I keep telling myself that I'm just being self-centered. That this is exactly the sort of adjustment I have to make now that my best friend has a baby: her life has become more complicated, she can't keep everything in her head at once, it's not surprising that everything except the immediate necessities of life will fall by the wayside. But I'm genuinely hurt, and sometimes it's not wise to suppress that. What's more, I don't think I'll actually get over it for reals. I'm still pissed at her because of that time we were at a conference in Poland during a heat wave, and I got heat exhaustion and had to rush out of someone's talk to avoid fainting, and she didn't even come check on me, just left me to find my way back to the hotel on my own, the FUCKING WHORE. I HOPE SHE TREATS HER BABY BETTER THAN THAT!

Um...where was I...RIGHT! So, whether it's reasonable or not, I'm going to resent her forever unless I do something. I guess the most sensible choice would be to send a e-mail simply noting that I felt sad, but it just seems so pointless. Everything seems so pointless. I dunno. What would you do?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is all pain really just pain?

I had an e-mail exchange with Egghunt that has prompted me to post on a topic I've been mulling over for a while. It's a loaded topic that I'm afraid to write about. Probably I should post it on the awesome ALI Alias, but...I guess I'd rather offend people. This is also a topic that I know tons of others have written about, beautifully and movingly. I could track down those posts and I'm sure they'd shape my thinking and address my questions. But I don't want to read those posts, because they will be better than anything I could write and I need the therapeutic exercise of expressing this.

Both here and in my comments to you, I tend to harp on the fact that I know I can't understand what you're going through and that my efforts to offer support might fall flat or even be offensive because of that fact. I try to note when I'm aware that I'm being insensitive or callous or when my complaining might be hurtful. And I've certainly noticed that the standard view many take here in blogland is that everyone is entitled to her (and his, but most of us are women--see, I'm trying not to offend men here!) pain, and the pain of one person is not greater than the pain of another. That it's senseless to try to rank our experiences or create a hierarchy of which things are more horrible than others (The Pain Olympics, as some have called it).

I have no actual quarrel with that view. Empathy is so complicated that it is indeed awfully hard to truly understand what another person's experience is like, and if you can't really understand it, how can you know whether it's more horrible than yours? (Indeed, a lot of research on empathy suggests people are pretty inaccurate about assessing the feelings of others.) And as I've said before, I don't think better applies to any of us. But I do believe in more worse. And I find myself thinking that to say our experiences are not in any way comparable smacks a little of cultural relativism. You know, the same approach that lets people say things like, If a culture believes fem.ale ge.nital mutilati.on is okay, who are we to quibble with that? Okay, that's a really inflammatory example, but I'm conflicted about relativism...

I also know that some of what we write is part of a social contract that makes this network of support possible and so very, very valuable. And I'm breaching it a little by writing about this, but maybe I was inspired by Leslie's shit sandwich post.

I've read papers in journals that say things like the depression associated with IF tends to peak in the third year. In other words, we can quantitatively establish that some infertile women feel more worse, to use my term, than others. So why pretend there's no difference between someone dealing with IF for six years, and someone like me? But then I think about the fact that a lot of the women who say all pain is just pain are exactly the women who have been through hell. Perhaps that's just because those of us who haven't don't feel entitled to make such pronouncements. But perhaps it's because the perspectives of these women are the result of their experiences. They know something I don't.

I guess what I want to express is this. To me, to say that all pain is just pain runs the risk of denying the reality that some experiences are more worse than others. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Completely presumptions. But I'm not in any way denying that my pain is real pain. It hurts like a motherfucker. Lately I've been waking up in absolute terror and despair (and hoooooooot. FUCKING HOT FLASHES!). And the whole point of my term more worse is to stress that nothing is better. My experience isn't better, just 'cause I haven't miscarried or because I have gotten to do multiple IUIs while others are perpetually stymied. Or even because there may be a fix for my infertility.

I just know that there are some people's stories that make me weep, and I can't help feeling humbled by them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pregancy after myomectomy: Please convince me all will be wonderful!

About two weeks until I go under the knife. In addition to growing tired of near constant hot flashes (Dude, I never truly appreciated my hypothalamus before! I'm getting it a special Christmas present this year for sure!), I have also grown tired of reading research papers about this surgery. I would now like some anecdotes. Or anecdata, a word I learned from gingerandlime.

So I'm sending out a call to the wider ALI community. If you're here from LFCA, I'm interested in hearing any stories about pregnancy after myomectomy. I'm particularly interested in stories from people who had a diagnosis of IF before the surgery (as opposed to recurrent loss, and as opposed to people who had the surgery for other reasons, then conceived). In other words, I'm interested in people as close to me as possible who now have fat, happy babies. (Or skinny, querulous babies--I'm flexible.) But as a special favor, please don't tell me horror stories about how you lost your uterus or how you tried to conceive for ten years afterwards and never got pregnant or how deciding to do the surgery was the worst decision of your life. 'Cause that would scare me. Thank you so much!

(P.S. I'm aware of all the risks (scar tissue, etc.), the fact that they recur, the fact that I'll need a c-section if I do get to give birth and all that jazz--I'm not contemplating this surgery, I'm HAVING IT.)

Shades of meh

In July I have a conference in Germany. I've wanted to go to Germany since I was 12, when I took my first German class. It must have been the inspirational singing of German folk songs accompanied by Frau Whatshername's autoharp. Nothing stirs the soul like an autoharp!

My husband is coming with me. This is not a great idea in terms of making sure I network, but I don't care. I want my husband! The conference is near Berlin, but we're spending a few days in Frankfurt, mainly because I want to do a day trip to Heidelberg. As an undergrad I worked on a weird study in which I had to pretend to be a computer giving tours of the city of Heidelberg. That's right, I pretended to be a computer. (That's what we call Doing Science!) This weekend we were selecting hotels and buying guidebooks and looking for good restaurants--we're totally going to the place where you eat in total darkness and are served by blind people. So I should be pretty excited, huh? What I feel is an odd species of mildly intensified meh. You know, something like, this meh is a little more...vivid...than the normal meh. I wanted to find a way to represent this graphically. So here's my attempt. On the left of the image you'll see a selection of events that might occur in the average woman's life. Then you'll see two scales. One represents the typical range of human emotion, from deep sadness, in blue, up through great joy, in red. There's a white, neutral space in the middle, where you're just feeling kind of normal. The right scale represents my range of emotion, from deep sadness, represented in black, up to whatever, I guess I'll keep on living, in dark grey. There is no longer a neutral space, just a lighter grey. Things that might ordinarily make me feel a little glum now plunge me into blackness. And instead of a warm red glow, there's just a slightly darker grey. So yeah, contemplating what should be a fun trip is a relatively intense shade of meh.

(I'm totally exaggerating, of course. I know anhedonia is a real thing that I am not experiencing, as is clinical depression.)

So it's time to bust out the German music. I gots to practice my German, and what better way to do so than with catchy music. You might like this one--catchy, and the German is around the level of a three-year-old, thus perfect for me.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Easter was delightful. Mr. Bunny outdid himself with the cleverness of the hunt this year. For example, one clue was taped behind a Marcel Dzama print of some women sketching a sea creature. To attract our attention to the print, he had replaced the original with an almost identical version, but the sea creature was different. I walked by it over and over again without noticing. Genius!

As an unexpected bonus, I got to see BFB lose her shit a few times. This is going to sound mean-spirited, but I bet you'll get where I'm coming from. Thus far, BFB appears to have had an idyllic experience with the whole procreation thing. Pregnant in the first month of trying, a fairly easy pregnancy (one miscarriage scare, which I'm sure was far from easy, but no morning sickness, etc.), four hours of labor, a newborn that sleeps well... From the outside, she's seemed pretty unaffected by the whole thing. You know, just reveling in the joy of motherhood all the time. I keep asking her when she's going to start looking haggard. WELL, yesterday I got to see the hormones and the disturbed sleep bring out the worst in her. It was awesome! There was a particularly lovely moment in which we had all the clues needed to do a cryptogram and were sitting down to figure it out. BFB loooooooves cryptograms, but she was holding Jane, who was having a fussy moment. So Mr. BFB started in on the puzzle. BFB literally shrieked at him to stop and let her do it. It was kind of like watching a really angry kitten. There were numerous other such hilarious moments, including one in which she punched him in the arm! DUDE!

I'm also prone to lashing out at my husband when I'm upset, so I'm totally not judging here. Just enjoying the moment a bit. I know I'm having these wicked feelings partly because it's becoming harder to be around them. (The cuddling has really been taken up a notch. Every time I turn around they're cooing and gurgling together. Jane is getting more responsive as she develops the ability to focus on objects, and has started some mild social smiling.) Knowing that BFB is moving away created a sort of halcyon period where I was less constantly affected by my own sad state. That seems to be coming to an end. And I'm also realizing that I don't necessarily love all babies.

My niece and nephew (really the only babies I have any experience with) were born before I was trying to get pregnant.The moment they were born, I loved them instantly with a powerful love that has to come from a deep evolutionary place. I felt intensely protective of them, and I didn't even meet them for months! When I'm holding Jane, I feel a similar kind of love, but the moment I pass her back to BFB, it dissipates. So I can't tell if the differences in my feelings about my niece and nephew and my feelings about my pseudo-niece arise from biology (i.e., it's not as adaptive for me to care about this non-relative) or from the experience of infertility. All I know is, I got a brief reprieve from feeling constantly defective and worthless and unwomanly, and that shit is BAAAAACK. If any of you are in a position to share your experiences with relatives vs. friends having progeny, I'd be interested.

(And speaking of ya'll, I loved learning that I'm not the only one who digs hunting eggs! I particularly loved hearing about Stickles' graduation hunt for her sister, Finch's booze in the basket, and Misfit's and Pundelina's ex-sponsored hunts. It's so thrilling to learn other people are into the high jinks that are dear to one's heart!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Yes, I am an eight-year-old.

The first Easter that my little brother was capable of toddling around the yard, I learned that my life had changed forever. I was about 12. My mother always set up an Easter egg hunt in the yard for me and my older brother, and suddenly, instead of being allowed to dash about, scooping up as many eggs as possible, I had to let my little brother find some. I'd be diving for an egg, and my mother would suddenly appear to say, Let HIM have that one. Easter was never the same. Fortunately, when I met my husband, he immediately realized that this injustice from my childhood needed to be redressed. He's arranged an egg hunt for me every year since we met. Unlike the egg hunts of my childhood, this one is indoors, so there's no worry about weather. And my husband goes the plastic egg route, so there's plenty of candy and no eggs rotting in the bookshelf. Every year that BFB and I have lived in the same place, she and her husband have taken part as well. (Turns out it's more fun to hunt against someone else. Just not a two year old.) While Mr. BFB enjoys hunting for eggs, he's a bit more laid back about it, while BFB is an egg hunting TIGER! Over the years, things have gotten more elaborate. Last year's hunt involved assembling an image out of slips of paper found in each egg, using that image to find a map, using the map to find additional clues, using those clues to find the location of our hidden treats (which are always fabulous). My husband is truly a crazed genius when it comes to making this event tons of fun.

(Some of you may be thinking I'm a bit infantile. Yes, I am. Proud of it. I think I do spend a certain amount of time trying to create the safe, happy childhood I didn't get. But what's it to ya?)

I was thinking about the fact that BFB will be gone next year, and how it will be sad to have no one to hunt eggs with. I just wish I could produce some children and raise 'em up to hunt eggs. I think I could relinquish my position as chief egg hunter if I could pass the honor on to my progeny. The idea of my husband never getting to hide eggs for his children...well, it doesn't bear thinking about.

ANYWAY! I'm looking forward to Sunday with something that approaches enthusiasm! It's almost like I'm feeling an emotion other than blah! I hope you all have un-blah weekends! That's enough exclamation points!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Seventy six degrees!

In honor of the amazing weather, I ditched work in favor of planting some seeds. I spent the morning preparing my little garden bed, getting the manure worked in and slaughtering hundreds of earthworms. Sorry, earthworms. The past few summers have been weird weather-wise, and have resulted in a less-than-bountiful harvest. Hopefully this year will be better, as I would like some aspect of my life to be fruitful. If I can't have a baby, I should at least get lots of radishes.

While I was finishing up, Mr. Bunny's friend arrived with his wife in tow. The wife naturally drifted over to me. We've hung out a few times and I don't really get her. She's completely incoherent, for one thing. She'll start telling you a story and wander off into some bizarre other story never get anywhere. I can't be friends with someone with whom I can't carry on an actual conversation, so that's kept us from becoming more intimate. But I'm fond of her in a strange way. I know it's partly because she's been very open about her multiple miscarriages. She's 38 and has four kids (with her previous husband), so the issue is presumably egg quality. She's had six miscarriages in the past two years, one of which happened at 20 weeks. Once with twins...She keeps trying because Mr. Bunny's friend really wants to be a father. I've never talked to her about my situation, so when she asked me how I was doing, I thought I'd see if maybe she was someone I could open up to. Recurrent loss is different than infertility, and both are different when you already have children, so maybe I shouldn't have expected that this conversation would result in major bonding. I got to hear a super rambling story, the message of which turned out to be God Has A Plan For You. As I've said before, I don't find that message to be comforting, Or, you know, meaningful in any way. And then she suggested that I might be unable to conceive because I'm too thin. Which I'm not. And then she told me that she's pregnant at the moment. It was nice to hear that from someone and not feel at all distressed by it. I hope this is the one for her. I can't imagine enduring all that pain. But...I'm sorry to report that she is not going to be my real life infertility friend. That position will just have to remain open.