Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Update to the Update...

The good news is…my cycle is not cancelled or in much danger of being cancelled.  The bad news is, the birth control pill has had such a bad reaction with me (and my buddy Endo) that I can’t take it anymore.  I am having way too much bleeding and yet my uterine lining has doubled in size since Friday.  Weird!!! So, I have to switch to Lupron injections tomorrow.  That will put me a few days ahead of the egg donor and the other recipient, but I should be able to coast in suppression-mode until they catch-up.  For now…the schedule remains the same.

The really bad news is that the Lupron is going to make the bleeding and the pain worse for a few days before things quiet down and get better.  UGH!!!  The really good news is that my RE was kind enough, at my behest, to give me more pain medication in anticipation of what is to come (have I mentioned how sympathetic my RE is?) and reassured me that what is going on with my body right now is not endangering the success of this cycle.  So that is the update on my update.  Thank you for your patience with all of these crazy posts.  It just feels so good to send my “crises” out there…as if blogging about them ships the problems out into the universe for the purpose of resolution.  And even if it doesn't resolve things...the out-pouring of support from all of you ladies makes the crises seem less overwhelming.  

Oh…speaking of overwhelming…while I was in the RE’s waiting room this afternoon, nervously thinking through every possible negative scenario and how I would handle it….I received a Facebook message from my (22 year-old) sister (over my phone).  She and I have been playing phone tag for a couple of weeks and she finally just wrote me a FB message because she wanted me to know that she is sending my two-year-old nephew with his father to Belize.  She had this plan before…when it looked like her worthless husband was going to be deported last November…and then again this February.  But he wasn’t deported and so my nephew stayed with her.  But now, Worthless Husband is voluntarily leaving the country and will be taking my nephew with him... within the next two weeks...meaning I may never see my nephew again. 

By way of background, my sister had my niece (who is now 5) and my nephew (2) with Worthless Husband when she was very young.  They have had multiple domestic violence and legal issues that make it difficult for me to support my sister, even with the kids in the picture.  When my nephew was being born in the hospital, she was being evicted from her apartment, so she and her family were homeless when she left the hospital with the baby.  The Prince and I have always offered to take them in and care for the children while she and Worthless Husband work.  We even said they could stay rent and grocery bill free, and we would pay for diapers, etc.  All they had to do was hold down at least part time jobs and put at least 80% of their net pay into savings accounts, so they could get back on their feet.  Our offers have been refused because they don’t want anyone telling them what to do.  How very mature.

My sister has financially supported her husband and the children, in a city four hours away from me, with a lot of charity and welfare assistance (and some sister assistance when the Prince isn’t paying attention and I’m feeling particularly weak).  Not once has her husband gotten a job to help support his children or even looked after the children while my sister worked.  He is too busy playing $60 videogames while the children run around with no diapers (seriously…they once ran out of diapers for two weeks and the kids pooped and peed on the floor or in their pants.  We had to drive four hours to buy the kids diapers and toilet paper and food.).  They rarely have toilet paper, so my niece doesn't even know how to wipe when she goes to the bathroom (or flush...or wash her hands afterwards).  When my sister first told me, back in November, about her plan to send my nephew away, I asked her how she could do that and she said “I just don’t love him that way.  I never really bonded with him.  I feel bad saying that, knowing that you want a baby…but it’s the truth.”  It broke my heart that she could feel that way then.  It breaks it just as much now.  Worthless Husband and I don’t mince words about how we feel about one another, so he won’t allow my husband and I to take my nephew.  He says that he doesn’t want his child to “grow up spoiled and materialistic.”  I say “Sell your X-box 360 and the rest of your belongings to put food on your kids’ table, and then you come lecture me about how materialistic I am.”  So…my nephew will soon be flying to live in his new home…which is in a village with no indoor plumbing (according to my sister)….to start his new life with no mother (and no aunt...and likely still no diapers or toilet paper).  I can’t even wrap my mind around this.  I’ve just said a lot…but I feel like I have no words to express how this situation makes me feel.  I know it isn’t healthy to ask “Why?” about stuff like this…but really?!?  Why?!?  And to pour a little more salt in the wound on this one, this sister is the same one I had custody of when she was a teenager.  I try to tell myself she was broke before I was able to get her out of her situation, but I was always her mother figure.  How could I have helped create this situation?  A mother incapable of loving her child…it seems inconceivable and yet, the sister that I love unconditionally is that person.  How do I reconcile that?

So that’s how my day went…at least my day up until the meeting with the psychic, which is a story that will have to wait for another post. 


Sorry for the overwhelming number of posts over the last day or two.  First, to tag on to my last post regarding not being able to switch my mindset from "need a child" to "want a child," apparently it's not uncommon.  I stumbled across this news interview - - about a book for men on how to cope with the infertility process.  The last sentences of the interview were perfect!

Second, I am freaking out.  I have to go back to the doctor today.  It's not normal for me to have this much bleeding and this much pain, still.  Please...if you happen to read this post today...send a little prayer my way that nothing is going on that is going to mess up my donor cycle going forward.


And It Makes Me Wonder...

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The last couple of nights, I haven’t been sleeping very well.  My stomach pain wakes me up as soon as the pain medicine starts to fade, which unfortunately isn’t far into the night.  The pain was so bad this morning, I got up at 3 a.m. and really considered taking another pain pill.  I know that I can’t…I have to drive to work in a couple of hours and the medicine makes me too groggy to drive safely.  But I REALLY wanted (want) to.  To try to distract myself, I started looking around my room and became transfixed on my egg donor’s profile.  I know it is a little weird that I keep it by my bed, with the printout of her pictures on top…looking at me.  I think I am trying to “bond” with a women I will never meet, but who is going to be (hopefully) one of the most important people in my life.  Somehow, looking at pictures of her makes her human to me…not “the egg donor”…but “her – the cute girl that looked a lot like me as a baby.”  Reading the answers to her profile questions (which I now know by heart) assures me I am doing the right thing by pursuing conception via an egg donor…and (in the immortal words of Led Zeppelin) it makes me wonder.

There are all kinds of questions that are not on the profile sheet (although there are well over 20 pages of questions that are covered).  I know she’s never spent more than 72 hours in jail (seriously…that’s a profile question), but I wonder what was the craziest thing she ever did in high school?  I know she likes country music (a forgivable offense that I have chosen to overlook – sorry country music fans), but what is her favorite singer/band?  What is her favorite song?  I know she likes Italian food, but what is her favorite dish?  The Prince orders chicken parmesan at every restaurant we go to…does she like chicken parmesan?  What made her decide to drop out of her original college program to pursue a nursing degree?  Does the birth control cause her to have cramps and spotting?  Does she hate the side effects of fertility medications as much as I do?  Does she know how amazing she is to give the gift of her eggs to women like myself?

I wonder about these things.  I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes I look at her pictures and guess what I think the answers are.  (Then, I analyze my own choices of what I think her answers would be, to see what that says about my own internal feelings.  Is that crazy or just self-centered…I wonder?) 

I guess this is yet another way that my fertility journey is like a fairy tale.  In fairy tales, no one tells you if the character likes chicken parmesan, or what their favorite song is.  You know only what you need to know about each character in order for the plot line to move along.  But maybe that is why I have always loved books so much.  You get to let your brain fill in the blanks.  You get to wonder about who the characters really are, outside of the story line. 

I wonder who our fairy godmother is outside of our story line.  Whoever she is, she will always have a special place in my heart, no matter how things work out this cycle.  What if you have a child who likes country music, you ask?  Yes, even then…I’ll curse the heavens, but I’ll still like her.  After all…I’m quoting Led Zeppelin.  Who am I to judge?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Burned

I was reading a study this morning, about how brains interpret the emotional pain of heartache in the same manner that brains interpret getting physically burned.  The gist of the study’s findings was that the activity in a person’s brain, when that person is thinking of a recent romantic heartbreak, is similar to the activity in a person’s brain when that person is being burned on the arm with a hot cup of coffee.  I am very curious about what the results of the study would be if the heartache used was that associated with infertility and pregnancy loss, as opposed to romantic loss.  Both types of heartache cause physical symptoms in most people.  Both types of heartache are exhausting.  It stands to reason that the brain would respond similarly, regardless of whether romantic loss or fertility loss was involved….and that got me thinking about the similarities and differences between heartbreak in the “traditional” sense and heartbreak in the “IF” sense.

As I’m sure many of us have, I was once dumped by someone I loved.  I was dumped by my high school/college boyfriend, 3 ½ years into our relationship, because I was not ready to drop out of college and become the wife and mother he wanted me to be.  And even though I was an active participant in the break-up, choosing graduate school over him (and the children we ould never have), I felt abandoned and betrayed.  I felt a physical pain like I had been kicked in the stomach.  I was unable to eat and frequently threw up from anxiety.  I had constant headaches and there were times that it literally hurt to breath.  Every muscle ached and I had no energy to do anything other than sob.  And all of those fun symptoms went on for a good couple of months until…just when the symptoms started to pass…I learned that he was getting married six months to the day from our break-up.  It was as if fate knew that I had finally recovered from the heartache, and chose that exact moment to reopen the wound and rub salt in it.  I was certain I would never get over that pain.

I initially did the whole “rebound dating” thing.  That lasted only a couple of months.  I quickly figured out that I was not over “college guy” and was too angry and too fearful to be looking for a Mr. Right.  So, for a couple of years, I didn’t date…at all.  I figured out who I was, got other areas of my life in order and only went back to dating when I was in a place where I didn’t feel like I “needed” a partner, but rather that I “wanted” one.  It was okay if a first date didn’t go well because I wasn’t in any hurry.  And, because I waited until I was ready, I didn’t have to kiss too many frogs before finding my Prince. 

Now for infertility….After my first failed IVF, I felt like I had been abandoned by a God that I wasn’t sure if I believed in, and betrayed by my own body.  I physically felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach, I was sobbing so hard I threw up, and I couldn’t force myself to eat or get out of bed.  I was fatigued and depressed and angry.  And, although those symptoms came and went, they lasted for months…until I started my next IVF cycle and became high on hope again. 

Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat… 

Maybe that is what has made infertility so much harder for me than surviving that one break-up.  I came up for air after the break-up, but there’s been no time to take a real breather from fertility treatments.  My endometriosis is a ticking time bomb, and I don’t have the time, even at age 32, to dawdle when it comes to trying to conceive. I think I just have to keep telling myself that this donor egg cycle is nothing like the IVF’s and IUI’s of the past…just like the Prince isn’t anything like my old college boyfriend.  The Prince is different…and (in every way that truly matters)… he is better.  Here’s hoping that I will be able to look back at my fertility journey and say the same thing about this donor egg cycle – It was different…and (in the only way that truly matters) it was better.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Prince Makes His Triumphant Return

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When the Prince returned to his kingdom last evening, he was calmer, happier and more sympathetic than he has been in awhile.  He claims that he just went to a hotel, watched movies on television, and was bored over the weekend.  But I think some internal dialogue must have occurred, even if subconsciously, because he appears to be in a different place emotionally than where he was when he left Saturday morning.  Last night, he must have said “I’m sorry your stomach hurts” at least fifteen times.  That’s pretty impressive for the Prince, who is rarely aware of the world around him.  Also, when I said that I was feeling like I can handle this pain for one more week (which is hopefully the longest that I have to deal with it), the Prince said “I’m sorry you are going through this, but it will be over soon because this cycle is going to work.” 

Now, before when he insisted that this cycle was going to work, it felt different…like he was just in denial and couldn’t fathom the possibility of the cycle not working.  There was desperation in his voice and his words made me feel more pressured and worried about what would happen if this cycle didn’t work.  But when, last night, he stated that the cycle was going to work, he just seemed very calm and very optimistic.  So much so, that his hope and security made me feel optimistic, too.  It’s as if he knows something I don’t and is letting me in on the secret.  He’s just certain.

Self-preservation has not yet allowed me to fully embrace hope, and I’m running out of time to do so.  But the Prince is definitely in a good place this cycle and that’s a start. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

All By Myself...

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After I sent the email to my husband yesterday, explaining what had happened at the doctor’s office and what my decision was regarding the future, I expected a call.  I fell asleep waiting for the call that never came.  When my husband came home last evening, he walked past my bedroom door and went straight to the dog pen, to take the dogs outside.  Then, after all of that was straightened away, he came in to see me.  By that point, I already knew that he hadn’t fully, or wouldn’t fully, grasp the enormity of what I was going through.  When we finally talked, it went something like this….

“I got your email.  Sorry your stomach still hurts.”

“Thank you.  The pills are helping.  It’s a little better.  What did you think about the other part?”

“What other part?”

“About me not being able to go through this again if this doesn’t work.  Are you okay with that?”

“It’s going to work this time.”

“But if it doesn’t…”

“It is.”

“But [Prince], if it doesn’t…I need to know you are still okay with the idea of adoption.  I need to know you won't leave me if I can't get pregnant.  I know that before you had said you were okay with adoption, but we haven’t talked about it in so long that…”

“Yeah.  You become rich and famous and make a million dollars so we can afford adoption and I’ll be fine with it.  How about that?  It doesn’t matter.  It’s going to work this time.  Sorry you are having a hard time.” 

And with that, he walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

I’ve used denial as a coping mechanism often enough to recognize total denial when I see it.  The Prince isn't just being a Positive Polly about this egg donor cycle, he's in denial about the possibility of it failing.  There's a difference, and only one results in you slamming the door.  After the door incident, the Prince remained surly.  When I jokingly said to him, “You know women who are in lots of pain physically and emotionally claim that flowers from their husbands work wonders at making them feel better,”  he said, “You know, people who have personal training appointments just like to go to the gym without being bothered.”  Ouch!  

With the assistance of my pain med, I went out and had Indian food with my good friends last night, shortly after the Prince left for the gym.  It was important that I not sit next to the Prince all night, watching him shut me out emotionally.  That wouldn’t have been good for anyone.  He was pleasant enough when I got home, but he went to bed very early, in his own bedroom.

This morning, the Prince was laughing and joking…trying to make me smile by dancing around in his towel after his shower.  Later, when he got back from his morning workout, he brought me a dozen roses and a dozen donuts.  He’s not capable of having a serious talk with me about anything that is going on…but his actions speak volumes.  Even though both of us know that a dozen donuts is the last thing my hips need right now, we also both know that food is my drug of choice to soothe pain, and him getting me donuts is his way of saying that he wants me to feel better (even though he may later lecture me on eating healthier food choices).  The flowers are his way of saying that he is listening to me and cares about what I need/want.  It may seem like I’m reading too much into his gifts, but I know my husband.  He’s not so good at “using his words,” so his actions really do mean a lot and the messages in his gifts have to be deciphered.  Soon after he brought me the gifts...he left.

I’m all by myself now.  He decided that he needed a weekend alone and so he took off to a hotel, to be by himself, much like I did a month or so ago.  He’ll be back tomorrow evening.  At first I was livid that he could be so insensitive, leaving me when I am so emotionally frayed.  I wanted to yell: What part of “I feel so alone in all of this and need you to comfort me” are you not able to understand?  But I didn't yell.  I decided that him being here this weekend isn’t going to change my situation.  I’m sleeping most of the time because of the pain medicine anyways.  It would be nice if he was the type of husband who couldn't be dragged away by wild horses.  Who would stay at my bedside and shower me with affection until the storm clouds parted.  But he's not that guy.  I get why he needs to go away right now and it's okay.  He may not fully understand, but I do.  He needs to process what he’s feeling, but away from me…so he can feel what he needs to feel without worrying about saying or doing something that is going to hurt me more (like slamming a door).  In that sense, even if it is unintentional, he is looking out for me, too.  Plus...I'm not totally alone.  I do have donuts to keep me company. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Last Shot

Today I came to the most devastating conclusion of my life.  If I do not get pregnant this donor cycle, I am never going to be pregnant.  I’m giving you fair warning.  This post is going to be long.  This post is not going to be a happy one.  There will be no tie-ins to fairy tales and no attempts at clever analogies.  Just reality and sadness.

As many of you know, I have been having pain and spotting for three weeks now…with the pain getting worse since I started the birth control pill a little under two weeks ago.  Well, the bleeding has been getting heavier and last night and this morning, the pain was so bad that I had difficulty standing up straight and walking.  I called my fertility center, and being the awesome and sympathetic people they are, they got me in immediately to be examined.  I’ll spare you all of the details, but the bottom line is that the pill is evidently messing with my estrogen level and irritating my endometriosis to the point of this unbearable pain and bleeding.  On April 3rd, I will stop the pill and start taking Lupron (which is what they use to treat endometriosis).  So, at least this pain and bleeding is temporary.  Also, because I will be on Lupron the rest of the donor egg cycle, through egg retrieval, the endometriosis won’t interfere with my chances of conceiving.

With that said, it has only been seven months since my last (very aggressive, four-hour-long) surgery to remove all of my endometriosis.  I travelled to one of the top surgeons in the country for the surgery, and he had assured me that he got it all…and by the way I felt after the surgery and the horrid pictures of what my bladder, bowels, uterus, ovary and abdominal wall looked like after the surgery…I have no reason to doubt that he did get it all.  But, my endometriosis has been getting progressively more aggressive.  The length between my surgeries has been getting shorter and shorter.  Each surgery, more implants and adhesions are present, and more organs are involved.  My doctors, and there have been a lot of them throughout the years, have all told me that I needed to get pregnant as soon as possible because a total hysterectomy was imminent.  That advice started at age 16. 

Today, the amazing (really, she is a beautiful human being) head nurse at the clinic hugged me as I was crying and comforted me as much as she could.  She said “We just need to get you a baby in that uterus, and then you can have a hysterectomy and this will all be over, honey.”  I replied, “When I was 16, they said the same thing…and where I grew up, being pregnant at 16 was not necessarily outside of the norm.  Maybe I should have listened.”  She said “No ‘what ifs’.  We just need to get you that baby.”  From your mouth to God’s ears, kind and wonderful nurse.

They gave me Tylenol with Codeine to help with the pain, and said to take it easy for awhile.  So that is what I am doing.  Missing yet another day of work, thinking about how many days of work and school I’ve missed because of endometriosis pain and surgeries.  Thinking about how many days of school and work, and other activities, I’ve missed because of fertility treatments, likely necessitated by the effects of the endometriosis.  It is very hard not to “what if” about the past, but, when I got home from the pharmacy, I felt like I needed to look to the future instead of the past, and so I did.  Unfortunately, that analysis has been equally upsetting.

I realized I can’t do this anymore.  I wanted to be pregnant and give birth to my baby so badly that I was able to make the leap to giving up a genetic connection to my child to achieve pregnancy.  But I can’t keep going through surgery after surgery.  My last surgeon said that the next surgery was going to have to be a hysterectomy…and I think he was right.  I can’t keep experiencing this excruciating pain, nausea and fatigue.  I’m out of treatment options, unless I want to be on pain meds for the next few years.  So, I’ve decided…if I don’t get pregnant from this donor egg cycle, I’m having a hysterectomy and moving on with my life.  Hopefully adoption will be part of that future.  Hopefully the Prince will be okay with my decision and not opt to go find a wife who can give him children.  Hopefully I will not spend my life wondering if I should have tried to suck it-up a little harder and stuck it out a little longer.  But the bottom line is, endometriosis has won.  I am putting up one last battle by continuing with a donor egg cycle…but if it doesn’t work…I’m admitting defeat.  It breaks my heart to have come to that decision, but it is breaking my spirit to live like this.  I know that someone out there will be thinking that I shouldn’t make this decision while I am in pain and emotional, but that is exactly when I need to make the decision.  It is too easy to forget how much this hurts and how obvious it is that I can’t keep going through this, when I’m not in pain and I am obsessed with getting pregnant at all costs.  Some costs might be too great…even for a pregnancy.  God it hurts to say that. 

I emailed the Prince about what happened today and what my choice is regarding the future.  He is always busy with students at work, and I thought that it would be easier for him to hear this news without me choking it out between sobs over the phone, or while he prepares to go to his physical training appointment tonight.  I told him that I know he can’t fix this, but he can help me to feel better by being kind and sympathetic.  I told him that I know this has to be hard for him too, but he is the only one who can give me what I need right now – the support of my best friend…my life partner.  I pray that he is able to be my rock right now and to surprise me by being a little emotional…a little empathetic.  It’s a lot to ask and it’s a lot to throw at him, but I can’t help it.  I know I can’t get through this decision alone.

The pain killer is finally kicking in, so I am going to stop writing this novel without a plot and try to sleep a little.  I know that there are a lot of you out of there who are supportive and I am comforted by that support already, even though I know you haven’t even read this yet.  Thank you for helping me feel cared for.  It is strange to have close friends, who know my darkest secrets and most intimate thoughts, whom I have never met.  But I am so grateful for you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adventures in "Wanderland"

One of my blogger buddies recently asked if I had started medications for our donor cycle yet.  The answer is (drum roll)…Yes!  I’ve been on the birth control pill – Loestrin – for twelve days now.  How odd that, after having no period on my own for months, when AF finally arrived, I was immediately put on the birth control pill…to help me get pregnant.  Hmmm.  “Curiouser and curiouser.” 

The birth control pills make me sick to my stomach, give me a nasty headache that comes and goes without any rhyme or reason, and cause near incessant spotting and intermittent cramping.  Fun times!  I never really took the pill when I was younger.  I was diagnosed with endometriosis at a very young age, so they went straight to Depo Provera and Lupron injections with me.  That’s right…Lupron…my old friend.  That is what I have to look forward to after I stop the pill…daily injections of Lupron, which triggers my migraines and makes me have night sweats.  The fun never ends.

I asked my neurologist (an adorable and sarcastic little man from New Zealand who is married to a lawyer, and never fails to remind me what a pain in a butt all lawyers are) if he could give me something for the headaches that I get because of the medications.  I explained that I couldn’t take my usual migraine medication because I needed something that wouldn’t have negative effects on the baby if I got pregnant.  His response: “Yes.  A bullet.” 

I said, “Excuse me?” 

He said “To bite down on.” 

Still confused and envisioning some strange medical contraption that you bite on to ease headaches, I asked for clarification. 

Clearly annoyed that I didn’t get his joke, he said, “Biting the bullet -the remedy of pregnant women throughout the ages.  Oh…and Tylenol.  You can try that too.  Be a woman and man-up, Sweetie.  If you get pregnant, your headaches are only beginning.”  Thanks, Doc!

It is so strange to think that, in two and a half weeks, I will be finding out if the donor, the other recipient and I are all set to go into the “serious” part of the cycle.  In four or five weeks, assuming things go well, I will be finding out how many eggs we will have to work with…then how many embryos.  In a month and a half, I should know whether I am pregnant or not.  In two and a half months, I may be seeing a heartbeat (or two) on an ultrasound.  Holy Crap!  Although I recognize that there are an untold number of stumbling blocks that could mess up this timeline, I’m choosing not to think about the things that could mess it all up.  I am choosing to wander my way down the path that this cycle is following, hoping for as smooth a road as possible. 

In one sense, it seems like I have been waiting forever for this cycle to get going…and it seems that the cycle is crawling along (the 10 more days of taking the birth control pill is enough to make me want to cry).  But…in another sense…I feel like things are moving too fast for me now.  I’m so scared of things not going well that there is this part of me that just wants to slow it all down so that, if bad news is coming, it takes longer to get here.  But, just like Alice, I have no real control in this crazy “wanderland” I ended up in, when I fell down the IF rabbit hole.  I just need to focus on not losing my head and hope that, when I return to reality, I have a Bippity Boppity Boo in my belly (Love it, Lindsey!).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Once Again...Bloggers Save The Day!

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Yesterday, after reading the lovely and informative comments to my post about the ethical dilemmas involved in using an egg donor, I went in search of further information.  Most of the blogs that I read on a daily basis are general infertility blogs.  So, I sought out some blogs of others who are going through the donor egg process.  I looked at the largest blogroll I am aware of – the stirrup queen’s list – and went through the blogs in the donor section, one at a time.  With the exception of two (one of whom had decided to adopt and one who had stopped trying to conceive for personal reasons), each one had either become a pregnancy or motherhood blog, or the blog had ceased after pregnancy was achieved.  At first I was sad that this meant there wasn’t anyone really writing from the same perspective as me right now…but then I realized how great it is that almost every person got pregnant.  That’s a great sign.

When I couldn’t find blogs of anyone actively going through a donor egg cycle from the recipient’s perspective, I started perusing the blogs written by egg donors as they go through the process of donation.  Just as the comments from all of my blogger buddies who have been egg donors were extremely helpful to me, the blogs of egg donors really put my mind at ease.  Not one of them expressed regrets…even years later…even if they are now facing infertility of their own because of endometriosis or some other non-egg related issue.  Many of them did feel an abstract loving bond with the children they had helped to create, but not one of them referred to the baby as “their baby,” or seemed sad that they had genetic offspring that they would likely never see.  They were happy just to have been able to give the gift of motherhood to someone who wanted it so badly.  I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.  Also, I was a little relieved to see that they approached each cycle the same way I do…with fears about how it is going to turn out.  They are emotionally invested in each cycle…wanting desperately to produce a pregnancy for the recipient couple.  They obsess over follicle counts and what to eat and what not to eat the same way I would.  They really put their heart and soul into making someone’s dreams come true.  That is not the actions of someone being coerced or acting upon financial motivation.  I left those blogs feeling so good about my decision to use an egg donor.  

Immediately after the flood of relief upon reading the donor blogs, I started crying to my husband.  I told him that I was so scared this wasn’t going to work.  He told me: “I think it is going to work.  There’s nothing to be scared of.”  But there is…the idea of this cycle not working is scary.  It wasn’t until that moment that I recognized that getting caught up in the analysis of whether my use of an egg donor has some great evil purpose is just a coping mechanism I used to keep my mind distracted from the real issue that I continue to want to hide from…what if it doesn’t work?  In my heart, I already knew that egg donation was a noble act on the part of the donor and a reasonable (not evil) act on the part of the recipient.  But I let myself get sidetracked with that issue based on movies and a few random comments of others, because, for the first time in my IF journey, I don’t know what the next chapter in my fairy tale is going to be if this chapter ends in another negative pregnancy test.  I always have a plan…a mental and emotional safety net for potential disappointment, to cushion the blow of a negative pregnancy test.  Not this time.  I just can’t fathom the “beyond” if it doesn’t happen for us with donor eggs.  But, I’m not going to distract myself with concerns over whether it is “right” for me to use an egg donor anymore.  It is.  I know in my heart that my smiling, self-described “spunky and fun-loving” donor is not a victim…she is an angel…a fairy godmother.  She is my best hope for a “happily ever after” and I truly believe that she is selflessly seeking to Bippity Boppity Boo me right into motherhood.  And I’m not going to spend one more second feeling guilty about letting her do it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When does the acceptance of a gift become wrong?

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In fairy tales, people frequently face ethical dilemmas.  Generally, those characters that make the right choice and go the altruistic route do well for themselves, while those that choose to do what is in their own interests don’t fair so well.  There are a lot of people out there who believe that I would be in the latter group when it comes to using an egg donor.  And being the dual personality (logic versus emotions) that I am, I sometimes struggle with the idea that they could be right.

In the last week, I have watched the movies “The Island” and “Never Let Me Go.”  For those of you who have not seen these movies, I will try not to give anything away.  But I will say that they both raise questions about the creation of people and/or clones for the express purpose of having those people/clones provide organs or reproductive capabilities to people who need them.  In both movies, it is clear that the message is that this is a horrific prospect and that there are lines we must be careful not to cross.  The problem is, when I was talking with a friend/coworker about these movies (a friend who doesn’t know that we are using an egg donor), she said “That’s the world we’re headed to.  They are already exploiting young girls and paying them to sell their eggs or their babies so that rich women can have children they aren’t meant to have.  Other women are being coerced into acting as incubators for other people’s babies.  People are meant to die.  Some people are not meant to have children.  Our population control depends on these things.”  I smiled and said “Oh.  I didn’t really see it that way.”  Then, I quickly walked away so I could hyperventilate in my own space.  This friend is not stupid, uneducated, cruel or excessively religious.  If she feels this way, how many other everyday people feel this way, too?

I guess I’ve always known that these attitudes exist.  But, every time I am actually confronted with someone expressing these attitudes, there is a small part of me that questions whether I am contributing to a moral slippery slope that could result in the world becoming the one that these movies depict.  I am taking the gift of someone’s reproductive tissue in order to fulfill my dream of being a mother, and I worry about how my donor will feel in the future about the decision she is making now.  But I choose to push that concern out of my mind so that I can be okay about using her eggs because emotionally, I have to. 

I understand that these aren’t the egg donor’s vital organs and that she is willingly giving her eggs to me, but she is being financially compensated (as well she should be), and I have heard people say “What is the difference between an egg donor and a poor person selling his heart to someone rich in order to get money to take care of his family?”  Other than the fact that one is a vital organ, I don’t know the answer.  The heart donor could say that he is donating for altruistic reasons.  And even though I do not believe that my egg donor is donating her eggs because her financial situation requires her to do so (there is no desperation or anything other than an altruistic attitude exhibited in her profile), what if I am wrong?  What if she looks back years from now and regrets her decision?  My mother gave a child up for adoption when she was 18 and living out of her car.  Even though she knows it was the best thing for the baby, she has never gone more than a couple of days without mentioning how sad she is, not knowing where and how her son is.  She still sees him as her son.  What if my donor feels that way?   

These thoughts make me crazy…usually in my dreams…but sometimes when I am awake.  I feel like the logic of the arguments against egg donation must fall apart somewhere…but I can’t find the flaw in the reasoning.  I don’t know if I can’t find the flaw because it doesn’t exist or because I am so close to this issue, I’m not able to view it without my emotional self getting in the way of clear thinking.  If anyone out there has some logical argument that I am missing here, please share it with me.  I could really use the peace of mind.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Damn you, Circle of Life!

Yesterday, after a successful dose of retail therapy, I went with my mother-in-law (MIL) and pregnant sister-in-law (SIL) to watch the closing night of an off-Broadway production of The Lion King.  The musical was visually stunning…as was my SIL.  She (and my MIL) have known about the fertility issues the Prince and I have had.  My MIL even took me to a couple of post-operative appointments and asked all of the detailed questions that I secretly wanted her to ask, so that she could understand what we were going through.  They also both know how difficult my SIL’s pregnancy has been on me.  And, while they haven’t altered how they are behaving preparing for the baby’s arrival (as evidenced by their Facebook posts), their relationship with me has been altered.  I don’t get the weekly phone calls from my MIL, asking how I am doing.  There are not many family get-togethers anymore.  I know they are trying to spare me the pain of having all of the pregnancy excitement right in my face, but being left out in the cold is also difficult.

At any rate, I haven’t seen my SIL in a couple of months.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, she is a size 2 pastry chef (life is so unfair), and we get along splendidly.  From the day she met me, she was kind to me…none of the weird territorial stuff that sometimes happens when someone is dating a person’s only sibling.  My SIL has always been pretty, but now she has that “pregnancy glow” that you always hear about.  She is still thin (although she confided that her doctor chastised her for putting on 12 pounds last month, as her body type only requires a weight gain of approximately 5 pounds per month), but she has the adorable little baby bump that comes along at five months.  She looks happy and healthy and I couldn’t help but be ecstatic for her happiness…but….

(With IF, there is always a “but”) …but…I got tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat as soon as I saw her at the theater.  Everyone kept commenting on her pregnancy and asking questions and, more often than I needed to, I excused myself to get refreshments (the only time I’ve appreciated the disgustingly long lines).  As the production started, I sat there, willing myself to push past the pain…to show them that they didn’t need to exclude me anymore.  Then, the damn opening number “The Circle of Life” started, culminating in the happy presentation of the baby lion cub.  I cried at that opening number.  I had to fake laughter at the jokes peppered throughout the play because I was on auto-pilot, and the jokes weren’t sinking in.  During intermission, things got worse as my nerves took over and I started spouting off facts about babies being blue when a C-section is performed and what I will do regarding an epidural when I am pregnant and how my SIL should have a written Labor Plan to ensure that the medical staff follows her wishes when the time comes.  I actually said the words “You have to be your own advocate or else the doctors and nurses will follow their set script of care and basically walk all over you.”  Having defended the region’s neonatal trauma unit against medical malpractice actions, I know terrible things about what can go wrong during labor…things I manage to keep to myself.  But the conversation was still awkward.  No pregnant woman wants to hear someone who can’t get pregnant listing facts (some scary) about childbirth.  I don’t know what was wrong with me.  Skip to the closing number of the play…when I full on bawled (another baby lion cub being presented to the stirring “Circle of Life” number).  UGH!

Dinner, after the show, was equally awkward and I have realized that, as much as I hate it, maybe I can’t be more involved with the Prince’s family during my SIL’s pregnancy.  I really want to, but I don’t want to forever damage my relationship with them by saying stupid, stupid things and crying in mid-conversation.  Even though they are somewhat understanding, they haven’t been through IF and I can see from their faces that my behavior seems a bit crazy to them.  I don’t know why I can’t shake that panicked feeling that turns my brain to mush whenever I am around pregnant women, but I know that I bother myself, so I can only imagine how they must feel.  What happens when my SIL “presents her little cub?”  How do I survive that if I can’t hold it together during a make believe presentation of a puppet baby?  Some days I can appreciate what IF has taught me, but today is not one of those days.  Today I just hate it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Princess's New Clothes

As many of you know, I have been toying with the idea of a full blown weekend retreat for a couple of months now.  I’ve looked at monasteries, ashrams, yoga retreat centers and hippie tent camps out in the middle of nowhere, in search of something that felt like it might be a road to inner peace.  Every day I’ve spent at least an hour thinking “Should I go or should I stay home and save my money?”  A couple of times, I even filled out the registration form for a yoga center in the Berkshires, only to chicken-out when it came time to hit “send.”  Figuring out how to de-stress has been a very stressful endeavor.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Immediately after writing yesterday’s post, I thought about how, even if I am able to love myself a little, in spite of my weight, I am never able to love how I look.  Every day I wake up and squeeze myself into clothes that are either too small or simply unflattering to my new body shape.  I spend each day feeling a bit like a sausage, pulling at hems and sleeves and waist bands, willing the clothing to grow bigger.  As many women do, I have refused, for some time, to buy replacement “fat clothes.”  It feels like buying new bigger-sized clothing is equivalent to admitting defeat and rewarding myself for bad behavior, all at the same time.  I’ve bargained with myself for many months – “If you lose fifteen pounds, you can get a new outfit.”  Needless to say, I haven’t gotten a new outfit in a long time. 

Then, when the mail came yesterday, I received: a girly magazine containing a feature story about a department store’s new line of plus size clothing; a flyer for that store showing all of that store’s cute plus size spring line; a coupon for 50% off my purchases at the store; a coupon for an extra $10 off my purchases at the store; and, a gift certificate (from a friend of mine who knows I’ve been feeling down) for that same store.  Okay God of All Things Retail…you have my attention.

I’ve decided that it is time to stop punishing myself for my weight gain by denying myself clothing that fits.  I have decided to stop fretting over spending money on a weekend getaway that may or may not make me more at peace going into this donor cycle.  I have decided that I can kill two birds with one stone by spending the money I would have spent on a weekend getaway on clothes that make me feel pretty and happy each day.  I will no longer be stressing every day about whether I should go away the next weekend because that money will already be gone.  Decision made.  And, in return, I will get the inner peace that comes from being confident about how I look.  Good bye Sausage…Hello Saucy.  At least that’s the plan.  Who knows?  Maybe the confidence boost will even motivate me to get out and get some more exercise so that I feel even better about myself.  I am also able to rationalize this decision by saying, “If I do manage to lose some weight, I will have cute maternity clothes lined up for awhile.”

You heard it here first…a royal decree has been issued – Today is Retail Therapy Day!  This Princess is getting some new clothes…and not the invisible kind!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Portly Princess...

This morning, as I woke up thinking “Do I take the pugs for a walk, or do I curl up on the couch,” I realized that I am twice the woman I used to be…literally!  When I was doing pageants and modeling as a teen, I weighed slightly less than half of what I weigh now.  I have doubled in size.  The guilt and self-shame came washing in with that realization but…holding firmly to my recently found sunny outlook…I decided to examine the positives associated with where I was and where I am now.

I am twice the size I used to be and that is undeniable.  But…I am also twice the age I was when I was a little twig.  I also am twice the person I used to be in terms of experience.  Since age 16, I have lived through a physically abusive relationship, a break-up with my first true love, completing a four year psychology degree in three years, putting myself through law school, taking custody of my teenage sister, raising my teenage sister, keeping my mentally ill mother from ending up on the streets, moving to a new part of the state (three times), dating causally for a few months, meeting my husband and getting married, buying a home, working in a private law firm, working for the state, undergoing a appendectomy, undergoing a gall bladder removal, beating bulimia and anorexia, undergoing 6 failed IUI’s, undergoing 6 failed IVF’s, undergoing 6 laparoscopies, undergoing 1 laparotomy, enduring the loss of one ovary and one fallopian tube, the loss of my grandmother and aunt, and the loss of my naivety.  Because of these experiences, I now know that I am more than twice as strong as I ever would have thought I could be.

Even the doubling of my weight has been “helpful” in developing my personality.  When I was a tiny teen, I really believed that my best assets were my hair, eyes and legs.  I thought the best way to get what you wanted in life was to flirt, relentlessly.  I knew I had a genius IQ but, while I always got good grades, I worked hard to play stupid so that people wouldn’t expect too much from me.  I didn’t want people to know I was smart because that meant that guys wouldn’t like me as much…which was all I really cared about back then.  Being fat, you learn to find friends and boyfriends who actually like you for who you are…not how you look and what you do.  You learn that it is helpful to be pretty, but in the adult world, you can overcome any deficiencies in your attractiveness by being smart and a hard worker.  The converse is not true…employers will only put up with the pretty but incompetent girl for so long.  Being fat forces you to find self-worth in accomplishments, rather than compliments.  Being fat also forced me to stop being the superficial, judgmental brat that I used to be.  The girls I picked on in high school are skinnier than I am now (thank you Facebook).  No one seems to remember how mean I was about weight.  Old high school classmates say “You were always so nice!”  But I remember at least thinking nasty things about people, solely based on their looks.  And I am so glad that I am not that person anymore.

I am not saying that I wouldn’t give up a toe (maybe not a big toe) to lose all of the weight I’ve put on and go back to the pleasantries that go along with being thin and attractive…but only because I believe that I would never lose the lessons that I’ve learned as a fat person.  It has not been easy being twice the person I used to be…in any sense.  And I NEVER want to be three times the person I used to be…no matter what emotional self-growth that might foster.  But, today, instead of beating myself up over my weight gain…or obsessing over how long it would take me to lose all of that weight, only to declare defeat before I even get started…I am going to just relax and chalk it up to a life lesson.  My girth may have grown, but so has my heart…and for that, I am thankful.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Let There Be Light

Yesterday was a fabulous day!  There was no certain event I can point to that made it so good…it just was.  I felt more positive, happy and (dare I say it) hopeful yesterday than I have felt in a long time.  During yoga and acupuncture, my mind kept wandering to the questions: “Why am I so happy today?  What is different from yesterday, or the day before that?”  There are couple of possible answers to these questions, but I think I know the “best” answer…It was sunny!!!

After almost five months of (literal) bitter cold and grayness all around me, yesterday the sunshine came out and the temperature climbed into the low 60’s (Fahrenheit).   I was able to commute with my car windows down.  I was able to take a short walk outside on my lunch break.  It was delightful.  That one shift in my scenery – sunlight - filled me with a renewed strength that I had been desperately searching for during the last couple of months.  (In fairness…it was also St. Patrick’s Day…which means everyone was wearing my favorite color – green – and a lot of people were drunk very early in the day…making them much more friendly and pleasant to be around.  I also think that all of the awesome comments on my “Lucky Me” post made it a good day because it is just such a relief to hear that I am not overreacting…which is what all of the fert’s around me would say.  Support and camaraderie is so uplifting).  But back to the sunshine...

In fairy tales, there is always (or at least almost always) a portion of the story that happens in a dark place.  Sometimes storm clouds roll in.  Sometimes darkness falls over the land.  Sometimes the heroes of the stories find themselves trapped in a dark forest with their nemesis pursuing them.  And then…the sunlight reappears and you know that “happily ever after” is right around the corner.  If you look at a story book, “happily ever after” NEVER is depicted in stormy, gray, drizzly weather.  There is something about light and sunshine that evokes an emotional response, universally, within us as humans, and it allows us to believe in miracles and happy outcomes.  Authors know it…and now that I’ve thought about it, I know it.

Even though it is supposed to rain today, and Monday, and Tuesday…I am of the opinion that, if I can just grab onto the sunshine every time it appears and ride the wave of happiness that comes with it, I might be able to be where I want to be emotionally very soon.  I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel (sorry…bad cliché and bad pun).  There’s a chance that I will be able to go into this cycle hopeful that my nemesis – IF – is being left behind me.  And even though I know there will be set backs and bumps in the road between now and beta day (still a couple of months away), today I am feeling like my "happily ever after" might be on the way.    

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucky Me...

Lately, I have been trying to get onboard the gratitude train.  But I have to say…if one more person tells me how “lucky” I am to have the resources to go through fertility treatments, my head is going to explode.  I get it.  Not everyone can afford IUI’s, IVF’s or donor egg cycles.  I’m blessed to have insurance and savings to cover the treatments.  But I really have to disagree about being “lucky.”

Recently, someone told me that I am lucky that I am dealing with infertility now, as the technology today offers more options for family building.  I also was told that I should feel lucky beacuse there are lots of women who want a baby but don’t have the resources to even try assisted cycles.  The person who recently said this to me is just one of many people (including infertility friends) to tell me why I am so “lucky.”  I’ve had it with the insensitive statements and I've had it with keeping my mouth shut about it.  Maybe the people making these statements didn't mean any harm, but that's kind of irrelevant when it feels like I got punched in the gut whenever I hear the words "You're so lucky."  So here is my rant about why no woman dealing with infertility should be told that she is lucky.

First, no one would ever say to someone diagnosed with cancer that they are lucky that they have chemotherapy and radiation therapy available now, because it wasn’t available in the past.  I’ve watched people go through the side effects of cancer treatments and the emotional pain and fear that goes along with a cancer diagnosis.  There is nothing “lucky” about any of it.  Maybe those with cancer today have better odds of survival now than they would have had in the past.  But they are not lucky and I don’t think anyone would dare tell them that they are.  Likewise, I am not “lucky” to have infertility treatments available to me that weren’t available in the past.  I still have infertility.  I still may never have a child.  The treatments available may give me better odds of having a child, but those treatments also include horrid side effects to medications that I have to inject into myself multiple times per day, every day, for a month at a time, or more.  I am glad that infertility treatments have come a long way, but I don’t think it is fair to say I am lucky to have infertility now, as opposed to infertility in the past.  I’m pretty sure that infertility is equally sucky, no matter when you have it.

Second, I know how blessed I am to be able to pursue ART options, especially the very expensive endeavor of using donor eggs.  I appreciate that there are women who haven’t had the opportunity to pursue ART because of financial considerations, and I think it is deplorable that there isn’t a system in place to make sure that infertility treatment is available to anyone who needs it.  However, again I would argue that I am not lucky to be able to pursue ART.  I would never say to someone who had a miscarriage: “You are lucky.  At least you got a positive pregnancy test.”  I wouldn’t say that because I am acutely aware of the pain that a miscarriage brings, especially for someone who desperately wants to be a mother, and I am aware that the only thing scarier to me than not getting pregnant is getting pregnant and then experiencing a loss of the pregnancy.  And yet, it seems to be perfectly acceptable for people to say to me “You are lucky.  At least you got to try 12 cycles of ART.”  Nevermind that they didn't work.  At least I got to try, right?  Yeah, I’m so lucky that I got to go through three years of side effects and have had more people looking at my nether regions than most strippers.  I’m so lucky that I got to go through three years of being sure that science’s involvement in my baby-making process would mean that I was going to get pregnant…only to find out that even science can’t seem to fix my broken plumbing.  I’m so damn lucky I can’t stand it.

I know I sound like a brat right now (and brat probably isn’t the word a lot of you are thinking of).  Really, I am not as ungrateful as I sound…or maybe I am.  I’m not sure, because I’m so angry.  But, on this day before St. Patrick’s Day, I have to say that I am not feeling particularly “lucky” and I would be much obliged if people would recognize that my pain isn’t lessened by having undergone 6 IUI’s and 6 IVF’s.  I still don’t have a baby in my belly or my arms, just like the women who need, but don’t have the resources, to go through ART.  I’ve suffered enough pain to deserve some validation that my situation isn’t lucky.  It sucks...because infertility matter what the circumstances.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Princess and the Pug...



Yesterday, I got the kinks worked out with the donor coordinator regarding my cycle and the consents.  When I was telling my husband about it last night, he said “You are really a pain in the butt, aren’t you?”  That got me thinking, am I a pain in the butt or just on top of things?  I recognize that I have become so absorbed in second guessing every step of the preparation for this cycle that I have, thus far, failed to find any balance in regards to the upcoming cycle.  However, I’ve caught a lot of oversights, too.  Have I gone beyond “attentive” and on to “obsessive”?  Am I looking for things to be unhappy about?

I actually work with my therapist on this exact issue.  My life, even before infertility, was spent walking on egg shells, waiting for the next bad thing to happen.  My therapist thinks that I don’t really enjoy life because I spend all of my time waiting for the other shoe to drop – a learned behavior that protected me in the past but is no longer necessary and is potentially detrimental.  There’s no place in my life right now for joy to exist.  The therapist is of the opinion that I should be able to look back at this time in my life (the Infertility Age) and say “That sucked…but there were some good times, too.”  I can’t do that right now because, although I know that I do have fun sometimes, that’s not what sticks in my memory.  I look at the last three years and think about how exhausting everything has been.  I think about all of our failed cycles, all of the heartache, all of the medication side effects, and the stress in my relationship with the Prince.  I just remember that the Infertility Age sucked…no “but’s.”

I’m a little bit like my boy pug – Napoleon.  He has been skiddish since we got him as a puppy.  He’s seven years old now…and he still crouches down almost every time we go to pet him.  He’s WAY beyond submissive.  He acts like he has been beaten every day of his life, even though we don’t know of a single occasion of him being mistreated.  Something must have happened before we took him home and he just can’t let it go.  Each day, he forgets all of the affection we’ve given him for seven years…or how much he loves a good belly rub.  He seems to only remember what presumably happened to him long ago, and the memory and the fear that goes along with that event has shaped him into who he is.  So too, my fear and memories of past traumas and disappointments are keeping me from enjoying my life to the fullest.

Because of his fear, Napoleon doesn’t get the same amount of attention and affection as our girl pug – Josephine.  She is always in our face, demanding attention.  She remembers exactly how much she likes belly rubs and throws herself backwards on top of every lap she comes across, exposing her belly and looking up with the “What’s taking you so long?” look.  She’s fearless and she clearly enjoys her life.  I wish I was a little more like her.  Able to just trust that I would get what I want…each time…even if experience has shown me that I wouldn’t always get the “belly rub” I am seeking.

It’s funny to think that I am now so neurotic that I am learning lessons from my dogs, but that’s where I am at.  Napoleon is loved dearly and is shown how much he is loved, every chance we get.  But I can't say that he has been rewarded for his fear.  And no fairy tale hero is ever rewarded for being a coward.  In fact, cowards and very negative characters in fairy tales generally face nasty consequences for displaying those characteristics.  I really want this cycle to be the best chapter in my story…and to achieve that, I know I need to dump the fear and just go for the belly rub.  Now I just have to figure out how to do that.