Thursday, September 29, 2005

All in All It's Just Another Brick in the Wall

A while back in the IF blog world, there was a discussion about "hitting the wall" with infertility*, about reaching the point where you suddenly feel that the obstacles you're up against are too much, that you just can't push through life as an infertile person any longer. At the time, I could not yet really imagine ever hitting the wall. If there was a wall in my future, it seemed so far away as to blend into the horizon. All I could think about was the next pregnancy attempt, the new treatment plan, what would make things work next month.

Now, I think that while there may be one dramatic moment when you realize you're up against an insurmountable wall, the wall itself does not appear all at once. It's not an obstacle that you slam into unexpectedly, smacked breathless with loss. No, I think the wall is built brick by brick. Getting my period last month, maybe didn't deserve the degree of sympathy you lovely people sent my way. That wasn't a wall slamming down in front of me. It was just one more brick being set in the mortar. Still I felt really anxious and sad, the way listening to The Wall makes you feel. So I thank everyone who came to sing along with me.

I feel the wall rising slowly, defining the boudaries of my garden. At first, when I saw those bricks being laid down, they seemed more like the start of a walkway than a wall. I thought, early on, that the delays in our family plans were just that, pauses that would ultimately make my path more sure. Like many an "ambivalent infertile," I started this process scared out of my wits about what motherhood would mean for my life, and my sense of self. If a few delays served to give me time to find my way, then I was ready to follow the yellow brick road.

Now, after nearly two and a half years of this, with my 33rd birthday coming up soon, that yellow walkway has definitely been built up into a red brick wall. It's still not insurmountable. In places it's only just waist high. I can still hop up and sit down on it, dangle my legs over it, and imagine jumping down from that perch to a future where the biological children we hope to have are wandering dreamily through a field. But it gets harder day by day to hoist myself up.

The other night, I dreamt that a friend had written me a letter, enclosing some old photos of my husband and me. And the friend said, "Look how happy you two were a few years ago when these photos were taken. That's who you're supposed to be. Those are the people who want to be parents. Isn't it time to stop all this struggle to bear biological children and start living family life? I really think you should adopt." In the dream, I was not entirely sure this friend was right, but it felt good to have someone offer the option. In real life, my parents are vocally opposed to the idea of adoption. And I have one friend who has actually lectured me about not being "selfish" and "impatient" and giving up to soon. (I know, I know, I should send the Barren Bitch Brigade** to beat her up.) My husband is open to adoption in theory, but says he's far from feeling ready to take that step. He's a quite a bit taller than I am; I guess he's not yet finding it hard to hop on top of the wall.

Of course my dream family originally involved biological children. I'm an utterly ordinary person and I expected to become a mother in the ordinary way. My wish was not so much to reproduce myself, as to witness the strange alchemy by which my husband and I could blend together to form a new being. We've been a couple for nearly half our lives now: a long time to imagine that magical twining, love made flesh. Still, I think that what I want more than anything is the small things, to read books, run baths, run errands, play tag. I want to meet my husband’s eyes across the dinner table as we laugh at something our child said or did. And I don't think DNA enters much into that.

So have I "hit the wall?" I don't think so. Not yet. Still the education of this Infertile continues, brick by brick.

*Thanks to the wonders of Google and the fact that the ever-fabulous Julie has kept her entire archives intact, you can still read that discussion:

**The phrase "BBB" was created by Get Up Grrl, back in the day when the very best IF stuff was being written.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What Fresh Hell Is This?

With apologies to Dorothy Parker, I have to say I'm fresh out witty wry-humored ways to say that INFERTILITY SUCKS. As you might suppose, due to the remarkable prognostic powers of chocolate, I was not the least bit surprised to greet my period yesterday. However. I was not the least bit pleased, either.

So. The new plan, made in consultation with Dr. Smart-Cookie Sweetie-Pie (my RE) is to do a monitored cycle this month, starting with Day 3 bloodwork tomorrow, including an ultrasound to check out the old follicles, *maybe* a trigger shot of HCG, more blood draws and hormone checks around day 21, etc.

It feels scary to admit that I am now no longer even a glamorous bohemian recurrent miscarrier who finds it fun to sleep on the streets so long as the weather is warm. No. I've gone down another rung to the point where I'm such a sad bag lady, there's nothing left in my bag and little hope of putting anything in there any time soon. In short, I feel farther than ever from the day when I'll hold a live baby in my arms.

And I feel seriously annoyed that my total type-A super-good-girl determination to relax all summer long did *not* result in a pregnancy. I drank wine in a foreign country, people. Result? Zip, zilch, nada. That there is conclusive clincal proof that the people who tell you to just relax should go f*ck themselves. So. I am going on record as one tense unhappy not pregnant person.

Behold the autumn of my discontent. Happy equinox everyone.

P.S. Would YOU take a trigger shot of HCG in my circumstances? Multiples are very low on my to-do list...

Friday, September 16, 2005


It’s that time again. Cycle day 23 ( but only post-O day 7) and all 500 square feet of my little corner of Manhattan are dizzily wondering whether I may be pregnant. And I do mean dizzily. Cause damn if those supplemental progesterone pills aren’t good for a mighty impressive case of the bedspins. Should you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, worrying, say, about whether progesterone supplementation is really a good idea, you will soon find yourself lying awake with your head spinning—literally and figuratively.

As I mentioned over at Thalia’s, we have gotten to the point that even my husband has started to monitor my pee frequency. “Gee,” he’ll say slyly and casually, glancing over the morning paper for a bored 2.2 nanoseconds as I do my usual, damn-I-slept-in-again morning dash around, “Gee didn’t I hear you get up a few times last night?” Translated this means, “You are under professional surveillance. My beeper went off at precisely 0300 hours last night indicating that you tripped the new digital volumetric urine analyzer I surreptitiously installed under the toilet seat.” To which I reply, “Um, maybe, I can’t really remember right now. I’m going to be late for work.” Which, translated means, “Would you STOP it, you moron, the progesterone that is making me pee is synthetic. Or it comes from a horse. Or something. Anyway, it does not originate in my body. It is being secreted by my stomach, not my ovaries. This sign and symptom seeking is pointless.” Then I self-righteously huff off into the bathroom to check if my nipples feel sore one last time before I leave. Even the dog has gotten into the act. This morning I caught him sniffing my crotch. His thoughts need no translation: “Mmm! Horsey!”

So, after evading the husband and the dog, and surmounting my own addled ineptitude, it’s a serious relief to let the apartment door slam behind me and head for the elevator. If the elevator’s empty when I get on (and it often is cause I live on a high floor), I’ve found the cozy windowless cabin to be an excellent spot for a quick nip at the nipples just to, you know, see if the old buttons are more or less sore than they were two and a half minutes ago in the bathroom. It turns out that this diagnostic procedure can actually be performed in any empty elevator. So, say, if you find yourself rushing from meeting to meeting all day with no time even to pee (which you don’t need to do in any case, the effects of the previous night’s progesterone pill having fully worn off by mid-morning), you can give yourself quick checks without even stepping into the ladies room. I’m sure I am the delight of security-camera men all over Manhattan.

The one early pregnancy sign that I have actually found most accurate I am going to have to patent. The test is both uncannily accurate and sinfully fun to perform. It’s called the HDCT Test, the “How Does Chocolate Taste?” Test. As a certified chocoholic, I regard pre-menstrual chocolate consumption as a basic human right, medically indicated for all cases of PMS. As a pregnant person, however, I find I develop an almost immediate aversion to chocolate—and unfortunately to sweets generally—during the earliest weeks of the pregnancy. This aversion is then followed by many others until I find myself with my head in the toilet hourly, usually sometime in week six. So, long before I start peeing on sticks, I start opening foil wrappers, and, let me tell you, the chocolate test has yet to let me down. Survey says, I am not pregnant again this month. But I will report back with the “scientific” results when they’re in.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Joining the Miscarriage Masons

Two friends of mine IRL have had miscarriages in the last 2 weeks. Each called me within the hour of getting the bad news. One, a veteran at this, was already off getting her nails done at the time. The other, a newbie, called sobbing into her cell phone from the clinic parking lot. I was both touched and deeply saddened to be the one they both thought to call first. Apparently, after 3 miscarriages, I have passed the apprenticeship and fellowship stages and am now considered a Grand Master in the Masonic Order of Miscarriage.*

So, I propose a cyber sororal lodge for Miscarriage Masons. Instead of the “Square and Compass” logo we can adopt the “Wand and Speculum.” You can’t apply for membership to this secret society, you can only be selected. While I wish it didn’t fall to me to be the one to initiate friends into the mysteries of the miscarriage ritual--the secret signs, the code words, the lore handed down through the ages--as a Master Mason I offer herewith a primer for those unfortunate enough to be tapped to join:

Spotting never symbolizes anything good. Beware of medical codes. Don’t believe them when they claim that the only reason they can’t find a heartbeat is because the crappy old ultrasound machine is no good and they’re just sending you for a “confirmation” ultrasound at the better clinic. Those people are not “on the level.” There are no crappy old ultrasound machines. Mention of the COUM is code for “you’re fucked, your baby’s dead, but please wait and do your crying in someone else’s office.” As for Masonic regalia, buy some pretty yoga pants to wear to the D&C. Miscarriage masonry ritual dictates passing the first awful hours after the D&C viewing as many mindless videos as you can before falling asleep. Finally, be aware that Masonic miscarriage tradition calls for a hormonal plunge following a loss, so be prepared for the resultant despair and depression.

The Miscarriage Masons is one secret society no one ever wants to be able to join. Membership in the Miscarriage Freemasons will not make you feel free. But it will make you highly sensitive to the pain of your fellow members. So, when you meet a sister, make the secret sign and hug her hard.

Many thanks to all of you who "flashed the sign" on reading my last post. It makes me feel a bit better to think I'm helping others to feel a bit better too.