Friday, December 12, 2008

Everything or Nothing

Sorry for the lack of posts. I have not been able to get a moment to myself. We are currently stalled out waiting for the arrival of our brand new OMD, who missed her flight and is now not arriving until 10:30 PM. Who/ what is OMD, you ask? That would be Soper's coinage from way back: Obligatory Miscarriage Dog. OMD, you know the pet you get in order to have a sentient object on which to dump all your unfulfilled maternal longings. The one you buy toys and cute sweaters for and dare anyone to call a mama's pup. I actually signed up with OMD's breeder last August after my fourth miscarriage. Turns out to have been a prescient move, since she's now arriving just in time to console me on my fifth.

Did I just say fifth? They're mounting up so fast now. I got the dread call from Dr. Cookie Pie today. They weren't able to culture any cells for analysis, so we'll never know whether my latest loss is related to my prior ones or is a random chromosomal one. But all signs point to it having been chromosomal, your garden variety blighted ovum. The million dollar question is: was this a random event, sort of thing that could happen to anybody? Or is this in fact more circumstantial evidence in the mounting case for pre-mature menopause? This latest loss could mean everything or nothing.

New day three testing as soon as practical. I'm now enjoying the exclusive no-hope edition of the fabled two week wait. Glad to have OMD arriving any minute now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm OK

I'm OK. More OK than I would have thought. Much more OK than I was after last summer's loss[es]. Turtle sang "Happy Birthday" to me on my birthday, and it was truly the most wonderful sound on earth.

I am humbled to realize how much of my emotional response is hormonally mediated. I had an easy pregnancy and an easy miscarriage and I simply don't feel tragic. I feel kind of bemused.

I don't know where we go from here. Dr. Cookie Pie prescribes: "soul searching." We are trying to do cytology on the bit of tissue I manged to collect and we are planning to do day 3 blood work next month (which could be difficult over the holidays...).

I am not sure how far I am willing to go in the pursuit of a second child...the ethical questions swirling around all non-standard options are so complex, the risks, financial, emotional, physical are so great. I think I need a break from thinking about all this... Today's NYT's magazine cover story and all the attendant comments were thought provoking to the point of being headache inducing!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Easy Come Easy Go

I am currently miscarrying. My first spontaneous miscarriage, no D & C needed. Unfortunately, this is most likely chromosomal and is entirely consistent with the lousy FSH reading. I feel bleak. And bloody...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No News Is Good News

Hi. Five weeks here and to all appearances still pregnant. I have in the last week weathered a bout of flue AND a UTI. I did not think I needed antibiotics for the flue-ish thing, but had this persistent sore throat that wouldn't quit. Upside # 1 to the UTI is that I scored some antibiotics that seem to be kicking the throat thing as well. Upside # 2 to the UTI is that I've only had one once before during pregnancy--and that was the successful one with Turtle. So I am choosing to see this as my lucky UTI, not so much a bladder infection as a benediction. Also, I an not queasy yet, whereas I was one day pre-vomit at this stage last time. I have a theory on this, but I'm not going to jinx it by telling at this point!

Many thanks for the well wishes. I am not going in to get wanded until next Wednesday, one day before Thanksgiving AND my birthday. Trying not to make anything of the timing...I will update.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

A quick update. First of all, thank you very much for your comments. It means the world to me to have this support. I quite honestly do not think I could face doing this again without knowing than an online community of fabulous women with more than their share of fertility awareness has my back! Also, when I took Blogger up on their seemingly innocent offer to upgrade my templates, I lost my site meter, so I now have NO idea who or how many people are reading, apart from the evidence of the comments. (I did make a teensey ineffectual effort to address the situation by visiting site meter. But they had a long log-in process with lots of questions and passcodes and email address queries. And since I first set up the dang thing years on years ago, my email has changed, I don't remember any of my old passcodes etc., the whole thing seemed like more than I could handle and I gave up.) I'm driving the old blog without headlights.

Not the update you were looking for, eh?

Well, I am really only officially pregnant as of today. Last week on cycle day 25, something like nine days post-ovulation (I *think*) I saw a big red spot on the toilet paper and thought--oh no, foreshortened cycles, classic sign of perimenopause. But, because my hope addict* rules the roost, I also started thinking about how the boobs were sore, I felt a little dizzy, there'd been that nose bleed and, well, you know the drill. So I took a pee-stick test. And because, after years of practice at squinting at these things, I've now developed near x-ray vision, I was able to see the ever so faint second pink line. I went over to Dr. Cookie Pie's stat, where a blood draw revealed that my HCG level was 14. Dr Google quickly confirmed that anything under 5 was not pregnant, anything over 25 was pregnant, and a number like 14 was, well, interesting. But, being the eternal optimist I went with "the opposite of not pregnant is--pregnant!!" And duly reported the news here.

I spent the weekend on progesterone supplements and tried to ignore the very occasional light red spotting.

I then waited until yesterday to do another blood draw, the first official day of my "missed period." And, the office took their sweet time getting back to me, but, I learned this morning that my HCG is now an entirely respectable 123. So. I am now, as of today, 4 weeks pregnant. Which, if you think about it is insane. I've already logged nearly a week of anxiety and yet I am still only ever so barely pregnant. You can see how a girl might turn to the internet for support, a stiff drink being out of the question...

I have to say, I was absurdly pleased to see that faint pink line. I said to my husband, "you know, the silver lining to all these miscarriages, is getting to experience the joy of the positive pee-stick so many extra times." Seriously, I know I really am getting warped. But. I am irrationally hopeful. And I'm carrying around that foul little peestick in my purse like some kind of good luck token. At least it proves I still can get pregnant, lousy FSH to the contrary. I'm still in the game...

*With a tip of the pee-stick to the ever fabulous Tertia...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What a Wonderful World

On the micro level, I am dreamily amazed to report that today, three weeks to the day before my 36th birthday, while waiting to repeat the day-3 bloodwork that caused me so much anguish, I have discovered that I am pregnant once again.

On the macro level, I am thrilled to have just lived through one of the most important events in U.S. history, the election of our first black president, a man who, as a constitutional scholar, fully understands the enormity of that accomplishment as well as his obligation to undo the widespread damage of the Bush-Cheney years.

Very sleepy, very happy, not yet pukey...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thank you

I am so moved by all your support, practical and otherwise. Thank you. Thank you.

Big Boy/ Little Boy

A couple of months ago, very shortly after he began speaking in sentences, Turtle became interested in the idea of privacy. Where he learned the term I'm not sure, as his Dad and I seldom if ever use the word. It may be that his babysitter is more modest than we are. In any event, his conception of privacy delightfully betrayed the two-year old's basic belief that there is no division between mommy and me. "Go away, daddy," he'd order, "I need privacy with Mommy."

Tonight, for the first time, he asked for privacy for himself. I was giving him a bath and he began to splash. "Stop that," I said, firmly but calmly. "Sorry, Mommy!" he yelped almost before I could get the words out. We had just made it through a block-throwing incident, and he knew, I thought, that he'd better not push things. But we'd hardly resumed our boat race when he began to splash again. "I know it's fun to splash," I said, "but it's only fun for the one in the tub, the one who's already wet. Mommy's wearing clothes and she wants to stay dry." "Sorry, Mommy," he said. Then he thought for a moment.

"Mommy, I want privacy," he said. "Really?" I asked, shocked at this new development. "Mommy go away," he clarified. "OK," I said, looking for a compromise that would not involve leaving him unattended in a good 6 or 8 inches of water, "I'll turn around and I won't look again until you say I can." The boat race resumed along with the splashing.

And in that instant, I saw all the other separations he'll demand over the years, the privacy he'll want for illicit pleasures so much more dangerous than a simple splash in the bath. How will I protect him from himself, and from me, from my demands for perfection? "I can hear you splashing," I told him.

Later, on the way to bed, in his uncanny two-year-old way, he began to take stock of his own maturation. "Mommy, I no have a crib," he announced. "That's right I said. Can you tell me who has it now?" Not to be distracted, he repeated, "Daddy took da crib." We'd given it away as a hand-me-down fully four months ago and I was surprised to have him bring it up. "That's right," I said, "and now a new little baby sleeps in it, right? It was too small for you." I felt good about teaching him empathy, the importance of giving to others. "I climb out and Daddy took it away," he insisted with unflinching accuracy. In fact, Daddy did confiscate the crib for good one day about a month after the big-boy-bed had been introduced, a day when the nap-time stall tactic of requesting transfer from bed to crib devolved into the nap-strike tactic of climbing out of the crib.

"Well," I said, opting for perfect honesty with this small exacting boy, "it is true that Daddy took the crib away when you climbed out of it. That was a dangerous thing to do and you could have gotten hurt. But it was time to give the crib away anyway. We didn't give it away because you climbed out. We gave it away because it was too small for you. You were so big you had to scrunch your legs up inside it. You didn't need it any more and until we gave it to the new little baby, he had no place at all to sleep." I nattered on about all the space for playing we'd opened up in his room. He launched into a scientific catalog of all the changes in his room since his infancy. "No changing table, Mommy. That's a dresser." "Man brought the bed." "Daddy took my shelf." Wow, such loss, such longing, such nostalgia and such clear memories at two.

I wanted to comfort him in the face of all this change. I said, "let's get Freddie." You've had Freddie since you were a tiny little baby," I said as he nuzzled his favorite stuffed dog. "You've always loved Freddie." But he was on to me. "Mommy, Freddie no bark," he said. "Freddie no make a noise," he said pressing futilely at the electronic insert that used to making a barking sound when pressed. "Wow," I said, "Freddie did used to bark, and you have a really good memory. You remember what he sounded like when he barked, right?" "Yes," he said, sounding miserable, already learning the lesson that you can't go home again, not even when you're two and rocking in your mother's arms.

"Well, and you have blankie, right?" I asked, suddenly grateful for the continued presence of the disgraceful unraveling rag I used to swaddle him in. "Do you remember how I used to wrap you up in blankie?" I asked him. By the end I had taken to wrapping him loosely toga-style around his chest, just to give him the suggestion of a swaddle. He tensed and didn't answer me. "Should we wrap you up in blankie, tonight?" I asked him. "No!" he declared. "OK," I said, and we finished our book. Then I lay him down on his big-boy bed and wrapped him toga-style in his blankie. The silly phrases I used to repeat like a mantra and haven't used in a year came back to me: "I'm gonna wrap you up in blankie, in blankie, blankie, blankie. Blankie makes you feel totally safe, totally, secure. I love you son, oh yes I do, I love you to bitsy bitsy bits." He greeted the old game with gales of giggles. And then, with more rocking and singing, he slowly drifted into sleep.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I am one of the youngest looking 35-year olds you'll ever see, five feet tall with a cute round face and big baby eyes. I see the signs of my own aging clearly in my face, the ever deepening under-eye shadows that are the curse of the sallow-skinned, the frown-lined brow calling out for Botox. But apparently what everyone else sees when they look at me me is a totally exhausted and very grumpy sixteen-year old inexplicably decked out in Eileen Fisher.

I was carded last week. When I laughed and told the waiter I was old enough to be highly flattered, he shrugged only half apologetically and said, "listen we have to card anyone under 30." When I told him I'll be 36 next month, he looked genuinely flabbergasted.

As a working woman, I have mostly found my exaggerated youthfulness to be a serious annoyance. Whatever one may say about the cult of youth in this country, the fact remains that age equates with experience and competence for most people. Look young and they may proposition you at the corner bar, but they won't promote you to the corner office.

With an outer appearance that makes everyone assume I'm much younger than I am, I was totally unprepared to be given news so terrible it has taken my breath away. Flattened me bodily. I appear to have entered perimenopause at the age of 35.

From the beginning of my fertility struggles, back in 2003 at the tender age of 30, I have always had one thing on my side. "Don't worry, you're still so young," everyone told me. And so my secret fear has been losing the one straight arrow in my quiver, the ability to conceive with relative ease and to produce genetically sound embryos. As an archer, I've been working with a broken bow, a body almost unable to shoot straight and send a baby out into the world. Four dead embryos. Four missed miscarriages. One live birth. Hitting the target that one lucky time meant everything, of course. It meant a child. And it meant that if I could only manage the strength of arm, if I could only muster the will to try again, I could seize another arrow from the quiver and I might, just might, score the pot shot that would bring another child. Now I have only broken sticks and shreds of feathers, dreams in dust.

When I didn't conceive last month, I went to Dr. Cookie Pie and said: "Let's do day three blood work." She said, "Are you kidding me? You're absolutely fine." I said, "I'm an information junkie. I'm about to turn 36. Let's just do it and see where we stand." I'd had a couple, that is two, episodes of night sweats over the last 4 months, and it had given me a little nagging worry. I wanted to reassure myself. And I thought that if my FSH had edged over 9, it might be time to think about IVF, to freeze some embryos from 35-year-old eggs, to give myself a fighting chance to carry to term with a viable embryo.

To my utter shock and grief, my FSH cam back at 15.5. Cookie Pie, always the optimist observed that my LH was 4.5 (when it would typically also be elevated with elevated FSH) and insisted that it must be a lab error. They ran it again and the numbers came back 16.5 and 5. They ran them yet again, and they came back 17.8 and 6. Cookie Pie will not believe it and says we'll try again next month with a different lab. Maybe it is a false alarm. But I feel devastated. These are the numbers of premature ovarian failure, numbers so bad no IVF clinic would even touch me.

The first thing I did, after hanging up the phone with Dr. Cookie Pie, was consult Dr. Google about premature menopause, whence I quickly discovered that it's associated with, you guessed it, hypothyroidism. And that information makes me feel enraged. Because no one, no one, not one person ever mentioned this fact to me. No one ever said, you had better try to conceive again the very instant you give birth cause your days are numbered. On the contrary, everyone spouted platitudes about primed pumps. Somehow, in all my googling on Hashimoto's, I never came across that little factoid. Or maybe I believed the hype about how I'm actually 16.

I am soo sad I am moving through my days in an utter fog. Tears come unbidden whenever I let my mind wander, and so I mostly try to pretend this is happening to someone else. I've told no one but my husband and my mother, but I have the oddest sensation walking down the street that everyone can sense I'm barren, that I'm a walking black hole.

Only here, in the safe virtual world of my fellow infertiles on the internet, can I stand to take this news out and run my fingers lightly over it. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your comments last week. It means so much to know I am not utterly alone at a time when I feel so forsaken.

Further Surprise of Hashimoto's.
Fantastically Shitty Hormones.
Failed Second-child Hopes.
Fucking Sorry History.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Insult to Injury

When I was a primary infertile, a big part of my pain stemmed from a feeling of arrested development, that there was a key life stage that I was ready, willing, but inexplicably unable to enter. Watching all the fertile folk rolling by me as I trudged the path to parenthood was so dispiriting.

I always thought that the pain of secondary infertility could be no where near as severe. And in the beginning, it really wasn't. But, as the months go by and Turtle grows bigger and bigger while the cradle stays empty, the pain begins to deepen. And what I mostly feel is that I am so worn down and weary now.

It's like the first time you go for a run and you really overdo it and come home sore, you think--wow that was tough. But actually, you don't know the half of it. Because the moment you're really going to face a world of pain is on day two, when you hit the trail again with muscles already worn down from the first run. Oh, at first you'll think, this is great. It feels *soo* good to get moving again, to stretch out all the muscles that tightened over night. But a few miles out you'll realize that you've pushed yourself beyond endurance. It's then that you want to curl up on the side of the trail and die a peaceful death under a drift of brown leaves. And if, somehow, you will yourself to live, you then have to face the fact that only putting one foot in front of the other can ever bring you home again.

Right now, a summer chemical pregnancy (Maria and the Girls both scored, as it turned out...) followed by two months of disappointing negatives has me clutching my side and kicking at leaves...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Emotional Immunities

If I confess that I'm achingly homesick for the little boy asleep in the next room, will you tell me to sit up straight and think of the children in Sudan, or Zimbabwe, (or in Newark NJ, for that matter)? That's about the response that Judith Warner got when she devoted an entire NYT column to the theme of missing her girls at camp. And I'm sure that Judith and I deserve the scorn.

The thing is this. My husband and I leave tomorrow morning for a romantic weekend for two. (The hotel describes our room as a "bridal suite." Ahem. Not a lot that's bridal about yours truly, the lady who's been around the block and up the duff 5 times now. But I digress.) We have never left Turtle overnight before and I'm already feeling bereft. Stomach tied in knots, chest-heaving sighs, bereft.

I know that billions have done this before me. I know that strong marriages make strong families. I know that we'll have a a great time lounging by the water. I know that I should have better manners than to complain about such a problem in public in the blogosphere. But there you have it. I miss Turtle terribly and we haven't even left yet.

In fact, I am feeling rather resentful of my parents for tricking me into letting them take away my child. I literally just got into a "discussion" with my mother over how early they'll promise to get him back on Sunday. If you knew how utterly unsentimental about children I am in general, how ambivalent I was about motherhood in the first place, you'd be better able to understand my own bafflement at the emotions my psyche comes up with.

Why do you think it is that things can hurt so acutely, that, by any rational standard, are actually phenomenal privileges (see spending weekend in pampered relaxation in first world country)? My latest theory is that it must be a kind of emotional allergy.

One leading hypothesis on the rise of allergies in the West is that our bored immune systems are going hay wire. Engineered to fight off typhus, plague, and long winters without fruit, our bodies just don't know what to do in the sanitized world of handi-wipes, antibiotics, and 24 hour supermarkets. So our bodies turn inward and come up with lovely counter-campaigns (like my immune system's brilliant idea to attack my thyroid). Maybe emotions work the same way.

Maybe we are all born with the emotional range to make it through wars and floods and famine. Yet, because most of us cosseted Westerners just don't have much immediate experience with woolly mammoths, we operate most of the time in emotional overdrive. Our feelings are left to cycle through the intense highs and lows that would make lots of sense in tougher conditions, but sound ridiculous applied to the problems of the middle-brow American.

Sorry to go all philosophical on you. But when you're on the verge of a mini break-down over a mini-break, it does get you thinking...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Girls: 1, Maria: 0

Probably not the brightest idea to compare pregnancy hopes to a tragic romance in the first place...Off to comment on the blogs of all the fabulous IComLeavWe folks!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My West Side Story

With apologies to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim...


I feel sleepy
Oh so sleepy
I feel sleepy and hungry and gay
And so pregnant
That hope is on the rise today

I have spotting
Light pink spotting
And the cramping, the peeing, oy vey!
I feel pregnant
Yes my boobs are very sore today.

See the pretty girl in that mirror there?
Who can that deluded girl be?
What’s the cycle day?
Number 24!
Could be PMS…
Still she hopes for more!

I feel hopeful
But so frightened
Could be puking, then crying oh boy
Cause I’ve been
Just a little pregnant before!

Have you met my good friend Maria
The craziest girl on the block?
You'll know her the minute you see her
She's the one who is in an advanced state of shock

She thinks she's knocked up
She thinks she's in Spain
She isn't knocked up
She's merely insane

It must be the heat
Or some rare disease
Or too much to eat
I mean come on please

Her doctor said no
Yet she says go!
This is not all
That smart as you know!

Once calm and cool,
Waiting resigned.
Now she wants a peestick
She’s out of her mind!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Heart IComLeavWe

Wow, comments! From cool interesting women. My second try at blogging, like my second try at baby making, did not exactly get off to an auspicious start. But the IComLeavWe is a fine fine thing. And I hope it bodes well generally.

Now, I sat down here 5 hours ago when Turtle was napping with full intentions of writing a long post, having actually forgotten all about IComLeavWe. But then I saw all the great comments. And I remembered! After browsing many blogs; and leaving my required comments; and getting dinner for Turtle (which we ate picnic style on the floor in the living-room air-conditioning); and doing bath-books-bed with Turtle; and eating myself; and doing some more blog browsing, I am now wiped and brain dead.

But I do have a question. Why do you think the media is playing up motherhood so much right now? I was alive and sentient in the 80's and I feel quite sure that no one knew a damn thing about Goldie Hawn's cute little baby Kate until said Kate was grown and ready to be a movie star herself. Why do we hear so much about celebrity pregnancies now? Why the obsessive focus on motherhood? Even if you try to tune out pop culture, I bet you can name the crazy baby names of at least a dozen celebrity kids.

The reason I ask is this: how am I supposed to discern my own genuine desires for motherhood from the Pavlovian marketing of motherhood that I see around me every day? I mean, I think I do want another child. I think I want a sibling for Turtle. But can I or any other American consumer with a pulse honestly say it's not at least a little bit about the Pottery Barn kids?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Secondary Infertility to the Second Power

Do these entries seem stale to you? Have I lost my edge as a blogger, however dull that edge already was? Is there a recycled, refried, retread quality to my thoughts?

Maybe the worst part of this most recent miscarriage is its awful "back to the future" quality. For many sufferers of secondary infertility, the first child arrives without incident and then the sudden onset of fertility problems comes as a nasty shock. It has happened to several of my friends and I truly understand what a brutal experience it is.

Yet. What I'm going through as a second-time infertility sufferer is different and carries its own particular pain. I am not for a moment going to compare my plight to that of someone in the midst of primary infertility. "One is better than none" cannot begin to sum up the joy that Turtle brings me. Still, I am going to dare to compare myself to regular secondary infertility sufferers and say that I have secondary infertility squared. Secondary Infertility to the Second Power, if you will.

Here's the thing: I emerged from primary infertility sadder but wiser. I had learned patience. I had gained perspective. To get those things, I worked really really hard, in typical type-A fashion.

I started a blog. Joining a community of women on the world wide web made me feel cared for and competent at a time when neither feeling came often. I wrote lots of angry essays and lots of sad ones and more than a few sentimental ones. I also managed a few that were actually funny, if you like gallows humor, and I'm such a compulsive good girl by nature that I'd never spent much time trying to make anyone laugh before (wouldn't be proper). I liked finding that side of myself.

I went into therapy for a little while. I joined a support group. I rebuilt relationships with family members that needed attention. I read countless medical journals, web pages, and women's magazines and I honestly thought that I'd discovered a reason for my miscarriages in the form of inadequate thyroid hormone. I marveled that anything good could come out of the experience, but in the end I felt like a stronger more resilient person, someone who'd learned a little more humanity and humility, someone who knew how to be deeply grateful for motherhood and how to treasure every moment of my son's all too fleeting babyhood.

I coped. I achieved closure.

And god damn it, the closed door has swung back open again. I don't wanna cope. I don't wanna think up clever new ways to say how much infertility sucks. I don't want to teach myself all over again not be jealous and spiteful of pregnant women. Especially not pregnant women I care about. Like my amazing sister in-law. This woman threw me a beautiful shower for Turtle 3 years into her own infertility hell. She even hand-crocheted him a blanket. NO matter. Now, another two years later she has enraged me by making it through her first nausea-free trimester with twins after her first IVF. What kind of person would feel nothing but coiling snakes of jealousy towards someone as deserving as her? I don't want to be that person. I hate myself for being that person. But can I just ask, how DARE she hopscotch right past me to have 2 kids at once, all the while glowing and proclaiming that pregnancy has made her feel the healthiest she has ever felt? How have I slid back to this bad place?

I feel as if I've graduated from from high school only to be ordered to go back to ninth grade detention, with that really nasty math teacher with the saggy two-shades too-dark pantyhose glaring over her glasses at me. How the HELL do I get out of here. Do I really have to take Algebra I again and fight those nasty rumors started by the popular girls? Do I really have to get my heart broken again by one feckless teenage boy after another? Are you gonna make me apply to college again? I been here. I done that. And I am soo, soo, sick of it...I just wanna get on with my life.

I'm a recurrent miscarriage relapser. I'm back on the sauce folks and this time the binge is gonna be ugly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

After much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth...after getting through the fourth anniversary of the due date of my first lost child with a new fourth loss to mourn...after much websurfing and downloading of information on hyperemesis for my family...I decided to try again. Now! I just decided I want one more child and I want to get a pregnancy over with as soon as possible, both because I am sick of this life-in-limbo stage and because I am afraid of my rapidly advancing "maternal age." The husband and I had long talks and agreed that I would be entitled to perfect princess treatment for the duration of any pregnancy (the man, though lovely, does not play nurse well naturally). Dr. Cookie Pie said she'd give me an HCG shot right away, just to speed things along. And the final deciding factor was that, by rare chance, I have no work projects scheduled for August, meaning I'd be unusually free to languish in bed vomiting. Sounds like a plan, right?

I went in to Dr. Cookie Pie to get the shot on Monday, but she wasn't totally happy with the look of my uterine lining. She also said I wasn't ready to trigger, that the follicle needed another couple of days. Come back Wednesday, and you'll be good to go she promised. This actually meant postponing my departure for a business trip from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning in order to be present for the neccessary conjugal event. (No joke that declining fertility with age is correlated with decreasing frequency of sex!) But no problem, I have my priorities straight. I rearranged things so I could be here through Friday morning. In the meantime, Dr. Cookie Pie said we should check my estrogen levels, and promised to have the results STAT. I did notice that she added an HCG level on the lab order, and you'd think this would have rung a bell, but it really didn't.

So imagine my surprise when she called me personally at home at 7 AM this morning to tell me that my HCG is still hovering at 8 from the LAST pregnancy and that I shouldn't waste a trip to her office. It was, really, an extraordinary kindness on her part. And how impressive that she essentially called this from her first 3-second glance at my uterine lining on ultrasound. There's a reason why I call her the smart cookie sweetie pie. But all I heard was, sorry, honey, you're still a very little bit pregnant.

Not only did I lose the last baby, I can't have the next baby, cause my body has still not accepted the facts. I believe it was Anne Lamott who said if you want God to laugh, you should tell her your plans...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

When Dr. Cookie Pie called me with the test results the week before last, she said, "I'm sorry, I have bad news." My heart leaped in my throat and I thought, "oh, no, please not a chromosomal abnormality." When she said the chromosomes were normal, I heaved a sigh of relief. I am strangely grateful to have had another unexplained loss. This is the faceless devil I know.

If I'd had a chromosomal loss, I'd have a whole new set of worries now about declining egg quality, about the prospects of ever having another living child. Yes, I still feel a savage anger, but also, somehow a perverse pride. My little Crumps (that's embryos so small they measure not from head to toe but only from crown to rump) are perfect little Crumps. The fault lies with my body, not my progeny.

I don't know how, but I bonded with this little one. My husband claimed to have a lucky feeling that the baby would be a girl, but I was certain beyond certain he was another boy. And I wanted him too.

The day this wished-for son was conceived (we did an HCG trigger shot, so I was very conscious of and optimistic about conception) I accidentally prepared an entire dinner made of foods beginning with the letter "P"— grilled pork tenderloin with peaches, spring peas, and new potatoes. I had planned the menu around spring foods, purposefully wanting to celebrate birth and renewal. But I never meant to pick all "P's." It seemed so funny and so fated when it turned out that I was *P*regnant. I decided that, though I've never nicknamed an embryo before, I'd call this one by a "P" name and picked "Peeper" for the little spring frogs that seemed to be singing my joy.

Last weekend I went outside after dark, walked down to the frog pond and screamed the loudest most furious primal scream that I could. And the singing frogs went silent. Soon after it began to drizzle; they never made another peep that night. It was an eery moment, one that made me feel, somehow, as though the galaxy had noted my grief and despair.

I know I am a lucky, lucky woman, a woman whose father's house has many rooms. It's just that here in the birthing room the ceiling has fallen in and I'm choking on plaster dust, and the furniture is in ruins, and I don't know whether to try to clean up or whether I'd better just scuttle on off down the corridor into the darkness.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Newest PIN Number

Dr. Cookie Pie called with news yesterday. We are back in the bleak no-man's land of utterly unexplained pregnancy loss. My latest miscarriage was of another genetically perfect male. This means that I have conceived and carried five boys in a row, only one of which (one of whom?) lived to be born...only one of which lived to become a who. A little boy whose small warm body is my only shield against looming despair. Gravida 5, Para 1 as the good docs like to say. It feels right now as though my whole identity can be summed up this way: 5_46XY.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Swiped from behind by the Claw of Fate

To anyone who's still here reading, hi and thank you. I am doing OK, but only OK. Plunging back into infertility and loss after believing I'd somehow tamed the beast is deeply painful to me. Many moments, many days even, I think I'm fine, only to be brought up short by some unexpected reminder: today a cheery email about a friend's new pregnancy, yesterday finally facing the task of picking up from the dry-cleaner the maternity shirts I'd sent out a few weeks ago in burst of optimism. Then I'm reminded that repression of emotion and elimination of emotion are not actually one and the same.

Mostly I've coped by throwing myself into work and burrowing my nose in Turtle's curls. It should be enough and I want it to be enough, a career I care about and a great kid I adore. But a lot of times, those dark-hours-in-the-middle-of-the-night times, it's not enough. And I don't really know what to do about that unwelcome, uncomfortable fact.

The truth is that I thought this last pregnancy was going to kill me. I had an official diagnosis of hyperemesis (which Zofran made a dent in only for a day) and I was soo miserable with the nausea that suicide or abortion were suddenly *almost* seeming like viable, rational options. Pregnancy bloating notwithstanding, I actually managed to lose six percent of my body weight in three weeks. So I really never, never want to be pregnant ever, ever again. I get a bit panicky at the mere thought of going back to that bad place, spewing acid through my mouth and nose every few hours around the clock, unable to keep anything down, unable to stand up I'm so dehydrated, unable to summon the will to live.

And yet I want another kid.

Not only do I have a job I love and a kid I love, but both of these incredibly important things suffer terribly when I'm pregnant. Pregnancy is truly the very hardest thing I've ever done. I find it completely incapacitating. There's so much that I'm good at, so much that brings me joy in life. Pregnancy simply seems not to be my thing.

And yet I want another kid.

If you're still reading at this point, you're probably shrieking, "why don't you just adopt for the love of God?" And I'm thinking about it. But my husband really, really does not want to adopt. And he really, really, really wants another kid. Several more kids if the truth be told. And the fact is that my fourth pregnancy produced an adorable child, a child so sweet, so sensitive, so silly, so funny, that I walk around fearing fate will snatch him from me because no one deserves to be this lucky. How could I not want another kid?

And so the loss of this latest pregnancy leaves me spent. Agreeing to get pregnant this last time took all the courage I have because every pregnancy, frankly, has been as bad as this one was. With no baby to show for it, I just feel like I can't face another. I'm fresh out of courage. I am flailing with rageful impotence at the unfairness of the world, cracking my whip at the empty air as that wily beast infertility snarls at me, taunting me just out of reach.

Have I mentioned that the no-heart-beat sonogram was on my 1/2 birthday? That I am 35 and a half years old? That I really don't have time to take a "wait and see" attitude?

But I get up everyday and try to be OK.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I'm the Fat Lady Singing

Well, it's well and truly over. I had a D&C yesterday. (The embryo still measured 6 weeks 1 day, with no heartbeat.) We'll see what the cytology results are... I was so, so, so ill through the very end that my feelings are as much of relief at my release from misery as of grief at my return to the world of loss. Not sure what getting back to normal will mean for me now...emotionally or physically. How many of these pounds are simple bloat and how soon will they go away? Have I mentioned that I think I may be finished with this circus? Thank God, truly, for Turtle.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Ambiguity Has Put on Weight

"The clarity is devastating. But where is the ambiguity? Over
there in a box...But is the truth, as Hitchcock observes, in the
box? No, there isn't room, the ambiguity has put on weight."

--Literary criticism, courtesy of Monty Python.
--Big fat crowding-out-the-truth ambiguity, courtesy of Dr. Cookie Pie
--Box, courtesy the ultrasound machine

So, I went in for another scan today. Because I'm crampy and anxious and I wanted to get the bad news over with. And, the embryo is still measuring 6 weeks 1 day, which, for those of you keeping score at home, is unchanged from 2 days ago. Oh, and there was no heartbeat. The clarity is devastating. But, Dr. Cookie Pie feels the embryo "just looks bigger." No, she doesn't mean edema (the swelling of the fluid-clogged embryo beginning to break down). Edemic embryos start to look black, she says, and mine looks white. The ambiguity is over there in a box. And she thinks the fetal pole is easier to see. And she sees an endothelial lining that could be a sign of the creation of cardiac tissue. But is the truth in the box? Dr. Cookie Pie has tentatively scheduled me for a D&C for Tuesday. The ambiguity has put on weight.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Annie and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Pregnancy

Hi all. I've been too busy puking to post. In fact, I felt so low I started a post detailing each and every time and place I've puked, all the ridiculous embarrassing disgusting episodes of the last 14 days. Lucky for you I had to stop to vomit again in the middle of drafting and lost the post.

By the time I rolled into the RE yesterday at 6 weeks 4 days for the Great Big Wonderful Find-the-Heart-Beat Sonogram I was so faint and dizzy with dehydration I could hardly stand. And, guess what? Embryo measuring 6 weeks 1 day. No Fetal Heart Beat. The Hoped-for Happy Little Embryo is instead Undeniably, Non-Viably, Dead, Gone and Demised.

Dr. Cookie Pie, being her usual sunny self, is not willing to call it over till I hit 7 weeks on Friday, but she held out little hope. This looks an awful lot like the missed miscarriages of pregnancies 1, 2, and 3. She did give me a nice prescription for Zofran which is how I can now manage to sit here trying for gallows humor.

I feel, sad. Sad, sad, sad. I feel sad that my body is sooo bad at this pregnancy thing. I simply cannot state strongly enough how much I loathe pregnancy nausea. The sickness makes me feel trapped like some doomed donor character in a Kazuo Ishiguro dystopia. I feel my body becomes literally enslaved. It makes me want to die. The nausea was so bad this time I simply did not now how I could possibly endure another ten weeks of it. Much as I wish for Turtle to have a sibling, I just do not know that I can face this again.

My family can hardly believe this negativity. Buck up, good cause, stiff spine, stiff upper lip, rose and thorns ya know, soldier on, shoulder to the grindstone, tally ho, heave ho, who cares? But this is my fifth pregnancy and I think I am finally hitting the fucking wall. In just ten days Turtle learned to run away sobbing at the sight of me vomiting. Who needs it? I want to enjoy a happy life with the kid I have.

Who knows what a longer perspective will make me feel, but this is the place I find myself in right now. I hope to make it to a D&C to find out if this is another mysterious loss or if this one may be chromosomal (since I am now, oh joy, 35). If this *isn't* chromosomal, I'd say the thyroid-hormone replacement theory is shot to hell because I was *very* well supplemented this time.

Well, then. Carry on. Sally forth, why don't ye?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Absurdity of Motherhood Advice Writing

This is going to be a quicky, but I wanted to set down something I've been thinking about. No woman writer has any valid basis whatsoever for commenting on whether mothers ought to work or stay home.

One of media commentators' favorite pastimes is to report on how Shocked, Shocked they are to see well-educated women opting out of the workforce. Sundry recent writers have addressed the topic, in books from The Feminine Mistake to The Ten Year Nap. And then, of course, there are the ACK's of the world (my acronym for a certain anti-feminist public figure soo irritating and opportunistic I won't dignify her with an actual reference to her name: hint her initials form the sound Ack!) who opine not only that all women should stay home but also that all women could afford to do so if they weren't too selfish to stop buying Blahniks.

In actuality, the life of the writing woman is entirely unlike almost any other kind of working life. By definition, writing is flexible and forgiving work. You can do your thinking and mental drafting anywhere. You can stop and start your sentences at will. The act of formulating thoughts in writing gives unequaled opportunity for self-expression. So whether it's mothers who write about how women shouldn't work (duh, what do they think they're doing themselves as they write?) or mothers who write about how women should work (while basing their judgment on their own enjoyment of the most flexible and fulfilling possible working conditions) none of the mothers writing professionally on whether motherhood and work can successfully combine has even an ounce of credibility to comment on the question.

This, I think, is why I was so wholly unprepared for how transforming and transcendent I would find motherhood. I used to read the anti-feminist sell-outs, the women laughing all the way to the bank as they earn top dollar telling other women to get out of the workforce, and think: no way could they possibly have anything valid to say. I used to read the feminists who affirmed that a having a child doesn't mean losing your mind and I would bow deeply as I said "amen." But the simple truth is that having a child so expands your heart that the mind can, in fact, begin to seem less all-important than it once did.

I think that having professional skills, the security of one's own income, and adult contacts outside the home are things all women deserve. But I also think that the drive to nurture a child is so deep, so elemental, that denying its force has seriously undermined feminism. I think what most women want are the flexible meaningful kinds of work that all the authors of motherhood manifestos quietly take for granted.

Whether it's anti-feminists critiquing working mothers or feminists exhorting them, too many advice writers seem to think that mothers in the workforce will, by definition, act as men. News flash: few of us want to be men. And I think it's time to stop pretending that the male work model is the one by which mothers should succeed or fail.

What we really need to advocate for now are not so much women's rights as mothers' rights: mothers' rights to do meaningful remunerative work in limited and flexible hours; mothers' rights to retrain and reenter the workforce without stigma after years or months devoted primarily to family care. A childless (and especially a single, childless) woman is the equal of or even the better of any man anywhere. But a mother is another creature altogether and it's time to admit this fundamental fact.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

See, I Told You I Could Post More Than Two Days in a Row!

Hi. My ultrasound today was pleasantly uneventful. We saw a sac, so there is definitely a uterine pregnancy going on here. It dated shy of 5 weeks, which is quite accurate, and there you go. Not a lot else to say, though to my amusement Dr. Cookie-Pie praised my great big corpus luteum (baby's got balls). On the one hand, this is good news as everything looks much more "text book" than things started out with Turtle. On the other hand, nothing means much at this point because my 3 losses started text book and took till between 7 and 12 weeks to go south. The one thing I will say is that I am already feeling seriously queasy, and this *is* a departure for me. It almost defies imagination to think that I'm going to feel this way (and much, much worse) for another TWELVE weeks if I'm LUCKY. It's enough to turn this neurological Buddist (thank you David Brooks*) into a biblical fundamentalist. Nothing but the commission of original sin could possibly justify this torture...

On another note, I want to say a word of welcome and encouragement to all the people who find their way to this site looking for answers on miscarriage and thyroid. I am humbled reading the referral info on my site meter. I hope you will find some solace in reading about a success story, but I know that I really never did get inspiration from anyone else's luck. I always just thought that the bitch in question hadn't been set up for the kind of hard-core suffering I was surviving. Lovely, I know, but infertility can make even a natural Pollyanna like me into a cynic. All I'm saying now is that my main hesitation in continuing this blog at all is the possibility that my complaints about nausea etc. will irritate the ovaries right out of some infertile woman who stumbles here looking for something resembling useful medical information and finds only my ramblings.

To the person who googled "infertility story Turtle," you made me cry. I guess one person more evolved than I am *has* taken a little bit of pleasure from hearing about Turtle and I'm very grateful to know it.

Please let me know if you come if you need support or if there's anything in particular you just wish I would not say. If you want to reach me, comment don't email. I am so behind on email for work that I am not checking blog email at all, even as I fantasize that maybe Get Up Grrl is desperately trying to contact me in the hope I'll agree to proofread her memoirs...

I guess that's a wrap then. I feel both optimistic and non-committal at the moment. Dr. Cookie-Pie, who exudes enthusiasm at all times, said to me today, "oh my gosh, are you just soo nervous?" And I was like "hunh?" She'd had to practically wake me from a snooze on the exam table, that's how tired I am. Elevated TSH does wonders for combating anxiety/ inducing stupor, I'll say that for it...

*This is, incredibly, the SECOND time I've liked something Brooks had to say, the other time being the being the occasion of his publishing a thoughtful piece on Obama a while back--before McBush nabbed the Republican nom and Brooks went back to being reflexively partisan...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sick to My Stomach

Just read the bad news over at Finslippy. I feel so terrible for Alice. And, lets be honest, so terrible for myself. Sick to my stomach and I'm not even nauseous yet. I don't know how anyone gets up the courage to try again after a loss except by means of the sheer fact that there is no other way forward but forward.

Still, as I sat down to type this Turtle came running up to me and said "Book!" "Are you going to read a book?" I asked him and he said "Yes!" then climbed up on my bed where he has been entertaining himself by flipping pages and singing "Hoppy to, Hoppy to." His birthday is next week and we have been priming him with many rounds of "Happy Birthday to You," which he is tickled to try singing himself. As I listen to him, I think I should be singing "Happy to Have You." And so I know that whatever happens with this new pregnancy, I am already one very lucky woman.

"Mommy read" means it's time for me to go, but I do plan to try to be a bit more regular with the updates. First ultrasound tomorrow. I suppose we're just hoping to see a sac this early on...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Holy Moly Hallmark Moment (Maybe...)

Well, this time I am well and truly knocked up. (So says my blood test today, 16 days post ovulation). I am thrilled, but, like anyone with a long history of losses, also so apprehensive to be back walking the cliff's edge once again. The sunset views are supposed to be beautiful from here, but dusk is still hours away and in the meantime I'm afraid to look down.

Once an infertile, always an infertile, in mind if not also in body. I've come to realize that for the "type A" personality (which, let's face it, describes a disproportionate percentage of us older would-be mothers who've been focused on career etc. for years before trying to conceive) the hardest thing about infertility is the total loss of control. We all cope in different ways, but I think at base what we want is some element of influence over our fates. For some it might be prayer or lucky charms, for some it might be medical data and scientific theory. I've dabbled in all of those.

But more than anything, it now hits me, that my own chief coping mechanism is the comforting belief that I'm highly (almost magically) attuned to my body. It feels important to me to be intimately, intuitively aware of my own innards. Last night, lying awake at 3 AM and wondering what that cramp meant and whether my insomnia was stress-related or the sign that my thyroid levels are already out of wack (Thyroid, said today's labs, but you guessed that, didn't you?), I had the absurd thought that I wish I could google my own body, just have a search engine that would allow me to surf the interbodynet and generate data about all the relevant chemical levels and associated activities of my reproductive parts.

You know, I still think I actually did conceive in that March cycle. I didn't come back to write about it here, but I had a *very* heavy period that month (and oddly long at 9 days instead of my usual 4-5). Then, in the April cycle I didn't spend even one hot second thinking I was pregnant. Never so much as contemplated peeing on a stick. I just felt completely different. And I wasn't pregnant. And when my period came, it was moderate and normal.

So when Thalia, who is a lovely and supportive blogfriend from way back, logged in to tell me that I was in fact crazy with all my chimerical theories (or that's how I read it anyway) I retreated away from my newfound pledge to blog. I didn't realize why her well-meaning scientific facts bothered me so much at the time, but I now see that she unintentionally threatened my favorite coping mechanism. In truth, I probably can't divine my own body-status but I'm at least getting better at understanding my psyche, one step at a time!

So, the "scientific data" says that my HCG level is "very good." Dr. Cookie-Pie didn't specify and I didn't ask. We sweated over the early numbers so much last time I feel determined not to fall into that particular trap again. My progesterone was an unassisted 39, so even though I supplemented with Turtle, we're doing nothing in that category for now. Meanwhile, the dang TSH snuck up from 1.5 to 3.2. Should be under 2 and is the suspected culprit in my prior losses, so we've upped my synthroid dosage post-haste. Now I wish I had upped it as soon as I ovulated, but at the time I was afraid that if I didn't conceive this month I'd become hyper-thryroid and interfere with next month's ovulation. At any rate, my recollection is that it was at around 4.5 at the time of the Great Halloween Surprise of 2005, so I'm trying not to panic.

Anyway I'm too tired to panic. But I'm not yet at all nauseous (I never am at the very start). So I am free to just feel sleepily, dreamily, happy. I was pretty sure yesterday, Mother's Day, that I was pregnant. And I realized it was the happiest I've ever felt about a pregnancy. The very first time I became pregnant (FIVE years ago) I was so scared at the thought of becoming a mother that I hardly managed to enjoy the news before the whole pregnancy ended abruptly at seven weeks. The three times after that, I was always happy to conceive but also terrified of miscarriage. Now, though I remain highly aware of all the ways things could go very wrong for me, I have beautiful living proof in Turtle of the way they could go very right. So, for just this little moment, I'm very happy. Almost hallmarky if you must know...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chimerical Pregnancy

Well, shockingly, I'm officially not pregnant. Aunt Flo arrived 3 days late, but carrying lots of luggage.

Three days late you say? Maybe you had the shortest possible chemical pregnancy (defined as a "pregnancy" that creates measurable levels of HCG, but never a visible embryonic sac--much less, of course, a baby). Nope. I tested on the day my period was due, with the most sensitive possible test, and--nada. Not even an evaporation line.

Oh, well, call it a hysterical pregnancy then, you say. No products of conception in that womb. Nothing by the products of your imagination.

But. I refuse to believe this either. There are certain very clear signs of pregnancy for me, and I had them. For example, I have a major issue with a food allergy in ordinary times, that disappears completely when I'm pregnant. Got accidentally exposed to my allergen (gluten) seven days after ovulation and had *no reaction* of any kind. Also experienced marked dizziness, breast soreness, red meat cravings, and assorted other personal telltale signs. Then, nine days after ovulation, all symptoms vanished. Poof. And then the black depressive PMS symptoms kicked in. So I knew it was time to abandon all hope.

On reflection, I honestly think that we did conceive a doomed mutant, the product of our feverish (but hardly hot) sex. Clever little monster wisely decided not to implant and my body rapidly adjusted accordingly. So, I'm inventing a new term: chimerical pregnancy.

Don't you dare call me crazy.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Six Flags

Welcome to the amusement park. I have such horrendous PMS, there is no possible way I can be pregnant. One of the odd things that I have noticed since weaning Turtle 6 months ago is that my postpartum PMS is much worse than it ever was before. Among other lovely symptoms, I have incredibly vivid nightmares for several days before my period arrives. So, I am now as sure that I am not pregnant as I was certain a few days ago that I am. Let the infertillercoaster ride begin!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wonder Mama

OK, this is embarrassing. I seriously did not mean to resume this blog and then fall silent for three weeks. In my defense, I must tell you that I have been heroically fighting the plague and am typing this post with blackened stumps.

OK. Not exactly, but we did have back-to-back bouts of flu for two and a half successive weeks: fevers, chills, copious gobs of mucous expectorated by one and all. The second round was beautifully timed to coincide with ovulation.

I don’t know about you, but the husband and I are not so good at hot sex in fevered conditions. There was a time, back in our twenties, when we actually thought this was a fun idea. Now, not so much. I would say that the spirit was willing though the flesh was weak, but even that would not be strictly true. Having survived three miscarriages, we were just the teensiest bit leery of what high temps might do to denature his boys; the prospect of falling pregnant with a doomed mutant lacked a certain sex appeal. So, ahem, we were challenged.

But, the plentiful mucous was not only at the bronchial end. Eventually we gave it a go. I am now completely convinced (7dpo) that I am pregnant. You might think that having actually been pregnant 4 times in my life, and having believed myself pregnant about 40 times in my life, that I would know better. The last time I was this sure this early I turned out to have a UTI. But still, I’m sure. Go ahead and call me hysterical.

Now, I know that I promised to deliver my deep thoughts on the total life-transformations of motherhood, but the truth is that I’m in a rush. (And I have to pee, nudge, nudge, wink, wink!) So for the moment let me say this:

It’s true that bearing a child is not exactly going to turn an ugly duckling into a swan. But to dwell on that misses the whole point of the transformation. The transition from childless woman to mother can’t be described by comparing one bird to another. It’s more like the difference between fish and fowl. I honestly feel that in becoming a mother, I’ve found my wings.

Quite literally, I feel like a different person. The change is shocking to me. Always before, I’ve been a model of consistency. I went through the so-called changes of adolescence with little more than a grumpy shrug. While some of my friends went to bed one night as sweet quiet bookworms and woke up the next day as hair-sprayed boy toys with cigarettes in their lockers, I pretty much slept with a finger marking the spot in my book and went right back to reading in the morning.

But having a baby, well, I’ve been punch drunk since the moment he was born, so in love with him, so focused on home even as I still go out to work, it has been more than a little disorienting. I really think that brain chemistry must change profoundly in motherhood. And I don’t think we’ve even begun to take rational stock of what this means for women personally or for society as a whole. I’ve been bit by the spider and I’ll never be simple Peter Parker again. But damn, does it feel good to soar.

If you surf on by and find me, I'd love to hear your best/worst two-week-wait story. Simple good wishes also gratefully accepted!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Body after Baby?: Don’t Make Me Crazy

True, everyone warns you your life will never be the same after you’ve had a baby. But no one explains that you will never be the same after baby. The women’s magazines put a lot of energy into guilting you into working up the energy to get the old “you” back. You’re supposed to crunch your way back into your skinny jeans, light a candle for your old sex life, and demonstrate how mastering the mother’s ability to multi-task has made you more productive than ever at the office. To all this I say, in unison with my toddler, Bbbppth! We splurt raspberries in your direction as respectfully as possible.
Let’s start with the “get your body back” thing. I think I can hold myself up as a near-best-case scenario here—and the picture ain’t pretty. Small to begin with, I did not gain undue weight in my pregnancy. Then I delivered 5 weeks early. (Tip to Hollywood actresses: want to avoid stretch marks? Try for a preemie!) Twenty months after dear baby’s birth, I am not only pre-pregnancy weight, I am even pre-my-first-miscarriage weight. This means that in addition to losing the breast-feeding bonus insurance fat and the pregnancy pounds, I also shed the infertility anxiety inches and the miscarriage misery fat. However. Nothing is where it used to be. Nothing.
You show me a woman who sits ramrod correct in an office meeting when she should be slumping sideways from getting just three non-consecutive hours of sleep with a teething toddler, and I’ll show you the woman who’s trying not to let her post-pregnancy belly flesh flop down over her waistband. Go ahead, lose the fat. You can’t lose the skin. One long fluttery curtain of it now seems to cloak your torso from shoulder to groin. Your only hope is to square your shoulders, sit up straight, and hold still. Once the skin sheet stops swaying, it may look almost smooth. But don’t count on it.
Frankly, the skin has taken a new look at life and decided to relax. No more uptight attitude for it. Post-baby, the skin likes to hang loose. In fact, that skin has found such a comfortable lounge seat on your abdomen that it’s never gonna straighten up again, no matter how cute the cabana boy. You might as well pour yourself a drink.
This brings me to the breasts. You’re going to need GPS to locate these things once you finish nursing. Even if, like me, you start small, expand to clown-like proportions, then ultimately end smaller than you started, you won’t know where to find them. You’ve heard of phantom limb syndrome? It’s when amputees can still feel their missing arm or leg long after losing it. Try phantom boob syndrome. The sensations in your nipples are literally not in the right place relative to your chest cavity. And those are the fine points. The breasts themselves, well they, like the rest of your flesh, will retire to southern climes to spend their golden years. The day (a month or two after you stop nursing) that you realize that the old pre-pregnancy small-cup bra will fit just fine if you simply lengthen the straps out a few inches, well, that is the day that you really meet the new you.
Oh the breasts. It beats me, really, why saggy breasts can’t be sexy. After all, these things have proven that they can do their thing. They really can keep an infant alive and well and passed out in a sucking stupor. (Much more impressive, I think, than doing the same for a man). For some reason, however, the firm uppity breasts of the untried and untested seem generally preferred. I think it betrays a certain lack of sophistication in the public at large. In fact, I would like to argue that blown tulips are far more sensuous than tightly closed buds. Won’t somebody buy this bouquet?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I am restarting this blog on a pure whim, but I've never really lost the habit of reading infertility blogs. I still miss Getup Grrl (who doesn't?) and I still read Tertia, Julie, Julia, Karen, Mare et al. regularly. Apparently when they diagnosed me in my last pregnancy with Strep B they meant Strep Blogger. Might as well admit that I am a lifetime carrier of the blogging virus and just get on with it!

So, today is cycle day one and that as much as anything has sent me to surfing the net this afternoon instead of working. I almost feel that I cannot bear to plunge back into the swamp of conception worries, miscarriage fears, premature birth nightmares, etc. without the lifeline of a blog. Whether any readers will find me again remains to be seen...

I've had a hard time deciding to have a second child. Writing academic non-fiction is my day job and I've just finished my first book (the need to get it off my desk was a big reason I stopped blogging in the first place). Now, needing to get going on a second book project and a second baby at the very same time makes me feel as though I'm facing double-trouble.

But, you probably want to hear a little about the first baby? Turtle is terrific, just as sweet and easy-going now at 20 months as he was when he was born. I like to joke that he's the strong but silent type. He's not talking yet but loves to throw his weight around, climbing on top of all the furniture, pushing his crib and highchair around, and otherwise rearranging the place on a daily basis. He loves music, loves to dance, and is a major tease. We haven't taught him any signs (though I'm beginning to think about it) but he has mastered a few all on his own: waving hello, blowing kisses, and winking flirtatiously are his specialties.

In a real sense I have no business devoting any writing energy to a blog. But I'm hoping that doing so will create new synergy rather than drain my productive energy. Let's generate!