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...