Friday, February 29, 2008

I don't know the color of your eyes

I am following AMS's lead at Our Own Creation who got the idea from here and I am posting a view of loss. This is an open letter to our son, Ernest, who died shortly after birth due to a fatal birth defect.

I don't know the color of your eyes. I don't know if I never thought to ask or if I used to know and have forgotten. It seems to me that they were hazel. I never looked at them, but I think the information was supplied by the hospital staff where you were born.

The problem is that the information is in a remembrance box that I can't bare to open. Inside it is a lock of your hair; prints of your perfect little feet; a description - I think - of your eyes and, the hardest part, a picture of you with your mom and dad and they are looking so sad with lost expressions on their faces. They don't know how to deal with you lying in their arms and not breathing and not ever going to breathe. We tried to do the right things - to do the things we would hold dear in our memories later, but we were in shock. We had to get our minds into a non-emotional place to be able to get through your delivery and we didn't have time to let our emotions return.

I wish I had held you longer. I wish I had unwrapped the blanket from your little body and took all of you in, not just your head and face. I never even held your tiny hand. I saw it though. I saw the doctor as she held it up to demonstrate that you had little, if any, muscle. It was curled into a tiny, loose fist.

I remember now that I did see your body briefly just after you were born. You were as limp as a rag doll with no color to your cheeks. Then they swept you away and told us you wouldn't live and then wrapped you in the blanket we brought before giving you back to us.

And then I held you and kissed your face and gently stroked your cheek. I told you how sorry I was that I wasn't able to keep you safe. It was over too soon. I could have held on to you longer, but I didn't know what to do. I didn't think holding you longer would help. Maybe it wouldn't have. Maybe I am better off not having a clear picture of a body without enough muscle. Maybe it is better that I never saw your eyes because the only way to have seen them would have been a morbid action - somehow a violation of your perfect, sleeping form.

Someday I will open the box again. Someday I will find out if I am right about the color of your eyes or if I made it up. You were one of a kind, Ernest. You are the only baby who will ever be of the product of mine and your dad's genes. Maybe one day I will learn that I will never know the color of your eyes. Or maybe the box does contain a description of your eyes, but it won't be hazel like I remember. But for today, I will remember your eyes as being hazel. Today it feels good to think of your eyes as the same color as mine.

Monday, February 25, 2008

OB appointment #5: 24 weeks, 1 day

First of all I want to thank you for the wonderful comments on the last two posts. As usual, they were thoughtful and supportive. I kept intending on writing a post just to follow up on those, but I never got around to it. I can tell you that I will be rereading them!

On to the OB appointment which was actually last Friday. True to form, my OB was running late. This time when I called ahead and asked, "Is he running on time?" I actually got an honest answer that he was behind. I took that as a sign he would be really late, but we still managed to get there only 20 minutes late for my appointment. In the end, we got in to see him about 1.5 hours after our scheduled appointment. The good news is that I didn't have to wait around in a room full of pregnant ladies because my OB moved to a new office building with hallways and stairwells (with a view!) to hang out in.

I suppose many people would get pretty upset with a Doctor who is ALWAYS late. Normally, I would too. I cut Dr. Wonderful lots of slack because I know why he is always running late. Part of it is he packs his schedule too tight because he hates to say "no", but more importantly, he is willing to be your doctor at time of delivery if it is important to you. Typically he is the "on call" doctor only once a week, but he will come in on his day off, during the night, or during regular office hours (sorry, the doctor is running late) to deliver a baby to those patients who don't want to give birth with a strange doctor in the room.

Toward the end of our otherwise uneventful appointment - peed in a cup, heard the heartbeat (thrilling!), got reassured that I am not gaining too much weight - he mentioned that in just 6 weeks we would have an 85% chance of having a healthy baby with no long term side effects. "Of course," he added, "I would want you deliver in a hospital if the baby came early."

I just love that he knows my heart's desire is to deliver at home and he is still willing to see me every 4 weeks, take as much time with me as any other patient and even wishes us a "healthy home birth." Yet, when I asked him, "If something goes wrong, will you be there for the birth?" he said he would be. How lucky am I? I really, really hope I won't need his services, but it is nice to know that if I "transfer" (move to a hospital after attempting a home birth) or otherwise decide that a hospital would be the next best option, that he will be the doctor delivering* the baby.

*Note: I hesitated to use the term "delivering" the baby, because in my view, I birth the baby and my midwife / doctor attends the birth and may even catch the baby. They absolutely do not deliver the baby. Still, it is the terminology of the OB world and part of the reason I am sharing these appointments is to highlight the difference in the two practices.

Monday, February 18, 2008


It's not the first time I have been "out there" publicly about our issues with infertility. There was a newspaper article that came out just over a year ago when I started a local support group. But this article - as a promo for the upcoming fertility forum has got me a little freaked out.

Please tell me what you think. I can always reframe things a bit during the forum.

Oh, note the other panelists. They have added a PhD - one of the first to test Bisphenol-A (how is that for a coincidence?) and it's affects on fertility.

I have a bit of an inferiority complex. Panel of experts: MD, MD, PhD, Victim

What was I thinking?!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Identity Crisis

I may be suffering from an identity crisis. I have been TTC or TTP (trying to parent) for almost six years now. I have been obsessively TTP for over four years. It had become so much of my identity and certainly devoured much of my time. This has lead me to wonder who I am if I am someone not trying to make a baby.

It feels so strange not to be scouring the web for any little piece of information that might help us. I look at the calender and no longer count the days until the next cycle or look again at my notes about E2 levels or follicle sizes or the number of days until (how exciting!) retrieval day. When I learned that my clinic had moved to a new protocol (using low-dose HCG in place of menapure) I felt left out and, I admit, more than a little sad wondering if that might have helped me had it come in time.

Yet, I don't really fit into the pregnant or expectant parent group either. The other day I walked into a department store to be greeted by a bright sign declaring "Baby Days Sale!" Ug. I looked away and decided that the only way our baby would have any clothes is if I learned to sew or have generous friends, because I will never shop in a baby department. When I was looking through the soap section for some bath oil, I came across the home pregnancy tests. I was simultaneously sad to be reminded of the likely 20-30 negative tests I have seen and relieved that I wouldn't be buying any more for at least a year.

It really hit home how much I don't fit in when I was on my way to the check out stand. I crossed paths with two pregnant bellies. One of them waddling behind a cart with a toddler who couldn't have been more than two. I not only hated them, but actually felt ashamed to be counted among their number. I stood up a little taller, pulled my coat around me and hoped I looked fat instead of pregnant.

I don't mean this to sound sad, although I suppose it does make me a bit sad. Mainly, it just leaves me wondering who I am now that I am pregnant, more likely to be a mom to a real live baby than I ever had been, and not currently trying to conceive.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Does this make sense to you?

Here is a scary article about BPA (Bisphenol-A) in food. The scary part is how pervasive it seems to be and how little action / awareness there is about it.

Note how the Japanese handled the information.

What doesn't make sense to me is why we continue to put up with increasing pollutants in the environment. Why aren't we rallying in the streets against dangerous chemicals in our food, air, water and household goods? It seems that if there is money to be made, change can't happen unless there is absolute proof. Why not change based on the best evidence so far? Surely it is better to be safe than sorry. If it proves we were mistaken, profits can be made later.

Here are some of the ways I have modified my behavior in the last few years. I know it isn't enough:
  • I threw out my polycarbonate food processor. A knife and a bamboo cutting board works just fine.
  • I buy organic food whenever possible
  • I have decided not to replace the carpet in our house because I can't find a good fire-retardant free alternative.
  • We tossed all our Teflon pans (except one large one for which we haven't found a replacement). We mainly use cast iron skillets now.
  • I watch what kind of fish I eat and avoid the ones high in Mercury.
  • I try to use wax paper and aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap. This is hard - plastic wrap and sandwich bags are hard for me to give up.
  • We use glass storage containers instead of plastic. We still have our old plastic ones, but when I need to use them, I don't reheat in them.
  • I buy clothes made from plant products because they are not normally treated with fire retardant. Yes, I know cotton production uses lots of pesticides. I can't afford organic cotton clothes at this time. I understand hemp is better, but harder to find.
I would love to hear what you do. Are there some easy things that I am missing? Does this even concern you? Are you overwhelmed as I am when you think about trying to change this mindset?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The upside of being down?

This is an interesting article arguing that maybe we shouldn't try to be happier if our natures are not inclined that way.

I think I would rather be happier and am willing to work on changing my thoughts and habits to get there. Then again, maybe I would be happier or at least more at peace, if I accepted myself as I am. Hmmm . . .

On a similar subject - an article about a woman who is naturally happy.

What do you think? Should we just be sad when we feel like and not try to change? Has anyone out there read his book? If so, what did you think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Still seeking answers

Here I am, 22 weeks and 4 days into what appears to be a viable pregnancy and I still sometimes slip into how-the-hell-did-we-get-here mode.

I wish I had a good, logical answer to why IVF didn't work for us. I suppose if we had gotten pregnant on the first or second or maybe even third time, it would have made sense. MFI + a bit older = eventual IVF success. What I don't get is why we had many good quality embryos - always at least one top grade embryo - at a clinic with some of the best rates in the country and we still weren't successful. My RE thinks my eggs were mostly aneuploid, but where is the proof? We never did PGS (with good reason, I think) and the babies that miscarried and Ernest tested as having normal chromosomes. I always had a good lining, my FSH levels were normal and we even got aggressive with the number of embryos - at one time transferring 6 day 3 embryos (4 of which were top grade, 8 cell embryos)

The only proof that I have is 4 failed fresh cycles. Maybe that should be enough, but it just isn't. It could have been bad luck. But why would we have such bad luck? They told us Ernest was just bad luck too, but is his death tied in to this in someway we don't understand?

I wish someone could tell me why one lady I know had a healthy baby with a beta that started out at 19 and didn't quite double for weeks while my second miscarriage started out at 37, but then doubled nicely. Why did at least 4 top grade embryos (a couple day 6, beautiful, near hatching blasts) not make a baby, but another lady I know got twins with two day 3 embryos (the only eggs that fertilized) that weren't even 8-cell? Why did only 1 of the 3 top-grade donor embryos implant? What in the heck is going on?

If this was someone else's post I was reading, I would wonder if the clinic wasn't that great after all, but I think most people would agree that these (originally linked to the 2005 rates) are very good rates. Notice that for 38-40 year olds (that would be me) the live birth rate if you make it to transfer (which I always did) is around 40%. In the end, my RE thought my chances for a live birth with my eggs was more along the lines of 10-15%. Is it really my eggs? Could I have done something differently?

I'd better not even go down that path because it only leads me to feel guilty and responsible for not going to an RE when I first knew something was wrong - almost 3 years to the month before I finally did. What could we have accomplished when I just turned 35 instead of when I just turned 38?

I think I have indulged those thoughts long enough. I am sure I am not the only one out there who is seeking answers where none exist. Back when I had a different belief system, I used to think I would know all the answers after I died or that maybe these things happened for a reason. I no longer believe that. I do believe these are questions that will never have a satisfactory answer and the only true solution is to learn to live with it.

How do you live with your unanswered questions?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Infertility cuts deep

A more lighthearted title might be, "Maybe I'm not a freak after all."

I am referring to my recent trip disappointment. I am very touched by everyone's understanding. Leah even called me from Guatemala (Leah is adopting an angel - it hasn't been easy- from there and is also the person who introduced me to Belinda). Thanks Leah!

What has really hit home is out raw the wounds of infertility are and how long they take to heal. I know hormones likely played a part, but I am also convinced it is those woulds from years of infertility that can make it hard to deal with disappointment. It was (somewhat) trivial, but it struck so deeply. The fact that so many of you understood and could relate just proves that I am not alone and this is another shared experience of infertility.

Thank you also to my IRL friends who really understood too.

Right now Brad and I continue to look at options. One of our options is just to bite the financial bullet and go there anyway. Compared to IF treatments, it is chump change, but still a lot more than we could normally justify. I don't think we will choose this option, but just thinking about it has helped. I think I am letting myself down more easily.

There is also the slightest chance that the customer will push again - to the end of March and Brad might get that trip. We will see how it goes.

As for Winter, I am sure we aren't the only region getting more than our usual amount of snow and cold temperatures. Check out this depressing forecast.

The good news is that the days are now increasing by more than three minutes each day. Do you think I'll make it? And if I survive, will Brad survive putting up with me?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Midwife appt # 3: 21 weeks and 5 days

First of all I want to thank everyone for your sympathy regarding the canceled trip. I know it is a really small thing so it is especially nice to be understood. For those of you who rolled your eyes in disgust - thank you for not posting your thoughts.

Crazy or not, I have been crying for a good part of the day. Yes, it was that disappointing. In frustration, my husband called my therapist and asked her to call me. She said that it was understandable how someone who lives for Spring, is pregnant and sleep deprived would finding it very disappointing. She also brought up (I didn't suggest it) that one of the reasons it hit so hard was because of all the previous disappointments we have had over the last several years. I told her I thought I was depressed. She said I am grieving. It is nice to be understood. It would have been nicer to be packing for the trip this weekend, but what can you do?

Some of you have suggested some kind of mini-vacation. It is a good idea and I think we might look into taking a couple of days off. I'm not sure right now. I know nothing else will compare - I couldn't enjoy the same kind of trip without worrying about the cost if we were paying - but it can't hurt to look into an alternative.

So - the midwife appointment. Because I had obviously been crying, we talked for about 1/2 an hour about losing the trip and some possible alternatives. Cathy understands how much I need some sun and also pointed out how the hormones were probably making my reaction disproportionate. I don't doubt her. I would have been very disappointed, but I don't think I would have been so devastated. We talked a bit more about our lives - Cathy had a tough week too after two difficult births - and generally caught up.

One nice thing about a midwifery appointment vs an OB is that when I found I could eat - because I had calmed down enough - I just went to the kitchen and got something to eat while we continued chatting. That doesn't happen too easily in an OB's office.

When we were done chatting, she took my blood pressure - it was fine. By this point I had calmed down a bit and the emotional drain was making me very sleepy - I think my bp was at an all time low for these appointments. I laid down on the couch and Cathy felt around for the baby. She pointed out I was having a braxton-hicks (sp?) contraction which is normal for this stage. She could tell because my belly was tight. Then she felt around for the head and when she found it helped me feel it too. I could feel something, but to me it could have been just a wad of flesh. Still, it was pretty neat. Then we heard the heartbeat. It took a while to find again because of the anterior placenta, but since I have been feeling the baby move I wasn't nervous. It is nice to hear just the same.

That pretty much wrapped it up. I apologize for errors in grammar, spelling or generally not making sense. I am just exhausted. I hope I sleep well tonight.

Boy, does this feel familiar

The story of my life and so many other people dealing with infertility - lots of hope followed by crushing disappointment.

Granted, this is nothing like a failed cycle, but right now it is hitting pretty hard. Our trip to Turcs and Caicos was canceled. It happens - the customer pushed it out two weeks to a time when Brad couldn't go because of other commitments.

I was really holding on to that lifeline. I thought it would help me survive until Spring. I thought I would get caught up on my sleep. I thought the ocean and beach might help heal my heart a little.

I know it is just a trip, but I guess I built it up to be a retreat that would change my life.