Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another theory

I had another dream that I was going to die last night. Quite disturbing. I keep thinking of a cancer my body might know about that my mind doesn't. The scariest one I can come up with is ovarian cancer, but since I had a cesarean birth, I suppose my OB saw my ovaries just four months ago and that is probably better screening than anything else currently available.

I have another theory. I wonder if my brain is revolting over being happy. After more than four years of sadness - four years of building pathways and activating certain synapses - perhaps my brain is fighting the transition. All day long it is activating areas that were seldom used before. At night, it relaxes and uses those old pathways because it is just that much easier.

I'm only half joking. Maybe there is some truth to that.

At any rate, the days ARE happy. Even tough days are so much better than relatively good days used to be.

If you will forgive me . . . a couple of highlights:

  • Taking a bath yesterday. We have been bathing together in our soaker tub since she was three days old. I would tell you about that first bath, but you wouldn't believe it. Suffice it to say that until yesterday she would spend some time happy and some time a little overwhelmed. Yesterday she was an entirely different baby - splashing and kicking and talking. She even got all cranky when I took her out and kept making the same splashing movement with her arms for about 3 minutes until she realized the air just wasn't going to work the same.
  • She is giggling more and more. It fills my heart to hear it. Today she was a handful during about an hour of my work shift - talking and wanting attention. I now have to find a way to make it up, but it was still a good hour.
  • How can life be bad when you can take pictures like this?

In case it isn't perfectly clear, I luvs my Lil' B.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bad Dreams

Thank you everyone for you comments on my last post. The funny thing is that I agreed with every comment. If I think in terms of "it won't happen" then it makes sense to transfer earlier. If I think in terms of "it might happen" then I want to wait until May or so. I think we will just table it for the time being.

In other matters, I have had some of the most vivid bad dreams lately. The best I seem to get are neutral. Is it hormones? Not sleeping as deeply? Repression?

Anyone else notice that the less you think about something BIG during the day, the more you dream about it? It also seems that emotions felt during a dream hit extra hard and linger longer. My thought is that your conscious mind is disengaged so it can't stop the flood of chemicals like it would during the day. There is no gatekeeper saying, "Whoa there, this isn't really THAT scary."

Maybe these are just 'new mom' dreams, but I can't help but think they are, at least in part, due to my experience with our first child. Perhaps now that I am at a different place, I am processing things anew. Interestingly, I don't think I ever dreamed about Ernest until after LB was born.

Dream 1 (a couple of months ago): It is late morning and I am playing with LB. Someone reminds me that I have another child. I am sick - I left him in the car overnight. He must be freezing. I am terrified that I have killed him, but instead of rushing right out, I get sidetracked. I don't remember him again until the next morning. Again feeling sick to my stomach that I may have killed him, I go out to the car, take him out of his car seat and lay him between Brad and I to warm him up. Before I wake up, the boy - about 3 to 4 years old - says, "I'm cooold moooomy."

Dream 2 (a few weeks ago): A group of us our preparing to battle an alien with supernatural powers (yes, I may read a bit too much science fiction). I have been tasked with leading the charge and have been told to collect a few needed items for our defense. A small group heads up into the hills to a tomb where we are to collect: some soil, the dead baby boy buried there, and some special powder that is supposed to "make the baby kick." In the dream, this is to make the baby seem alive, but it is interesting choice of words because I never felt Ernest kick. On the way up, I confide in one of my travelers that I am scared because I think I am going to die soon and I think it will be painful.

Dream 3 (the night before last): I am arguing with my sister because she is doing something (undefined in the dream) to LB that will keep her from sleeping through the night. I get very angry and it is decided that she will sleep with one of my other sisters. We each have a room off of a main hallway like a dorm or a hospital. Everything is very bright as if there is bright sunlight lighting up a room with reflective surfaces. I join Brad in our room and go to bed.

In my dream, I begin to dream. In my dream dream, I am irrationally terrified when I am startled awake by our dog licking my face. If you have ever felt that primal terror as you are waking up to a surprising noise, you know what I mean. I realize it was just the dog and go back to sleep (this is still the dream within a dream). Suddenly, I am sucked out of the bed and am being pulled into another universe. I know if I get pulled through that I will die. I scream out to Brad still sleeping in the bed, "Mom! Dad! HELP!!" In my dream dream, I know it is Brad and not my parents. Dream Brad wakes up and asks what he can do to help. He is now holding me and keeping me from being pulled away. I plead with him, "Help me wake up! Help me wake up!"

And then I am awake in real life. It immediately seems to me that when I was crying out for mom and dad to help, I was calling as our child to us. I don't know if the child is Ernest or LB, but I feet helpless to help him or her. I wake Brad up to tell him about the dream (I always do this when I have a particularly bad nightmare - it makes it seem less real), but I am crying so hard that he can't understand me. As he is repeating, "It's ok, it's just a dream," I start to move LB from between us to the outside of the bed so I can cuddle up next to Brad. I can't do it. I want her next to Brad. She seems safer there. I don't trust that I can keep her safe on my side of the bed.

I finished telling Brad about the dream and felt a bit better, but continued to cry for several more minutes. It occurred to me as I was trying to go back to sleep that perhaps I was imaging how it might have been for Ernest as he was being born. He was sucked out of his comfortable womb into a world where he could not survive. We could do nothing to save him.

I hope we will never be so helpless with LB. I know there are so many bad things that could happen where we would be powerless to save her. I know this is terribly selfish, but I hope if she doesn't live to a ripe, old age; she at least outlives us.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An 'Oops' Pregnancy?

I just found out it will cost us approximately $900 to store our one frozen embryo until we planned to transfer it. We transferred three from this batch for LB and (obviously) one implanted. Based on the clinic's stats it has about a 10%-15% of making a baby. Even though it would cost us about $3500 to transfer it, if we were lucky it could save about $22,000 over a fresh cycle. We only want two kids so we would be done.

Originally we planned on doing this in the May cycle so we can do the fresh cycle no later than June. This would give me time to heal for a vbac and, to be honest, I'm just not ready to be pregnant again. But then there is the $900 to store this not-likely-to-be-a-baby embryo until that time.

This is what I am currently entertaining: Transfer the embryo in the next available cycle and save $600 of those fees. If things go as expected, we are no worse off in terms of doing a fresh cycle in June. If it works, we will just call it an "ooops" pregnancy.

Except I want a home birth - I am zero out of two for home births and I have (hopefully) one more chance. I only know of one study, but it indicates 24 months is the best place to be in terms of uterine rupture after a cesarean. Getting pregnant in January would make it only 15 months. But then we are very unlikely to get pregnant. I think this brings me back to the beginning.

That is the fun of infertility, I guess. You can't just "see what happens". You have to decide, plot and plan and still expect it to go nothing like you had hoped.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Today is the fourth anniversary of Ernest's birth and subsequent death. Like last year, Brad and I will be commemorating the occasion by going geocaching and leaving an infertility awareness bracelet.

I don't have much to say. It seems less painful this year, but not as easy as I thought it would be. Ernest is no longer our only child and we have one we hope to see grow up. Already, LB is different than the day she was born. Ernest will always be the same in our memory. Watching LB change from day to day makes it easier to imagine how Ernest might have grown. I wish LB was a little sister now, not the oldest.

But then, I wish a lot of things had gone differently in the last 6 years. We are doing well and we are happier than we have been in a long time. Today we will remember Ernest and our journey, but I plan to notice how lucky we are too.

In the spirit of Perfect Moment Monday, I would like to submit this moment. Right now I am listening to soft music and LB is nearby while I earn money that will allow us to try for a sibling. Right now I am not wondering "What if?". Right now I am not lingering on thoughts of sadness or regret. Right now I am rejoicing in the smile LB just gave me. Right now I am at peace.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We Are Survivors

I got a letter in the mail from my clinic with prices and schedule for 2009. I asked for it because I had heard prices were going up from a couple of people and I was concerned about how much. It isn't too much - about 10% over 2007 (although some individual procedures went up as much as 80% - ones I will need, of course). This isn't really a huge deal. We have already decided to give it a shot and 2-3 thousand dollars more doesn't really hit home when we will already be spending about $25,000.

No, what got to me was the pit in my stomach that started as soon as I saw where the letter was from. I naively thought it would be exiting to start thinking about giving LB a sibling. FamilyOfTwo talks about the thrill and fear of trying again to conceive. It reminded me of the thrill part of a cycle and the hope that it will work. Getting the letter reminded me of the fear. I realized that I was really lucky to have conceived LB on our first DE cycle and that there was no guarantee we would be successful again. Logically, I already knew this, but my gut was saying, "Of course we will have a sibling."

I put the letter aside thinking I could just ignore it and the sick feeling would go away. It didn't work. I looked at LB and then looked at Brad and said while trying not to cry, "I want to give her a sibling, but I don't want to do IVF again." He understood. In fact, that is what he has been trying to communicate when he has been telling me "one is enough."

Eventually, I opened the letter because I thought facing the fear a bit would help. It did, but it also got me thinking. Those of us who deal with infertility are survivors. Whether we are able to conceive with our own gametes or not, whether we adopt or carry the child, whether we get pregnant (relatively) easily or choose to put it behind us and live child free; we have kept going against significant challenges and we pay a high price. Of course, not just financially, but emotionally and physically as well.

I was listening to This American Life the other day about a soldier from the Iraq war diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. He got the diagnosis because he had heightened fear /anxiety when he was around Muslims or other events and symbols that reminded him of his time in Iraq. How many of us feel heightened anxiety around pregnant women or in conversations that revolve around children? What about the anxiety that comes from driving by the hospital where your child died or past the clinic where you had failed cycles? Isn't this a kind of PTSD?

I wonder also if it would be a somewhat easier process if society as a whole had some appreciation for it. I find it interesting that since giving birth to LB, I have gotten a few emails that wax poetic over the joys (and of course hard work) of motherhood. When I get one, two things comes to mind: 1) Why didn't anyone acknowledge that I was first a mother nearly 4 years ago and 2) If they really thought it was all that, why don't their hearts break when they hear about someone who is being denied the opportunity? My only answer is that they either don't care, can't comprehend and / or don't really appreciate being a parent as much as they say.

As people dealing with infertility, we are traumatized, marginalized and isolated; yet we keep going. We pick ourselves up after losses and failed cycles and try again. We make the courageous decision to put trying to parent behind us and choose to live child free. We find ways to be happy with our lives even when they aren't working out the way we had planned. With the risk of sounding arrogant, may I say that we are amazing.

Take some time this week to pat yourself on the back and recognize your strength, perseverance, creativity, as well as the love you have for your partner, the children you may have and the children you hope to have. While you're at it, take a moment to tell a fellow infertile how amazing he or she is too.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Psalms of an Infertile Woman

I need your help. The liturgical dance group that I belong to will be doing movement to a series of psalms for the Christ the King Mass (November 23). Because I have a new baby, it was suggested last week that I move to the psalm of the unwed mother. Although I knew I could do it, I kept thinking about a psalm for the infertile woman instead. Today I suggested it and everyone agreed.

Here is where I could use some help. I need to come up with about 30 seconds that can be read aloud while I move to it. All the psalms are from the same book so they have a similar feel which I would like to emulate. Below is the original one to give you a sense of the feel. And by "feel" I mean it pretty loosely. Had I chosen to use the original, I would have had to pare it down to 30 seconds which is a little more than half.

I encourage any and all suggestions. This is a very liberal Catholic church (we once had a female play the part of God and she gave birth to all the animals for Easter) so be as creative as you like. You could submit a stanza or an entire set of stanzas. Thanks in advance!

The original:

No Raphael will paint me:
a mother with child,
but without a husband,
clutching a welfare check
with a babe in my arm.

No Botticelli background
behind this mother and child;
the bleak walls of public housing
rather than a hidden, luminous light.
No singing angels cluster
around my head.

Half-a-home, half-a-wife
and less than half-a-life:
a poor single parent
who holds in her lap
a condemned child.

Yes, condemned to live
an entire life in poverty,
so too my grandchildren,
and great grandchildren,
forever prisoners
of the lowest class.

No Michelangelo will carve me
holding the dead body of my son:
shot by police,
dead on drugs,
a victim of a gang war.

I am the sorrowful Madonna.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What she said

Some more thoughts on the importance of genetics.

Kate at It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Me at We Are What We Repeatedly Do

In case you missed it, there are several thoughtful comments on the original post

Monday, October 6, 2008

To Be Clear

My last few posts have focused on some ongoing grief I am experiencing due to infertility. I want to be clear that while there are moments of grief and (hopefully) healing, there are many more moments of joy. I love LB with all my heart and would not change her for anything. I can't imagine loving my genetic child any more. I am so thankful to everyone who helped us bring her into this world and who supported us along the way. I am so thankful to her for just being.

As I have said, I don't think it should be my child's job to make me happy; but happiness does come more easily when life is going the way I would prefer.

In honor of "Perfect Moment Monday", allow me show some happy moments with LB:

  • Holding her in my lap as I type this. Sometimes she starts to cry, then laughs in her sleep. I love feeling her in my arms.
  • Sitting her on the potty in the morning right after she wakes up. She makes such cute faces - yawning and smiling. Sometimes she will start going right in the middle of a yawn and her mouth closes with her tongue still sticking out. So cute! (Will I ever get tired of the times when I "catch" her eliminations? I know it's crazy, but I just love it.)
  • In the last few days she has noticed the pets. She has reached out and "petted" one of the cats. The cat may have preferred the term "grabbed".
  • Last night, we put her on her tummy on her play mat while we changed the sheets on the bed. She suddenly got quiet and we went to check on her. She was on her back! Of course we put her back on her tummy about four more times just to watch her roll over.
  • While she smiles a lot, she doesn't all out laugh very much and when she does it is only a couple of chuckles and usually comes after I have been making her smile for a while. The other day, I was just talking to her and she gave me her biggest laugh so far. What did I say that was so funny? "Wouldn't it be neat if we could make you a sibling without IVF? A free baby!" I'm not sure if she was laughing with me or at me, but I will take either one as long as I get to hear it.

P.S. -- I encourage you to read this post from The Shifty Shadow.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm done

I have sworn off watching Eureka. It wasn't a great show, but good sci-fi is hard to come by so we watched it. I might call it descent. It was often light-hearted and funny and made for a good distraction. The science was pretty awful and sometimes I think they played by Calvin Ball rules, but it was better than nothing.

Then they introduced a new character at the beginning of this season. The main character's sister shows up pregnant . . . with twins. Ug. I was glad we have been successful with having a real, live baby or I wouldn't have been able to watch it.

Then tonight there was another development. Two supposedly very intelligent and competent characters were in a relationship. The male died a few episodes ago. The female discovers . . . wait for it . . . yes, she is pregnant. It's funny that both characters were so exceptional they were each the head of the big research firm (at different times), but they still didn't understand how babies were made. If they were just "not preventing" then why wouldn't the female recognize morning sickness - she has already had one kid after all. Oh, she is also 37.

Unless I hear the characters leave, die or miscarry, I'm done.

What are your thoughts?

I posted on Bridges and would love to have your feedback. If you have any comments, please leave them on the Bridges post.