A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Non-solutions; or, The New Year of Hope and Achievement

I won't be around to post on New Year's Eve-- since I'm leaving TODAY for the Bahamas (yipeee!)--so I thought I should take this time to update my Non-solutions from last year with new Intended Achievements and Intended Explorations. As a reminder-- these are not things I "resolve" to do or to change about myself, but a mental grocery list of sorts for what I would like to accomplish or enjoy in 2011. Only things that I can actually achieve with some effort are included in this list (i.e., no NYC Marathon for me!).

2011's Intended Achievements:
- Resolve final incomplete grade
- Pass Oral Exam
- Begin (and ideally submit) Dissertation Prospectus
- Create Systematized Budget on mint.com
- Complete Whole Living 28-day Detox
- Create a Weekly Meal Plan (and stick to it)

2011's Intended Explorations:
- Cook one Entirely Vegetarian Meal per week.
- Run a 5k
- Visit Europe and Napa w/ Lawyer Guy
- Join either the Park Slope Food Co-op or a CSA
- Rediscover Love of Knitting

Last winter, I dubbed 2010 the Year of Hope and Achievement and at the time the hope was that I would achieve a baby. That didn't happen (obviously), but I still feel good about the hope that still lives in my heart and the growth and happiness I was able to achieve in often difficult situations.

So why not roll it over to next year? 2011, you are hereby named the New Year of Hope and Achievement. You may not give me everything I hope for, but I certainly won't go down without a fight

Monday, December 27, 2010

Inside/Outside; or, Let It Snow

We returned home last night from our ad hoc Jersey shore Christmas with my family, beating the worst of the storm by a few hours. Now we have two days until we leave for our Bahamas New Year's trip and lots to fit into that time (brief writing for Lawyer Guy and grading and lots of errands for me).

I'm glad that these weeks have been so packed. I haven't had much time to worry over the unlikelihood of this month's natural cycle yielding anything or begin stressing about the final Clomid IUI. I've had too much to do with holiday parties, cookie baking, presents buying and wrapping, and travel planning. On our drive back to Brooklyn yesterday, Lawyer Guy actually solicited information from me on how I'm feeling about our chances this cycle. "You haven't talked about babies and pregnancy much in the past few days," he noted, "which is unlike you."

(And, for the record, I am 10 dpo and don't have any strong symptoms either way. As usual.)

If I wasn't talking about babies, it's because I was trying to (and mostly succeeding at) not think about babies. When we're with my family, that's always easier to do. None of my sisters are married or have children yet or think much about children or talk much about children. And while I know my parents would love grandkids, they don't put any pressure on us or talk about it, either.

It was a strange Christmas, nonetheless. Our first since my parents sold the house we all grew up in. It felt very on-the-fly and we missed many of our traditions. While that was hard, it was also helpful, I suppose, because the Christmases I imagined with baby--when we thought about being pregnant or found out I was--were not Christmases spent at my best friend's family's home on the Jersey Shore. So as a consequence, I didn't think at all about "what might have been," though I couldn't stop myself from imagining what might be in the future (these days, it's twin boys named Simon and George).

And similarly, as we approach New Year's I'm trying equally to avoid thoughts like "This will be our year" and "Last year was such a disappointment." As I've written before, I have faith deep in my heart that one day something will work and LG and I will have a biological child. And as I've also written before, I have no confidence that it will happen soon or easily or without much medical intervention. I'm trying to tune out the distractions and fears and external signs of time passing and dwell inside and live with this little bundle of hope and pain I've been carrying around.

The snow has stopped falling and the sun is bright, but the wind is still howling. It's cozy and comfy inside the apartment. I'm going to stay here as long as I can today, but I know that eventually I'll have to leave and brave the chill again. I guess that's what makes the lazy, warm mornings spent inside even nicer.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

God Bless Us, Every One

"Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving sea--on, on--until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark, ghostly figures in their several stations; but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in the year; and had shared to some extent in its festivities; and had remembered those he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted to remember him."

Dickens, A Christmas Carol

I'm remembering all those at a distance today, especially all of you. Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Packages; or, What's in the Fridge?

Do you know what this is?

That's 2,400 iu of Gonal-F that's currently sitting in my fridge just asking one of my sisters or parents or in-laws to visit and get all confused and concerned about it. And I am freaking excited!

I mentioned a few weeks ago the upcoming conversation that Lawyer Guy and I will need to have with Dr. Wonderful about whether to go for an injects+IUI cycle or straight to IVF. I think I also mentioned that a lovely friend of mine from my loss/IF message board is now pregnant and was looking to unload some unused Gonal-f. In the beautiful manner of todays' interconnected world, these eight 300-iu Gonal-f pens made their way from one end of New York State to the other. I can't thank her enough for sending them. Our insurance doesn't cover injectible meds, so a stash this big would have cost us quite a lot.

You know, as sad as this may sound, I think this package of meds and needles may be my favorite Christmas present this year. As long as Dr. W. agrees, we can now afford to go ahead with one (and possibly more than one) injects+IUI in the spring at no cost. We've got some real options other than IVF, and options are what makes IF most bearable.

I'd be tempted to ascribe my jolly mood to the meds in the fridge, but truthfully, I've been feeling optimistic and happy and hopeful for several days now. This is unusual: I'm in a two-week wait. I'm set to get my period on New Year's Eve. This will be our 11th failed month of TTC since last year's miscarriage. And I've been a massive Grinch up until now, as has probably been clear from this blog.

But I ovulated! And we had sex! And even if that doesn't (and there's a 97% chance it won't, according to our docs) make a baby, it still means we're starting a new treatment cycle in less than two weeks. And that really might make a baby! And once we're done with the Clomid route in February, we've got the wherewithal to try something new! And we'll save all we can in the intervening month to lessen the financial blow of IVF, if it comes to that! This is really going to work for us!

I've finally caught a bit of the Christmas spirit. Thanks to a ziploc bag of needle pens I pray I'll never have to inject into my stomach fat.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happiness Is; or, More Year In Review

Yesterday, Pissy gave me my first Peak reading of this natural cycle. (Day 18! Not bad for me unmedicated!) And last night, Lawyer Guy and I did what baby-making people do on Peak days. And two weeks from today, I think we all know what's going to happen:

I'm going to get my period on a beach in the Bahamas.

But at least I'll be on a beach. That will make me happy. And at least I'll have my bottle of Clomid close at hand and can start popping pills three days later with an actual sense of hope about my January cycle. That makes me happy, too.

As I think back over the past year, so much of it did make me happy. And not just the usual "Husband, Dog, Family" kind of happiness--some really great things happened in 2010! And whaddayaknow, here's a list of them:

- We got built-in book shelves and our pantry closet redone. Both of those things make me *so* happy. I open the closet and just stare at it sometimes or sit on the couch and look at the shelves. I love feeling like we are turning this apartment into a real home (and I love storage space in a way that only long-term New Yorkers can understand).

- I had the best birthday ever and the best birthday party ever! Turning 30 was kind of great-- good food, great party, lots of people who love me surrounding me, and the feeling that I am entering a new phase in my life.

- Lawyer Guy got a promotion at his firm. He had been feeling frustrated about aspects of his job the last few years, and this was such a reward. It helped restore his pride and sense of accomplishment at a time when he really needed to feel good about himself.

- I didn't fail out of school! I was actually productive and got some academic shit done! I have not yet permanently destroyed the scholastic dreams of any of my students!

- Two of my sisters moved to NYC, and I now get to spend so much more time with them. It's such a blessing to have them close by after years of being dispersed across the country.

- I spent lots and lots of time at the Metropolitan Opera, my favorite place in the city. Everything about being there makes me happy.

- We started working with a fantastic RE at a great clinic, and she helps me stay hopeful and optimistic by being confident in our future success and so damn competent.

- I got to go on a bunch of cool trips to cool places with my wonderful husband (our cruise; our Scandinavia trip, weddings in different parts of the country). I love traveling with him so much--we get to be a little more adventurous and spontaneous than in our normal lives. (We've also got some great trips in the works for this upcoming year that I'll spill about in a future post).

- I got to know some incredible women through the ALI community, to laugh with them and cry with them and know that we're all together when we succeed and when we fail.

- Okay, yes, and the husband and dog made me very happy, too.

There were also a lot of moments of quiet happiness this year not related to any specific events. Just times of walking outside and feeling at peace and feeling grateful for that peace because the memories of overwhelming grief were fresh. I think I'm coping better with all of this than I ever have before (or thought I could). And that makes me happy, too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Looking Backward; or, Last Year's Wishes

I gave up on the idea of New Year's resolutions a year ago. The fact that nothing I wanted out of 2010 could be gained through resolving to gain it just showed up the emptiness of the concept. I want a baby. Obviously. More than anything. And I will do whatever it takes to get one. And that might not be enough. And I don't have much control over when it will happen, if it ever does.

Sucks. But that's life.

Instead of resolutions, I made a series of posts about my wishes and my plans for the new year. And I figured I'd look back now--just a few weeks away from flipping to another new calendar--to see how things panned out.

Let me be blunt. My wishes didn't come true. I did okay with some of the less specific ones (like wishing that I'd appreciate my body for the things it can do rather than what it can't), but I just threw those in so I wouldn't seem totally grabby and But-I-want-it-NOW-y anyway. The big stuff, the real wishes, those didn't come true.

(Well, I guess technically I did get pregnant this year, too, which was Wish #1, but considering I never even got to feel excited while looking at the pee stick, I'm calling that one a draw).

I'm not even going to bother with writing out a new list of wishes this year. Just look up the old ones and plug in "2011" for "2010" because they're all the same. Oh, but you can change the first wish to "Get pregnant with a healthy baby that doesn't die or have serious genetic abnormalities."

When I look back over my plans for the year, though, the story is different. I did pretty well! I broke the plans into two different categories: Intended Achievements and Intended Explorations. I purposefully set pretty modest goals for each category (not "Lose 20 pounds and Run a Marathon," for example). And I managed to accomplish almost everything I set out to do.

I completed all of the scholastic tasks I set for myself, with the exception of taking my oral exam. But I have a date set for that in May, so I'm feeling pretty good about my progress.

And I accomplished all of my Intended Explorations! I started a regular yoga practice--I may not be an expert yet, but I've grown stronger and more flexible and I've stuck to a work-out program for almost a year. I did go to Scandinavia with Lawyer Guy, and we made an effort to check out the Brooklyn culinary scene. Not bad!

Re-reading my hopes for the year and seeing that I was able to fulfill so much of what I set for myself is a nice little boost in a depressing season. My wishes didn't come true, but that doesn't mean I was unsuccessful in everything in my life. I'm going to make a similar list for 2011 in an upcoming post with similarly modest goals. I may not feel the incredible surge of pride that I would if I resolved to swim the English Channel or finish my dissertation by next year and then succeeded. But when what I want most feels so out of reach, it's nice to have a few goals I know I can accomplish.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Ghosts; or, Two Is the Loneliest Number

As everyone in America with eyes, ears, and/or a brain has by now realized, Christmas is coming. I know I don't need to tell you how overwhelming and even depressing it can all be: the commericals filled with beaming babies, the orderly rows of children in the holiday cards on the mantle, the emptiness between the two stockings hanging over the fireplace. The trials of holidays for the barren are familiar and well-documented, and I'm not sure what I can add to the story.

Other than my observations of the differences between this year and last year. Last year was awful. I had miscarried only a few weeks before and was still dealing with crashing hormones for all of December and most of January (it took nine weeks for me to get a normal period after the d&c). Lawyer Guy and I were fighting, both so on edge with grief. I cried most mornings before I got out of bed and every morning in the shower. I cried most afternoons, too. During that winter break, LG would come home from work to find me huddled in a ball on the couch, my face red and swollen from tears and a permanent groove etched in the cushions from my refusal to move for hours at a time.

And yet, in some ways, this year is worse. My emotions are more settled, but less intense. I'm not aching with grief, but I'm also not buoyed by hope. Even though I was sunk in misery a year ago, I was also acutely aware of how beautiful Christmas was and how much I needed it. I took such pleasure in decorating my tree and listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas album on repeat and drinking hot cocoa in front of the fire and walking through the freshly fallen Brooklyn snow on New Year's Eve, listening to church bells ringing in the quiet and telling myself that a new year was coming with the promise of something better, that if I could just survive the awful pain I was in I would soon be rewarded.

At the end of 2010, I know that isn't true, and I'm terribly afraid that a new year signifies nothing except new ways to be disappointed. I force myself to go through the motions: pulling out my decorations, lighting Chanukah candles, trimming my tree, picking out gifts, and designing a holiday card. But it lacks the joyfulness I have always felt in the past at this time of year, that extra sparkle that gives life its special glint.

For example, the past three years, I have insisted we send out cards with our pictures, to show that we're a family just as much as anyone else. Last year I sent out a card with THREE pictures, taken on our vacations in Rome and London (my little "Fuck you, I get to go to Europe whenever I want" to everyone with babies). And this year, I just don't have the heart to pretend anymore. I can't find a single picture that I like-- I look fat in all of them, or sad. But that's not even the real problem, which boils down to the fact that every picture of the two of us is missing someone and looking at them reminds me of the fact. And every ornament I hang on the tree isn't one that I picked out for my baby. And every Christmas song I play on the iPod isn't one that I'm introducing to my child for the first time.

I guess right now I'd prefer grief to gloom because even in the depths of misery we know that it has to end, but lethargy and discontent can go on forever.

And yet I do have some hope, however flickering, a little candle's worth, that maybe saying the magic words "This time next year" will work. And I do like the card we're sending out, picture-free and everything: two little birds in a tree, all alone except for each other.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Past and Present; or, How to Handle a MTHFR

Thanks to everyone who commented or e-mailed me with your advice on last Friday's post. Your suggestions were invaluable and have helped clarify some things for me. I'm so grateful to have a community of women who have been in this position to turn to when things become challenging.

Lawyer Guy is going to find out the max allowance for the FSA today, which should help clarify matters. He's also going to confirm that fertility treatments are permissible expenses (I'm sure they are, but we want to be extra-sure). Additionally, a friend of mine from my message-board support group (who is currently pregnant) offered to mail me several unused gonal-f pens of hers, enough it seems to get me through one round of injectibles+IUI. Given all this, we're leaning really heavily to putting $5000 or so in the FSA (or whatever the max is) and trying to do at least one, maybe two IUI cycle with injects. If the meds are free for the first it will be quite reasonable to pay for both, and I agree with all my bloggies who said it's a good way to test out my response to the stims before the high pressure of an IVF cyle commences.

Obviously, this is all contingent on the outcomes of the next few cycles and our conversations with Dr. W. But I feel like I have some perspective on the situation and a plan, and that always helps.

Also giving us some clarity (though not as much as we'd hoped): Dr. W's office called with the results of my RPL testing today. I tested positive for hetero MTHFR mutation, but everything else was normal. The nurse said that Dr. W is not concerned about the hetero mutation and doesn't fall in the camp that associates it with higher risk of pregnancy loss. The only snag is that the lab didn't test my homocysteine levels, so I need to have another draw to test that when I go in for monitoring for my January Clomid+IUI cycle.

While I'm a little nervous about the hetero MTHFR, I'm beyond relieved that I have no translocations or abnormalities on my karyotyping (and that LG is also free of them). Hetero MTHFR seems to be very common, and I've seen many women identified with it who have healthy pregnancies, so I'm going to hope that it won't cause any harm and that my homocysteine levels come back normal-- or, if they don't, that there's an easy fix for that.

Other than some reflection on hypotheticals and a smattering of test results, not much is happening reproductively right now. I should be getting back together with Pissy in a few days. I think she'll be happy to see me again, but you never know with her. I'm still buried under a mountain of student essays to grade, and after I finish that comes the preparations for Christmas, and then our New Year's trip to the Bahamas, and then AF right when we get back. And then it's 2011 and a new year and a new cycle, and this time a new year is going to actually signify something new for us, dammit.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Money, Money, Money; or, What Would You Do?

Lawyer Guy and I are facing one of the no doubt many practical conundrums we'll encounter as we move forward with ART. I could use some advice from those of you with more experience in these sorts of things.

So, to set the stage first for where we are right now, LG and I are doing a natural (i.e. break) cycle for the month of December. I'm on CD5 and unmedicated will ovulate anywhere between days 18 and 27, though it's usually more in the range of CD 21-24. I will most likely, then ovulate the week before Christmas (though earlier or later are always possible) and won't get my period until the first week of the new year.

In January, we begin our last Clomid+IUI. If that fails, we'll be meeting with Dr. W. in early February to discuss next steps.

Our options, as she laid them out to me briefly, are either to move to injections+IUI (which has an increased risk of triplets that worries her) or straight to IVF.

All of this is very hypothetical at the moment, and there's no reason to spend tons of time stressing or evaluating or deciding what we'll decide to do in Feb/March, when there are cycles to get through right now and conversations waiting to be had (and test results--from the RPL panel--that still haven't come in).

But there is a complicating factor at play. While our current course of treatment is covered by our insurance, we have zero coverage for IVF or injectible meds (the IUI procedure and all monitoring/testing/doctors' visits would still be covered). We have enough saved to handle the both routes for at least a few months and parents who we could turn to for help in a pinch (though that's a last resort scenario) but would obviously like to do whatever we can to keep costs down (and I don't believe our clinic offers any shared risk or other incentive programs).

LG does have a flex spending account for medical expenses. And his benefits coordinator just let everyone know that they need to specify the amount they want to put in it by December 20th. And, of course, whatever is unused in the flex account at the end of the year is lost.

So, how do you think we should handle this? As of now, there's still a chance that Clomid+IUI could work and we wouldn't need to go out of pocket for fertility expenses at all. But it's highly likely that we will be paying for medications at the very least in 2011. We don't know anything about the pricing of IVF at Cor.nell, since we haven't officially had a chat with Dr. W about that yet, but I'm thinking $12,000-$15,000 is pretty standard. And maybe $2,000-$4,000 for the meds, a little less if we're just doing an IUI? (Hard data on these figures would be appreciated.) If we knew for a fact we would be going the IVF route, I'd want to put in enough to cover one whole cycle, but since we don't know anything yet, it may be too big a risk to lose that money at the end of 2011.

Advice needed!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gimme a Break; or, Return to the Beginning

It's funny how my perspective can change so completely in such a short time. Four months ago, I was diligently tracking my ovulation and body signs and anxiously hoping to time sex in exactly the right way to ensure the pregnancy that absolutely had to be around the corner.

Now, neither Lawyer Guy nor I believe we'll be able to get pregnant again without medical intervention. As he put it, "If we're not getting pregnant with help, how are we supposed to get pregnant without it?" So we're facing the prospect of a brief return to unassisted conception with something less than confidence and very little hope.

We didn't have an easy time deciding to take a break for the month of December. A large part of my heart wanted to barrel forward regardless of any possible impediments or scheduling complications. But Dr. W. didn't want to do an IUI with a frozen sample, because she said they are less successful. She advocated trying to squeeze in an insemination the morning of LG's flight to Vegas. But knowing the unpredictability of my body's ovulation schedule--even on Clomid--I foresaw a stressful week of sweaty palms and racing pulse at every monitoring appointment as I hoped even more than usual for progress.

Given that this is our last chance at getting pregnant without injections, we want to give it the best shot possible. So I'm reuniting with Pissy the CBEFM for a month, and then we'll tackle our last Clomid+IUI in January. Taking a month off will also give us the benefit of a later ovulation than I would have had on medication, so if my some divine miracle we manage to get pregnant this cycle and not miscarry, our due date will be a week or so later, which will make attending my sister's wedding next August more likely.

The Sloper household tends to struggle when there are difficult decisions to be made, so these have not been an easy couple of days. LG was worried that I will resent him for going on this Vegas trip and pushing our plans back, which I assured him I won't. He kept trying to get me to tell him whether I thought he should back out of the trip or not, and I refused to do that. I want him to have a nice weekend after dealing with so much stress the last several months. I also want to do everything possible to have a baby. So I just told him to do what felt right and I'd support him in it.

(And now that he booked his trip I'm having my typical horrible premonitions of plane crashes and disaster, but I'll just have to deal with that).

I guess if we have to go on a break, December's not a bad month to do it in. I've got masses of grading to finish over the next three weeks, and Christmas shopping and present wrapping, and cookie baking, and carol singing, and cocoa-drinking, and then Christmas with my family. I'm promising myself that this is the last year I will spend in limbo like this, so I should make the most of the time with LG while I have it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wait No More; or, Right Place, Right Time

Some days, you find yourself in exactly the right place at the right time to hear what you need to hear.

This morning, I was 15 dpiui with no sign of AF. I'd been expecting to start spotting every day since Friday, but despite the delay I wasn't feeling optimistic about this cycle. If my boobs felt dense and hard (and very, very pregnant-like) with last month's beta of 12.5, I knew that my utterly normal-feeling chest didn't suggest anything promising. But still, as each day slowly ticked by, a little spark of hope grew brighter and brighter. My period was late, really officially late, and I hoped as hard as I could that this meant something, even as I told myself and suspected it didn't.

Then, shortly before I left for church, I saw it: the faintest sign of discoloration on my toilet paper. The confirmation that Clomid had indeed given me a longer luteal phase, but that a healthy pregnancy still eluded me.

I jumped in the shower trying unsuccessfully to keep from crying. Over ninety million sperm were injected right into my uterus and they still couldn't match up with an egg. What possible chance could anything short of IVF have of working for us? I felt so tired and worn out and sick of trying and so hopeless. But I got myself dressed and dragged myself to church, anyway.

The priest's homily was about patience and about the tension he identified between living with longing and living with the understanding that we cannot control whether or not we achieve what we long for. The Gospel reading was about waiting for God's time and trusting in his love for us.

I'd been making bargains with God all week. "Just let me get through tonight without spotting," I prayed on Friday as Lawyer Guy and I arrived at his brother and sister-in-law's house, "and I promise that I won't complain when I get my period tomorrow." Even as I said it, I knew I was a liar. And of course, making it through the family even without my period wasn't enough.

But sitting in church, I realized that the priest was right. I do have faith that I will be a mother one day, despite all evidence to the contrary. And I want to live in a place of patience and peace amidst all this terrible, overwhelming longing.

We're going to pick out and decorate our tree tonight. Yesterday LG and I booked a trip to the Bahamas over New Year's Eve. I've got two weeks left of the semester and Christmas to look forward to and operas to attend. I'm going to survive this. One day, this struggle will be over, and I'm going to do my best to find a place of peace in my heart until we get there.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank You Loss and Infertility

...for showing me that my husband and the immense love we have for each other means more than anything, even having a baby.

...for helping me see that a family of two is as strong and intimate and important as one of three or four or five or more.

...for making my marriage into a partnership and a true team.

...for revealing to me the incredible sympathy, compassion, and kindness in the hearts of "strangers" all over the country.

...for encouraging me to reach out to people I see suffering around me.

...for convincing me that I am strong enough, brave enough, and determined enough to not only be a mother, but to be a great mother.

....for curing me (almost) of my materialistic fantasies and focusing my dreams where they should be: on the baby I want to love and care for, not the clothes to dress it in or the crib to put it in or the stroller to wheel it around in.

...for forcing me to smile through tears, search for rainbows in storm clouds, and write lists like this one on the off-chance that they might be true.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Premonitions; or, 11 dpiui

This may be one of those post-every-day kind of weeks. I've just got a lot on my mind, I guess. Right now I could use some bloggie advice.

As the title says, I'm 11 dpiui. And I'm quite sure it didn't work. My boobs don't feel pregnant, which are the only indicators I ever have. My skin is also very, "Ha ha, your period is coming." Everything else is perfectly consistent with getting my period, and after going through this 17 times now, I've gotten pretty good at figuring out when that's going to happen.

Since I would rather whittle my peestick into a shank and plunge it directly into my heart than see one line on a pregnancy test, I won't be testing until AF misses her train. Which usually means not testing at all.

So here's my dilemma. Normally, I start spotting about 14 days after my LH surge and get full flow the following day (I was never positive whether I ovulated the day after or two days after my LH surge, so I counted from the first peak day, which seemed less equivocal). Because of the chemical pregnancy last month, I don't know if being on Clomid will change my luteal phase at all, but as I'm not taking progesterone or any other suppositories, I have to assume it won't. Thus I project that I'll begin spotting on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Now, thanks to Lawyer Guy's parents' divorce, we spend every day-after Thanksgiving at his father's house having a second Thanksgiving dinner (this year, if you count Fakesgiving, it will be the third) with LG's father and stepmother and the infamous BIL/SIL clan. Long-time readers may recall that at this event last year (only about a week after my d&c) I broke down crying and ran from the table, which action was greeted with rather deafening silence. Not the best communicators, that side of the family.

Anyway, this year the event is not going to be at FIL's house. I'll give you three guesses where it was moved. Are you thinking? Thinking really hard? If you guessed BIL's house you are right on the money! Apparently having two small children makes it extremely difficult to take a half-hour trip across the Tappan Zee Bridge on a holiday weekend, and everything has to revolve around making their schedule easier (Sorry, my bitter is showing. Excuse me while I pull down my skirt a little).

LG and I were anxious and upset when we find out the event was moving there. As he puts it, "It automatically goes from a family event on neutral territory to one that is about them and their kids." We thought about telling his father how uncomfortable we are and asking him to switch it back. We thought about doing a lot of things. But we couldn't think of a way to address this issue that didn't sound petty and like we just didn't want to go to their house. Or a way that wasn't basically forcing his father to choose between the desires of his two sons, a position in which he is not very comfortable. We also thought about not going and then decided it would cause too much fuss not to go.

Compounding all this, we learned on Sunday at our lunch in the suburbs that the family has chosen this event as their Channukah gift exchange day, because everyone's schedules are so full in December.

Yes, we found this out on Sunday. Five days before we're supposed to exchange gifts on Friday. And no one would have told us if I hadn't innocently wondered when we'd all be getting together for the gift-giving. Scrambling ensued, and I picked up a bunch of gifts and ordered others online. We now have gifts for all the adults, but the nieces' gifts won't arrive until next week at the earliest.

So to sum up: a post-Thanksgiving dinner at the home of our least supportive relatives where we will be exchanging gifts we didn't have time to procure on the day I'm due to confirm that this most recent IUI failed.

I don't know what to do. I don't want to start spotting in the middle of dinner. How will I possibly handle the devastation around everyone? We'll have to leave and it will cause such a scene. I suspect that if I start spotting earlier in the day, I'll just want to hunker down and be alone to lick my wounds and start the moving-on process. Lawyer Guy said he'd go to the dinner by himself, but I hate when he has to do that. I hate being the sad, fragile basket-case who can't handle ordinary human interactions. And I hate being left alone at home when everyone else is together.

I just wish I didn't have to think about any of this. I wish I were stronger and better able to push forward through uncomfortable situations. I wish LG didn't feel like he had no choice in whether to go or not and I wish that I felt confident everyone would understand our situation--yet I don't want to tell people exactly what is going on. I don't even want BIL and SIL to know we're seeing an RE!

I've got a few days to figure this out, and I'll be tp-scanning (and smelling, which is usually my earliest sign of impending-AF, as disgusting as that may sound) like mad. I'm giving myself permission not to decide what to do until Friday and to just say screw it to everyone's reactions. But a strong part of me still feels like the right thing to do is go and if I stay home I'll be weak and giving in to bad, selfish impulses.

Such a long post to say essentially so little. If you managed to slog through the tedium, I'd love to hear your advice or thoughts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saturday and Sunday; or, Reversals of Fortune

Sometimes there's so much to say, I can't find the heart to sit down and write about it. Last weekend was that kind of weekend. We had dinner with friends on Saturday night in the neighborhood and then met for lunch with my BIL and SIL and nieces on Sunday at their country club.

I was dreading the family visit all weekend. My mother-in-law had called the day before and told me that she had lunch with J (the BIL) that Saturday and that he had asked if "there were any babies yet" for Sloper and LG. My MIL responded by telling him he needs to speak with us to learn about how things are going, and he said, "They didn't have another miscarriage, did they?" in a worried one of voice. Again she told him to talk to us about what's going on, but that we're "struggling."

My MIL brought this story to me like it was some amazing evidence of how deeply my BIL and SIL care about us. "See?" she said. "He's thinking about you. I know they want you to have kids."

Yeah, I kind of figured that already. Obviously they want their kids to have cousins, and LG and I are the only way they're getting any. And they're not evil. I know they don't wish us ill.

But hearing that he made what basically amounted to small-talk chit-chat at lunch about our problems (over a year later!) isn't evidence of some extreme compassion and sympathy. I'm not angry that she told me this, but it also doesn't change that I think their reaction to our situation has royally sucked. It doesn't change the fact that I think they are incapable of having real, human connection with us on this point, or that they don't put their own events, needs, and desires over our incredibly deep sorrow. As I said to my MIL, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this information." Go out of my way to inform them and make them comfortable with this? Um, no.

So I was not feeling super charitable about this lunch visit and was wondering why we were making the effort to head out to Suburblandia and see them. And yet, it was fine. I held the 8-month-old niece, who is very sweet and smiley, and I saw that she has the blue eyes neither of her parents do (eyes like mine) and managed only a twinge of sadness. Our three-year-old niece was sweet and funny and very cuddly once she got over some initial shyness. LG and his brother disappeared to another part of the club for a while (a sports bar, it turned out, where they could watch some football) and I thought that maybe J was going to bring up the last year and ask how things were going. But he didn't. And LG thought that maybe S (my SIL) was asking me how things have been. But she wasn't.

Still, for all my dread of these situations, I'm very good at getting in and getting out with minimal fuss and distress. And if I wasn't my usual bright and sparkly self, if I was a little more quiet and subdued than usual, I don't think it was extreme enough for anyone but me to notice.

So Sunday was alright, despite my worries. But Saturday...

We had dinner with, among others, our Queens friends and their one-year-old son. These are the friends whose son was born the day we had our first bad ultrasound with the m&m. They are the friends who miscarried their first pregnancy almost exactly two years before we did, then tried to conceive for over a year before finally hitting the jackpot with an IUI. We are very close to them, and while we don't talk about IF and loss frequently, there's a current of understanding that flows through all our interactions and helps make things comfortable.

I noticed at dinner that Queens Wife wasn't drinking, and my radar went up. But Queens Husband was, so I thought that perhaps they designated a "Sober Sister" (as it were) to watch their little boy and drive home.

But as we peeled off from the rest of our party and walked them to their car a few blocks away, they confirmed my suspicions. They were twelve-weeks pregnant, unexpectedly but quite happily. They were due in June, just like her first pregnancy and mine.

I didn't feel that sharp spike of jealousy in the gut the way I usually do. We hugged them both and asked some questions and told them how happy we were. And in that moment, I truly was. Something raw and pointy lay underneath that happiness, but I pushed it far down. Lawyer Guy and I left them at their car and walked home to our apartment, and the night was very crisp and clear, and we both talked of other things and knew we were thinking the same thing, and it felt good to be together, whatever the circumstances.

I didn't let myself think much more about our friends' pregnancy the rest of the weekend. And then Monday morning, Queens Husband texted LG. They just had their NT scan. The results were not good--the baby's skull didn't form right. They had to terminate.

We both cried for them and ordered a basket of food to be delivered to their house and texted and e-mailed and offered to help them with anything they needed. She had the procedure yesterday and tomorrow they leave for Thanksgiving in New England.

As much as I may have felt jealous and a little sad when they told me their pregnancy news, I am devastated that this is the result. It seems so unfair--that they've had to undergo two very different but equally traumatizing losses, and even their beautiful, hard-won son doesn't make up for that. I find myself wondering why this kind of suffering has to be concentrated on the same people over and over again. Why can't it be one miscarriage per customer, no exceptions, and no more than one for everybody? Why can't it be lost pregnancy or IF, never both? I know the world doesn't work that way, and I'm sure people with ordinary, loss-free fertility would be horrified to think I'm "wishing miscarriages" and problems on them. But wouldn't life be easier to navigate if we could all share this burden?

Like losing a parent--it happens at different (more or less tragic) times for different people, but if you live long enough, your parents will die. I think we have tremendous sympathy for those whose parents die because of this sense that it will be us facing the same thing one day. But reproductive troubles aren't like that, so they're easier to dismiss or ignore. It's horrible to wish they were more universal, and yet I do. Hey, I'm surviving them, so Ms. Fertile Franny can too.

I'm rambling now because there's no real ending point to this. Lost pregnancies suck. Infertility sucks. Lack of sympathy sucks. Having to trudge on when you just want to scream sucks.

This all sucks.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hamster Brain; or, 7 dpiui

I know from past experience that there's no way to know the State of the Uterus at only 7 dpo/iui. I know that having negative, down hunches about a cycle isn't a good predictor of whether or not it succeeded. Nothing is a good predictor of that, which predictably sucks.

But still-- I'm a little constie, so maybe that means something! Except, I've been that way in plenty of failed 2wws. I'm not very hungry at all, so clearly nothing is going on. But I wasn't all that hungry last cycle either. (And I was barely pregnancy last cycle, so again, not such a good sign).

I don't think I'm pregnant. I wish I were so, so, so much, but I just don't feel like I am. However, I know that things can change quickly and I can't really be sure until 13dpo. If my boobs start hurting then, it worked. If I start spotting, it didn't.

Despite the squeaky little hamster wheel spinning and spinning, I have been able to distract myself from dwelling on this fairly well so far. I had a movie date with some friends last night that was a lot of fun and a great way to occupy my mind. I've got shittons of student papers to grade this weekend, more dinner plans with LG and friends tonight, and Thanksgiving and all its preparations to focus on next week.

And then, right after Thanksgiving, I'll know. And it will hurt a lot, I can already tell. If we can't get pregnant with a perfect IUI, I'll pretty much give up on anything short of IVF working for us at all. But Christmas is right around the corner and long nights in front of our fireplace with hot cocoa and a twinkling tree will go far toward restoring my joyfulness, even if there's no baby in the manger yet.

I hope you are all having weekends that make you happy and sane.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time Keeps on Ticking: or, 4 dpiui

This going to be a bit of a random hodgepodge post, since nothing much is going on other than my slow, steady descent into irreparable madness. Every three seconds, I think to myself, "I have to be pregnant. I can't be pregnant. I must be pregnant. It's impossible that I'm pregnant."

And on and on and on.

In the meantime, Lawyer Guy accompanied me to the opera last night (more like, was dragged by me, but who's counting). It was the Met's recent production of Carmen, and I loved it. I spent most of the rest of my non-teaching time googling every bit of news that came out about William and Kate's engagement. A fun distraction from testing out my ute goggles.

* * *

Based on the two data points I now have to go on, I know that I won't have much of an idea if AF is coming or if something else is until 13 dpiui. Both positive test cycles I was positive I was going to get my period right up until that day. I keep trying to remind myself that there's just no way to know yet and that I should try to enjoy myself right now, because the tension only increases the closer to D-Day I get.

Oh, right, and I should start spotting the day after Thanksgiving, which I'm spending with LG's family this year. Awesome.

* * *

What else is there to say as I try to kill time? I'm leaning toward skipping treatments in December, but not because of my sister's wedding. After last month's chemical pregnancy I was determined to plow forward no matter what, and felt really good about that decision. But then LG received that most dreaded (to wives) of husbandly invitations: A Vegas Bachelor Party. And it's scheduled for the exactly the weekend we'd have to be on call for an IUI.

If I begged and pleaded and insisted, Lawyer Guy would refuse the invite. But I know how much he wants to go. Many of his friends have moved from the NY metro area and now have kids, so he doesn't see much of them. He confessed recently that he's been feeling kind of lonely--he's one of the only non-dads left in his circle and everyone's too busy to do the kind of socializing they used to. I know it will mean so much to him to be able to have some relaxed time with them all. And I think he would appreciate a break from having to jizz in a cup, too.

There's still the option to freeze the sperm and do the insemination while he's gone, but that doesn't appeal to me for a lot of reasons. So it's likely that December will consist of fruitless (but fun?) au natural attempts and we'll be back on the treatment horse in January.

* * *

Tick, tock, tick, tock. For now we just keep waiting. Though not as long as Kate Middleton waited for her proposal. I'll take her as my inspiration and dub myself Waity Slopie, invest in a series of figure-hugging colorful frocks, and head to a polo match. That should help pass the time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crazy Comes Early; or, How to Survive a Two-Week Wait

I think I am good at many things: writing, reading while walking along crowded sidewalks, singing, knitting, cooking, taking standardized tests, picking outfits for my dog, correctly punctuating compound-complex sentences, listening to people, hugging, and wearing short skirts. But there is also a long list of things I am terrible at: calculus, chemistry, running, athletics of all sorts, spelling, showing up places on time, planning and timing a meal, housekeeping, putting on a poker face, losing belly fat.

To this latter list, you can add meditation and relaxing.

I have never been able to relax on command. At the end of a yoga class, when I feel stretched out like a noodle, I still have to clench my fists in corpse pose because otherwise the palms of my hands and my fingers literally begin to itch, so strong is my compulsion to move them. In health classes as a kid I was never able to relax my mind enough to feel the crazy effects of the self-hypnosis videos we would occasionally watch.

Just now, in an effort to mitigate against the extreme anxiety of the two week wait, I listened to one of the Circle+Bloom relaxation CDs that a friend sent me when I started working with an RE. I couldn't even concentrate on the woman's voice. I lay here in an extremely comfortable chair with my eyes closed and as she told me to let my body sink deeper into a metaphorical hot bath, the soles of my feet started twitching and I had to press them together. My stomach rumbled. My eyes fluttered under my eye lids. My mind spun like a top.

I suck at this.

I am pretty much a ball of tightly wound twine at the best of times, and waiting for the results of a cycle only exacerbates it. This cycle is doubly hard because everything (with the exception of my minimal egg production) is going so damn well. Not only did Lawyer Guy produce a rock star sample for the IUI, but we had sex TWICE afterward that day. (I'm not at liberty to share what helped make this cycle so much better in that regard. Let's just say it was awesome). Last cycle we had fertilization for the first time in a year, which has raised the expectations for IUI way high. And some googling turned up various studies that all agree the greatest predictors of success in an IUI cycle are total motile sperm counts and timing, both of which were great for us.

And yet mentally, I add all this up together and it equals: BFN.

Over the past 20 months, I have had more "perfect" cycles than I can count-- or as close to perfect as my body can get. Well-timed sex, and lots of it, with clear ovulation. Over and over again, I would think, "This is it! This time is the time! Everything's going so great, it just *has* to work."

And over and over again, reality would sledgehammer me over the head at the end of my wait.

Strangely, I do believe Dr. Wonderful when she tells me that I will get pregnant and I won't be her patient for long. I do believe that a healthy pregnancy is in the cards for my future. Just not yet. Just never right now. Not this cycle, not this time.

I would really like to put down this emotional armor, this chain-mail of doubt and negativity and fear and refusal that I've been carrying around for over a year to deflect the blows of IF. It's tiring and weighs a ton.

Next cycle's the one when I'll start to feel positive. It's always next cycle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sperminated; or, R&R

Having an IUI done on a Saturday morning is infinitely preferable to a Tuesday. Instead counting the minutes as they slipped past (each one taking me closer to another canceled class) or watching Lawyer Guy obsessively responding to work e-mails on his Blackberry, we were able to stroll in, have him do his thang, have a lovely early breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, get a vial full of sperm injected in my cooter, and return home.

There was less hilarity but also less stress this time around. LG produced the sample without trouble--and what a sample it was! 95 million and 50% motility pre-wash, and 92 million with 90% motility post-wash! We couldn't believe the numbers were right when we saw the sheet, because that is such a jump from his usual 30-35 million. But we'll take it!

I let down the side a bit on my end. Yesterday at triggering I still only had one 19mm follie on the left. My lining was better this time, though, at 10mm. Still, I don't have high hopes for the outcome. One egg, one shot. Plus, I really don't think it's possible for us to have a positive result on every IUI cycle. Since we technically did have a positive beta last time, I'm going to write this one off ahead of time as a necessary loss.

LG and I had some interesting and important conversations about our future that I'll share at some other point. Nothing earthshattering was discussed or decided, but the way we talking about it all gave me confidence that we are as solid a team as I've told myself.

Now we're lying in bed with our puppy and a crossword puzzle. We've scheduled an afternoon of lounging and napping (and maybe even some grading for me) and are discussing dinner and movie options for tonight. I love my husband and I love our life together, whatever comes of this morning's adventures in medically-assisted reproduction.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans of Another War

Today is Veteran's Day. It's also the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

Things are both harder and better today than I could have anticipated on November 11, 2009. I drove home from the doctor's office that morning, sobbing the whole way, and lay on my couch in a stupor of misery and over and over again I told myself that things would get better soon. As the weeks passed and I tried to recover and move on, I promised myself that "this time next year" things would be different. I knew we could get pregnant, it was only a matter of time until it happened again, I had just lived through one of the worst things I could imagine and life had to (had to) take a turn for the positive.

If I had suspected then what I know now--that a year would pass and find us still in the same situation---I would have been horrified.

And yet, I am better and stronger right now that I possibly could have imagined twelve months ago that I would become. I struggle continually to feel optimistic, but I force myself to carry on with trying to make a baby regardless, so there's obviously hope in there somewhere. I can face the thought of more losses, more waiting, more sadness without enthusiasm but with a knowledge that I'll survive whatever comes and confidence that I'll weather whatever storms I must until we have a baby.

I can look at my husband and know that we have seen each other at our worst and our best and we have held each other up when it felt like the ground fell away beneath us.

So I'm okay today. It's a sad day but ultimately it's just a date, no better or worse than the ones before and after it. I didn't want my journey to take this long. I didn't want to have to turn to an RE and ART to have a child. But I do and I did. And now there's a 16 mm follicle and 8 mm of lining in my uterus and an IUI scheduled for this weekend and just maybe a baby waiting to be created from hope and heartache and resolution.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Too Much; or, Not Enough

Things have been quiet in Purgatory these last few days, but not because I don't have anything to say or anything going on. There's been too much of both: too much to think about, too much to plan, too much to do, too much to feel, and not enough time to do it all in.

Some of it has been dull: grading 40 papers and teaching classes and running three Junior League meetings in the span of a week.

But some of it has even been good.

On Sunday, Lawyer Guy and I cooked a Fakesgiving feast for most of my family (my parents, two of my sisters, and one sister's fiance). We used our All-Clad turkey roaster for the first time and made our very first turkey, a 12-pounder that turned out perfectly, succulent and juicy and golden brown. Go us! We also made two kinds of stuffing (sausage & sage and caramelized onions & herb), pureed sweet potatoes with molasses butter, roasted brussel sprouts, green beans in a mustard-bacon sauce, arugula salad with roasted butternut squash and cranberries, kale chips and fennel parmesean dip as appetizers, and a caramel cake for dessert. And we made every bit of it from scratch (except a pumpkin pie, which we bought, and the gravy, which my mom made). We had bourbon/apple cider cocktails and champagne and it was a great time, even if it took us four hours to do all the dishes (we did them together while I simmered a turkey-carcass stock in our giant 12-quart stock pot).

This was all made more difficult, though, by the fact that I had--and still have--a really nasty headcold: sore throat, hacking cough, sinus pressure, stuffy nose. We were supposed to go up to West Point with my family on Saturday for the Army-Air Force game, but my cold was at its worst so I stayed home to rest up and ideally recuperate. I am doing better now, but am still pretty uncomfortable. I'd love to take a sick day from teaching, but I've had to use them all for fertility related appointments.

Which, speaking of, I had another one of on Monday morning (CD 10). I'd been feeling really disconnected from this cycle--I feel like I'm still getting over the disappointment of the chemical pregnancy and haven't been enthusiastic or engaged in this current cycle at all. I also wasn't feeling the same intense ovarian reactions that I did last time (despite starting the Clomid three days earlier) so I wasn't terribly optimistic about how things would be going.

Turns out, I know my body pretty well: I had one (count 'em, one) follie at 14 mm on my left ovary. Nothing else over 10 on either side.

Ho hum.

I know one is better than none. And I'm glad that my lining was at 6.9, which seems okay for CD 10. But I couldn't get a good pregnancy out of last cycle, and I had two follies then. I don't have much hope for one. Plus--I fully admit this is irrational--both times I've gotten pregnant it's been from my right ovary. I have this feeling that the left is not capable of stepping up to the task (then again, both those pregnancies didn't last, so maybe the left side would have a better track record in that regard). I go back tomorrow morning for more monitoring, to see how things have progressed. Dr. Wonderful suspected the IUI would go forward this weekend, but she said if there hasn't been any progress at my next appointment, they'll give me another dose of Clomid and the egg will drop the weekend afterward. I'm feeling some sensations in both ovaries, so I suspect that some growth will have occurred, though I obviously can't predict how much.

After the ultrasound, Dr. W. sat and talked with me for about ten minutes about last cycle and how I'm feeling about everything. She is so amazing. She told me she definitely views last cycle's outcome as a positive. She said she knows that the psychological torture of waiting is the hardest part in all of this and encouraged me to embrace my hobbies and do whatever I can to help distract me during this time. She also said "There is light at the end of the tunnel. You are going to be pregnant." I really love working with her and I'm so glad we followed our instincts and chose her.

I've been a little freaked out, though, I have to confess, and it's entirely my own fault. I asked Dr. W. what comes next if this cycle doesn't work. While she said that she wants to go one cycle at a time and not get ahead of ourselves, she still gave me an indication of what she's thinking will follow: one more Clomid+IUI and then...IVF!

Ah! Those letters! They strike fear into my heart.

Now, Dr. W. said she would advocate for IVF as the next step because she fears the risk of triplets is too great for my case if we do IUI + injectibles. But she also said we'd have to talk about everything before making decisions about what to do. And I know how kind and lovely she is--if we tell her we're just not ready for IVF I think she'd let us make an attempt with injectibles/IUI just to see how it goes. And she's right, triplets are not an ideal outcome. My anxiety would be off the charts if I were pregnant with three babies, plus I'd likely have to be on bed rest for a very long time, which has complications of its own. And then, you know, three babies.

But the risk of triplets is only three percent (which doesn't sound like much to me). And everything in an IVF cycle (meds+procedure) would be out-of-pocket for us. We're financially capable of doing IVF at this stage, but not financially prepared: the lovely In-Case-of-Baby cushion we've rebuilt over the two years since buying our apartment would be reduced by jumping into an IVF. We'd need to talk about this a lot and save more money and possibly chat with our parents before embarking on such a step.

I'm also not even close to psychologically prepared. I still, if you can believe it, don't actually think of us as infertile! There are still many times when I think to myself that all this happened because I worried too much and put too much pressure on Lawyer Guy at the beginning and couldn't take things easy and (yup, here it comes) just relax.

I just have to cross my fingers and hope that one of these Clomid cycles will be the trick for us. I'll just have to pray that poor Lawyer Guy can hang on to his ever-fraying confidence and sanity and endure just a little bit longer. During a phone chat with him on Monday, I reassured him that "We are going to be such great parents because of going through this, and we are going to be so unbelievably happy because of how sad we are now."

And he replied, "Yeah, we've been telling ourselves that for almost two years."

So my consolations are a little thread-bare and my hope is definitely dented and my heart is very bruised. But my doctor says there's a light at the end of the tunnel and some days I almost think I can see it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sad Goodbyes; or, People in Your Neighborhood

This morning, my downstairs neighbors' little dog was hit and killed by a car right outside our apartment building. She was a two-year-old Manchester Terrier they'd had for about a year. They'd rescued her from a shelter and worked with a trainer to help cure her of her excessive anxiety. They'd done an amazing job--she was so well-behaved, and getting better all the time. Somehow her leash broke or came undone and she ran into the road.

When Lawyer Guy returned from walking Bella this morning, he told me they had taken the dog to the animal ER . Later, when I arrived on campus to teach, I got a bbm from him telling me she had died. I started crying.

I don't know why this has affected me so much. I feel so very bad for these neighbors. I keep picturing myself in their position, thinking of my little Bella and how I would feel if all her toys and her food dishes lingered here as reminders that she was gone. It makes me sick inside. I imagine that moment when they were told she was gone, and it makes me cry again.

I saw their light on when I returned home this afternoon and knocked on their door to give them a hug and my condolences. They'd clearly been sobbing for hours. We all cried together and I said what I could to give them my sympathy, told them how much we would miss her.

I felt oddly tempted to tell them about the miscarriages, though of course I didn't. We live in a small building with only a few apartments and we have one of the two remaining dogs living here. I have to think that seeing us walking Bella and hearing us take her out every morning and evening (their apartment is closest to the front door) will sting so much and remind them of their lost little pup. Maybe I wanted to tell them so they'd know that I understand sadness and loss. But telling them would have been for my comfort, not theirs.

So I just hugged them and went back upstairs.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This and That; or, Wishes and Horses

Not much to say tonight. I made a wish on a star while out walking the dog--I don't see so many of them in the city, so I felt I had to seize my chances. I revised the wish about three times just to make sure it was conveyed without any ambiguity. We can't be too careful about these things.

There's a lot on my mind. I'm wondering when we'll do the IUI. I'm wondering about December and whether we should go forward with treatments that month or not. I'm reeling a bit from a badly timed pregnancy announcement last week that I'm not quite sure what to do about and don't have the energy to blog about yet. I'm trying to hold Lawyer Guy up while he tackles some doctor's appointments he's dreading. I'm trying to get 80 papers graded. I'm trying to prepare a faux-Thanksgiving feast for this weekend. I'm trying to enjoy my life as it is right now.

It never holds for long, but I seem to have reached some kind of stasis. I take it where I can find it.

And with that, I'm off to bed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Emotions; or, The Motions

IUI #2 officially starts tonight when I pop my first CD 3 Clomid. I'm optimistic that this will get me an earlier ovulation than last month, maybe more than the two follies I had for IUI #1, and...well, beyond that, I'm not sure what to expect. I kind of feel like last month was our month, to be honest (though I know I felt utterly differently during that two-week wait). I had just had the HSG with all its famed conception-enhancements. And from what I understand, additional IUIs beyond the first have diminishing returns for women who ovulate without assistance. Though of course, I know plenty of bloggies who conceived on their second and third and fourth IUIs and beyond.

I don't really know what I'm saying. This is all happening so quickly. I'm still coming to terms with last month's chemical pregnancy and all the hideous fears it has raised and now we're suddenly moving into another cycle, another try, and I truthfully can't see it working out. I can't see us getting off that easy.

Ah, well. Once more unto the breach.

This morning I also had my blood drawn for the RPL panel. Whoo boy. They weren't kidding. Those were an awful lot of vials of my blood being bagged up and sent off. Coupled with my continuing period, I'm surprised I had enough blood left to continue breathing and moving and, you know, living. I think I did a pretty good job with it, if I say so myself. The phlebotomist was lovely, didn't leave a bruise or anything, and she distracted me with chat about Twilight (she's a big fan) and Harry Potter (we both are). Several times I felt my hands and lips start to tingle and go numb, but Lawyer Guy squeezed my fingers and the nurse slapped a cold, moist towel on my forehead and I managed to avoid passing out. Some apple juice and peanut M&Ms (sigh) later, I was ready to go back out into the world.

The results should come trickling in over the next two weeks. I was so glad to have the blood draw over that I forgot to worry about the results. I have to remind myself that knowledge is good, even of bad things. Whatever is wrong with us--if there is something wrong-- is already there and these tests didn't actually change anything.

My brilliant plan to spend a day feeling sorry for myself and then move on appeared to be working a treat until last night. I got manicures in the afternoon with my real life IF friend in the neighborhood, and then Lawyer Guy and I spent the evening cooking up a fall feast together: fancy spaghetti and turkey meatballs from him, butternut squash soup and baby arugula with roasted squash and an apple cider vinaigrette from me. We really had a lovely time together, which is why I was so shocked when I sat in front of the tv last night, glass of wine in hand, and suddenly felt so very, very sad. The kind of sad that fills your pores and weighs down your bones and hurts all over, from your scalp to your toenails. Maybe it was the be-costumed babies all over facebook, but I hurt so much I wanted to claw my heart out of my chest just to feel relief. I actually took out my Bible, which I haven't read in years (dare I say decades?), and read all of Lamentations in bed before burying my face in the pillow and crying.

I feel like I've been going through the motions today: blood test and prescription pick-up and therapy and walk the dog and grade some papers and lesson plan for tomorrow. I don't know what this cycle will bring, and I'm afraid to think too much about it. I don't know when I'll feel better about the chemical, and I'd rather not think too closely about that either. One foot down, and then the next. Pet my dog and take a shower. Hope each day's a little better than the one before. Hope I've got enough in me to survive when it's not.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Odds and Ends; or, The End is Nigh

A few thoughts rattling around in my head this morning:

- Thank you for all your comments, tweets, and e-mails these past few days. I feel like you are holding me up right now and it's incredible--I wish I had known all of you and had this level of support last fall. Your encouraging stories and examples really help, and when you tell me that you have hope for me it helps me have hope for myself.

- I rested a lot yesterday, watched some junk tv (the Giuliana and Bill miscarriage episode--such tears! Yet it was cathartic rather than upsetting), read your comments, and took a very long nap. I gave myself permission to not do anything or be anything other than sad and miserable and mopey. By the evening I was feeling good enough to laugh, so I'm glad I gave myself this time off.

I also read this post by Basic Girl from her post-IUI chemical last February. I was so amazed by her spirit and optimism in that post and by her refusal to submit to hopelessness in a very similar situation to mine--one miscarriage on their own; then nothing; then IUIs. And of course, she's very pregnant now after their first IVF attempt! It made me reevaluate my response to this process, my constant doom and gloom, my overwhelming negativity. I'm going to try to be positive next cycle--not tell myself that I'll get a sticky BFP, but also not tell myself that it won't and can't work. I'll just reassure myself that there's a chance and that we've done all we can.

- This morning, that optimism was sorely tested when I woke up at 5 am with some very dark fears for company. I lay there wondering how many more losses I will be able to handle, and I decided that I can take several more chemical pregnancies but only one more miscarriage of a clinical pregnancy. (I know, this is insanity. Who thinks like this?) I decided that if we have another miscarriage at 7 or 8 weeks I'm putting TTC on hold and pursuing adoption, because I will be tapped out.

Then again, if you had asked me this time last year how many miscarriages or chemical pregnancies I could handle, I would have shouted "None!" and stuck my fingers in my ears and sang to myself to keep from hearing you. This is clearly a moving target.

But those kinds of thoughts are so unproductive and I really don't want to be beset by them any longer. I know I will be in a panic as soon as I get another positive pregnancy test, but I'm going to work on putting that anxiety out of my mind until we get there. And who knows how long that will take.

- I'm heading into Manhattan for my second betas soon. And I finally started spotting this morning. I'm glad, in a strange not-very-glad way. I want this to be over so we can move on and I don't want to take any drugs to end this or have worry about an ectopic or have to wait around for days and days and days hoping my body gets it's act together. Let's just chalk this one up to experience and give the next one a serious shot.

- We have no plans for Halloween this year, but staring at myself in the mirror yesterday I suddenly had a brilliant brainstorm for the BEST Halloween costume ever. Picture this:

A large burlap bag with leg holes cut in the bottom and arm holes cut in the side. I tie the opening around my neck with twine and write the letters S-A-D on the front.

Get it??? A sad sack!!!

Conversely I could always just go out looking like myself.

- And finally, I want to share a picture that Lawyer Guy snapped with his phone on Wednesday after he got home from work. We had cried a bunch and asked ourselves why this was happening and hated this dreadful burden we've been asked to bear. And then around 5:30 he took our pup Bella for a walk and saw this in the sky:

Isn't it incredible? I can't help thinking of Noah and the flood and God's sending a rainbow as his promise to never drown us all again. I know it's just water and sunlight and atmosphere and the right angle, but I can't help but pretend that it's a message from our baby to let us know that he or she is coming if we can just hold on a little longer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Doctor's Orders; or, The Follow-Up

Dr. Wonderful called this morning to discuss yesterday's results. It was a good conversation--a little scary, but also reassuring and she took lots of time to answer all my questions.

First of all, she said she thinks it's a positive sign that we achieved a pregnancy, even if only a chemical one, in our very first attempt at an IUI. She said this shows her that the treatment can work for us. I'm going to take that and try to find comfort from it.

She then told me to prepare myself for this pregnancy not to last, and I said that I'd basically been anticipating that ever since I saw those ghostly shadows of lines on the pregnancy tests. Those were not lines that suggested a promising ending.

She said she considers this a different category of loss than our miscarriage and that chemical pregnancies are extremely common and an "underdiagnosed" condition. It may be just a fluke--a less healthy egg that happened to be produced and fertilize, which she said all women have.

But we're still going to do an RPL (recurrent pregnancy loss) panel once my betas get back down to zero--karyotyping on Lawyer Guy and me and clotting disorder testing on me. Dr. Wonderful warned me that this will involve a lot of blood work for me. Lawyer Guy is going to see a urologist and Dr. W said that his new doctor may recommend additional testing of LG's sperm based on the morphology stats.

At the same time, we're not going to hold off on treatment until the results come back. Dr. W said she's ordering the panel because she wants to be thorough and leave no stone unturned, but she doesn't think that anything will come back positive. Once my levels drop and I get my period we'll start the RPL testing and also begin treatment for next cycle: another dose of Clomid and another IUI.

Right now I feel a lot of conflicting emotions. I'm glad that Dr. W wants us to go forward with treatment; I'm glad that she thinks we've got a real shot at a healthy pregnancy with IUI; I'm glad that she thinks (or at least says) that the RPL testing is more of a formality than anything else.

And I'm also scared that I've now had a second loss. Even though chemicals are so easy to miss that many, many women may have had them without knowing it, I'm still bummed to be in that tiny category of women that have more than one lost pregnancy. Ever since we lost the m&m, this was my greatest fear: that we would have trouble both conceiving and maintaining pregnancies. That each year we'll get pregnant once only to lose it (I'm eerily prescient, aren't I?).

I'm trying to hold onto the hopeful stories I know--the many women who've had chemical pregnancies and losses and yet are currently cooking babies that seem to be doing well: People like Leslie and Al and Mo. And it's also encouraging that I've now got a doctor whose expertise is exactly this-- someone who responds to unexpected flukes with "Let's be thorough and check everything out" rather than "Eh, chances are everything's okay. Stop worrying."

And like I wrote yesterday, I don't feel like I lost a child, though I also feel considerably more miserable than my usual BFN funk. I never had one moment of "Yay, I'm having a baby!" and I never felt certain that there was anything growing and living inside me. But I also let myself imagine a little--I imagined telling family and friends at Thanksgiving; I imagined bringing 6-week-old twins to my sister's wedding. And those daydreams, fun while they last, create an awful sting when they fall apart.

I guess I'll just sit here for now in this very comfy chair and maybe read a little and try to sleep. And hope that things will seem brighter and more hopeful tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


You know what two incredibly faint, nearly-invisible-to-the-naked-eye lines on two hpts at 14 dpiui and 15 dpiui equal?

A beta of 12.5 At least this will be over soon.

Thanks for the hope and encouragement. I guess those who thought I'd get pregnant were right, in a way. And I guess I was right, too, in my pessimism. A win-win for everybody.

I'm okay right now. I mean, I'm not okay-- I hurt like hell and I'm sad and disappointed because I'd let myself hope too much and too soon, like always. But I don't feel like I lost a baby, not the way I did when the m&m died. I'm just a little tired of getting kicked down every time I think it's my turn.

Another beta on Friday to rule out ectopic (and on the 1/1 millionth of a chance that this fakakta situation turns itself around and we get a baby out of it. Ha!). A phone call from the RE to come to discuss what's next. Lawyer Guy's on his way home from work early. I wish I'd never dragged him into this mess by peeing on that stupid stick.

Let's end with some positives: The sperm can meet the egg; I've got a doctor who's going to figure out what the hell is wrong with us; I have almost run of out imaginary worst-case scenarios that can come true; I used up two more hpts from my 18-month-old stash before they expire in February (4 to go!); I'm getting drunk as shit tonight and canceling class tomorrow.

Oh, and I didn't go to the conference. Thank God right? I will never doubt my wimpy gut again.

Pictures; or, Persuasion

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Weekend Away; or, AF Right Around the Corner

Some bloggers can disappear for four days without feeling like they've abandoned their legions (hear me? LEGIONS) of fans, but not me. I have been terribly worried that you're all wondering: Where's Sloper? Did she finally lose it from yet another BFN and has been committed to Shady Brook by Lawyer Guy for threatening to stab pregnant women in the park? Never fear, the pregnant park-trawlers are safe from my wrath for now, because I never test early (hello, have you met me before?) so the BFNs are at least a day or so away. But I have been too busy to blog for the following reasons:

1) Sickness. On Thursday afternoon I suddenly came down with sharp, AWFUL stomach pains right above my belly button. I was gripping the side of my desk to keep from doubling over while my students worked on their peer review of each other's essays. It was awful. Every time I ate for the next two days the pain came back. On the drive home, I also started to feel like a flu was coming on--muscle and joint aches, chills, tiredness, the works. I spent the night on the couch watching Jane Eyre for the 80-thousandth time and eating chicken soup and drinking Gatorade and went to bed super early that night in the hopes I'd kick it.

2) My stellar immune system did its usual awesome work (this was the first time I'd felt sick in about 4 years!) and I was much better the next day, with the exception of my stomach aches, as I mentioned. This was great because it meant I felt up for my trip to Atlanta with Lawyer Guy for a friend's wedding. We flew out of NYC that afternoon and had a great time not only dancing up a storm at the wedding--which had one of the best wedding bands I'd ever heard--and hobnobing with publishing types (to whom LG kept pitching my one finished novel, the sweetheart) and drinking vodka gimlets, but also spending some time with my second-youngest sister, who just started her first year of law school down there. We ate bbq and grits and biscuits and I'm glad I don't live in Atlanta, because I would be fat(ter) than I am already. Small blessings, right?

It was a really fun, happy weekend and even though I still feel super pessimistic about this cycle and was facing some dark, sad, hopeless emotions before we went, the fun times out-of-town did a lot to pick my spirits up. I'm ready to get my period tomorrow and not jump out the window afterward.

I've also been thinking a lot about the conference I'm supposed to attend later this week. More and more, I just don't feel I have it in me to go, for a lot of reasons. I think I've mentioned that I'm afraid of flying, and pretty much the only thing that gets me through it is holding on to Lawyer Guy (and Xanax). I'm seriously stressing over a cross-country flight without him when I've been in such a funk.

I also don't want to be so far away when I need to talk to Dr. Wonderful about the failed cycle and get started on treatments for next cycle. I don't think I want to be thousands of miles from my doctor and my husband when the nail is pounded into the coffin of this first IUI cycle. And I've lacked any drive or motivation to work on my presentation over the last few days.

I feel like a crappy student and a total failure to even consider backing out of this (and for the record, I'd just let them know that I'm ill and can't fly--which is sort of true if you take neurosis as an illness). But when I think of not going, I feel immense relief. I feel excited to start studying for my oral exams and to start preparing some articles to submit for publication. When I think about going I feel dread and nausea.

I'm going to think about it over night and then call Jet Blue in the morning and find out the penalty for switching the flight. My gut is telling me to cancel. My gut is also a total wimp.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maybe Next Time; or, Revisiting the Past

I'm sad today.

I wasn't a few hours ago. Then I was busy, writing a few articles for my freelance job, thinking about starting to work on the paper I'm delivering at the conference next week (I'm so anxious about it I'm procrastinating something awful), and checking out some favorite sites online.

And it's not like I didn't know what date today was: October 20th, right? It's not like I didn't know what date yesterday was: I was staring at the big October 19th on my lesson plan all day as I taught. But I managed to forget that last year on October 19th I saw this and wrote this.

Until suddenly I remembered. Who knows what shook that thought loose? But now it's all I can think of: how happy--ecstatic--I was this day last year, how exhilarated and content and certain I had found my happy ending.

Right now, I miss the lost hope and joy of those days as much as I miss the baby I thought we were going to have. Those weeks of happy hopefulness feel like a story I read or a movie I sat through--perhaps they happened to me, but I'm not convinced of it. I'm so sorry for that joyful girl, knowing that she will soon suffer so cruelly. I'm sorry for myself, that the intervening year has ground me down inside to sand, with nothing left to give but endurance.

I don't have that kind of hope any longer. The hope I have is objective and detached. My doctor says I'll get pregnant soon, so I choose to believe she's right. Statistically, I know that I'm likely to have another pregnancy, one day or other. Pragmatically, I know that this situation will resolve itself eventually. I won't always be waiting, however the waiting may end.

But speaking of hope emotionally, those butterflies of excitement and certainty and trust that This is the Time! and Now is the Day! are gone. I know that this month didn't work. My body is telling me so. Maybe my heart is, too.

And I'm sad as well that I have to know this. That I know what it was like to be pregnant and what it is like to not be pregnant and that I can tell the difference. Or if I can't tell the difference, then I'm sad that my self-protective pessimism was so often on-target it ceased to be protective and just became true.

The time I was pregnant passed so slowly and I lived through a lifetime's worth of emotional highs and lows in it. But in reality, it was brief--3 short weeks of knowing I was pregnant and then it was over. I expect those weeks will shock me with their quickness on this side of the continuum. Which is okay. Fast or short, they don't change anything.

These days, three weeks just gets me closer to flipping another calendar page and making a different month the focus of my "Maybe next time" mantras.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Okay, Except When I'm Not; or, 6dpiui

In my mind, I have already started the next cycle. I know I'm only 6 dpiui and I couldn't reasonably expect to have a clear sense one way or the other as to whether this worked or not, but sometimes you just know, right? I'm not sure how I would expect to feel if I were pregnant right now, but it's not like this. So I don't think I am.

And I would be okay with that--not thrilled, but okay, able to cling to Dr. Wonderful's confidence in our future chances and determination to get us to Destination Baby without any further delay--if not for...well, if not for any number of "not fors."

If not for the fact that I am leaving for a conference in Portland the day my period is due, meaning I have to decide whether to test the day before (in order to let my doctor know what's up before I leave) and see one of those BFNs I swore many, many, many months ago I would never let myself see again or wait and get the definitive proof that IUI #1 failed while alone and thousands of miles from home.

If not for the fact that I visited Clueless Preggo over the weekend, who is now Clueless Mommy, and sat there cuddling her sweet baby girl and wishing so heartily that things could be different.

If not for the fact that my best friend, Doctor Lady, is planning on starting to try for Baby #2, like, tomorrow, and I both want her to have an easy time of it and know I will resent her, just a little, for getting so quickly what has been such a struggle for us.

If not for the fact that Safely Married Friend--the one who insisted over and over that children were a long way off in her future--just took the infamous Last Big Trip with her husband and confided that they will start trying in January.

Is it so wrong that I want, desperately and with a jealous fervor that I thought I'd left behind in junior high, to get pregnant before ONE of my friends? To beat ONE person to the punch? To not be lapped by EVERYONE I know? To get to announce my own pregnancy to ONE person who won't be able to look at me with a been-there-done-that-got-the-nursing-bra-to-prove-it smile?

It is. It's stupid. It's meaningless, and I know that. I just hate watching the time slip away, whether measured in calendar months (2.5 left in 2010, that year I had such high hopes for) or in the size of my friend's bellies or in the numbers of children smiling from the Christmas cards that are due to start rolling in any day now.

Dr. Wonderful said these treatments will work, but we have to be a little patient. And I'm good with patience when it's just me in my house with my dog and Lawyer Guy, a stack of nineteenth-century novels to read and some trashy television to watch. But even after all these months (nearly twenty of them) of practice, I find patience in short supply when I step outside my door.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lighting Candles; or, October 15th

Last night, when I told Lawyer Guy that today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, he sort of wearily sighed and said, "Isn't that every day?"

Point taken.

But his saying so helped me realize that, no, it isn't any more for me. I actually have days--or long stretches of time within a day, at least--when I don't think about the m&m and losing him or her. I never have a day without thinking about our struggle and our desire to get pregnant, but I do sometimes cease to think about the pregnancy we lost.

This sort of feels right. I grieved so hard for that baby for so long and it felt like the weight of my sadness would crush me sometimes. Now the moments when I feel overwhelmed by the sadness of the miscarriage are less frequent than the times I think of it with acceptance and peace.

This isn't to say I'm "over" what happened. I'm frequently taken aback by how much remembering that baby still can hurt: recounting our story to Dr. Man and Dr. Wonderful at our initial consultations, for instance, and in each meeting feeling myself fight back tears I hadn't realized I needed to shed. And maybe part of my acceptance and peace comes from the fact that we've just started down this new path to having a baby and I'm optimistic about success. After several months of disappointment and stasis, I may have a very different outlook. The only thing certain in this process is that the situations we encounter and our emotional responses to them will never be predictable.

I'm going to light a candle tonight in memory of the baby I was just beginning to suspect I carried at this time last year. This time--late October, as the world drifts into autumn slowly like a turning leaf--will always belong to that baby, so I'm glad that October 15th falls within the anniversary of his or her short life.

I do love you, m&m. Not the way I thought or hoped or dreamed I would, but the only way I can.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Survivial Techniques; or, 2dpiui

There have been a lot of ups and downs already and I'm only 2 dpiui, which does not bode well for my sanity during this two-week wait. The HCG trigger is still working it's way out of my body, and I've got the same kind of boob pain and a slighter version of the hunger pangs of my pregnancy. Strangely, that doesn't bother me. It's like meeting an old acquaintance and realizing they haven't changed. I know it means nothing about what's going on in my body and I take it for exactly what it's worth.

But my equanimous response to the shot does not mean that I'm handling everything with aplomb. Yesterday, I decided that there's no way the IUI worked because we weren't able to follow doctors' orders and have back-up sex later that night. I spent some time hanging out with Dr. Google (stupid stupid stupid) and learned that post-wash sperm only lives 6-12 hours, so if my ovulation was even a little off, we're screwed. And then I was in quite a funk for the rest of the day.

Truthfully, though, I never really thought it would work even from the beginning. When we made the decision to rush straight into an IUI during our testing cycle, it wasn't because I thought it would actually bring us a baby. It was to get one under our belt before our necessary break in December (and at the time I thought we would also have a November break, though I've changed my thinking on that recently).

There are so many reasons I don't think this worked, aside from my fears about poor timing: the need for self-preservation; my inability to feel hope about this subject; the fact that I got pregnant this time last year; the fact that I want it so much; the fact that everyone who reads my blog wants it for me. Yes, all your encouraging posts and crossed fingers and hopeful wishes are signs to me that this won't happen. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate them-- I really do. I suppose the mind-frame I'm in is capable of turning anything and everything into evidence of its foregone conclusions.

To survive these next weeks, Lawyer Guy and I have come up with a little game. We're going to give each other some kind of nice surprise every day until I get my period or pee on a stick. Yesterday, I vacuumed the rug when he got home, which he had been asking me to do for a while (yes, I'm a terrible housekeeper). He gave me an extra-long kiss (since the bakery a few blocks down was closed). I have to figure out what today's surprise will be. I'm thinking a red velvet twinkie from that same bakery.

I wish I could give myself temporary amnesia and forgot I'm even trying to get pregnant until my period shows. But I guess this will have to do.

Please comment and let me know how you survive a 2ww after treatment or when you're anticipating betas. I'm ready for any tips you can dish out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ladies and Gentleman, We Have Insemination; or, Blueballs and Wee-Wee Pads

Finally, I get a chance to discuss this morning's IUI with all of you, and the first thing I have to say is: Ow!

I mean really, why did none of you tell me how much that catheter hurts going in? Lawyer Guy said he could tell how surprised I was by the pain because I was talking and laughing with him and then all of a sudden my eyes bugged out like Bella's when the vet sticks a thermometer up her butt. That was not the most fun way to spend a morning, for sure. But I'm feeling okay now even after having to stay on my feet teaching for the rest of the day, and I'm sure these last few cramps will go away by tomorrow morning.

And the important thing is, I've got spermies all up in my ute! Good ones, too, I think. DH's count was 35 million and motility was 60%. We don't know the morph numbers, unfortunately (they weren't on the sheet), but I am not going to let that keep me from thinking POSITIVELY about those results. Positive, positive, positive.

Now that the procedure is done and everything went the way it was supposed to, I can tell you about those wrenches I alluded to yesterday. I didn't want to dwell on them when I was still worried about how truly wrenchy they might become, but with the benefit of hindsight they have gained in humorousness.

So yesterday post-monitoring, as I'm sitting outside the bloodwork area waiting to get my trigger shot, LG pulls me aside and tells me that he needs to confess something. Immediately I freeze, terrified about what he's going to say. He goes on to explain that:

In an agony of anxiety about having to produce his sample for the IUI, he started "priming the pump" several days before, hoping to build things up to such a state that finishing on demand on Tuesday would be easy. But he did too good a job and had to pull back on Saturday at the very last minute, leaving him in an agony of blueballs for the next three days. He said he couldn't sit, he could barely walk around, he was so uncomfortable he wanted to cry. He also confessed that he let out a teeny bit on Sunday to try to relieve the agony, which helped for a few hours but not as long as he thought it would. He was also terrified that he had ruined the sample by that moment of release.

It was tough. He kept berating himself, saying "This is all my fault. I fucked everything up," and I was both crying at the thought that he was going to have to relieve himself yesterday and not abstain long enough and laughing at the complete absurdity of the situation. I was glad that he told me about this (because he was acting super distant and weird for the days before and I didn't understand why), but we agreed not to talk about it too much for the rest of the night, so he could try to think about other things and I could avoid becoming insanely anxious.

Thankfully, after some hairy moments, he managed to keep it in his pants until we got to the clinic this morning, when he produced said excellent sample. Crisis averted, much laughter ensured.

In fact, I was laughing all over the place in what was probably a semi-hysterical reaction to the stress of it all. As we were waiting in the exam room for the insemination, LG reminded me that it is his brother's birthday and that I should send him an e-mail. I whipped out my blackberry to do so and just collapsed with the giggles. There is no freaking way I could e-mail my crazy brother-in-law while sitting skirt-less, tights-less, and panty-less in a hospital exam room waiting for a pair of nurses to snake a catheter through my whooha and inject me with my husband's pre-prepared, Pepto Bismal-pink sperm. No. Way.

So I laughed and laughed and kind of couldn't stop laughing and then started to cry and then started to laugh again and then the nurses came in and I held LG's hand while they did their thang.

And now comes the worst part. The waiting. It's all so strange: as much as I hope and pray that this was our lucky shot, I can't believe that it will be. Not only because we have not been first-time-lucky even once during this process (first month TTC: a bust; first pregnancy: a disaster), but also because that is not how babies are made. No one ever said making a baby would involve sitting on a Wee-Wee Pad while strange women poked sharp sticks at my cervix. It's just...it doesn't compute.

How the hell am I going to last the next two weeks?