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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Three Doctors; or, Health Turns Out to Be a Curse

Yesterday I had two conversations with doctors.

The first was my first session with the new therapist I was checking out. And it went great! I loved the energy in her office, I loved her approach, and I feel incredibly hopeful that this could develop into a wonderful therapeutic relationship. While I see the benefit in cognitive behavioral therapy and have been able to take away some positive strategies and lessons from my sessions with my other therapist, being prevented from "dwelling" on my feelings about this issue just makes me feel guilty for having those feelings in the first place. I've set up another appointment with New Therapist for next week. Now I just need to figure out how to cancel with Old Therapist, a prospect that leaves me rather anxious.

The second conversation was an e-mail exchange with my OB/GYN. She wrote that she'll do the blood work to test my thyroid levels at our appointment next week (yay!) but that she was sure my primary care physician had already tested them.

Um, yeah, so that brings me to my third doctor. Or rather, the gaping Derridean absence that marks the place of the third doctor. I don't have a primary care physician. I haven't had one since I was eighteen and left my pediatrician's office back at home.

Go ahead, yell at me. Everyone does. But I never (and I mean never) get sick, so I haven't had the need to acquire one. The last time I had a fever or the stomach flu (but it might have just been food poisoning) was 2001. I have never in my life gotten the seasonal flu, not even when my asthmatic, pneumatic husband is ill and I drink from his glass. I occasionally get one cold in a year, and that cold occasionally turns into a sinus infection, but whenever that happens I visit my allergist to get an antibiotic. And I haven't had any colds or infections in three years. My weight is very stable. My blood pressure is always perfect. I've never broken a bone and I haven't had a serious injury since I was a child. When I had my eye exam last year at Lawyer Guy's insistence, it was the first time in 20 years I'd had my vision checked. See? I'm really, really, really robustly healthy.

And I'm also extremely phobic of needles, primarily of blood draws and IVs. Until I had my d&c, I had not had blood drawn since 1999. Doctors had recommended blood work in the past (my old psychopharmacologist said I needed to have my saline levels checked to be on the anxiety medication she prescribed me), but I ignored them, so much did I fear getting blood drawn.

Which (as I'm sure you've figured by now) is all to say: No, my "primary care" physician has not tested my thyroid levels. If my thyroid levels have ever been tested, the last time was 11 years ago.

So I'm doing this. I'm going to get my blood drawn and maybe get some answers. I'm really scared, but I want to do the best I can for my babies (the m&m and any babies to come), so I need to be brave. I might ask my husband to come hold my hand, though.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekend Update; or, Jane Austen Makes Everything Better

It was a good weekend. I kept busy, spending time with friends and Lawyer Guy. Even the crappy weather couldn't get me down. Saturday I went to yoga and had brunch with a friend who's going through IF testing right now, then ate dinner in Manhattan (mac 'n' cheese, the official meal of the 2ww) and attended a 30th birthday party for a friend who sang rock and roll karaoke with a band at a club. Yesterday I went to Palm Sunday Mass at a church in Brooklyn I'd heard good things about. The music was gorgeous and the community seemed friendly and supportive (and not excessively young-family heavy), so I'm sure I'll be back. Lawyer Guy cooked a delicious dinner and I watched most of the BBC Pride & Prejudice from 1996 (which I justified to myself as homework for my Jane Austen class) and worked on the blanket I'm knitting and went to bed in a good mood.

I'm still in a good mood today, a lot of which I'm sure is thanks to being on Spring Break and looking at a week of (productive) downtime to come. But some of it is also due to the decisions I've made about moving forward with my TTC plans next cycle.

I'm fairly certain I'm not pregnant and will be getting my period in a few days. It's disappointing, but I have an appointment scheduled with my doctor for April 8th, and I'm determined to have blood work done. Last week I did some reading up on thyroid disorders, and I think there's at least a chance that I have one. It would account for my cycles suddenly becoming irregular two or three years ago and even possibly for the miscarriage. I probably don't need to start seeing an RE yet (I'll save that for 6 months of post-miscarriage TTC), but this blood work is something my OB can do and will give us at least a bit more information to go on.

I also made an appointment with a new therapist for tomorrow. She seemed very nice on the phone, and I'm hopeful that this will be a better therapy relationship than the one I have with my current therapist. She's also much more conveniently located to my school, so that's a bonus!

And a lot of other positive things are happening: the BIL and SIL and nieces decided not to attend the seder tomorrow after all; I was able to avoid the mass crowds of baby gushers by visiting niece #2 in the hospital last week rather than at their home this weekend; we heard from our accountant that we'll be getting a larger refund this year than expected, so we can plan our trip to Scandinavia for August; the invitations we're sending out for my 30th birthday party in May just arrived!

All in all, it's been a good 2ww. I was worried last month that the week before my period would be similarly miserable for the rest of the time we were trying, but I suspect I just had to grieve the return to the TTC routine. As hard as it was to cry almost every day during that time (and as much as it upset and worried Lawyer Guy to see it), I'm glad I let myself feel and release those emotions, because I'm much better off now.

I'm sure I'll be sad when I get my period later this week, but I'm already looking forward to next cycle and the one after that, so I don't think it will hurt too much. Right now, I have faith that eventually we'll get our baby. Amazing what a good weekend will do!

* edited because I spelled "seder" wrong the first time. Wow, I am super embarrassed right now, because this will only be the tenth one I've gone to with Lawyer Guy. I blame my terrible spelling abilities, rather than a lack of knowledge about Judaism.

Friday, March 26, 2010

# 100; or, Thoughts for Friday

I should have saved my 100th post for something more momentous, right? A BFP, a new diagnosis, an anniversary. Shouldn't there be brass bands and a balloon drop?

It's an ordinary Friday morning, the first day of my Spring Break, the middle of the 2ww, and I'm eating my oatmeal and sipping my tea at the kitchen table, checking in on my bloggie and message-board girls and checking out some calls for papers before hitting the books (Austen and Sarah Grand today).

Picking among the various strands twisting through my mind right now, I could talk about the visit to the hospital on Wednesday to meet the niece (Lou-Ellen served me well that day), or I could talk about Fertility Friend realizing her mistake and changing my O date (but never apologizing for it, the bitch), or the precarious point I'm at in my 2ww (6 dpo, the time when phantom symptoms begin to creep like cats through tall grass, preparing to pounce).

But I fear the dignity of a 100th post would be compromised by dwelling on such a grab bag of minutiae. Instead, I'll touch on some of the things I meant to write around the time of my TTC anniversary but didn't feel like delving into when it actually arrived.

I try all the time to talk up this difficult experience to myself. "You're learning so much," I'll say. "You're growing from this. This will make you a better person, a better mom, a better wife, and daughter, and sister, and friend."

When I sit down to write out what exactly I've learned, it doesn't turn out to be much. I've learned that:

- Life is not a syllabus or an outline and I don't get to decide its chronology.
- What I always thought of as patience is tolerance. I tolerate irritating people, bothersome subway rides, frustrating experiences very well. But patience requires waiting without knowing when the wait will end-- and it turns out that I'm not so good at that.
- I can endure more than I thought possible in March 2009.
- It doesn't matter how other people believe I'm coping or dealing, whether I'm weak and obsessive or strong. I'm the only person inside my head right now, and if I'm satisfied with my progress, that's all that counts.
- The most beautiful moments in life can also be the saddest.
- Ruthlessly judging other people as shallow, ungrateful boobs makes it easier to deal with jealousy. Who cares if they deserve it!

These are pretty obvious lessons. Like, duh, you can't plan everything. Duh, sadness and beauty coexist. The fact that they're revelations teaches me one more thing:

- My life has been pretty fucking lucky up until now.

My greatest disappointment prior to TTC was not getting into my first-choice Ivy League college and having to go to my second-choice Ivy League college. I know, boo hoo. I met my husband when I was 20, and we've been madly in love for a decade. I live in my favorite city and I'm not tired of it yet. I've never struggled seriously with illness or finances. My family is healthy and loving and lives near by. I adore my mother-in-law and she thinks of me as her daughter. I have close, beautiful friendships that have lasted for decades.

See? Lucky. So, so, so lucky. If it's my turn to get the fuzzy end of the lollipop, then it's my turn. I can't say life wasn't good to me before. Maybe I do deserve this in a weird way more than someone else. At the very least, I don't deserve it less than someone else.

I don't have any conclusions. Just some thoughts on a Friday morning.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Introducing Lou-Ellen; or, Getting in Touch with My "Southern" Side

I am going to confess something to all of you. Something that no one else knows. Not my husband. Not my mom. Not my therapist.

I have an alternate personality. Her name is Lou-Ellen.

Lou-Ellen is older than me, around 50 to be exact. Lou-Ellen is a classic Southern lady, gracious and poised. She's always impeccably put together (she favors pearls, diamonds, silk shells, St John suits, and perfectly knotted Hermes scarves). She has the ability to charm anyone into conversation, to make anyone feel important and appreciated. She's had some rough times in her life (I can't share them with you without her permission, I'm afraid) but you wouldn't know it when you met her. And then when you hear about all she's been through to get where she is, you'll think "I can't believe someone could still stand up after a life like that, and she's doing so much more."

Lou-Ellen brings a casserole to the family nextdoor when their wife dies (even though she just learned her husband was cheating on her). Lou-Ellen holds the hand of the pregnant lady on the bus who's having a panic attack over one day giving birth (even though, which five miscarriages in her past, you'd forgive her for being dismissive). Lou-Ellen is the queen of flowers and favors and compliments you never realized you deserved until she gave them to you.

On days like today and yesterday, I don't much like the woman I am so I think of the woman I'd like to be one day (aside from the Southern thing. That's not happening). I ask myself, What would Lou-Ellen do? And I always know the answer right away: the kind act, the generous gesture, the phone call that makes people feel loved, the comment that puts them at ease. That's what Lou-Ellen would do.

I called my SIL last night to give her my congratulations. I'm going to the hospital today in between my dental appointment and my 4:15 class. Because that's what Lou-Ellen would do. (Well, Lou-Ellen would probably bring a hand-knit nursery set and a dozen peonies, too. But I have my limits.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birth Day; or, I'd Hit the Bottle If it Weren't Still Lent

Niece #2 arrived at 8:55 this morning, while I was in the middle of showing my students an episode from season 2 of Mad Men to cap off our unit on Constructions of Gender. My husband forwarded me the e-mail from his brother. She's here. She has a name. And there you have it.

I'm feeling a lot of emotions right now. Primary among them: anxiety. The queasy stomach, fluttery heart, sweaty palms kind of anxiety. The anxiety I've felt off and on for the past ten years during crappy times with J and S. The anxiety that used to make me shake with the chills whenever I told a friend or a therapist the story I related to all of you last month, the story of rejection and unaccountable cruelty that formed the majority of our relationship with them for so many years.

I'm also feeling sadness. It comes and goes. It's not linked to any particular word or thought or mental image. Every so often it wells up and I get teary. And then it subsides.

I'm feeling annoyed. I just don't want to be bothered with this right now. My spring break starts next week, and I have a lot of things I need to get done. I can't be distracted by depression. Lawyer Guy's father is hosting Passover Seder next Tuesday. I was banking on the baby coming right around then (S was set to be induced the 29th) and none of them showing up. Now the whole evening is going to revolve around the baby and analyzing every aspect of her face to determine whom she most resembles. And I can't even drink until Easter.

I'm feeling angry and aggrieved. I didn't want any harm to come to this child, and yet I resent the fact that S has never known the pain I'm living. I wish she would. I hope they try for another baby and can't get pregnant. I'm actually wishing the sadness of this hell we all face every day on two people who did nothing but have sex and get a baby out of it. How's that for karma?

I'm feeling guilty. This is my niece. She was born today. And all her life I'm going to have to remember the fact that the day she was born, in my heart of hearts I wished that she and her family would pack up and move to Bora Bora and never contact any of us again. I have to look at myself in the mirror and think about the person I am: so jealous and bitter it warps happy things and makes them sad. Unkind, unfair, ungracious and well on my way to being the sort of old childless woman who snipes at little kids for messing with her cats or picking her flowers.

I'm feeling alone. Lawyer Guy's family is happy. Lawyer Guy is happy. Only I feel no joy. And as much as he tells me that everyone understands and no one will hold my sadness against me right now, that doesn't make me feel any less like an outsider looking in.

Lawyer Guy is going to the hospital tonight. I am not. I can. I could. I'm strong enough to handle it, I know I am. But I don't want to. I don't think they will really miss me all that much if I'm not there, so why should I torture myself just to prove a point about resilience that no one but me even cares about and that I've already proven to myself?

But the other stuff-- the Seder, the possible visit we'll have to make this weekend to "see the baby," the gift I've got to buy; that stuff I have to do. And again, I know I can, even if my whiny inner three year old moans, "But I don't want to!" I know I can, even when my heart feels like a big lump of dead meat in my chest.

On the phone, Lawyer Guy said to me, "I know this will be a hard day for you, and I'm going to try to be sensitive to that and not get upset. But you need to not be upset that this is a happy day for me."

That's the part I'm not sure I can do. And of course, that's the most important part of all.

So guys? I'm gonna need some help. Because these are just about four feelings too many for a Tuesday afternoon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's All In the Timing; or, Effing Eff Eff

This what my Fertility Friend chart looks like today (I couldn't post a screen cap of the image like usual, so this will have to do):

She (because of course FF is a she-- a snide, bitchy, gets-pregnant-at-the-drop-of-a-condom kind of she) seems to think I ovulated three days ago. I do not agree. I think I ovulated yesterday. My post-o temps are usually 98.0 or above, and today's temp is the first to fit that bill. Plus, ovulating on CD 19 would mean ovulating on the very first peak day and before my EWCM dried up, which seems unlikely.

I also kind of want to have ovulated yesterday, rather than a few days before. The timing of certain events would be more propitious, shall we say.

Of course, FF could always change her mind (she's fickle like that) depending on what happens with my temps in the next few days. And maybe the timing was good regardless of which day I ovulated. Maybe it was bad for both days. I just don't know. I wasn't charting during our BFP cycle, so I don't actually know when we had sex in relation to my ovulation. I don't know what's good timing for us and what's not. I don't know anything!

Either way, I've got a plan for myself during this 2ww: DO NOT OBSESS!

Do not obsess. Do not obsess. Do not obsess.

Do not obsess.

Repeating that to myself over and over will totally work, right?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Show Tunes in the Shower; or, Tell the People, Mr. Buble

You guys would not recognize me right now. I am in the high-flying manic phase of whatever DSM-IV psychosis I've been experiencing for the last four months.

I was singing "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" at the top of my lungs during my drive to teach this morning. Shit-eating grin every time I looked out the window. Wiggling in my seat during office hours. And then Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet" came on the radio on the drive home, and I realized that song is all about surviving miscarriage and IF and getting your forever baby and whatever Michael, it totally is okay? And you might not have realized this, but nearly 30-year-old wannabe-baby-mamas driving Volvos on the BQE are totally the intended audience for this song. And for the singing and car-dancing inspired thereby.

And I'm sure part of the reason for my case of the jollies is blue skies and sunshine and mourning doves building their nests on my window sills (until Lawyer Guy notices them and whips out the broom). But the other part is this:

Peak! On CD 19! Ovaries, I love you! Body, you're forgiven! Husband, you don't realize it yet, but your bones will be jumped tonight! Baby, I can't wait to meet you in December!

In the back of my mind, I'm adding just a little to the mental file of "Why It Would Be Less Than Ideal to Get Pregnant This Month" (otherwise known as, "How To Comfort A Menstruating Woman")

But screw all that, for now. I'm going to let Mr Buble sing us out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Anniversary; or, How Do You Measure a Year?

365 days

68 CBEFM pee sticks

Dozens of vaginal ultrasounds

14 pregnancy announcements

11 birth announcements

9.5 cycles (7 failed, 1 successful, 1 forced break, 1/2 in progress)

8.5 weeks of pregnancy (1 post fetal demise)

4 pregnancy tests (1 positive)

1 miscarriage

0 babies

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Therapist's a Stoner; or, Odds and Ends

I've been contemplating switching therapists recently. Not because I actually think mine's a pothead, though I was a bit taken aback when she suggested that Lawyer Guy and I get in the sexy mood with some weed (that hasn't been our thing since I was in college. Plus, isn't it not so good for the sperm count? Plus, no). But more because I wonder if someone who specifically understands pregnancy loss/IF issues would be better for me. Mine is great for my general anxiety and procrastination, but she applies a pretty hardcore cognitive behavioral approach to all my issues, and sometimes I feel that this just doesn't work with my grief over the miscarriage. She encourages me to not let myself get sad or anxious, to "challenge" my fearful or despairing thoughts, and to try to be grateful for the fact that my body ended a presumably unhealthy pregnancy. I kind of think she doesn't get it sometimes.

But I also have this intense anxiety about hurting or upsetting people, and I always apply it to my relationships with my therapists. I left my last one by moving and never calling him again or giving him my new phone number because I was too scared to let him know I didn't want to continue as his patient. (My anxiety about hurting people's feelings goes way back--I let my mother pick out my clothes until I was 12 years old because I was afraid she'd be hurt and sad if I told her I didn't like the jumpers and little-girl outfits she bought for me). Probably something I should discuss with a therapist, huh?

* * *
I've been avoiding my good friend from high school recently. We had dinner back in early January, at which time she revealed that she and her husband were going to start "trying" that month, and that they were both nervous. I told her that since she's friends with me, she'll get pregnant first shot (I'm a freaking fertility doll or something for my friends and family).

And if you guessed that I'm now too chickenshit to call her and get together because I'm afraid she'll tell me she's pregnant or abstain from wine and I'll just know, you're the big winner!

To be fair, she hasn't called me either, which leads me to believe she's either:

a) really busy (she has a demanding job at a major international corporation and an i-banker husband who travels a lot).

b) pregnant and worried about telling me/keeping it from me.

c) not pregnant and worried that I'm pregnant.

My money's on b). Because why the hell not make it 15 pregnancy announcements in a year? Increments of five are so easy to calculate.

* * *
Here's a little bit of positive news: I got a high reading on the CBE.FM and tons of egg whites today and I'm only on CD 17! If this shakes out like the last couple of monitored cycles, I should ovulate Sunday or Monday, right around my (former) normal ovulation time of CD 21. I might be getting back to normal!

Yup, I've already calculated the due date. And planned the shower. And the "tell the parents" date. And all the rest of it. And we haven't even had sex yet.

I probably should have made time for that bikini wax.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Raveled Sleeve of Care; or, Knitting for the Nonexistent

You probably don't know this about me, but I'm a knitter. My best friend taught me in my junior year of college (so around 2001) and I started making scarves and hats and mittens and even sweaters, all of which were completely unappreciated by my family, who soon asked me to return to buying them gifts instead of making them. (Lawyer Guy never received a knitted gift in those days, as I stuck to the maxim that a woman never knits for a man until she is married. After our wedding I made him a Christmas stocking).

But I kept on knitting because I liked it and found it relaxing and engrossing and satisfying. And I kept knitting unwanted and unworn gifts, because knitting for myself never inspired me in the same way that knitting for others did. And so this state of affairs continued...until I made a happy discovery.

Baby knits!

They were the answer to all my dreams. They are cute. They are small (so they don't take as much time). Babies are always growing, so fit matters less (no guage swatching necessary). And prospective or new parents LOVE getting handknits, even imperfect ones.

Thus began my career as a knitter for babies. I made sweaters, shrugs, sweater vests, toys, booties, and hats. But my crowning achievement was the blanket I made for my niece when she was born. $500 worth of pale pink cashmere yarn in an intricate waffle pattern, with a scalloped crocheted border and a white velvet ribbon woven through the border loops. It took five months of steady work, the ripping and reknitting of countless stitches, and many lessons in crocheting, which I taught myself (I ripped out that border three times before I was satisfied). But it is beautiful and the in-laws loved it, despite Lawyer Guy's warnings that they wouldn't appreciate a handmade gift.

About a year ago, I had two close pregnant friends and plans to knit blankets for each of their babies. I bought the yarn and went to work, thinking to myself These are the last gifts I'll make before knitting for my own baby.

I never finished them. I haven't touched them since June. I bought them gifts off their registries.

When I was pregnant, I planned out a list of gender neutral knits I'd make for the m&m--I'd finish the two blankets I already started (nicely, one of them is chocolate and green, similar to the colors we've picked out for our nursery) and get to work on some sweaters and outfits for both boys and girls.

But I didn't actually start (or restart) any of these projects. I wanted to wait until I felt "secure." I wanted that strong heartbeat. Every day I thought of the things I would do to prepare for my baby, but I didn't feel comfortable enough to do them.

Now, I don't knit at all. I tell myself I don't have a lot of free time for knitting, with all the reading I have to do, but that was always the case, and I used to find time.

I just don't want to knit for other people's babies. I don't want to knit for the upcoming Niece #2, and I feel bad about that, like she's already getting the second child's familial neglect. But I just can't do it. I can't make my hands work for other people's children anymore.

I think I'm going to start knitting for my own. I've held off for a year, afraid of "getting my hopes up" or "setting myself up for disappointment." But my hopes have already been dashed and knitting can't possibly make me feel more disappointed than I already do. I no longer believe my baby will magically come if I just pretend I'm not waiting for it. I no longer believe that acting as though pregnancy is the farthest thing from my mind will help it arrive sooner.

I just want to start getting ready for my baby. I know he or she may take a very long time to get here. I've learned the lessons about counting chickens and banking on potentialities. But I like to knit. I like to knit for babies. I think this might make me happy.

Maybe I'm actually getting better at the waiting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thanking the Academy; or, Thursday Sappiness

I don't have much to report right now-- the latest crying jags have subsided, I keep on trucking with work and school, the weather is blessedly changing, and I'm only on CD 12 so I'm not freaking out about ovulating (or not ovulating) yet.

I don't usually respond directly to the comments I receive, choosing to visit your blogs instead and say hi to you there. So I don't get to tell you enough how your funny, friendly, cheerful, sympathetic, encouraging comments make me feel. Here's a start: Connected. Understood. Appreciated. Cared for and about. Less alone.

Thank you all for reading my words and relating to my heart. I don't know what I'd do without this place to unburden myself and your blogs to entertain and inspire me.

You're the best, and I'm grateful to have each and every one of you on my blogroll and in my life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire; or, Universe, Please Stop Sucker Punching Me

I gave you the overlong family history last weekend for a few reasons (see, there's always a rationale behind what I say or do). Not only to prepare you (and me) for my no-doubt inevitable break down when Niece #2 makes her appearance in this story, but also to establish the parameters of that relationship before delving into the particulars.

We had dinner with J and S and Baby #1 on Sunday night in New Jersey. And the whole time I was typing out the chronicle of ten years of in-law-hood, I was dreading that dinner. Dreading seeing my sister-in-law with a nine-months pregnant belly. Dreading the pang of longing on watching Lawyer Guy play with his niece. Dreading my emotional volatility.

And...it was fine. I was fine. I held it together. I even managed to ask S a few questions about how she was feeling and when she was taking her maternity leave and to contribute one or two general comments about the upcoming new arrival. I'm pretty sure they think my avoiding alcohol due to Lent was a cover-up (I'm Not Pregnant! I wanted to blurt out, but didn't). But other than that, everything was copacetic. I didn't even cry on the car ride home. I didn't even want to cry!

Naturally, my stellar karma couldn't let me enjoy a moment of unselfish maturity and rational acceptance for, oh, twenty-four hours without reminding me that I'm pathetic, envious, sad, and unstable.

I had dinner last night with a college friend who was in town for work (leaving her 1-year-old daughter back in Miami with her husband). There were two other friends-of-the-friend at dinner, both of whom I'd met before.

And guess what? One of them is five months pregnant! And when's she due? July, two weeks after my EDD with the m&m.

Fun. Fucking. Times.

When friend and preggo started chatting about big bellies vs. big boobs and live web-caming the birth, I jumped in. Because hey, I was pregnant! And my boobs grew really big in only two months! Not as fun a story when there's no baby at the end of it, but I can (over)share, too.

And honestly, the dinner was okay. Yeah, I revealed my miscarriage history to two virtual strangers at a casual fun dinner (I'm guessing Miami friend was less than thrilled about that, though she didn't say anything), which makes me a Debbie Downer extraordinaire, but I hustled along and smiled and told funny stories and gossiped about old sorority sisters and didn't cry once.

Until last night in the shower, choking back sobs as I smacked the white tiles, repeating to myself over and over, "I can't believe I'm still here. I can't believe I'm still crying in the shower after a fucking year."

And this morning in the grocery store parking lot, listening to Debussy on the radio and sheltering my wet, snotty face behind big sunglasses, the steering wheel, and my folded arms.

What more do you want me to learn, God? I'm trying so hard to be strong and kind and hopeful, but you keep making this so difficult. I want to believe there's a plan. I want to believe that you have something wonderful in store for me. So, for the love of yourself, STOP TORTURING ME ALREADY!

The kicker? The waitress handed out those fortune-telling fish at the end of dinner. You know, the little red plastic fish-shaped disks that contort in the heat of your palm, indicating your emotions.

My fish's head moved. Which means: "Jealousy."

I told them mine was "In love."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Messages From My Subconscious Mind; or, Family History

In about three weeks I'll be an aunt (by marriage) again, and I've been having dreams that, while not precisely nightmares, are not the sort of dreams a doting aunt should have about her future niece.

Let's take a little trip back in time--and brace yourself, this is likely to get long, but I need to get this family history out so you can understand my current reactions.

I have not always had the best relationship with my brother- and sister-in-law. In fact, for many years I would say I had a terrible relationship with them, one of the worst in-law relationships I've seen. When I met Lawyer Guy ten years ago, he was in the middle of a two-year spell of not speaking to his older brother (let's call him J.). Literally, no words exchanged but "hello" and "goodbye" at the (numerous) family gatherings they both attended. They lived five blocks from each other. Their paths never crossed.

And no one knew why. Not even my husband. J. had slowly stopped speaking to him over a series of months. Had stopped returning phone calls. Had shrugged off invitations. Had quietly but inexorably pushed Lawyer Guy out of his life. There was no fight, no conflagration. He never even mentioned my husband's name to his other family. There was no explanation for this cruel behavior.

Which he soon extended to me, the twenty-year-old, sophomore-in-college girlfriend. For years, I tried to make small talk with this hostile person almost ten years my senior, my palms sweating, my legs shaking, and was favored with responses just barely above the level of grunts. But I kept trying. And when J met my sister-in-law, S (a reasonable and polite, if somewhat self-centered, person), I tried even harder to make the situation better. I would e-mail them invitations to events (like a concert I was singing in, or a picnic in the park on a nice day) only to receive one-line responses: "We can't make it." "We're busy."

Events came to their crisis (as they must) five years in, after Lawyer Guy and I became engaged. Following a series of hurtful actions on J's part, I snapped. I'd had enough. (And let me explain, that I am a hugely patient and tolerant person, but when I reach my breaking point, you know it.) I stopped making even the bare minimum effort with J-- I nodded across the room instead of greeting him at events; I avoided him and his wife at all costs; I fumed in my anger.

And the entire time I was tortured with guilt and anxiety. I began having panic attacks and had to go on medication. I hate interpersonal strife, particularly familial. I can't abide it when people don't like me. When I see a stressful situation, all I want to do it make it better, not worse. So eventually, my kinder self woke up again and I decided to try to improve matters.

I reached out to J's wife, arranged to meet her for dinner. We spoke for two hours about the situation. And I bit my tongue. I recognized that she would never see her husband as responsible for what had happened, she would never agree, "Yeah, he's a jerk." The important thing was to begin the reconciliation. So I didn't defend myself or Lawyer Guy. I just focused on how to go forward.

I think that by making that gesture and controlling my anger I allowed the reunion to take place, and I will always be proud of myself for that. Slowly, over the subsequent five years, the relationship improved. J began speaking to both of us again. Then they had their daughter two years ago. I started visiting S in New Jersey while she was on her maternity leave. And J is very invested in Lawyer Guy's role as uncle to the little girl, so he sends my husband videos and phone messages of her and always encourages them to see each other more.

This is still not the relationship of my dreams, and certainly nothing similar to the relationship Lawyer Guy has with my three sisters. While J will speak with me, he has still never (not once) asked me a question about my life in all the time I've known him (not, "How's school going?" or "How are your sisters?" or even "What's new?"). We meet up nearly always at Lawyer Guy or my instigation, and in two years, J and S have visited us in Brooklyn once (we have met them in New Jersey a dozen or so times).

I can (and do) accept all this. All I ever wanted was a reasonable, polite, adult relationship. I am very different in many ways from the two of them. We will never be intimate. That's okay, I'm genuinely fine with how things are now.

But I'm also still angry. I'm still hurt, and resentful, and aggrieved. And I have a block on my heart where my niece is concerned. She's sweet and cute and I enjoy spending time with her. But I don't love her.

Isn't that a terrible thing to say?

I don't mean that I dislike her or wish her ill or have no affection for her. I do have affection for her. She's a two-year-old kid, what's not to like? But I have no more affection for her than I do for my friends' babies, and in some cases I feel more like an aunt to my friends' children. Maybe this is a common way to feel about nieces and nephews related to you through your husband. Maybe I'm a terrible person. But these are my honest emotions.

And now, very soon, there will be another baby girl. I sobbed my heart out after they told us they were expecting again. But when I was pregnant with the m&m and due just three months after S, I told myself that our children would be friends, that this would be wonderful, that I'd finally feel a real family connection to my nieces.

After losing the baby, I stopped thinking about S's pregnancy. Internally, I pretended that she wasn't pregnant. I didn't look at her belly. I didn't speak about it with her or anyone else (and no one mentioned it to me). I rarely even brought her up here! I could socialize with her without it hurting because I resolutely ignored the elephant (or developing fetus) in the room.

Well, obviously my subconscious is displeased with this course of events. I get the message, loud and clear: THERE'S A BABY COMING AND YOU CAN'T IGNORE IT ANYMORE.

There's a baby coming and I can't ignore it anymore.


(PS: Because I am--deep down--a bit of a spiteful person, I need to share that J's behavior in sum hasn't changed, it's just no longer targeted at Lawyer Guy and me. He now refuses to speak to his stepfather and stepsisters. And because I am also--deep down--a fair person, I have to point out that both J and S were very kind and very sad after we lost the baby).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

15 Weeks Later; or, Normal

15 weeks after my D&C, 8 weeks after I began weekly phone calls to two separate doctors' offices, 5 weeks after I first cried on the phone, 4 weeks after I learned I was never given the release form I needed to sign, 3 weeks after I faxed the release form in, 1 week after screaming at my doctor's receptionist over the phone...

I finally got the lab results from the genetic testing on the m&m.


My doctor said this is good news, that we don't need to worry about karyotyping and that future pregnancies are highly likely to be healthy.

But now I don't know why this baby didn't make it. It's much, much harder to accept this miscarriage as "not meant to be" when the baby likely would have been healthy and normal and fine if he or she had progressed.

Yes, he or she. We asked to not be told the sex.

My dad says this will just be one of life's mysteries for me. Holding a healthy, living, cuddly baby of my own, I think I'll be able to accept the mysteries of life better than I do right now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Paging Dr. Google; or, Second Opinions

I've mentioned before on this blog my frustrations with ovulation. In the past year of TTC (okay, almost year, get ready for the big anniversary post in two weeks) I have ovulated on:

March-April: Day 30
April-May: Day 18
May-June: Day 19
June-July: Day 21
August-September: Day 21
September-October: Day 26 (bfp month)
January- February: Day 27
With one anovulatory cycle post miscarriage (November-January) and one anovulatory cycle when I traveled internationally. (July-August)

I think this pattern is quite irregular. I think it falls outside the realm of normal and problem-free, but I'm willing to accept that it's just acceptable variation and nothing to worry about (that seems to be my doctor's opinion).

I also think it's pretty late. And while I haven't had one of those 60 day cycles that I know some women have (at least not yet), I'm worried that delayed ovulation might have been the reason behind my miscarriage. It's something I've see mentioned as a possible cause (though I have not read any of the research referenced). Again, my doctor said she wasn't concerned when I tentatively raised that issue at our post-d&c follow up appointment.

My husband says I should trust my doctor. He said I'm making up problems where none exist. He hates when I consult Dr Google and make my own diagnoses.

But I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong here.

So I'm asking you guys, what do you think? Is this all fine? Do I have a slightly irregular, slightly delayed cycle, but nothing to stress over?

When do you decide if there's a problem?