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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Answers, Maybe; or Action, Definitely

My head is reeling right now at how fast everything is happening. I'm heading into Manhattan in a few minutes to pick up my Clomid prescription. We're planning an IUI for this cycle, and as I'm CD 6 (or CD 5 depending on how you calculate CD 1), I need to take the medication in the next three hours.

Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

To back up a little, my RE called me last night at 7 pm, as I was just about to leave the house to meet Lawyer Guy, my sister and her fiance for dinner. She was calling with the results of LG's semen analysis--one day after he had the test!

(And for the record, I am soooo impressed that she called me that quickly. This makes me very optimistic for the state of my care at Cor.nell. I think I need to find a new code name for her. Dr. Woman is not very descriptive, you know? So I will provisionally adopt Dr. Wonderful as her name)

So, the results of the test: Count good at 30 million. Motility good at 57%. Morphology not good at 3% after a wash (4% is now considered normal. I don't feel comfortable giving the pre-wash numbers, because of LG's sensitivity around this subject).

Based on this, Dr. Wonderful counseled going directly to monitored Clomid + IUI, as this will give the sperm a better shot at reaching an egg and more eggs to be potentially reached. She did say it's not impossible for us to conceive on our own with these stats (obviously, as we already have) but cautioned that it will likely take longer.

After all these months, this might be an answer. I don't know yet if we can say that this has been causing our problems, but it's definitely a red flag. And the plus side to morphology issues (I guess) is that if we must go the IVF route (and I'm not ready to say we need that yet-- Dr. Wonderful didn't even mention it), it appears there will be every likelihood of success, especially if my HSG results are normal.

I was relieved when she first gave me the results (I had feared learning LG had, like, only 2 million sperm in his sample). Then the more I thought about it (and googled-- bad Sloper!) the more nervous I became. Then I started thinking about getting my prescription and when the pharmacy would open and how I could do this all before leaving at 8:30 to teach. Answer: I couldn't, so I canceled class. Some things are just more important.

Ultimately, I'm still not really sure where this leaves us. I've read conflicting information on morphology, from "It's the only thing that matters" to "We don't give a crap about it." I don't want to read any more and Lawyer Guy wants me to avoid independent research into it, too. If you have anecdotes or experience with this, please just hold off on sharing for a while, because we want to sit down and chat with Doctor Wonderful about what all this means to her before we start hearing from other sources. We're seeing a fantastic doctor at one of the best clinics in the country, and if we can't trust the care we're getting here, what can we trust?

So: it's an IUI. I don't expect our first shot at bat to win the game for us, but I'm excited to be starting nonetheless. I'm happy that we're learning more about our situation. I'm happy I have a doctor I trust and like who is prompt and active in managing our care. I'm happy that Lawyer Guy seems to be taking all this okay. He's very pleased that his count and motility #s are good and is refusing to speculate about what the consequences of the morph #s will be until we speak with Dr. Wonderful. I know that men--and my LG, in particular--can be amazingly good at refusing to look at things that bother them and refusing to acknowledge their pain, and I'm a little worried about how this is going to pan out emotionally for us. But I trust him and me to do the best with this situation and to love each other fiercely regardless of our temporary and momentary traumas and distress. I'm going to have to work on being as much of a support for him as he has been for me, because we're both in this together. And that's the way it should always be.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy; or, Hopeful (UPDATED)

Thanks to Floss Baby for giving me the Happy/Hopeful award. I'm supposed to fill you in on things that make me, you know, happy and hopeful. And fortunately right now they are the same thing: my Lawyer Guy!

He had his SA yesterday, and while we don't know the results yet, I'm so proud of him for sacking up (literally) and getting through it. It's only the first of potentially many romantic encounters between him and the sterile collection cup and not even one that give us a chance at a pregnancy. But he has been really dreading it and yet managed to do fine. I'm proud of him and grateful that he did something so humiliating for the sake of our life together.

And because that makes me happy, I will share something else that always makes me happy, even on my darkest days. This is the song that LG and I chose as our first dance at our wedding. We both love music (I sing, he played guitar for me the night we met) and picking the "perfect" first dance song was really important to us. We talked about it over and over and seemed to be getting nowhere--I wanted Cole Porter or Gershwin, he wanted something written since the dawn of the atomic age. But then! We remembered how much we both love Van Morrison! We remembered how much we love dancing around our apartment together to this song!

Some people in our families thought this song was too fast-paced and not sweet and romantic enough, but it is exactly how we both felt on our wedding day: just filled with joyfulness and excitement and love. Now every time I hear it, I'm sent right back to our wedding day and I think about how much I love smiling and dancing with Lawyer Guy and I know that everything is going to be okay, no matter what further challenges lie ahead.

As for what makes me hopeful? I'll be honest, I have to dig pretty deep to hit hope these days. It's buried far down beneath a lot of other unpleasant emotions. But it is there and I can reach it, even if I have to manufacture it out of thin air.

Case in point, the following:

This is our new car, which we picked up from the dealer's yesterday! The lease on our Volvo was up this month, and while we loved driving it over the past three years, we decided we want something bigger and a bit cheaper (given than we have possible future fertility treatments to start planning for).

Last night as we drove home, I turned and looked behind me and I pictured two infant carseats side-by-side. I scared myself a little--I can remember too vividly signing the lease on our first car three years ago and wondering to myself if the back seat would accommodate the children I was sure would come before we moved on to a new set of wheels.

But I decided not to think that way. We stood at the dealership ready to take the keys and I said to Lawyer Guy, "Now we can have a baby since the car has enough room." He laughed at the thought that the baby was just waiting for us to get the right car, but I'm going to take my optimism where I can get it.

I loved our old car, but I could never picture a baby in it. And in this car, I can.

Which means we're going to get pregnant soon, right?

Updated: I forgot the most important part of these little awards, nominating other bloggers! I would like to send happiness and hope to some ladies who have been stuck here with me for a while and getting bluer and bluer as I do:

Gidget of Mission: Gidgelet
B at My So-Called (TTC) Life
Katie of From IF to When
Allison at Allison's Wonderland
~C~ at The Port of Indecision

And some very special hope and happiness to the newly pregnant Sienna at It's Baby Time

Monday, September 27, 2010

Family Affairs; or, They Named the Baby

I spent most of my therapy session this afternoon discussing Lawyer Guy's strange family dynamics (though all in-laws' families are strange, right?) as I have laid them out with more brevity here and here and here. So fortunately for you, I've burned through much of the anger I was feeling yesterday. But at that babynaming, no question: I was pissed.

I was pissed at the situation: AF's early arrival the day before, the beginning of cycle 8/15, trying to schedule an HSG, wondering if my husband's sperm is okay, wondering if we'll ever be pregnant or how much it will take to get pregnant with a baby that sticks. I was pissed about what could have been, mad that the 4-month-old I could have been cuddling is instead a product of human conception in a lab. I was so freaking angry that I--a woman who has always loved children and dreamed of being a mom--was the ONLY childless woman between the ages of 20 and 40 out of the 120+ people at this event (let's not even speak of how many of them were pregnant (I counted at least six)). I was angry at myself for feeling obligated to be there. Angry I had to make small-talk when all I wanted to do was sulk. Angry it was happening in the first place. And angry that the freaking country club reception hall was decorated like this:

You see, it's casual, low-key, and cost-conscious because the centerpieces are elaborate balloon displays rather than flowers. Get it?

So my brother-in-law said hello and nothing more to me the whole time and my sister-in-law barely even did that--she had to run off and get the baby in her dress and put a freaking tiara on her head as soon as they arrived. No time for greeting your ONLY siblings-in-law who came all the way from Brooklyn for your God-awful travesty of a life-cycle celebration, no of course not.

(Okay, maybe I didn't burn off all that anger after all).

I get that they were busy hosting this event. I get that they had a lot of people to entertain. I didn't want them to sit down and take my hand and stare intently into my eyes while asking, "How are you?" I wouldn't have liked that at all, nor for them to pry into how our family building is going.

But it would have been nice if--instead of calling me three months ago to nail down a date when we'd be available because we are "so important to them and it's so important that [we] be there"--my SIL had let me know that it was okay with them if I decided I wasn't up for coming. It would have been nice to receive SOME acknowledgment of the fact that this is freaking hard for us--of the fact that we have been going through hell the last year (well, longer than that, but a year as far as they know). Just a hug, or a friendly and warm look in the eye, or the words "We're so glad you guys are here." That's it. No medals of honor necessary. Just some basic human connection.

Too much to ask, apparently.

And then, during the little ceremony, when the rabbi called Lawyer Guy and all the grandparents up to the podium to read some blessings and I was left sitting all alone at my table and my father-in-law gestured to me to take pictures of them all with his camera (which I actually did for a little while), I finally decided I'd had enough and I hated the world and I left and went to the bathroom where I acknowledged that what I really wanted to do was kick something hard but, nothing kickable being on hand, would have to content myself with a halfhearted and unsatisfying cry in a toilet stall.

And then we ate brunch.

My mother-in-law called later that night to ask how I was doing, because she could tell I was not myself at the party (and she knows that we've started meeting with REs, though she doesn't know all the details of what's going on). I told her it's been a hard couple of weeks and that I've been really sad and she said I seemed more angry than sad at the party. So, yeah, I told her the above--that I'm mad at the world and my life and my body and the party and BIL and SIL--mostly them--right now for not even seeming to REALIZE that we've been in agony for what feels like thirty years.

So apparently my sister-in-law occasionally asks my mother-in-law how I'm doing and how the whole baby-making thing is going. Which my MIL took as evidence that in her own (limited) way she does care. She doesn't care enough to say or do or feel anything, but she cares enough to periodically wonder about us.

(I recognize this isn't fair of me. I'm not in a very fair mood these days).

Ultimately, is that worse? Is it more insulting of them to have just totally forgotten that we ever were pregnant and to not realize that we might be hurting, or is it worse to remember and to recognize that we're in pain but to be too chicken-shit to throw us a scrap of human compassion on a day that anyone with three-eighths of a brain could guess might be a struggle (let alone the other 364 days of the year)?

And then I feel so guilty about it all. Guilty for pinning my impotent anger at a fucked-up situation on two people who aren't responsible for it. Guilty for feeling such jealousy and rage over what they have (those two beautiful little girls I can barely stand to look at any more) when they have never taken anything from me.

I sent my sister-in-law a text last night. It reads (and I quote): "Beautiful party! Glad to be there. Hope to see you all again when we can chat more. I have something for [Niece #2] but didn't want to bring today."

No response yet, and really that's beside the point, right? I did for myself, so I could feel less like a heartless sucky shrew and more like the decent, caring, reasonable person I so desperately want to be. But I'm the real chicken-shit here, pasting over a deep well of anger and hurt with some crappy, barely felt fakery designed to put a bright face on it all.

And yet...what else could I do?

Last night, my dad told me I had three options for dealing with them in the future:

1. Have it out with them over what I need and expect (impossible because a) they never respond well to conversations like that and b) I have no energy for any additional stress right now).

2. Continue to hope that they'll treat me decently and continue to be disappointed.

3. Follow my dear, late grandmother's advice and interact with them knowing that it will be unsatisfying but "offering it up for the poor souls in purgatory."

I guess my frustration with liminal states is more familial than I guessed.

I'm more venting than looking for solutions right now. I realize there isn't anything to be done. They will continue to be self-absorbed and unable to reach out to us, I will continue to suffer and resent them for standing outside my suffering. Just your usual warm happy family. If I can avoid them as much as possible until we finally get pregnant again, I'll be okay... but the longer this takes, the less likely that becomes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

This and That; or, Catching Up

I sometimes wish I was not so in-tune with my body. Since last Friday, I've known with about 98% surety that I'm not pregnant. Since Wednesday, it's gone up to 99.9%. And today I know with 100% confidence that my period is coming tomorrow. Why is my body so freaking predictable? Why can't it trick me once in a while, just to let me lead myself on?

So I haven't spent much time this 2ww obsessing about my cycle: no boob mashing, no cramp tracking, no faking of pregnancy hunger pangs (Which, seriously Sloper, it was time to stop doing that. The scale is telling you so). But this does not mean I don't still over-think things. I've spent the time waiting for my period and waiting to schedule my HSG by alternately envisioning myself as the mother to ART-produced twins (in my wilder moments, girl-boy-girl triplets) and envisioning myself undergoing failed treatment after failed treatment and finally giving up in despair. I picture holding my kids in the hospital and I picture us learning that Lawyer Guy's sperm is hopeless and it was a miracle we got pregnant in the first place. And I picture all of these things about 8 times a minute.

But at least the SA is on the schedule for next week. I hope my poor LG can survive the wait: he is dreading this so very much. Does anyone know how long it usually takes them to get the results back to you?

* * *
I hate what an awful mope I've become the last two or three months. I think back to when I first started this blog and how motivated I was to think positively and plan for solutions and fight against self-pity. And I think back to the first 3 or 4 months after the miscarriage and how determined I was to find silver linings and life lessons in what was happening to us. Now I just want to wallow and feel sorry for myself and make everyone around me miserable, even while we're actually doing something for once to address this problem. I suck.

* * *
So the bloody hag is set to arrive tomorrow afternoon (while I'm at the opera, how fitting) and then the day after is Niece #2's baby naming at a country club in the suburbs (to which they have invited 150 guests). What a delightful way to spend CD 1! I have zero enthusiasm for this event, and Lawyer Guy told me I could stay home, but I can't. Not with the history the we have with those ILs (plus, my SIL called me three months ago to reserve the date and specifically ask me to be there because it's very important to them).

Shall we take a poll? What's the over-under on me crying in the bathroom? Scowling at small children? Hiding in the car? Leaving early?

I could go on and on and on about how the timing of this event couldn't be more dead-on awful if they had calculated it specifically to give me the most pain and how showy and obnoxious I find it, but I am trying--not succeeding, but at least trying--to be a less hideously resentful and jealous person. I'll let you know how that goes.

* * *
Finally, Leslie at Evolutionary Dead End? tagged me in this poll, which I will answer briefly (for once? I'm not sure I'm capable of brevity) as this post is already insanely long:

1) What is your dream occupation?
Easy: Caberet singer, novelist, or official baby-namer. I would like to have control over the names of everyone's children. I promise I'll pick one you like.

What's the best dish you can cook?
I make really good Lemon-Spiced Chicken and awesome artichoke dip and lasagne. I'm quite partial to the apple-walnut stuffing I make every year on Thanksgiving, too. And I make good cheesecake.

Have you ever been mentioned in the newspaper? What for?
A few times! First, at age four for participating in my preschool's "Crazy Hat Day" (there was a picture of me wearing a--yes--crazy hat.) I was immensely proud. More recently, LG and I had our wedding announced in the NY Times Wedding Section. I was almost as excited as I was about the crazy hat. (Total lie: I screamed with happiness after I got the fact-checker's call the week before the wedding).

What's the worst and/or most memorable job you've ever had?
Without question, my two weeks the summer after high school as a telemarketer shilling specialty business publications over the phone. I made four sales. In two weeks. I felt like an associate of Satan. I quit in despair.

When you were a teenager, at what age did you envision yourself getting married? How old were you in reality when you got married?
I imagined myself marrying at 26, just like my mother did. I got married at 27. This seemed (I shit you not) like a major failing at this time. I also thought I'd have my first kid at 29, again, like my mother did. I'm now hoping for 31.

What's your most hated household chore? What's your favorite?
I hate cleaning the bathroom, dusting, mopping the floor, and walking the dog at night alone. I like vacuuming and washing dishes by hand.

What's your earliest memory?
I was 2 and on a visit with my parents
to my mom's sister and her family in Phoenix. I remember looking down at their red Spanish tile floor and staring out the screen door at night hoping their dog would come in so I could play with it. I remember a big bank of indoor potted plants near their stairwell. And I remember that my grandfather was there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Returning; or, Confronting Anniversaries

Last night I cried myself to sleep. I can't remember the last time that happened--maybe the spring. I was remembering the d&c and reliving moments I had forgotten over the past 10 months: remembering how it felt to lie on the table as they hooked up the IV, tears running hot down my face into my ears and leaving cold tracks behind. I remembered sensing the doctor moving around the room and shouting (or so it seemed, it probably wasn't loud at all) "Don't do anything, I'm still awake!" And the nurses trying to focus my attention on other things and then finally losing consciousness. I remember waking up hunched in a ball with awful, searing cramps and a relentless need to vomit.

I remember moments of the pregnancy or the miscarriage frequently, and usually the memories lack the terrible charge they had during those first few weeks and months. They've regained much of that power recently, though. The weather's changing and I wore my grey wool tights and grey wool skirt to teach in yesterday. I remember standing in front of my classes in that outfit last October and November and thinking, "I'm pregnant and no one knows" and wondering how it was possible that something so amazing could be happening inside me without anyone sensing it.

I guess it's true that anniversaries are hard. Will you believe me if I say that I didn't think this one would be? I did okay when the potential due date came--I didn't dread it overmuch, didn't mourn incessantly, indulged in a few tears that night but was otherwise fine. But this is utterly different. It isn't just that I never thought I would still be in this terrible place a year later. It's more like my heart is involuntarily returning to that time over and over and over and that the grief is coming back with an edge it had lacked for a very long time. And I haven't even hit any of the dates of the pregnancy, I just feel them coming.

I'm tired of being sad. I want to be happy again. I'm tired of being a person who feels burdened by the past and who dreads the future. I want joy and lightheartedness, but I don't see the place for them in my life right now when everything is so heavy and dour.

Monday, September 20, 2010

On Pause; or, Once Again Waiting.

After last week's frenzy of appointments and decisions and activity, I feel again as though I'm suspended in liquid waiting to be allowed to move. The HSG appointment with NY.U is canceled, and we're waiting.

Waiting for me to get my period, so I can call Cor.nell and set up a different HSG appointment. Waiting for Lawyer Guy to return home from his business trip so he can call and schedule his semen analysis (he was making vague noises about getting it done "next week," which honestly is not what I want, but he's so anxious about it that I don't have the heart to push anything). Waiting to find out what our treatment options are and if we can try anything this upcoming cycle. Back to waiting, and I'm not any better at it than I was 18 months ago, despite the excellent practice I've now had.

I'm fat and broken out and lethargic and depressed and disgusting, so it's obvious my period is coming (set to arrive this upcoming weekend). I've accepted that and given up much hope of conceiving without assistance, though LG was deeply upset when I mentioned how crampy I was feeling over the weekend. He'd thought we might get out of all this at the last minute. No such luck.

Right now, I really just want to get started. I want to do something--anything!--that will improve our chances. I want to take a shot in the dark just for the satisfaction of no longer sitting on my ass praying the fertility gods will bless me.

I read the blogs of women undergoing treatment, and they often seem tired. Tired of the blood draws and the injections and the pills and the ultrasounds and the doctors' appointments and the failures. I'm sure I'll get to a point, too, where the charm of reproductive intervention ceases to be charming. But at this point, I'm so tired of doing nothing and leaving it all to fickle chance. I just want my shot. I want to feel like I've started something new.

Watch me eat this words about four months from now. But this is where I am today.

Friday, September 17, 2010

RE Consult #2; or, Things Are Looking Up


I am so mellow and relaxed after the loveliest massage. Thank you, considerate friend who bought me it for my 30th birthday! And thank you to myself for so cleverly saving it until a day when I really, really needed it. I will definitely be adding monthly massages to the "Keep Sloper Sane While She Undergoes Fertility Treatments" regimen I'm concocting.

So to begin the recap of today's second consult, I need to talk a little about yesterday. Yesterday was a hard day. I woke up and it hit me: We need help. We can't do this on our own. We're going to an RE. I was feeling so low and down about it all day, crying periodically. I saw myself on a long road stretching inevitably to IVF and I started thinking about how we'll pay for it, and how we have to start saving now, and whether to spend our money on that or adoption. It culminated in a long cry during a long phone call with my mom (who was miraculously wonderful and non-judgmental). Yet another low point in a series of lower and lower points.

I woke up today feeling tired and not too excited for the next consult, especially since Corn.ell is so annoying to get to from Park Slope. But I went and met the new doctor.

Right away I really liked her. She's younger (probably late 30s) but has great schooling and fellowships and a really warm and encouraging manner. She gave us the more positive spin Lawyer Guy had wanted, saying, "I'm going to be talking to you about contraceptive options one day." (To which Lawyer Guy responded, "Contraception? What's that?" while I pondered for a moment why I'd need contraception if we were trying to get pregnant).

She didn't spend a lot of time giving us statistics, but did let us know what seems promising about our situation (my FSH/age, our previous pregnancy) and which pieces we'll need to still figure out. She didn't mention IVF at all or polycystic ovaries, though she did say we could use medication to regulate and shorten my cycles and would go ahead with IUIs depending on Lawyer Guy's SA results.

She congratulated us on starting to try for a family at a relatively young age for NYC (I was 28), which allowed us to detect problems while there's still time to fix them. She seemed to be leaning toward thinking that MFI may be our primary issue, though she asserted that LG's sample must have at least 1 million + for us to have conceived on our own, and that even if it is that low they can work around it. She also said there was a chance that one of my tubes was blocked or clogged (I guess the left, since I ovulated from the right when I got pregnant), which would explain the delay, as well.

(Incidentally, Lawyer Guy seemed oddly okay with the thought of getting less than great results from the SA. "I'd be more nervous if you had never gotten pregnant" he said, happy that we know he has sperm and can conceive a child, whatever the quantities. He did ask if I would be angry with him for "causing our problems" if it turns out his counts are low-- and I asked him if he was angry with me for miscarrying our baby, which I think helped him see my feelings about this).

Her approach and Dr. Man's were very different. He presented factual and statistical information and said it was up to us to decide what we wanted; she delved more into the details of our situation (as we know it so far) and offered a course for what she thought should come next. Lawyer Guy really liked her optimism and the fact that he felt he understood what the plan would be after we left her office.

Both doctors and clinics are really good, and both have points in their favor. Dr. Man is more established and well-known (Lawyer Guy said he got the impression he was "a bit of a celebrity" and noticed a photo of the doc and Katie Couric in his office), very systematic and direct, and --I would guess--has a lot of clients at any given time. His office is more conveniently located for me both coming from home and getting to school.

Dr. Woman had a patient manner that felt more comforting and personal and the staff at her clinic was incredibly nice. I liked them a bit more than N.YU's.

We haven't made a 100% final decision, but I think I want to go with Dr. Woman. Yesterday, I felt like I was staring at a huge blinking clock counting down to the letters I-V-F and I was terrified. I felt like every treatment we tried would be delaying the inevitable and wasting our time.

Today after my consult, I felt freed from that worry. I felt hopeful that this may work with less intervention and that I might actually have a baby!

Dr. Man could be right and IVF is the quickest and most effective route to having a baby. But LG and I are not prepared for it: not financially, not emotionally, not mentally, not physically. So if I'm going to be trying other treatments (which would be the same at either clinic-- monitored Clomid or injectibles plus timed intercourse or IUI), I want to be with a doctor who has definite confidence in their success and who helps me feel that confidence. If I'm going to spend the entire time dreading the point at which we finally give up on them, why do them at all?

They might not work, and I might be facing IVF or adoption, regardless, but at least this way I will know we gave this process our very best shot. Plus, this is not an irreversible decision. I feel good about our choice, but I know that we can always change course in the future if we want to.

So now: I have to cancel the HSG at N.YU (anyone have any advice on how to do that? Just call and say that we're going with a different clinic for treatment?). I have to sit out the rest of this two week wait (which I'm pretty positive will not result in a baby), and schedule my HSG on day one of cycle 8/15. Lawyer Guy needs to schedule his SA. I need to call Dr Woman's nurse and find out if I can try Clomid the same cycle we do the HSG.

And then...I guess we'll see. I'm trying to take this one hopeful step at a time.

Checking In; or, Little Update

I'm back from the second consult. Verdict is: Great! Lawyer Guy and I both loved Dr. Woman at Cor.nell and are strongly leaning toward working with her.

I'll post more soon, but I need to skedaddle to my massage appointment. After the week I've had, an hour of muscle-kneading sounds like heaven.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Re Consult #1; or, Decisions, Decisions

Thanks so much for all the support and well-wishes you left on my post yesterday. It means the world to see the faith you all have in this process and where I'm going. On my better days I feel the same way, and on my worse days it's good to have reminders that there are people out there who believe this can happen for me.

So...on to the appointment recap!

I guess I'll start by saying that Dr. Man (at NY.U) was very nice and approachable, as well as direct and informative. He wasn't a major cheerleader but he gave us the information he has at this point about our situation, ventured some supposition into what might be going on, and laid out some possible options for the future.

The first bit of (good) news was about my CD 3 bloodwork from a few days ago. My FSH was 5.2, which Dr. Man said was really good and an indicator that I've got lots of healthy eggs. He didn't tell me the estrogen number (and I forgot to ask) but that's probably just as well, because that's less for me to google.

We discussed my cycle history. I told him the lengths of each of my fourteen cycles of TTC and whether I had confirmed ovulation or not on any of them. Dr. Man also said that given the amount of time we've been trying, our likelihood of success without assistance in any given month is about 3%, a disappointing statistic to say the least.

He did an ultrasound and said that my uterus looks good, my lining is thick, and my ovaries look healthy. He showed me the corpus luteum on my left ovary where I ovulated over the weekend (And btw, this totally confirms my little theory about my ovaries. Last cycle I ovulated from my right ovary about 5 days late. In the cycle I got pregnant, the same thing happened. And now I had normal--for me--day 21 ovulation from the left ovary. I think that right ovary is a lazy slacker!)

Thanks to my somewhat irregular cycles, Dr. Man suggested I may have some (mild?) form of polycystic ovaries. He emphasized, however, that he didn't want to call it a "syndrome" because I *am* ovulating most months and that cysty ovaries at the start of a cycle are quite common and don't mean there is anything wrong with the way my body is working (he feels that women are overdiagnosed with what can be a relatively normal condition). He doesn't want to run the tests for insulin resistance because he thinks I am basically normal, and as I'm not overweight, not terribly hirsute, and have no family history of diabetes, he doesn't want to needlessly worry me. He also believes the link between PCOS and miscarriage has not been adequately proven (or not proven at all). He thinks I have lots of good, healthy eggs that take a bit longer to pop out and that we can shorten that time and give me more chances to get pregnant each year.

He ordered an HSG for next cycle, even though he said he doesn't think we'll find any major abnormalities of my uterus or tubes.

He also ordered Lawyer Guy an SA (of course) and confirmed our suspicion that the pregnancy means he definitely has sperm, but it might be of borderline quality, which would help account for our difficulties.

He ran us through our options from least to most invasive and expensive. I know you're all familiar with them, so I won't bore you with the recital. He stressed that he's willing to go at our pace and according to our comfort level, both emotional and financial.

He also told me that I can do a clomid cycle with or without insemination next month even though I'll be getting an HSG, which was good news, as I'd assumed October was out for any treatments given the additional testing I'd need.

I asked him before we finished the consult if he was optimistic about our chances of getting pregnant, and he said he was. He said egg quality was the toughest thing to overcome, and that we seem to be okay in that regard.

It was an intense morning, and Lawyer Guy and I did some talking afterward. I liked all the nurses we met and found Dr. Man approachable and professional. He wasn't super warm and touchy-feely, but he was good about giving us information and data and talking us through different possible actions to take based on that data.

I think Lawyer Guy was a little bummed by Dr. Man's professional caution. Some friends of ours were told by their RE at their first appointment, "We are going to get you pregnant," and LG mentioned to me he was hoping to hear something like that. But I don't fault Dr Man from holding back from that kind of enthusiasm, especially because we don't know anything yet about how I respond to medications or LG's sperm quality. When put to the point, he seemed optimistic, so that's good. But LG's desire for a more aggressively optimistic doctor is something for us to keep in mind as we continue our search.

Lawyer Guy didn't want to talk about any of the specifics of treatments until after our meeting with Clinic #2 on Friday, which I can understand. We'll make our decision that night and get set for what comes next.

But of course, I've done some thinking. I'd like to start with a clomid cycle in October, especially because we've got to put treatments on hold for November and December in anticipation of my sister's wedding. If LG's sperm numbers come back good, then I think I'd like to try clomid with intercourse; if they're borderline or bad, then try an IUI.

We have unlimited IUI coverage with our insurance and zero IVF coverage, so doing a large number of medicated IUIs makes sense for us, until we just can't take anymore. And then we'll need to think hard about IVF and adoption and how we want to use our money. But we're not there yet.

I guess I'm feeling cautiously optimistic right now. I entertained a brief daydream about giving birth to twins and holding them at the hospital after the consult, which is positive. I also recognized that I am sad to be here. Part of me secretly hoped we'd show up and Dr. Man would say, "Are you crazy? You're not infertile! Get outta here!" But we're going to make the best of this, and maybe even get some twins out of the bargain.

RE appointment #2 coming up in two days, and then we'll really be able to make some decisions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

That Girl; or, This Girl

I've double-checked that my Ob-Gyn records arrived at the RE's. I've booked a (desperately needed) bikini wax. I've reordered my prenatals (possibly for the last time, since I think the prescription officially expires this month). And I've printed out 17 charts--the record of almost two years worth of my body's reproductive efforts. Late and early ovulation. Long and short cycles. Temperatures and fertility readings and spotting and periods. One positive pregnancy test followed 30 days later by a red dot.

I look at that first chart from November 2008 and the age listed at the top (28) and I think: I am not that girl.

That girl who thought if she read the right books and did the right things and planned and predicted and started early and left nothing to chance she could win at having a baby just like she'd won at everything else that mattered.

That girl who was both so smug and so scared, but mostly smug. Who whispered to herself awful things like "I'm not fat, so I won't have any problems" and "I have a regular cycle, so I won't have any problems" and "I'm starting nice and young, so I won't have any problems" and thought that just saying the words would make them true.

That girl who told her friends, "We're going to start trying to get pregnant now!" and thought it meant, "We're going to have a baby." That girl who thought that making the decision to try was the hard part.

That girl who figured out her first potential due date (thinking it would be the only, not thinking it would be the first) months before she even ovulated. That girl who planned for the "perfect" month to give birth in and the "perfect" way to break the news and the "perfect" labor she was sure to have.

That girl who wondered if she was ready to be a mom even as she cried over her very first negative test.

One year to the week later, we found out the m&m was dead. Twenty-two months later, we're visiting the doctor bearing stacks of paper dotted with little eggs and hearts and acronyms and numbers.

In September of 2010 (age: 30) this girl doesn't bother with the books any longer (thanks for nothing, Toni Weschler). This girl doesn't bother with the thermometer and barely bothers with the charts.

This girl doesn't want to know what her potential due date is. This girl assumes due dates are only and always potential.

This girl doesn't call her friends to talk about another failed cycle, another peak reading, another hopeful or hopeless two-week wait. This girl has watched her friends gain so easily what has come so hard and taken so long. More than anything, this girl wants to be left alone.

This girl has realized there's a depth of jealousy and anger and frustration in her heart that she never could have imagined. This girl has watched it poison relationships from the inside out, wondering how to make herself care when everything feels so bleak.

This girl has discovered sources of incredible empathy and support that she never thought she would.

This girl has fought her own heartache and won. This girl has been defeated by grief and sadness over and over and over again.

This girl doesn't know what comes next. This girl is incapable of prognostication, and finally admits it.

This girl knows that one day in the future she'll be "That Girl" again, unknowing of her destiny, ignorant of the choices she'll make, unaware of the happiness in store for her and the steps required to reach it.

This girl is afraid to hope.

But this girl hopes that day comes soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Pictures While We Wait; or, Scandinavia, Part II

In just two days, we finally go to the RE. As the time has ticked down to the visit, I've gone from excited to terrified and back again. Last night I spent hours googling PCOS and convincing myself I have it (then convincing myself I don't). I think I'm afraid of being told there's something definitively wrong with me but also afraid of being told there's nothing wrong with me and nothing can be done. Or maybe I wanted to check in with that cold-hearted Dr Google one last time before turning things over to a professional.

Whatever the case, the upshot is that right now is a time full of anticipation but very little information to impart. I ovulated recently, which is nice I guess, but I don't have much expectation of it leading to anything--except for those days when I do. So before our rash of RE visits and the recaps that will no doubt follow (and the decisions that will have to be made and the appointments that will have to be scheduled), I figured I'd finally catch everyone up on the rest of our Scandinavia trip.

When last you left our fearless heroes, we had spent an action-packed evening at Tivoli Gardens on their last day in Copenhagen. They next morning, we boarded the high-speed train to Stockholm and arrived in that fair city some 4 hours later.

As with our arrival in Denmark, we got to Sweden on a grey, cloudy, mucky day. And since we'd read in our guidebooks that Scandinavian taxis are hella expensive (the meter STARTS at $9), we decided to walk from the central station to our hotel in Ostermalm. Which required us to cart several large carry-on bags and a massive 60-lb suitcase on a 15-20 walk through downtown Stockholm in a drizzle. That turned into an abrupt thunder shower. And we only had one umbrella (that I shamelessly commandeered).

But we arrived at our hotel no worse for our drenching and quickly settled in. This hotel was not in the red light district as our previous one was, but right on the harbor in an area that we kept likening to Madison Ave on the UES. Lots of great shopping and restaurants nearby. On first night there, we ate on the recommendation of the concierge at a local restaurant that seemed to be more Swedes than tourists and then wandered around the city by night, getting our bearings and checking out the shopping and nightlife:

The next morning we were up early for breakfast and a long walk (thanks to the price of taxis, long walks became a routine with us). Stockholm is built on a series of smallish islands connected by bridges. We walked along the waterfront to Djurgarden, a huge island of parkland where several museums are located. We visited the Vasa Museum, which is dedicated to a salvaged 17th-century Swedish warship that sank on its maiden-voyage and was discovered, pulled up, and preserved in the 1950s. Then we walked through the park to Rosendals Tradgard, a nonprofit working organic garden in the middle of the island. Here's the pick-your-own flowers plot:
They had a lunch stand with organic food grown on the premises (Lawyer Guy had a sandwich and I had an amazing rabbit & veggie risotto) where we ate before starting the 45-minute-or-so walk back to our hotel.

We were quite tired when we returned to our neighborhood, and it was later than we planned, so we scrapped our intended sightseeing trip to Gamla Stan--the old city--and instead made a reservation at a restaurant there for dinner that night. We had a few late-afternoon hours to see things, so we went to the National Museum for an hour before it closed. Then we sat at a sidewalk bar at a nearby hotel and had beers while overlooking the harbor and the palace across the water.

Interestingly, most sidewalk cafes have seating facing out to overlook the water or the street rather than seats that face each other across the table. I guess Stockholmites really enjoy people/boat watching!

After returning to the hotel and changing, we walked to Gamla Stan for dinner at a modern Swedish restaurant in a 17th-century tavern. (We both sampled reindeer mousse!). We then wandered about the old city by dark, ducking into teeny little alleys and posing in front of short, narrow doorways, before walking back to the hotel.

The next morning, we woke up early and headed back to Gamla Stan to tour the royal palace the moment it opened. Poor Lawyer Guy did not enjoy this part of the trip. He has zero fetishistic enjoyment of European royalty and is strangely unmoved by antique furnishings or dec arts museums. Sad. I, however, fully enjoyed seeing the largest (or was it the oldest? I can't recall.) European palace still used as an official residence. And yes, it was quite large. We saw the ballroom where the crown princess's wedding was recently held and the banquet room where the Nobel prize winners are given a dinner following the ceremony. The crown jewels were also fun to see (and Lawyer Guy did like trying to figure out their value).

As we left, we ran smack into the changing of the guard, an impressive (and very loud) spectacle on horseback:

We then wandered about the old city for several hours. I visited the Cathedral, across from the palace, where there is a famous wooden 16th-century statue of St. George slaying the dragon. A bronze replica of it stands in a small square nearby:

We ate lunch and did some shopping (I bought Swedish yarn for my knitter best friend for Christmas and LG got his mom a linen shawl in thanks for her dogsitting while we were away). We ate lunch as a small tavern-looking restaurant decorated with vaguely Viking-ish murals. We ate herring and meatballs for our most authentic meal of the trip.

After lunch, we walked south to another island, Sodermalm, which we insisted on calling "the Brooklyn of Stockholm" (yes, we are your typical myopic New Yorkers who insist that NYC is the benchmark by which all else must be measured). The main character from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo lives here, and as Lawyer Guy was reading it at the time, we decided to visit his address. We went down to SoFo, which the Times travel section had just featured as an excited shopping destination, and checked out the super hipstery stores and restaurants and tried on fedoras and marveled at the global commonality of hipster fashions.

We also sat and rested our (by that point) aching feet in several pleasant, shady squares and churchyards. I accidentally hit a color-highlight button on our camera while trying to take a picture of Lawyer Guy in one of those churchyards and took what turned out to be a pretty cool picture (the building was a sandstone-y color, the pink and yellow are just the patches of shadow and light turned into color):

We had dinner reservations for our final night at a restaurant called Le Gondolen just over the bridge from Gamla Stan in Sodermalm. There's an early 20th-century iron elevator/gondola that takes passengers from the bridge up to the level of most of Sodermalm (otherwise you have to climb about 300 steps cut into a stone wall). We rode the gondola when we first arrived, wandered around the neighborhood, and then came back to our restaurant, which is in the gondola structure in that glass-windowed space suspended in the air:

You have an incredible panoramic view of the harbor and the city from the window, but unfortunately I didn't get any particularly great shots of it. We need a better camera, clearly.

After a very good dinner and some very good wine, we walked alllllll the way back through Gamla Stan to our hotel on Ostermalm. Because we'd had such an early reservation, we walked home just as the sun was setting and got some lovely pictures of buildings in the harbor with hot-air balloons floating over them (I kind of wanted to take a hot-air balloon ride, but am afraid of heights, so these pictures took the place of one). Here's a red balloon over the National Museum:

And here's a green balloon over (what I think is) Skeppsholmen, a smaller island near the art museum:

Not bad considering I was rather drunk when I took them!

We had talked about getting a reservation to go to the Ice Bar than night but were so, so tired from our 8+ hours of walking that we just got a drink at our hotel and then went to bed very sleepy.

The next day we were up and out early and back to Copenhagen for one last night before flying out. We got into the city around 5 pm and headed to our next hotel, in the lively Nyhavn district. Our hotel was in an 18th-century warehouse right on the harbor, as you can see from this picture of the view out our window:

We were upgraded to a suite with windows overlooking both the canal (the one shown above) and the harbor itself. We had dinner that night at a great nearby restaurant called Salt (in another reclaimed warehouse) and walked around Nyhavn for a bit before going to bed-- only to be woken by what sounded like bomb blasts but were actually fireworks over the national theater next door. I had a great view from the other window. After that settled down, we went to sleep.

The next day we had to leave around noon for the airport, but I insisted we spend some of the morning exploring Christianshavn, the Free City where hippies have lived commune-style in free apartments since the '60s. It was the nicest day we'd had in Copenhagen on the trip (the weather was better in Stockholm), and we enjoyed walking along the water and seeing the beautiful canals (like this one in Christianshavn) from the shore rather than a boat:

Disappointingly, though, nothing was free. Maybe we didn't walk far enough into the Free City, or maybe they know a non-hippie foreigner when they see one.

Then it was back to the hotel and into the first taxi we took all trip for our ride to the airport. And 9 hours, one beer-stained carry-on (thanks to the passenger in front of me) and a spot of petty theft in our building (everything fortunately recovered), we were home and ready for a jet-lagged night's sleep and a return to work, school, and many hours of paper writing.

But Scandinavia was great and I definitely need to return to Stockholm one day, which is one of the prettiest cities I've ever seen.

Thus ends (for now) the travelogue portion of this blog. I hope it was illuminating!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L'Shana Tova; or, Happy New Year

I'm not Jewish, but Lawyer Guy and his family are, so we spent the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, at family dinners in the suburbs. In keeping with my generally crappy attitude of the past several weeks, there were a lot of moments in which I felt pretty sorry for myself:

- Driving with Lawyer Guy in almost two hours of traffic (in the car that I side-swiped into a wall in our parking garage yesterday afternoon).
- Watching my in-laws gush and coo and hover over my almost three-year-old niece.
- Watching the fat little baby my 5-month-old niece has turned into.
- Thinking how my baby would have been three months younger than Niece #2 (having a living yardstick by which to measure your never-born child rocks).
- Remembering last year's Rosh Hashanah dinner, when BIL and SIL showed the 12-week ultrasound of Niece #2 and I fought so hard to be friendly and interested and engaged in the conversations about the new baby and to smother the jealousy that even then started to surge.
- Realizing I have neither the desire nor the will to try to control my jealousy any longer.
- Remembering how I told myself last September that "this time next year" things would be different.
- Remembering that last year's Rosh Hashanah was the beginning of the cycle that led to my pregnancy.

And the big one, which always seems to be at the back of my mind these days:
- Realizing it's actually the autumn again, that October is a breath away and November right after, and that I'll soon be remembering the anniversary of the only pregnancy I may ever have.

Shit, it's really enough to break my heart sometimes.

Lawyer Guy came home with some pessimistic work news earlier in the week, and I told him that one of these days our luck has to change. Eventually, things have to start coming right again. I don't know if I actually believe that, but I needed to be supportive of him, and in the moments I said the words they did feel true. Nothing lasts forever, not even runs of crappy luck that are edging ever closer to the multi-year mark. Not even them.

It's a new post-miscarriage year. It's a new academic year. For my Jewish family, it's a new calendar year. And one week from today, we'll meet some REs and finally start a new phase in this process.

I'm not going to wave flags or toot noisemakers or drink champagne. I've gotten to the point in this process where I've realized that new years can look remarkably like old ones and that the simple passage of time is no magical palliative for all life's troubles.

But still. New is good.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Picture-Filled Post; or, Scandi Part One

I'm a little embarrassed over my last post, even though everyone who commented was kind and supportive. I know I've not had the worst or hardest road in this community and it isn't fair to refuse to be happy for other people. After talking a bit with Stef B. and Egg, I realized that it's the preponderance of women in first tri on my blogroll right now that got to me. All the first tri posts are so extra, extra stabby for me in a way that posts about second or third tri or even parenting are not. Because watching my friends meet all their first tri milestones either reminds me of how it was when I was pregnant and happy (telling Lawyer Guy about the pregnancy, seeing that gestational sac at the first ultrasound, feeling morning sickness) or reminds me of all the things I hoped and expected to do, but didn't (getting an all-clear on a good heartbeat, getting a due date, telling my parents and friends in a happy way and not a doomed, depressed way). Right now it's just too much and I need to step away. It doesn't mean that I'm not still reading and caring, though.

Okay, so in an effort to raise my mood out of the chronic doldrums it's fallen into, I'm giving you Part One of the long overdue Scandinavia trip recap I promised. Get ready for everyone's favorite activity: boring (faceless) pictures of other people's vacations!

Our trip started rather inauspiciously in Copenhagen in the middle of a torrential downpour:

We saw a bit of the city anyway, visiting some art museums and attempting to follow one of the walking tours in my guide book (yes, I am the kind of traveler who insists on seeing EVERYTHING that a guide books stars or recommends, much to Lawyer Guy's dismay and aching feet). The rain quickly became oppressive however (the most rain Denmark has received on a single day in FIFTY YEARS, I kid you not), and we had to go back to our hotel.

A few words about our hotel. First, it was really lovely and well appointed and the staff was exceedingly pleasant. Second, um...it was in the red light district (forgot to mention that detail, Conde Nast Traveler!), so Lawyer Guy and I entertained ourselves with games of "Prostitute or Just Waiting For a Ride For Over Three Hours?" on our walks back to the hotel at night. (And another note: prosties in Denmark certainly cover up more than their North American counterparts. I've seen whores on Tenth Ave--from the safety of a cab--in the dead of winter wearing miniskirts and heels, but these gals were in jeans and boots.) Third, when we were shown to our room that first morning THERE WAS A CHILD'S CRIB SET UP NEXT TO THE BED. Awesome. Thanks for the reminder, Denmark. They took it out in a hurry.

Okay, so despite the driving rain and gale-force winds and our jetlag, we went out to dinner at a fabulous restaurant around the corner from our hotel, Cofoco. Probably the best meal we had our entire time there. It reminded me of our favorite NYC restaurants in its trendiness and yet lack of pretension, and the food was exceptional (part of the New Danish movement that uses local, seasonal Scandinavian ingredients in inventive ways). It was awesome. Worth getting wet and walking past the "All-Naked Arousing Sex Show" twice.

The next day was still overcast, but we headed about three hours north of Copenhagen (by train) to Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, to visit K, my family's former exchange student. We had a wonderful, authentic Danish Sunday lunch and we got to spend time with my Danish sister's kids, these total cherubs:

Incidentally, her home is like a parody of clean Danish modern design, all light, open spaces and (authentic original) midcentury minimalist furniture. To wit:

I could not believe two children under the age of five lived here. There was not a toy on the ground or a single piece of clutter, not even in the bathroom or the children's bedroom.

After a wonderful lunch and a walk down by the sea (which they have a view of though that giant window), Lawyer Guy and I took the train back to Copenhagen for cocktails and dinner reservations at Nimb, a fancy-shmancy hotel in Tivoli Gardens. Then we walked around Tivoli at night, which is a beautiful, whimsical amusement park in the center of the city. Here's the exterior of Nimb seen from the park to give you a sense of what it looks like in the dark:

The whole park is lit like that, with Chinese lanterns hanging in the trees and lights on all the roller coasters. It's quite a sight. We lingered there eating treats and walking around until about midnight, when we went back to our hotel, a short walk away.

We started off the next morning right, with this for breakfast:

Those pastries were utterly insane. We then walked (and walked and walked) the calories off, visiting Stroget, the long pedestrian shopping street through the center of town, and some cool women's clothing shops that the New York Times travel section had recently recommended. I got an adorable tunic top and pink cheetah print winter hat with pompom! (And I'll talk more about shopping in Stockholm, but I just want to say that the prices in both cities were SO reasonable. Things that I'd expect to see priced around $300-$400 at places like Scoop and Searle in NYC were $100-$200 there. This note is mainly for Sienna, who I think will appreciate this information).

After shopping, we went on a canal tour of the city and then walked up to Rosenborg Palace, a gorgeous seventeenth century moated castle in the middle of a lovely and peaceful park. We ate a crazy-good lunch in the park:

(Yes, I take pictures of food. My favorite thing about going on vacation is eating, so I want to keep my delightful gustatory memories fresh. And the big hunt of red meat is mine, all mine!)

We walked the length of our city back to the hotel and rested for an hour or so before changing for dinner. I put on my charming new tunic, bought that morning. But before dinner, we went back to Tivoli to go on some rides, which had already closed the previous night by the time we finished dinner. I am not a daredevil, to say the least. This ferris wheel was about as scary as I was willing to get:

It gave us an incredible view of the park and the city. Later, there were some bumper boats that I did a piss poor job of steering, much to Lawyer Guy's amusement:

I live dangerously.

We finished up the night with dinner at an excellent Thai restaurant near our hotel and then glasses of wine in the hotel's pleasant and private back courtyard. Then it was off to bed in anticipation of an early rising the next morning for our train ride to Stockholm--which must wait for another post, as this one is too long already.