Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Kind of Intimacy

The relationship between a mother and child is one of intense physical intimacy. In a way, that intimacy is a mirror image and counterpart to the intimacy of lovers that (well, aside from the doctors and the needles and the tubes and gizmos, I mean, in an idealized, blurry-edged fantasy world where fertile people live) brings the child into being.

Where lovers start as strangers and gradually discover each other, at times merging into a single being, the child and mother start as a single entity and slowly become physically and emotionally separate. And in both relationships, there is an unbridled delight in one's own and the other's physical being. Nowhere else in life can you revel in and explore another's body with such abandon, tracing each curve of the earlobe, nibbling on fingers and knees, caressing tummies and napes of necks.

Breastfeeding has been an absolute revelation for me. It's incredible that it happens at all, more so when you think about all the complex processes that surround that one simple act. Somehow, my body knows exactly what type of milk to produce, how much of it, and when. Gabby's sucking not only satisfies her hunger, it releases hormones that shrink my uterus back to its normal size (and make us both happy and sleepy). According to some promising new research, breastmilk may even have curative effects for people suffering from HIV and cancer.

And even crazier is how much I love feeding her this way. I love getting all snuggled up with her, skin to skin, having that connection and sharing the flood of hormones and responses. It's our own special little world, where we still share physical space and an intimate bond.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Miracles Happen

Gabriella Elizabeth Hislast, born December 23, 2007. 6 lbs, 11 oz, 19 inches long. I never knew I could feel this way about anyone. She's a dream come true.

Friday, December 21, 2007

D-Day

It's today. Today is Pebbles' due date. Not that she seems much interested in that fact. She's doing pretty much the same thing she's been doing for weeks and weeks -- splashing around in her amniotic spa, practicing breathing (seriously -- I had no idea that they do that until I saw it on the ultrasound), and kicking around.

Overall, it's been a wonderful pregnancy. I feel so honored to have been able to carry this little baby so close, so safe and tucked up inside me. I'm excited to see her, to look at her beautiful little face and hear her yowl and taste her tiny little toes, but there's a part of me that doesn't want to be separated from her just yet.

I think I'm also still terrified of the impending c-section. We found out a few weeks ago that our little girl is breech, and in typical Binky fashion I attacked the problem on all fronts. Two acupuncturists, a chiropractor, a hypnotherapist and three physicians all performed their version of the Magic Ugga Bugga Dance, and all were equally unsuccessful in persuading my little princess to flip over.

We did our homework as well: Acupuncture - The Home Game involved burning pea-sized blobs of moxa on my little toes. And then there was the Waterboarding. That entailed getting me upside down on an ironing board propped against the couch, with a bag of frozen peas right on top of Pebbles' head and a heating pad, soft music, and the soothing voice of her daddy down where we wanted her head to be.*

All for naught. The little peanut's butt remains firmly wedged in my pelvis. Hence, the c-section. We're giving her until the 26th to start the process on her own. If she's not out by then, we're going in after her.












*The Attorney General has refused to opine whether this practice constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions. However, he stated that if it is, in fact, occurring, then it is definitionally Not Torture. So you can all rest easy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Will You Stay In our Lovers' Story?



My due date is two months from today.





Two months. On the one hand, I can't believe we have to wait another two months to meet our little girl. And besides, I'm already so huge I have no idea where her growing body can possibly expand -- my esophagus? Hollow out a leg? The real estate is getting pretty tight around here.



On the other hand, though, it seems like this pregnancy started moving really fast at a certain point. I'm not sure when that was. I swear I was paying attention.


Two more months to prepare, physically and emotionally, for this new little person who will change our lives forever. It's really real now. We're still scared that something will go wrong, but the closer we get, the more we think that our little Pebbles is actually going to come and live with us.


Atomic played this song for me the other night -- Kooks, by David Bowie. Bowie wrote it after the birth of his son. It's the perfect love song for Pebbles:


Will you stay in our Lovers' Story
If you stay you won't be sorry
'Cause we believe in you
Soon you'll grow so take a chance
With a couple of Kooks
Hung up on romancing

We bought a lot of things to keep you warm and dry
And a funny old crib on which the paint won't dry
I bought you a pair of shoes
A trumpet you can blow
And a book of rules
On what to say to people when they pick on you
'Cause if you stay with us you're gonna be pretty Kooky too

Will you stay in my Lovers' Story
If you stay you won't be sorry
'Cause we believe in you
Soon you'll grow so take a chance
With a couple of Kooks
Hung up on romancing
And if you ever have to go to school
Remember how they messed up this old fool
Don't pick fights with the bullies or the cads
'Cause I'm not much cop at punching other people's Dads
And if the homework brings you down
Then we'll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown

Will you stay in our Lovers' Story
If you stay you won't be sorry
'Cause we believe in you
Soon you'll grow so take a chance
With a couple of Kooks
Hung up on romancing

Will you stay


As right and good as this song is for us and our child, there's another couple, friends of ours, for whom it is a million times more so. They're struggling right now, but when they do finally get their baby, I think we'll have to record a special version of it for him/her.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ordinary Bliss


I realize I've slowed down quite a bit on the blogging.


On the one hand, I don't want to peter out so fast. What's going on is pretty interesting . . . to me. It's just not exactly noteworthy or epiphany-inspiring. Yeah, I had my gestational diabetes test, and I passed. Hooray. I gained eleven pounds one month and 0.2 the next. I had a cold. I had a shower. The shower was nice. The cold, not so much. I'm thirty weeks along and, knock wood, all looks pretty good. We found a doula whom we adore, and we're looking forward to planning for the birth. The cat's getting chemo and is back to her old crazy self. Atomic's rewiring the house and moving furniture. I'm making curtains. We've got lots of gear in the house, and lots of tiny pastel pink outfits, despite my ever-growing loathing of pastels.


I don't know if I'll eventually become a mommy blogger. It seems there's already quite a bit of information and opinions about mommyhood in the blogosphere, and I don't know that I've got anything significant to add.


Maybe I'll rediscover the intensity if/when we try for the deuce.


Or maybe I'll just get inspired again once Pebbles arrives.


Or maybe Pebbles will be so all-consuming that I will forget I own a computer.


For now, I think I will continue to post sporadically, when the mood strikes, or when something significant occurs. I just don't know that I will ever again feel like a fevered Crusader seeking the Holy Grail. I mean, don't get me wrong, the Grail is super nice and well worth the pursuit. It's just that, well, "Sir Galahad Sitteth Around At Home With His Wife Admiring The Nice Grail" wasn't exactly a best-seller, was it?


Monday, September 17, 2007

Apples And Honey




I've written before about how much I love celebrating new beginnings. Last Thursday was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.


It feels very appropriate to me that the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Days of Awe. It is a time of reflection and atonement, and, as I prefer to think of it in my more secular way, a time of healing. This is the time when God decides whose name gets written in the book of life for the coming year -- who lives, who dies, and who is born.


This year, the High Holy Days coincide with the beginning of my third trimester. I look back in wonder, amazed that we've gotten this far. Whatever one may call the Divine, the Life Force, the Universe, I am in awe. A year ago, we were despairing of ever having a child. Now, I want to fall to my knees in gratitude each time I feel my baby move.


It is also a time of healing for me. I had a somewhat scary episode last week, right on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, that underscored for me just how much healing has taken place. I was having an extremely stressful day at work, and on such days it's not unusual for me to have a couple of Braxton Hicks contractions late in the afternoon. But last Wednesday, they got really bad. I had three in rapid succession, and an hour and a half later another two. I got scared and called labor and delivery at the hospital, and they told me to come in to get checked, just to make sure.


I was terrified on my way in. I started crying and begging the universe to let my child be ok. I didn't want to think about her not making it after coming so far. But even though I was melting down, I felt a calmness at my core. I knew, I can't tell you how but I knew, that she'd be ok.


By the time Atomic met me at the hospital, I was feeling better. They strapped me to a monitor, did a quick ultrasound and checked my cervix. It was all ok. The very kind doctor who examined me was very reassuring.


Maybe I wouldn't have been scared at all had it not been for our history. But something about the experience made me realize how long it's been since I've dwelled in the Land of Fear.


I know I won't ever forget what it feels like to struggle, to mourn, to worry. But this baby, this wonderful, awe-inspiring being growing steadfastly inside my body, is healing me.


And it looks, God-willing, like there will be a new name in the Book of Life this year.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Lemonade Stand

This may have been our last trip out to the desert for a while. It was wonderful and awful, exhausting, dusty, life-affirming, friendship-cementing and friendship-destroying. In short, it was Burning Man.


I did something there that I've never done before. I actually created and displayed a piece of art. I took the pain, heartache, challenges, joys, and weirdness of the whole infertility experience and turned it into . . . a thing. A piece of art that I called "Second Coming." Each of the baby carriages has a bottle of fertility meds in it, and the trees are made from syringes.

Photos below.






Photos courtesy of Eric Slade

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Monkey


Long before there was a Pebbles, long before I met Atomic, long before I lived here, I had Max. She's been my furry, four-footed, rambunctious little friend for twelve years.


When Atomic and I moved in together, we changed her name to Monkey because his cat was also named Max. So now we have Monkey and BooBoo, and we love them both.


I was looking forward with both joy and trepidation to the cats' reaction to Pebbles' arrival. Would the critters be curious? Depressed? Resentful? Oblivious? Would BooBoo pee on the baby like he pees on anything else placed on the floor? Would Monkey jump on her like she jumps up on every person she meets? Would we wake up and find Monkey in the crib?


In the meanwhile I've been enjoying snuggling up with one or the other of them. I especially love it when they rest their little heads on my tummy and purr. I imagine Pebbles likes that.


But now, now we're just hoping that Monkey is still here when Pebbles arrives.


Monkey stopped eating last week. After three days, we took her to the vet. They ran some tests and sent her home. The following night, after she still hadn't touched food or water, we brought her back, and they admitted her. A biopsy revealed that she has lymphoma. Kitty cancer. They removed about four inches of her intestine and finally released her Thursday night.


She's still in a lot of pain, and has to be fed through a tube three times a day until she eats on her own again. She's a trooper, though. Apparently the chances (damn statistics again!) are about 30% that she'll go into a full remission with chemotherapy, in which case she might be with us for another couple of years. If not, well, we'll have to enjoy all of the moments we have left with her.
I would really love for her to meet the baby, for the baby to have some memories of her. I know that's not terribly likely at this point, but even if the only memory that Pebbles has of Monkey is the distant sense memory of being lulled to sleep by purring while still in utero, that will be enough.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Old and New


I turned 40 this past week.


Forty. That's old enough to be covered by the laws prohibiting age discrimination, a tidbit I've been giggling over for a week now. When my mother was 40, I was starting college.


And here I am, late bloomer indeed, soon to enter the brave new world of motherhood. My life is about to change radically, which is why I am so glad that so much of it is solid and stable and (I hope) not likely to change much at all.


I've got a nice house and an established career, and that helps. But even more importantly, I've got relationships that have stood the test of time. This baby is going to be born into a crazy but loving extended family comprising people who are related by blood and by love, people whose hope and support really brought her into existence.


We had a party last night at a little Italian restaurant where Atomic and I have been regulars for the last several years. Twenty-some loved ones, including my mom, who came all the way from Arizona, and a friend I've known for more than half my life. They all came out to celebrate what will probably be the last "adult" event in my life for a while (as another friend and mother of a two-year-old reminded me). These friends, who are at all different stages of their own lives, have taught me so much about the world and about who I am. And every one of them has cried with us, hoped with us, and celebrated with us throughout our journey.


Last night, I was blown away by how much these people care about me. And as much as they love me, I suspect they already love my daughter even more. Which seems to me exactly as it should be. Everything I have in my life, everything I've ever wanted for myself, I want her to have even more.


One of my friends gave me a sparkly headband for myself and a little tiara for the wee one when she arrives. That gift summed up where I am right now. I know I still have much that I want to achieve in my life, but right now I'm happily passing the torch, passing the attention, and I'm ready to focus on my little girl.


Oh, and the nickname "Flipper" has now officially been set aside. The Assembly of Grandmothers, Godmothers, and Other Interested Parties ("AGGOIP") has decreed that henceforth our child shall be known as "Pebbles."


Here's to a happy, full life for you, Pebbles. You are already so loved.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Baby-Industrial Complex


My dear friends and family, I am proud to present what may be my first NPP (Normal Pregnant Person) post:



What a racket.


First, you blow a nice chunk of change on fertility treatments. Then, once you've finally got the coveted bun in the proverbial oven, the marketing really begins.


Now, I have no problem with much of the baby gear on the market. A lot of it might actually be useful, if not strictly necessary. And I am, I totally admit, having fun compiling lists and surfing various baby sites. I'm reveling in it, in fact. Soft, cute baby things make me positively oogy, and I can't wait to decorate Flipper's room and buy her eensy beensy hats and shirts and things with monkeys and dinosaurs on them.


Today, however, I got a little reminder not to take things too far.


I was passing by a verrrrrry high end baby store. The kind of place with maybe a hundred items total in the whole store, all magnificently displayed, and, judging from the price, woven from pure gossamer by highly paid, well educated, unionized elves.


I couldn't resist. I went in.


The adorable onesie with the embroidered pig on the front? Forty-eight dollars. I think my eyes might actually have made a "sproing!" noise as they popped out at that price tag. Forty-eight smackeroos for a onesie with a friggin' pig on it.


I casually sauntered toward the exit, passing on the way the two ladies with the cherub-faced toddler in a stroller. They'd been merrily cooing over dresses for the child, holding them up to her face to see if they went well with her skin tone (?!), apparently unfazed by the hefty prices. As I passed, one of the ladies said, "Honey, stop picking your nose."


Ah, yes. You can dress her up in fancy dresses, but in the end, a baby is still a baby. And spit-up on a forty-eight dollar onesie is just as gross as spit-up on a five dollar onesie.


I'm sure I will succumb to the temptation now and again and spend way too much on stuff for my daughter. But in that, as in anything, balance and perspective are very good things.


Friday, July 27, 2007

These Are The Days


It's been very circle-of-life around here lately. Friends getting good news. Other friends mourning losses.




Births, deaths. Little bits of pure joy bobbing around in sadness.




It seems like lots of people around me are suddenly dealing with illness and death. I've also been saddened, heartbroken, over a friend's miscarriage, wishing I could make it not have happened. Other people I care about deeply are slogging through the marsh of infertility, poking themselves with needles, sometimes hopeful, sometimes despairing, often just frustrated as hell that the plumbing just ain't workin'.




I spent a lot of time over the past two years asking, "why me?" Why did I get stuck with the lousy eggs, the dismal odds, the pregnancies that didn't stick? And now I ask myself, "why me?" Why do I have such a wonderful family, such loving friends, a good career, a loving husband, a great life . . . and a baby on the way? It's dizzying, really. What a reminder of the impermanence of everything.


Right now, I rejoice in knowing that there is a genetically normal baby girl flipping and flopping around in there, at the same time I grieve with my friends over their losses, and at the same time I fear another loss in the future. It's a lot to keep in your heart all at once. I'm doing my best to let it all be, to let go of needing things to be a certain way.


Today I am happy and sad and fearful and hopeful.


So be it.




Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our Little Alien



Yeah, that's my daughter. She looks like an alien. A super cute alien, to be sure, but gee whiz, kiddo. At one point during the ultrasound, I thought she was sucking her thumb. Nope, said the u/s tech, "She just poked herself in the eye."








That's my girl! Coordinated, like your mama. Now, wave hello to all your friends in the internets:








Wednesday, July 18, 2007

46XX


No, wiseasses, that's not my new dress size. That's our baby's karyotype.


Normalville shall soon have a new resident. Our daughter.


Yup, you read that right. Daughter. As in, little girl.


Apparently my maternal instinct is not worth shit. I'll have to work on that. In the meanwhile, I'm floating ten feet above the ground. Our baby is healthy. She has the right number of chromosomes in all the right places with bright shiny faces. And the nurse called about five minutes after my last post. Bless you, Kaiser Permanente.


Flipper, my sweet little girl, I'm so sorry I got your gender pronoun wrong for a while there. I hope you won't be psychologically damaged by my thinking you were a boy. Although you should feel free to include this in your list of grievances when you're an angsty teen. I'm just so glad you're healthy. Your dad and I are over the moon, and all your friends in the internets and elsewhere are doing happy little dances right now.

Breast Cancer Awareness Week

. . . is not for another two months. I meant to post about this, oh, a while ago when I first saw it, but I've been busy doing whatever it is that takes up my time these days. So I decided to compromise and post it apropos of absolutely nothing. It's just funny.



I just want you all to read Julie's hilarious and educational take on mammograms on her blog, A Little Pregnant. Now, don't you feel much, much better about mammograms?

Good.

Now go make an appointment to get one, and don't forget your little plastic cow.

@(*#$ing Snorkelwacker!

*sigh*



I was hoping Kaiser would have called by now. Yes, they told me it would take two weeks to get the amnio results, but the nurse said that sometimes they come back a couple of days early. So now I've got myself tied up in knots, hoping that there's nothing wrong, hoping that they aren't just taking extra time to confirm bad news before they tell me.



Please, please, little baby. Please be ok. Please have all your chromosomes, and not too many, and all the DNA bits in the right places with bright shiny faces. We want you SO badly. Your grandmas and grandpas are beside themselves with anticipation. Your mom and dad think about you every minute. You have scores of fairy godmothers, both in and out of the computer, who are pulling for you and want you to be healthy.

Please be ok.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Out Of The Closet

It occurs to me that perhaps one reason the Snorkelwacker seemed so fearsome is that I was in the closet with him.

Moi, in the closet about anything?

Yes, odd as it may seem, although I have revealed the intimate details of my reproductive health here on the interweb for all the world to see, I've been a bit shy about sharing certain, ahem, information with the people I see face to face every day. Which means that now that my belly is bulging, I'm getting a lot of strange and inquisitive looks. Eyebrows-meeting-hairlines types of looks.

A couple of days ago, I was getting ready to appear at an administrative hearing. The court reporter, whom I see at these things every couple of weeks, leaned over the table and asked,
"Are you expecting?"


What I heard was "Were you expecting . . . .?" And so I waited her to finish her sentence: "Are you expecting . . . . this hearing to take a long time?" Or, "Are you expecting . . . . to call a lot of witnesses?"

But no. She was asking whether I am expecting. As in, is that a fetus under your dress or are you just happy to see me?

I blushed. I stammered. I smiled and said, "Why, yes!"

"Congratulations!" she said.

And then I felt compelled to pour one for my homies. "It was a long road getting here," I said. "We lost a couple along the way."

Sympathetic and slightly confused look.

I'm not sure why, but I feel the need to say something like that every time someone congratulates me on this pregnancy. I think it's because the infertility part still hurts, and I want it to be more visible both for myself and for those still going through it, and because however delighted I am about this miraculous little one, it will not erase the pain of what it took to get here, or the fear that settles permanently in the heart of an infertile woman.

Healing is definitely possible. But not forgetting.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Snorkelwacker Returned To Closet



Thank you, dear friends, for helping me beat the Snorkelwacker back into the closet.




I had the amnio today. I was, much to my surprise, calm and centered going in. Okay, I'll be honest. I wasn't the spastic nervous wreck I expected to be, so I considered myself calm and centered in comparison.




Kaiser treated me so well. A nurse came out, went through the forms with me, then led us back to the amnio room. The doctor was awesome, friendly, reassuring, and explained everything she did before she did it. The ultrasound tech was sweet and oohed and aawed at our "perfect" baby. And the nurse held my feet and rubbed my ankles during the amnio, which, while not exactly a day at the spa, did not suck nearly as much as I thought. It was really not bad at ALL, and whatever discomfort there was paled in comparison to our joy at seeing our gorgeous baby.




All of Flipper's measurements look good. He was as wiggly as ever, and had the good sense to scoot out of the way of the needle. (Watch out: here's where I start bragging about how smart my child is).




And look at the punim on this kid!








Monday, July 2, 2007

Cleaning Out My Anxiety Closet


Despite all the happiness and tra la la, this is going to be a rough couple of weeks. My amnio is on Thursday, and we'll get the results two weeks after that.




I was fine, fine I tell ya, until last night when, out of nowhere, the Giant Purple Snorkelwacker emerged from my anxiety closet and started gnawing on my leg. The Snorkelwacker, despite his great size, has amazing stealth capability, so he was able to sneak up on me without my seeing him. And once he has his fangs sunk in, he's really hard to shake.




However bizarre it may seem for me to be discussing characters from a long-defunct comic strip in connection with my psychological state, it really helps me to manage my anxieties by turning them into outrageous characters. Otherwise, I start to believe the things they tell me. Horrible, horrible things.




Another thing that would help is for all of my friends and family to grab sticks and rolled up newspapers and give the Snorkelwacker a big smack across the snout, thereby sending him safely back to my anxiety closet, where he can frolic with the dust bunnies and the I'm-Not-Good-Enough monsters to his heart's content.


Will you do that for me, please?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

One, Two, Three . . .

Oh, pardon me. I was just sitting around counting my blessings. I hope I’m not getting too tiresome with these admittedly Pollyanna-ish ramblings about how my life is JUST PERFECT now that I’m finally pregnant. There’s still plenty of suckishness in the world, and even if I were tempted to forget that for one minute, Atomic (who has a social conscience that would put your average do-gooder humanitarian to shame) wouldn’t let me.

These days, though, it’s nice just to let myself enjoy what’s going on right now. I’m grateful that I have this. I don’t know how it will turn out, so I’m just enjoying it day by day.

I had a real moment yesterday. I came home from work and slipped on some comfy drawstring pants. I looked in the mirror, and there, staring back at me, was this totally cute pregnant lady! Ok, sure, so maybe I was sticking my belly out just a little tiny bit, and perhaps to a casual observer it may just seem like I've been letting myself go, and admittedly at this point there's way more chocolate milk and root beer floats in that cute little tummy than baby, but still.

I have a little bump.

WHEEEEE!!!! I have a bump!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dispatch From Normalville


Our stay in Normalville continues. It's very normal here. So normal, in fact, that I struggle to come up with something interesting to write about.


I'm getting pudgy.


My tummy is pooching out in a way it never has before.


I can feel the edge of my uterus.


I look like a bag lady because the only clothes I can wear are my loosest, baggiest, fat girl clothes and even they don't fit me right, which I find kind of fun.


I've pretty much stopped feeling queasy all the time, but I still get fatigued.


I eat a LOT of Jello.


Despite my utter narcissistic fascination with my body right now, sometimes I forget, for a split second, that I've got a passenger on board. And then I remember, and I have to suppress the urge to giggle, which is a really inappropriate thing to do when one is trying a case or in the middle of an intense labor negotiation.


Tee hee. I said "labor negotiation."


See what I mean? Normalville. What a freakin' weird place.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Refugee In Normalville

As I near the end of the first trimester, it is dawning on me that I may, in fact, have a baby come December. It is entirely possible that no horrible things will occur, that I will not be confined to a madhouse for a "long rest," that there will actually be a healthy, breathing human being emerging from my body in, oh, a little more than six months.

How is that possible?

If I do cross over into Normalville, will the residents there suspect that I'm a refugee from Heartbreak Town, across the tracks? Will my papers be in order? Will the Normalville Border Patrol come and knock on my door in the middle of the night to drag me back?

Or will I retreat into my little Normalville life and join the Normalville PTA and forget what it was like to live in Heartbreak Town? Will I stop calling my friends who still live there? If I do visit Heartbreak Town to see my old friends, will they throw tomatoes at me and slash my tires?

I'm not sure where I belong right now, emotionally. Even if I get my green card and settle down in Normalville permanently, I think I'll always have some mannerism, some accent, that identifies me as a refugee.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Do You Know My Flipper?

No? You haven't met our little Flipper?



Here he* is:
I'm about a week past the point where I miscarried the first pregnancy, and as I result I've been even more of a raging lunatic than usual this past week. I'm not being sarcastic at all when I say that having an insane work schedule actually helped. It kept my mind off what I was sure was impending doom.




Despite the awful memories, I had finally convinced Atomic that we should go back to the nurse practitioner we were seeing before I had the first miscarriage. (I'll call her Nurse Troi, for reasons my geek friends will appreciate). Finally exercising a bit of rationality, I argued that seeing Nurse Troi again would not jinx the baby, and that if heaven forbid we did get bad news, it would be better to hear it from someone we knew and trusted. Still, I wasn't all that eager to go myself.




I finally sucked it up and went in for my first official, post-RE, prenatal visit. I started hyperventilating and sweating, oh, about four hours before our 9am appointment this morning. I dry heaved for the first time in a week. I think I may also have been a wee bit curt with my beloved husband, and, well, let's just say I'm glad that cats have short memories.




We went into the little room and I donned the ceremonial Blue Paper Gown. Atomic and I held hands and stared, zombie-like, at the ultrasound machine. When Nurse Troi finally came in, she said, "well, let's start off with the ultrasound and we can discuss everything else later."




I dug permanent nail marks into Atomic's hand. I closed my eyes.




"Can you see a heartbeat?"




"Bahahahahahahahahaha!!!"




(They're LAUGHING? Wha. . .)




I opened my eyes and, well, FORGET about the heartbeat, our little fetus was flipping and flopping around like a little fish. Squirming and wiggling all over the place. I've never seen anything like it in my life.




I've never seen anything quite so beautiful.




And neither of us could stop crying. We cried even harder when Nurse Troi told us our baby was just the right size, that I could stop taking prometrium because the placenta was "perfectly formed," and that everything looked just wonderful.




Of course, we're still scared and very conscious of all the things that could go wrong.




But man! You shoulda seen that kid move! It makes a mama proud, I tell you.









*Yes, I used the masculine pronoun. No, we don't know if we're having a boy. But for some reason, I've taken to calling him a him. If I'm wrong, I'm sure she'll forgive me. After some therapy.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Waiting For . . . Binky To Update Her Blog

My apologies for the late posting. Blogspot has been an unkind master today.


The great goddess Mel at Stirrup Queens has organized the Barren Bitches Book Brigade, in which those of us who struggle with fertility issues can chit-chat about books on relevant topics.

This round's book is the magnificent Peggy Orenstein's Waiting For Daisy. If you haven't read it, by all means, get yourself a copy. If you've gone through this, it will feel like curling up on the couch with a soulmate. If you haven't gone through this, it will help you understand those who have.

Below are some questions generated by the BBBB and my responses:

1. We have all had our own experience with infertility. Whether it was from IVF, IUI, miscarriages, or other forms we have all been there. How do you feel Peggy's story compares to yours?

Hoo boy. I would bet we've sat in the same chairs in the same waiting rooms at different times. I gave the same nickname to the same irascible nurse. Saw the same acupuncturist and stared up at the same fake flowers and wondered about the combs and drank the mud and had many of the same thoughts.

There were also many differences, and I still have no idea how my story is going to turn out. But there is enormous comfort in knowing that she went through so much, that it turned out so well for her, and that she still had the energy to write that book for the rest of us.

2. On page 152, the author writes of considering her 3 miscarriages differently - as two miscarriages and one molar pregnancy. She explains that she does that because she doesn't blame herself for the molar pregnancy (caused by sperm abnormality) like she blames herself and feels guilty for the other miscarriages. In your fertility life, do you categorize different incidences like she does? In your heart, do you feel more or less guilty depending upon whose "fault" it was? Is that a way of coping?

I've actually felt a lot of ambivalence over stating that I've had three miscarriages, instead of one miscarriage and two chemical pregnancies. For me, it wasn't a matter of assigning blame -- my scrambled eggs are likely at the root of all our problems -- but of feeling entitled to the extra care, and the extra sympathy, that came with those losses. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense. It wouldn't have hurt any less if those cycles were just negatives. (In fact, it might have hurt more).

My reaction may say something about how our society deals with infertility and miscarriage. Many people still have no idea how to deal with or express sympathy toward someone who has had a miscarriage. But infertility? Fuggedaboudit. The multibillion dollar fertility-industrial complex notwithstanding, it's totally invisible.

3. In the epilogue, Orenstein struggles with what might be called the mythology of infertility: the messages and assumptions that it's all worth it in the end; that it's a matter of luck (the chapter's title is "Meditations on Luck"); that everything has worked out for the best; that adoption might be an emotional/spiritual cure for infertility; that some couples may be too quick to seek medical assistance; that she may have waited too long to begin trying to conceive; and, as another woman told her earlier in her journey, that "the pain goes away." Her husband warns her to not become a revisionist, but she acknowledges that becoming a mother has been a "surprisingly redemptive" experience and seems to not entirely reject the above messages. Describe how you feel about the presence of this mythology, both in Orenstein's epilogue and in your own life. How has it affected the way you tell your story, on your blog or elsewhere, and how you interpret others' stories? To what extent have you revised or even rewritten your own story of infertility? Is it inevitable, perhaps even necessary, to do so?

I am revising my story every minute. Certainly this pregnancy has caused a sea change in my feelings about the journey. I don't think it's possible to avoid it. That's kind of why I blog. I don't want to lose touch with how it felt, each step of the way, in the moment.

4. When you received your IF diagnosis, did you feel as if you were being punished or it was simply a case of dumb luck?

Perhaps it was the Catholic upbringing kicking in, but I still feel sometimes like infertility was my punishment from the universe for spending two decades building a career, having a wild, fun life, and trying to forge my own path. I recognize (after fifteen years of therapy) that it doesn't work that way, and that during that time I was also working my way back to mental health after a really big trauma and years of PTSD. Still, there are so many what ifs.

Of course, the biggest what if is, "What if I'd gotten married/had a child earlier and never met Atomic?" Sure, I wish I'd met him before I was dangling over the fertility cliff, but I met him, and my life is much better for it. He is the father of my children, however long we have to struggle to have them.

****

There you have it. Binky's literary wit & wisdom.

Here's what my friends in the computer have to say about the book. Please follow the links and go check them out.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Little Red 'Saurus Socks

For the past two and a half weeks, Atomic and I have been on vacation. It was a lovely, restful, friends-and-family-filled time, first with Atomic's brother & sister-in-law and their two beautiful kids, then a little jaunt to the town where Atomic grew up, and then a crazy festival of artists, culture jammers, and freaks in the middle of nowhere.



That's why I haven't posted much lately. Too much living going on, I guess. But I did come back with a few wonderful stories to tell you.



Here's my favorite:



A couple of our dear friends who attended the event with us are really into dinosaurs. They're not just into dinosaurs; they have a whole 'saurus avatar thing going on. And meticulously hand sewn 'saurus outfits and accessories. No, that's not weird. Or, it wouldn't be if you knew them. It's playful and creative and adds to the sum total of joy in the world. Plus, their saurusy-ness manifests itself in a context of people doing all kinds of creative, bizarre stuff, making art you can touch and interact with and generally letting their freak flags fly. It's a community that has brought much silliness and delight into my life, and I love my 'saurus friends with all my heart.



During this event I was feeling pretty tired and out of it, and a little sad that I didn't have the stamina to really play. One night, my Orange 'Saurus friend came a-knocking on the door of our RV, along with her delightfully goofy Boyfriend-in-Sheep's-Clothing. They were grinning great big grins and giggling, and they said, "We have something for you!"



They handed me a little cellophane package, tied with a bow. Inside was the sweetest little pair of red dinosaur socks.



I burst into tears. "It's too soon! We don't even know if this is going to happen. If something goes wrong the sight of these will break my heart a million times over. I can't . . . I. . . I. . ."



I looked up. They were still grinning.



Another friend, of a different species related to the 'sauruses, said, "This is your talisman. Put it in a safe place."



Then Atomic said, "One way or another, we're going to have a baby eventually. Whether it's this one or some other one, we will have a little red 'saurus in little red 'saurus socks."



I picked up the 'saurus socks again. They're so small. And soft. And they have claws and little foot pads on the bottom. And I thought about our little red 'saurus and the soft, chubby feet that will fill those socks some day.



And then I grinned, too. Still scared, of course, but also joyful, and hopeful.

I can't wait to meet our 'saurus.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while. You'd think that being on vacation would leave me loads of time to come up with clever, entertaining, thought-provoking posts. But nah. Instead, a steady round of sleeping, puking, eating, and sitting around doing nothing has curdled my brain.

Since my own gray matter is emitting nothing more than a persistent "bzzzzzzz," I urge you all to read the words of someone who actually has something interesting and profound to say: Michele St. Martin of the Minnesota Women's Press.

Oh, and here's the best part -- I didn't even find this on my own. Gerkat, I owe you an ice cream.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

For The Rest Of Us, On Mother's Day


I know I'm not saying anything revolutionary by acknowledging that the inescapable marketing juggernaut of Mother's Day is very hard on those of us for whom motherhood has eluded our grasp, despite our yearning, our grief, our medical interventions and our willingness to undergo any torture or indignity.


I believe, because it comforts me to do so, that we become mothers at the moment we decide to have children, even if our children take a long time and a tortuous route to arrive in our arms. If injecting yourself with hormones, emptying the bank account to pay for fertility treatments, sobbing over each failed cycle, and generally putting your body and soul on a slab for the mere idea of a child doesn't make you a mother, I don't know what does.


And so, for those of you who got no flowers or cards today, those whose empty arms ached more than usual today, those who asked the universe "why me?" for the millionth time today, I honor you, on Mother's Day, for all that you have done and all that you are willing to do.


May your children find their way to you and bring you happiness and healing.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Breath of Air, A Moment of Joy

Fate kept putting kind people in our path today. Our ultrasound tech, a delightful, funny woman who was just finishing an internship, could not have been more wonderful to us. Within seconds of meeting, we had bonded over our respective miscarriages. A moment later, she smiled broadly and said, "I've got good news! There's a heartbeat!"

Atomic let out a breath that sounded like he'd been holding it for hours.

I got teary, and said, "thank you, thank you, thank you" over and over again.

Our little one looks, in the words of both the ultrasound folks and Dr. Reallynice, "perfect." The heart rate was around 160, and the wee one measured 7 weeks, 3 days (on average -- they took several measurements, which ranged from 7w2d to 7w4d).

Everything looks just great in there, including my ovaries, which have returned to a more or less normal size. We have now "graduated" from the RE's care, and now I get to go to a normal OB like, well, a normal pregnant person. How weird is that?

Oh, and one funny thing -- there was a sizable corpus luteum on my right side. The gigantic Ricochet follicle was on my left. So maybe we have a Droopalong after all.

And maybe, just maybe, we're going to have a really wonderful Christmas.

Wrassling Serenity


Disclaimer: No, no news yet. This is just me trying to manage my anxiety.


So, I woke up at 4 o'clock this morning thinking about the Serenity Prayer:


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.


Now, I know that this prayer has special meaning for the Friends of Bill W., but since I've yet to see an infertility prayer that makes any sense to me, I'm hoping they won't mind sharing.


Of these, the hardest for me is serenity. The problem with serenity is that you can't just grab ahold of it. You can't wrassle it to the ground and sit on it. You have to yield to it.


And as anyone who has known me for five minutes can attest, I suck at yielding.


Ever true to my birth year -- the Ram -- I tend to deal with obstacles by head-butting them into submission, even if it means I sustain a concussion in the process. That has served me well in litigation, but not so much elsewhere.


Little by little, I am discovering the advantages of yielding -- by letting Atomic take care of me, by sinking deep into shivasana at the end of yoga practice, by letting myself melt into the warm, purring pile of cat fur sprawled next to me on the couch, by letting my friends and family be there for me and cut me slack.


This process, this pregnancy, is a crash course in yielding. Thrashing around isn't going to help matters, whether the news is good or bad. The only way through to serenity is by yielding.


So, I yield. I yield to my fate, to my reality, whatever it may be, to my body's limitations, to whatever lies before us.


I yield.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Report From The Trenches

Ok, so maybe "trenches" is exaggerating a bit. But "Report From The Two Places I Now Frequent The Most: The Bathroom And Bed" seemed a bit unwieldy.

I've either got an embryo doing some furious growing in there, or I've got a nasty case of stomach flu. Note to self: no more pizza before bed. That's all I'll say about that.

We're scheduled for an ultrasound this Thursday. By that point, I'll be 7 weeks, 5 days, give or take, and we should see something, hopefully an embryo of the proper size with a vigorous heartbeat. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

The more I consider my freakout from last Monday, the more I realize I had a classic, textbook PTSD reaction. My shrink tells me that once you've got PTSD, each successive trauma hits you harder. So it makes sense, since I already had PTSD when I had my first miscarriage, that my reaction to that event was as severe as it was. And my reaction on Monday was a classic flashback-type reaction to the trauma of the miscarriage. I couldn't hear, I couldn't see, I interpreted a brow furrowed with concern for me as a message of doom for our baby.

I'm glad I understand that, but I'm not sure that understanding it will help me get through this Thursday's u/s without a meltdown.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Wobbling Back To Center


Everyone says it's early to see a heartbeat.


Sensible Friend, earning her moniker once again, remarked "Well, if it measured 6 weeks and one day, do you think something went horribly wrong in the ten minutes before your appointment? If it's growing, it's ok."


My mom's GP made another brilliant deduction: "The NP saw 'fetal heart movement.' What do you think that was if it wasn't a heartbeat?"


And I still feel crappy, tired, and nauseated.


So I decided that going back to radiology for another ultrasound tomorrow was not worth the stress. If this pregnancy isn't going to work out, we'll know soon enough. I called back and told them we're not coming tomorrow. We'll try again next week. In the meanwhile, I'm going to try to resist the tendency to freak out and assume the worst. In other words, we're still in the game, and this might actually be our baby.


I'm proud of myself for recognizing my reactions and cancelling that appointment. I may get thrown off kilter easily, but I also seem to have inherited a certain Weeble-like quality from my dad. I wobble, but I don't fall down. At least not all the time.

Ambiguity, Or, How To Drive An Infertile Woman Completely Insane

I was looking forward to posting some happy news here after our ultrasound this morning. Several people commented, based on my betas, that maybe I was carrying twins. I confess, the idea of a Ricochet AND a Droopalong thrilled me.

At the very least, I was hoping to say "all is well, good strong heartbeat!"

Sorry to disappoint.

I woke up at 4:30, nervous as hell, and couldn't really bring myself to eat anything. Hence, nausea. Although I took the lack of actual vomiting as a bad sign. Since two of our local highways are broken, we had to take public transportation, which took twice as long as driving and did nothing to quell the waves of nausea (the dude with the nasty BO didn't help matters, either).

We waited half an hour before they called us. There was an infant in the waiting room. I started bawling. I became convinced that it was going to be bad news.

We finally got shown to a room, where we waited some more.

Finally, the NP came in. Not one we'd met before. The ultrasound showed a sac. A big old sac. After some squinting and maneuvering, she managed to get into focus a little blob on the side of the sac. Then she asked, "You're 5 weeks, right?"

"No. Six." (Dammit, something's wrong! Something's wrong! It's too small!)

She finally managed to measure the blob, and it measured 6 weeks, one day, which is more or less exactly where I'm at, gestationally speaking. She said she could see "some fetal heart movement." I said, in full panic mode by this point, "We should be able to see a heartbeat by now!"

She hemmed, she hawed, she furrowed her brow. (I hate brow furrowing. It always means something bad. Something's wrong, I just know it!)

At that point, I started to cry.

The NP said, "Everything looks ok to me, but I can't really see a heartbeat and you should be able to get an answer. Let me check with radiology."

She left. I cried harder. A nurse came by and shooed us back out into the waiting room.

After another eternal wait, the NP poked her head out again. Didn't bring us back in, just kind of shouted across the waiting room, "Radiology is swamped. They'll call you and set something up for tomorrow."

I got up and crossed the room. "Should we be worried?" I asked.

"Everything looks ok to me. They just have better equipment in radiology, so you can get a more definite answer. They'll call you and set something up."

"Okay."

Yes, I know that fetal heartbeats are visible at 6 weeks only about half the time.

Yes, I know that the fetal measurement is a really good sign.

Yes, I know I'm being a neurotic twit.

I just didn't realize how utterly traumatized I still am after losing a pregnancy at 11 weeks and being unable to get past the beta stage for more than a year after that. After being told I am old, my eggs are scrambled, and our chances of a successful pregnancy are slightly less than those of rolling a seven in craps.

I don't know how to relax and enjoy this process. I don't even know how not to freak myself out. I tried yelling, "Calm the fuck down!" at myself, but oddly enough, that seemed to have the opposite effect. Large quantities of bourbon and hitting myself over the head with a 2x4 are, according to the latest medical literature, contraindicated during pregnancy.

So, I guess all I can do is recognize that the next couple of months are going to be traumatic and anxiety ridden, no matter what.

Fasten your seatbelts, my friends. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Upside Of Grief


Since we got the first positive beta results, I've been so aware of the ways in which my previous miscarriages have cast a shadow on this experience. Every time I go to the bathroom (which these days is quite a lot) I'm convinced I'll see blood. I have nightmares about the ultrasound. I have flashbacks to the moment we learned our first baby was gone. I torture myself with statistics and probabilities.


Atomic, too, has been scarred. He panics whenever his cell phone rings. He hovers over me with a worried look on his beautiful face. He broods.


Over the last couple of days, though, I've become more aware of the positive things that our struggles have given us. For one, I know our baby, if this is the one, will never ever have to doubt his or her place in this world or in our hearts.


On a completely different level, our past heartaches have given me the ability to appreciate every single thing about this pregnancy. Yesterday, as I was walking through the financial district, listening to my iPod, I started tearing up for no reason.


No, really, NO REASON.


*Ahem* I may actually be the first person ever to be moved to tears by "Boogie Wonderland."


"I'm irrationally emotional because of all the hormones," I thought. "That's so AWESOME!" And then I cried some more and laughed and a homeless lady looked at me in an I-might-swat-at-imaginary-flies-and-wear-tissue-boxes-on-my-feet-but-you're-NUTS kind of way.


And today. Oh, wow. I had to leave the table during an all-day negotiation session multiple times -- mostly to pee, but once to dry heave. I can honestly say it was the happiest I've ever been with my head in a toilet. I even grabbed my phone to surreptitiously text Atomic:


Me: OMG! Honey, I just dry heaved! Isn't that wonderful?


Atomic: I luv u crazy woman


I wouldn't go so far as to say it was worth the misery, but it sure is nice to find so much joy in this process.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Turning Heartache Into Art

Sometimes, people manage to transform their pain into something beautiful and good.

Sometimes, they help heal the world by letting their heartache transform them and make them more empathetic, softer, more grounded.

And when they come together to create something out of their hurt, the world becomes a better place.

The wonderful folks who run the Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters blog put together a virtual quilt made up of their readers' thoughts and stories on the concept of "waiting." The result made me cry, and I don't think it was just the hormones.

Check it out. And maybe spend some time visiting the blogs of the women who contributed. They're all incredibly thoughtful and inspiring.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baby Steps


Yesterday's beta was a lovely 11,732.


When my favorite nurse called with the news, I fell to my knees in gratitude. There's nothing like a year of horrible news to make you appreciate what is good and right and beautiful in life.


They're going to lay off poking me with needles for now. We're scheduled for an ultrasound one week from today. I'm sure I'll spend plenty of time freaking out between now and then, but for now, for this moment, I am just happy.


Today, I am pregnant. And today that's all I need.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Samsara


We're born, we live for a while, we die.


Lather, rinse, repeat.


Whether you believe in reincarnation in a literal sense, or just meditate now and then about all the little particles of various beings that eventually wind up in that broccoli spear on your plate, you cannot deny that birth and death are inextricably bound together.


That lesson was brought home for me in a very vivid way this week.


First, I found out that two of my friends had died, one of a heart attack at age 45. These were friends I saw only once or twice a year, but their deaths felt like a little bit of joy, and a little bit of air, had been sucked out of the world.


Then my father called and told me that my grandmother passed away. She had been so very ill for so long, completely consumed by dementia, to the point of near catatonia, for years. I felt guilty for not shedding tears over her passing. It had been so long since she had been alive in any meaningful sense, it felt more like a gentle letting go, a peaceful return to the earth.


And today, I learned that two other women I know are pregnant. I confess, little Ricochet notwithstanding, it was very hard to hear. I think it will always be difficult for me to hear about other people's pregnancies, especially those that come easily.


But you have to admit, there is something sublimely symmetrical, something almost mystical, about it. Three deaths. Three new lives under construction.


Death, rebirth.


Lather, rinse, repeat.


By the way, I got the news this morning that my beta HcG level had climbed from 820 on Monday to 3700 as of yesterday. My doubling time is a pretty speedy 1.38 days. They don't call him Ricochet Rabbit for nothin'.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ping! Ping! Ping!

Oh, that Ricochet.

He might just be a keeper.

Yesterday's beta: 820.

My doubling time is 1.56 days.

For those of you keeping score at home, this is very, very good news. Best news we've had in over a year, in fact.

I'm weeping with joy, and still scared to death.

Sensible Friend has decided that I should limit myself to no more than 20 minutes per day of freaking out, and no freaking out around bedtime. We'll see if I can stick to that and spend the rest of my time enjoying the ride.