Wednesday, January 31, 2007


One year ago today, Atomic and I happily trooped into the ob's office, eager to hear the heartbeat of our nearly 11 week fetus. Instead, we learned that there was no heartbeat. An ultrasound showed a perfectly formed, and perfectly still, fetus on the screen. At that moment the sky came crumbling down around our ears. All we could do was clutch each other and sob.

A few days later, Atomic held my wedding ring as they wheeled me into the OR for a D&C. He later told me that the sight of me on the gurney, being wheeled away from him, nearly made his heart stop with fear.

After the miscarriage, we received many loving messages from friends, family, and colleagues. Many people gave me hope that we might conceive again quickly. The first pregnancy primes the pump. Your body knows how to do this now. Only one, in sharing her own miscarriage experience, warned, "You know, it could take a while to get pregnant again. It took us a year." I didn't like hearing that at the time. I wanted a new baby NOW.

I had naive hopes that we would conceive again right away. After a few months of trying, I downgraded my hopes to a pregnancy before my original due date. That day came and went, along with my 39th birthday.

We found out my ovarian reserve was low. And that I have a funny shaped uterus. And that I had scar tissue from the D&C. And that I have a dip, kind of a quasi-septum. And that I have adenomyosis.

We tried intrauterine insemination. It worked, and then I miscarried again.

More milestones: The one-year anniversary of when we found out I was pregnant. One year since we'd told our relatives. The Christmas that was supposed to be at our house because of the new baby.

On Monday, Atomic's heart leapt again as he held my wedding ring and saw me wheeled off on a gurney for a second time. Only this time, it was to retrieve the seven eggs that maybe, just maybe, will make our dreams come true.

We don't know whether this IVF cycle will work. We don't know whether, at this moment, our six fertilized eggs are growing, or whether they are healthy, or whether they have the right number of chromosomes in the right places, or whether they will nestle in and stick to my uterus, or whether any of them will grow and become a baby.

What we do know is that one way or another, when the time is right, and regardless of whatever milestones have passed, we will be parents.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

First Date/Fertilization Report

Sorry, but I just could not stand to report this in a clinical manner. I require a little ambiance, a little poetic license.

Bear with me.

Imagine them in a dark place, meeting for the first time. Seven little eggs and seven little sperm, stealing glances and slyly checking each other out. Maybe there's some soft music in the background, maybe they're dining on whatever they put in those little petri dishes.

"So, where ya from?"

"No way, you like spaghetti westerns, too?"

"You're kinda cute."

"So are you."

"So, um, do you think you might want to, um . . . ."

Six said yes. One said maybe.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bok, bok, bokaaaaak!

I'm still feeling a little blech, but all went just fine today. They warmed up the bed, and the gown, and the socks, and although it took them three agonizing tries to get an IV started, once they did they put really good drugs in there. The first one made me loopy, and the second led to a nice little half hour cat nap.

They got 7 eggs out of me, a "reasonable" number, according to Dr. Droopy Dog. We had some unexpected motility issues, but they should be able to fix that using ICSI -- "intracytoplasmic sperm injection," which is a fancy way of saying they inject the sperm right into the egg. It's always something.

The clinic will call tomorrow with the "Fertilization Report," which really makes me feel like a farm animal. The next few days are crucial. We'll find out how many fertilize, and how many embryos grow, and how many fragment, and how many are total crap.

Please keep the prayers, thoughts, incense, spells, incantations, fertility dances, melon hurling etc. coming.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

All Systems Go

It's a wonder that humans can reproduce at all. Honestly, there are so many things that need to happen exactly right for it to occur.

Although IVF differs in significant respects from the natural process, there are also lots of things that need to go right in order for it to have even a chance of working:

  • The ovaries need to respond to the drugs and grow some follicles

  • The follicles need to mature

  • There must be some eggs in those follicles

  • The eggs need to be of decent quality

  • There's got to be sufficient sperm to fertilize them

  • The eggs need to fertilize

  • The fertilized eggs need to divide and grow for a few days in vitro without falling apart

  • The embryos must attach to the uterus

  • And stay attached

And that's just to get pregnant. Staying that way for the requisite amount of time is a whole nother adventure.

We've cleared the first couple of hurdles. Today, Dr. Glass Half Full pronounced me "ready." Woo-hoo!

Now it's show time for Atomic. No, not that show time -- that's Monday morning. Tonight, my dear Atomic must stick a rather large needle in my ass and inject me with HcG, which will tell my ovaries to release the eggs. Fortunately, Nurse Friendly drew circles on the appropriate spots and told me I had "good targets."

Tomorrow is a drug-free day. No injections, no baby aspirin, no mixing or poking or bleeding or bruising. And no eating after midnight . . .

. . . because they need my stomach to be empty Monday morning so they can administer the knockout drops.

Aaaaaaaah. Cleared for takeoff. So far, so good.

Friday, January 26, 2007

All Praise Cecil

Do you all remember Cecil Turtle? He's the only character who ever got the better of Bugs Bunny. He outsmarted the wiley wabbit in races three times between 1941 and 1947.

Slow and steady, and an airflow chassis, win the race, my friends.

Apparently, I've got two sacks full of Cecils in my ovaries. Ah, yup, we've got a baker's dozen (how topical!) follicles between 10 and 18mm, just slowly and steadily getting larger, biding their time and aiming for the finish line. Today, for the first time, the good doc mentioned the possibility that instead of implanting embryos three days after retrieval with assisted hatching, they might dispense with the hatching and wait until Day 5 if they get at least six good eggs out of me. Until today, that wasn't even a possibility.
Ah, yup.

As Sister Ignatius* used to say, festina lente.

We'll amble on down to the clinic again tomorrow and see what's cookin'. As my good friend Cecil once said, "time's a wasting, speedy."

* I did not make that name up. Sister Ignatius was my high school Latin teacher. Mean old crosseyed coot. She changed my life and I will never forget her.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my husband, who is wonderful and loving and amazing and is having kind of a crappy birthday because he's sick.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Ok, so now I'm out of the replenshed-at-premium-prices meds and I've got a lovely constellation of bruises and little red dots all over my bloated abdomen. And I can't bend my arm because it still hurts from yesterday's botched blood draw (although I think I should go to Sephora and see if they can find me an eyeshadow in the same shade as the giant bruise on my inner arm -- it's kind of a pretty color).

I'm getting a little weary of this.

Please, my dear little dozen, please get nice and plump by 11:30 tomorrow so I don't have to keep stabbing myself eleventeen times a day.

Wouldn't it be nice if this actually works? This IS all going to be worth it, right?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Even Dozen

This morning I took the bull by the horns, called the clinic, and switched my noon appointment with Dr. Droopy Dog for a 9 a.m. with Dr. Glass Half Full. I'm glad I did.

Dr. Droopy Dog probably would have focused on the fact that my lead follicles are only 16mm -- a little bit disappointing in that they grew only 3-4mm since Sunday. Dr. Glass Half Full focused on the fact that I now have 12 of them, ranging from 10 to 16mm. Twelve! That's like a full year of trying the normal way. She said that was an "above average" response for someone with elevated FSH, and that my energy in the last few days has obviously gone into making more eggs instead of growing the existing ones.

Woo-hoo! I'm a B student!

We're going back in on Friday for another scan, and, as long as they keep growing, we're probably looking at retrieval Sunday or Monday.

For those of you rooting from the sidelines, please engage mojo/light candles/begin novenas/cast spells . . . . now. Thank you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pro-Choice Day

In commemoration of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I agreed (along with a gazillion other people) to do a post about why I am pro-choice.

At first glance, it may seem strange to talk about the right to intentionally end a pregnancy on a blog documenting my pregnancy losses and obsessive attempts to start a pregnancy. And, given my fertility issues, one might think that reproductive rights are not something that will have any impact on my life going forward. But one would be wrong.

First of all, my age and egg quality issues present the very real possibility that I will conceive a fetus with severe genetic abnormalities. After all of this heartache, we could conceive and then find out that I am carrying a fetus that would not survive, or that would be horribly disabled. And we might find that out relatively late in a pregnancy. That possibility haunts me. I honestly don't know what decision we would make in that situation, but the important thing is that it would be our decision, and ours alone. We are the ones who would have to live with the consequences, either way. The thought that some government regulation could prevent us from making that decision, or require us to travel to a different state, or require us to sit through some horrid video and lecture while our hearts and spirits are utterly broken, or dictate how the procedure should be done, is nightmarish in the extreme.

Second, we are going to have children, one way or another. And I want them to have the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. I got to finish college, join the Peace Corps, go to law school, move across the country and have a wonderful life and a great career. I got to make all of those decisions for myself, and now I am reaping both the benefits and the consequences of those decisions. I am a more responsible and empathetic person because I got to make those decisions for myself. I want my children to have that, too.

Decisions about becoming a parent are the most difficult, and consequential, that most people ever make. I have shed more tears over these issues than I have over anything else in my life. And even though I have been increasingly open about discussing our fertility issues, it is essentially a very private matter. It is an area where goverment intrusion simply does not belong.

Third, limits on reproductive rights affect women who are struggling to have children as well as those who are struggling not to. I know of a woman who has suffered many miscarriages who discovered, once again, that her fetus had stopped growing. Her doctor told her that the pregnancy was not viable. However, the only hospital in town was a Catholic hospital, and they would not perform the D&C because the fetus still had a heartbeat. She had to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic in a nearby city, run a gauntlet of wackos and dead fetus pictures, and sit through a state-mandated lecture on how fetuses feel pain and how adoption is great, only to discover that by the time the D&C was performed there was no heartbeat after all.

The medical profession calls every pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks an abortion. I have to admit, it was jarring to see my 10-week miscarriage labeled on medical forms as a "missed abortion." But the uniformity of that term underscores an important point. Every abortion is a sad event, and it doesn't matter whether it happened spontaneously, or because the fetus was not viable, or because of the circumstances of its conception, or simply because the parents were not yet ready to be parents. Every pregnancy loss has its own story. There cannot be a one size fits all resolution.

This life is hard enough. I am grateful for the freedom to struggle honestly, to make mistakes, and to try again. Let's not allow anything to interfere with that.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day 8 Report

I knew this was the remedial class, but gee whiz.

I now have 8 follicles, but they're um, a little on the slow side. Two measure 13mm, three are at 12, two at 11, and one little guy at 9. That's not so great. It also didn't help that our doctor today, oh, let's call him Dr. Droopy Dawg, was not what you'd call friendly, or enouraging. I'm not even sure he's actually human.

I've got to get this show on the road by Wednesday, or they might cancel this cycle. Also, by Wednesday night, I'll be completely out of drugs.

And to add insult to injury, my cold is still raging. It's been a week already. Can this be over now, please?

Miss Binky Grumpypants is now going back to bed.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Volcanic Mittelschmerz

Mittelschmerz, for the uninitiated, is a quaint term for the little pang or ache an estimated 20% of women have around the time they ovulate. From the German "middle pain," it is thought to be caused by the follicles stretching the ovaries before they burst through.

When you take massive doses of fertility drugs, there are (hopefully) a lot more follicles stretching and bumping around in there. They can cause some rather volcanic mittelschmerz.

It's Day 7, and I'm starting to feel some twinges. I hope that's a good sign.

While you're sitting around with your fingers crossed, here's a nice photo of my little Mad Scientist Laboratory:

And here's a closeup of my sharps container. Nurse Sweetie Pie always says, "Think eggs, not needles!" This one's for you, NSP:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Day 6 Report

Despite the little snafu with the Menopur, my follicles seem to be coming along nicely, given my age and my low ovarian reserves. Today's scan showed three wee ones on each side, nothing bigger than 10mm, and a few other really tiny ones, which the doc said was just fine.

That's marginally better than where I was at this point in my IUI cycle, when I had 4 follicles, all but one smaller than 10.

I've been told by some of my friends in the computer that IVF cycles seem to grow eggs a little slower, which makes sense to me. The goal with IVF is to get as many eggs as possible, so it would make sense to draw out the process long enough to give the little guys a chance to catch up.

It's hard not to compare myself with younger women whose bright shiny ovaries are kicking out dozens of eggs at a time. Twenty eggs would be a fabulous response for a 25 year old. Ten is likely beyond my reach. As long as I can grow at least 4 to a decent size, they'll go ahead with the retrieval and transfer. And I have to remind myself, it only takes one good one.

Please grow, little follicles. And bring your friends. There's a party in my ovaries, and everyone's invited.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Medical Math

Update from the IVF front:

We have officially unleashed the hounds. I'm injecting myself three times a day: 300 IU of Follistim in the morning and, in the evening, 150 IU of Follistim and 150 IU of Menopur. The shots don't really hurt, and the little gizmo they give you to shoot the Follistim is really cool.

The Menopur is much less high tech, much more mad scientist. I have to pop a huge-ass needle on the end of the syringe, draw the fluid in from the vial, squirt it into another vial (this one filled with the powdered medication), draw it all out, squirt it into yet another vial (also with powdered meds), switch to a smaller needle, flick out all the air bubbles, and then inject it.


Since I'd already done an IUI cycle with injectable meds, I went into this just brimming with confidence, despite the fact that I had to start the injections on Sunday and the injections class wasn't until Tuesday. Oh, sure I know how to mix and inject the Menopur -- no sweat! And the Follistim pen? I'll just figure it out. I'm pretty good a following directions.

Hubris, hubris, hubris.

I'm really glad I didn't skip the injections class, and not just because they gave out Follistim pens in swanky zip-up cases. It turns out, I was, um, doing it wrong.

My doctor had instructed me to inject 150 IU of Menopur each evening. On the little vials of Menopur, it says "75 IU FSH, 75 IU LH." I assumed that 75 + 75 = 150, and thus I should inject one vial.

I assumed wrong. For reasons that are not quite clear to me, 75 IU of FSH and 75 IU of LH = 75 IU of Menopur. I was supposed to inject two vials each evening.

My doctor said not to worry, I probably hadn't messed things up too badly. My pride, however, is quite sorely wounded. I guess we'll see on Friday when I have my next ultrasound how well things are going.

In the meanwhile, I've got a nasty cold and a fever and I feel like dog poo.

Did I mention that this was fun?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Where Do We Go From Here?

I realized with a shock today that Martin Luther King, Jr. was the age I am now when he died. He was 39.

By age 39 he was a national leader, a pastor, a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a published author, a Nobel laureate, a husband, a father. He had organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, numerous protests and voter registration drives, and the historic 1963 march on Washington.

He changed the way America understands itself. He challenged all of us to look into each others' eyes and see there possibility and promise. He made this world a better place. All before the age of 40.

When I think about Dr. King, especially when I hear recordings of his speeches, I cannot help but envision a significantly older person. He had a presence -- and more importantly, a gravitas -- that people do not often acquire that young. I wonder how much of that perception is simply denial on my part about no longer being young. I wonder, also, how much of that reflects how our society has changed in the last 40 years.

My generation, it seems, is taking a long time to grow up. We seem to spend more time in school, move around a lot, switch careers like socks, marry much later (if at all), and finally get around to having children just when that starts becoming more difficult. I know that's an over-generalization, but I think there are enough people who fall into that mold to make it a bona fide phenomenon.

I wonder who the Great Men and Great Women of my generation will be. I wonder who among us will eventually, perhaps in our 60s, get around to changing the world. I hope that, late bloomers though we may be, some of us can accept the challenge that Dr. King has left us as his legacy.

And so we still have a long, long way to go before we reach the promised land of freedom. Yes, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt, and we have crossed a Red Sea that had for years been hardened by a long and piercing winter of massive resistance, but before we reach the majestic shores of the promised land, there will still be gigantic mountains of opposition ahead and prodigious hilltops of injustice. We still need some Paul Revere of conscience to alert every hamlet and every village of America that revolution is still at hand. Yes, we need a chart; we need a compass; indeed, we need some North Star to guide us into a future shrouded with impenetrable uncertainties.

August 16, 1967 address to the SCLC, "Where Do We Go From Here?"

The text of Dr. King's major speeches can be found here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Gift From The Godless

For reasons it has declined to share with me, my body decided to get this party started nearly a full week earlier than we had anticipated. Not that I'm complaining. It just made things a little more exciting.

So, last night, I called the clinic's answering service and said, "Ok, I'm on Day 1. Now what do I do?" (Nothing like having random strangers, like answering service people and accidental blog readers, knowing exactly when your period starts!) The nice man took a message and said the clinic would call back this morning.

The phone rang at 8:20. "Yes, you should come in for your Day 2 bloodwork and scan. We have an 8:45 appointment open." At that point, we were still in our pajamas. The clinic is across town, in a touristy area on the other side of what, on a weekday, is often gruesome downtown traffic. It's normally about a half hour trip, all told. "Ok," I said. "We'll be there."

I am, fortunately, well practiced in multitasking, and despite the early Sunday hour, I managed to avoid brushing my eyeballs and putting my contact lenses on my teeth. I'm not sure Atomic fared as well, but somehow we managed to dress ourselves and get in the car.

And then . . . wow. There was nobody on the roads. It's Sunday morning, 8:30 a.m., and this ain't too much of a churgoin' town. We made the trip in 15 minutes flat.

The scan showed 4 little antral follicles -- not great for a normal person, but pretty damn encouraging for someone with scrambled eggs, and significantly better than the lone follicle I had on day 2 of my IUI cycle.

So, tonight I start injecting myself. Two different meds, three times a day. I feel good. I feel ready, mentally and physically. I'm prepared for disappointment, but hopeful nonetheless. Let's see what happens.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Drugs of Choice

Oooooh, yeah, baby. Just in from overseas. All the cool kids are doing it. C'mon, you know you want to.

On some really weird, twisted level, this could not be more fun if it were illegal.

Non-Linear Time

Remember how, in third grade, the last few minutes of the last class before summer vacation were eons long?

Grownup time doesn't generally work that way. It's much faster. There are a few exceptions, such as:

  • The last few minutes on the treadmill after your ipod has run out of juice (average duration: 16 years);

  • The meeting with the client who can neither shut up nor get to the point (and for the one client who might possibly be reading this, NO, it's no one in your department);

  • The first few weeks of pregnancy (that's as far as I got, so I don't know if that changes); and of course,

  • The 2ww. That's the two-week wait - the time between ovulation and the pregnancy test or, in my case, the time between ovulation and the beginning of an IVF cycle.

I feel like I've been waiting eleventy million years to start IVF. I'm finally near the starting line. We're ready to go, just waiting for the drugs and a new cycle to arrive. Tick tock, tick tock. Are we there yet? How 'bout now? Now? How many more minutes?

The weird thing is that even while time is creeeeeeeeeeeeeping by, it's also flying by. (That's the non-linear part.) That's been especially true this week.

The part of Time that is heading toward IVF is moving extremely slowly. Meanwhile, a sort of jet stream of Time in which I was to prepare for a Very Important Hearing, update my blog, do a bunch of stuff for the Rangers, track down the status of the fertility drugs I ordered from the UK, keep social engagements, locate and throttle the deadbeat neighbor who hasn't paid his HOA dues, water the plants, and do whatever else I was supposed to accomplish this week, seems to have slipped by in a nanosecond. It's gone, all gone, and so many things left undone.

After chasing my tail all week and suffering the interminable wait for this great experiment to begin, I think I'd like to try a new approach. For at least a few minutes, after I publish this post and before I have to schlep to the airport to pick up the drugs that the courier company didn't deliver because of (I'm not kidding) "technical difficulties," I will do nothing.

Take that, crazy non-linear Time!

P.S. Nothing has been postponed until tomorrow. We ended up babysitting tonight.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Magic Rock, $50

I regard myself as a rational person. A skeptic, even. I started having theological debates with the nuns in my grammar school about the existence of miracles when I was in the third grade. (Mom, if you're reading this, please feel free to comment on what a pain in the ass that was.)

I haven't considered myself a believer in any particular religion in a while now, although I won't go so far as to rule out the existence of a deity of some sort, or at least some type of spiritual presence in the universe. But this post really isn't about religion. It's about Magic.

There's something about infertility that turns just about everyone into a magical thinker. I can't tell you how many totemic trinkets, amulets, candles, and other assorted spiritual, magical, and tribal flotsam and jetsam I have accumulated over the past two years. It's completely insane. My rational self says "You have no control over this process. That's okay. That's just how it is. Let it be." The rest of me responds, "What, are you nuts? Let it be? NO WAY. I've got to hedge my bets. I must do everything I can. What if there really is a god, or a goddess, or angels or demons or hexes? Must . . . have . . . trinkets! . . . Need . . . mojo! What's that? You say you have a Magic Rock that will cure infertility -- and it costs only $50? Sold!"

When I found out about my scrambled eggs, I took my clay fertility doll, my St. Gerard medal and prayer card, my metal Kokopelli, and a bunch of other fertility-related crap, went out to the backyard, dug a hole, and dumped it all in. I wish I could say it was because I was following the dictates of rationality, or that I had suddenly gotten Zen about the whole ordeal. No, quite the contrary. I had endowed these bit of metal, clay, and paper with feelings. I wanted to punish them and force them to behave differently. I had decided to follow the latest United States Government-approved behavior modification methods and engage in certain coercive techniques. "So there," I said triumphantly as I poured dirt over their hapless carcasses, "You guys are not doing your job. When you start doing your job, I'll dig you up again."

They're still back there, somewhere. I tried to dig them up in August so we could bring them to Burning Man and burn them, but when I returned to the spot where I thought I'd buried them, I couldn't find them. Nothing mystical there -- our upstairs neighbor is constantly changing the contours of the garden, moving plants, adding hills, creating little rills and valleys. Anyway, they were good as gone forever. And good riddance.

Since that time, I've amassed a whole new collection of magic schtuff, some of it quite lovely, some of it embarrassingly schlocky. In the former category, a beautiful handmade pendant with the words to a poem about hope scrolled up inside. In the latter, a tacky Guardian Angel coin that came stuck to a fundraising appeal from an organization I'd never heard of. I carry it in my purse and I swear, one of these days it will accidentally end up in a parking meter.

And then, this past weekend, I went to the Botanica Yoruba and got a candle for the goddess Yemaya. She lives in the ocean, I'm told, and likes melons. The nice lady at the store said she would help me, guaranteed. I just needed to get a melon, punch a hole in it with a screwdriver, write a prayer to Yemaya on a piece of paper, roll it up and stick it in the melon, and then bring the melon to the ocean. There, I was to "speak to Yemaya from your heart" and then leave the melon just at the edge of the water. Yeah. Sure. Okay.

So there I stood, the Ivy League-educated, many years therapized, rational, modern skeptic, melon in hand, talking to myself on the beach in the middle of the night. Good grief.

I hope it works.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Wanna play the scrambled eggs game?

There are two ways to play. Here's one.

The other is to guess the answers to the following questions:

1. What does FSH stand for?

(a) ferrous sulfate and hemoglobin
(b) follicle stimulating hormone
(c) free silly hats
(d) fresh spring hyacinths

2. How many eggs are girl babies born with?

(a) about a dozen, give or take
(b) 400,000
(c) 2 million
(d) 8 million

3. Which food product do experts recommend avoiding if you are trying to become pregnant?

(a) soy
(b) fish
(c) wheat
(d) dairy
(e) all or none of the above, depending on the expert

4. Which of the following states are among the 12 that require insurers to cover infertility treatments?

(a) California
(b) Arkansas
(c) Vermont
(d) New Jersey
(e) both (b) and (d)
(f) none of the above

5. What year saw the lowest number of children adopted in the U.S.?

(a) 1944
(b) 1968
(c) 1975
(d) 1992

6. True or false: Human eggs hatch before implantation.

7. What is the average cost of a single IVF treatment?

(a) $6,200
(b) $9,500
(c) $12,400
(d) $16, 200

8. Which of the following treatments has a track record of success in treating women with diminished ovarian reserve?

(a) acupuncture
(b) high doses of clomiphene citrate
(c) chanting "ugga bugga" over a set of rabbit entrails
(d) laparoscopic surgery

9. Why do IVF cycles get cancelled?

(a) not enough follicles developing
(b) too many follicles developing
(c) ovarian cysts
(d) your check didn't clear
(e) any of the above

10. Essay: How many reproductive endocrinologists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Explain.

Answers will be posted in the comments section on Wednesday.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Just a Rant

Sorry, my friends, but there are no Great Insights or Life Lessons in today's post. This time, I'm just kvetching.

I've always thought of myself as a good bargain shopper. I seldom pay retail for anything. My heart swells with pride when someone compliments me on the sassy DKNY blazer I bought at the local Goodwill for $4.99 or the adorable two-tone suede pumps I snagged on sale at the Shoe Pavilion.

Alas, there is no Goodwill for fertility drugs. No Gonadatropin Pavilion. I did find an online pharmacy that has pretty good prices, but they're more like Macy's as compared to the Neiman Marcus prices everywhere else. This is just killing me. So I called Kaiser, hoping that maybe my doctor there could write the prescriptions and then I could at least get partial coverage.

Nope. Sorry. They don't cover IVF meds.

Ok, what about the meds that are the same ones you use for IUI?


Ok, what about the progesterone I'll need for after the procedure?




A lollipop?


It's not like we're going to have to sell our house and live in a van by the river. It just sticks in my craw that this stuff is not covered by insurance. Public employment is supposed to have such great benefits. It's really too bad that I'm infertile instead of being in need of a sex change -- yes, Virginia, that's covered, but not IVF. And I'm one of the lucky ones. In all other respects my coverage is good. There are folks out there who need really necessary stuff like HIV meds and insulin and can't afford it.

And if you think this is a rant, just wait until the children I hope to have are ready to go to college . . .

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Wrestling With Demons -- And Paying For the Privilege

If I were a Trump or a Hilton, I'm sure I wouldn't flinch at putting nearly $10k on a credit card all at once. But I'm not, so my flinch was more like a full-body spasm.

Yes, we've done it. We've bellied up to the IVF bar and plunked our money down. I hope the gonadatropin cocktail goes down easy.
Paying for the procedure made it seem much more real to me. And as I was out walking last night, I was gripped by fear. How will I feel if this doesn't work? How hard will I cry? How many days will I spend distracted and immobilized? How many times will we be able to do this? How will we know when we've had enough?

As I wrestled with those demons, a song called "Quitting Time" popped up on my iPod. It's a lovely song about being free from everyday responsibilities -- if not forever, at least for the night. Last night, it sounded like a terrible augur. Quitting is not on the agenda. And if we do pursue adoption, I don't want that to feel like quitting.

Oh, did I mention that I was grappling with these awful thoughts on my way to meditation practice?

Now, what were those noble truths again? Something about letting go of our cravings, not chasing our hopes and fears around like gerbils on an exercise wheel, living in the moment? Perhaps I just suck at Buddhism.

Or perhaps not. Maybe it's enough, for right now, to know that I am incredibly uneasy with not knowing how things will turn out. Maybe it's enough to take Atomic's hand and walk down this path with the knowledge that we're both scared out of our minds.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Turning Toward the Sun

At the risk of scrambling my holidays as well as my eggs, I have a few thoughts this New Year's Day about the solstice.

For most of my life, the solstice barely registered on my radar. Especially the winter solstice, eclipsed as it always was by the crazy Christmas season. I knew that Christmas was really an excuse for Christians to continue the ancient solstice rituals, but I didn't have any sense of the meaning of the solstice itself.

Maybe it was my getting to know some practicing pagans, or maybe it was the lyrics to a particularly wonderful Nields song, but a few years ago I came to a spiritual understanding of the meaning of winter solstice. I was at a low point, very lonely and wondering whether I would ever find a partner with whom I could share my life. It seemed hopeless. I stood in my kitchen, in the dark, and looked out at the garden. I thought, "Damn. It's so dark, so early. I hate winter. I hate my life. I hate the cold and the rain and the dark."

And then I thought, "But this is as dark as it gets."

Six months and one day later, I met Atomic, the love of my life. And it has never been that dark again.

The winter solstice holds that promise for us every year. It tells us that there is a limit to suffering, and reminds us that our darkest point is also a turning point, the moment at which we begin to turn toward the sun. I'm putting my faith in that promise.