Thursday, November 20, 2008

A ceasefire during Thanksgiving

As we approach one of America's quintessential holidays, I can't help but reflect on where I was last year. Right about now I was finding out that my 2nd pregnancy was beginning to fail. The beta wasn't doubling and the ultrasound was about to confirm a blighted ovum that would bleed out as I sat with my whole family eating turkey on Thanksgiving day. So in a year from that rather thankless day, am I thankful for anything? 

The whole idea of appreciating what I have verses griping about what I don't have has been an uphill battle. The life that unfolded after that Thanksgiving loss didn't get prettier. The months ahead would bring another pregnancy loss - a 2nd ectopic to pour salt on the wound -and then a blur of a summer to conclude with my 4th pregnancy loss. So round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows. I feel like I've been my own battleground, spitting fire and declaring injustice at every turn for the losses I've endured, and keeping poised on the defense for infertility's potential attacks. So today I'm trying to quiet my war cries for a brief detente with the enemy. I'm not going to dwell on the thankless moments, I'm going to try to talk about the thankful moments: 

1) I've found wonderful women on bulletin boards, blogs, and in New York City who have provided me the support and comradry I've so desperately needed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

2) My husband still loves me despite me being a pile of negative whiny bitchiness a lot of the time. Oh yeah, and despite that I'm barren.

3) I'm not going to miscarry while eating Turkey this year.

4) After a drawn out mess with bad plumbers and contractors, my two bathroom showers will finally be fully renovated this week.

5) I live in a great space in a great city.

6) Infertility has made me write again. 

7) I've found a fabulous surrogate and we are reviewing our contract with her now. Hope to have it signed by Thanksgiving - that would truly be something to be thankful for. 

In this time of giving thanks, I can't help but also think about forgiveness. In Chris Rock's recent stand up routine "Kill the Messenger," he has this monologue about how the less shit you have, the more shit you can talk and the more shit you have, you can't talk shit. For example, he says "fat girls" are allowed to bitch and rage at the "skinny girls," but if the "skinny girls" say nasty things about "fat girls" then "That's just mean." He's playing on the permission of those in shittier situations to talk shit about those who have it better. Well, in a prior post I talked some shit about a very close friend who got pregnant at the same time as my first pregnancy loss. Knowing full well that I was recovering from an ectopic pregnancy and agonizing over this tremendous blow, she chose to tell me of her pregnancy with zero acknowledgement of my loss. She went the total "I will pretend nothing is wrong" approach which as you all know failed miserably. 

Even though I was honest with her about this major blunder and I wanted to forgive her at the time, truthfully I never have. She's been trying ever since to get back in touch with me and dancing around in her emails to get some info on where I am. I've basically shut her out and I have come to see that I've been subconsciously trying to punish her. In the end, probably no matter how she told me she was pregnant I would have been pissed, depressed, and angry with her for adding to my pain. I know her well enough to know that it probably kills her that she's hurt me and fears that I hate her. And I've kept the wall up - if you have more shit than me than you don't get to hear the gory details of my much shittier life. What could I really say to her? Here she is with a new baby born the same time I would have had my first baby and she's got all these joyous moments to savor. How can I in good faith ask her about her life when I don't want to hear any of it? So I couldn't risk it. I know that there was a bit of revenge and entitlement in the mix too. I felt like I lost a piece of my heart with that first pregnancy loss. Irrationally, I feel like she was part of stealing that pregnancy away from me with her healthy pregnancy.  So I realize the very vengeful side of me has felt like if I have to endure this horrendous loss then she has to endure losing me. It's an ugly feeling, but every time I have tried to let it go the anger wells up in me again.  

I don't want to be, the highly offensive expression, an "Indian giver." I don't want to give and then take it back. I've been struggling this whole time with wanting to give her my friendship, but then also wanting to take it back when I am feeling miserable, spiteful, and bitchy remembering the pain she caused. She recently emailed again and I finally decided to throw her bone last week and open up a chance for her to express herself. She said how bad she still feels about the way she communicated her pregnancy and hopes I don't hate her. I could have walked away and left her hanging again, but I felt really bad and wrote her today assuring her that I know she didn't want to cause pain and that the devastation of the combined ectopic pregnancy and her pregnancy basically put an inevitable barrier between us. I think it was good to get that out again and to let her know that it will just take time to heal. I'm trying really hard to let go.

So I am thankful that I've been able to look beyond my bitterness. No, I didn't disclose details she been wanting to hear because in the end, those are still private. I still feel like it's a story I need to tell her when it's all over. But it was a reminder that the whole concept of the first Thanksgiving dinner was that Native Americans sat side by side to break bread with Pilgrims, the very people who shed blood on and took over their sacred land. So I think I've made my first step, albeit small, toward forgiveness. Though she's still going have to stay on the sidelines until my nightmare is over, I've given my dear old friend a raincheck that one day we will sit down, side by side, infertile next to fertile, and break bread. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm matched!!!!!!!!!!

Dare I say it? It looks like I've found a partner in crime for this IVF circus. Not to slight my dear hubby, but you know what I mean - I've found my surrogate match!! How do you even describe this feeling? 

So did fireworks go off? Did I start bawling? Did we join hands in a jig together? Not quite. I can only describe it as both surreal and sublime. I was of course terribly nervous, but we had seen their profile and they looked so sweet and nice that I knew it would never be unpleasant. The question was whether that chemistry would be there and could she put me at ease with this insane road we are beginning? Could I imagine this woman carrying my baby and feel open and comfortable working with her for those intense 9 months? Could I see myself wanting to stay in touch afterwards? 

Out of respect for privacy I'll refer to her as "A." and her husband as "L." In such a short span of time so much was accomplished. We went out to Chicago this past week for work, to celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary, and witness the afterglow of an historic election. Timing was on our side that A. and L. live in Illinois and so the meeting could happen this week. The plan was to meet A. and L. for dinner at 6pm outside of Chicago. I wanted to give us a little over an hour to drive out to the restaurant since Chicago's rush hour would be awful and for once I didn't want to be late to a very important meal (my husband and I are chronically late for everything). But of course to our dismay the traffic was bumper to bumper and my nerves starting to flare up thinking - "Damn, they are going to think we aren't good planners and can't even get to dinner on time." We called and apologized for being delayed and I kept saying to myself, "Relax and drive. Relax and drive." We sped into the restaurant parking lot and walked in a half an hour late. A. and L. were patiently waiting for us at a table and there was immediate warmth. I just could tell this would be a nice night. We talked, laughed, joked around. It was lovely and easy. I can say with certainty that she is fabulous. She's warm, positive, sweet, a hard worker, and funny. She's got 3 beautiful kids and has done surrogacy successfully for two other couples so this would be her third time. I am truly in awe of her. What an amazing person to give this kind of gift. She described it as a true "high" for her to hand the baby over to the intended parents. She joked, "I guess there are worse things to be addicted to!"

So for someone like me who can be quite negative, I feel drunk with a faith in humanity. It's beautiful to think that someone could help me out in this way. I have never more needed an injection of A.'s positive attitude. It's hard after being burned so many times to try to get excited all over again. I thought maybe I would be overwhelmed by meeting A. and just lose it in front of her. But the main feeling was peace and happiness. There's a new hope and a huge step in the right direction. Whatever happens, I know I am a little tiny bit closer to getting my baby.  

So what does this all mean logistically? For starters in order to work with her I have to cycle in Chicago. This means a new clinic and RE for me, but the upside is that Illinois is one of the best states to work in because they are so surrogacy-friendly. Technically we are now entering in the contract phase where our lawyer draws up our surrogacy contract that we hopefully will both agree upon and sign. Once that happens we are officially partnered and ready to go! Except for some medical tests and some other logistics we aren't too bad off in terms of moving forward. If all goes well I could cycle with A. in February 2009! Though that sounds far away it really isn't given how the holiday season will fly by. We can get synched up in January and be ready for a February retrieval and transfer. Holy crap, it's time to get healthy again and start doing some egg calisthenics!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stumbling upon my metaphor

Just had to do a quick posting since I've been in Chicago this week and stopped by the Art Institute of Chicago today. The first gallery I walk into I see this! For my last blog posting I had just pulled a digital version of this painting from the internet because this tightrope walker really spoke to how I feel these days. So it's funny to stumble upon the real thing. I guess the artwork wanted to speak to me in the real physical world or maybe I am just psychic. Just wish I could tell the future when it comes to my fertility, but more news to come soon!

Tightrope Walker, 1885
Oil on Canvas
Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Walking the tightrope

Every step gets a little more treacherous. How much am I willing to compromise at each step? All I can think of when trying to keep my balance is "Don't look down." But inevitably I always look down. Your legs shake. The fear starts boiling up, and you feel like you are about to fall to your death. As reckless as it looks, in my mind it make perfect sense to keep walking forward. The logic is clear- there's only two other choices. You either plummet down below (and there is no safety net) or try to walk backwards to get off the rope. Both leave me with nothing. So as I find myself intensely focused on my own feet, trying to walk on this tiny thin rope, I forget who might be watching me. What on earth is my audience thinking?

I got a reminder of that yesterday when a friend said something irritating. Instead of cheering me on, it was liking hearing gasps and cries from the audience which only makes you more nervous. I had just explained how I might have a new surrogate prospect and how sick as a dog I have been the past 2 weeks and how my body just feels so worn out. She said, "Are you sure you want to do this and not adoption?" I felt the irritation well up in me, but I just quickly said "No, it's anyway too late to turn back now." I know she meant well. They always do. I know everyone who is spared the infertility hell always thinks adoption is easier. It is so easy when you are in a position of gain and good luck to think - "I would never do that!" 

For the first time in a long time I started to feel like a freak show. Have I reached sensationalist talk show guest status? In this IVF circus, am I the lady with the special tent with the sign saying "Using a surrogate"? I felt like my friend was secretly shaking her head wishing she could say to me, "Stop." She's watching me walk the tight rope seeing how much I am wobbling, fumbling and crying along the way and for what? - Just to get to the other side. 

This is where it becomes so hard to share with friends your extreme fertility planning. It's one thing to do IVF and get support, but it's a whole other ball game when you let people in on the secrets of more alternative baby-making. I realize that even the closest of my friends might pass judgement on me. I realize that my decisions about disclosure are very important now. I need to be careful about who knows our secret life. I am walking this tight rope and the rope seems to be getting thinner and thinner, more dangerous, more frightening, more death defying. Shouldn't I be getting some respect instead of the "You are crazy" innuendos? 

P.S. I know I am suppose to be creating my own art on this blog, but I am borrowing these days since I've been just too tired to be creative. I hope for a new surge of inspiration soon.