Monday, February 25, 2008

Portrait of Eggs



"When you start with a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, through successive eliminations, you arrive inevitably at the egg. Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait."

-Pablo Picasso


In the midst of all this IVF technology and petri dish babies, I forget that I am still part of nature. I'm not just a piece of meat to be probed and experimented with. I'm actually in the middle of one of the most amazing parts of nature - the making of the egg. 

On a short hiatus in Boston, I stumbled upon the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Needing a short respite from the blistering cold, I welcomed the warm quiet of a museum. As I walked through the halls, it's no wonder that two exhibits stood out to me. First I went to the Glass Flower collection by artisans Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka who created nearly 4,400 life-like representatives of the plant kingdom. I was not only struck my the amazing craftsmanship of the glass flowers, but also the endless variety of flower ovaries. Some ovaries were simple, others like intricate jewels, and all were distinctly beautiful. 

The next exhibit I was drawn to was called, surprise surprise, "Nest and Eggs." There were breathtaking displays of bird eggs, showcasing their diversity and the way birds nurture their young. Each one, from the basketball-sized egg of the elephant bird to the tiny hummingbird egg, was stunning. I couldn't believe that this same kind of beauty was happening in me. Where's the exhibit with the big uterus and my stimulated assortment of follicles? But in fact, this is what I have to remind myself that what's happening in me is indeed of museum quality distinction.

So this is my ode to the eggs growing in me right now. From the glitzy fabergé egg to the frail Humpty Dumpty to good old green eggs and ham, my eggs, your eggs, are part of the distinguished array of eggs in this world. Beyond how many they will retrieve this Saturday, or how many will fertilize, or how many will implant, I make these incredible things called eggs that are the beginning and the end and everything in between.

As the great author Zora Neale Hurston writes, “The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Guru Little Miss Positive

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Little Miss Positive knew that I needed to exorcise some demons today. I am in need of nuclear weapon strength positive thinking. I need a prescription for heartache. As I mentioned in my last post, my friend's pregnancy had not only reminded me of how badly she handle things, but it reminded me of how unfair it all is and what a tragedy for our friendship that she had kicked me while I was down. Recovering from my ectopic I was teetering on the edge of deep deep depression and her pregnancy news was that final push into the abyss. So my resentments run deep for her and her pregnancy. Today, the day she is being induced for delivery, I need another adventure.

So the first defensive move Little Miss Positive told me to do was create an email filter. That's right. Who needs a baby announcement today, or any day for that matter? So I made a nice little folder called "No Man's Land" where all those possible baby announcements will automatically and magically go without even making it to my inbox. Done. Then Little Miss Positive reminded me that this day may be the birth of your friend's child, but it's the day I start my first step toward my child. Stimulate me! I started my stims shots today, marking the cultivation of my fine fat plump eggs. My dose has been cranked up to 300iu of Gonal F and 2 menopur, so we are hoping this brings us more to work with.

Little Miss Positive agreed with fellow blogger luna in that you may be getting lemons, but make lemonade. All these bad memories bedeviling me are not going to help me get pregnant. Why let my friend once again create some kind of emotional mud slide and hurt my chances of success? "Oh Little Miss Positive, show me the way!" I screamed. So she said that you need to first collapse physically. Second, drain the mind. Third, think spiritually. She told me that relaxation results from re-creation and this needs to be a continuous flow. This flow of force goes from higher power to the individual and then back to higher power for renewal. Continuous flow? How can I quiet the mind when I can barely stop obsessing about my pain to write this post? Little Miss Positive looked at me with a Tim Gunn "Make it work!' expression, reminding me that we already have the tools - fertility yoga, acupuncture, and meditation - so use them!

P.S. Little Miss Positive and I recommend Anji's meditation CD "Imagery and Meditations to support In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)" if anyone is looking for one. 

Stay tuned for more adventures of Little Miss Positive. Posted weekly here on Channel IVF, The Art of Being Infertile.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lemon Dates

Oh yes, I am bitter. I know it's not healthy, but when you've gone through multiple pregnancy losses these calendar dates that I call "Lemon Dates" still creep up. By definition, these are the dates that "could have been." Everyone has these markers and once there is any chance of being pregnant the dates all pop up. When is my first ultrasound? When will first trimester be over? And of course, the most significant, when will this baby be due? So today is a lemon date. If my first IVF had not been ectopic, I would be due to give birth around now. You might say, "Why think of such pointless 'what ifs' when all it does is torture you?" So why does this phantom due date irk me more than the one coming in July for IVF#2 miscarriage? The explanation requires a back story.

How many of us have had the unfortunate experience of a friend getting pregnant so effortlessly while you wait at your fertility clinic for your next god damn blood test? I bet many of you out there, if not all of you, have a story to tell about this most unfortunate thorn in a friendship.

My story begins with IVF#1. There is a very distinctive kind of hope during your first time because it's all unknown territory. You have no IVF failures yet to jade you. There is the freedom to believe this will finally be the answer. So nothing can explain the joy and utter relief I felt when my first IVF resulted in a BFP. Nothing. However, it didn't last long. If you can imagine how high I got, you know how far I had to fall. The rest of the story unfolds in a disastrous mess of betas not rising, taking a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate to basically kill off the growing embryo, and living like I was a time bomb, fearing my fallopian tube would rupture at any moment and I would bleed to death. It took 15 gut-wrenching, devil-spawning weeks to get to zero. Needless to say, I felt seriously fucked over. 

During those 15 weeks, a very close friend who lives far away, but knew of my loss, called to check up on me. After spewing out my agony to her, she proceeded to say back to me, "Well, I have good news." My stomach turned and all the muscles in my body tensed as I said, "You're pregnant." So yes, my friend got pregnant with her THIRD child exactly when I had my ectopic pregnancy. However, she chose not to preface her news with a "I know this is a crazy time for you, but I have to tell you..." Nada. It was as if I had not even mentioned to her anything about an IVF and a now obliterated embryo once lodged in my fallopian tube. She went on to talk about how "stressed" she was about the nanny situation...blah blah blah. What could I do? I was shocked and played along. She didn't want to look at the 500 pound gorilla in the room so I let her believe I didn't see it either. 

Maybe you are thinking to yourself, "Your friend is an asshole." Yes, in the heat of that moment, I thought that too, and for several weeks following. I went into the deepest depression and internal anger I've had during this infertility experience. When I managed to climb my way out of it, I emailed her to explain how pissed I was about how she handle it. As much as I would like to portray her as the villain, I knew she simply didn't know how to deal with this ugly situation. She's never experience any major death or loss or tragedy to know what's it's like. She might have wanted to spare my feelings by not saying anything but whose feelings are really being spared? If you can pretend you aren't hurting someone you can almost get away with believing it. I wasn't about to let her get away with it. So it was good to let her express how horrible she felt about the situation and for me to hear that. In the end, I had no choice but to lay out my conditions to her - I can't hear about her pregnancy. 

Now, 9 months later, in the back of my mind I've been preparing for the email. The one I know is coming like all the other announcements of the newest additions with various photos attached, sometimes even a link to a whole fucking website. So an email arrived today. My strongest desire was to just hit delete and I could vaporize the whole situation. I didn't want to remember my ectopic. I didn't want to think about the baby she is having at exactly the same time I would have had my baby. I didn't want to remember how easily she gets pregnant. I didn't want to have to fake happiness. I finally decided to get it over with. "Just read it like you are ripping off a band aid - quick and painless," I thought. Within all her small talk, she basically was informing me of her induction date next week. Is it a preemptive strike email to warn me that the bigger email announcement is coming? I'm not sure. I am hoping this is her way of letting me know the birth date and I will be spared the mass email announcement. But most likely these things don't cross fertile people's minds. 

The hard part is that my bitterness is always mixed with guilt. It's not her fault that she's a constant reminder of my loss. She mentioned in the email feeling stressed about whether the baby will be healthy or not and I just don't know how to sympathize. I know anything can happen, but I place all my bets that her delivery will be just fine. Am I a bad friend for not writing back a nice email reassuring her that it's all so exciting that your baby is coming? Am I a bad friend to not want to hear about this kind of stress that I can't relate to? Am I a bad friend for not putting aside my own pain. Yes I already know I am, but I am also human. I'll come around I am sure, but bear with me today, I'm angry that she gets sweet fruit and I get a lemon. 

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be My IVF Valentine

I was never a huge fan of Valentine's Day as a holiday. It goes way back to kindergarten. I remember the smell of glue and scatterings of doilies, colorful papers, and scissors. Back then in the utopian world of elementary school everyone got a Valentine because love was to be for everyone. We all picked out packages of Valentine cards to give to the entire class. Everyone expected one in their cubby and that was that. On the other hand, the construction of our own Valentine's cards during class was slotted for the special people in your life - Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, and maybe if in a good mood, a sibling. There wasn't suppose to be anyone romantically "special" to receive these hand-crafted cards. 

So when a little boy at my table gave me a huge crayon colored heart with my name + his name on it, I got really mad. Madness came from the fact that he was NOT the boy that I liked, but regardless of even that, it is nearly impossible at that age to enjoy such blatant publicly spelled out love attention from a boy. One might expect a pull on a pig tail or a sticking out of the tongue, but the worst thing he could have done was give it to me in front of my entire table of fellow kindergarteners. They all proceeded to roar with laughter doing the sing songy "My name and His Name sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" In my utter embarrassment, I tore up the Valentine right in front of the little boy's face awaiting the audience's reaction. I did it painfully slow so he could feel every rip. The table paused and then burst out with a new rigorous laughter, but this time it was for him. I guess even at that young age the drama of rejection is thrilling entertainment.

I will always feel bad for what I did to that poor sweet boy who innocently tried to show me his love. What can I say, I just snapped. I became heartless to protect my own skin. No doubt kids are cruel in that particularly doggy dog world of kindergarten. So the memory stayed with me and I never felt very gushy about Valentine's Day after that. The funny thing is that in the end, I married that boy who gave me the Valentine. Not literally that same boy, who I hope is not today also blogging about the girl in kindergarten who scarred him forever, but a man who very much would have been a boy like that in kindergarden. A person who wears his heart on his sleeve and would have probably gone up to many girls in his elementary school with earnest and heartfelt Valentines. It was confirmed when my husband confessed that he was indeed that type of little boy and even fell in love with his kindergarten teacher who he would call on the phone just to talk. 

So years later I think the gushiest feeling I can admit to having on this Valentine's day is the fact that IVF has revealed the sweetest kind of valentine, the most supreme form of love, which goes well beyond any puppy love crush, or a lustful encounter, or even "husband" in the traditional meaning of the word. Through IVF our partners are the people who keep us standing through unbearable, unthinkable moments.  You know it's really love when your partner will masturbate into a cup on command, tolerate your hormonal insanity, keep optimistic about your prospects, and hasn't tossed you aside for wife number two or three like some emperor in need of an heir. They are quite happy to spend their lives with us, with children or without. What better kind of valentine could you have?

Tell me your most memorable Valentine moment. Good, bad, sappy, romantic?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Double Fun Tag!

What a delight to be tagged in two different ways! This is a nice little break from my usual process of creating a visual. Since I have received a letter saying "E" for Excellent, I will follow in the same vein and focus on text only today.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Ahuva Batya over at The Anguished Corn for passing on to me the delicious- E award! I am honored by your kind words and so happy this is coming from a fellow blogger whose blog is most excellent - good writing and a daily shoe zen- a perfect combo!

Now to pass on this wonderful letter is a tough one. There are so many wonderful bloggers out there who are all really getting some good heartfelt writing done. But what stood out to me recently was Luna's pure and genuine use of words to explore grief in her poem
"b e a u t i f u l v i s i o n." I think this is what it is all about, all this blogging. It's writing from the heart. So I would like to pass on the prestigious E award to Luna for her great blog life from here: musing from the edge.

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UNIMPORTANT THINGS/HABITS/QUIRKS

I'M IT!!!! I was always a slowpoke at this game on the playground so I'm sorry for my delay! Thanks to Melanie over at How to get from 0 to pregnant in 365 easy steps for tagging me. I love your blog! It's full of honesty and humor - two things I very much need these days! Also a big shout out to your beautiful feet. I was voted in high school for "best hands" for their delicate beauty. Together we would be a most distinguished set of appendages.

The rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules.
3) Share six non-important things / habits / quirks about yourself.
4) Tag at least three people.
5) Make sure the people you tagged KNOW you tagged them by commenting what you did.

Okay here goes....
1) I love personification. As you might have guessed already from my videos, I love giving inanimate objects human traits and emotions. I am not sure why but it just puts a smile on my face. It somehow opens up a whole new world of story telling. I just bought a teal blue cozy that fits on a wine bottle like a snug sweater. Love it. 

2) There are two physical skills that somehow I missed in the basic training of life. One is pill swallowing and the other is eye drops. I never learned how to swallow pills with water. I have to eat a banana or some kind of food, then throw the pill into the mix, and finally swallow. It's like I try to trick my brain into thinking the pill is not there. So I cannot fathom how people take a fist full of vitamins and throw 'em back with some water, or even no water! And then eyeballs just gross me out. Anything having to do with them just gives me the oogies. So putting in eyes drops is a near impossible feat. I either have to continuously blink and pour a load of the drops on my eyelid and hope some gets in, or I guess get strapped down and tortured until I open my eyes. 

3) I don't consider myself an asocial game player with a barmaid, dragon, or alien costume in the closet. But I have been to a game tournament. The big kind, yes, at a convention hall with all sorts of characters in attendance. I, my husband, and some friends became obsessed with a board game a couple years ago and decided to join a competition. I can't say that I was the winner, but my friend made it to the finals. No costumes involved. 

4) I can't stand the feeling of wet hair on my neck. After a shower I must immediately put on a towel turban to relieve myself of that feeling. 

5) Two things I hate doing alone - driving and going to the movie theater. As a young woman in my 20s I traveled the world alone. I've been to far off countries across the globe all on solo missions. But now in my, eh hum, more mature age, I seem to have become a more nervous nilly. I hate driving to unknown places by myself. Some of this I blame on not using a car much after years living in New York City and also on failing eye sight. Now for movie theaters, I prefer this to be a shared experience. Part of the joy of a theater for me is sharing some popcorn, grabbing someone's arm at a scary part, and yapping about how good or bad it was right afterwards. So I have never gone to a movie theatre alone.

6) I used to have a big, I mean, BIG, ugly, brown birthmark above my right knee. It was diamond shaped and grew hair. As a child my parents used to coo at me, "Oh, it's so cute. We will never lose you because we always have an identifying mark to help people recognize you." Then as a teenager, it wasn't so cute, in fact, it royally sucked. I wore long skirts a lot because I hated the stares and the "what's that?!" At 18, I bit the bullet and got it taken off. Now I have a sizable scar above my knee. Ironically it didn't completely stop the "what's that?" but now I can make up wild scar stories like "It's from Iraq" or "I got stabbed by a very short person."

So now I will be tagging:

Schatzi at From the Peanut Gallery
My online buddy group member, Amy at Happily Ever After
and katarinajellybeana at Just One Bean

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Roast the Pig! Bring on the Year of the Rat!

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Little Miss Positive and I were right on the same page today. It's all about renewal. Ring in the lunar new year and be gone you rotten year of the pig. That's right. "Abidia Abidia Abidia, Th Th Thats All Folks!" Now don't get me wrong, I am in fact born in the pig year (1971) so last year I was elated with the thought of giving birth in 2007. How full circle that would be - the red fire pig year being the auspicious year for child-bearing. Well, I missed that boat. 

But then Little Miss Positive reminded me that perhaps that was the wrong boat to begin with. The pig year was one of general misery and frustration for me. So Little Miss Positive said, "Book 'Em, Dano!" See ya in 2019 porker. Now the year of the rat brings change. Starting off my next IVF in this new lunar year feels good. So we spent the day getting to know our little rat friends and celebrating a great new zodiac cycle. The pig being the last of the 12 animals, we are now back to the beginning with the rat. It's truly a fresh start.

To quote from the wonders of the internet: "A Rat Year is a time of hard work, activity, and renewal. This is a good year to begin a new job, get married, launch a product or make a fresh start"; "Babies born under this sign are intelligent and hard working. They are intelligent, curious, sociable born leaders who do well in any group, but value ties with family and close friends more than social contacts."

So Little Miss Positive and I had a good adventure today, in fact a great one. We were reminded of all the potential good change there is out there in this world. All of us IVFers will continue to work hard and should expect new beginnings. So I wish you all a very Happy Lunar New Year!

Stay tuned for more adventures of Little Miss Positive. Posted weekly here on Channel IVF, The Art of Being Infertile.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

CD21: And, we're out of the gates!


I never thought this day would arrive. I've sat poised for so long ready to jockey my race horse full speed ahead only to be told time and time again "Not yet." But today the bullhorn has blown and the gates flew wide open.

As I surge forward, blinders on, kicking up dirt, toward the baby finish line, it's first important to note that my long and torturous wait for zero has come to an end. After 11 weeks, my HCG is finally negative. Now, because this is the wacky world of infertility, today is like "opposites day." Picture this: I walk backwards, I love chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, I go uptown instead of downtown, I am tall instead of short, and of course, most importantly, I must switch my brain from wanting a negative beta to longing for a positive one. 

Now that I have this clean slate, another important change has occurred. Falling on the same day as this beta, I was allowed to also do my CD21 test. I'm in a bit of shock that my nurse's phone call is actually informing me of good news. All is well in uterus land and I've gotten the green light to start lupron. 

So I am taking the reigns, even to the point where I will be doing this first shot tonight by myself. I wish I could say I'm doing this because of a new sense of empowerment, but it's really because my husband is away on a business trip and what choice do I have? But point being, I will be putting aside my wimpy squeamish self to break out that first needle (luckily the smallest one) and on the count of 3 - one...two...three! - I will do the deed with my very own hands. IVF#3 is finally beginning and I'm ready.