Friday, December 24, 2010

My wishes are modest

I'm feeling terribly no-nonsense at the moment and this will be reflected in my Christmas wishes to you. I know that for some of you, this Christmas is really going to be awesome. And for some, it's going to be so-so or perhaps miserable.

The forecast on mine is so-so with a chance of crappy. Maybe the pinot noir in the car can help it a bit. 

But wherever you are and whatever state of mind you are, here is what I wish for you. May you have moments of being in the present moment and fully inhabiting your life exactly as it is right now. May you be able to taste the joy of being alive, whether that's done in sipping a good wine, receiving a warm hug, laughing with someone you love, or trapping snowflakes on your eyelashes.

My second wish is obvious: May the stork visit all of us who have been waiting on her for far too long. And may those of you who have a date with the stork already scheduled, may she bring you a healthy and content little one.

Merry Christmas, dear women. Joy and peace to you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I'm back. I wasn't far, just not in posting distance. Well, I did post some comments, but that's about all I could manage. I am still trying to catch up with comments. Please forgive your slow little owl. 

This new schedule is a bit grueling. The Monday morning drives have so far been 2 for 2 brutal ones, where the 90 minute drive gets stretched to 2-2.5 hours. I'm hoping for the best for tomorrow, but who knows. Snow squalls have been relentless. Here's my typical morning routine. 6:15: wake up, drink water, rub eyes. 6:17: think about morning yoga practice. 6:20, walk to the front window of the guest house where I'm staying and assess the situation. 6:21: Holy moly! There's a ton of snow in the driveway! Screw yoga, I have to shovel this snow. 7:35: Back inside the house, sweaty and with mildly achy back. Yoga would be nice now, but I have to get to work!

The new job is going well. I like the people I work with and the team-based approach is something I really enjoy. It must be said that I had moments of feeling completely overwhelmed this week. The responsibilities I have on our team are not slim and my self-doubts were reminding me far too often that I wouldn't measure up. But my self-doubts haven't cornered the market on truth, so they can voice their opinions, but I don't have to buy what they're selling.

And Christmas. What? Is that really happening this year? I've been dreading it and now it's upon us and I haven't done a thing about it. I don't even have a present for Mr. August.

We got "the package" from the fertility clinic this week, making the egg donation all the more imminent and real. The price tag was a bit hard to see, even if I know how much it is and even if I know that it is far less than treatment in the US. It's just that I haven't worked for money since June and my husband is an organic farmer. You do the math. We can access more money, but it will require asking parents. I was hoping to avoid that situation with my new job, but it looks like they want the ivf paid in full by Feb. 2, which may not give me enough time to amass the sum of money needed and pay for my (hopefully last effing) tuition in January, rent at two places, and manage my current debt. Like many people, money worries make me a bit coockoo, but I don't need to go on about it here. Many of you are in the same boat, I suspect, because no matter where you live, fertility treatments ain't cheap and life doesn't stop because you're infertile and need to pay for treatments.

My quest to welcome visions of a pregnancy (my pregnancy) continues. I went out for brunch with a friend this morning and when she was asking about next year at this time, I said "well, I could be on mat leave". It's not something I would say to someone who doesn't know about our journey, but it was safe with her. I think about December 2011 and allow that this may be the month when we welcome our baby. I'm not entirely comfortable with it, but I'm going with the 'if you can't make it, fake it' principle on this one.

I've decided to let myself hope. If the egg donation fails, it will hurt like hell. But no amount of holding off on hope right now can prevent that pain. It will hurt either way: whether I hope for it now or stop myself from hoping. Yet it's hard to imagine it working if I don't allow for it in my mind and in my body.

 Funny how hope for a pregnancy and baby through egg donation has not taken away the pain of infertility. Not really any of the pain at all. What part of me thought it would, I wonder. I've had two most beloved friends call in the last 2 weeks to announce their pregnancy. I wish it weren't so painful, but it is. They were both stellar, amazing, sensitive and immensely compassionate in how they conveyed the news. Both of them cried because it hurt their feelings to hurt mine. It also broke my heart that their great news couldn't be shared in a more ebullient way. IF gets in the way of so much, and I just resent it for interfering.

It feels hard to reconcile these different stances and the conflict inside feels hard to manage. Hope, pain, hope, pain. Sometimes, in kind of a superstitious way, I start to fear that letting the pain have some space could negate my investment in hope.

Enough ramblings. I hope you have a great week before Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

IF in the media

Remember when I got interviewed for an article and posted my answers here? Well, the article came out yesterday. Here is the link to it below. I'm not sure what I think about it, yet, but I wanted to share anyway.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Synthesizing Blockage

You may not have time for a TED talk right at the moment, but this one is worth it. So when you get home tonight, come back to this post and click on the link above. Sit down, maybe with a cup of deliciously bitter Chinese herb/mushroom tea (ok, I'm speaking for myself here), kick back and take it all in. It's glorious. Dan Gilbert pushes the limits of what we thought about happiness by explaining how we manufacture happiness in our brain cells, even when we think there is no happiness to be found. I viewed this talk 4 years ago and have come back to it many times since, because I find it so compelling.

The Cole's Notes: Dan Gilbert, a flamboyant Harvard social psychologist, describes how we're each built with a psychological immune system. What does that mean? He argues what the Buddhists have known for millennia, that the external conditions of our lives are not what creates happiness in humans. Well, not long term happiness anyway. He says we overestimate the importance of external events in their ability to make us happy, when in fact they don't matter that much. We can create happiness out of shitty circumstances no problem, Gilbert says. Watch the talk to see how he demonstrates this through a series of interesting experiments. He also peppers his talk with astounding anecdotal accounts.

The Kicker: In one of the experiments he discusses towards the end of his talk, Gilbert describes how two groups of students were compared on their ability to synthesize happiness. In both groups,  students took a photography course. After taking a number of pictures on campus, they were taught how to develop the pictures and were allowed to develop 2 large size pictures. Both groups of students were told that they would be allowed to pick one and relinquish the other as proof of participation. Students in one group (reversible group) were told that if they changed their minds over the next 4 days and wanted to switch pictures, that would be totally cool. Students in the other group (non-reversible group) were told that their decision was final. When contacted 3 days and 6 days later, those in the non-reversible group, those whose decision was final, liked their pictures a lot. Those who were still deliberating about exchanging their pictures (reversible group), really weren't happy with their picture.  Gilbert concludes that those in the reversible group were not able to properly synthesize happiness because they were left ruminating about changing their picture.

The IF-Link: I've been reading IF blogs for a while now and I'm always trying to draw patterns in the data I find there. Mea culpa: I can't help it, really. It's not that I see your blogs as data. It's more that I think about your blogs and your lives as those of individuals 80% of the time, and I think about broad trends in the data about 20% of the time. That's just my over-intellectualized defense, trying to make sense out of a world of chaos. Anyway, you can hate me now, but let me make my point. I was reading Jess' blog post today about how something in her just snapped and she no longer wants to be stuck on feeling miserable because she doesn't have a baby. It got me thinking about how much we put on this external event and how much we expect it to bring us happiness. Don't get me wrong: I'm 100% certain that having children will make us all happy. The part that I'm thinking about right now is the unhappiness in the meantime, as Jess so aptly describes.

I feel like the "unhappiness in the meantime" has largely to blame the sense of reversibility many experience in the way treatments are structured. The choice is always all on patients; there are always more complex (and expensive) treatments to solve the problem of infertility; it is rarely final unless: a) the woman achieves pregnancy or b) the couple gets off the ART ride. I mean, is there anyone reading this who have been told by their RE that there was nothing more they could do for you? I'm not bitching about having options here, I'm just making a point that all this choice of further treatments is actually, in Dan Gilbert's words, stopping us from synthesizing happiness. If treatments had finality somehow, we would be able to move on. Psychologically, this would be at our advantage. Yet, since many have gotten pregnant only after several grueling years of fertility treatments and quitting sooner would have obviated that success, it would also represent a disadvantage.

I am not suggesting that we quit trying and I am not putting down any of us for our persistence. I just want to highlight what I think makes women and couples miserable in this process (aside from the obvious lack of infant in their arms). If Infertility was like amputation, we would move on with the business of living our lives without our right arm. But IF is the land of question marks, of reversibility, of maybe one more time or with a different RE. It never lets the dust inside us settle, but instead keeps us actively focused on external outcomes for a chance at happiness.

May we all take utter delight in a small joy today and remember that it's in us to feel, this happiness I speak of. May we all get our babies home, and may we remember to find joy in the meantime.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I made it to work by a decent time on my first day. I even got there before my manager. Turns out that a gigantic snow storm was just getting going in FTT and like a dart, I landed smack dab in the bulls' eye. It started snowing on Sunday morning at some point and ended around 5pm today (Tuesday). The latest estimates puts the snowfall at about 1 meter (3.3 feet), and another 20 centimeters (8 inches) is forecasted to fall overnight. 

My little Neko  has done very well at plowing through the glorious mounds. I have been zooming around town without much difficulty, which is more than I can say for many who drive on their all season tires. Yes: I am a winter tire snob. 

All this snow is making me nostalgic. I've been reminiscing of my childhood in Québec in which snow featured centrally.  My native province is known for its cold weather and abundant snowfall, which typically begin shortly after Halloween and ends mid- to late April (with a few May snow storms on record). There is no point in hating snow if you live in Québec. It's like saying you don't like sand in the Kalahari. You're really in the wrong place.

I took a walk this evening and noticed many snows delights. Snow makes a city much quieter than usual. It absorbs sounds and creates this cottony silence. I can't tell you how much peace my heart derives out of that silence. I saw Christmas lights in trees covered in snow. I saw two kids giggling themselves silly as they slid down the 6 feet high snow mound in the driveway. And then 2 more kids ducking inside their snow fort at the approach of an enemy presence (i.e. me). I felt the biting wind on my cheeks and thought about my long down coat I left in Pleasantville. I walked on the street because sidewalks had not been cleared and would have needed to wade up to mid-thigh. I love the snow so much.

Whereas day 1 at work was very full, day 2 was cut short by this snowmania. Employees got sent home at noon. I wondered briefly if I would accrue brownie points by staying past noon, but it appeared that all lights were turned off and all offices were locked shut. I briefly contemplated staying and getting some important reading done for my new job, but then thought about the important revisions I had to do for my dissertation. I high tailed it out of there. I thought working at Star.bucks would be fun, maybe I could even get a decaf soy latte to crank up the juices, but I banged my nose on the locked door. The whole city was shutting down fast. City buses have now stopped running and will only re-start on Thursday morning.

I say this is a good start for the little owl. A gradual entry into my work duties because of snow was not what I expected, but I accept it happily. Thanks for your encouragements for my Sunday night post. I was a tad anxious and it felt reassuring to read your comments.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quaking Owl

That's me, loosing a few feathers as I write this. 

I'm gathering myself together and trying to pack for tomorrow morning's drive out to FTT (fertility treatment town). I start my  new job there in the morning. Huge amounts of snow have been falling on that city, with much more to come today, this evening and overnight. I'm feeling nervous about the drive, on top of feeling nervous about everything else. Such big shoes to fill in this new position (and such tiny little owl feet to fill them). Argh! It is so uncomfortable when doubt grips you by the ovaries. You'd think with my non-functioning ovaries, I wouldn't feel it, but that's a misconception.

I'm trying to borrow some confidence from my friends who can see me more clearly. They know I can do it and they are very smart people. So, my job is just to trust what others see in me, and stop asking myself to see it at this moment. I may be able to do that later, but apparently not today.

A trip to the gym, packing, book club, more packing, an hour with Mr. August, and then bedtime. Up at 5:30 tomorrow and saying a little prayer for my drive, hoping I make it in one piece.

In other news, I met with my advisor this morning who gave me some revisions to look after. About 1-2 days' worth or work. And then it's off to the committee. We calculated a mid-March defense. This is exactly when I'm anticipating the ET to happen. I'm already imagining my call to me advisor: "Um...March 14 isn't probably going to work, because that's possibly when 2 embryos will be inserted into my ute in hopes that they become babies. Can we do it on the 17th?"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A little sweetness

I was so excited to read that the lovely Ashley over at Calmly Chaotic picked me for a Cherry on Top award. It made me blush! Thank you very much for this award, Ashley. I invite you all to go visit her gorgeous blog for three important reasons: 1) She is passionate about design and posts the most beautiful finds she hunts down in between injections, 2) She is Canadian like me and admit it, you love Canadians, and 3) She is in the midst of her first IVF cycle and had her egg retrieval yesterday. She would gladly receive your comments and encouragements.

And now, I would like to pass this award on to these 5 beautiful bloggers (even if I have the great pleasure of reading more than 5 beautiful blogs)

Egghunt at Still Searching for our Golden Egg 
Rebecca at The Road Less Traveled 
Lady Pumpkin at Planting a Pumpkin Patch
Roccie at Roccie Road
Misfit at Misfit Mrs

(gosh, that was hard to pick just 5. I wanted to pick at least 20. Ok, I know, play by the rules.). Here are the rules: Link back to the person who awarded you, and then pick five blogs to pass on the award too.  Make sure to comment on the awarded blogs so they know they've been picked.

In non-cupcake award-related matters, I wanted to let you know that the cell phone purchase is going down tonight. Yikes! Roccie totally shone a spotlight on my cold sweats. I am a bit nervous, indeed. I'll have to learn how to text! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I am such a freak. My 72-year-old father has a cellphone, and I'm ill at ease at the thought of getting one. What can I tell you?

In other news, Sattva just passed her board exams yesterday. It's a huge, big deal. I am so, SO thrilled for her! I thought you would be happy for her too, since I know many of you have a fondness for our beloved Sattva.

As for me, I must sign off and go worry about my tables, figures and appendices, if I ever want to get to the board exams stage. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In transition

I've been pulled in a few different directions lately, my friends, and I apologize for not being as present here with you. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Holiday. I've been thinking of you and catching up with your blogs here and there. I plan to sit down for a bigger catch up session this week.

This is my last full week in Pleasantville before my job starts next Monday. I'll be working in Fertility Treatment Town (FTT), which is about 90 minutes away. This means that I have to stay in that city during the week and come home to Mr. August and chicken (my kitty) only on weekends. Sigh. That's a bit hard for us. We did it for a full year while I was on my clinical internship and it was manageable. But it feels hard to gather momentum to leave this time. I like our little life here. But the thing is that psychologist jobs are really excellent in FTT, much better than in this area. This is how I agreed to take this contract for a year. It will give me great experience and build up my c.v. to get a good job closer to Pleasantville next year.

The other great thing about this job is that it's a mat leave coverage. Yes, in Canada, a mat leave lasts for a year. The psychologist I'm replacing is off on her second mat leave. During her first mat leave (when I was a resident there), another female psychologist covered her mat leave. And this psychologist got pregnant during the time she covered the mat leave. Call me superstitious, but methinks that's a fertile position to be in.

So this week is a bit of a mad dash to the finish line. Still trying to do the last bits on my dissertation (the reference list took me 4 days to finalize. Darn 6th edition of the APA publication manual and its requirement for digital object identifiers), finish some TA duties, get a hair cut (comes with the real job), etc. Oh, and you should sit down for this next one and put on a helmet. It might blow your mind. You sitting? Ok. I am going to. get. a. cellphone. YES! It's true. I've been resisting the 21st century for over 10 years now, but it's time to be a modern woman. I thought I'd go full hog and get an, but upon questioning myself more, I realized I just wanted to have what the cool kids have. I'll just get a plane jane cellphone and that will meet my needs just fine. A cell phone will be useful in case of an emergency in my drives between here and there. Also, with the upcoming DE cycle, I realized I wanted to be available to take calls.

Speaking of the DE cycle...We have appointments booked! Mr. August and I are going to meet with the psychologist on Jan. 4 and Sattva and her husband will meet with him two days later on the 6th. Our big orientation half day will be on Feb. 2, which is to say that that's when the cycle will start. I was excited to book those dates.

I'm trying to let my mind go to the place where I visualize myself pregnant, where I think of this working out. It's hard to do after having quashed all those thoughts for the last year. I think all my life I imagined I would be pregnant someday and have babies. Once the treatments failed last year though, I would stop those kinds of daydreams anytime they appeared. I just told myself that it wasn't going to happen, that I had to start envisioning my life differently. It's now reflexive to do that. However, in the last week or so, I'm trying to just allow my mind to imagine pregnancy again. I know that I need to allow it in my mind. I need to see it. I need to know that it is coming. I need to my mind and my body to work as a team, both of them ready to welcome an embryo and grow it into a baby.

And of course, being so focused on acceptance, I also want to allow my grief. I have felt a good dose of it lately. I have been so incredibly saddened by the hardships that some of you have faced in the recent weeks. I'm speaking specifically of Roccie, R, and Jess. As it does for all of us, your grief has resonance with my grief. And so, I've been spending time in that sad, dark place with you, dear women. I feel so sad that things didn't work out for you, and I feel so much grief for myself and for our collective that IF exists and breaks our hearts again and again.

Nurturing the hope and honouring the grief.
Not an easy balancing act.
I'll keep working on it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Bloggiversary & Welcome ICLW

If you're stopping by for ICLW, I wish you a warm welcome. Thanks for stopping by. I'm a bit of a wordy person (which I attribute to my French upbringing), so I'll give you a brief synopsis of my dealio. I'm a 36-year-old Canadian woman with hypothalamic amenorrhea. My husband (Mr. August) and I went through fertility treatments that failed miserably in October 2009. Since then, our beloved friend Sattva has offered to donate her eggs to help us have kids. Earlier this week, we were given the green light to go ahead with the egg donation. We are looking at January or February. If you want to read more about our story, you can check out this post. 

It has been one year today since I started blogging. I'm still here! I wasn't sure I would keep it up, especially around April and May. I had not found many friends in blogland at that point and felt I was only writing to myself. That was ok. I like writing, and because it is public, writing on my blog encouraged me to organize my thoughts a little bit more than in my journal. It was a powerful first step for me to start writing publicly. I am fairly private person and I certainly hold back from talking about my sorrows, although that's largely cultural, isn't it. I didn't think anyone was reading the blog, but it felt helpful to just write. The pain of realizing I would not have children with my own eggs was engulfing me. I had trouble eating and getting through each day. I did a lot of pretending in public, but inside I felt entirely hollowed out. At some point I thought about my friend Poulet Secret who suggested to me a few years ago that I try blogging. She knows me well and thought that it would be my cup of tea. She was right. This goes on the very long list of my debt to her, this beautiful friend.

The solo season of my blog slowly turned into an interactive experience in early summer. This was great timing indeed. I was about to quit my pain in the arse job and throw myself entirely into my dissertation: a lonely endeavor indeed. And all of sudden, there you all were! I can't remember how it happened but to me, it came as a revelation. Infertility had been a most isolating journey up to then. I thank all my lucky stars that I have amazing IRL friends who, although they (thank the Lord) are not infertile, have vast capacities to sit with sorrow. They sat with me and mine beautifully. Discovering all of you out there was an added grace.

Nobody's story is exactly the same, although each is marked by so much disappointment and agony and hope. I found a mirror in each of your stories and felt inspired by your tremendous strength. I was amazed at how much most of you had endured and were still fighting for your hearts' deepest desire. After lurking for some time, I decided to risk leaving comments.  And low and behold, you started leaving me some comments. I was astounded. It was nice to care about something again after being numb with pain for so long.

Where will this blog take me and where will I take it? I don't answer questions about the future, expect maybe that I'm pretty sure I'll keep flossing (that one's for you, Roccie). I know that it depends on what happens with having children. A blog about infertility is no longer useful when infertility is no longer a central aspect of one's life. I fear that a little. Not the resolution or surmounting/bypassing of infertility through whatever means, but the question of what happens to our friendships. These connections have become so important for this solitary little owl.

I wish for our continued friendships. But I would like to say that I'd give that up for the assurance that we will all bring our children home soon. 

Thank you for this year, for your friendship, for reading. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green Light

It's been a whirlwind since coming back from the trip to Seattle and I haven't caught up on all your news yet, but I have gleaned some of the main headings. I feel really sad for Roccie, for R, for Adele, for Lady Pumpkin and for Foxy. Their recent attempts at conception failed. There is no rhyme or reason as to why those valiant attempts failed. There rarely are good reasons, are there? Just shitty IF. That's all. Women, I hold you in my heart, hope that your next steps to motherhood lead you exactly there.

On the heals of our trip to Seattle was a trek to fertility treatment town for our follow-up appointment with Dr. RE about the egg donation. That was yesterday afternoon. As much as I ruminated about it last week, I did not feel nervous about it yesterday. I was just happy to spend time with Sattva. I like our treks over there because of the time it affords us to hang out. A 3pm appointment meant that the waiting room was empty and our bubbliness went unnoticed by absent somber patients.

The exam rooms are arranged for couples, and like I noted last time, it ill fits a group of three. Mr. August sat on the Dr.'s chair, and I wondered how that would go down when the doc walked into the exam room. Dr. RE showed me he was cooler than I thought by just sitting on the exam bed in a relaxed position. His poor intern however, just stood there by the door.

There seemed to be confusion at first on his part as to why we were there, as if he believed our decision had not been made and we were coming to tell him yeah or nay. It turns out we were expecting the same from him. He came out with it rather quickly that all things are well lined up for the egg donation. From a medical standpoint, Sattva is a good candidate to donate eggs. Her CD3 FSH levels were within normal, she had good antral follicle count and everything else seemed fine. He explained the risks to her and we talked about the time line. It looks like January or February is when this will happen. First, there are a few appointments with the psychologist, as well as an orientation for Sattva and I. Before the appointment ended, Dr. RE said we needed to settle the matter of how many embryos to transfer. This discussion seemed to make the intern laugh, which was nice. The last intern was really stoic, so it was nice to see some humanity. He said he would be willing to transfer three, but he wasn't a big proponent. He preferred 2, unless we were firmly opposed to twins. He thought one was conservative, which was what I thought as well. So should there be 2 viable embryos, 2 will be transferred.

A complex mixture of emotions is what I'm contending with this morning. I am excited and hopeful. This could work. Egg donation works. Not always, but it does. If it does, we will not only have a baby, we will also have created a new family. There will be a cousin for Sattva's children and bond between our families.

I'm also apprehensive. I feel like we have just met the height requirement to go on this gigantic roller coaster ride. Now we must go wait in line to get on and then the click of the safety harness will sound in our ears, and we will be off. Who knows in what condition we will come out of this ride. With any luck, one of us will come out vomiting.

Before the discussion with Dr. RE came to an end, I wanted to be clear on whether it was worth putting Sattva through all this; whether the end justified the means if you will. If he told us he thought the chances were pretty slim, I would for sure want to call this off. I wouldn't want her to go through this for a total shot in the dark. His answer, once again, pleased me. The word 'worth' caught his attention and he replied by putting much emphasis on discussing the worth of the endeavor.  He seemed humbled by the phenomena of altruistic egg donation (um, yeah, me too) and felt that it was worth it. He admitted to having gone through with the egg donation protocol with donors much less reproductively fit. He didn't go as far as saying it looked promising, but the three of us felt by the end that he thought this was a good idea. He's been doing this for decades and we feel that we can trust him on this.

So egg donation is a go.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Talk next week

I'm leaving for Seattle, my lovelies.
Have a great weekend. I think I will.
Looking forward to catching up on all your news next week.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The early November update

In point form:

  • The yoga workshop on trauma and stress I attended this weekend was really valuable. I learned a ton from it. A trusted teacher of mine was giving this workshop. I learned about important things in my body, not just in my head. I learned that sensations are just sensations, and that I can stay with those sensations as they come and go. This learning felt more accessible to me than what Energy Medicine Woman had to suggest. I have more trust invested in my teacher HL. That seemed to make a difference for me. The weekend provided further confirmation that I don't want to work with EMW at the moment.
  • I went to dinner at my friends who are new parents. As we say in French, I went walking backwards (j'y suis allée de reculons). I did almost call in uninterested or take Bunny's offer to punch them in the face. But in the end, I forced myself to go, thinking it was only delaying the inevitable. I made up a get out of jail free card that I had in my back pocket in case it got to be more than I could handle. I decided I would feign sudden nausea if I found myself too uncomfortable. I didn't need to use it. Dinner was fine. These friends are really nice, good people and I hadn't seen them apart from in passing since before the baby was born. The baby is totally gorgeous and smiles all the time. It was all fine. Except that because I need to survive these kinds of situations, the kind where you go into the intimate setting of new parents' bliss, I have to shut down parts of myself to survive. Because the dinner was in the midst of this yoga workshop, I noticed the shutting down more acutely. I can get through dinner and make as though everything is peachy, but the only way I've found to do that so far is to leave parts of me at home. I realized later that the evening was very hard on me. I noticed the shutting down especially as I left. The woman in the couple came out on the front porch with me after I had said goodbye to both of them. She very kindly (and nervously) told me that Mr. August had mentioned our infertility and she just wanted to let me know she understood if there were times when I could not be with them and their baby. She said she loves us and holds so dearly the possibility of us becoming parents. It was incredibly kindhearted and genuine. But I had numbed myself out already for the evening, so I wasn't able to let that in in the moment. What a shame that was. 
  • I am submitting the first draft of my dissertation today. Today. My conditioned patterns have taken over completely and I am convinced it's a complete piece of crap. But it's a piece of crap that will be out of my hands as of this afternoon. 
  • To celebrate submitting my thesis, I am going to Seattle! I've never been there, but it's intrigued me for a long time. Mr. August is in Vancouver on business, so he'll take the train down to meet me and we'll spend the weekend walking around and discovering a new city. It dawned on me that Seattle was the perfect city in which to conclude to the kind of year we've just had, one where SO MUCH RAIN has fallen. 
  • I hate flying. I get nausea and fear. See bullet 1 to know what I'm going to focus on while flying.
  • I'm so thankful for all your comments on the last post. I've continued to feel a bit down lately, but it's been soothing to read and reread your warm comments. Thank you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Doubting Thomas

I've just finished reading this great book for book club called 'Too close to the falls' by Catherine Gildiner. It's her memoir of growing up in Lewsiton, NY, a town close to Niagara Falls. She goes to a strict catholic school and because she is so incredibly bright and so incredibly impulsive, she is perpetually in trouble with the nuns. When she questions something that the sister thinks she should take on faith, she gets called a doubting Thomas. Pretty soon, even the towns people are calling her that, because she was seeking proof (little empiricist that she was). 

Today, I feel like a doubting Thomas. The November 16 appointment is coming, and I see a red light in the distance, and not a green one. There are so many reasons why the egg donation with Sattva could be nixed by the good doctor. And there are good reasons why it should go ahead. Should I take it faith? I can't seem to make myself today.

I'm feeling very sad right now. And angry. Why would a whole entire system of my body just not work at all. I know that it's much better to have your reproductive system be non-functional than say, your cardiac system. Because, you know, that's game over. But I'll bitch about my hypertension and cholesterol in the next blog I write, maybe in 15 years after my first myocardial infarct.

Of course, if Sattva cannot donate her eggs, there are still some options. The two that I've been thinking of are these ones: We can sign up for this new embryo donation/adoption program that just started in Canada for couples who have extra embryos as a result of IVF. The other option is adoption. The private clinic who facilitates the embryo adoption is the same as the adoption agency I was thinking we would use. I'm pretty firmly committed to open adoption, and this is a bit harder through the public system. I have other reservations about the public system, but no doubt, you will hear about them later.

The reasons I think it will be a red light are (neither confirmed by facts nor rational): 1) Sattva's FSH is too high and her ovarian reserve is diminishing, making the egg donation a bad decision for her and for us. 2) Some other reason will prevent Sattva from being able to donate her eggs. 3) I've already been picked as the one who won't get pregnant. Done deal. I'm just building castles in the clouds. 4) My body won't have the slightest, effing clue what to do with an embryo, given the unlikely eventuality that we get to transfer.

The reasons I think that maybe it will be a green light: 1) Sattva is a healthy 36-year-old with proven fertility. 2) There is something selfless and transcendent in the generosity of her gesture; the Universe will reward this.

To add to my general malaise today, I go a call from some friends I have been actively avoiding. These are the friends who chose us to be the first ones to tell about their pregnancy last fall. That was hell. I hid from them through the pregnancy, was conveniently in Massachusetts for the baby shower, and made myself scarce after the baby was born. But they cornered me. Mr. August went over a few days ago, before he left on a business trip. So they knew he was away and wanted to have me over for dinner tonight. After I said I was focusing on my thesis, he persisted in finding a date when I could come over. My duck was cooked. I have to go over on Saturday and share a meal with them and their smugness (and their baby). I'm in no mood for that at the moment.

Ok, that's plenty of grapes of wrath for now. On a different note, I want to mention that there was a bright spot to my day. Jess at A little blog about the big infertility had a giveaway and guess who won 2nd prize???? That's right, kids! Yours truly. So excited!! THANK YOU JESS! The prize is one of her beautiful prints. I'm tickled.

Thesis update: General discussion is written, but still very rough. But that's a full document I have in front of me. Submitting to my advisor next week for a first read through.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

this owl's flight

I gave Energy Medicine Woman her pink slip on Thursday. I did it nicely, explaining that it simply wasn't the right time for me to open up this pandora's box. It's not like I haven't looked in there before, mind you. I have and I will again. But the timing of doing it now to the extent she was proposing just sucks. I feel like my therapy appointments every two weeks and the work I do with Dr. Ninja is plenty. And gosh, on top of that, I'm attending a 15 hr yoga workshop on trauma and healing next weekend. Can you spell overload? My cortisol levels sure can. I gave the EMW a try and thought about returning, but in the end it didn't feel right. You all reflected that back to me so clearly in your comments. Thank you, women. You are the best.

Her reply to my email was interesting. Here's the first line: "I'm sorry to hear that your last session has left you struggling to concentrate on your thesis and feeling emotional. You do know that that means there is more work to be done :)" Dude! What is up with that? And then at the end she says she'll tell Dr. Ninja about "my decision". Am I 12 years old? Will I go to the principal's office for this? Anyway, I was mildly rattled by those little comments, but I also believe that she is a kind person and wants to help me. So, I've left the door open and may return at some point.

That felt like a good thing to do. I tried, it didn't sit entirely well with me, and I decided not to pursue it further. I used my own wisdom to guide my decision making. Where's the like button I can click?

On Friday, I had an acupuncture appointment followed immediately by an appointment with Dr. Ninja. I wondered what he would say and I thought that if he didn't support me, it would really be tough on me. I saw my therapist on Wednesday, and he was, as always, fantastic. Totally cut through all the crap and said that I knew exactly what was good for me and when. And yes I do know. Thank you. But Dr. Ninja is not someone I know as well and he is the one who referred me to EMW. My subconscious did funny things:

1) the night before, I had this very intense dream. In the dream, I was in my bedroom in my childhood home. The house was on fire. There was a man and a woman with me in the bedroom and we were looking to vacate the premises asap. I suggested running as fast as we could through the smoke and leaving through the front door. We opened the door to the hallway; the smoke was billowing thick and the man said we would die before getting out. We had to leave through the window. My mind was running a thousand miles per hour thinking about how we would get out through the window. I thought of bedsheets, tied together, and lowered to the ground from the second floor. Then they showed me the way out the window, where a steady, stable ladder was ready for use.  If you'll excuse a moment of Jungian analysis here, I'd like to point out that going back into the burning house was not the best option in my dream. 

2) On the acupuncture table, I had a vivid memory of working at this snooty clothing store when I was 17-18 and the boss was a crazy woman. I think she lived on coke alone, and I don't mean the kind that comes in a can. Anyway, one day, I did something she didn't like and tore a strip off me in front of the entire staff working that day (about 20 people). I hadn't thought about that incident in years, but there it was. I think I had this recollection during acupuncture because I was anticipating Dr. Ninja to scold me about ditching EMW.  Of course, I no longer am 17 and I would have very politely told him where to go had he tried to scold me, but I realized I was anxious about it.

Met with Dr. Ninja. The man is so warm, I had to loosen my scarf a little. We talked about the state of affairs in my body, my mind, my heart. He asked about my anxiety. I said it hadn't been awful, except for the day of and the day after seeing EMW, and followed that by telling him it didn't seem like the right time for me to be doing that. Except that he was already ahead of me. He said "your thesis! Very important to you!" Dr. Ninja totally got it. He immediately said that if the timing wasn't right, there would be no healing. He said that I had all the wisdom I needed, and that my decision was the best one for me. He reiterated that the goal was to make me as healthy as possible for the work I'm about to begin in my career and for raising a family.  Dr. Ninja thought I was changed already. He said my pulse had changed and with my report that my GI symptoms were almost all gone, he was totally pleased. Not as much as I am, let me tell you. It was a great appointment. The man even convinced me to stay off coffee a little longer.

I continue all the supplements and the bitter tea. I go to acupuncture once a week. And I otherwise keep on taking good care of myself. Next milestones: submitting the first draft of my thesis later this week or Monday the 8th. Appointment with Dr. RE on November 16, where we find out if Sattva can donate her eggs. Start my new job on December 6. Continue to floss, blog, eat peanut butter and do yoga.

Happy Monday, my beauties.
Your Augusta.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Email interview

Funny things happen when you have a blog. Would you agree? A while back, a representative from a fertility clinic wrote a comment on one of my posts. It did not seem like a computer generated comment, but something in the ball park of a response to what I had written in the post. I thought it was so strange at first and I was even a bit miffed. What the heck is going on? I thought. In reality, this is the public domain and anybody can read what I write and comment (and I can delete those comments if I so chose). 
I think that it would be so interesting to do research using the infertility blogs. I think my nose is way too close to the tree to even be able to imagine a day when I could see a forest, but it would be such an interesting data base to work from. Again, because it's in the public domain, this type of archival research would be easily approved by an IRB. Can you tell I'm procrastinating from writing my diss?

A journalist emailed me the other day because she had found my blog and was interested in writing a story about IUI and IVF, and infertility in general. She asked me a few questions by email and I've put my answers below. The questions are in black and the answers in green. If you have anything you would like to add, or you would like to answer these questions, I will direct the journalist to my blog and she can take a look at your answers. 
I've replied to your questions below, in a different colour. Hope this helps. Feel free to email for any clarifications or follow questions.

Augusta, (of course, this is not my real name. I use the pseudonym to remain anonymous)

Thanks for your response. I did know that Canada and the United States differed quite a bit, so I will not bother and ask about donors or anything like that, especially since you have mainly dealt with IUI.

Would you mind if I asked you a few questions then?  Basically, I want to hear from the actual patient's point of view on what it is like to go through the IUI process, whether it is generally successful or not, and whether (you, the patient) have also considered IVF. 

Going through the IUI process was a hopeful one at first. It felt like we were actually doing something that would lead us to having our child. Staff of the clinic we dealt with had come to our town for a presentation of their Infertility Treatment Services. My husband and I had gone to that presentation and knew that this was the clinic where we would seek treatment (we already knew that intervention would be required since I had longstanding issues with my cycles). We had consulted a RE (reproductive endocrinologist) in Toronto a few months prior, and we felt pressured to embark on treatment without carefully evaluating our options.

It took about 5 months to start treatment from the time my GP referred us to the fertility clinic (January 2009). After our initial appointment with the RE (March 2009), we had to go through a bunch of tests (blood tests for both of us, vaginal ultrasounds and an HSG for me). In May 2009, we started our treatments in earnest. We first had a big orientation appointment. We met with our nurse case manager for a few hours. She talked to us about the IUI process, taught the procedure for injections. My husband had to give a semen sample at that appointment as well. I had another ultrasound. Then we met with the team Psychologist for about 90 minutes. We talked about the psychological components of infertility and treatments. We talked about what could make us vulnerable as individuals and as a couple, as well as what made us strong and resilient.

The treatment involved injecting myself daily with gonadotropins (LH & FSH; which sadly, my body doesn't produce) and monitoring. This involved blood work 3-4 times per week and ultrasounds at the clinic. Our first attempt failed, and the cycle got canceled. The meds were not successful in stimulating my ovaries to produce follicles. In summer 2009, the RE tried a priming protocol, where I was a nigh doses of estrogen to build a lining in my uterus and prime my ovaries. I started the injections again in September, but once again, the cycle got canceled because of poor response.

IVF was not an option available to us at that point. The ovaries need to be able to be stimulated to do an IVF cycle and mine weren't. Our only option left was egg donation. This summer (2010) a friend of ours came forward with the offer of becoming an egg donor for us. We have gone ahead with this process and are at the end of doing all the preliminary investigations. We have an appointment in mid-November where we will find out if she can in fact be a donor and determine a time line. Egg donation is an IVF procedure split between two women. What I mean is, Sattva (my donor's pseudonym) will undergo the ovarian stimulation (injections, close monitoring) and then her mature eggs will be retrieved and fertilized with my husband's sperm. Once the eggs have fertilized (3-5 day process), one or two blastocysts will be inserted into my uterus. Fingers crossed, that will lead to a successful pregnancy.     

Also, I know that in the U.S., in various states, IVF must be covered by insurance. But in Missouri and most states, it is not always covered or sometimes only covered in half.  How does this work generally in Canada--this might be too broad--but does it simply vary according to your insurance plan or is there a nationwide ruling on whether IVF is covered or not?  Your IUI treatments were covered by your insurance, yes?

There is no federal coverage for infertility treatments because health care is a provincial mandate for the most part. To date, only 1 province (Quebec -where I'm from originally) has ruled in favour of paying for IUI and up to 3 IVF cycles. I live in Ontario, and those procedures are not covered. At the start of our treatments, my extended benefits package at work covered fertility drugs (which are stupidly expensive), but not all plans would cover those. We never got to the actual IUI, but we would have had to pay for that procedure, which I think was aroung $2, 500.
I am also interested in the psychological/emotional dealings you have to go through when undergoing IUI treatments and considering what you want your next step to be.  Even just a few words on what this process has been like for you are appreciated.

I think if you have read any of the blogs, mine included, you can see that the emotional and psychological impact of infertility is immense. Compounded to the heartbreak of infertility are the fertility treatments themselves. Fertility treatments are not for the faint of heart. The process is a grueling one in every way and there are no guarantees. Surviving on hope alone, women suffer from a host of psychological and emotional difficulties related to the stress of the treatments, the worry of never succeeding, and the impact on their physical and social selves.

The roller coaster metaphor is an apt one, and many of us have used it to describe the emotional process of IUI or IVF (and natural) cycles. You start out with hope and worry, but you try to let the hope prevail. You get totally run down by the meds, the many appointments, the stress of missing work, etc. Then the procedure happens and you wait in hope, and very often, it fails and you come crashing down. All of this against a back drop of your friends, relatives, and neighbours getting pregnant, hosting baby showers and giving birth. It is all very, very painful.
Infertility changes a person in so many ways. It has been a significant challenge in my life. I suffered from depression after our treatments failed. When our friend offered her eggs, I couldn't even consider her offer at first, because I was to afraid to even let myself hope again. But we decided it was worth a try and so I decided to take the risk of hoping again, knowing there would be other options if this did not work out (e.g. embryo donation, adoption). I think the following quote sums up how I felt about trying again:
 “To grow, to be reborn, one must remain vulnerable--open to love but also hideously open to the possibility of more suffering.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Thanks again for your help and time. I wish you the best. Just answer what applies or what you can.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


After a string of very intense posts, I wanted to interrupt that depressing trend, and bring you a bit of laughter. Mr. August and I have been loving this little didy from our friend Grover, so I wanted to share. I suspect most of you have seen this, but since I'm not a big TV watcher (haven't visited a hotel lately), it was news to me when someone posted it on facebook. I guess there is more than ultrasound pictures on there after all!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Holding my sh#t together

Hello Friends,
The last week has not been awful, not tragic, not insane, not chaotic. But it has involved revisiting my past. And so the last week has rattled me like a little earthquake. It really was only maybe a 4 on the Richter scale. Minor, but felt across the land of Augusta. 

After I came back from my trip to my home province, I visited Energy Medicine Woman on Monday. That was a 3 hour appointment and she lives and practices an hour from where I live. So that involved a big chunk of the day. Keeping an open mind, I just decided to go with it. 

For those of you who are new, this post explains about how I ended up consulting Energy Medicine Woman. Briefly, Dr. Ninja, my TCM doc recommended I go see her to work on my blocked energy. He felt that the reason I never went through puberty or had menstrual periods was because of trauma, something that rang true for me.   

Energy Medicine Woman was less flaky than I had imagined. She was a pretty straightforward German woman, with kind eyes and a genuine smile. She took a lot of time to try to understand my history. And since she's good but doesn't yet read minds, it was my job to communicate that to her. I had to unpack that ugly past again, with of course lots of tears, and a sense of falling off the earth. We then did some reprogramming of my subconscious (yeah, baby, bring it on) with this thing she does called Psych-K, and followed that up with hypnosis. It was cool. I could dig it. I had to say these phrases à la Stuart Smalley. I could deal with that. During the hypnosis, she made me visualize being pregnant, delivering a baby, and hanging out with our kid at different ages. It was really nice to see those images. 

But then the next night, it sort of turned on me. Having to talk about my past sort of stirred up the mucky bottom of the lake. There was lots of stuff on the CBC (Canadian equivalent of NPR) about the trial of a serial killer and rapist this week, and some details got to me. With Mr. August away this week on business, I ended up having a horrendous night on Tuesday. I realized that I was, what we call in my business, re-experiencing the trauma. So, as a kid (starting at 11), I was left alone at night until all hours. I was super scared and could never sleep until my dad came home (the Cakeless Monster (my mother: thanks for that one Bunny) had left by then and was living with a wife-beating narcissist. That happened night after night, and there was just nothing I could do about it. I would call my dad at work and beg him to come home, but he was drinking and had to close the bar after all the customers had left. Since then, empty houses have always been uncomfortable for me. It was useful to go through that on Tuesday, though. I realized on Wednesday that I was actually 11 years old all night and not 36, and that helped me have perspective on things. I had a much better night on Wednesday night, anchoring myself more firmly into the immutable fact that I am now a grown woman and can take care of myself very well, thank you very much.   

(Please allow me a parenthesis here for a display of my indignant rage. People like THAT are allowed to have children and I'm not? And many of you have not been able to? I understand cognitively that life is not meant to be fair, but this pushes the limits of my understanding and acceptance.)

So, at some point this week, I looked up and said: "Ok, Universe, I get it. You want me to look at it. You want me to look at that whole mess of a catastrophe that was my childhood and adolescence and make even more sense out of it than I already have. Or release it, or whatnot. I can do that, Universe. I am game. But, crap, can you just let me write the final part of my dissertation first before I become frayed at the edges and perhaps much less functional? Can we make a deal here?"  

And then I got an email from Energy Medicine Woman, which contained the following paragraphs: 

"May I be as outspoken as Dr. Ninja, Augusta? :) I have been wondering whether you are perhaps rushing into the step of having your friend donate eggs for you? :) It might be the right decision, but I would like you to first understand why your body does not produce eggs at present, what limiting beliefs are possibly behind that fact. I did hear you say that you feel you are under time pressure but I would like you to give yourself enough time to find out why your body is responding that way. The donation might very well be the right way to go, and I will do everything I can to support you to reach your goal for a successful pregnancy and birth, just don't rush into anything. :) As Dr. Ninja is balancing the body physically, let's look at the emotional and mental side of things. That at least will help you to get your body ready for the pregnancy, possibly shift even more.

I think, it's safe to say that the reason for you never having had your period lies in the trauma of abandonment, neglect and emotional abuse that you experienced as a child. It could be that your subconscious decided at age 11 that it is safer not to grow up, and/or that it bought into the message of not being worthy to be alive and to have off spring. When you were 20 you had to override that negative belief and choose consciously that you do want to live. Not producing eggs to reproduce might be a remnant from that limiting and destructive belief that you do not deserve to live. :) "

Yes, that was exactly what I was hoping to hear. Another person thinking that the egg donation should be delayed. I was taken aback, but I didn't let it bother me too much. It's her opinion, and I don't have to follow it. And the egg donation, if it goes through, isn't going to happen next week. Our next appointment is for November 16, at which point a time line will be established only if we have the green light. Sattva's CD3 blood work may have shown that her reserves are running low, and this whole egg donation discussion will be moot. 

In the mean time, I've felt a resurgence of empowerment, a clarification of priorities, a fuller appreciation of where I'm at as a whole person (wow, that makes it sound like a revelation. It wasn't exactly that. It was more like a quiet knowing). I'm doing my best with all the medical appointments and Dr. Ninja's prescriptions, but I need to make these practices mine and make them fit with my other priorities. So, at the moment, I need to finish writing the beast. That's a big priority. I've thinned out the acupuncture schedule a bit, I've delayed my next appointment with Energy Medicine Woman, and I am drinking black tea, dammit! I'm not shutting the door on doing the work to revisit my past, but I'm also wanting to be very careful in how I do that. And I want to keep moving forward with my current life. 

Signing off, and hoping to get an hour or two of work before going out for a walk with Mr. August, who came home last night. YEAH! Thank you for your wonderful comments. Your encouragements and kind words mean so much.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bonjour ICLW!

Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. Even if I have been blogging for almost a year now, this is the first time I've participated in ICLW. It took me a while to gather up momentum to do it, but here I am, hangin' with the cool kids.

You can read a bit of my history in this post. Mr. August and I have always known that having kids would be a significant focus in our life together. We tried fertility treatments, but my ovaries could not be woken up from their dormant state. A good friend has offered us her eggs and we are in the preliminary stages of a potential donor egg cycle. We have our next appointment at the fertility clinic on November 16, at which point we will find out a) that we can't proceed with this donor or b) the time line for when the DE cycle can happen. I would prefer option b. (Just so we're crystal clear, Universe). 

The cast of characters on this blog is as follows. First of all, there is all of you, wonderful friends and readers. There is moi, Augusta, Canadian girl from La Belle Province (but living in Ontario). You will find that I grumble a lot about my Ph.D. thesis and the only reason is that I am in the very final stages of writing it and it makes me want to vomit. So, sometimes I have to get that off my chest, and then I go back to infertility as a topic of diversion (!). Mr. August is my awesome husband. We just got married in March 2010. Sattva is our wonderful donor. And then there is Oat and Dragonfly, my beloved friends who sometimes make an appearance in my entries or in the comments. Our reproductive endocrinologist is Dr. RE (I know, I win the medal there for originality). I also see a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor that we like to call Dr. Ninja. And now there is also Energy Medicine Woman, who I just saw on Monday (more on that later).   

Welcome to all of you. I'm glad you've stopped by.


I was full of piss and vinegar when I wrote my last post on the train. I could barely stand to be in my own skin. Thank you for reading and commenting despite having to read such sourness. You are true friends, lovelies. 

The visit to my home province was what it was. There was no metaphorical chocolate cake, as was expected, but I survived. The party for my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary went well. They seemed pleased and that was nice to see. I didn't realize my grandmother was pregnant with my mom when they got married, but I put two and two together at the party (married August, 1950; first daughter born February, 1951...hum...let me do some math....). The anniversary party was being held on the date at which, 21 years ago, my grandparents lost their 4th child, a daughter, at the age of 26. She died of breast cancer. We all missed her at that party. I found it strange that my mom would pick that date to have the party, and apparently my grandmother wasn't too thrilled about it at first, but that's my mom. She wanted to have it in a particular spot, and that spot was available on that day only.

There were 2 moments during the party that were significant for me. One sucked and the other didn't. Let's go with sucky first. I was over at another table where some relatives were sitting. I went to high school with 2 of their grand kids, and now one of them has become a mom through DS. They were showing pictures of her and her little girl. Nice, nice, whatever. Can we please change the effing topic. Oh no! Not before they made a point of asking what the hell was I waiting for to get busy and also point out that my mom was tired of waiting to become a grandmother. My mom, who was standing right there, chimed in her support for that statement, admonishing me in public for not having made her a grandmother yet. It would be one thing if she didn't know about our situation, but she has been informed. The cow. I was nonplussed, as you can imagine. But I was not surprised. I just rolled with it and left. 

Second moment was sitting at our table. The daughter of my mom's cousin sat with us and she and I really hit it off. She is in a same-sex partnership and was showing me pictures of her little boy. She was pretty forward with telling me how this little boy came to be conceived and the plans she and her partner had for a second child. So, I took a risk and told her we were awaiting the green light for egg donation. We didn't talk about it at length, but that certainly solidified our connection.
I've got more to write about this week. I went to see Energy Medicine Woman on Monday and that was something. But I'll leave it for now. It's crunch time with the diss. I've got 2 or 3 more weeks in me and then it will be written in full. Please have champagne at the ready, because we are going to celebrate. And if you are pregnant, there exists a lovely elderflower effervescent drink I can hook you up with. It's delicious.

Love and Fecundity,
Your Augusta


Saturday, October 16, 2010

'Gusta gets the grumps

As expected, I’m signing on today as the unadulterated, cranky pants Augusta. An 11:30pm bedtime and a 4:40am wake up call does not bring out the best in me. Admittedly, it’s easier to have those kinds of early wake up calls for the purpose of driving to fertility treatment town to get blood drawn or meet up with, as Jess calls it, the “unfortunate intimate friend”. But to have to leave my warm bed, my beloved purring Chicken (cat), and the comfort of my home and my town for a family gathering is a different story. So you are forewarned; this post is a litany and if you aren’t in the mood for that, I suggest you skip it and read my previous few posts.
Complaint #1: We forgot the bag of food I’d prepared for our train ride. There were apples, good granola and protein bars, trail mix, and almonds in there. It is sitting on the floor of the entrance to our house. We are rapidly riding east on the shores of Lake Ontario. Train food = bursting with dairy and wheat. And hungry is always equal to cranky in my books.
Complaint #2: One of the strands of my necklace broke during the many transitions (up, out of the house, drive 45 minutes to train station, take one train, get to big town, transfer to a different train). I went to the washroom on the train and as soon as I lifted my coat to undo my jeans, there was a flurry of beads coming down like Christmas snow.
Gratitude #1: Ok, sorry, I can’t help it. The sunrise over Lake Ontario was magnificent. I had to put it in there.
Complaint #3:  On the first train ride, there were these 2 men talking. It was 6:11am. They were carrying on a conversation in a 2:46pm voice. I wanted to throttle them. They sounded like Stephen Harper supporters (our prime minister, who could be likened to Bush. I’ll say no more). I wanted to sleep. They annoyed the dickens out of me.
Gratitude #2: Mr. August is with me and he is sweet when I have the grumps.
Complaint  #4: I have to go to this stupid family thing and I’d rather have a root canal. On top of not wanting to go, I feel guilty and awful about not wanting to go and being a grump about it. It’s my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. My mom has organized this big to-do. There will be 80 people there. The extended family (my grandmother has 11 siblings) makes up most of the guest list. They all know Mr. August and I got married in March and they are now expecting us to have babies. How many comments will I have to put up with in this state of crankiness? And more to the point, will I be able to keep being pleasant despite the comments? To be continued…
Complaint #5: Spending time with my mom leaves me with a great sense of emptiness. I’ve been feeling rather well lately, and I’m not pleased about having this interrupted. My mom is not the easiest woman to deal with and visits home are never restful. Everything is very controlled and orchestrated. We eat at a certain hour, with specific utensils, and a very precise menu. Everything revolves around food and innocuous, insipid conversation. Being with my mom and stepdad is like trying to walk on a straight line when inebriated. It’s a ton of work to try and control all your muscles, and no matter what, you’ll for sure step out of line. The saddest part is that I think they feel the same about spending time with me.  We are so different and there is very little to connect us. They are this wealthy, upper class childless couple with an enormous sense of entitlement. They purchase my silence with tons of money, gifts and lavish meals, and in exchange, I don’t make waves. It’s this kind of agreement we have and it makes me feel like a hoe.
Let it be told that I am painting a uniformly dark picture of these people. I should also say that they have good qualities. My mom has been supporting me financially throughout my entire academic career, and that is no small potatoes. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my education without her help. 
Complaint number 5 boils down to this: You can’t get chocolate cake at the hardware store. My mom and her family have no chocolate cake for me. They have nuts and bolts and table saws, but no chocolate cake. While my mom is brilliant in her career, she is not one for warmth and isn’t good at forming relationships. She has no close friends. She was never able to really give me the sort of love a kid needs to grow up and feel worthy.  It’s not that she didn’t want to give me chocolate cake, it’s that she didn’t have any to give. 
I think that the personal work I’ve done in therapy and on my own in the last 20 years have brought me to a point where I can see all of this and a) put the brakes on internalizing my parents’ catastrophe as something of my doing and b) avoid being consumed by rage at their ineptitude. But visiting them tugs at my chocolate cake cravings.
Gratitude #3: I have this great plan with regards to the weekend and my chocolate cake cravings. I’m going to stay very focused on what the little girl in me really needs, moment to moment, and will put my wiser, stronger self in charge of looking after this little girl. And perhaps we’ll just have to wander off together and find some good vegan chocolate cake.     

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Dear lovelies, 
Thank you for your amazing comments left on my last message and since day 1. Your kindness melts my heart every time. I blush, I cry, I giggle. It's really powerful stuff. Thank you so much. And I will pass on to Oat that she now has a new fan club. She'll be tickled. 
A while back in September, Foxy at Someday asked me and others some questions she was curious about. I've been meaning to answer them since she posted them and today seems just as good as any other day to do that. Don't worry, I am reserving a cantankerous post for when I'm riding the train to my home province on Saturday morning, on very little sleep (must get up at 4:45am to catch an early train). You'll get cranky pants Augusta on that day, I promise (thanks for the encouragements in that department).  
1. What is your favorite holiday and why?
 It's a great question really. My first impulse is to say that I really hate all the holidays. The holidays bring so much stress, largely derived from juggling my crazy family situation and, huhum,  Mr. August's interesting family. When I was a kid, I loved Christmas. It always snowed in Québec at Christmas and that made everything magical.  My dad and I would watch Frosty the Snowman each year without fail. I didn't speak English as a child but since it was a cartoon, I could get the gist. And each year, I would cry when Frosty melted, and my dad would get a huge kick out of that. These days, I guess I would say I enjoy Thanksgiving because of the harvest and the delicious food it brings. I love the fall colours and walking in the crunchy leaves. 

2. How much time do you spend on the phone? on blogger?
I don't spend very much time on the phone regularly.  I don't have a cell phone and I would rather see people if I can. I make a significant exception for my faraway friends. I have beloved close friends who all live in the US, and I spend quite a bit of time on the phone with them. These are Oat, Dragonfly and Sweetamo, whom I love them very much. 

I spend too much time on blogger, even if I don't write that often. My perfectionism often stops me from writing because I don't want to write something that has no substance or something that I won't have time to edit. I get like that about comments I leave too, and sometimes I get mad at myself for it. "Argh! Augusta, just write a little comment. It doesn't matter if it isn't profound or life altering, for goodness sake!!!" As you can see, I'm a freak. I read lots of blogs on a daily basis. I love reading your blogs and following your narratives. You make me laugh, cry and feel so much less alone.
3. What are your favorite TV shows?
I have lived without a TV for most of my adult life. I used to watch ER in the 1990s and I remember loving the West Wing when I was stuck living at my mother's when I had a broken bone in my foot and nowhere to go. Lately, I've been watching Grey's Anatomy. I rent it at our little local video store downtown. I'm in the middle of season 2, so yeah, way behind. I found that last winter, when I was in the dark whole of despair, Grey's Anatomy was compelling enough to take my mind away from my troubles for a few hours. And it felt good to cry for Meredith instead of Augusta sometimes. 
4. How did you meet your lover?
I met Mr. August at a house warming. There is this community house where many of us (including moi and Mr. August ) have lived which is sort of an intentional community house. On the day I met him, there was a house concert at the house and then a house warming in one of the apartments attached to the house. Mr. August and I bonded over hummus. I had seen him before at the Farmer's Market selling vegetables and had noticed his handsomeness in carhart overalls, but I don't think he remembers meeting me before the house warming day. That was January 2004. We met again a few weeks later where the friend who had the house warming invited both of us for dinner. We both told stories of having gone to the arctic for outdoor adventures.
5. What is your favorite color of nail polish?
I rarely wear nail polish, so I couldn't even say what colour I like on my nails. 
6. What in your life are you most proud of, personally or professionally?
I think I could say my almost Ph.D., but really, what I am most proud of is that somehow I've become a whole person, instead of vacant shell. I was neglected as a kid and from that, deducted that I didn't really matter to anyone. My parents could say to me that they loved me, by they couldn't act on that very often (but they did at times) and so I learned that I didn't matter. And that assumption almost killed me. I am most proud that I decided to revise my assumptions and live according to a different script. I became an adult and found amazing friends and mentors, and a good, kind husband. I am proud to have survived, and amazed that there was always something that told me to live, to fight for what I wanted, to believe that there would be better days.
7. Did you have a Batchelorette Party? What did you do?
I didn't have a bachelorette party, but the women in my community did have a celebration for me before our wedding. We all sat together and had dinner. They made cheese fondue, which is something I love. We drank a good amount of wine, and laughed. It was simple and fun.
8. Where do you blog from? (I mean, where is your computer, describe the setting.)
I have a little room in the house we rent that is my room, where I have a desk and I do schoolwork and used the computer, but it's also my yoga room. I've put my desk directly in front of the window so that I can see outside when I'm at my desk, and I blog from my mac. My cat Chicken often joins me, often opting to sit on my lap or on the desk, between the computer and I. 

That's all for tonight, dear women. I hope you have a  great Friday. One of my friend is defending her Ph.D. tomorrow. I will go support her and be inspired. I will visualize myself there because guess what, I WILL BE NEXT, darn it!  

Monday, October 11, 2010


Little grateful owl

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada. It's usually a time when Mr. August and I travel to visit with relatives, but I'm ever so thankful that this year we did not. We stayed put in our lovely little town. Mr. August has been harvesting like a mad farmer all weekend , putting in days of 15-16 hours (I picked him up from the farm at 11pm last night). He has to get his soybeans harvested and this weekend was the time to do it. It was sunny, warm and there was no rain in the forecast.

I was thankful to stay put and spend time with dear friends. Family relationships are difficult for me, so I spend very little time with my relatives. I have to go to my home province next weekend for a family event, so you will surely hear more about my apprehension this week right here on this blog. (I don't like it when I get too cranky on here, but I may need to let out some crankiness this week. Just warning you).

Today, I wanted to focus on gratitude. I just spent an hour journaling about all that I am grateful for and filled pages and pages in my journal. It's amazing what happens when we stop and look at what we have. I try to do that on a daily basis, but frankly, I don't always succeed. I find it so easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what I don't have. Sometimes it is necessary and useful to be full of discontent. It helps us move forward and change. And sometimes, looking at what's not wrong is where it's at.

Many of the pages of my journal were filled with gratitude for my friends. So many have been extraordinarily supportive to me this year, as the failure of our infertility treatments sent its aftershocks through my little heart. I feel indebted to them.

I wanted to share with you an email I received on October 1, the one-year anniversary of the failure of our treatments. My friend Oat sent it to me and it moved me so much that I want to share it with you. She gave me her consent to post it on here. I received a an email on that day from Dragonfly and another friend, which were also very touching, but I don't have their permission to publish so I will hold off for now.

Here's Oat's email:

"Hello dear, dear friend Augusta,
Just a quick note to say that I am thinking of you, as always, but especially right now as October begins.  It sounds like this was a very big week, with yesterday being an especially big day. How was the anniversary of getting The News? I want you to know that am holding your beautiful heart in mine, surrounding it with love, and believing with faith and sureness that the child you, Mr. August, and Sattva WILL bring into the world will be deeply suffused with August-ness. Anyone who knows and loves you and who is a lucky recipient of YOUR big love carries you with them, Augusta. I know it hurts beyond what I can imagine  that the child will not have genetic August-ness, and I do not want to diminish that pain AT ALL, and I hope you know I am not, but it feels especially important to me at this moment to tell you how deeply I believe that your child will be thoroughly and utterly yours and thoroughly and utterly full of all that you are -- down to the deepest levels of being. The love you bring into this world and give to your friends and family is incredibly strong, and it changes those who receive it -- I know, I have felt it for 15 years now and it has changed my life immeasurably. Your child will be basking in that love, just soaking it in, from the moment he or she enters your life (I think the little being already is, in fact), and will be simply saturated with all the wonderful peace, courage, wisdom, joy, security, and inspiration that being loved by Augusta provides. I just want you to know how deeply I believe that."

 I think that in contrast to all the people who just don't get what we're going through and speak to us in hurtful and insensitive ways, it feels so good to know there are people like Oat who get it. That's mainly why I wanted to share it with you.

The last gratitude I want to mention before closing is a big one. It goes out to you, amazing women.  I feel like I've gained so much strength from reading your stories or hope, despair, and ultimately, of great resilience. Because of our community, I feel like I have been able to put my loss into perspective. I've been able to see that my tragedy is one among many, a drop of BP oil in the Gulf (see previous post). I'm more able to see it for what it is; something heartbreaking, something that changed how I see myself, but also something that would not keep me stuck forever. I'm not alone in this silent, disenfranchised pain anymore. You are all out there living your lives every day of the week; tending to your careers, pets, loved ones; going through innumerable fertility procedures; and just like me, cupping your dreams in your shaking hands each time you show up to an RE's appointment and saying 'here, can you please help us have a baby?' I feel less alone and I feel like life will not stop for me. We all keep going. Some of you are pregnant.  One of you has just two days ago welcomed a child home through adoption. And some of us are still struggling to find our children. But we will find them. Somehow. We will. 

In the mean time, I count my blessings. You are my blessings and I am running out of fingers.

Happy Thanksgiving (even if I'm about 6 weeks early for my American friends).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

warmth, uncaffeinated - Updated***

I went back to Dr. Ninja's office today. After receiving my protocol of herbs and supplements, I had to go pick them up. When I got Cheerful Nutritionist (CN) on the phone, she asked if I wanted to start acupuncture today and I thought, why the hell not. So, less work on my dissertation, more work on my qi.

The acupuncture was not exactly what I expected. First of all, I really thought I'd be lying on my belly, but I was lying on my back. Also, the needles on the skull, the forehead and the solar plexus were a surprise. They were fine, just unexpected. Sweet Dr. Ying was the one to put in all the needles. Her English was not so good, but I could tell her heart was way better than her English. She asked a bunch of questions about matters I don't tend to discuss with others (e.g. relating to the room in the house with the most plumbing) and also really was interested in looking at my tongue.

Once she put in all the needles, I just got to rest there for 30 minutes. A heat lamp was at my feet, I had needles all over my body, and my thoughts were swirling. I asked myself if I could maybe look into some happy thoughts, seeing as I was having such a zen moment. So I did that for a bit. Some less happy thoughts visited, but I did the clouds in the sky thing and let them blow over. I also had some pretty strange thoughts. I thought of all of you and all the pain that you've gone through with IF and earlier in your lives. My mind created a BP oil spill in the Gulf of my psych with all of our sorrows, horrors, heart brakes. It was dispersing out a little, but then it got contained and capped. Our sorrows were not permitted to contaminate the waters of our lives too much.

I felt so warm afterward and for a long time too. My body tends to run cold, so this was a welcomed change in temperature. I think I was actually flushed for an hour afterward. I felt much calmer than I normally do. Warm and calm. What lovely concepts!

I came home with the herbal supplies. The one I most salivate over is my personal tea. My friend tells me the first time she sipped her personal tea, she spit it out all over her kitchen floor. CN recommended a shooter approach to the personal tea, something I will surely implement. The rest of the stuff is capsules and one powder, so I'm hoping all comestible. Oh, and as much as I didn't want to, I did make the fatal error of asking CN about coffee consumption. Nada, was the answer. That one, is a bit harder than ice cream. But, why the hell not try.

But not tomorrow. I have to go spend the day with the pregnant psychologist who I will be replacing for a year and meet my new colleagues and participate in a team meeting. And ya, be coherent. After that, I have to go discuss housing potential with a pregnant friend. I think Thursday will be a much better day to start my coffee elimination initiative (call it the CEI). Don't you guys think?

*** Personal Tea is in fact repulsive. Ok, it didn't make me gag, but for sure the shooter approach will be best. Some nausea post tea ingestion, but all told, I'm still standing. I'm just freaking out about what the dickens to wear tomorrow. Apparently, the effects of acupuncture only last as long as you don't think you have to impress people at your new job. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

wo der computer ist???

Augusta's Messy Desk

I think my computer is over here somewhere.  Is it?

Look at the state of affairs at my desk! Not pretty. You can see how mired I've been in my qualitative analysis. The thematic map at the forefront is about my 29th attempt.

Qualitative data analysis is fun and god awful. Both. That's a paradox I'm willing to live with (especially since my research also has 2 straightforward quantitative studies).  The qualitative study has not been particularly nice to me.  But then, things went better today after I went to see Sattva who is a superstar in these matters. With just a few incisive comments, she had my analysis organized so it made so much sense. Eggs AND research advice. I tell you, that woman is astonishing. 

One of Dr. Ninja's team members sent me my treatment protocol via email today. I still can't get used to that, where in my profession, sending something by email is almost as ethically wrong as sleeping with your clients. Not that I don't appreciate email. So, this fancy protocol, complete with herbs, and supplements and teas (beyond raspberry tea, Pumpkin), and acupuncture will cost me a lot of money. Somehow, I'm not getting overly alarmed. I've just decided to try trusting for once. Just to see. And I have the appointment booked with energy medicine woman, who sounds like a total sweetheart. Can't wait to meet her. 

Thank you so, so much for your warm comments on my last post. It felt good to be real with all of you and say that other part of the cause of my infertility. It sucks, and I'd like it to be not so, but it is my reality. Thanks for holding that with me. You all have amazing hearts. I am in awe.  

Preparing for tomorrow. The big 1-year anniversary since the failure of our infertility treatments, the day when the probability of having biological children became nil. It's been quite a year. I'll write more about it tomorrow. In the mean time, bonne nuit mes chères amies. Faites de beaux rêves.