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 i.pho.ne, 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.