Sunday, January 30, 2011

the lunch

Blogging is a good procrastination tool. I am utilizing it at this moment. I should be doing my revisions, but I just don't wanna. We all know how this ends. Reason will win. I will do my revisions. So, why not take 20 minutes, drop the inner conflict and write a posting to update you on the lunch.

This has been a better weekend for me overall. I didn't resist Monday morning as soon as I got home on Friday night. I just knew it was there ahead of me, but that I didn't need to fight it. I could still enjoy all the moments of my weekend. My anxiety about work is still strong, but I am learning slowly that I can do this job and it's not miles ahead of my competencies. It just requires a bit of reaching sometimes, which is great for someone who gets all jazzed up about learning. And Mr. August and I are doing ok with the adjustment.

This Wednesday is our big orientation meeting at the clinic. I've decided to take the day off and drive back home on Tuesday night, so that all three of us can drive to the appointment together. We'll all drive back together that day, and I will return to work on Thursday morning. A ton of back and forth this week, but it does mean I'm only sleeping in FTT for 2 nights, instead of 4. That will make my Chicken happy. I'm looking forward to the appointment because it means that we are actually getting this party started. I asked Sattva this morning if she felt ready for needles. I think her answer was something like "I'm ok with it. I just think it will be strange to inject myself with a needle". Yes. It is totally weird the first time. I remember being quite freaked out, but getting the hang of it pretty fast. She will too, as you all have, dear readers.

The lunch yesterday went very well. Sattva, C., J. and I all know each other from grad school and enjoy being able to catch up with each other, something that's harder when people get close to are actually graduate. They were happy to hear that Sattva would join us for lunch. Our usual lunch trio includes J., C. and I. We've been doing this every 2 months for the past 2 years. J. and C. are dear friends and have been incredibly supportive. The lunch where I shared with them that the fertility treatments had failed was the same lunch that C. announced she was pregnant. It was hard for all three of us. But I decided that day that I wouldn't let infertility take my friendships away. C. has always been very considerate and caring in talking about her pregnancy and her baby, always staying mindful that it would potentially be hard for me to hear. C. now has a 9-month-old baby and because she brought the baby along, her time at lunch was a bit limited (soon-to-be toddlers don't appear to enjoy sitting at a French bistro, eating delicious food, sipping wine at lunch and chatting for hours. go figure). By the time C. had to leave, we hadn't got to the part about revealing that Sattva is the egg donor. I was feeling a bit sad about that, since I wanted to reveal it so as to make it more real.

C. and baby left, but J., Sattva and I lingered a while longer. My friendship with J. is quite close and I would have told her who the donor was a long time ago, except that I felt that because she knows Sattva, I wanted to wait until it was a bit more concretized to say it. More importantly, I wanted to make ultra sure that Sattva was ok with telling people she knows. As soon as C. left, J. couldn't contain herself and asked if we could talk about the DE IVF. She pieced it together pretty fast that Sattva was the donor, and bless her heart, she started weeping once it was confirmed. Not just crying, but weeping. Sattva and I were a bit stunned, but as anyone with a heart would do in this situation, we also started to cry (thankfully, we were in a booth, reducing the spectator effect for those in the vicinity). J. is a very open hearted person, someone who wears her heart on her sleeve. She proceeded to tell Sattva how hard it had been to watch me go through the devastation of not being able to have a child with my own eggs. She talked about the lunch (described above) when I said the treatments had failed, and how she went home and cried that day, cursing the universe that I couldn't have children. J. had promised herself to tell the donor, once she found out, that she was so grateful that she could do this for me. J. was just so moved. And so were we.

I think about the crappy comments, avoidant behaviour, uncomfortable silences, glossings over that I have encountered when I've risked talking my infertility. Those all seem to fade when I think of how some of my friends have responded. Sattva is of course a cardinal example.  J., as you saw in my description, has also been amazing. There are others like Oat, Dragonfly, and Themis (yes, that would be you in our nation's capital). And others still (I'm just running out of pseudonyms).

It's tempting to tie all of this up with a nice bow, and say that out of this awful infertility comes a great deepening of relationships. Yes, that is true. Infertility taketh away, but infertility also provides a context for giving and receiving. One that blows my mind these days. It doesn't take the pain away, but the ways in which my friends have rallied around me and supported me certainly makes me believe in how far people can reach out for others. For me.

Receiving is never easy for me (thanks for noting that in your last comment, Roccie, and for supporting my "unloading"). I carry on with my antiquated ideas of unworthiness, remnants of early messages I got growing up. In psychotherapy, we talk about corrective experiences, where some interpersonal processes that occur in psychotherapy produce a significant change for a client because the therapist is responding in a way that is different from the client's expectations, based on his or her established interpersonal patterns. My friends are forcing me to revise my antiquated beliefs and expectations. They've been doing this for a years now, and this episode is the latest version. Perhaps I am being compelled into feeling worthy. Could the universe have this as a plan? Is it time to abdicate and consider myself loved? Worthy?

I leave you with a little picture of my girl Chicken. I was snapping my fingers to get her to raise her head, which is why this strange arm is poking straight out of her head.  

Chicken and Augusta's arm

Thursday, January 27, 2011

weekly update

As I continue to marathon through this new here-and-there life, it's nice to pause and write a blog entry once in a while. No, really, I could do better than once a week. But just wait until there are monitoring appointments and medications. I'll be a stellar blogger poster, then. (promises, promises).

I have just finished my lovely fungi/lichen infusion and thought I'd take a moment before bed to check-in with you and update on the latest.

The appointment with the lawyer last Friday went fine. He wasn't as much of a dick as I thought he would be. I have nothing against lawyers. It's just that Mr. August's phone interaction with him to set up the appointment was not promising at all. It reminded me that setting expectations low often leads to being pleasantly surprised. Mr. lawyer had no big revelation for us, but it was good to review some potential scenarios and talk about the Human Assisted Reproductive Act and discuss civil law. All that was missing was the Gre.y Pou.pon.

We drafted an informal contract with Sattva and established a protocol to reimburse her for her wages lost and to pay her expenses. It feels good to set that up and start paying her for something! We can't pay her for her eggs, but we are allowed to compensate her for expenses incurred as a result of this process. Sattva and I have had some good conversations and I feel like we are in a good spot. We've also decided to talk about it with folks around us we feel like telling. This weekend, I'm having lunch with good friends from grad school. They know about the egg donation, but I haven't told them who is the donor. Sattva is coming to this lunch as well, so it will be an interesting way to reveal it. I think I'll let her tell them what she'll be up to in the next few months and watch their faces as they piece it together. Donor & recipient, sharing fries with friends at the French bistro.

Life with the plastic plants is settling down (I'm still giggling at the fact that Pumpkin thought it was plastic pants). The other boarder is moving out and a new boarder is coming next week, but she will very rarely overlap with when I'm there. So it's basically just me and the owner, who is a very nice woman. I think I can stick this out, folks. I still find Sunday evenings and Mondays very tough, but I'm ok for the rest of the week usually.

And my job is just so cool. It really is. It's completely exhausting and overwhelming, but I sincerely love it. The complexity of it keeps me constantly on my toes. I just need to learn to pace myself. As it is, I just stay late every night to finish reports and that's really going to empty the gas tank fast. The cases are very interesting, and the people I work with as great. Some of the unit staff (front line workers with our patients) have been especially sweet. They keep wanting me to apply for a permanent psychologist position that just opened so that I can stay and keep working with them. How's that for a welcome. Many other people have been so supportive thus far. This week, the psychiatrist told me with all his sincerity that I was doing a "great job". That was so nice to hear. Psychiatrist-psychologist relationships are not always smooth, historically speaking. But I can't get over how much I like working with the one on my team. He is just so awesome.

So for all the drawbacks of living a life split between here and there, and being away from Mr. August and Chicken, it feels like I am indeed reaping the rewards of a very meaningful professional experience. If I want to be coherent tomorrow for my meaningful experience, I better head to bed.

Thank you for your great comments. I don't say enough how much they mean to me. I feel very supported in this community because of you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ups and downs while waiting for the roller coaster ride: Updated!

Thursday night, ladies. One more day and I return to Pleasantville. The beginning of the week was an uphill battle. It started on Friday night when I arrived home from the crazy week I had at work last week, and realized that the weekend would just be too short. A small panic set inside me, and  I worked for the whole weekend to minimize it. Needless to say, I am not yet fully adjusted to the transition.

I saw Dr. Ninja last weekend; a visit that was well timed. We knew we were monitoring my anxiety and stress management with this big transition, and some adjustments had to be made. He changed my personal tea for the first time since September. This one is still mushroomy, but with a tinge of lichen. I'm not a huge fan, but I love Dr. Ninja and will do whatever he says at this point. He also prescribed these little pills called "Hap.py T.ea". They are made to chill me out a bit. I can feel the subtle effects of all this, and whether it's placebo or actual effects, I do not care. I am sleeping a bit better overall and that counts.

I wish my mood was better, ladies. I feel some pressure to be happy and hopeful. But that ain't happening this week. I may be standing knee deep in a river dying of thirst, but as often as I repeat this to myself, I'm feeling down and not able to see what's great in front of me.

I think there was an insidious moment of upward social comparison this week that really did me in. *Warning* A bit of bitching and whining ahead* The psychologist that I am replacing came by after rounds to show off her baby. A lovely thing to do, to be sure. Except that I was premenstrual and had little warning of this ahead of time. I felt close to tears and wanted to make like a preacher and get the hell out of there, but I needed to have a meeting about a patient. And the only place to have the meeting was were she and the baby and 7-9 ooohing staff were congregated. Fuck me. That was one thing, I could have just surfed that wave and been ok. But then my mind got going, in its insidious ways. She's a psychologist with a great paying permanent position who can have babies. And then there is me. Infertile, 36 (soon to be 37), not finished school, covering mat leave contracts, in debt up to my elbows, a decade away from buying my first house, not living with my husband and my chicken, etc., etc.

I get on my own nerves with all this complaining, but I am feeling really down. And I am a bit perplexed about it. I had declared my last bout of depression over. Done with. But it lingers, apparently. Or maybe it's just the adjustment taking its toll. I don't know.

Indulge me while I do the reverse of bitching about stuff. What do I have to be thankful for? So much! I have my health. That's huge. I have an awesome husband who loves me and supports me and cooks me supper on Friday night when I arrive home at 7-7:30pm. I have a great cat with a fun identity crisis. I have amazing friends who love and support me, and have done so for a very long time. I have enough money to eat well, to provide shelter for myself, to maintain a car, and to meet all my needs. I even have enough hypothetical money to soon pay for DE IVF. I have a good job right now and good job prospects. I like what I do and feel like I'm good at it. I have a good heart, common sense and a some imagination; three things that go far in a human life.

Mr. August is taking the train to meet me in FTT (fertility treatment town: where I work and where obviously, I receive fertility treatments) tomorrow. We are going to talk to the lawyer. Can't say I'm too excited to meet with this man (sounds full of himself), but  I am looking forward to checking off that box.

And I have my committee meeting tomorrow morning. Hoping they'll say that I can proceed to the defense once I've made a few minor revisions, but I should prepare myself for a worse outcome so as not to start crying in their faces when they tell me otherwise. I'm just not sure where I will find the energy to work on this thing while I'm busting my ass off at work. I completed my paid hours for my workweek shortly after lunch today. Good thing I'm only working for 3 hours tomorrow.

Thank you for the support around the transition and surviving in the face of the plastic plants. I am relocating them to the closet, as some of you suggested and will be moving the furniture around so there is space for yoga. I even have big plans to acquire a few living plants for this space. At this point, I think I'll stay and do my best to adjust.

UPDATE!: My committee meeting was scheduled to last for 2 hours, but it was done in 40 minutes. They had 5-6 minor little things (a sentence here, moving a paragraph there). They are signing off on the dissertation and letting me proceed to the defense! They anticipate first week of March as a target time period for the defense. FYI, I'm feeling a LOT less gloomy than last night when I wrote this posting. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

tired

Some of you are pregnant or new parents, so I realize I have a lot of gall to speak of being tired. But there. I said it. It's the truth.

I feel like I don't have much to say, women. I go to the gym, go to work, work my ass off, come "home", troll through blogland, read 3/4 of a page from my book and fall asleep. 6am comes and I repeat the cycle. You will have noted the quotation marks around the word home and maybe wonder why they are there. I think I had mentioned that my job was pretty far from my home with Mr. August, and so I had found a place to live during the weekdays. The place I found was not available until January, so I stayed at a guest house in December. Last week, I moved into the new place. The official title I am given there is one of boarder. It's feeling completely weird and uncomfortable for now. There are plastic plants in my room. PLASTIC plants. Remember that my husband is an organic farmer and now do the math. I know: that's just gratuitous bitching. I'll stop and be a grown up now.

It takes a while to get used to new circumstances and I am not at all used to these circumstances. It feels harder to deal with because there is so much stress associated with my work. I need to remind myself of how once I am used to something, it feels a lot better than it ever does at first. My freak out will dissipate. I will stop trolling the housing adds for something better, or different.

The job is going pretty well, I would say. I have a shitload of responsibilities, but that's really fun on some days. When 15 people are sitting around a table and look at you to pronounce yourself on what's up a kid and what he or she needs: call me power hungry, but I kind of like it. Sometimes the answer is a parentectomy, but you won't hear me say that. I'm no Dr. Phi.l. What an ass I would be.

Sattva and I were going to meet last weekend to regroup after the appointments with the psychologist, but a stomach bug ravaged family members over in her household. So we left it until this coming weekend. Mr. August are trying to set up the appointment with a lawyer for the next few weeks. And otherwise, we are freaking out about money. That's the IF treatment update.

I apologize for not commenting as much these days. I feel a bit like I'm in a daze. I am still reading your blogs, but I can't always find something to say. Please know that I am thinking of you, hoping for you, delighting with you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The appointment diptych

Today was the second appointment in the series of two this week, hence the title of this post. Mr. August and I met with the program psychologist on Tuesday. Today, Sattva and her husband met with him.

Our appointment was hard to get to for me. There was craziness at work, and I just had to put my foot down and leave. I had already told people I wasn't available on Tuesday afternoon. But of course, I felt pretty anxious about it. I haven't given up trying to be all things to all people yet, she says ironically.

Anyway, we got there and it took a while, but the psychologist finally came to get us. While he walked us to his office, he stopped and said he had to ask if it was ok to have his resident join us. ahem...no. Not ok. I am friendly with the psychology resident at work, and these folks are a small and tight group. Also, she will likely come to my work site for didactic lectures and I will inevitably run into her. No. I said it and even if I felt bad to deprive her of her learning experience (because remember, I was a psychology resident in that system 2 years ago), I stood my ground. This is my private life.

The meeting went for over 2 hours and I was completely knackered at the end of it. Ok, I hadn't slept well the night before and work was crazy for the hours that I was there, but the appointment was also demanding. It reminded me to think about how exhausting it is for my patients. It started with a recap of the IUI failures and what followed: the depression and the problems it caused in our relationship. He wanted to know if we had been told what the final diagnosis was. No, we hadn't been told. We know that my ovaries didn't and won't produce eggs. But he called it Primary Ovarian Failure. The words fell a bit heavy in the room. It bugged me that he asked whether I was getting symptoms of menopause. Later, Mr. August noted that there really isn't anybody in that clinic that understands my condition except our RE. My ovaries didn't stop working: they never did work. How can I go through menopause without ever having gone through puberty?

The rest of the appointment was spent talking about all the implications of egg donation. And let me tell you friends, there are many, especially with a known donor. Questions of what kind of relationship do we want with Sattva, her husband and kids after a baby is born. What role do we want her to have in the child's life. What if we both die: do we want her and her husband to be the legal guardian. When do we want to introduce to the child the concept that he or she was created through egg donation, and that aunty Sattva was the one with a basket full of eggs who shared with mommy and daddy?

We also talked about the reaction of our friends and family. "So, Augusta, how did your dad, your mom and your stepdad react to the news that you were planning on starting a family through egg donation?" Hum....I guess I would need to tell them to find out. It became clear to me that I had really only told safe people and had not yet challenged myself to tell people who probably should know, but whose reactions I could not really predict. I think that until it was more real and imminent, I didn't want to risk it.  I guess now it's real. Or maybe when we sign the consent to treatments. Or maybe when Sattva starts her meds. Or maybe when she goes for the egg retrieval. Or maybe when we know that some embryos have fertilized. I could also wait until I'm 12 weeks pregnant. When is it going to be real, I wonder?

Today was the appointment for Sattva and her husband. Because they have children, it usually is just Sattva who comes for appointments and her DH stays with the kids. But they brought the little one today; a two year old beauty that I will call Ginger. I was called on to be the babysitter.  I got the waiting room and said a warm hello to the receptionist who I really like. I asked if Sattva was here and she looked at me in consternation: "I can't tell you either way". Right, right, the whole confidentiality thing. Ok, gotcha. It turns out poor Sattva had gone to the wrong hospital and was quite late in getting there. I kicked myself for not having sent her a map and clarified which hospital it was. She had been there twice with us, but was never the one driving.

So there was this beautiful Ginger among the infertiles in the infertility clinic waiting room. I would like to publicly apologize for that sin on this blog. That was sacrilegious of us to bring her there and believe me, once mommy and daddy went to their appointment, I whisked her away to the cafeteria, out of the sight of these poor souls. I am really sorry.

My time with Ginger was pretty fantastic. I got her some chocolate pudding with whipped cream (half of it remained on her face until she finally let me wash it off). I brought pink paper and Dora stickers and she loved to create a little collage. By the end of it, she didn't want to leave the hospital. When I was at the machines for parking payment, little Ginger looked at me and said "uppy", meaning that she wanted me to pick her up. Parents were pretty surprised by that, as she usually prefers to be picked up only by mom and dad.

They said their appointment went well. I couldn't get a full read on Sattva's husband, but I don't know him well. Sattva said it went well, although she regretted having said yes to having the resident. Small world we work in, and she is probably right to think their paths may cross again. We decided to meet on the weekend, Sattva and I, so we could regroup and talk about the the appointments. I am really looking forward to spending time with her. I used to see her a few times per week when I was at school finishing my dis, but now not so much.

Next step, aside from some chats with Sattva, is to call a lawyer and arrange for consultations. Our big orientation appointment is on February 2. I believe that this is the day that treatments will start. Maybe it will be a bit more real then.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas recap.

Gee, I'm really glad this is not a vlog post. If it was, you would see me drooling from the left side of my mouth. I just came back from the dentist. Joy to the world! Not unlike everybody, I hate going to the dentist. So while I wait for the novocain to wear off, I thought I'd make an appearance in the blogosphere from which I have been absent for no good reason. 

The holidays were what they were. No highs. No big lows. I worked for the majority of the time, with the 27 and 28 off, and Jan. 3 (today). I'm not used to working during the Holidays. At least not the whole time. This was different. We also did not go visit my family in Montréal. My expectations for the holidays were low and my expectations were met. I had this feeling of remoteness throughout, which is maybe why I couldn't really post anything. Posting is so intimate, and it felt too strange a thing to attempt with feelings of remoteness.

We spent Christmas eve and day with Mr. August's parents, and his brother and SIL from the left coast. This made Mr. August very happy, and that is what I focused on. I sat myself down and had a bit of a talking to myself. It's not always about you, Augs. Sometimes, it's other people's turn to have what they want. Of course, my idea of a great Christmas would be just the two of us (and a baby) making our own traditions. It would then be followed by time with friends for the rest of the Holidays, with exceedingly short visits with family members. I find it uncomfortable to be with Mr. August's parents and they seem to feel the same way. My present from them was a bar of soap. What's the message there, people? I don't even want to speculate. I should say that the time I spent there however, went pretty well. I enjoyed spending a bit more time with the SIL, who I don't know very well because a 6 hour plane ride separates us and also because of a cultural and language gap that doesn't always make communicating easy. SIL is Japanese and I don't always understand when she speaks English, to my great dismay (I'm a shrink, folks. I have this innate need to understand people). I feel a kinship with her, yet I haven't really been able to get close to her at all. But over the Holidays, I feel like we made some inroads. There was word in the family that she "cannot have children", but I have not worked up the courage to ask her about it yet (because if I can't always understand when she says common words like skating or sliding, I'm not sure how I'll do with fallopian tube).

There were two really nice parts to the Holidays, though. The first one is when I set some good boundaries and decided to head home on the morning of Boxing day. Mr. August and I had already talked about this and he had communicated this to his parents, so my departure was seamless. I got to spend a glorious 48 hours at my house with chicken. I watched some Gr.ey's Anato.my, season 4 that Mr. August got me as a present. Glorious and trashy! Watched 6 episodes in 2 evenings. The other nice part of the Holidays was New Year's eve. We ended up having a super lovely evening at one of my friend's. She made cheese fondue and chocolate fondue for desert. What do you mean I can't have dairy or wheat? I'll put that down as my New Year's resolution. It was delicious. I drank too much and fell asleep on the couch, but they woke me up as we neared midnight. We then hosted a New Year's day potluck at our house and it was well attended.

There were also a few great gifts. The best gift this year came in June and you know that it was Sattva's offer. I focused on that a great deal this Christmas as I let it sink into my heart more and more. This woman wants to put herself through uncomfortable and potentially painful medical procedures so that we can have a child. For no money. It astound me everyday. My mom, for all that I complain about her on this blog, sent me a whole pile of dineros. She wants me to treat myself to something nice. How about IVF with egg donation? I didn't tell her what I would do with the money, but thanked her over the phone and thanked her a thousand times in my heart. Her and my stepdad's contribution actually make a sizable dent in the total cost of the procedure.

And here is what Santa Pumpkin sent me:

Hoot! A little pumpkin coloured owl!!! I love it! Thank you, my dear Pumpkin.

I could write more about New Year's intentions and all that jazz, but I should really consider reducing the size of my posts, so I'll let that be part of my next one.

Tomorrow is our appointment with the program Psychologist. I'll update you either tomorrow evening or Wednesday evening.