Saturday, April 30, 2005

Dr. Frankenstein's Got Nothing on Me

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When we organized the house a few weeks ago, I took all the random TTC items lying around the bathroom and made a Crotch Science Kit. Here's a guide to the contents:

A - Cheap Internet tests
B - Name brand tests, in case A don't work
C - clock for timing tests. Also useful as a reminder of just how long all this is taking....
D - Cups for peeing into. There's something deeply wrong about peeing on a dinosaur (unless it's Barney). But that was what was available.
E - Turkey baster. For those times when you need to baste a turkey in the bathroom. Well, in our house, a Tofurkey(TM).
F & G - mirror and light for examining cervix with speculum. Yeah, right! Tried that exactly once. Notice that there is no "H" for speculum.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

As I weeded the garden on Saturday I started thinking that the ways I spend my free time have changed a great deal over the past 6 1/2 months.

I am a planner and a control freak, so within days of the D&C I started thinking, planning, mapping, strategizing about how soon and in what manner we would try again. We bought more sperm (some of which is still MIA... grrr!). And then - the molar pregnancy diagnosis, with its concomitant limbo of unpredictable length. So I lost my lifeline of planning and control (rather, what little illusion of control still remained after the miscarriage) and had to find other ways to occupy my time.

In October, I...
  • spent most of my time on the couch
  • watched lots of DVDs
  • ate whatever I wanted (mostly takeout)
  • and read blogs incessantly
In November, I...
  • cooked and baked in large quantities for the holidays
  • watched the occasional DVD on the couch
  • ate whatever I wanted (baked goods, holiday food, and takeout)
  • and read blogs incessantly
In December, I...
  • became alarmed at the amount of weight I'd put on while TTC, pregnant, and grieving, so I joined a fitness club
  • counterproductively continued to cook, bake, and eat
  • went through the holiday motions (gifts, cards, blah blah) with all the joy that a lost pregnancy brings to the season
  • and read blogs incessantly
In January, I...
  • went exactly once to work out
  • taught myself to knit and knitted EVERYWHERE I went
  • slogged through a hideous but mercifully brief graduate course
  • and read blogs incessantly
In February, I...
  • forgot what the word "workout" means
  • knitted like Mme. DeFarge on speed
  • and read blogs incessantly
  • (only 3? hey, Feb. is a short month!)
In March, I...
  • returned to the fitness club and was horrified to discover I weigh more than EVER before in my life
  • knit the last piece of the project I began in January (knitters, note that I did not say finished the project)
  • started to think about gardening
  • started my own blog and still read blogs incessantly
In April, I...
  • have begun to exercise obsessively and finally, finally return to eating more healthfully
  • stalled out entirely on knitting (see "finishing" above)
  • have become quite enamored of gardening
  • blogged away while also reading other folks' blogs incessantly

(Note: The timeline above leaves out all of the fun frequent activities like blood draws, doctor visits, chemo shots, etc. These do not constitute free time. More like jail time.)

I think the list reveals a lot about my psyche, the grieving process, and maybe even the seasonal rhythm of life. In the immediate aftermath of the miscarriage and diagnosis, I went to my cave, as Tertia calls it. As I began to move forward, I got a bit more active, and my pursuits eventually took me out of the cave, and back into balance. The inward focus also aligned with winter, whereas I have more been interested in things outside the cave the closer we get to spring and summer.

I also find it interesting that virtually all of the things I have been doing are very domestic. Cooking has always been fun for me, but I never really had any interest in knitting before this winter. But I found both activities comforting, distracting, and fun - and it was nice to have something tangible to show at the end. Cait also started knitting after watching me for a couple of weeks. We both chose to start by making quilts for the baby we will have somehow, someday. It's our own version of a hope chest, I guess. When I knit I feel like I'm weaving all of my hope and love into the blanket. Knitting also made for a good winter activity as it is quite cosy.

Now that we are moving into spring, my domesticity has taken a new turn, and I have been bitten by the gardening bug. I've not been much of a gardener before (despite my ill-fated foray into raised bed gardening last summer - a story for another day, if you haven't heard the saga before) but as what would have been our due date approached, I was more and more drawn to the idea of planting something to honor the baby. That weekend, when Cait and I chose the quince at the garden store (I started to write nursery but it seemed too ironic and distressing), we bought some other annuals (Perennials, annuals, I so do not get this terminology. Annual seems to imply something that will come back every year, but it's the opposite!!) and planted them as well. Now I watch over the garden with interest and concern, mulching, weeding, watering. It's a lot of fun... and clearly a manifestation of my desperate need to have SOMETHING grow.

The list for May should actually be quite different. Though it will be against Dr. Reserved's advice, we plan to begin inseminating next cycle (which should be about a month from now, give or take a few days). It's exciting and scary and will bring all kinds of fun back into my life:
  • OPKs
  • specula & stirrups
  • dry ice, nitrogen tanks and paranoia about accidentally killing the sperm
  • and finally, hopefully, insemination (and the patented Rotisserie Chicken method of making sure the sperm coats the cervix: Inseminate. Lie on back. Roll to side. Flip to front. Lie on other side.)

But I'll still make plenty of time to read blogs incessantly.

Friday, April 22, 2005

2X (where x <2) =

A GOOD Thursday!

My beta yesterday was less than 2, which means 2 months of no molar activity!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dude, Where's My Sperm?

Although it's only Tuesday, I got a rude shock via voicemail from the RE's office this morning. I had called to check on how many vials of sperm we had in storage -- I couldn't remember if we had 5 or 6 -- and whether they were IUI or ICI prepped. I nearly dropped the phone when the message said, "You have three vials, two ICI and one IUI."

Now, the subversive plans I mentioned yesterday DO involve stealing sperm... but I meant that WE'D steal our own sperm back from the RE and insem at home!!! Somebody else stealing it is COMPLETELY OUT OF THE QUESTION!

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, it remains to be seen) I don't think anyone did steal our sperm. Either the bank sent the wrong amount or the doctor's office has fucked up somehow. It doesn't really matter, because regardless of whose fault it is it will take much researching and phone calling and arguing before we can find out what happened, and I'm quite worried that we will get screwed in the end.

Only no one will get pregnant.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Thursday Tradition Keeps on Keepin' On

Many of the dips on our rollercoaster ride have happened to occur on Thursdays, by some odd coincidence. The first intimation that things were even worse than we knew came via a voicemail from Nurse Cheery on a Thursday, saying, "Please come in for some tests tomorrow. There may have been some tissue left behind." Several of the rises in hCG were detected on Thursdays, and at least one of the chemo shots was administered on a Thursday.

Last Thursday did not deviate from the pattern, unfortunately. After days of trying to squeeze an answer out of my doctor's office, Nurse Cheery finally called and left a message that despite her best efforts, she could not convince either Dr. Reserved or his partner that a shorter waiting period was reasonable. Which means that we can't inseminate until September -- IF we use his office. We are hatching all sorts of subversive plans... watch this space for details.

And for a little more salt in the wound, the universe saw fit for K to have her baby on Thursday, too. I know that somewhere inside I am happy for her, but a thick layer of bitter, dull grief is suffocating that happiness right now. The inability to express joy for her perpetuates my misery, because I get frustrated and disappointed with myself because I want to be a bigger person. I don't want this loss to make me self-centered and uncharitable.

But here I am, raw, prickly, and hurtling towards another Thursday... when I have my next beta.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Box of Hammers

Why on earth do otherwise intelligent, caring, socially competent, compassionate people insist on telling me about K.'s progress or lack thereof towards the birth of her baby? And these are people who knew I was pregnant and due the day before she was, who knew we were so excited to be sharing our pregnancies, who knew about the miscarriage, people who goddamn should have known better.

I do care about K., and I will be really really happy for her when her baby is born. But I will also be really really miserable for me. And those emotions are too complex to try and express at work, so I wish I could just avoid the whole subject here. Unfortunately, I don't run the world ('cause, duh, if I did, we'd all have babies!) and I can't seem to avoid these horrid interactions. These people are my coworkers and I don't want to be branded around the school as the misanthropic psychopath I sometimes feel like. So I nod and try not to grimace, and escape the conversations as quickly as possible. However, here are some things I'd rather say:
  • Oh really? I haven't had my baby yet either.
  • Excuse me, I have real work to do.
  • Hello?!? Do you have a single living brain cell? Do you know that you are plunging a knife in my gut at this moment?
  • You mean all pregnancies don't end in miscarriage?
  • Is K. having a baby? I didn't know.
  • Get out of my face.
  • If you're willing to pay for my therapist, we can continue this conversation.

And now that I've vented, it's time to go back to work. Oh joy.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Growing in Spirit

Today was the due date for our baby. Cait and I had a quiet, thoughtful day together and planted a flowering quince that will bloom each year around this date as a symbol of our love, loss, and hope.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

3 + 2 = 1

Bet you didn't know that mathematical fact. Here's how:

3 days 'til (what would have been) my due date
+2 pregnant co-workers showing up unexpectedly at happy hour

=1 sad Jen

Oh, and then the car overheated...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Caffeine is my worst vice and my biggest nemesis. Add in sugar and you've got one potent addiction. I lurve me some Coca-Cola! It hurts so good....

However, I know that I'd be better off in terms of my fertility and minimizing controllable risks for miscarriage if I give it up. Breaking the cola habit would also be a big help in controlling my weight -- and we all know that that's a plus for fertility, as well as a personal stressor, given that since TTC and the molar PG I am at my highest weight ever. From past experience, I know that giving up Coke and/or all soda can be really helpful in improving my overall health. Soda is kind of "gateway junk" for me: if I am drinking soda, I am much more likely to eat other crap (what's better than a Coke? Coke and cheddar cheese Combos... Coke, chips, and dip... Coke and anything salty and fatty...). Once I start eating more healthily I can often work on other health issues, exercising more, finding ways to destress and relax.

So why the hell do you keep drinking 16 teaspoons of sugar per can? you say. Well, it's a delicate balance. If I give up everything, I can last a few days or a week until I begin to feel deprived and either blow everything all at once or take the more insidious route: one treat won't hurt me... see? one was ok, so a couple will be fine... what's a little Coke or chocolate every now and then going to do?... until I'm right back in the same place again. I can't seem to manage moderation, but total control only lasts for so long.

When you add in the factors of depression and immediate gratification versus long-term benefits, the challenge becomes even greater. Food, in particular my friend Coca-cola, is an instant boost. Unfortunately, it leads into a downward spiral of guilt and self-hatred which sometimes feels inescapable, as Cecily observed. Unlike Cecily, I'm not to the point of considering weight-loss surgery -- but I also haven't been able to decouple my stress about trying to get and stay pregnant from my worries about food, health, and the demon beverage.

What about Diet Coke? you inquire mildly. Ahh, there's the rub. Artificial sweeteners scare me. I don't like all this tinkering with nature. These products haven't been around long enough to know what the long term risks of major daily consumption are. But is that merely an excuse, a rationalization that will allow me to stick to the sugar? Quite possibly. This past weekend I did buy a Diet Coke with lime (hoping the lime would disguise some of the NutraSweet taste) and try it as a substitute in an attempt to wean myself. It hasn't been a total failure or a roaring success yet.

I've given up Coke and/or soda altogether three times in the past five years, with success ranging from 10 months to 5 days. Right now I am focusing on one day at a time, and not beating myself up when I do give in.

I would end this with something witty, but without the buzz of sugar and caffeine, the snappy remarks just aren't there at this hour of the morning.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Worth a Thousand Cliches

Jen & Cait in SF

Can't squeeze out the time to write the post I want to, so this will do in the meantime!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mysterious Benefactor

Cait and I would like to thank you for your gift. You know who you are. (We think we do too.)

Friends + Spa + Great Food + Excellent Weather =

Just What the Shrinks Ordered

This will be a quickie, since I really should be going to bed since tomorrow it's back to school. (Ech.) The trip was the best thing we've done in a long time, and we were really able to relax, have a good time, and enjoy each other's company. Exploring SF was fun, and we realized this is the first vacation vacation we've taken together. We did go to St. Maarten for our honeymoon, but A) it was our honeymoon and B) it was a lying around on the beach vacation, not a go around and see and do things vacation. Everything else has been trips with family or going home to visit family, and that is quite different. We liked it!

There were some moments where one or the other or both of us would think about why we were on the trip and what we thought we'd be doing this Spring Break, and in those moments each of us thought, "I'd give it all up in an instant for that," but mostly we were able to be in the moment and savor the experience. I think it was an important step forward in healing for both of us, and I know I feel more at peace and grounded now.

Pictures and more details will be forthcoming.