Monday, June 23, 2008

Tai Chai and Vitrification

Experts in any field must feel the same exasperation when lay people try to be experts. Today, for example, the gossip website I was not reading during the workday reported in all caps that the celebrity defendant to a lawsuit "promptly filed an answer and counterclaim" to the plaintiff's complaint. Of course he did. The law requires one who's had their pants sued off to respond promptly, sometimes in 20 days. Silly. And today, when talking to the computer help desk attendant, "Why the hell isn't my wireless working?" "You want me to type what? Backslash, semicolon what? Yes, you have my permission to take over my computer by remote. (*&%$." Said help desk attendant, before taking over my computer remotely, was speaking to me in slow articulations, better for my mentally disabled, learning impaired self to understand I guess.

Same can be said for fertility "advice." This article, for instance, tickled me. Without question the article is written for women in their 20s who won't be reading it anyway because they're in their 20s and doing everything from modern science to voodoo chants not to get pregnant. That aside, I couldn't help but cringe while eye rolling through some of it.

1. "Luckily, fertility isn't a total crapshoot. And though you can't put off pregnancy indefinitely (despite exceptions like Marcia Cross, your odds of conceiving drop substantially after age 35), there's plenty you can do to help keep your body in peak baby-making form."

Eye rolling. Indeed, Marcia Cross would be a great example if she hadn't had in vitro. In vitro with donor eggs. The article should have cited Jennifer "twins run in my family and I knew it would happen in time" Lopez.

2. "Don't worry, be happy. Stress interferes with the brain's bulletins that tell your ovaries to do their monthly job of rolling out an egg, says Sarah L. Berga, M.D., chair of the ob-gyn department at Emory University in Atlanta. If you're a type A (for anxiety and angst), figure out a calm-down solution that works for you, whether it's practicing tai chi or thrashing around to the Foo Fighters, before you get ready to pee on the stick."

Eureeka! Smack head. You wily stress bastard! Had I but known, I would have built a yurt with meditation altar in my backyard years ago. Just think of all the little hippie children I would be tie-dying today. Certainly, I will practice tai chi or thrashing prior to peeing on a stick in the future. And I call myself educated.

3. "Freeze your assets. If sperm are the tough Gap T-shirts of the reproductive world, your ova are like gauzy couture dresses. Until recently, this meant that freezing your eggs was mostly out of the question (the ice crystals that form during the slow-freezing process used on embryos damages eggs). But a new method, called vitrification, involves very rapid icing that safely solidifies the eggs. It's pricey — $6K and up for a single procedure (and the number of good eggs you'll get varies), plus annual storage fees — and it tends to be most successful when you and your ova are young (in your 20s). Though there are no long-term data on the procedure, it's worth investigating if you know your antral count is low or if you're about to undergo a fertility-zapping procedure like chemotherapy."

Interesting, but ridiculous. Assuming that a 20 something would even read this article and isn't trying desperately not to get pregnant and isn't convinced that she'll meet her true love soon and isn't trying to develop her fledgling post college career and isn't paying off student loans and living in a studio apartment and trying to afford a social life and isn't living on ramen noodles and doesn't believe that getting pregnant is a snap anyway, this is great advice.


I recognize that I'm sensitive to these issues. In the interest of full disclosure, yes I did listen to much assvice in the beginning. Cut out caffeine, check. Monitor ovulation, check. Watch the alcohol intake, you betcha. And even got to the point of acupuncture, raspberry leaf tea, avoiding hot baths, baby aspirin. You name it. So it pains me now to read the silliness. In fairness, this particular article does impart some good advice, but the silly advice overshadows the good.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Falling out of Trees

Growing up, I lived in a big old house surrounded by several acres. Lots of trees with soaring limbs...the kind meant for climbing. I gag at the thought today, but back then I could climb to dizzying heights. And when I had climbed as high as I possibly could, I would nestle back against the trunk, sap in my hair, and think this is the view I'd have if I could fly.

I didn't always make it to the dizzying heights. I remember once setting upon my usual climb but slipping; my foot stuck in a "Y" branch, dangling like a rhesus monkey. I was only about a foot off the earth, but I panicked and cried and screamed for someone to help me. No one came. I laugh now to picture myself, dangling from a tree, a victim of my own carelessness, pissed off at the world, pissed off at the tree. Stupid tree. Eventually, the tears dried up and I set about trying to free myself. I don't know how long it took (though I'm positive I couldn't do it today) but I twisted and contorted and, after what seemed forever, I dropped to the ground. Dusted myself off and set off to find some more trouble. And, yes, climb more trees.

How like life it is. You get in a pinch. Sometimes of your own making, sometimes not. You scream and cry and blame and accuse. Paralyzed by your situation, the utter unfairness of it all. Why me? Your plight certainly is worse than anyone else's. Why isn't someone making this better? Fixing it? Then the quiet and the soul searching. The tears dry up, the resolve sets in and you deal. One way or another, you deal. You climb more trees. Sometimes you make it to the top and soar with the birds. Other times, well you dangle like a rhesus monkey. But you always disentangle and get back up.

So I say, gently to myself: Honey, you're way more than your infertility. I spent a good many months yelling and screaming and sulking and crying and blaming and dangling time and time again and I find myself now changed somewhat. More than somewhat. I find that I like, like, like my life. I find that I like who I am and how far I've come, am thrilled to pieces with my husband, think my marriage is the cat's meow (It's two years today, by the way), have the wonderful good fortune of having good people in my life, have a job that challenges me, pisses me off, gives me an identity and also lets me enjoy nice footwear. And as to that baby thing, pardon the really bad pun, but it's not the only egg in my basket.

This next IVF will be my last. I will go into it with positivity and hope, but also with the understanding that I will have reached the end. Either it produces a live child or a new life path. I'm ready for either. My new marriage counselor mentioned a Harvard study showing that the three most stressful events a person can face are cancer, divorce and infertility. I've had two of the three. My goal is to skip the third and put the other two to bed. And keep climbing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

In the Summertime II

I love, love, LOVE me some summertime. Last weekend, for example, was simply gorgeous. Sunny, hot, gentle breeze, all kinds of blooming things in the backyard, farmer's market on Saturday morning, plenty of food to be eaten (not sure that that changes too much season to season in my world but year round satiation is a good thing), cold adult beverages a plenty. I streamlined my weekend to-do list such that it would only contain the most critical tasks. Said tasks: (1) grocery to provide food for my family; and (2) pedicure. (I would take and post a picture of my poor pitiful feet but that could change our relationship.)

I accomplished: Neither.

What did I do instead? Went to Target (Oh, Mecca) and bought new summer rafts and floated in the pool all weekend. All Weekend Long. With plenty of sunscreen, but again, I floated all weekend long. I accomplished nothing substantive. Didn't even purchase some shoes.

I love me some summertime.

I did go to a new counselor recommended by my RE (my "marriage" counselor according to E). There was nothing wrong with my old one except that I wasn't feeling it. I don't want to talk about my childhood or what kind of mothering I received or who I resent or my anger issues (all provoked I must add), I just wanted help on "the" topic. My new marriage counselor had 8 IVFs, so I think she may know a thing or two about the "the topic."

I liked her. We got right to business. No foreplay in this relationship, which at $2 a minute I don't need to be held or caressed. Why do I want a child? Why do I not? How does E feel about it? What's my relationship like with my mother? Kidding. She did interrupt me at one point to tell me how refreshing it was to talk to someone going through infertility who has such a strong marriage. I assured her that E realizes he could never do better than me and behaves himself accordingly. Overall, it helped. She asked good questions that got right to the issue. At least I think she did, I was shlumped in awe over the 8 IVFs.

That's my weekly report. I'm still infertile. I'm still planning on one more try in the fall. I must go now and prepare my float for the weekend.

Love me some summertime.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stupid People

People say the dumbest things. Dumb, dumb, dumb. And because my mood is slightly rancid today, I feel compelled to share.

1. This is a true story. I was shopping in this adorable boutique near Kiawah, South Carolina recently. I bought a funky fun jacket there last year and was pleased to be back and see what other delicacies I could find. I wandered around a bit and noticed that things had changed a bit. Last year, the clothes were edgy and modern, now they were sort of upscale slut. A woman of my delicate years can't pull off navels, you know. So, I was walking out of the store and the salesperson said to me, no joke, "if you're leaving because you don't see any of your size, we keep the larger sizes in the back."

Self: Silence. Surely she didn't say that.
Self: "Excuse me?"
Stupid Person: "Yes, I didn't want you to leave because you didn't see your size. We keep the large sizes in the back."
Self: Silence. Incredulous stare. Finding self getting defensive. WTF? Yes, I could lose ten but I'm not ready for Kiawah Tent and Awning. I could snap you like the uncute twig you are, Stupid Person. I can't believe that was just said to me. Bring out a scale, you twit, and I'll show you I'm a respectable weight. And, you, you, shame on you, you perpetuator of distorted body images. And I'll have you know I graduated 8th in my law school class. Bitch.

Self leaves.
P.S. Self has returned to the gym.

2. Another true story. I was shopping with my adorable Mom not too long ago and we ran across a woman who used to teach me in Sunday School. It was Christmas time, right on the heels of my first BFN. She was wearing reindeer antlers. You see where I'm going with this. We were having a nice conversation, catching up on her children, my sister, my marital status. She asked me if I was going to have children. (Aside: Why do people feel comfortable asking these questions? I would never think to ask someone, so tell me, do you put the max in your 401k? Those shoes you're wearing, did you pay full price (chortle) or did you get them on sale? Is that really your nose?) I said, "I'm not sure about that one." Her response, no kidding, "well, you better get on it, how old are you anyway?"


What makes it all better?

Self loves shoes.

No seriously, I don't think I was so aware of the effects of our words until the infertility fairy came to roost. The first example above is just stupidity. The second example is stupidity and insensitivity... a lethal combination.
Next post: Stupid People and the Stupid Things They Do

Monday, June 2, 2008

Life is What Happens When You're Busy Making Other Plans...

Mr. Lennon was on to something when he said that. And, boy oh boy, have I personified life passing me by as I plan, plan, plan. I've always been a post-it notes, list-making girl. I like to keep a running grocery/drug store list/any news shoes at Nordstroms list; overall to-do list; work to-do list; and then the Life Planning List (retire 3 years ago, invent plastic doohingy that prevents pizza box from smashing pizza, lose 10 lbs before I turn 30, 35, 38 and three months). I was fortunate to run into several of my lists this morning as I was switching purses (ok small leather countries) and careful review has revealed...I've planning myself out of Life.

I jest you not, below is verbatim from my "Life Planning List":
  1. Lose 10 lbs no later than August 1, 2008.

  2. Determine if I will attempt IVF again, no later than July 15, 2008.

  3. Outline of great American novel completed no later than June 1, 2009.

  4. Solve life's mysteries by January 2015.

  5. Have X amount in savings and investments by December 31, 2008.

You get the point. I've lost myself in lists.

I very much want to blame infertility for this. I would like to say, well before I started infertility treatments I maintained a healthy balance between planning and living. Instead of just writing that I would lose 10 lbs, for example, I would also take daily steps to meet my weight loss goal. Actually, I can blame infertility. Infertility treatments make me hormonal and bloated and mean and then depressed so I eat and thus cannot meet my weight loss goal. Not my fault. Next.

Not a good example. My point is, I understand the importance of goals, but I've noticed lately that my goals and my obsessive need to plot my future are eclipsing my life. You know, the life you live every day. I'm not taking time to smell (much less plant) the roses. I'm wishing for Fridays Monday through Thursday. I have the discipline to sit and think and plan about the future; I just seem to be lacking the ability to enjoy the, well, dailiness of life. Or even enjoying the daily, weekly steps that make up the future plans.

Clearly, I need to find the joy of NOW. I need to luxuriate in the unexpected; cozy up to the out of the ordinary; appreciate the uneventful; and relish in the routine. I want to find myself one day right around the corner from one of my long time goals and say, "Well, it's nice to be here, Life's Mysteries, but the journey was kind of nice too."

So, this is my new project. No, no, I'm not putting it on a post it or a list, which is hard to find anyway in the smallish leather country I carry around. It's my new daily mantra. Live in the NOW. Live in the NOW. Live in the NOW.