Monday, December 19, 2016


Well, insurance will pay for a good deal of DE IVF.  Like, virtually everything except the cost of the eggs themselves and PGS.

We are moving forward.

I've been hedging and hemming and unable to figure out how to proceed.  The first closed door made me want to chuck it all and curl under a rock. We found a donor we liked, a proven donor who was artistic and actually resembled me, and I was then advised her eggs wouldn't do well in a frozen cycle (a necessary given my inability to move forward without PGS).  There are one or two in this clinic's base that could maybe sorta work, but no one is jumping out at us the way our initial choice did.  We have to choose wisely, because we can only afford 6 eggs.  Our roof is leaking, it is raining in our house, and a chunk of the remainder of our home equity to fund this insanity actually has to be used on our actual home.  So in a perfect world we'll have two shots at this game.

But I am lining my ducks in a row.  I am currently working overtime to figure out how to schedule the necessary pre-game work asap.  Another exam, a mandatory counseling session that includes the Viking, eventually figuring out a mock cycle timeline on cycle days 5-10. I'm trying to find a local clinic that isn't Babies Guaranteed who will do my monitoring for me, but gearing up for accepting I will likely be hauling up I-95, 90 minutes in one direction., because little ever goes my way.

I also learned late friday, that my job is about to get crazy (when doesn't it?).  We're off the heels of this election (cough *shitshow* cough) and my small, intrepid team of researchers are awaiting some crazy, likely time-consuming work assignments that are outside our usual roles and responsibilities. This could lead to 50 hour workweeks for me. Sounds fun, right?

The point of all of this is that THERE IS NEVER A GOOD TIME to launch an IVF cycle, let alone a donor cycle. But check it out, the unpredictability of my work schedule actually takes some of the pressure off of my decision making, which is nice in a way, kind of a comfort. Justonemore, you  can't decide between fresh or frozen eggs?  No worries, there's no way in hell you can sync a fresh cycle with your cluster-fuck of a job, who are you kidding?

Does the 2% difference in success rates concern me?  A little, sure.  Does the risk of failure?  Sure.  There's about an 80% chance that this could work after two cycles, again with perfect conditions otherwise.  The 20% chance that we could just be broke and baby-less looms large.

But I have decided that I can't live the rest of my life with the regrets of the what ifs.

We have to try.

Monday, November 28, 2016

a crazy dream of unresolved anger

I was sitting somewhere - a living room perhaps? - with my old co-worker friend who hid her pregnancy from me.

She leaned forward and said, "You know, I have to tell you, I am really upset that you never reached out to me to congratulate me on Baby ___."

And I let out in a gigantic roar of tears, "You're upset?  You're upset?  I have six fucking rings on my finger (as I flip her my middle finger where these rings now lie).  My babies are dead.  All dead.  Six dead babies.  I had to find that you  gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl on facebook?  ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?

And scene.

Dreamin' ain't pretty.

Monday, November 21, 2016


"You know Niblet read like 28 books last week?  I mean 28 chapter books!"
"Well, she's smart like you  - and your Mom. That's inherited. She has your genetics."


Mom talked to him and he clearly isn't on the same page.


There's other glitches too on this road.  For another post.

Monday, November 14, 2016


I bit the bullet last friday and had a long - like nearly three-hour-long - conversation with my mom.

Her initial response to my positing the scenario of attempting a donor egg pregnancy was not encouraging:  "You have to make the decision that makes you happy," she said, in that unconvincing tone.

She was very concerned about a whole mess of things that are rational to be concerned about when you know less than jack about this form of ART.  Could the donor seek custody of the baby?  What if the donor carries a disease?  What if they're a serial killer?  Isn't there inherently something wrong with a woman who would donate her eggs for money?  Wouldn't Niblet be confused?

I gave her as many assurances I could about the whole process - the fine-tuned screening of donors.... the legal contract that prevents them from claiming custody.... the cross your fingers element on serial killers.  Niblet would be genetically related, but at the end of the day, Niblet would have a sibling. 

Think of the young women who have lost their ovaries to cancer or premature menopause, or who carry genetic diseases, who would be childless but for this option.  This is a miracle, it's been around for decades, it isn't going away and it's a means to build a family.

And the biggest:  "Think of your own DNA."  You see, my mom has some shitty as all fuck relatives.  Abusive, horrible human beings, and that is putting it lightly.  She has often said aloud, "I used to wish that I was adopted, they're so awful I didn't think it was possible that I could be related to them."

We had a crash course in vocabulary.  What is a gestational carrier?  What is a bio mother?  What is a genetic mother?  What is a MOTHER.

Mom, you know how you tell me what an incredible mother I am to Niblet?  Well, the same lady who loves and supports this amazing girl, would parent a baby from donor DNA no differently.  When Niblet says, "I hate you mom" (as one does), because I make her eat a vegetable with her meal, well, I would be making this child eat a vegetable with their meal too. You know how I schlep this girl to ballet lessons?  Yeah, I would do that too.  The most meaningful thing I have ever done is mother this child.  The way I mother - the devotion to the act of mothering that you know I possess - that is what makes me a mother.  The way I deeply consider every action and its ramifications upon my family.  It would be no different with a baby that didn't share my DNA.

I pulled out all of the rhetorical guns I have.   I guess it's a testament to the fact that I used to argue for a living, that I moved my Mom.  I also don't think she realized how much my whole family aches for an addition.  How painfully incomplete we have all felt.

After two hours, Mom was convinced that my exploring this option was a good thing. That if I'm going to do this, it needs to be now.  That I shouldn't even consider the money (but that's for another post).   And her biggest concern with the whole shebang came to be the exact same one I have now:  That I will fall into the percentage of people for whom this does not work.  That I will lose another baby, heartbreakingly, in utero.

I feel you Mom, I sure do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A surreal day after

This morning I woke up to Donald Trump being the President-elect of the USA.  I promise not to discuss politics here (at least overtly), except to say that my job often has me deep in the fray.  I have been talking to voters for the past two months, and this past weekend I worked long long hours, until the polls closed.  To say I was spent and exhausted was an understatement.

So how funny it is that Viking and I dropped our daughter off at school this morning and headed north, over an hour up I-95, to a new clinic.  We took the opportunity to schedule a free consult the day after a man was elected who deeply politicized the horror I went through with my TFMR and saying goodbye to Celine.  Portraying me and the women who had to make the same heartbreaking decisions as monsters to millions of Americans who are chomping at the bit to call us murderers in public.

What a day.  I had to tell my long and painful story twice - first to the youngest physician's assistant ever, then to a new doctor, Dr. N.

Some people on my facebook feeds note their tears today with the outcome of our election.  Well, I cried a lot today, in a doctor's office filled with tchotchkes (Dr. N sure has a liking for the home goods aisles at Marshalls).

Four miscarriages.  A partial molar pregnancy.  One termination for a giant omphalocele.  Asherman's Syndrome.  MTHFR.

Dr. N was as compassionate as an RE doing the hard sell could be I guess.  She offered no guarantees.  She understood that we're as skittish as rabbits about miscarrying again and didn't scoff at our desire for PGS, even on embryos from the youngest of eggs.

On a day where there's a palpable question about the future, Viking and I are seriously considering adding to our family.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

just an average tuesday morning panic attack (edited for honesty)

What if I waited too long?  What if the delicate balance we have in our household - one where Niblet has undivided attention - will be destroyed with another little person?

I have long said that I wanted a baby because I want a baby, but what would this do to Niblet?  She has always wanted a sibling.  But she is now almost 8.  She thinks she wants to love another little person in our home - that a sibling, even a baby, would just mean another soul to love. Just yesterday, she expressed that she would love to "teach a baby all kinds of things." But any adult could tell her that her life would change.  She would be a part of a larger unit. She would no longer live the only life she's known as an only child.

Let me say at the outset that I don't believe that she should be expected in any way to help with a baby, if one were to fall into my lap tomorrow.  I write this because a the few people I have spoken with this about in real life have commented that I would have an automatic mothers' helper.  Well, that makes me uncomfortable.  She is not a mother, she is a little girl who has her own loves and joys and dreams.  I want to continue on her own path, with the activities that she loves.   I am really uncomfortable with theoretically laying an expectation on her as she gets older, like being a built-in baby-sitter when she's a teenager.  That would be the road to resentment, wouldn't it?

But what would a home look like if we were no longer three?  Is it even possible for me not to upend my daughter's life if my attention is divided?  I am quite sure that other moms who work outside the home with more than one child would be laughing their asses at me right now, but REALLY, is it possible for me to parent the way I currently parent if I am parenting more than one?  Of course it isn't.  Is that a bad thing?  I just don't know.

Sorry for my whining.  It's just that this is just feeling so-goddamned unfair today.  All of it.  The pesky fear that I am on the wrong path, and potentially ruining the lives of my loved ones, most importantly my one living daughter.  By not just leaving well enough alone and coming to terms with my infertility.

Jesus I'm sad.  We started at this when she was ALMOST THREE years old.  Five years later.  A fucking eternity has passed. And I am still here.  Stuck.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ancestry Part II

Well, the results are in.....

I am 91% Ashkenazi Jewish.  Hardly a surprise.  One interesting factoid I learned: most Ashkenazi Jews are ordinarily in the 96% range in their DNA, so there were a few more trace regions in my DNA.

Now the trace regions were the surprise:  Not an ounce of Asian DNA.  Or even Central Asian.  This is surprising because my mother's family always just assumed there was some Asian in there somewhere (based on my grandmother and aunts eyes, and a very very faded picture that existed somewhere of my great-grandfather).

What was represented on the trace region DNA:
  • Great Britain 3% (no surprise, my mother's maiden name is a big give away)
  • Eastern Europe 1% (someone from the Shtetl intermarried in one of those countries there somewhere)
  • Scandinavia 1% (HUH!?!?)
AND.....wait for it.....
  • North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Sub-Sahara) 2% 

Aha!  This explains my Dad - who is often mistaken for Spanish, and probably my ability to tan.

The Viking's results are in too, and they are striking because he is in fact ONLY 16% Viking.  So while he looks completely like a dude you would see walking down the street in Stockholm, in fact he is mostly Eastern European.  With some Scandinavian and Irish thrown in for good measure.  I love this because it illustrates so well the power of family lore and perception.  Here's why:  To hear his mother talk, he's the bi-product of a line of a race of Stoic Hardworking Protestant Swedes who ended up tilling fields in Minnesota and thriving during the Great Depression.  Yeah, sure, that's part of his story, but there's also a line of people who tilled fields in Hungary (or whatever Hungary was at the time) who strongly influence his DNA.  And my point in all of this, is that the Scandinavians can't claim ownership on stoicism and hard work.

I think the coolest thing about the story our DNA tells, is that our stories are universal.  Sure we carry cultural perspectives and traditions.  But we also like to kid ourselves into believing highly suspect Nationalist-y arguments as to "why we are the way we are." 

All of this has gotten me to think about the story of my family, as told by my DNA, and the issues of Jewish identity.

Can I go back a little and be honest, and admit that I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Niblet started identifying as Jewish?  We did not really indoctrinate her into either religious or cultural tradition, she honestly had many questions about Judaism and got there on her own.  In Judaism, your Jewishness is determined by the matrilineal line, so if Mom is Jewish technically, you are too. But for Viking and I, we both believed that whatever tradition our child connected to was somewhat out of our hands.  We agreed that I would expose her to mine to the extent that I observe these traditions (attending High Holiday services, hosting Seders at Passover, etc.). Niblet took great interest in all of this.

I've always felt greatly connected to my cultural heritage as a Jew.  But now the DNA is getting me to understand that there is an ethnic heritage there as well.  European Jews lived in segregated communities for centuries  - regardless of the nation-state they landed in.  They married each other.

I changed that for sure.  Before I even considered carrying a baby that wouldn't have this genetic make-up, I carried a baby who has a much wider swath of ancestral stories in her DNA.  Some Jews disdain this choice of mine, saying I have betrayed my ancestors.  I think a lot of things when I think about my ancestors.... pain and fear come to mind first.  But my love for someone with a different set of DNA memories, and our resulting love for Niblet, well, that's pretty far from betrayal in my book.

Friday, October 21, 2016


I have talked forever about social media.  How it's the devil.  How it's insanely triggering.  How it just leaves me in a puddle of sick and sadness. 

Never so much so as during this election.

I can't even begin to put into words how awful this election is, and how that third debate and the conversation around late term abortions has rendered me incapacitated.  I just can't talk about it.

I am triggered when well-meaning friends post supportive articles and messages on choice and the heartbreaking choice.

I am triggered when friends and acquaintances post diatribes and general shit-show memes and articles about how women like me are murderers.

I am triggered when I read any of the comments.  On anything.  Despite breaking the one Prime Directive to NEVER READ THE COMMENTS.

I am going to take a ballet class tonight to not think about any of this.  I am supposed to knock on doors tomorrow for a candidate in a swing county in a swing state and not think about any of this (it's part of my job).  I actually talk about politics and social issues for a living.  I am quite good at it.  I'm good in front of a podium, I'm good a conference table, I'm handy with a power point, and I am good one on one.

But right now, I am mute.

There's a lot of talk on my online support group boards about how now more than ever we need to be open and vocal about our stories.  Well, I'm two years out out from my heartbreaking choice, and only a few weeks out from my latest miscarriage.

I am mute. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The day after...

Well, I did it.  Appointment has been made for a new clinic on November 9th.  The day after the electiopocalypse.   Hopefully I don't wind up with the RE who wants to crack post-election jokes.... though honestly, a review of my case history will sober anyone up and should bring even the most douchey and unprofessional of doctors in line.  A girl can hope, right?

After a little strong-arming (this is a lot of money Dude, you need to be there too), the Viking will be joining me.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Another Effed October 15th

This past Saturday marked Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 

This October 15th I happened to be working. And when my work day ended, I somehow found myself in the company of my best friend at work - who is pregnant again - and playing on the floor with her one year old daughter, and her daughter's three young cousins, aged 6 mos to 4 years.

Me, with a sixth ring placed on my middle finger, surrounded by young children.

In other words, you were some kinda bitch to me Universe.

THEN, I have this ridiculous conversation with my husband, a man who doesn't do nuance or complicated conflicting emotions very well:

"I have to call the clinic in DE for a consultation appointment.... but the good news is, I found a donor on there who looks a lot like me, she has brown hair and brown eyes, and is really talented in musical theater."
"Ok.... but a baby is a baby."
"Riiight, that's easy for you to say, you're not the one losing your genetics in this plan."
"If you're going to feel that way, maybe we shouldn't do this at all."

What the ever loving fuck?

As much of a partner I have, I am pretty damn isolated in this.  I didn't even tell him until last night about the chemical I had last month.

Jesus.  This is why I am the only person in my family who sees a therapist.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

And so it goes

Aaaand I think I just experienced a(nother?) chemical pregnancy.

I don't feel anything about it.  I mean nothing.  An egg may have met with Viking's sperms and may have tried to implant, and so it goes.

Onwards, I suppose.

I've been spending the past few days trying to find an Obstetrician who would make me feel less crazy if I actually pulled the trigger and went through with this crazy plan.  Someone who would monitor my cervix, perhaps prescribe me lovenox (because MTHFR), and treat me like the eggshell plaintiff that I am (that's a little lawyer gallows humor.  I have no intention of suing anyone).

This is harder than you might imagine.  I've already burned through two OBs over the course of my last five losses.  Had I had the energy to find a new one, maybe I would have burned through more.  My REs, with the exception of Dr. K, have been useless.  Dr. K belongs to a clinic which I have removed from my list for DE IVF.

On  the positive front, I have found a clinic that may fit the bill for the laundry list of what I am looking for in an IVF clinic, including working with a surprisingly decent egg donor base who may also hit all of the right marks on that laundry list.... but the clinic is in Delaware.  Now, I'm not far from Delaware, not really, but it's still an hour away.  Close enough to work with for IVF, but not close enough for monitoring.  Still, I am planning on making an appointment with them soon.  After the nightmare of our upcoming Presidential Election (cough shit show cough) is over and done with.

"Stop thinking. Act"

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


So I may have mentioned that Viking's birthday present this year was an Ancestry DNA kit.  Just how Viking the Viking truly is will be interesting.  Of course I got one for myself for good measure.  Tonight, I finally spit into the little vial I was sent, sealed it and placed it into the tiny postage paid box for the mail.  I then went online, registered my kit, and began a to work on my itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny family tree.

Niblet was by my side as I typed in the scant information I know about my lineage.  I could only conjure up both the first and last names of my great grandparents on my paternal side.  Virtually Everyone on my Mom's side was entered as just a first name with the "deceased" box checked.  But check this out, I actually learned my father's matrilineal grandmother's full name, including the fun Polish spelling of her maiden name.  "Niblet, that's her, that's my Mémé's mother!"  "So that's my great-great-grandmother?  Cool."

And this exercise was all fun and games until Niblet started at me with her enormous soulful hazel eyes and said the following:

"I'm sad.  If I never have any babies, that means our family dies, right?"


I cheered her up a bit with the reminder of my sole cousin's children.  And the jillion second cousins she has (and knows) from her Viking side.  So yes Niblet, the families do live on..... but my mother's branch is dangling by a thread.

Fucking Holocaust.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Stop thinking. Act."

I recently sat down at lunch with a good friend who is the ONLY person besides my husband that I feel safe with sharing the musings in my head.  She is an older mom, one of the lucky ones who found that last good egg in her forties via IVF.  It was really helpful bouncing all of this off on her (including the eye-rolling I got in response to describing the spirit medium's words).  Walking around with all of this I've-gotta-secret-ey-ness has been rougher than I thought it would be.

Her: "You don't want to have to travel for IVF, it's hard enough to deal with the monitoring and everything when it's local."
"Me: Yeah, but apparently donor egg IVF really does vary widely across the country. Not to mention it's a really different process.  I wouldn't be stimming my own ovaries, so I wouldn't need the kind of monitoring you needed."
Her: "Well, I still think that you should at least start locally and see where you can get.  You really need to stop thinking, start doing. It's so clear to me that you want a baby.  It's much easier to start acting locally, so start acting."

So, Part I of Acting:  There is a clinic about ten minutes from my house, actually, that is not Babies Guaranteed.  They do have a donor egg program.  They were my friend's clinic as a matter of fact, and they are known to cycle women who are not sure bets by any stretch, which does likely lower their SART stats.  Actually, Viking's old primary care physician had a baby through them in her forties (not sure whether it was via donor egg) and again at age 50 (definitely via donor egg).  Viking has done very little way in the research (nah, who am I kidding he's done none) over the years about ANY of my fertility bullshit, but one day he came home from an appointment with her with a little torn off slip of paper with that clinic's name on it.

I poked around a bit.  The clinic has a donor egg program with an agency I've already reached out to to ask about Open ID donors, and a frozen donor egg program through one of the few reputable frozen egg banks that definitely has open ID donors.  The clinic may also offer a guarantee program, though it's a tad unclear from their website.  But all of this is a start, I guess.  Fine.  I might as well make a consultation appointment.

Part II of Acting is a conversation with my mom.  I have dipped my toe into those waters already.... it's kind of hard.  When I talk to her about wanting a baby, frankly, all she does is blame herself for not pressuring Viking and I to start procreating immediately after Niblet was born. Her exact words: "I should have told you two to just get busy when I moved down to (your city) that year to watch Niblet." Not helpful, Ma.  I also had to re-explain to her that I was already rejected as an Own Egg IVF candidate at 40  ("Oh," she said.  Long Pregnant Pause. "I didn't realize that.").  I've brought up donor eggs with her, in the abstract. In the context of being told by doctors that this was my only pathway to a baby.  Also in a context that she could possibly relate to -  the many women out there who have reached that point and have definitely turned to donor eggs.  "Out of desperation," she said. "Or out of an all consuming desire to have a baby, Mom," I said.  "You're in NYC.  Look around you.  All of those forty-something women with infants you see on the upper west side or in Brooklyn?  They are NOT all genetically related to their babies."

I was going to attempt another talk with my mom again yesterday, but now I am thinking I am going to hold off.  Because I know it will be helpful to talk to her with the ammunition of another fertility clinic conversation under my belt.  This motivates me to complete Part I first.  I can't quite understand her logic, but Mom still somehow inherently trusts the doctors, fuck if I know why.  She believes that I am the victim of "bad luck" and is convinced that if I had just had gotten pregnant with another baby within two years of Niblet, I would have somehow been successful. (Yes, she has an operating two year theory based purely on anecdotal evidence.  All of those three year and five year and ten year anecdotes be damned.  Two years ya'll).

Some of you may wonder why I care so much about my Mom's buy-in.  It's not for the financial help.  I've written in the past of my love and respect for her.  This is a woman who offered to pay for me sorry ovaries to cycle, before I was rejected by Babies Guaranteed.  But there is also, as you have learned, the need for me to not have any shame about this.  If I were to ever have a baby via donor egg, I would require honesty for a child, and the family who love that child.  It would be no one else's business how a pregnancy came to be, but somehow I do feel it's my Mom's business.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The other considerations

Infertility feels like trying to pull a U-turn with a tanker.  You experience grief and death and failure and that is fucking hard.  Then you prep yourself for something even more difficult.  Maybe you say, OK Self, I will need to stimulate my ovaries to kingdom come, treat my body as a human pincushion, and then put my vulnerable being in the hands of doctors who may or may not have the personalities of used car salesmen or game show hosts. And then, when you learn that the difficult path you steeled yourself for is off the table for you because your ovaries and eggs are shot, you bring yourself over the river and through the woods to the concept of donor egg IVF.

Bringing yourself around to the concept of carrying a baby made of some strangers maternal DNA is no joke.  A few days ago I thought long and hard about identity and anonymity and the implications of a child born of completely anonymous genetic material.  There are a million existential and unanswerable questions that seem to spring up when you think about it.  Is motherhood a form of narcissism?  If I am brutally honest, am I seeking to replicate myself?  What does it mean for Niblet to be the LAST surviving member of my maternal line?  (Yeah, I know, she would be whether I had a kid with another woman's DNA or not, but the question is still out there, and yeah, she is the last.  My mom's siblings are childless. Niblet's well and truly the final leaf of that family tree).

Those questions scratch the surface, but then there are the logistics.  And anyone knows me and knows how my brain operates, knows that I can get lost in the logistics.

First, there's the Fresh vs Frozen aspect to this all.  Frozen donor eggs are a thing now, and a potentially good thing too.  The most important pro for me is that the process is a million times quicker.  I wouldn't have to time my cycle with a fresh egg donor.  I wouldn't need to use as many drugs myself.  I've been through a lot.  Easier sounds.... nice.

Easier also narrows the pool though.  It's less likely I'd find the short, artistically inclined, brown-eyed brown-haired brunette who writes a killer essay.  Which circles back to the earlier existential question:  Am I seeking to replicate myself?  Or maybe, am I seeking to make all of this a little easier by bearing a child who doesn't present too many questions from strangers?

But at the end of the day this comes down to a central issue.  Money.  This is a fuck ton of money.  And the more "perfect" the scenario you want, the more money it costs.  Generally, people find their willing-to-be-identified-and-contacted-in-the-future donors through an agency.  That's another ten grand off the bat.  Some people get lucky and find these donors through the clinic's existing pool, but it's not a sure bet.

Viking has one "must-have" in this process.  And that is a guarantee.  This actually exists.  The personally triggering Babies Guaranteed  clinic offers a million tries of IVF and you get your money back if you don't have a live baby at the end.  Viking has watched me experience 5 consecutive pregnancies without a live baby.  He wants this option.  But it is the forty-thousand dollar option.  And hear me now:  I. WILL. NOT. GO. BACK. TO. THAT. CLINIC.

Now I held off on publishing this entire post, until I had more information to the puzzle.... A few days ago I asked Viking, where his office was headquartered.  See, he works in a specialized field in the financial services industry Lot's of women with MBAs and PhDs and JDs behind their names. Viking, can you look up the fertility coverage in your insurance policy?  It turns out, we may have coverage for a smidge of this, at least for the labs and monitoring and the actual transfer.  We also have some unused money from a home equity loan we took out to refinish our basement (it's now a lovely man cave with the best bathroom in the house).

I'm not going to say this is financially possible, but finances haven't put it completely off the table, and I know I am luckier than the majority of women who have been dealt this hand.

But I'm not going to lie.  I am still working through some anger, and I need to get past it to move forward.  I am honestly ticked off that I even have to go here.  That I have had to figure out how to live like a sane person with this shitty hand I have been dealt, and that every day I put a fucking smile on my face and my most-fertile office.  Why does this STILL have to be so fucking hard and why does it require so many mental gymnastics that are exhausting?  I still have to worry about the very real possibility that I will miscarry a baby with another woman's young and sprightly eggs, so it's not enough to shell out twenty grand we don't actually have for these services, we need to think about how we would shell out forty grand.


Thursday, September 8, 2016


I can't even begin to describe the past few days as far as articulating the whiplash I am experiencing on my current dilemma.

My therapist found it unsurprising that I would latch on to a new idea - bring a baby into my life by forgoing genetics - in her view, "I am a fighter, and tenacious, and this is just me being me." Well, TenaciousC I am then, because I feel like I have been trying to jam a square peg into a round hole for the last five days.

I'll step back:  I am still researching our donor egg options.  Firm in my resolve that a completely anonymous donor is not a choice I could stand by without great qualms, and trust me when I say that giving up your own genetics is already an enormous qualm in this journey. 

Let me be clear, I don't necessarily want to have coffee with a potential donor.  I don't even necessarily want to know what they look like as an adult (many sites only offer their baby pictures).  But should the baby I bear and raise want to know where they come from, I want a donor who says it's okay to be contacted by this curious adult genetic offspring.

I was thinking more deeply about this the other day because I finally got Viking his belated birthday present and for laughs, I purchased one for myself too. It's....wait for it... an ancestry DNA kit.  That's right, a little saliva to unlock our genetic heritages.  Now, here's an interesting fun-fact about my in-laws:  We actually know a GREAT DEAL about Viking's ancestry, particularly on the maternal side.  For starters, he is as Swedish looking as a guy can be.  There are likely thousands of dudes walking around Stockholm with his face and build.  I would say 75% of his mother's family bears this look as well.  But beyond just that, his family happens to be obsessed - and I don't use that word lightly - with their family tree.  There is a 300 page book in my house of his family's tree in fact.  On his mother's side, they came to America when we were but a colony.  His father's side can't reach back as far, but my father-in-law is currently hammering away at his own family tree, attempting to reach back to the Magyars of course.

Contrast this with my family: I want to do a saliva test because quite honestly, my knowledge of my family - on either side - goes back exactly two generations.  My parents are both immigrants and I am a first-generation American.  I am not being hyperbolic when I say that the holocaust decimated us.  There are no records, on either side, though Dad's had more survivors, so I have a little more to work with.  On my mother's side, there is my grandmother, who had some distinctly Asian features, and one fuzzy picture of my great-aunt Mindy, who never made it out of Eastern Europe.  And yet crazily enough, despite being born in Bergen-Belsen (that's a former Nazi concentration camp, DP camp when she was born there), my mom has  a completely English (meaning UK) sounding maiden name.  I know for sure that we are Polish Jews, via Warsaw, on both my maternal and paternal sides.  And that my Dad, who was born in Paris, has got a bunch of French blood in him too.  But how they got to either Warsaw or Paris, I have no idea.  And surely they have a back story to getting there because.... wait for it.... I hate camping.  No, hear me out - I can't stand sleeping in the woods!  I feel a distinct negative genetic memory of this experience.  Like, a gut feeling at the cellular level that my ancestors did a lot of that while fleeing Pogroms and angry anti-Semites with pitchforks.  But I digress...

All of this is to say, that at a visceral level, I would love to know where my family has fled from.

I happen have the features of a European mutt - everyone thinks Imma little bit something - French, German, Polish, Italian, you name it.  Backpacking through Europe when I was in college was a hoot because little old ladies always assumed I could speak their language, regardless of what country I was in.  Tracing any of this would be a fun mystery to unlock, and would give me some answers to questions I have asked for my entire lifetime.  Just where DO I come from in the vast tree of our human race?

I am born of a mother and father who love me unconditionally.  Just as Niblet is a composite of the Viking and myself, I happen to greatly resemble both of my parents (particularly Mom), and yet I STILL ask this fundamental question about my identity.  Not because I feel incomplete.  Not because I lack critical medical information (though when I think about it, I sorta do, but that's another post post another day).  But because honestly, I am really fucking curious.

So in my own way, I can actually muster a great deal of empathy for the kid in my mind's eye who may have these questions.  I absolutely believe that the love that is given to a child should be enough to sustain them.  I know from my readers and my close friends, that not every adopted child feels that missing biology is a problematic missing link.  I have no doubt that there will be children born of ART  - whether donor sperm or donor eggs or both - who will look at the parents who raised them and loved them and feel deeply in their bones that this is enough and that these kids never have any real questions or concerns with the gaps in their genetic puzzle.

But the nagging fear doesn't go away:  What if MY child was different?  What if the issue of identity - the puzzle of their genetics - nagged at them, or even plagued them?  What if they had a button nose and just had to see where the hell it came from?  Or on a more serious note, what if they developed a medical condition and had to know where the hell it came from?

Going way back to the image of pounding of a square peg into a round hole, my search for a clinic to meet the needs I have to feel comfortable embarking on this path is turning up zippo.  Nothing out there that we can work with so far.  Because it's not just an clinic that uses open-identity donors that I need to find...I'll elaborate on that soon.

Mindy looks older and far more serious than I do.  She's a lot larger than me too.  But those eyes, man, those eyes tell the tale of my DNA.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The aftermath, Part 2

I have had a lot swirling in this crowded brain of mine.  Before I venture there, here is a conversation with the Viking:

Me:  Do you still really want a baby?
V:  Yes, of course I do.  
Me:  Well, I've been thinking:  the only way we will ever have a living baby is if I give up on my eggs.  We would have to go the route to donor eggs.
V:  If you could handle that, I could handle that.
Me:  Well of course you say that.  The baby would still be genetically yours.
Me:  But there's also the cost.  This could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
V:  What if it didn't work?
Me:  There are some clinics that offer a money back guarantee if after multiple attempts you never have a baby.  But that option is very expensive on the front end.  And there is the very real fear I have that this might not work.

I am going to leave that there.  There was actually a lot more to this conversation, but to sum it up:  unlike some women I have encountered over the years whose partners were adamantly opposed to this route, mine is not.  He has concerns about the cost, and legitimate concerns about me miscarrying, but he appears to have little to no ethical dilemma on the matter.

But lest you think, oh wow, justonemore, a new path, away we go(!) there are number of reasons why my little family of three will likely remain a family of three during my spirit's current lifetime.  Here's a stab at articulating just one of them:

Finding a donor who is willing to be known or semi-known to my future child is non-negotiable for me and this would be an enormous hurdle.  In my case, quite literally, the cost is too high.

Let me backtrack:  One of the most interesting things perusing donor data-bases this past week of (and whoa, have I been perusing), is that you discover where your priorities lie - and where they don't.  For example, finding someone who looks like me isn't the hugest challenge.  Like many women out there, I'm fairly pretty.  I'm a petite brunette with brown eyes. Frankly, I look like a hell of a lot of people - no seriously, if I had a nickel for every time someone stopped me in a grocery store thinking they already met me somewhere, I would have a fuck-ton of nickels.  And I will remind my readers that Niblet, while she has some of my features, is not my carbon copy by any stretch.  No, I am not really seeking a mini-me. For all I know this imaginary child could look exactly like Viking.  No shit, when I was once in a grocery store with infant-Niblet in a carrier, a woman came up to me and actually said "That is a beautiful baby you are watching."  Because she evidently couldn't believe the Valkyrie child I was holding sprung from my Jew-y loins.  But I digress.....

Based on what I'm seeing, I truly believe that there are plenty of reasonably attractive, intelligent women out there - who also have some artistic ability (actually one of my preferred criteria) who are donating their eggs.  I could probably find them in clinics nearby.  I might even find a frozen batch of their eggs somewhere.

Side note - I have to admit I got really intrigued by the frozen egg option.  You don't have to sync an IVF cycle with your donor.  They're cheaper, by like ten thousand dollars.   But there's a cost to everything.  These eggs are only available anonymously. 

And there's the rub.  All of the clinics around me that I could afford to cycle at use donor bases  - fresh or frozen - that are entirely anonymous.  That just won't work for me.  I can't bear a child who grows up wondering, "where do I come from?" without being able to offer them an answer.  I just can't do it because while it would be certainly be easier for me to forget that I am not biologically linked to my child, it could be detrimental to my actual child.  Just as I couldn't imagine a closed adoption as working for my family, I couldn't imagine a closed egg adoption.

Now, there ARE ways of finding willing-to-be known fresh egg donors, mainly through agencies.  But this costs a whole lotta money.  Like, twenty grand kinda money on the front end.  That's before any IVF meds or cycling.  Which also would be entirely out of pocket and yes, also cost about 29 grand for the number of attempts I believe would be necessary for it to work. Yeah, there's that too.  I am not convinced I would be one of the lucky ones who hits the jackpot in one cycle.  Have I ever hit the jackpot in this journey?  I think we can answer that question all together now, right?

I am not looking to find a new bestie in a gorgeous, hopefully brilliant young woman who donates her eggs to me.  On the other hand, I absolutely DO need their deets.  No let me be clear, my child would need their  contact information.  I need the assurance that when this genetic material grows up and has questions- Why is my nose so cute?  Why am I so good at math?  Do we have a cancer history I need to worry about? -  that my donor would be open and willing and ready to answer those questions.  This is non-negotiable.

So the brief (by brief I mean about 5 day's worth of) excitement that bubbled up in me mulling over this option has been quelled.  I don't have 40 or 50 grand.  And I cannot in good conscience borrow forty or fifty grand  - on a complete gamble - when that money can go to our need to be repaired roof.  Or Niblet's very expensive dance lessons.

If I had the money, I'd consider it.  It wouldn't be easy, but I could wrap my brain around it I think.  I want a baby far more strongly than I want a baby I am genetically linked to.  But I'm just a public interest lawyer who makes a little scratch on the side as a zumba instructor.  This is money we simply don't have.  

Trust me I have so much more to write on this topic.  I've been marinating in it days, I have a lot to distill.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The aftermath - Part 1

So it's an unsurprisingly fucked up feeling in the pit of your stomach when a medium tells you that you are not going to have any biological children and then later emails you a homeopathic remedy for grief.  All of this, the day before you are supposed to take a relaxing beach vacation.  Ha Ha.

So what do you do?  You cry a little, you focus for a few minutes on some of the career advice you also received in the same session.  Your head is spinning, literally spinning.  You try to compartmentalize, pull yourself together and put on a happy face.  And then because you're trained as a lawyer, of course you sit, and ponder, and look for loopholes.

For example, there was that moment when she emphatically noted that miracles happen every day (you raised Niblet's miracle obsession).... but was clear to advise that you try to eliminate this thinking from Niblet, because it could be harmful.  Since it's harmful for Niblet, it's probably also harmful for you.  By definition, miracles aren't something you should focus on.  So no loophole here. Move along. 

But your brain is still ticking away.... Baby. Baby. Baby.  You are almost obsessed now, you are just craving a baby.  Maybe it's because we all want want we cannot have.  But you also know that when you return to your fertile office, like, everyone will be pregnant.  And it will just HURT.

So back to loopholes.... there's the whole issue of biological children and the closed door.... for the first time in the five years of going through this, you wonder, really deeply wonder - leaving aside the potential  financial ruin - would you consider a donor egg?  Do you need a follow-up conversation with this medium?  Is this a path that your soul would consider cheating?  Because maybe your husband could still have a biological child, couldn't he?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  Is he doomed too?  Are you doomed to lose all pregnancies, or just the ones with your biological imprint?

So you get off the phone, and the first thing you do while your daughter watches cartoons, is start perusing the online info available on egg banks.  You start looking at donor info out there for public view, comparing the costs of Fresh cycles vs FET.  You think long and hard about your father's younger cousin on the west coast, who has a large family with his beautiful - albeit older - wife.  Their four children all look like him and my great-aunt.  This isn't unprecedented in your family.

Are you crazy?  Should you just curl up into a ball and drink your grief remedy?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

To be continued

So I am headed to the beach.

I have so much to write about my experience with a woman who I can only describe as a spirit guide. But I am frankly still processing all of it and need to unplug for a while.

Bear with me lovely readers, I will be back soon. Peace out.

Friday, August 19, 2016

"That door has closed"

This is fascinating.  I see very clearly that your soul, and [Viking] and [Niblet]'s souls - all three of you - had what I call a "contract" with another spirit to enter your family.  But somehow, that contract wasn't honored.  And now your souls have set forward for new goals for your family unit.  Everyone is ready to move on to being a family of three.

... He needs to understand what miscarriages do to you.  You have not adequately conveyed the depth of the losses.  The hormonal swings.....Your body cannot handle another loss or another aborted pregnancy of a very sick baby.  I am not saying that there is a door closed to adoption, or bringing in another member to your family that way, but biologically, that door has closed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Do I look like a midwife to you?

Most days are fine. But some days.... yeah, some days, you really don't want to be the person to listen to your best friend vent about morning sickness (and you go an order them ginger candies you know are awesome on amazon.... but you secretly wish that someone else - like her husband - would have the foresight to do it instead).  And those other office break room conversations, like, with the other pregnant lady who is concerned about gestational diabetes where you try to talk her off the cliff, and the one who is now entering the third trimester and experiencing back pain - yeah, I wish someone would take those for the team too.

One of my readers noted that anyone who wants to get knocked up should work in my office.  It's true.  There are three pregnant women here (that I know of).

Thank god I am taking a vacation in a few weeks.  I think fourteen straight days of not being in this office and serving as the kindly resident expert on pregnancy will do something positive for my psyche.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

closings and triggers

There's a diner near me that's closing. It's an old-school institution, it's shiny and silver and it's the kind of joint where you could order the best tuna melt in the world and chase it with a milkshake, and feel that in a world of bat-shit crazy, at least something in this world could be put together right.

Viking took me there the afternoon after we lost Celine.  My parents had swooped into town like the heroes they are, and took Niblet on an all-day shopping spree at the mall.

This diner is a near a Goodwill thrift store.  I went up to our attic and bagged and boxed up ALL of Niblet's old clothes.  There wasn't a ton of her baby stuff there anyways, because I tend to cycle all of her stuff out to two families with girls who live on a shoestring and could use her hand-me downs. But whatever was up there came down the stairs.  "I need it out of the house," I said to Viking.

So we loaded up his car.  There were about five trash bags worth of clothes and shoes.  There was also a random bag of maternity clothes.  We dropped the bags off at Goodwill, and then drove a half mile down the road to the diner.

I was crampy and dazed.  I ordered a cup of chicken noodle soup, which I happen to know they make, it doesn't come from a can.  It was so good that I ordered an extra quart to take home.  I recall being amazed that I even wanted to eat anything, because usually when I am in the midst of depression I starve beautifully.  I'm not much of a stress eater.  But that afternoon, after ridding my house of the vestiges of dreams, there was nothing I wanted more than to fill myself with something.  Soup was good enough.

This diner will always be a part of my psyche.  You may be surprised to read that I loved going back, even with the awful associations it conjured up for me, but it was no more triggering for me than the bed I sleep on every night, that I curled up in after every awful return from a hospital D&C.

It's not terribly surprising then, to discover just how triggered I am to learned that it will close and make way for a Starbucks. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Unstick thyself

This week my acupuncturist, a woman I trust more than any doctor I have ever visited, suggested a new track for me.  A year ago I would have nodded my head politely at the words soul guidance and just said "thanks for the idea" and left it at that....

By way of preamble:  My last miscarriage was finalized (I hate the word "resolved") by a D&C in April of 2015.  I jumped on the horse of Not Trying, Not Protecting, in June of 2015.  NTNP is a funky place to live for me - because, well sure, we're not protecting.  But we're also, for all intents and purposes, continuing to TRY.  Let's just say that we never miss a fertile window in my cycle and leave it at that.

I am over one year into NTNP, and (of course) not getting pregnant, and lo and behold I am falling back into despondency.  I have shifted from a (natural) fear of pregnancy, to a WTF, am I now well and truly infertile? frame of mind.  I can't for the life of me figure out how to climb out of this hole.  I am 42, well past the age where someone should expect to get pregnant.  And yet, I was pregnant at 41.  And 40 and 39 and 38.   That's a lot of years to crave mothering another tiny person.

But I stare at the (many) pregnant bellies in my office (so many).  And I still find myself imagining myself as potentially being one of them, joining their ranks with my own swollen belly.  I have spent money and hours sitting with a therapist for over a year now trying to rid this image from my brain and I can't.  No matter how hard I try, no matter how many times I rationally tell myself that my fertility story has come to an end, it doesn't go away.  It's like there's this little ping deep inside my core, and it keeps fucking pinging baby baby babyYou want a baby.  You know you want a baby. But hey now: You fool.  You are not one of them. They can have babies. Babies are not for you. 

And then you fall back into old patterns, that may or may not be destructive.  You're being johnny on the spot with your vitamins and supplements.  You're drinking wheatgrass shots again.  You shrug your shoulders when your acupuncturist says it wouldn't hurt to take royal jelly and surreptitiously hop on amazon to order some.  You're like some fertility crackhead, lurking back into the alley, not wanting anyone to spot you in your ridiculousness.

Admitting that you want this baby is awful because then you have to face the reality that NTNP is just an acronym for begging the universe for a miracle.  And you don't like to beg when there's people who have a whole lot more to beg for than you, and yo, just shut down your facebook and twitter because what you really need to do is crawl and hide under a rock.  Enough with your baby baby baby pangs.

So, when you realize you're stuck.... it's time to unstick yo-self.

On Monday, my acupuncturist recognized that this internal monologue is slowly destroying me.  And she suggested that I seek help.  Of the spiritual and metaphysical kind.  From a woman who may be able to tap deeper into why I have hit a wall.  And maybe provide guidance for me on how to tear it down and move forward.

I am not prepared to go into a ton of detail about the appointment I have just set up for myself, partly because I have no idea what to expect.  All I can say is that two ballet classes a week, zumba, massages, therapy, acupuncture, hugging the fuck out of Niblet and my Viking, and counting my numerous blessings have not made a dent in my own personal existential crisis.

I'm open to anything.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Some Men are from Mars...

I toyed with the glib title for this subject heading, which is fare more intense than the heading implies.

Coming out of a useful therapy session yesterday, I tried to talk to the viking about, well, everything. 

He was getting visibly frustrated, which in him displays as shutting down. Seriously, all of the emotion dissolves from his face, like some weird automaton, and he starts to physically check out.  And then walks out of the room.

Me being me, I started in on him, trying to demand of him that he accept why I need to talk about our dead babies, and frame them as babies, something he has been reluctant to do for all of these years.

And then he said this:

If I were to do what you do, if I were to remember their due dates and think about them and grieve them as our unborn *children* I would go insane.  Literally insane.  Like, I might not make it out the other side.

And that's when I finally understood. Something clicked.

We are very different, the viking and I.  Yes, he supports me, he understands quite clearly that what I have experienced is hell on earth, he knows that when I use the letters P-T-S-D I'm not fucking around.  I can cry on his shoulder and I can depend on him to pick up my slack when I am M.I.A. from life because I need a ballet class, or a zumba class, or a massage, or acupuncture or therapy (Jesus, I sound like a basket case).

But we are hard-wired quite differently.  I willingly go to very (very) dark places, and then fight like hell to pull myself out, looking at the fight as a challenge to conquer.  It helps that I am genetically blessed with little predisposition to addiction - I have little desire to pick up an old college smoking habit and I'd rather take a dance class than reach for a glass of wine when I'm down. And then another.  The viking, well, eh, he has not been so genetically blessed.  He is a careful study in control in many things.

I have my therapist, I have my readers, I have a few close friends whose shoulders I can cry on when this shit feels like weight pressing down on my chest.  But in the act itself of grieving, in my own feeble attempts to honor my lost babies as babies, I do not have my husband.  I have his support in a million other ways, but I will not have him by my side in mourning.  I understand why.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

shaken and stirred

I was living in a bubble for a few days last week, with family who literally live on the side of a mountain in Vermont.  I viscerally understand now, how important it was for me to unplug. 

My cousin makes beautiful jewelry.  On the Fourth of July, while walking down the side of the mountain, four miles to the site of the little town's parade, I shared the meaning behind the stacking rings she often commented on, that I wear on my right hand.  She is a nurse.  She was appropriately kind and gentle and horrified by my sad fertility tale. 

I was happy to learn that she does a lot of things for women who are miscarrying that the nurses who attended me never did.  She asks the patient whether they have the emotional support they need, whether they need help finding someone to talk to.  As someone who was sent home with the instructions to simply come back to the ER if it looked like I was hemorrhaging, I would have appreciated that little extra bit of kindness, that acknowledgment of grief.  Of loss.

I came back home and made the mistake (again) to peruse the babycenter boards. 

There I saw a post from woman who has been whacked by RPL and is continuing to get whacked. Apparently she hasn't suffered enough. I don't know her, and yet I know her.  Fuck, I could be her.  She's lived through an ectopic, a stillbirth, a tfmr and is now losing another  - a healthy baby - this time, to PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes for any readers blissfully unaware of the goddamn minefield known as pregnancy to a sizeable enough portion of us).  Fuck this universe.  What god, what creator, what purpose could there possibly be to force a woman to endure such hell? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

PSA: What you shouldn't do on your coffee break....

You know what you shouldn't do when you have a few spare minutes?  Read the comments of all of the trending facebook posts about Chelsea Handler and the abortions she had at age 16.

Let me rephrase that:  You shouldn't read the comments sections anywhere - ever - concerning abortion.

That is all.

Monday, June 20, 2016

the circle of life continues

I've been in a weird sort of stasis the past few weeks, with little to say, it seems.  It seems indulgent to just talk about my plans for increased fitness and exercise this summer.

Women from my virtual life that I am quite close to have lost recent pregnancies. Devastating to them, and frankly, to me, who is always rooting for someone to experience the miracle that I am not being afforded. Meanwhile, others who I get to see up close and personal in my office are happily pregnant, with nary a passing thought to all that can go wrong.  On an equally happy front, an old friend of mine from law school who is at least three years older than me just gave birth to twin daughters.  That was a truly happy facebook sight. The circle of life continues.

I overheard my best friend at work  - the one who once drove me home from a D&C, and now the mom to a ridonkulously cute 9 month old - note to our co-worker, while I was sitting on her other side, that she absolutely planned on having more children.  I had to get up and "take a phone call" in order to not let her see my face. Looking down would not be enough to hide my likely angst (I have a terrible poker face).

In other news, I posted this article on my facebook page.  It got a couple of likes and well-deserved angry-face emojis, but perhaps the general public just can't bear to think about this, and as a result, I am fairly sure that few of my hundreds of facebook friends actually even clicked on it.  One woman who I know lost her baby to a prolapsed cord at 5 months did actually comment, noting that this "was a hell" she couldn't imagine enduring.  That says a lot.  I didn't have the guts to note that TFMR is a special kind of hell.  I almost wrote those words "Termination for medical reasons is a special kind of hell".... but ended up changing my response to "What you had to endure was heartbreaking, and I am sorry that your son is not with you."  For some reason, as political as I want to be about the horrors of not being able to access medical care when your pregnancy goes horribly wrong, I just can't out myself.  Maybe I just don't have the energy.  Maybe one day.....

In the meantime, if anyone feels inclined, this is a fund to donate to help women who need to procure a safe and legal abortion, but who - as a result of the Christian Sharia laws in our country - are unfortunately well and truly fucked:  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Nature vs Nurture

This weekend Niblet had her first foray into the wonderful world of full length-ballet, performing as a little diamond in a great production of Sleeping Beauty.  Her ballet school is top-notch, without going into to much insider name-dropping.  It costs a small fortune, but she is getting the kind of quality Russian-style training that I got as a kid and trust me, it will serve her well whether or not she wants to pursue dance in the coming years.

So allow me to brag:  she is notably good for a seven-year-old.  I mean, shockingly good.  She is a natural ballerina, her arms (port de bras) just fall into place, her turnout is already better than mine was, she's way more flexible than I was and she's inherited both her parents' musicality. (She was the only kid in her dance who knew her counts on stage). Her line is beautiful.

You know, I spent many years resisting becoming a dance mom.  I was so worried about imposing my own likes and dislikes on her, and frankly did everything I could to encourage her to try anything else (soccer, art, you name it).  But until just a few years ago I was still performing myself with a small local dance company (honestly, the miscarriages derailed a whole fucking lot of my life)....and one thing I can honestly say is that I truly don't feel the need to live vicariously through her.  My dance life has been full on its own.  So I guess "dance mom" for me isn't like those god-awful harpies on the reality TV competitive circuit.... it's more, "mom who knows how to guide kid through dance life."  I can help Niblet not force her turnout and fuck up her knees.  I can identify good teachers.  She and I happen to share a ballet teacher right now.  Miss H has steered Niblet to her first split, while steering me back to dance weight while sculpting my sorry injured legs with isometric exercises. 

Back to this weekend: After the show, we went to dinner at a fancy-ish pizza place, and were seated on an outside patio, where a mom and her twentiesh looking daughter started looking at us.  They were trying not to be obvious about it.  I was clad entirely in black, because I was wearing the backstage uniform of a dresser mom in this production, helping all of the little bunnettes with their hair and costumes.  I still had my name tag on.  Niblet had shed her pink tights but was sporting her bun.  "Were you in a show today?" they asked Niblet.  Turns out, mom and daughter were our dopplegangers a couple of years back, the daughter was a serious dance student for many years, at the very same dance school that Niblet attends.

"Do you like ballet?" asked the Mom of Niblet.
"I love it so muchI loved performing."

I'm not sure I ever mentioned it, but my mom was also a trained ballerina.  She and my dad spent countless hours shuttling me to my classes afterschool, and countless dollars on classes, leotards, tights and shoes.  I have often noted that being an only child enabled my parents to give me this luxury.

Pizza place Mom told me how difficult it was to make the logistics of it all work.  She worked outside the home too, and once her daughter got really good, and wanted to get even better, she was taking as many as five classes a week.  "But I would do it all over again in a heartbeat," she said.

It was only while we were driving home from dinner that I realized that the family in the restaurant mirrored my own - Mom, Dad and single daughter.

I have a crazy demanding job.  Viking husband does as well.  But I am going to try to bend over backwards to give Niblet the opportunities I had (ballet or whatever else her future has in store for her, obviously).  No, it hasn't escaped me, the undeniable fact that because she is my only baby, I can attempt this back-bending with a little more confidence.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Aha moment! "Jealousy" makes "you(not me)" feel better

It's not jealousy.

While I would never retract words that I write to reflect my emotional state while I am writing them, I see now that to describe the feelings swirling through me as I wrote that last post as jealousy is simply wrong.  And I appreciate having readers who help me see where I need to stop.  And think.  And be the change - for good. For empathy.

I feel a lot of rage when my husband suggests I cry at the sight of pregnant friends because I am jealous of them. I blow up at him at even suggesting this. And oh yes, he's done this on more than one occasion, and oh yes, I have ripped him a new asshole for suggesting as much every time.

So what the hell am I doing attributing my grief and sadness and anger to a word that doesn't belong in the same sentence?  I just saw that over a hundred people have read that post, and my god, what a terrible message to spread. 

So I am going to do something right here and right now.  From here on in, I refuse to describe the tangled mess of my feelings of grief and anger resulting from the loss of my babies as stemming from jealousy of a pregnant woman.  As my wise reader noted, people are jealous of someone's designer handbag.  They can feel jealousy around your car, or your house.   We can covet these things and feel jealousy towards people who have these things.

I see now that the whole jealousy framework is another attempt on the part of the person viewing your shitty circumstance to feel better about themselves:

When people say that you are jealous of a mother for her ability to mother, aren't they are really saying this because it is much much easier to wrap their brains around the concept of your supposed jealousy than your actual grief?   Jealousy is simple, right?  We've all felt it.  And when you think more deeply about it, jealousy also suggests an underlying ability by the actor -the person being jealous -  to change their own behavior.

"Oh wow, I will stop coveting my friend's adorable Mini Cooper - I will accept my early model Pontiac Vibe which literally vibrates on the highway.  I am not helpless. I can be the change."

I see now, I fell into the trap.  Ahhhhh, I'm onto it now. 

In our self-help oriented culture, we like to suggest that the secret to happiness is for people to change their outlook.  That's the gist of  "The Secret" right?  When my husband tells me to stop being jealous of my pregnant friends, the core underlying message is that I have some kind of power.  "I can do ___, and actively consider the things I have." Well, guess what, infertility and pregnancy loss teaches us that the ultimate act of insanity is thinking we can exert control over our circumstances. We can't do shit.

So my message is that I will feel what I'm gonna feel.  Sometimes it will be ragey.  Sometimes it will make me want to cry.  All of those feelings are legitimate.  And no one is ever going to try to steal my right to feel them by throwing the word "jealousy" in my face.

Jealousy is hereby retired.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Green-eyed monster

Another coworker is pregnant.  She is due in November.  She once told me she hoped to be pregnant in the months leading up to the election, because my organization demands that we do a lot of "volunteer" canvassing and door-knocking and getting out the vote (GoTV) work that's actually mandatory.  So she put some thought into the timing, and bam, she'll likely avoid a lot of it.

Years ago, before I was broken, I would express the desire to make similar plans.

In the meantime, the subject of this post reached out to me yesterday, completely out of the blue.  And texted me her baby pictures, as if there was nothing awkward about never personally reaching out to me to talk about her pregnancy or baby.  I mean, sure, she's long since outed on FB, but it was so weird (for me of course).  And she wants to have coffee and catch up.  I am fairly sure she only reached out because she was heading into a meeting with a former boss of mine and wanted some intel, but it just feels so damn exhausting.  Trying to put on a smile over a text message.  "Sure!  Coffee sounds great, let me know when!"

I feel like I am living in this strange aftermath of all of these conversations about babies with Niblet.  Like, now, like some sort of relapsing addict, I am actually looking at the calendar wondering,  "What DPO am I?"  Lurking on some of the old babycenter boards to see what other women are up to.  Niblet put the damn babies in my brain, when I was getting so fucking good at shutting them out.  And now, it totally feels like the pregnancies are following me around, in a way that feels harsher - stabbier - than it has in months past.

I hate jealousy.  I hate that I care.  I hate feeling punched in the gut when I see pregnant women, over a year after my last loss.  I hate that despite therapy, and acupuncture and massages, and hugs and snuggles with my daughter and husband, focusing on my health and trying to rock out my job, and ballet, I am still. irreparably.  broken.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Niblet isn't having it (Part II)

It seems that the struggles with much is too much? is hope another word for delusion..... these struggles are never-ending.  It's no wonder I pay my therapist so much money to sit and talk to me about hope and all of its dangers.  Just when you think you've come to terms with a new chapter in your life, your seven year old pulls you back into the fray.

For Niblet has grasped onto hope.  She now talks of miracles like a televangelist.  (Mommy, we haven't had a miracle yet, maybe we're due one).  She talks of her Dad and I "continuing to try."  She's asked me to eat less sugar because maybe sugar will make it harder for a miracle to happen (side note: Has this kid been talking to my old RE behind my back?)  She wants me to eat more salads.  Now look, as a general rule, I SHOULD eat more salads, but the salad/miracle equation is missing some science (says the lady who downed tubs of wheatgreass juice once upon a cycle).

M:  You do understand what the word miracle means, right Niblet?  It means that you shouldn't expect your wishes to come true.

N:  Of course I do Mom.  But why can't I still wish?  Besides, you need to eat healthier anyways.

Now, this is all very cute, and of course highly insightful on Niblet's part, but let's not kid ourselves, she's as fanciful a seven year old as you'll find.

N:  Mommy, when will you and Daddy try?

M:  Niblet, that's a really private question and not one you should ask anyone, ok?

N:  Okay mommy.  I understand.  But I feel better when I am hoping. 

This is going to take a while.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Niblet isn't having it (Part 1)

So I have been pretty reluctant to share my troubles with Niblet, for pretty obvious reasons.  I have also been reluctant to put the heavy burden on her of her miraculous existence.  Maybe a kid doesn't want to be a miracle, they just want to be a kid, right?

Well, the past few weeks have been cray cray at work, and just as I started to decompress, and take a moment to breathe and wake up to the fact that maybe, just maybe, spring is here, Niblet springs this on me, running into the house from some very contemplative time swinging on her tire swing in the back yard:

Mom, I don't want to be an only child.  I really wish I had a little sister.  Couldn't we maybe, like, adopt a child who needs a family from an orphanage?  Why can't we?

I'm not sure I have the ability to do the play by play of this conversation.  I did everything I could to highlight how wonderful our family of three was.  How special our relationship is.  I know that I tried my best to explain how difficult adoption was (and for reals, in case anyone is wondering, I have actually researched the topic at length)....I explained that actually, there weren't a lot of babies to adopt in the US.... that there were children to foster, but these would be kids who would be placed back with there mommies or daddies after they got the help they to adopt  - like some of our friends did  - we would need a lot of money to find a baby overseas, in Asia or Africa....

This was a draining conversation, because Niblet couldn't wrap her brain around lots of things.  Why babies cost money.  Why mommy and daddy couldn't just have one of their own babies with mommy's egg and daddy's sperm.  So I made the first, teensiest attempt at explaining my RPL with her.

M:  Well, I have been to many many doctors.  And it looks like Mommy was born with some problems that make it hard to have a healthy baby.  You know how we read in that book how women are born with lots of eggs?  Mommy actually had fewer eggs than most women, and it turns out that the eggs I was born with were unhealthy and couldn't make a healthy baby.

N: Is that why you had a baby die in your tummy mommy?

M: Yes, actually I had more than one baby die in my tummy sweetie, there were a few.

N:  Can't you just try again with another egg?  

And here we are.  Hundreds of dollars of therapy into reconciling my family of three, and Niblet isn't. having. any. of. it.

N:  But This is so unfair! (tears are streaming down her face)

M:  Yes, yes it is.  And you have the right to be sad and angry that you can't have the kind of family you want.  It's okay to be sad and angry, mommy sometimes is too.  Not all of the time, but mommy  - and daddy  - we get sad too.  Just like people who get very sick, they get sad and angry at how unfair it is.  Because sometimes bad things really do happen to good people.  And sometimes we try and try, but we can't control things we want to control.

So where have we ended up in these days of conversations?  In a really strange place.  I explained with all honesty, that Dad and I have never stopped trying to have a baby, but that we have come to accept that it would take a miracle for us to have one.

N:  (Her eyes widen.  It seems I have opened a door).  Can't I pray for a miracle?

M:  Of course you can sweetheart.  I would never say you couldn't hope for something you wanted, I would only say that you shouldn't get your hopes up for something you can't get, through no fault of anyone.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sorry Facebook Friend

I love your pictures of your husband and daughter, your posts are often insightful and zingy, and mad props for being pregnant right now at 41, but I can't stop dwelling about the fact that you are now going to bring in two babies into the world in roughly the same time frame that I have lost five. 



Sunday, April 3, 2016

NYC dreams

I spent Spring Break with Niblet visiting my parents in NYC.  We visited museums, ate good chinese food and better bagels, and had an overall fun trip.  Viking stayed home, he was working all week...

Coming back on the Amtrak, I was struck by what a pair Niblet and I are.  Don't kid yourself, this kid's in quite a phase right now, her favorite past-time is obnoxiously yelling about her "mean mom"  - because I frequently make her do such awful, soul-crushing things, you know, like eat her veggies, brush her teeth and hair, and bathe regularly.  But last Thursday we had a few hours of pure bliss at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Leaving my tired mom and dad home for a few hours of peace, we walked miles at the MET, looking at everything from Egyptian temples to decorative french palatial rooms.  I dragged her to rooms with European paintings, because I knew she would be drawn to impressionists.  I bought her overpriced art supplies at the gift shop. When we were done I bought her a hot dog outside to eat by the fountain and she fed the pigeons her bread.  We had a blast. 

I've put to bed the dreams of raising a larger brood, but I am starting to reconcile my life as a mom to an only.  I've fallen into a rhythm with this gorgeous, challenging kid.  It's not the life I dreamed of, it's missing pieces - babies - that I expect to grieve for eternity....but man it's a damn fine life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The line

So, everyone is vain.  But I am REALLY. VAIN.  Vainer than the average bear.  Vainer than many people would expect, particularly the Viking, who has to put up with this nonsense.

It's probably the ballet.  Being instructed - no, actually expected - to stare at yourself in front of full-length mirrors four hours and hours on end will do that to a chick.  And it's an art that is all about a never ending quest effortless perfectionism (which is why the quest is never-ending, because there is no such thing as perfect, bitches). 

But the nit-pickiness of ballet has always bled into other aspects of my vanity.  For example, most people notice that I never leave the house without red lipstick.  I could be keeling over from the flu, but if someone finds my lifeless body, I will have a little color on my face.  And I have really thick, dark eyebrows that need a lot of love and shaping, so yes, I often shut my door at work and to pluck my brows when no one's looking.  Which is how I arrived to obsess about....

The line.  It's a frown line.  Smack in the middle of my head, right between my eyebrows.  A deep crease that I am sure is the vestige of four years of non-stop crying and stressed out brow-furrowing and fertility hand-wringing. 

The baby weight of 53 weeks of pregnancy is starting to come off.  But this line is taunting me.  I really wish I could be stoic about it, and proudly wear it as a survivor of all of this fucked-upedness. 

But, as we established, I am stupidly vain for a forty-two year old.

So guess who just spent an hour of her life she will never get back researching over-the-counter wrinkle fillers.  Gah.  Welcome to middle-age.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A confession about invisible rocks

So one of my coping skills is pretty common, but it sort of makes me uncomfortable.... I wonder if it means that I am relishing other people's suffering, making me someone who isn't empathic, but actually some horrible sort of sociopath.

So, here goes:
I often think of myself as carrying a giant invisible rock on my shoulders.  That rock is the sum total of grief and pregnancies and babies that never survived for over three years.  It's a constant weight, it is attached to me in staff meetings at work, in the hallways of Niblet's school, and when I am hanging around with friends.

Here's where the coping starts:  I imagine every person I interact with as carrying their own giant rock.  Because it's invisible, I can't see what it's composed of.  It could be the death of a loved one, a childhood trauma, or any stressful situation that would bring anyone to tears.

In the cases of friends who have had success with babies, when confronted with their reality - how THEY were allowed to have what was brutally taken away from me - I often remind myself of what I do know.   
 Her Dad died when she was young 
Her marriage didn't survive 
She lived through foster-care.

In the case of strangers on the street or in the grocery store:
She might have lost one too.
Are they going to make their rent this month?
Is her loved one sick?

When I think too hard about this, I get deeply uncomfortable.  What kind of person does this make me? To be comforted by the fact that deeply personal shitty things don't just happen to me, that they also happen to other people?  That everyone has a giant rock?

Monday, March 14, 2016

In Transition

So, what does it mean to be in a definitive phase in your life where you are no longer TTC?

And as long as you're getting a period every month, is it even possible to live without the vestiges of fertility on the brain???  I mean, are there women out there who have given up on ever conceiving, who are having sex while their ovaries are blaring (as some ovaries do), who are not thinking "I could totally get knocked up by this?"

I've written plenty about how none of this can exactly shut off with a switch.  Nearly four years of trying to make a baby will necessarily affect the way you live your life... though in some aspects, perhaps, for the better.

Like, I was telling my acupuncturist this morning that I really have no intention of eliminating my crazy supplement regimen.  If the (pseudo?)-science is true, then being diligent about taking my high dose methylfolate is a good way for a MTHFR mutant to live.  Similarly, who couldn't use more vitamins, particularly more D, fish oil and Co-Q-10? 

Next month will be exactly one year since my last pregnancy ended.  My year of kind-of-sort-of-trying-but-not-having-my-heart-fully-in-it-because-I-don't-want-to-be-heartbroken-again is coming to an end.  I just survived another birthday. 

Some of the difficulty this past year had come from trying to temper the Viking's expectations.  He hasn't given up, I can tell.  "I think I'm actually infertile now," I've been telling him the past few months. I wonder when it will really sink in for him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

in other news...

I am going to a baby shower in a few weeks.  For a friend who suffered though a few years of unexplained infertility and a miscarriage.  She's incredibly sensitive, always posting very carefully on FB, and being mindful of the infertiles out there (including one of her own family members whose only hope of a genetically-linked baby is through surrogacy). Anyways, you'll all possibly remember my attending PBFAW's baby shower in the midst of my mammo-crisis.

So this is nothing new for me, technically....  Buuuuut it's the first baby shower I am attending where I am going to actively - I mean ACTIVELY - turn off the hope (that I could ever be the lucky recipient of such a celebration)..

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

my only regret

I've mentioned before, Niblet's infancy was sort of brutal.  Other words come to mind.  Colic.  PPD.  Helplessness. 

She didn't sleep through the night until she was completely weaned, at 12 months.

But she was the loveliest baby in the world.  The kind of baby that made people stop us in the street and ask me "Is that YOUR baby?" (because she looked so much like her father, and I guess being much darker than her that I looked like, I don't know, her nanny?  Jesus.).

And I remember having a good friend over when she was maybe one year old, and she actually cruised over to a stack of books and picked one out for him to read to her. And we looked at each other like, seriously?  because we knew that she knew this was her favorite book and there was something so ridiculously cool about a baby with reading preferences.

I think I was present, well, as present as a full-time-working mom outside the home can be.  I tried to look at our midnight and 2 am nursing sessions as bonding.  I tried finding a new job immediately after she was born because we struggled with my 3 hour commute.  It took me two years to land a job in my own town.  My home life was consumed with her, but I missed a whole fucking lot. 

I had no idea those first one or two years of her life that she would be the only baby I ever mother.  The thought never occurred to me.  In fact, the only thing I used to think was, "next time I will be home more.  Next time I will be sitting in a new job, 15 minutes from my house.  Next time I won't be hustling her to daycare for the longest days."

But there won't be a next time.  And my one regret is not imagining that possibility, while I held her.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Stay off of Facebook.  I say it like a broken record and then fail to heed my own advice.  I like to think I am a work in progress... one day, maybe a year from now, I will be able to see baby pictures from friends who never once suffered a miscarriage, friends who said things to me like "Why would you want another baby?" or, "why don't you foster a baby?" and not want to cry.  I'll get there, I know I will.  I am just not there now.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

All of the things...

The things that sustain me, as I stare down the end of my fertility:

Niblet.  I am going to take this opportunity to brag.  Her artwork is beautiful.

She is reading years ahead of her class.  She was picked to participate in an after-school project sponsored by (gulp) MENSA.  She recently taught herself to sight read at the piano (fuck, I guess I have to find her a piano teacher now).  She loves ballet and shows some real promise, and I am going to have to find a way to haul her to class two times a week next year despite working full time.  Speaking of which...

Ballet.  I am back at it, and better than I have been in years.  Pulling off multiple pirouettes.  Getting my splits back.  Jumping again too, after sustaining an injury a few years ago I honestly thought I would never recover from.  All of this is MUCH EASIER TO DO when you're not pregnant or miscarrying.  Finally dropping 53 weeks of pregnancy weight is happening too.  Slow going because I am fucking middle-aged, but hey, I'll take it.

Marriage.  The Viking still rules and that's all you need to know about us. But I should add he is now taking steps to improve his own health, which is good because he has a kid who still wants to be picked up an awful lot for a tall first grader.

Parents.  Mine are both healthy and active. They send Niblet boxes of random stuff every few weeks (think clothes, coloring books, granola bars) that bring her joy and me... more cleaning.  My mom is the picture of loveliness, taking two ballet classes a week herself. They are cooler than imaginable, even my Dad, the part-time tai chi instructor, who is still crazy over-protective ("text me when you're home safe" he writes, when he knows I have late meetings or events at the office).  

Home.  We took out a home equity loan to finish out our basement.  Ahh debt.  Our beautiful cozy little house will get just a little more spacious, with a finished room to hide more crap in.  Along with a much-needed extra bathroom.  More room for me to clean y'all! (And yes, add cleaning and de-cluttering my own house as one of my de-stressing activities, lest you think I am even bourgier than I sound and hire someone to do it for me).

J-O-B. Here's a life-lived discovery:  Not running to ultrasounds in a constant state of panic helps one be more productive at work.  Did I mention that I received something of a promotion recently?  Well, let's be clear, my title stayed the same, along with my pay, but somehow my responsibility jacked up 100% because I am now a "Campaign Director" on a project to improve the lives and working conditions for thousands of home health aides in a nearby jurisdiction.  I don't talk about my work-life on this blog much, but I will make an exception right now:  These home health aides are the godsends who wash and bathe our grandparents, dress  them to take them to the store or the doctor, and do all of these things for a wage too low to live on.  Oh, and thousands of them had their pittance wages stolen by their employers in a nearby jurisdiction.  Anyways, I can manage campaigns like this far more efficiently when I am not pregnant or miscarrying.

Trashy books.  Fun fact:  when I am not mothering, enjoying the company of my own husband, cleaning my house or thinking about low-wage workers at my day-job, I like to visit this website and proceed to download and eventually read all of the trashy things.  Picture this:  Viking and I often lie in bed on Sunday mornings (before the Niblet wakes of course) and mock each other's reading choices. I like the books on my nook to feature shirtless pirates.  He favors graphic zombie novels. Frankly, I am just happy he reads.  We both do escapism.

The void in my life created by the loss of my babies will never be filled.  It can't be.  It's immeasurable.  The grief is still palpable.

But it's a full and good life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What a difference a year makes on Groundhog Day

Almost exactly one year ago, I posted here that I was pregnant.

This blog has seen quite a bit of adventure - a partial molar pregnancy, Asherman's Syndrome, recurrent loss, a near miss with balanced translocation, MTHFR, a TFMR... now, after many months of not getting pregnant the old fashioned way, I can add plain old age-related infertility to the mix too.

It's a weird feeling, facing down the loss of your fertility in the wake of the many many rings you wear on your right hand.  I was telling my therapist a few weeks ago, that not being pregnant for these many moons has actually made this all, strangely... easier.

The endless of cycle of pregnancy and loss (not to mention the ups and downs of tons of HCG in my system) has compounded the trauma of these individual events.  It's a lot of emotional whiplash to be pregnant and then not  - over and over and over and over AND OVER again.  Or, as I like to point out, to experience 53 weeks of pregnancy in a 3 year time frame, without ever bringing home a baby.

So on this Groundhog Day, I am way less heavy-hearted than I thought I might be about this post.  I have been not pregnant for a year (ok, if you want to get technical about it, I haven't had a positive pregancy test in a year, the real one year mark comes in 4 weeks, since that's when my last baby died). 

But honestly guys, I now appear to be a normal woman in her forties, who doesn't get pregnant all that easily, and frankly, doesn't expect to get pregnant again.  And as sad as it is to hang this quest up, there is something calming about the new normal.

Monday, January 25, 2016

I don't often give advice, but....

So the other day I had an epic meltdown, which isn't advisable when you're trapped in your house with two feet of snow outside.  On the good side, I helped some elderly neighbors shovel their driveway.  On the bad side, it's a day later, my body is achey and I feel just as out of sorts as I did 24 hours ago.

Let's backtrack.  Imagine you're perusing some pictures on facebook.  I know many of my dear readers are smarter than me and have gotten the hell off of the facebooks, but leaving that aside...

You're on facebook and you see a picture posted by an old dear friend whom you rarely see anymore, because she got a new job.  But she still occassionally texts, and likes your limited array of posted social media pictures.  And she sometimes even texts you that she misses you.

And she was one of the few people who knows that in fact, you're a fucking infertility superhero, like batman, except you have no cape and no ears, and no real superpowers actually, but she is one of the few who knows your double life.  Because by day you are the smart chick at work who balances the job and the Niblet, but by night you are the lady who has mourned 5 of Niblet's siblings.  And she knows about Celine.  She may not know about the baby after Celine, but she knows that you have been through hell and back.

And she posts a picture of a beautiful baby, and you catch your breath, wait, actually, you can't breathe, because in all of the light-hearted occassional hellos and texts, she has neglected to tell you that she was pregnant and whoa, had a baby girl in December.

Sometimes I wish that I had fertile readers.  I love you all, my dearest friends who are with me in this pit of hell of loss, but man, it's times like this that I wish I had readers who knew nothing personally about miscarriage, or Asherman's, or partial molar pregnancies or TFMR, because I could try to impress upon this audience that HIDING YOUR BABY is probably the worst thing you can do to people like me.

But God, sweet Jesus, I wish she would have sent a note.  A gentle heads up.  Because bursting into tears when you are checking your phone in front of your one living daughter, isn't a state of being I wish on anyone.