Sunday, January 22, 2017

The quiet violence of perpetual loss and longing

Sometimes I like to tell myself that the way Celine's life ended - via a D&E that was proceeded by an injection to make her heart stop beating - was the least violent way to end it.  That surely being hooked up to feeding tubes and breathing tubes, and experiencing the potential pain of a heart that was malformed and a belly with none of her organs inside of it would be a more painful way to go.

My miscarriages, with the exception of one blighted ovum and a series of chemical pregnancies, are mostly notable for their lack of blood.  They were all missed, silent, and dealt with by the quiet efficiency of a surgeon's hand.

But there's a toll to be paid, even when you haven't experienced the dramatic bursts of blood that characterizes the few miscarriages I've seen portrayed on screen.  And for the record, I know women who have experienced those losses first-hand.  Fuck if people don't diminish their grief on a daily basis, even when the action of their loss was bloody, potentially life-threatening and clearly visible to a bystander.

I've been diagnosed with PTSD.  I've written those words now many times.  When a soldier returns home from a battle field it's so easy to imagine the cause of their trauma.  Sure, I'll grant that Americans don't like to imagine the carnage of war, most of have have been too far removed from it, particularly since the days when images were televised in the Vietnam-era.  But we certainly try to portray the accuracy violence and gore of battle on TV or in movies and the most popular shows on netflix and amazon are notable for blood.

For women who experience the trauma of repeated pregnancy losses, though, there isn't exactly a booming media market portraying our stories.  So sometimes, the violence is quiet.

No one can give you anything other than a blank stare when you attempt to casually relay to someone that you've lost five or six or seven babies.  And I can bet money that no one wants to even imagine it, let alone see it portrayed somewhere.

It's a really weird life to live.  Every day, you wake up and accept that you have experienced trauma.  That without a shadow of a doubt you will be triggered that day.  You won't know when, you won't know how, but goddamn, you will experience it.  You will look like a completely normal person, you will put on some make up and nice clothes and do your hair and you will smile, and as a result no one in your day-to-day life will ever see or understand the violence that's been perpetrated on you.

I'm writing these words for anyone who will read them because people have to know....  If you live this double life, I am honoring you, as fully as we would honor any soldier.  You did something enormously brave:  You tried to bring a life into this bat-shit crazy world, and in the process you ended up with a lifetime of grief and trauma.

I see the violence around you.  I can't make it better but I can acknowledge it.

I see you.

Friday, January 20, 2017

I've gotta secret

My therapist/grief counselor and I had a lengthy talk about what I think will be near the top of the list for the most difficult aspect of a future IVF cycle:  the Secrecy.

My PBFAW (pregnant best friend at work) divulged her latest soon-to-arrive baby at 7 weeks.  Read that:  SEVEN WEEKS.

Oh my god, what must it feel like, to be so confident that nothing can go wrong, that you are comfortable with your colleagues knowing?  I didn't even come close to sharing the impending arrival of the Nibble until around 12 weeks.  And that was because the Viking fucking outed me at a party where I wasn't slamming down the gin and tonics (thanks Dude).  And Whoa.  I am sitting here imagining how I hide a pregnancy - if I am so lucky - until a 20 week anatomy scan.  I'm sorry fashion mavens on bbc boards, but oversized sweaters and brightly colored scarves are not the answer you seem to think they are.

Then there's all of the other secrecy.  The shots (lupron probably, and progesterone), the monitoring, the scans the blood draws.  I've done this before (well, without the shots), and I can probably do it again.  But I've also gained a higher profile in my office since my last later loss at 11 weeks, because well,I've gotten very good at my job.

And then there's the nibble.  Hiding all of this bullshit from her.  God, good luck to me, she's nosy as all fuck and quite the detective, unsurprising given her newfound love for Nancy Drew.

Yeah, it's times like this that I wish I had the luxury to quit my job.  Now, I don't personally know anyone who ever had this option, not in the circles I run in, but strangely this is a phenomenon, maybe on the upper east side of NYC, the women who eliminate their stressful careers to cycle?  God Bless em, every one.  I am seething with jealousy, but hats off to you sister.

I have been feeling anxious about all of the work that maybe won't get done in all of this.  My concentration skills have fallen to shit as it is with the insanity of the logistics of DE, but I am fairly sure the lead-up to - and potential for - an actual pregnancy - will make me a pretty crappy employee of the giant mission-driven organization I work for.  My therapist was actually a bit helpful here:  You've given them enough.  

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Yeah, let's slow down here.  OK, one step at a time. 

I've got a secret step one:  Withing the next few weeks I will be signing a contract with a talented anonymous egg donor who has beautiful big brown eyes, and will lay down fourteen thousand dollars to purchase eight of her eggs after she undergoes an IVF cycle.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Speed of light

In April, I will reach the official five year point of being on a ride from hell.  Five fucking years of pregnancies and dead babies.  You know, I am cute as all fuck but I can't believe to impress upon any of you how much younger I was before I was haunted by the unimaginable haunting of dead babies.  Not to mention physically wrecked.  Do you know that I am seeing a diabetes counselor in a few weeks because my blood sugar - and weight - won't go down?  This is sort of embarrassing for a fitness instructor, but I am positive it's because of the goddamn hcg that's been coursing through my veins for too many weeks to count.  Ok, scratch that, I can count, it's up to 53 weeks now.

I just want to be a fucking normal person, who has an embryo implant in her uterus and 9-ish months later, holds a baby. With all of that said....

The donor will agree to future contact with her genetic offspring, should that offspring desire it.  So our decision is made.

(Now, I should note that in virtually every DE blog I read, something goes wrong here, and the couple is back at square one.  I have no reason to believe that anything will go right in this process, so that could be us too in two weeks.... but for now at least, we have chosen a donor).

 And here is point where everything seems to move at the speed of light. 
  • Saline sonogram?  Check.  Uterus is still shockingly normal, fibroid and polyp free.  Cervix is good too, nice and long, except for some sort of cyst like thing (that better not be hpv or cancer or any other bullshit that I am sick of).  Did I mention I have to have a follow-up Pap?  Sigh.
  • Psych Consult?  Scheduled with the Viking in about two weeks.
  • Lawyering up?  Check.  I'm about ready to sign a retainer agreement with an attorney, in order to eventually draw up a contract with the donor.
  • Local monitoring?  Check.  Found a clinic that isn't BABIES GUARANTEED (THANK YOU JESUS, SINCERELY AN AGNOSTIC JEW).
So, what remains on the list?
  • Finding an OB (getting closer)
  • The money (getting closer)
  • Going in for another trip to the clinic including: a follow-up exam, a fun porn-room excursion for the viking,  and another fun talk with a genetic counselor about how "Really, Justonemore, you just are the victim of an unusual number of lightening strikes, you have nothing to worry about."
 What's not on the list but helpful to my peace of mind?  I talked to Mom.  She is supportive.  She fundamentally gets how I ended up here and why I am choosing this path.  She's unsure about how it would all play out,  it's a brave new world after all, isn't it, but her support is making this a million times easier.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Choice

Aaaaaannnnd now we come to the post that has been looming for some time.  The donor.  How to choose.

There are a million ways to start here, but I'll dive in.

If I'm lucky enough to ever experience the joy of giving birth again (and I am skeptical that this is even possible), I plan to be honest with my child.  Age-appropriate honesty, but yes, I am in the camp that wants my child to know where they came from.  And be able to reach out to this incredible human being with questions if and when they arise.  A donor who is open to future contact, is therefore, pretty high on my list.

I want Niblet to know too, and our closest family members.  But that's it. My fertility novel is kept pretty close to the vest, primarily to protect the Nibble.  But also because it is, frankly, an exhausting story to tell.  If the Viking and I embark on this final frontier, we will have traveled a very long road to get here - from the partial molar pregnancy of the innocence of my thirties, to the point where my biggest (and most treatable problem) was Asherman's Syndrome, to the soul-sucking world of recurrent miscarriage, to the PTSD-inducing awfulness of Termination for Medical Reasons, to the out with a whimper losses of repeat chemical pregnancies...all these miles and seemingly endless mountains to this.  Donor Egg IVF.

This very long intro is my way of saying that sometimes, I, myself, can barely believe what I have been through.  And the last thing I want is to after years. of. this. bullshit. is to have to talk to people about how I birthed a red-headed, freckled baby with green eyes.  SO, with all of that said, I am seeking a donor who bears some physical resemblance to me.  She doesn't have to be as short as me (true story, I was attracted to my husband because he can reach high shelves), she doesn't necessarily need my exact eye color or hair color, but honestly, a nice-looking, medium complexioned, brown-haired, brown-eyed woman who tans easily would really make my life just a teensy bit easier.  Niblet looks like a swedish meatball - all blond hair and hazel eyes and jesus she's tall, and for the first two years of her life I couldn't see any of myself in her.  But I'm there. Her sweet dad likes to say she "got her pretty from her momma."  It's sort of true.

Now, for women who have had failed DE cycles, there is only once choice that matters.  The proven donor, that donor who has cycled before, cranked out as many eggs as can be imagined, and her eggs have resulted in babies.  Preferably more than one.

I used to think talents were a crap-shoot, until we discovered that Niblet is a beautiful dancer with natural musicality.  Like her mother and grandmother before her.  So, yeah, I won't lie, a little artistic ability would be awesome, it is, apparently, inheritable.  So if it's a toss up between the donor who played violin for 23 year and won competitions, versus, say the hypothetical long distance runner and track star, I'm gonna choose the musician every time.

So here I am.  With a donor who recently joined my clinic's roster, who is currently being screened by them.  She has brown hair and brown eyes.  Not a freckle on her. Her eyes in her childhood photos actually resemble mine as a kid.  She is very pretty, actually, probably more WASP-ishly pretty than my admittedly straight-outta-the-shtetl prettiness.  She has played violin for 23 years, her mother in fact, is a music teacher, musicality reportedly runs in her family.  Her answers to the standard questions were sharp and articulate and didn't raise any extreme red flags.

Tomorrow I travel to my clinic early in the morning, for an exam and a saline sonogram. I have also reached out to a lawyer to discuss what a donor egg contract would look like.  The viking and I have $15K in a home equity loan, but we would likely need to pull together a bit more if we want to work with more eggs.  Which I think we do. I have six thousand in savings at my disposal.  I know how lucky we are.

We would be doing a FET.  There's no way in hell I can do a synced cycle, and I am pretty sure I want to PGS those embryos anyway.

This is getting so real that I barely feel any emotion at all, I can't afford to.

Move along, nothing to see here, just a potential last-ditch crazy effort to fill a long-empty room in my house that currently doubles as storage.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Another New Year

Well, away we go. 

Thinking about how I am gonna get my $hit together these next few months is already giving me hives.

So. Many. Appointments. While holding a demanding full-time plus job.

I spent a few days last week rusticating at the Ocean, and it was quite needed.  No work, no emails, no blogging, no babycenter or other forums.  Just the Viking and the Nibble and I hiking at a National Park and swimming in the hotel's indoor pool (thanks Groupon!)

But now reality is smacking me in the face:  I still want a baby, despite the speed at which I'm aging.

So, today, I got back into to my office before 9am, cranked out a bunch of emails and work-related edits to all kinds of written reports I supervise, then shot off an email to the Donor Egg Coordinator at my clinic.  Can I get my day 3 testing done tomorrow at a local clinic?  Can I schedule an exam?  Who can I call about the required session with a therapist/social worker, since I am out of town?

My hats off to all you who who are IVF cycle veterans.  Jesus, I am pretty good on the organizational skill front, but this requires a whole new level of upping my game.  Cycling at a clinic that's about 2 hours away is no joke.  Part of the issue is that usually this stuff all gets scheduled after you pick a donor.... but we are still trying to figure that piece out (for another post).

All of this while attending to Niblet's schedule:  Bi-weekly Dance classes, talent show auditions, play dates, doctors' visits, an 8th Birthday party in less than two weeks that I haven't even begun to figure out apart from "Let's invite up to ten friends to our house to eat cake in the playroom and watch a movie."

I am clearly insane for wanting to bring another helpless little person into our already chaotic lives, right?