Monday, August 25, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Receive Snark

In honor of that cherished American tradition of asking others -- without regard to Emily Post, privacy or closeness of friendship -- when they're having kids, I've prepared the following list of ten fabulously snarky comebacks:

1. "How much do you want to know about my girl parts?"

2. "If I could answer that, I'd teach at Harvard Med."

3. "Maybe you can give me some tips, because no baby yet, and we've sure been active upstairs (wink)."

4. "When are you getting your tubes tied?"

5. "Wow, this topic reminds me of the hour I spent weeping in my therapist's office the other day."

6. "I'll ask my ovaries -- I'm seeing them again on Wednesday."

7. "Why would we do that, when infertility is so much fun?"

8. "Speaking of taboo subjects, can you believe Barack finally picked his running mate?"

9. "I was hoping you'd just give me one of yours."

10. "Well, I was wondering the same thing while I was in the stirrups this morning. Here, let me reenact it for you -- could you move the salt and pepper?"

What's on your list?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Off to the (Slow) Races

It had been several weeks, and frankly, I missed them. Missed glimpsing those fuzzy black splotches on the screen reminding me that yes, I do in fact have girl parts and yes, they are loaded with eggs just jonesing to make a baby. Missed the morning rendez-vous with the giant wand poking around in there -- well, okay, maybe not that part (definitely not that part). But it was good to see my ovaries on TV again this morning.

And my baseline ultrasound was delightfully uneventful. The girls weren't growing cysts or talking smack or plotting their escape. They were just quietly hanging out, awaiting their next instructions. So dear ovaries, if you're listening, here they are: Grow two follicles. Just two. Don't go showing off. I know you can grow way more than that -- I remember your 25-follicle extravaganza back in February. That was nice and all (if you enjoy the feeling that your ovaries will violently explode every time you sit down, which I do not), but let's dial it back this time. Think more quality than quantity. More tortoise than hare: Slow and steady wins the race. Let's go for a healthy singleton, not a scary litter.

And on the other hand, can you step it up just a bit from the last cycle? That one follicle barely crossed the finish line. (I don't mean to be critical, dear ovaries, but if you can't be honest with your own reproductive organs....)

Here were my instructions today: Take 37.5 IU of Gonal-F for four nights, and return on Saturday for monitoring. I can follow those instructions. We'll see after a couple of weeks of "low and slow" FSH injections whether my ovaries can follow theirs.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shit-Colored Glasses

The thing about infertility is that it is all-consuming. The thing is, it makes you feel like it's the only thing you can handle.

That's why this other medical symptom I'm having is driving me so insane. I don't even want to get into what it is because a) it all sounds so melodramatic and b) so far, after a few tests, the signs are pointing away from "serious, life-threatening medical issue" and toward "girl, you are stressed OUT!" Which is just really, really embarrassing. I hate to be one of *those* people. Especially since it started right when I got back from vacation. Although I could see my body going into a bit of shock -- I mean, really, when was the last time I actually relaxed?

Like 3-D glasses at the movies, infertility seems to hand you shit-colored ones at the time of diagnosis. The things about your life that used to seem pretty rosy now look, well, all murky and dark. Infertility takes the pep from your step and the joie de vivre right out of your spirit. And it makes any other problems that may pop up appear impossible to manage. It takes away your power to cope.

I hope the medical student who looked at me, smug smile on her lips, and inferred that the cause of my symptom is likely stress -- I hope she is right. (Is it wrong, by the way, that I was giddy inside when my doctor came in and told said smug med student that she "wouldn't have mentioned to the patient" the typo in my test report that said "serious abnormalities" instead of "no serious abnormalities" as it would cause "needless worry"?) Although it would be another item on the growing list of inconveniences and side effects infertility has wreaked on my life, at least it would be one less thing to deal with right now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gold Medal in Peeing on a Stick

As I sit motionless on my couch in front of the TV watching people run, throw, swim and contort their bodies into all sorts of inhumane positions in their quests for gold or silver (Does anyone really want bronze? Isn't it a bit like picking the wrong Let's Make a Deal curtain and going home with the goat?), I'm wondering what sort of competitions would be held at the Infertility Olympics. I have a few ideas and would welcome your input before I go ahead and write the IOC.

Opening Ceremony -- I'm thinking rows and rows of women in johnnies marching with flags of ovaries, uteruses, follicles and sperm. And someone would of course sing our anthem to start the games:

O say can you see by the speculum light
All the broken girl parts that are causing my plight

Who's the tool who asked me when I'll have a baby --
Don't they know they risk wrath from my hormone-pumped body?

And the follicle wait
Do I have one or eight?

Gives proof everywhere
That life isn't fair

O say does that egg and sperm banner yet wave
For the infertile girls, so determined and brave

Toilet to stirrups sprint -- Who will set the world record for shortest time from the pre-ultrasound "bladder empty" to assuming the position in the stirrups?

The stick pee -- How many OPK and HPT sticks can you cover in one stream?

Verbal fencing -- Gold medalist will produce the snarkiest comeback for "When are you having a baby," or "You know, having kids will really change your life for the better."

Needle sticking -- Who can do it without flinching, whining or drawing blood?

Specimen Dash -- A men's event: Winners are the fastest to get sperm in a cup. Gold medalist will have high counts, good motility. Pants down! Grab your porn! Go!

Two-week Wait Distraction -- Top performers will fill up every minute of the two-week wait with busy work and meaningless activity.

I'm starting training later this week. I'm thinking I want a gold in the marathon to my baby.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

I remembered something on the drive to work this morning that made me laugh out loud.

A few years ago, when I naively thought the only people who would be in the room when I got pregnant would be my husband and I, we decided that I would go off the pill in the spring. Why? Well, it would be very inconvenient, I thought, to be hugely pregnant in the summer months. It's too hot and I didn't want a giant belly making it even hotter. This way, I would get the early stuff out of the way in the summer (because according to my plan I would definitely be knocked up in two months, maybe three at the most) and be waddling around during my favorite season, fall. I could dress up as a pregnant lady for Halloween!

Oh, you dear girl. Such a quaint little plan!

Over the course of trying and trying and treatments and more treatments, this carefully crafted, time-sensitive plan has devolved to this: I would take a pregnancy in the heat of hell.

In the cold of the arctic.

Inside, outside, upside down.

In a boat. With a goat.

I have decided to think of this minor setback in my plans as an opportunity to learn to be flexible and nimble as preparation for excellent parenting. For example, I won't miss a beat when confronted with a spontaneous projectile vomiting episode in the back of the car when I'm running late for a meeting. And I will handle nuclear-level meltdowns in Target with the greatest of ease.

Meanwhile, I have been tagged by Res Cogitatae to do this meme. I'm clueless and don't even know what a meme means but it seems fun so, since I have no vomit to clean up or meltdowns to attend to, here goes:

Rules: Answer each question with one word and tag four others to play.

1. Where is your cell phone? bag
2. Your significant other? R.
3. Your hair? blondish
4. Your mother? creative
5. Your father? kind
6. Your favorite thing? learning
7. Your dream last night? forgettable
8. Your favorite drink? wine
9. Your dream/goal? contentment
10. The room you’re in? living
11. Your hobby? reading
12. Your fear? failure
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? vacation
14. What you’re not? patient
15. Muffins? wheat
16. One of your wish list items? dog
17. Where you grew up? Massachusetts
18. The last thing you did? pedicure
19. What are you wearing? sweats
20. Favorite Gadget? blackberry
21. Your pet? cats
22. Your computer? frustrating
23. Your mood? optimistic
24. Missing someone? grandmothers
25. Your car? hybrid
26. Something you are not wearing? maternity
27. Favorite Store? many
28. Like someone? husband
29. Your favorite colour? orange
30. When is the last time you laughed? laughing
31. Last time you cried? days

In keeping with the rules, I'm tagging egg dance, Maybe I Will Have a Glass, Family of Two and Fractured Rainbows. If you feel like it (it's fun in a middle school sort of way, a la MASH).

Monday, August 04, 2008

Greener Pastures

This one goes out to the 25 screaming kids (I wish I were kidding) and parents (who were screaming too) who descended on the tranquil al fresco breakfast my husband and I were trying to enjoy the second morning of our vacation last week. You almost made me consider trading in my FSH-laden syringes for some Ortho-Cyclen. Almost.

Lest you think I've returned from said vacation still heavy with bitterness, rest assured: The only heaviness I brought back is from butter-drenched seafood dishes, an array of fine cheeses and glass upon glass of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. My mind, spirit and stomach are happier than they've been in a long, long time. Almost as soon as we got to our rented condo, I felt so much of the tension of the past few months evaporate. I would be lying if I said I didn't think about infertility (and I know you'd see right through it anyway). But I could almost pretend we were just your average married couple, pre-kids, on a weeklong summer vacation.

Of course, the same things that draw a childfree married couple to a seaside town also draw scores and scores of fertile people and their spawn. The stroller-to-people ratio felt like 3:1 at times. And nothing makes a barren girl feel more barren than watching a cherubic little face devouring an ice cream cone as his or her adoring parents look on.

As I observed all of this and started to slip away from my blissed-out vacation mode back into sad, stressed-out territory, something occurred to me which, though it might be supremely obvious to anyone with an objective point of view on the topic, had not previously made its way into my oft-irrational mind. What if those couples I was looking at with such envy as they took up valuable sidewalk real estate with their MacLarens (another topic for another time) were, when I wasn't paying attention, looking wistfully back at me and my husband and our long, leisurely, non-"family style" dinners that never, ever, included the words, "I have to go potty?" What if, someday in the not-too-distant future, I think back to this week we had and wish we could get in a time machine for a visit?

Maybe those parents of the 25 kids who invaded our breakfast wished we could take them off their hands for a while. Maybe they wanted to go to the beach and just sit there, reading like me, instead of building sandcastles and "burying" children in the sand. Maybe someday I'll look back on this time, when we hung in the delicate balance between couple and family, between two and three (or four?), when it was still just us with the hope of something more, and, knowing that the pain would eventually stop and the longed-for baby would arrive and all the joy of that was still ahead of me in this moment, feel a certain longing.

Until then, all I can do is pick up the torch again and keep chasing the dream. It starts tomorrow, with bloodwork to confirm I'm not pregnant (insert sarcasm here) or ovulating on my own. Barring that miracle, I'll start Provera and, about a week later, a new injectable/IUI cycle with my fabulous new doctor. As green as the grass may be on this side, I'm not giving up on my search for something greener.