the happiness blues

A little addendum to yesterdays blog. I’m in a plane right now, heading to New York for the weekend.  I just read an article on happiness in the most recent issue of Psychology Today.  It turns out (according to the research) that activities that lead us to feel uncertainty and discomfort are associated with some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences in people’s lives … Happy people engage in a wide range of counterintuitive habits that seem, well, downright unhappy.  

 I did the litmus test with my own life trajectory.  I could NOT be looking for a new home (for a potential little family addition) and NOT be looking for a new office (currently work out of my home so this is an additional expense). I could NOT be trying to have a baby on my own.  I could STILL be anxiously waiting for Mr. Right to show up–the  (presumed) catalyst to ‘family life’ –as the clicking clock of my fertile years slide on by.  

 I felt a surge of happiness as I started to realize all of this.  In spite of all the money ($6,000 to date), testing, waiting, hoping and let downs, this path is exactly right for me, right now.  What is life (as a verb) if it’s not on some risk continuum.  

There’s the familiar self care moments, like a glass of wine (or three) when the stick has one line vs two.  And who can argue bubble baths, good quality teas and favorite songs as the happy place trinity.  But it’s also worth seeking out experiences that are novel, complicated, even upsetting sometimes.  The variation of known and unknown, offers happiness.  

 

meltdowns, hormones and gratitude

I know, I know … it’s been a while.  In fertility-talk I’m another cycle down and gearing up for round three of Project Pregnancy sans a Man.

I’ve been discouraged.

Perspective is not the easiest part to grasp when you’re 41 (I had a birthday in August) and on the fertility/infertility roller coaster.  I’m reminding myself this is only my third try and most people having sex try at least this long to get preggers before the BFP (big fat positive).  I haven’t blogged because I’ve felt full of complaints … and what does another woe-is-me add to the world, the blogosphere, my life, or yours?  This is my current path, for better and for worse, and I’m doing my best to just get on with it — with gratitude (I’m trying, truly!) — since, financially speaking, I have the means to get on with it (for now).

In August M the midwife did an IUI at home, which was a sweet time indeed but didn’t produce a baby.  Last week I went to the fertility clinic.  It was a bad day.  Doctor showed me his 20-year-old wedding pictures, which I wasn’t interested in because I wanted to talk about my fertility not his days of being ‘thin like me,’ (his words). I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription and the pharmacist couldn’t understand the nurses script (according to him she had talked too fast in her VM) so I left empty handed. Day went on like this.  I had my first true meltdown that day, with the support of P in the afternoon and S in the evening.  (My meltdown came in two acts.)  I was also — insult to injury — PMS-ing.  Thank God for good friends through this process! 

Emotionally, I was overwhelmed.  Primally, I was ornery that my little plan didn’t work.  One day I wanted to tell Baby Dirks (we’ve affectionately named him after his donor look-alike) that Aunties E, M, S and K helped bring him into the world.  I wanted to be pregnant by now and have a baby at the end of March.  I had it all planned out (dammit) and, per usual, Plan A has turned into Plan C and may go all the way to Z for all I know.  Funny that we still get tripped up by this tried and true reality.

Still, hope has resurged and I’m feeling positive right now!  Although the doctor tells long-winded rabbit trail stories about all things not related to fertility, he’s aggressive and wants to get me pregnant; for that I’m grateful.  Also, his nurse is really nice and we’ve become friends.

I’m going to be jacked up on hormones this month.  Taking synthetic estrogen now (a big dose).  Will do a trigger shot to induce ovulation next Friday.  A big dose of pseudo progesterone after the IUI to help strengthen the uterus lining (I think). Four doctors office visits to do vaginal ultrasounds (to observe the growth of my egg follicles) and blood work, along with acupuncture three times a week.  I’ve had more needles in me that past two weeks than I have my entire life.  I’m that girl that’s never too sickly, has never broken a bone or been to the hospital  …  for which I’m so grateful! (See how that works?)

Sadly, I’m a little weary of my donor.  I’ve used four vials of his sperm so far.  I’m giving him one more shot before I move onto another donor.  There are five reported pregnancies with his sperm, which keeps me going back. I know he CAN get women pregnant … maybe not me, though.

I recently bought a new piece of art for my office.  It has a lyric on it from a favorite Mary Oliver poem.

Tell me,

What is it you plan to do with

your one wild and precious life?

This makes me smile, gets my tenacious little self out of the pity pool and back to the business of my ‘one wild and precious life.’  Gentle perspective, staring at me every working day.  For this, I’m grateful.

Baby Making part 2

Well, as some of you know, it didn’t work.  I wanted to collect myself before I got all bloggy about it.  I “spotted” last Thursday.  Felt very discouraged.  Nothing Friday or Saturday.  A twinge of could-this-be-implantation-bleeding surfaced.  Full fledged menstrual cycle on Sunday.  Blech.

Its funny, the Internet.  You can find all the data you need to either be A. confounded: (I had three months of periods but just knew I was pregnant and I was!!) or B. thrown into despair: (nobody gets pregnant without IVF after 40.  NOBODY!!)  I knew that statistics weren’t on my side on this first go.  Everyone knows it when they try to get pregnant.  And yet we all hope against the odds.  I guess this is true for most things in life.  And my inseminators were still pretty amazing, we must all admit; I’ll always remember the “first time.”

So I felt sorry for myself for a few days, took a deep breath, got out my credit card and ordered some more sperm.  Because that’s what you do when you are single and wanting a baby without the hassle and headaches that come with going to a bar and trying to sexy-talk a stranger.

On the upswing, lots of fun stuff has been going on in my non-baby-centric life, so that’s good.  And I’m on vacation, actually writing this blog from a hammock.  Things could be much worse.  They always can be.

Lastly, I’ve noticed I talk in fertility-talk these days.  Last week a client was talking about a situation where she was excited, if not nervous, and wondering if she was getting ahead of herself with her life’s current agenda.  I heard this metaphor come out of my mouth:  Well, it’s a bit like wanting to have a baby.  You can have the intention and desire to have one but still have to wait until you ovulate.  And if it doesn’t work, you have to wait some more.  She agreed.  Great analogy, she said.  If she only knew …

Another upswing is that I don’t have baby envy anymore, right now.  A friend recently had a baby and I loved holding him and being with her.  I didn’t want her life or her baby.  I felt very content with my own–and this crazy path I’m on, and that felt nice.

Started Clomid today.  Trying again at the end of next week.  Round two, my friends.  This song comes to mind.  “I know my faith will lead me on.”

baby making

Last week was a big week for me since making a baby was on my to do list. I had a date last night and the guy asked me what’s been going on since our last (and first) date a few weeks past. Brazilian food at dinner club, a birthday party, pool time, A moved to town and oh I almost forgot, my girlfriends tried to get me pregnant last week!  Pass the salt?

I had four of my dearest friends (I now fondly refer to as ‘my inseminators’) help me create this baby.  Here’s the newest chapter of my ongoing modern family love story:

The players:

M–the midwife

K–the dermatology nurse practitioner

S–the OBGYN

E–the nursing professor at a local university.

(This, my friends, is the perfect team to have in your inner circle, if you plan to have a baby without a man.)

Last Wednesday, after my LH surge, M and K came over after work for the first of three inseminations.  We felt all bad-ass and excited, as you might imagine, prepping to potentially make a baby.  I had a big clanky tank Fed-Ex’d to my home earlier in the day with three tiny vials of sperm in it.  We read all the instructions, prayed, cried (happy, hopeful tears), laughed and got on with the task of getting me preggers! The vial was small, with only about 1/2 tsp of sperm, so if doing this at home, I highly recommend using someone that knows how to do a pelvic exam, exact a little specimen into a tiny syringe and is very familiar with the cervix.  Without getting too graphic, we made it happen. We thawed one vial of sperm in a warm water bath.  I laid on my bed as M inserted a speculum in me and K used a light to sort-out where the cervix was.   There was so much love and expectation in my bedroom it didn’t occur to me to feel awkward or self-conscious as my friends were examining my girly parts. Afterwards, both girls left and I elevated my hips for a bit, blissed out by all the love, hope and anticipation I was able to share with my girlfriends.

That night a guy that I’d been out with the previous Saturday texted me (different guy from last nights date), suggesting we hang out again.  I really want to see you again, he texed.  Hmmm.  Dear Guy, I just tried to get pregnant. Isn’t that amazing??  Too much for a second date?  What I really said was this: Sure, that’d be fun!

Still navigating the dating life  …

The next day S came over at noon.  My 11 AM client was late and, going to the restroom at 11:05, I noticed that I had ovulated since I’ve become somewhat of a cervical fluid expert.  I called S.  Can you come at noon?  S: I’m on it!  I switched my 12 PM phone appt to 1 PM, cancelled my 1 PM lunch and voila, 45 minutes after ovulation I had my OB bestie at my beside with syringe and catheter in tow, putting everything in its proper place.  We had a round of I love you’s, she left, hips up–take two.  I dreamt about pregnancy possibilities for 15 minutes and then my 1 PM phone client called and business as usual.  Usual, except I was lying on my bed with my hips elevated and sperm swimming up my cervix.   Surprisingly, I was totally present and focused with my client.  Because really, you can only think about potentially being pregnant for so long …

On Friday, day three, E and K showed up after lunch.  We were pros by then.  Almost felt prosaic to thaw the sperm, prep the syringes, yada yada.  E was amazing too.  Found the cervix, poked me with the syringe, Did you feel that?  (I did!) and performed the final insemination.  Hips elevated, I was texting friends and making evening plans.

That night I was laughing and toasting champagne, here’s to Baby H, with the same crew I broke down with three months earlier, over the challenges and stark disappointments in life.

Life is like that isn’t it.  It’s unbearably hard and then … time passes, we risk and we hope … and it gets better.

The reality is that I could not be pregnant.  For most people it takes more than one (or three) shots.  That said, even if it’s a bust, I’m grateful.  This is a burden of love and I’m not alone.  I have four (but really more) people that are in it with me, committed to getting me pregnant.  And when this baby finally comes, he or she will be born into so much desire, love, community and intentionality … I get chills thinking about it.

The Final (well, actually First) Countdown

I got my test results back and feel very blessed that they were all good.  Good progesterone (which means I ovulated last month) and good AMH levels, which means I supposedly have a good reserve of eggs.  I’m especially sensitive to these issues as I’ve become aware (through my new on-line community) of fertility issues and how challenging it is for many women to get pregnant.  I still don’t know my journey on this front, but gave a shout out to God for the favorable results.

This month is the first of a possible series of pregnancy attempts.

Will inseminate in about two weeks at home. My friend M said it best: So when are you going to uh, have intercourse with a needle?  Of course I quickly corrected her: I’m having sex with a syringe, NOT a needle.  

Many have asked how this actually works so here’s the brass tacks:

  • Tank with frozen semen is overnighted to my home.
  • I’ll time this with my LH surge, which indicates that I should ovulate in the next 24-36 hours.
  • My brave and supportive nurse friends K and E are my ‘baby making’ duo.   We’ll thaw the sperm and use a syringe to insert the sperm close to the cervix. Afterwards I’ll attempt to relax and keep my hips elevated for a while.

This will be the plan for 2 or 3 days in a row, I haven’t decided yet. I’ve opted out of any fertility drugs this first time, since my test scores are positive.  My plan is to get more aggressive as I go: Clomid next try; possibly an IUI (where a doctor inseminates my uterus, bypassing the cervix–what the sperms usually swim through to get to the uterus) in a few months.  And on and on.

And one of these days, or months, I may get a baby out of the deal.

Deep breath.

Game on.

(If anyone of my new virtual friends has had success with this route please share your story, or any tips you may have!!)

Baby Daddy: #13403

Hello Blog,

It’s been a while.  How’ve I been?  Oh, fine.  Lake day with great friends (jumped off a very high cliff!).  Weekend in the mountains with different great friends.  Back.  Working.  Waiting for some test results from the doctor, which will determine how I’ll get inseminated (at home or at the fertility clinic).  Picked sperm-donor (!!).  Simultaneously doing my life and waiting for it to dramatically change.  Normal fare.

I have a little crush on the profile of my sperm donor.  According to California Cryobank he is rugged and outdoorsy but knows his way around literature and food.  His favorite book is Infinite Jest and he wants to go to Spain to better understand Don Quixote. He grows French herbs in his backyard (herbes de provence, chervil and savory) since they are hard to find at the grocery store.  He’s 6.4 and played football in college; was smart in high school (4.3 GPA) and (I’d like to think) “preoccupied” in college (2.9 GPA).  The staff at the sperm bank claims that he is a ‘more attractive version of Dirks Bentley.’ But what set him apart from the other seemingly amazing young men that are giving away their seed for cash (yeah, there’s still that) is that he seems really funny and down to earth.  Like someone I’d enjoy hanging out with, who would cliff jump with me or be a good date at my dinner club: he seems compelling, with a twist of dry wit and a dash of self-deprecating humor. He’s currently a Spanish translator.  Grew up in a Baptist church.  His dad was a famous baseball player.  Good bill of health from grandparents forward.

All this and more for $650 per vile of sperm?  

Sold to the 40-year-old mother wannabe!

And still; who knows?  Half of my potential baby’s DNA is from an Internet profile, including: a three paragraph written essay, a 10 min audio interview, a few childhood pics and an extensive medical and family medical history.  When did my visceral and virtual lives become so intertwined??

I’m excited.  I find myself day dreaming. Who is this guy that is going to help me create a little being?  And the he or she baby?–Already a little love mystery to me.

It feels strange to me that my whole life is still a potential trajectory.  And that nothing has actually changed, except what I want and what I’m after.

Neurosis and butterflies in the city

Yesterday I took a break. A break from all things related to fertility. After spending the past week researching 1001 ways to get pregnant sans sex and signing up for too many fertility calendars, chat groups and donor registration sites to keep track of all the passwords, I was reminded by that small inner voice (well, that and M, my midwife friend) that the key factor to conception is being relaxed. Oh the irony.

In my former I-want-to-have-a-baby-yesterday self I am a pretty laid back person. I typically go with the flow, like to have fun and am up for whateves. Except. Except when I get neurotic and overstimulated by a surge of information about something I’m into and manically gather data in the wide not deep sort of way. Eventually I enter into an analysis paralysis; foiled over and again by the ole’ First World paradox of being immobilized by options.

So. Yesterday I resisted the single mom blogs, the donor sperm baby memoirs, the fertility Q&A’s, the home insemination PDF I downloaded and even my actual donor site, where I often go to peruse all the sweet little childhood faces and profiles of my top 22 favorite donors (how to decide??). I took a bath, splayed myself out on the couch with a cold glass of water, and read an awe-inspiring interview in The Sun magazine with John Elder, entitled The Wild Places Close to Home. Curled up in the womb of my couch on a rainy afternoon, I reveled in one of my other loves: nature.

(I’d like to believe this is exactly what the doctor would’ve ordered, if I had the insurance to actually have a doctor for non-catastrophic life events.)

Elder writes: When Thoreau speaks of “awakening,” he means being present to the moment. In Walden he writes, “only that day dawns to which we are awake.” Wildness is not about millions of roadless acres. Wildness is a quality of awareness that millions of roadless acres may help us to achieve. And if we do achieve it, we’ll be thrilled by those acres. But that awareness can also be cultivated in the middle of the city. In fact, you’d better look for it in your city, and your home, and your office.

This brings me hope. Sometimes my pregnancy plan feels akin to looking for daffodils in a Detroit automotive plant–unnatural and uncommon. And then I read an interview with a naturalist, who speaks of the migratory-bird routes that come down over Staten Island, and the monarch butterflies that migrate down Fifth Avenue in NYC just above the heads of pedestrians. The little wings of grace that pass us by unnoticed, when left to our premeditated trances of how things are.  I’m reminded to let go, look up, breathe slower and take heart.

Fertility (bearing no infertility issues) is really just timing and timing is really just awareness.  And awareness is more spiritual than anything.  It might be bad: I may be infertile.  I may get pregnant next month, it may take six months, I may never get pregnant.  I don’t know.

What I do know (for now, anyway) is that it’s all going to be okay.  That if we live in a world where caterpillars turn into butterflies and then take flight in the busiest city in America, the order of things is indeed wild and often precarious … and there is hope for me on this new path.  Hope and also transformation.