Keep Calm and Carry On

I’ve been avoiding my blog because I haven’t sorted out how to write about my recent disappointments.  The quick: I’m not pregnant. After five vaginal ultrasounds and anxiety-producing blood draws I got a “trigger shot” which is a shot that goes into the hip to promote ovulation. Then I went in the next day for the IUI.  When the doctor analyzed the sperm he determined that my donor had a low sperm count.  As in get-a-refund-low sperm count. In layman’s terms, only 7% of his little swimmers could swim in a straight line (to presumably meet the egg).  Earlier that day I’d made a quarterback decision to order another vial, same day delivery (aka $1,000) and have my friend E do a 2nd IUI the following morning, at home.  This was before I knew my donor was a dud.   Those 7% didn’t make it either morning.  I’m hoping to get a refund for the vial that was analyzed.  Unfortunately, I have to eat the cost for the other five vials, since the only analysis of those vials were my friends and I … well, looking at them.  I was upset.  Well, truth be told, I got a little crazy.  The doctor had me on nine hormone pills a day post IUI, for the two week wait.  When the nurse called me and told me I wasn’t pregnant and that the doctor was not available for a post-procedure consult, I lost the plot. I turned into an unhinged, desperate lady on the phone, accosting the messenger.

Are you telling me the doctor won’t talk to me?  I just spent #$^%& dollars (shamefully, I went there) at your clinic and now my body is all jacked up, I’m on all these hormones and I just want to talk to the doctor!  I’ll talk to him on the phone, I don’t care.  Doesn’t he OWE ME a follow up?!

I’m so sorry, but he doesn’t really do that.  Would you like to set up an appointment to meet again and talk about trying again?

Will that cost me money?

Well yes, it’ll cost the initial consult fee of $150.

I looked down at my arm, which was still bruised and hurting from the confirmation-you’re-not-pregnant blood draw earlier that day. The nurse had dropped the cotton ball when she was ready to pull the needle out and had me reach across the room to grab another one for her, with the needle in my arm.  It was an accident, but the needle moved in my arm when I moved and created an ache that I hadn’t experienced prior to that particular blood draw.

Are you serious?  He won’t just talk to me and let me know what he suggests now?  I just want to know if my eggs are good.  Was it solely the sperm?  Do I have fertility issues? How long until my body gets back to normal?  What about all these hormones?!  

I’m embarrassed to say that I was almost yelling by this point.  I wasn’t truly yelling, but I wasn’t just talking either.

Well, I uh can talk to the doctor and uh call you back.

I gathered the shred of composure I had left and told the nurse I’d collect myself and get back to her in a few days.

Then I walked into a client session.

The whole scene was not one of my better life moments.

That was a week ago.  Since then I’ve stopped all the extra hormones, decided to see a therapist for a little while and have slowly started to think about the next step.  I’ve decided to take this month off, mostly because of finances, but also for some sanity.  And perspective, as elusive as it is at times.

I’m sure all this sounds terribly dramatic for those of you that haven’t experienced infertility, or trying to have a baby on your own.  I think it would to me. I can hear the judge in my own head: get a grip; it takes a while; you can’t get pregnant if you don’t chill out and relax.  I know, I know.  And still … you know–if you’ve been down any semblance of this road, how crazy sneaks up on you.  It becomes a primal face-off: maternal desire meets unbridled emotion.

Longing and capitulation; then repeat.

Last night I made tapioca pudding, which is what I do when I’m feeling down or stressed.  The rhythmic slowness of stirring the milk, eggs, sugar and tapioca from liquid to pudding soothes me. The transformation of the elements offers perspective. I think, ultimately, this is what most spirituality and therapy boils down to: a reduction. In foodie terms a reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor …  I’m realizing that as I’m up against the most elemental parts of myself, everything does intensify. I’m being exposed to what I’m fundamentally made of; my relationship with impulse control, tenacity, trusting the process, trusting God, vulnerability, hope and renewal.  It all gets cracked open and exposed, with or without my consent. Recapitulation.  Last night I made pudding, which made me happy.  It was really good too, I might add.

I’m not really desperate or hopeless or unhinged, in the grander sense of the words.  I can pick back up, try again and maybe again, and life will take its course.  Right now I’m a student of my own process, learning what I’m made of and what I can endure.  That’s life-giving and edifying, in it’s own paradoxical way.

Recently I read this line by J.M. Barrie in his book The Little White Bird: Shall we make a new rule in life … always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?

Kinder than necessary.  What a marvelous line.  Kinder than is necessary.  I love that line, that concept, because it reminds me that we carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.  Kindness to others, to ourselves, to God and the universe when they serve up the wrong order. In the face of primal rage, there’s the primal counterparts too — love and grace and the simpleness of kindness.

So I grapple with this and other existential truths while I’m researching other sperm banks, more pregnancy options, having drinks with friends, going to NFL games and laughing when things are funny.

Keep Calm and Carry On.  So cliche; so true.

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 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.