Friday, December 29, 2006

Pick a Tarot Card

Ok- I need to stop playing but I couldn't resist. Note, I am the "womb where ideas gestate"

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Women's Mood DisOrders

There is some new research on SSRI's and pregnancy
SSRIs and Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn which suggests that it might not be such a good idea to take anti-depressents through out pregnancy.

I was always one of these people who thought the health of the mother was an important factor in pregnancy and weighing that against the unknown side effects to the unborn child seemed to balance out. Now with this new research I am not so sure.

I have been on meds for 13 years and have no idea what I might be like if I went off - it's been too long to remember life before my dopes. My recent bought with depression courtesy of the HRT meds is not a good foreshadowing for how I might fare au natural.

My dope doctor is retiring and he suggested that I go to see a psychopharmacologist who specializes in medication and pregnancy. I've located someone whose expertise is in the "women's lifecycle" which means I can talk to her about pregnancy and menopause all in the same breadth. I'm sure she will find me an interesting case.

I hope we can come up with a reasonable plan. Appointment Jan. 10th.

Stay tuned...
PS - she like everyone else is very expensive and doesn't take insurance.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Years resolution a Few Days Early

okay - I am going to make the same new year's resolution that probably 50% of all Americans make every year. To get in shape and lose weight. But this is serious stuff. It will be the last time pre-baby (cross fingers) that I have a chance to do this in earnest.
B* leaves for Australia on January 2nd - my first official day of Operation Fitness.

The Plan -
excercise 5-6 times/week incorporating some high end cardio (spinning) into my training atleast 2 times a week, 2 days of yoga, 1 pilate class per week

food - calorie cutback. I do my biggest damage right now at dinner and with B* out of the country I should be able to save significant calories at dinner time - no dessert, and focus on keeping it under 500 calories (he is the cook in our family and it is a big no-no not to express enthusiasm and clean the plate at meal time).

Breakfast is a smoothie or an egg and lunch is a lean cuisine or other type item. Swap carbs for protein when possible and no buffet dining on the weekends (my biggest undoing - we go to buffets every weekend - korean, idian, indonesian, brazilian - we are maniacs!). Fruits and vegetables are sanctioned snacks.

Goal: lose 8-10 pounds in 2 months. or 1 lb a week. If I can achieve this goal I will be back into my size 6 clothes which always puts a smile on my face.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

DE Quality Concern

After reading Sparkle's latest blog entry at IF and the City I totally freaked out about working with a Utah donor through a Utah RE's office - even though they will be working directly with my RE's office. If you click through and read the entry you will see that the donor cycle was a failure, only one good egg to put back and none made it to freezing. As Sparkle points out, her cycles were better than the donor's cycle.

Now granted the situation is quite different. In Australia you have to basically find your own donor and they cannot be legally compensated. I will be investing $24,000 plus to ensure that everything goes off like clock work.

In any case, I emailed my donor coordinator today because it has been a week and still no confirm on #124 and she is leaving the country shortly to go to Africa for a month and will not be reachable. I am concerned that we are already off to a bad start with the Utah clinic and if they are not operating at the same level of care as my RE's office I am not sure that going with #124 is such a great idea.

I received the following reassurance from the donor coordinator:

I understand your concern and who knows, maybe by march we will have found some donors in the area that would work for you. If not, and we go ahead with 124, the beginning of her cycle would be in Utah, however once she starts stimulating, she will come out here for the critical monitoring. Also, keep in mind Dr.*** will be monitoring her from the very beginning, only instead of doing bloodwork here, it will be called over from there. He will work out the protocol, dosage, etc, so you do have that assurance of control.

While we monitor, if we see the donor isn't doing well, we will cancel the cycle and do another, without penalizing you the entire cost of another cycle. Depending on where in the cycle it is cancelled, you would have a credit towards the next cycle, and that is something Dr. *** would work out with the billing department. The donor would still be paid a small stipend for taking the injectibles, but since she didn't make it to retrieval, she forfeits the majority of her stipend.

I am not entirely without worry either about this partnership. So far it has been difficult getting answers and information from them, and I think mostly it is due to the fact that they were not adequately prepared for this collaboration, and have gotten a little over their head. Once the holiday passes and the staff prepares for the new year, I really do believe communication will improve between our facilities.

I felt better after receiving this email. I guess I better adjust to the idea that I may have to select another donor. :(

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Depression and HRT

A month ago I was put on hormone replacement therapy for my menopausal symptoms - I figured that since the DE was going to be a few months I might as well get some relief from the hotflashes etc.

About 2 weeks ago I started feeling kinda depressed, which makes sense, accepting infertility, dealing with Donor Egg issues, lack of genetic connection, a frustrating job - yes I have a list of issues. But the depression just kept getting worse. At first like small waves washing ashore and then bigger waves and then suddenly I felt like I was pinned under a wet blanket. Everything started sending me into a free fall of despair, an article in the paper, a conversation with a colleague.

I am trained to catch myself in these depressive moments - 13 years of therapy will do that for you. But usually you turn a corner and start to bounce back but this started to feel like infinite blackness. And the most curious part of the whole thing is that I am on a therapeutic dose of Effexor which has worked for me for over 8 years.

And then last Friday is hit me, it was the HRT I was taking. I had similar issues on certain virtuousness pills a millennium ago and it made sense that I might have a similar reaction on these pills which are not unlike virtuousness.

So on Saturday I stopped taking the HRT - there was not instant relief. As of yesterday I was still experiencing some of the vertigo of a bad depression but I am also starting to see it lift.

I called my psychopharmcologist who confirmed that effexor and HRT can be a potent combination and it sounded like I needed to stay off all HRT for a while and wait for my mind and body to recalibrate. He said if I still felt bad after the holidays to call him.

I called my RE and they said that given my bad reaction they are hesistant to prescribe an alternative and that I might want to investigate bioidentical hormones instead.

So I sit here and wait for the veil of depression to fully lift and for the hot flashes to return. As Roseanne Rosanna-Danna's Grandmother use to say, "It's always something. If it's not one thing," it's another."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's All in the Genes, Except When It Isn't

It's All in the Genes, Except When It Isn't by Liz Mundy, in today's Washington Post Outlook section gave me pause. She is working on her forth coming book: "Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction is Changing Men, Women and the World" (Knopf).

She takes the position that we are speeding past the issue of genetic connections too quickly in understanding what defines a family. I don't disagree that there is an industry out there that encourages couples to move to quickly move to DE as the logical progression after failed IVF but how or why does that necessarily lead to the conclusion that as a society we are failing to understand the genetic connection in defining family? Since when is that the definition? Sometimes the genetic connection is a curse not a gift. I've often wondered how I ended up with my parents, we seem such an ill fit - the answer is genetics. And all the personality traits I've spent 10's of thousands of dollars to unlearn, are, at least in part, due to genetics.

Genetics does play a role in identity but so does environment and childhood. DE is not really adoption even though some would call it that but it is a means to a wanted ends. And yes, I would like to have a child that has my physical traits (call me a narcissist) but what I can give it beyond DNA to me is far more important. IF anything my DNA is not the best thing I have to offer - predisposition to depression and anxiety - how are these gifts?

This article seems to suggest that those who choose to embark on the journey of using Donor Egg or donor sperm do not fully comprehend the implications of what we are doing. These are not decisions that anyone takes lightly - they are painful and gut wrenching and I find this article insensitive to those of us who have been brave enough to seek parenthood when it has not been easily handed to us.

If you want to respond directly to Liz Mundy here is her email:

Here is a reprint of the full article:

It's All in the Genes, Except When It Isn't

By Liza Mundy
Sunday, December 17, 2006; B01

There's a lot we don't know about the pregnancy of Mary Cheney -- but a few things we do. We know that the vice president's openly gay 37-year-old daughter is expecting a baby whom her parents are happily preparing to welcome as their sixth grandchild. We know that she plans to raise the child with her longtime partner, Heather Poe. And we know that there must be a man involved somewhere -- either a friend or acquaintance (a "known donor") or a donor from a sperm bank.

In short, we know that this pregnancy involves what's called, in the fertility business, "collaborative reproduction."

That's the trade term for a situation in which a couple (or a single person) conceives with help from a third party who probably won't be involved in raising the child, but who agrees, as one egg broker put it, to "genetically contribute to the conception process." It's a situation unprecedented in human history, but now common to the point of being commonplace. Yet these technologies are setting in motion a social experiment that will unfold over decades, creating hundreds of thousands of families in which the role of genetic ties will be newly tested -- and the meaning of family reevaluated.

In the United States, donated sperm is used in 80,000 to 100,000 inseminations each year. In 2003, at least 15,000 in vitro fertilization procedures -- in which the gametes, a woman's eggs and a man's sperm, are united in a petri dish and the resulting embryos are transferred into a uterus -- were performed with donated eggs; that number grows by 20 percent annually. More than 1,000 babies are born each year through surrogacy, in which a woman carries a child for another woman or, increasingly, for two gay men.

These explosively popular science-enabled multi-parent arrangements are altering our understanding of what parents are and how families can be formed. And they're confusing our thinking about genetic relationship and its importance to the parent-child bond. Collaborative reproduction is becoming widespread at precisely the moment when we've become ultra aware of how genes run the show in the unfolding of a human being: controlling everything from physical attributes such as height and hair color to a predisposition for certain illnesses to a tendency toward shyness or a taste for fine wine.

Interviewing hundreds of families for a book on assisted reproduction, I've been struck by how conscious people are of the power of genetic inheritance -- and yet how bewildered they are about how a missing genetic connection might affect their family.

Reproductive medicine and the profit-making industry that has grown up around it send a powerfully mixed message, encouraging parents to accept that genes are crucial to the formation of their children, yet irrelevant to the formation of a relationship with those children. Genes matter, the message is, except when they don't.

"Let's face it: Donor gametes is an experiment," one fertility doctor aptly put it. "Who the hell knows how it's going to turn out?"

An irony of assisted reproductive technology is that it was invented to help infertile couples have biological children, yet quickly became a way for people to knowingly conceive children who would be biologically related to just one parent.

Only six years after IVF first succeeded in 1978, with the birth of Louise Brown to a British couple, doctors discovered that it was startlingly easy to achieve a pregnancy in a woman by using eggs from another. By the 1990s, egg donation had caught on as a way to help women in their late 30s and 40s whose eggs were no longer viable. So popular is egg donation in Washington that one clinic scours rural Pennsylvania for donors. The area's more than 15 clinics compete with ads hyping the quantity and quality of available donors.

Meanwhile, sperm donation has been around for more than a century. The first known procedure was performed in 1884 by a doctor who inseminated an anesthetized patient with sperm from a medical student, without asking her permission or telling her afterward. By World War II, donor sperm was a routine "treatment" offered to married couples. In 1992, a variant of IVF in which a single sperm cell can be injected into an egg made it possible for many infertile men to have biological children. Since then, single women and lesbians have become the majority of the clientele seeking sperm donation.

People selecting a donor are bombarded with information about the donor's likely genes. Web sites for sperm banks and egg brokerages invite prospective parents to sort anonymous donors based on ethnicity, College Board scores, personality tests, shade of skin and curl of hair. For a fee, they can order childhood photographs or scrutinize a handwriting sample. "One of them couldn't spell; she spelled 'Catholic' wrong," one mother told me wryly. She rejected that donor.

The message is that genetics are everything -- everything -- in the formation of your child. And parents of course believe they owe the child the best genes. As one gay couple put it: "What are you going to do -- get someone with a 1550 [SAT score], or are you going to cheat your child and get them a mom with a 1210?" In choosing their egg donor, they made a decision tree assigning values to attributes they were looking for.

Yet even as these genetic profiles are being posted and peddled, the importance of genetics when it comes to parenting, or to the child's own psychological and emotional growth, is downplayed, if not ignored. The message here is: Your child won't be related to you, but she will still love you, no problem. Every day, families are being formed by parents trying to hold in their heads the competing notions that genes, while important, aren't. Genetics matter -- except when they don't.

Is gamete donation like adoption? "I've always looked at this as adoption that is run by the medical profession," says Bill Cordray, now in his 60s, who is part of a group of donor offspring agitating for the right to know their donors' identities, arguing that people denied that knowledge are unable to understand themselves. Accepting this argument, some countries, such as Britain, have banned anonymous donation.

But in the United States, many egg and sperm brokers disagree. They point out that adoption involves the grief of relinquishing an actual baby. In donation, nobody's relinquishing. Everybody's happy. What a child needs, they say, is not a relationship with the genetic parent, but a coherent narrative about the way he or she was born.

Yet the industry tacitly recognizes that genetic connection can matter. In the late 1980s, a surrogate in New Jersey contracted to be inseminated and to surrender her own biological offspring to the father and his wife. But after giving birth, she didn't want to give up the child. A court forced her to do so -- in the famous "Baby M" case. As a result, most surrogates now are "gestational carriers," bearing babies created with eggs that are not their own. Everyone assumes that having no genetic relationship will make it easier for a surrogate to hand over the baby. Genetics don't matter -- except when they do.

In two-parent families, many parents still don't tell children they are donor-conceived. "Parents are afraid that if they tell the child they are not the genetic parent, the child will love them less," Fay Johnson, a longtime surrogacy broker, told me. Though the donor has no legal claim, parents worry that he or she possesses some kind of unarticulated blood claim, and they fear that person's power. "I'm the dad, damn it," I was told by one man, who thought that if his sons grew up and wanted to track down their donor, it would be a sign that he had failed as a father. One mother told me about dreams in which her anonymous egg donor knocked on her door, asked to see her son, and left taking both the son and the woman's husband with her.

And of course, children don't always see things the way their parents do. The Sperm Bank of California, a small nonprofit established in 1982 to serve mostly lesbians and single women, has pioneered an "identity release" program that entitles offspring, at 18, to learn the identity of their donors. In a study conducted as the first deadline for tracking down donors approached, the bank found that though most children were comfortable with their origins and regarded the people who had raised them as their parents, most still wanted to meet their donors. And many more than anticipated wanted a relationship with the donor.

Collaborative reproduction has brought happiness to many, and children to millions. There aren't enough adoptable children in the United States to meet people's desire for kids and family life. And there are men and women who are comfortable giving away an egg or sperm. The result is children who, by and large, will be glad to have been born.

But it's wrong when an industry stokes the genetic anxieties of would-be parents yet fails to provide the support to help us all figure out how to deal with the ways in which genetics do affect family ties. It's also wrong when would-be parents get shuttled along too quickly. Some women now go through IVF one or two times and, if it fails, are encouraged to move on to egg donation as if it's merely another step in a medical process.

Like adoption agencies, clinics need to acknowledge that you can't just slip a new set of genes into the conception process and go on as though nothing had happened. They need to connect parents with counselors who know the research. Egg-donation recipients typically receive an hour's worth of counseling; sperm bank patrons often get none. Yet these families are going to unfold in unexpected directions.

Not long ago, I interviewed a mother who had conceived twin daughters with the help of an egg donor. At a wedding, she ran into the donor, who was a casual acquaintance. The woman did not want children and was glad to help someone who did. But the donor's parents were also at the wedding, and the girls' mother noticed them looking at her twins. They were the girls' genetic grandparents, looking, a little wistfully, at the granddaughters they would never have.

What is a donor? What are a donor's parents? The reproductive field needs to acknowledge that these questions exist, and that the answers matter. After all, the Cheneys won't be the only genetic grandparents of Mary's baby. Presumably, there will be another set out there -- somewhere.

Liza Mundy, a Post reporter on leave,

is author of the forthcoming "Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction is Changing Men, Women and the World" (Knopf).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Been there Done that....

If you are approaching advanced maternal age and have high FSH you might find this information to be of interest.

Ofcourse you still only have about a 5% chance of getting pregant.

I spent almost a year (9 months) trying to beat the odds but frankly it was exhausting and seemingly futile. In the end I had to ask myself the question, "What is it that I really want?" (in addition to my doctor encouraging to discontinue my unlikely attempts to get pregant through vigilant monitoring and estrogen suppression)

I'm rolling the dice with DE but the odds have just gone up from 5% to 80% and it will still have a genetic connection to B* and I get to carry it around and feed it for 9 months prior to birth.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Donor #124 Is Available

I don't have the lock down in writing confirmation but it appears that Donor #124 will be traveling to Africa in January (reminder - I was hoping this would be the case because B* is out of the country until mid-March) and will therefore be available to start syncing cycles in February but not before. It's all good. I wanted her as the donor and now it appears that it will work out.

I've been feeling draggy today, work is slow and there is a gross lack of direction and ambiguity that drives me insane. I also have to get my finances into rehab pronto. No shopping therapy or spending quick fixes for my moods these days.

In other sidebar type news we took Mr. the Dog to check out a local dog Agility course to see if it would make for a good hobby. He needs better hobby than his current one of destroying the house. He was quickly jumping over the poll and reveling in his accomplishments so I am planning to start his Agility lessons in early January. He clearly felt important on the ride home sitting up on the arm rest peering out at the oncoming traffic.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Blood and More Humiliation

I went to my ob-gyn today to get all the tests done that are required for the Donor Egg program. I was informed that my insurance might not want to cover it because my annual was last February. I said to the nurse - "code it as something else" and she said well you can talk to the doctor first.

Fine, so I talked to the doctor - the one who referred me to my RE - and updated him on my whole tale of whoa.

Doctor said, "Are you getting the support you need?" but before I could really answer the question he was on to the next item, it was a pro-forma question - my mistake for taking it as care and concern.

When I told him we were waiting until March when B* gets back from Australia to inseminate he said that's too bad. Not a helpful remark given my own anxiety about waiting.

I asked if he thought it was normal to be more depressed than usual with all the hormone changes and everything else and he said "yes it's normal, are you having thoughts of suicide?" No I said.

Don't forget to take your calcium and be sure not to eat any raw fish while pregnant - I'm sitting there thinking don't you think I am a little past the safe pregnancy lecture with all I have been through?

These questions and statements just kept popping out of him the whole time -

Then they took 4 viles of blood and it hurt. I picked up the safe pregnancy information booklet and drove home, I was done.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

DONOR #124 - Answer the Questions Correctly and Win an All Expenses Paid Trip to Our Nation's Capitol

I've settled on #124.
Why #124?
**She's tall
**1350 on her SAT's
**Planning to attend med-school
**Two generations of scientists in her family
**She's 21
**She's attractive (she doesn't really look like me but her coloring and face shape are similar)
I had a good gut feeling from her profile and picture

Being a good donor is about egg quality when you get right down to it. Intelligence was a factor that also loomed large as I reviewed the candidate profiles.

I left a message for the Donor Coordinator who will be back in the office tomorrow. She has already let the office in Utah know that there is someone actively interested in donor 124.

My NEW big anxiety - Timing

B* is leaving Mid-Jan and not back until late March. Which means if I want fresh and not frozen sperm I am going to have to wait until late March for the insemination. I am concerned that the donor will not want to wait that long - technically it is a delay of about 6-7 weeks. The pros of the delay for her will be time off during the holidays etc so I am hoping that she is amenable. There was also something in her profile about hoping to travel to Africa in January -- I told the coordinator that I hoped she still wanted to go :)

It is going to be hard to wait until March - yes the drugs will start several weeks earlier but it still feels so far away. There is sooooo0 much waiting with all of this stuff it often feels interminable. The upside of the wait is that it gives B* and I a little more time to get our fiscal house in order.

Every time a see a pregnant woman (especially at the gym) I get a twinge of jealousy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lot's of Q's and A's - My visit with the Donor Egg Coordinator

Today I got to ask all my questions of the Donor Egg Coordinator - she is probably 28 and very serious. Here is what I found out:

Q: What is the current rate of success with DE at this office?
A: Since I started in August we have worked with 10 couples all of whom have become pregnant, 8 with Twins.

Q: Did any choose selective reduction?
A: No, although one pregnancy became a singleton at 8 weeks.

Q: Why are you using Utah donors (we are in DC)?
A: One of our doctors knows someone out there who used to work in Virginia and they have more donors than recipients in Utah (no suprise).

Q: Are these donors mormons?
A: About 50%

Q: Does it cost more to use a Utah donor?
A: No because their fee is lower, so the funds are used to pay for their travel and per diem while they are in town.

Q: What is/is not covered for the $24,000?
A: Donor meds, IVF but not ICSI. Not covered are the required blood work ups on donor recipients, donor recipient meds ($1,000), freezing ($2,000) or FET cycle if necessary.

Q: How long will it take once we select a donor?
A: Approximately 6 weeks - sync cylces (I have none so that is easy), supress, stims, retrieval and transfer.

Q: Can we select the donor now but wait to start the cycle?
A: That is usually not a problem if it is a month or so.

And that was it - I have my files of 3 candidates and will provide my reviews shortly.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Donor selection - The girl with the best eggs wins

It turns out my email from the Donor Coordinator was delayed and she resent me the list after my little pesky email yesterday.

She sent 7 profiles (very short like - height, weight, age, coloring, hobbies, ethnic origin). I am instructed to pick the most interesting 3 and she will give me their full medical files and essays, etc. to review. I can also look at child and adult pics in the RE's office.

I consulted this morning with someone who just went through a similar process with getting Sperm and she said something very profound,

" In the end, we picked the donor with the highest sperm count and disregarded most of the stuff we went in thinking was important."

I think she is right, pick the person with the best fertility - who cares if they are interested in greek literature or play multiple instruments. You want this to work. (She also agreed that tall was on her list of important features. )

Monday, December 04, 2006

Battling the Blues

I'm not sure if it's reality sinking in about my own infertility and mourning the loss of the genetic connection to a child or the crashing of estrogen in my body, but this weekend was rough.

I just wanted to sit on the couch and watch QVC.

I'm also coming to terms with all my debt and trying to figure out a way to try and pay some of it off --

No word on potential donors but I did send the coordinator a little end of the day note (I have to be careful not to turn into a pest before we even get started or I will be in big trouble).

Friday, December 01, 2006

E Pluribus Unum - Utah

I just got off the phone with the Egg Donor Coordinator -

She will email me possible donors on Monday afternoon for prelminary review. Once I have selected those that look the most promising I will get to review their detailed profiles and can make an appointment to come to the office and see their photos (photos don't leave the office).

I asked if the donor pool has grown since last month when I was handed a list of about 10 - she said that they have started working with a number of donors in Utah and as a result have expanded the pool significantly.

Now don't get me wrong but I hope all the donors aren't Mormons. Not that there is anything wrong with the Mormons but a jew from the Northeast is quite a different breed of person - both genetically and environmentally. The truth is that I am not going to find my genetic clone out there, nor do I need to. I am sure that my donor will have great genetic material, whatever their religious beliefs (which are not genetic as far as I can tell).

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Recovery Post - the Sun Shines In

I am feeling a lot less gloomy today - perhaps it is the acceptance of my inability to conceive on my own and the knowledge that I am on the road to DE with an 80% chance of success. (my RE's current rate of success with one IVF and one FET cycle).

If the timing works out I am also hoping for a vacation in February. B* is going to be teaching in Australia for 2 months and I am hoping to spend a week over there checking out the local scene. There was a show on public television last night on the wonders of Sydney and it got me all excited. I can't wait to be an absolute and unapologetic american tourist.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In The Grip of Nature's Own Form of Birth Control

the Grip of Nature’s Own Form of Birth Control

This article makes my chest tighten up.

November 26, 2006
Modern Love
In the Grip of Nature’s Own Form of
Birth Control
I DON’T know how I got to be so old without having children. When I was 28 and my cousin had her first child, at 31, I thought, “I certainly won’t wait that long.” But then my freewheeling, career-centric life lasted another decade.

Sure, fertility starts to decline naturally at about 27. But who’s bound by nature now? We have scopes and drugs and petri-dish unions that seem to stretch fertility to menopause. I wanted kids eventually, but I was determined not to be one of those
anxious clock-watching mothers-to-be.

When I finally found myself pregnant one spring at 38, it still felt too soon. I was in a stable relationship — recently engaged. But my fiancĂ©, David, and I were moving to a new apartment and I was in the spring semester of graduate school. I had
walls to paint, papers to write, a wedding to plan.

Two weeks later, when the pregnancy failed, I was disappointed but not devastated. It was so early in the process. This wasn’t a fledgling personette I had been
nurturing for months, crooning ’80s favorites so he would develop a perky
personality and good sense of rhythm.

I was proud of how I handled the loss and of my mellow demeanor throughout my brush
with pregnancy. I hadn’t requested that the hosts of dinner parties prepare
special pregnancy-safe food just for me, nor had I forsaken highlights for fear
thathair dye might lead to fetal abnormalities.

Too many women I knew acted as if pregnancy was a dire medical condition. This seemed to me the downside of our science; gone was the sense of pregnancy as a joyous experience. Instead, these women evaluated all action in terms of risk.
“Avoid nonpasteurized cheese.” “Don’t eat large fish.” “Take folic acid.”
“Don’t drink coffee.”

This obsessive behavior seemed most pronounced among the older urban women I knew, professionals who were accustomed to controlling the factors leading to their success.

There are two ways to “purge the products of conception” (as doctors refer to ridding what remains in you): naturally, or with a dilation and curettage. I was
terrified of needing a D and C. But when I instead “purged the products”
naturally, I was doubled over in pain on the bathroom floor as if I had
eaten a boatload of bad seafood.

I called my doctor for painkillers and sent David to get them. When it was over, I couldn’t believe it had only been a few weeks; it felt like several months’ worth of
emotions and new information packed into that March.

People say that there is no perfect time to start a family, but they are wrong. For us, the perfect time was eight months later, November. When I discovered I was pregnant again late last fall, David and I were excited. My mother was thrilled.

I already had winner plans: a visit my mother in Florida, followed by a
two-week working vacation with David in Los Angeles. In retrospect, perhaps
I should have stayed home, taken it easy. But I had spent 20 years being
tough and energetic, fighting the urge to be lazy.

I flew to Florida, as planned, in early December. I had an ultrasound there, which
showed a heartbeat. At six weeks, this one was working!

I went to lunch with my mom at a sidewalk cafe in Delray Beach to celebrate. I sat at
a wooden table, looking at the sunny stucco-walled boutiques across the
street. I was going to be a mother, just like my mother. Despite her career
as an engineer, she claimed that motherhood was the most meaningful
experience in her life. As it would be in my life, I believed.

I COULD see my life with me at the helm, a real adult with responsibility for
someone else. I would finally have something else to think about besides my
own desires. David and I would be a real family, rather than two
out-and-about urbanites. No more hanging out at East Village bars that had
felt too loud and too dark for years. No more extended adolescence for me. I
would feel big and selfless and smart. And I would be.

“Why is the ice cream blue, Mom?”

“Well, Maxwell, it has to do with food dye,” I’d say. With the Internet, it would be even easier to feel like a genius every day.

Back in New York, David and I took his nephews and niece to the Big
Apple Circus. “This is another benefit of having kids,” I said to him. “You can
go to the circus without having to borrow children.” After the circus, the niece
did a cartwheel. I did, too. It was sunny, and I was happy.

Driving home on my motor scooter, I accidentally rode over a pothole. The scooter bucked like a wild pony — thad-dump! I closed my eyes for a second, then continued home.

We were scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Sunday, two days later. The
morning of our flight, I sat up in bed around 3 a.m., awakened by that choking
feeling of a too-dry winter throat.

And something else. I felt as if the current that had been pulsing through me, the faint green light on the ultrasound monitor, had stopped. You can’t feel anything at that stage. An embryo is less than the size of fingernail. There was no physical way to know that the heartbeat had ceased. But that is how it felt. Like the tiny generator that had been whirring inside me shut off.

By 9 a.m., I was bleeding a little. Should we still fly to Los Angeles? I wasn’t sure. The book next to my bed said a little spotting around this time might be normal. David, habitually optimistic, unflappable, agreed we should take our flight.

On Monday in Los Angeles, I reached my doctor, who advised scheduling an ultrasound
for the end of the week, “Just to check.” He didn’t sound worried.

On Tuesday, the bleeding increased, and with it, a cramping pain. I was in Brentwood, having lunch with my friend Thea. Afterward, I went grocery shopping to stock the house David and I had rented nearby. Thea walked me there. “Make sure the baggers lift the bags into your car,” she said.

I promised her I would. But when the time came, I couldn’t do it. The bagger, a strapping California-surfer-dude type with long blond hair and bulging biceps, could have lifted the whole cart if requested.

But I loaded my own car, then stood outside in the perfect Southern California air, realizing something about myself. Maybe I wasn’t going to be one of those controlling mothers-to-be, but I was obsessed with a different kind of control: not allowing myself to be “weak” or “needy” even when necessary. This suddenly didn’t strike me as an unequivocal strength. At least when pregnant. At my age. In the first trimester. Having had one failed attempt. Maybe everything was fine with this pregnancy, but it didn’t feel fine. My entire midsection had been cramping with increasing intensity by the hour.

By Thursday, the ultrasound appointment confirmed what I already knew:
the heartbeat had stopped. This time, the loss hit me hard. At the hospital, a
nurse saw me wiping my eyes on my sleeve. “Wait, I’ll give you your own box of
tissues,” she said, tearing the cardboard center out of an institutional-looking
gray cardboard box.

That night, the real pain began. It’s like labor pain; the body has contractions to push out whatever has developed. Except instead of giving birth to a live child, you
deliver a jellyfish-shaped ball the size of a buckeye, covered in a skein of
blood. It is like an alien from a horror movie that drops out of you. “It’s
alive! It’s alive!” you want to shriek. Except, of course, it isn’t alive.
That is its whole problem.

When David and I returned to New York, I registered at a fertility clinic and started what often feels like an endless cycle of tests and appointments, determined to do whatever I could to succeed.

A friend told me she was planning to lie down for the duration of her next pregnancy, an approach her aunt said had worked for her. I liked the “Just Lie Down” plan because it suggested agency. Everyone assured me I hadn’t dislodged my
developing fetus by maintaining my active life while pregnant, but I wasn’t so
sure. If it was my fault, I could fix it. I could behave differently next time
and succeed. Or so I wanted to believe.

Suddenly I had a new appreciation of those neurotic would-be mothers I had criticized before. Obsessive vigilance is a natural reaction to the shocking realization that you are not in control.
FEW months ago, I was at a party in Manhattan, listening to a smart, attractive younger friend detailing a steamy relationship going nowhere. She has a good career, which she puts above family, as I did at her age.

“You know, just as an alternate route, you could focus on finding a real partner and creating a family life sooner rather than later,” I offered. “I’m just throwing this out there. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. It’s much harder, actually, to start a family when you’re older.”

Another friend interrupted: “I know so many women who have gotten pregnant at 38, or 40. I just got an e-mail about someone who had a baby at 42.”

Of course she did. I received that e-mail message, too. But I think we overplay the success stories of older women, wanting to believe the exceptions are the norm. We don’t want there to be limits to what we can do. It’s not impossible to have a child later, but often it’s very hard, and “very hard” is much more difficult than I understood.

I still believe I’ll have a child, but this belief doesn’t lessen the cataract of discouragement that washes over me nearly every month I don’t conceive.

The problem, I now believe, is not that childbirth has become too scientific. The problem, particularly for those of us who have waited so long, is that even with all our science and technology, conceiving and bearing a child is still too natural an act.

Wendy Paris
is an author who lives in Manhattan.

Menopause the Musical - NOT!

Hot flash relief - at the price of my menstrual cycle. Not that I was really having anything predictable and reliable before but this feel a like a nail in the coffin. Since I get the hot flashes I requested that the RE prescribe something while I wait for the next step in the DE process. The Nurse called and said that they would put me on FemHRT. Reading the description of who this drug is for made me feel old and sad:

FemHRT is a new estrogen/progesterone product made by the pharmaceutical
company Parke Davis. It is a form of HRT,
hormonereplacement therapy, especially made for and only for women who are in menopause,post
menopausal, and have an intact uterus (hysterectomy patients cannot use this
product). This is not a product for women experiencing perimenopause.FemHRT
contains both an estrogen and a form of progesterone. Theestrogen is ethinyl
estradiol and the progesterone is norethindroneacetate. Each pill contains both estrogenand progesteroneand
is taken on a continuous basis. There is 1 milligram ofnorethindroneacetate and
5 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol in eachpill.Women who useFemHRT will not have
a period but can experiencespotting when using thisproduct at first. Spotting
should stop on itsown as a woman's bodyadjusts to FemHRT.FemHRT
is prescribed for women who are in menopause and/or have finished menopause and
are experiencing moderate to severe
vasomotorsymptoms- hot flashes
, night weats, heart
all related to menopause and beyond. FemHRT is also
designed to prevent osteoporosisor
"brittle bone" disease

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

group grope gripe

I have been in the same therapy group for 13 years. A very very long time. I was 29 when I started. Depressed, angry, single and way too attached to my dysfunctional family. The year was 1993.

Flashforward, here I am - menopausal, trying to have a baby, living with B* & 4 dogs, in a home I purchased and much more separated from my family. 2006 (almost 2007!).

I have a good deal of credit card debt and am now facing even more debt with DE. So I carefully introduced the topic of leaving group this morning. No one said I should stay, hmmmm. So does this mean I have permission to leave at this critical juncture in my life? (ps I am always at a critical juncture).

My therapist did try to suggest that I needed to excercise more fiscal restraint - agreed, but in the next breadth was suggesting that I should hire live-in help to manage my future baby. To which I responded, and where is this money suppose to come from?

When I said I went to meet with a counselor about Donor Egg - she asked if it was genetic counseling - yes, an ignorant question, but one that made me feel like she isn't really paying attention. What would I need a genetic counselor for I asked, they aren't my genes. Last time I spoke about the DE option she got confused and thought I was planning to use a surrogate.

At this point I feel like I have paid for her divorce, atleast two facelifts and her son's bar mitzvah. I am feeling irritated with her. Maybe irritation is the feeling I inflect so that I can justify leaving group. Dunno.

Monday, November 27, 2006

An Odd Sense of Relief

My bloodwork from this morning came back:

e2 - 29
fsh - 55

That is the highest fsh recorded so far - RE calls it a "no go"

When I spoke to the nurse today I felt an odd sense of relief. Ovaryland is closed for business - like a chapter 11 or something. The pressure and the worry is over - I am not ovulating and this is no longer a strategy worth pursuing. This is not to say that I am not angry about all the missed opportunities that I didn't even know were missed opportunities but the pressure of trying to make this work is finally at an end.

And now I can move on.

One Giant Step for ....Jade

This morning I dropped off the paperwork with the DE coordinator and we chatted a bit. She said that their monthly committee meeting is this week and then they will start looking at potential matches. Given the holidays it is unlikely that any thing major will happen before the new year - if they did identify a donor we would start syncing cycles but that's as far as it would go.

I went in for bloodwork this morning as well, but I expect to simply confirm what my body is telling me - nada.

It feels good to move forward on DE but the $$ part is scary. I am grateful to have the option of DE and glad to that I can continue in a path of positive forward motion.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Recipient Questionnaire

It's starting to feel like it's time to fill out the Recipient Questionnaire from the RE's office. I just have this 6th sense that nothing is going on in Ovaryland. I've been feeling a twinge of hotflashes which suggests that the estrogen is not rising and that I need to figure out my next move.

I talked to B* this morning about the financial picture and how we might go about paying for DE. His stomache started to hurt as I explained that we would use the Home Equity Line and pay off $24,000 at 9% interest. He asked if we could wait, since DE isn't as age dependent and I said no. 42 is old enough to carry a pregnancy and I want to get started right away. He pointed out that my current debt is also the result of this same inpatience - true, true, but I am anxious to move forward.

So I am sitting here staring at this questionnaire - you are suppose to rank the importance of characteristics/traits you are looking for in your donor - my top preference is height - now that might now strange but B* is short for a man and I am tall (5'7") and we both agree that tall kids/adults have an advantage.

Religion - not as important - I am Jewish and B* was raised Catholic although he is sephardic Jew by ancestry. The chances of finding a Jewish donor are small (or very expensive). My RE went to visit this donor agency in NYC where they import the Israeli girls and he said that it reminded him of a cat fish farm - pretty gross image. I am willing to go with Eastern European and I might ultimately even bend on this - it is all such a crap shoot. Education isn't a deal breaker even though a nice Ph.D. student sounds good on paper.

This all feels very science fiction, like I am trying to design my baby. You really can't design a human being when it comes down to it. They are going to be their own person. And what does it matter if they have brown eyes or hazel eyes - I will see them and they will see me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Frenzy

To follow-up on the last post - I called my RE's office back and instructed the Nurse to tell the Doctor that I was following the plan that we had agreed to- one more attempt to get me to ovulate with monitored bloodwork, etc. I asked her to let him know that I called back to make sure we are all on the same page and that I would be coming back for bloodwork next week.

My encounter with the RE's office on Monday makes me feel like I am pushing a fertility boulder up the hill and the RE is sitting on top of it saying "why are you even bothering to push this big rock?" I still went to acupuncture on Monday night and yoga on Tuesday and continue to down all the supplements and herbs. At this point it can't hurt.

Did I mention that my fertility monitor broke and I am fedexing back to Clear Blue Easy for repair? Whatever!!! The regular OPK don't work for me because the elevated FSH reads as LH on the stupid pee sticks. I guess I will keep taking my temperature and watching the unpredictable CM.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I was at the market this morning at 7:15 a.m. B* is having a meltdown because my parents are coming. So I am getting to deal with his anxiety on top of my own.

Need some deep yoga breathing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My RE has moved on without ME

So I think my RE has moved on without me.
Yes we met about the DE stuff but he also agreed that we should try the estrogen therapy to get the ovaries working again and see if I ovulate.
Today was my big day, to see if I was able to produce estrogen on my own without the patch.
My e2 came back at 30 which is a huge accomplishment but it feels anti-climatic.

When I called in I asked for the RE's recommended next step (like come back in a week to see if it is still going up, etc.). Instead, the nurse tells me that all he said was, "That's good." Huh? She put me on hold and then came back, "The RE said that there is not much to do at this point since your ovaries really haven't been functioning."

So why am I doing acupuncture, yoga, flaxseed oil, chinese herbs and all the other f-ing stuff. Am I delusional? Maybe he was trying to tell me to give up at our last meeting and I missed the cue? Why would he put me back on the estrogen if that was the case? I think this requires another phone call to his office.

I am very pissed. I haven't given up, not yet - am I living in LaLa?

Name your anxiety: bloodwork, Ikea,Dog manicures

hate it!
This morning I had to explain to the nurse what I needed done and why - don't you love when that happens. By 2:30 p.m. I will have my latest and greatest e2 which let me know (maybe) if I am going to ovulate in the next few weeks. The last time I ovulated we were all still in shorts.

And then, the DE counselor calls. She felt like we rushed things at the end of the session, do we want to come back? tightness in chest much. I told her we would come back in January for another session, given that this is when we plan to pull the big DE lever anyways. B* is already kvetching about the problems with clinical social workers - I am use to his rants by now.

Just to make my life even more anxious than usual, there was the predictable 180 degree by my parents - so now they are coming for Thanksgiving, as well as my dysthymic sister. I spent the weekend trying to get the house together. We moved in July so needless to say there are many unfinished projects - like no curtains in certain rooms, etc. It took 3 trips to Ikea this weekend to get the components for the curtains, and ofcourse you always end up buying shit you really don't need every time you go.

After a Sunday of freneticism and dog manicures, I succumb to suggestive shopping on HSN, as Jennifer Flavin Stallone hawked the latest in post post-40 age reversal creams.

Friday, November 17, 2006

DE Counseling Session Report

Today was our DE counseling session.

It was actually quite intense at moments. The counselor wanted to know if I have sufficiently grieved the loss of my ability to conceive with my own eggs. When do you ever finish grieving something like this? There is so much shame, loss and feelings of failure.

We talked about who we would plan to tell, and we both agreed that we dont really want to tell our families. Both the Counselor and B* were in agreement about telling the child, I on the other hand said I couldn't imagine a more difficult or painful conversation. She whipped out a children's book to show us (that was actually quite cute). She suggests introducing the topic either prior to the age of 8 or after the age of 25. Ofcourse B* said after 25 or 35 was fine. And I quipped that by the age of 35 he might not even be around to worry about telling the kid. One interesting point she made about this is that it is harder for the mother than it is for the child. I don't know if this is true, but it made me feel a little bit better.

The big issue that B* and I don't agree on is whether or not to put back 1 or put back 2. Neither one of us would want to do selective reduction. He is concerned that twins will be too much of a strain on my health. I on the other hand want us to have the highest probability of success and would welcome twins even if it was a health risk for me. We haven't settled this one - B* wants to get more information from the RE before we settle into what we will/would do. Even with FET I am still inclined to want to put back 2. I don't know why I'm not more concerned about my health. I even know someone having twins who is dealing with a single umbilical artery issue for one of the babies and she is in hell.

If anyone has any thoughts or advice on the issue I would greatly appreciate your input.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let's blame it on the Gluten

I came across this article which I thought was interesting:
Hidden Gluten Sensitivity a Leading Cause of Infertility

And I have decided that this should be added to the list of reasons why I am where I am. I don't think I have Celiacs disease (gluten sensitivity) but I certainely have many of the symptons that match the description.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Boston Accent -

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

The Northeast

North Central

The Inland North


The Midland

The West

The South

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
Yes indeed, and I thought that living 20 years in DC had neutralized all remnants of my accent but I guess not.


Quell Fire is the english name for the herbal supplement my Acupuncturist gave me to take. It has a chinese name (Long Dan Xie Gan Tang) but that's not how it is marketed. I am taking it for the hot flashes and to manage the heat that is burning up all my yin energy.

I mention this because I am worried about the hot flashes returning - a sign that there are no follies and that my estrogen is in the basement (once again). No hot flashes means that my body just might be rebounding into an ovulatory phase (it has happened before - resulting in a chemical pregnancy).

I just downed my Quell Fire tablets and am getting ready to take my Quiet Contemplative tablet - for fortifying the Kidney - chinese name: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan.

Monday I go back for more bloodwork to see what's cookin', never mind that I purchased FSH testing strips so I can torture myself in the interim.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Should I tell?

As if I don't have enough to angst about...the packet came in the mail yesterday from the infertility counselor who we are seeing Friday about Donor Egg. She is in charge of certifying that we are prepared to move forward. There were 5 or 6 articles in the envelope, all on the topic of privacy and whether or not to tell your parents/family and child about the use of donor egg.

Here is one article that was in the packet:
Should I Tell and When to Tell

It just all makes my head spin.

Does this ever get easy?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The eX Factor

A long time ago my life was very weird. There's still drama but not like it was when I was in my early and mid-twenties.

On Saturday I had a flashbackof the weirdness and it just left me with this icky unsettled feeling.

I was at an advisory council meeting for the School of Arts and Sciences. Reviewing the attendees list I saw a name that looked familiar. The ex-boyfriend of an ex-girlfriend.

Why is she an ex-girlfriend you ask? Well in 1986 (long time ago folks) she was a good friend friend who offered to fix me up with a friend and co-worker (Mc). Her boyfriend at the time ("R") was working on a campaign up North. I started dating the guy she fixed me up, a few weeks in to this new relationship I find out that my friend has started sleeping with this guy (Mc). Get it? she fixed us up and then she decided she wanted a piece of him too, behind her boyfriend's back ("R"). I told him to choose who he wanted to be with because I was unwilling to continue in the current situation. He chose her and she eventually broke up with her out of town boyfriend ("R") of many years.

That's bad enough. I continued to be friends with them (my roomate nick-named my now ex-(Mc) the ax-murderer because he had a sort of crazy look and was very manipulative). To demonstrate how civilized we all were, they invited me to a party and I agreed to attend. I arrived only to find out that it was their engagement party - nice. That was the last straw. Then he calls me up to ask me to be a brides maid - I didn't go to the wedding and I never spoke to them again. They now have three teenage daughters and live in upstate New York.

So back to Saturday. I sit down at lunch (self seating) and the ex-boyfriend of my ex-girlfriend ("R") sits down next to me. Now granted this happend 20 years ago and I am 42 and he is 44 it should just be a funny story at this point. So I told him that I use to be friends with his ex-girlfriend and told him the whole story which I thought we would be able to laugh off but I could see it wasn't that funny for him and suddenly I realized it wasn't that funny for me either.

I said, "I got tired of the drama in my life, and I weeded out the people who were just a little too crazy to hang out with." But I some how tapped back into the discomfort and anxiety of those early days and just felt really unsettled the rest of the afternoon.

I left the meeting early, went and worked out at the gym and called B* to see when he would be home. He had driven up to Baltimore for a crab cake but would be home soon.

I went home, grab some cutting shears and trimmed all the hedges to make them more even - something about evening out the tops of the hedges in front of the house helped me feel more in control and grounded.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

One step forward

I made the call to the infertitility counselor. This is required in order to be cleared to proceed with DE.

We have an appointment for next FRIDAY. She is sending us reading material before the appointment.

When I called to schedule the appointment she started listing off all the issues we are going to have to address as we proceed and my head started to spin.

I am perfectly comfortable telling my friends, but the thought of telling my parents is beyond horrifying - and what about the child? how can you tell all your friends and not tell your own child, it could turn into one of those Lifetime movies where years from now I need a kidney and I am in a coma and they do a DNA match and my child finds out that our DNA doesn't match and then the Mother's friend has to break it to the child that I used Donor egg...

Jaclyn Smith can play me in the movie. I suspect that she will still look as good twenty years from now as she does today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Have you seen Running With Scissors?

I went to see Running With Scissors over the weekend and it was a little too close to home. NO I wasn't adopted by my Mother's psychiatrist, and no I didn't decide I was a homosexual at age 13 after a love affairs with a 35 year-old pedophile.

It was close to home because my Mother is a border-line personality and so is the Mother in the movie. At one point during the film my girlfriend M* turned and asked me if I was okay, she knows all about my Mother you see, and I said yes, I'm okay, but this is really painful to watch.

The personality type has various incarnations, my Mother was the "Evil Queen" - think of the Queen in Snow White and you will have a good picture of what I am talking about. It is way beyond narcissist. It is along the lines of the world is conspiring against me and you are all crazy and I am the only one who really understands what is going on.

Sometimes I am amazed that I survived...

Books on Borderline personality disorder:
Understanding the Borderline Mother

Surviving A Borderline Parent

Monday, November 06, 2006

quick update - d-day redux

Spoke to the RE Nurse this afternoon and got my latest numbers -
e2 - 202
fsh - 11.2
She said d/c the estrogen patch and come back in 2 weeks. I had to ask what d/c means (discontinue). So a normally fertile person would think that these numbers look strange and aren't that great. But for me these numbers are relatively good news. Yes the high estrogen number disguises the "real" fsh but that's okay. The point of the estrogen therapy was to turn off the FSH overdrive signal to the ovaries. Give the ovaries a rest so that they might be able to be more responsive to the clang clang of the FSH bells. Flooding my system with estrogen has this effect.

Now we wait to see if my follies start to grown on their own. If they don't my estrogen will crash and my FSH will shoot right back up - the next two weeks are going to be about good nutrition, low stress, acupuncture, excercise and sleep. That's all I can do. And if it's not enough, well- I've done my best.

As for work - the review went better than I thought, however they are going to wait 6 months to fill the position (trial period for me I guess). I get to do the job without the title or the money and then if they think I am capable - -well then I get the promotion.

I could be mad, but I am not, it's just not that important right now. How unlike me, hmmmm

D- Day (one of many)

Back to the RE's office this morning for more bloodwork - did the FSH come down? We shall find out later today. I was relieved when I walked into the waiting room - it was empty (for a change). Just me and my DC Paparazzi magazine.

I am feeling like DE is an inevitability. B* would be happy to procrastinate - that is something he tends to exceed at and drives me completely insane. The cost feels like a big boulder - but it is all about priorities and choices. I console myself by saying that adoption isn't any cheaper. Now some will say, "odds are higher with adoption" but that is not where I am at. I want to carry the baby in this 42 year old body. My friends have warned, "you will never be the same after pregnancy," - well maybe I don't want to be the same. It feels like a right of passage to me and if I can have the experience, I want it. I also like DE because I can play an important role in the pre-natal development which is not to be underestimated. And ofcourse, there is the genious IQ sperm that B* will be making available for the blessed event.

My first big step is fishing out the card of the social worker and making the appointment, I am putting that on the to -do list for this week no matter what.

On a separate D-Day note, I have my annual review in 1 hour. I spent 3 hours this weekend working on my self evaluation. This do nothing girl (see previous post) is actually in the quieu (sp?) for a promotion - there has been some hesistancy expressed about whether or not I am ready. After much anger and frustration I have adopted the Zen Master approach to the whole thing - if it happens, it was meant to be and if not - then I can focus on DE and all the other insanity.

Counting down..1...2...3.....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sitting at My Desk and Not Working

A big confession: I am sitting at my desk and not working. This has been the case for almost two weeks. I am completely uninspired at work. I have work to do I just don't want to do it. I don't think anyone is noticing that I am not working. I feel very guilty about not working. But I just don' t feel like it.

I think part of the lethargy comes from feeling like I have really f**d up my so-called career. I've plateaued and I am not sure I can move up from where I am - not because I don't have the talent, but because I am too edgey and I can rub people the wrong way. I lack sufficient workplace impulse control when it comes to what I am thinking. ooops!

I have been shown the door on several occassions in the last 20 years. Luckily I am good at getting new jobs and have been able to piece together good references. The issue is not my talent, my work product or my smarts - it is my workplace persona. This is so painful for me. I have tried to change, but I am not sure if I can change enough.

I tried doing the "god damnit, I will work for myself" thing, but it can be such an emotional rollercoaster when you are trying to pitch clients and don't know where your next dollar is going to come from. I always end up taking another job.

Don't get me wrong, I have a very very good job that pays quite decently. I am trying to make peace with all of this. And right now, with all the other crap, I don't really need to be ruling the world or even aspiring to rule the world, but I still have pangs of inadequacy. Unfufilled potential? Does that sound really obnoxious?

Will having a baby shake me out of this? Or just send me into a new vat of angst?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT: Or What I learned from Good Will Hunting

Remember the scene in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams (psychiatrist) trys to convince Matt Damon that his crappy childhood is not his fault. I'm thinking I need a similar mantra for all the infertility crap - the early menopause, the not seeking motherhood in my late 20s or early 30s, the fact that when and if I have a baby it will probably be through DE and not have a 'genetic' connection to me - ALL OF IT!!!

Try to play the tape back now, Robin Williams' voice (with thick Bahhston accent) "It's not your fault Will. No really it's not your fault. Listen to me, it's not your fault. It's not your fault."

And just like Will, I still want to rage against the Machine.

But it's not my fault.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Reproductive Valley of Death

I'm in hell.

FSH 20
e2 106

FSH is not low enough - so, I have to continue what I am doing and come in again next week for more bloodwork to see if we can get it down below 12 (I think).

Meanwhile, nothing....

I have been in this same holding pattern since the end of August. I'm a plane caught in a bad storm, I can't land, can't go anywhere, just keep waiting for the system to move out.

I'm officially 42 1/2 in 28 days from today.

RE Office Visit - the Psycho Drama of it All

I went for blood work this morning - to see if FSH is down and estrogen is rising. Results at 2:30 p.m. - they are very good that way. You call a number at a designated time and 8 times out of 10 they have the results and next steps. No long waits.

The RE waiting room is such a tense place. Sitting, reading Ladies Home Journal and trying not to make eye contact with anyone, just waiting for the next name to be called and the nurse to escort you to the back for whatever poking is on the menu.

Are the women (and men) in the waiting room feeling shame? I know that the first appointment felt that way for me. "I am a failure - yes, can you tell that I am reproductively challenged" would run through my head. In the last 7 months I have been there on the average of 2-3 times a month - I've become somewhat desensitized to any twinge of shame I might of had at first.

Now I 'm in my jealous phase. I look at these other women, many many of whom look older than me (some probably aren't) and I think how unfare this is. I wonder if they are doing DEm have they been told to forget about IVF like I was at my first consult? what do they have that I don't have? Are they already pregnant? how long is it taking them? I am certainely in better shape than they are.

My last wanding was the worst. After 3 weeks of estrogen and bloodwork that revealed an e2 of 267 I was asked to come back for a sonogram to see if there were some follies cooking. The sonogram was awful - the nurse couldn't even find my right ovary. It was as if it had disappeared completely into the menopausal twighlight zone and she finally gave up even trying to find it. I felt demoralized.

Waiting to pay my bill, I stood behind a lesbian couple who were staring at their 6week sonogram with excitement and glee. I thought I was going to lose it right then. I waited until I was in the hallway. The horror.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Acupuncture Update or Why I refuse to go quietly into the night

"If we remain obsessed with seeds and eggs,
We are married to the fertile reproductive valley
Of the Mysterious Mother
But not to her immeasurable heart
And all-knowing mind."

Hua Hu Ching

Last night I was re-reading the chapter in the The Infertility Cure
on advanced maternal age. The book, if you haven't read it already is by Randine Lewis and is a great primer on how Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used to treat infertility. I like to re-read things because I can always get something new each time. What struck me was the following, (my paraphrase)"Acupuncture can be used to ease the transition to Menopause but when a pregnancy is still desired it can be used to postpone the transition and promote the proper function of the hormones.

That's me, I don't want to ease the transition, I want keep the menopause wolves at bay for a long as possible. I know some woman see it as the next phase of life and even look forward to it. Here is the TCM view according to my book,

When a woman's reproductive life span nears completion, the energies are transferred from the Uterus to the Heart viao the Penetrating and Conception meridians. A woman moves from a state of procreation (represented by the Kidney system) to a state of wisdom (represented by the Heart).

I guess I am just not ready to accept wisdom...

I went to acupuncture yesterday and we now have a plan - cool the heat, feed the yin - work more on being as opposed to doing. This is sooooo hard for me. I am not a be-er , I am a doer and my whole approach to infertility has been to do as much as possible. Ironically this approach to life in general is what has supposedly lead to this deficiency of kidney yin (aka estrogen production). I must work on shifting my framework in all areas of my life. I was given two different herb combinations to take and I go back again next week.

Must practice breathing...being....calmness......ohm.....

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Patch Saved My Life

Does it sound like the lead-in to a corny pharmaceutical commercial? Well perhaps it's a little dramatic, but it is also true.

I wear the Vivelle Patch - you stick this piece of sticky tape on your stomach ever 3 1/2 days and it releases estrogen into your system - bypassing the liver - right into the bloodstream. Without the patch when I am not ovulating I am a mess. Hot flashes up the ying yang, fatigue, irritability - a menu of menopausal symptons. But with the patch, I am reborn - and the sex is better too! So that is my commercial for the Vivelle patch.

B* calls it my scotch tape.

The RE's approach is to use the patch as a strategy to calm down the FSH - get the number down by tricking the brain into thinking that I am ovulating. In turn, the little follies, in the absence of FSH bombardment, become more receptive to the FSH signals and start to cook.

I am not a candidate for the stims because I am stim myself naturally and it is having an adverse affect. The RE says that I don't have that many receptor sensitive follies left and if you scream at them all the time they kind of go deaf in a way - no receptivity. It's like being at a loud concert. The kicker is that even if the follies do respond we have the quality/lack there of to deal with as well which is why I am in the 5% or less category for conception.

I go back to the RE on Monday for blood work to see if the patch is doing it's job. If all is quiet on the Western front we take off the patch and see if the estrogen levels start to rise on their own (indicating folllie development). Last time we tried this my estrogen crashed and it was back to the drawing board. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed as always.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Back in the Spin Cycle

I am going to spinning class at lunch time today. This will be my first spinning class since finding out about the menopausal issues 7 months ago.

I stopped going to spinning class because I thought that maybe I was overstressing my body and that this was causing the low adrenal, underperforming thyroid and estrogen/ovary problems.

My body has adapted to doing yoga and the elliptical machine - but I miss my leg muscles and I don't like getting winded climbing up stairs.

I use to be very macho about my excercise (like everything else). I actually use to teach Spinning, I was the b*tch screaming at the class to work harder and not to stop. And now I am anxious about going to class - yikes!

I've also gained 5lbs in the last 7 months and that is not serving me well in the self-esteem category, especially combined with the low estrogen and as a result low progesterone/sex drive category. I don't want to become one of these asexual women wearing loose baggy clothes and hoping not to be noticed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Acupunture and Acrimony

Yesterday was my first visit with a new acupuncturist. I have already gone the Traditional Chinese medicine route for 6 months and since my estrogen levels are "in the basement" (term used by RE nurse) I thought it was worth mixing things up a little. I haven't ovulated since early August and so far being back on the estrogen patch has not produced any results - so why not trying somehting new or atleast different.

The practitioners are primarily woman, so that by itself is a change for me. My new acupuncturist has studied a variety of approaches and likes to blend methods. She is also an herbalist. She is much more gentle with the needles than the guy I was seeing and I could feel my body releasing tension as she worked. I liked that she was checking my pulses as she worked to see if she was hitting the right spots -- she seemed pleased with how I responded. I liked her and made appointments for the next two saturdays -

Acrimony --- I had hoped to go on vacation the week of Thanksgiving but given current budget conditions B* and I have decided it is not the right time to be spending money and taking time away. My Mother had been quite upset about our vacation plans because she had thought this would be the time when she, my Father and my Sister would come to town and see my new house. So when I called her yesterday and said we had changed our plans and I would now like to host Thanksgiving she said she would need to get back to me -

When I got back from acupuncture there was a voicemail that they tickets were looking very expensive and she wasn't sure they would be coming. I called and offered to find better deals on flights. When I called back to let then know about the cheaper flights I was informed that they were not going to come for the holidays. It was really not about the money, they were still upset that having them for Thanksgiving was not my first choice activity and so forget it.

My brain knows that it is actually better if they don't come for the holidays - it will only be stressful and likely unpleasant. However, the rejection still hurts and their spitefullness pisses me off. Two weeks ago my Mother cancelled her trip to visit my Grandmother in Brooklyn because my Uncle had suggested that they go to the cemetary while she was there. She didn't want him controlling her visit and opted not to see her 91 year old Mother rather than letting her Brother control the situation. When was the last time she saw her Mother? a year ago. The woman is 91 years old!!!

I just have to focus on my own family - B* and four rambunctous dogs - who love me and want to be with me. My Parents are twisted, lonely and isolated and I never want this to be my life.

I don't tell them much about what's going on with my health - my Mother would simply pick away at me with questions - peeling back the scab and throwing in some salt for good measure.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Success is Overrated

I spent 19 years thinking that if I didn't devote myself to my job 100% I was a loser.

In a town like Washington DC the first question at cocktail parties is always " what do you do? "
Stay at home Mom is considered a kiss of death answer, unless you are married to someone like George Stephanopoulus, and then it's okay. It's called the coat tails effect.

When some asks how you are, the appropriate answer is "insanely busy at work" -- it is very politically incorrect to say bored or underutilized or that things are simply slow.

There is a distinct caste system. For example, if you are a Federal employee with a ranking below GS-15 (pay band and grade level) you are considered an underachiever. If you are a Schedule C (political appointment) or SES (Senior Executive Service) you are considered someone worth getting to know.

In DC achieving work/life balance is considred an excuse for those who just simply lacked the talent to get ahead and this is a means of self-justification.

After my last job, which fried me to a complete crisp with way too much travel and stress, I vowed never again. It took a huge toll on my health (which I am still recovering from 18 months later) and I am sick of having no quality of life. No job is that interesting or that important (unless you are Condaleeza Rice) to sacrafice your life.

It has taken me a long time to get to this conclusion - perhaps it seems obvious, but for me it wasn't. And to be honest, I still feel guilty about not working harder or trying to "get ahead." When I read about someone I know and that they have just been appointed Chief of Staff to Senator So-and-So's office I have a twinge, but then I take a deep breadth and go do some Yoga and it helps.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Grandparents, Mom & Uncle - 1938

I love this photo. My Grandmother was 23 in this picture. She had her two kids - one at age 19 and the other at age 21 and then she was done.

I take after her quite a bit (we even have the same birth mark). When she got married she didn't even know where babies came from. She is 91 and lives in Brooklyn. She has been in the same apartment since 1942.

The Unvarnished Truth

Today was the big appointment with the RE. He is the go-to guy when faced with infertility problems. Everyone I know has gone to him and gotten pregnant - except me (so far).

B* came with me which was good, because when I told him that I didn't have many good eggs left a few months ago he asked me "where did they go?" - the Doc provided an excellent primer on the lifecycle of the follicle from in utero to where we are today.

Best case, I probably have 1,000 pre-follicles left, how many are good? how many are receptive to FSH stimulation - science doesn't know. Accord to the Doc, with a high FSH (40 plus) the (my) ovaries are already getting as much stimulation as they would with the expensive drugs. he said that we could top it off with some Follistim but it probably wont make a difference.

"Menopausal babies do happen." Odds at this point less than 5% . At one point I even heard him use the figure "2% chance" when describing me.

He drew lots of pictures and pulled out some photos of fertilized egg division when chromosomes go bad.

So what next, we had the big DE discussion. They recruit based on the individuals interests/preferences and the turnaround time from the moment we say yes is 3-6 months. He has an 80% rate of success - if not with the first cycle with a follow-up FET cycle. "Much better than 2%" - ah that's where it came in. And no one ever has to know (more on this point later).

We went down stairs and got briefed on the forms, the social worker contact info, and the price sheet. $24,000. It could have been worse. I was prepared for $30,000 -so there was a bit of relief in the figure.

The cost for me is a wash - adoption would be the same and childless is not an option. So it is what it is.

B* is going to teach abroad in early 2007 for a few months (tax free) and he will be making close to the amount that will cover these costs. He was cute afterwards, he said that if he has to go teach in Iraq next summer to make some extra dough he will do it. He'll just make sure to wear a helmet.

I think the fact that B* can raise the cash makes him feel important in the process. And when he found out his extremely high sperm count - you would have thought he had won the gold at the Olmpics.

I have a lot to process. Feelings of failure, disappointment. Part of me feels like I have ancient sexual organs, all shriveled up and worthless. I always find myself comparing my age and youthfulness to the other women in the waiting room. I always win.

I have always been the young looking one, the ingenue, the healthy and physically industructable one. And now, the gumball machine appears to be just about empty.....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Did I mention that I have 4 dogs?

I never thought I would have 4, maybe 1, but never 4.
Sort of like potato chips, I just couldn't stop once I got started.

Actually, it's not as crazy as it sounds, I adopted 2 and then B* adopted 2 and then one day we decided to merge households and just like the Brady Bunch we became a family of 4 wonderful dogs.

This is Mr. the dog, he is a love bug and terrorist all rolled into one.

B* calls them his babies which I think is very sweet.