The last depressing post for at least 24 hours

May 24, 2006 at 9:33 pm | Posted in AdoptThis!, Blogging about Blogging, First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF?, Home, Sweet Home?, The Other D (Better Living Through Chemistry) | 24 Comments

I was going to write a chin-up, hanging in there, positive post. About going back to weight watchers and seizing the moment and maybe influencing a future endocrinologist in the process. Maybe post some really silly photos. Then I started reading my bloglines and I just lost that loving feeling.

I have a confession to make:

I don’t want to adopt.

Or rather, I don’t want to go through the adoption process.

If you dropped a baby in my lap and said, here, here is your baby. Love him. Love her. I would. Immediately. But the process. So much work. So much waiting. And as Karen has so eloquently described, so little to show for it. Perhaps I should make bumper stickers that say: I am nine months pregnant with a homestudy. Please lavish love and attention and societal approval on me. Or: “someone in another country has morning sickness for me RIGHT NOW.”

The other part that takes the joy out of the adoption business for me and that I should probably write more about, is that, to a certain extent, I don’t matter in this process. For some very good reasons, we’ve chosen international adoption and so one of us has to adopt as a “single” woman. Pili has the steady job with the dependable salary and the health insurance. Oh, and the absence of chronic illness. Honestly, when I think about it I’m amazed they even let me adopt a cat. Oh, I remember. Back then I had a real job.

So I don’t have to write a detailed biography and answer ten thousand questions about my childhood. And I don’t have to obtain certified copies of my birth certificate in triplicate, witnessed by a blind nun from Brazil. And oddly enough, that makes me sad. Because we don’t get to do this as a family, talking about both of our strengths and weaknesses and making lemonade out of lemons celebrating the fact that because I have two part time jobs I will be able to quit one and be home with the kid. Instead the homestudy will have to talk about how great the day care is at Pili’s work, even though we probably won’t be using it. Being so irrelevant to the process also makes me into (even more of) a total evil controlling wench, second-guessing Pili’s every move.

It’s funny, because before we failed fertility 101 and 202 and 606, I didn’t care all that much about genetic connections. I am, after all, the person who falls passionately in love with all babies and spends far too much time at faculty parties talking to the children of Pili’s esteemed collegues, rather than the esteemed collegues themselves.

But now that we’ve gone down that road, and I’ve allowed myself to dream soft gauzy dreams of pregnant Pili and babies with my eyes and her mannerisms, I’m finding them damn hard to give up. As I type this I see my about to burst pregnant neighbor (yes, Gourmet, they are mandatory) pulling down her garage door and I feel a fierce shove of anger and resentment. I don’t want to have to go through all of this. I want the dream, and I can’t put it down. I picture a younger me, crying bitterly over a broken toy but unwilling to let it go so that my mom could try to fix it. Before the transcript of our medical charts read failure and bitter disappointment, I was excited about adopting. Now? It’s like having a book you really wanted to read assigned by a teacher you dislike.

I compare the bitter and painful arguments that Pili and I had last night about what questions to ask the adoption agencies and who should do the asking with the cotton candy sweet joy we felt during the brief few weeks of the pregnancy.

And I find myself thinking: maybe one more cycle? Maybe these eggs weren’t so good because I was overstimulated and then had to coast and produced so many. Quantity over quality. Dr. Short-but just raises his eyebrows quizzically when I ask that question. As if, what’s done is done, honey. Crying over $6000 of spilt milk? But I bet if I mentioned that we were thinking about cycling again, he’d change his tune.

The thought even flickers through my mind like heat lightening. Pump. Continuous Glucose Monitoring. I could like, maybe try, maybe.

Then the depression kicks in and I think yeah, right. Remember, nothing works art, this is you we’re talking about. And I start wondering what’s wrong with me that things never seem to work out for me. And poor Pili that her good karma gets pulled down into the gutter with along with my crap. And part of me knows it’s the heavy sunglasses of depression I’m seeing through while an equal part of me is convinced it’s real.

While I’m venting, I also have a little bit of a bloggity pet peeve with someone whose site I’ve commented on lots of times. She’s on my blogroll. And she has not, to the best of my knowledge, ever ventured over here. I don’t think she’s homophobic. She comments on other people’s blogs. She comments on other people’s comments on her blog. We’ve both been through a lot of the same shit recently. So why not me? Do I smell? (Lifting an arm and sniffing, discreetly)

I guess blogging and seventh grade really aren’t that different, huh?

* Before various people start sending me frantic emails: I don’t hate my friends in real life and in the computer who have been through hell and then some to get where they are. I don’t even resent them. Wistful, envious, yes. Resentful, no. I don’t want to avoid them, although sometimes it is hard to see what I want so badly and don’t have.

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This really sucks

May 21, 2006 at 1:15 am | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF?, The Other D (Better Living Through Chemistry), The Sweet Life | 9 Comments

How am I? How are we doing?

Fine, I say automatically. Well, um, okay. Y’know. The usual.

Sometimes that’s true. But mostly, I think, we’re still struggling.

I got an email from someone else who has been dealing with recurrent miscarriages. While she didn’t want her name used publically, I hope she won’t mind my sharing some of her words, which resonated with me so deeply.

She said:

It sucks.
It’s not fair.
No one should have to go through what you and Pili and [me & husband] are going through. Ever.
I wanted this baby.
I wanted you and Pili to have that baby.
We don’t get what we deserve. We all deserve to have these children that we want so badly. We do.

Thank you, my friend, for your words that so eloquently describe what words fail to describe. I share them in the hope that they will comfort others as they have comforted me.

And thank you, all of you, for your comments and emails and general e-love.

They have meant so much to Pili and me. They help as we struggle to hold onto our hope that someday we will be parents. As we try to balance putting this particular Tootie shaped dream away in the box (thanks Julia) while still holding on to our larger dream.

On Tuesday night, I held Pili and felt her belly pressed up against mine and imagined that there was already A! Baby! In! There!

On Wednesday, I held Pili, and couldn’t bear to touch her belly. Every time I did it just reminded me of the dream that had, soap bubble like, just collapsed around us. Coincidentally, I had an appointment with a new therapist on Wednesday afternoon. When she asked me if I had any kids I did not burst into tears. For about thirty seconds.

On Thursday we held each other and I reclaimed Pili’s belly. I kissed the two adorable moles near her belly button. And for a minute, I didn’t think about how there wasn’t a baby in there. It was just Pili’s belly, that I could happily rub and tickle and zerbert (STOP IT she yelps) all day. I tickled her belly button with her pajama drawstring, resulting in a tussle that almost sent me falling off the couch. And I thought: maybe we’re okay. Maybe we can get past this okay.

Tonight… Pili is snoozing on the couch. She has been since about 9 pm. I just put another log on the fire. (The fire! In May! Ridiculous!) And I keep thinking about how quickly things can change. For a minute, I think: She’s tired! She’s pregnant! That’s a good sign! And then I remember. No, this has nothing to do with pregnancy.

And I burst out in tears again, because I just want some piece of our life not to be poisoned by this sadness. I want to go away next weekend, just get the hell out of the house and the City That Always Sleeps. I want to be out in nature or to go to a romantic b&b. But then I think: what if Pili is finally miscarrying is getting her period is I don’t know what the fuck to call it next weekend? The truth is we can’t escape it. And then that place too will always be tainted.

Friends who have adopted after infertility assure me that once that child is placed in your arms, it all settles down. You stop feeling like this – like a tree that has grown twisted and distorted around an invisible obstacle. I hope so.

And the other thing this blog is about? All I can say is that depression and comfort eating are not friends to exemplary diabetes control.

Five stages of grief

May 17, 2006 at 10:27 am | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF? | 47 Comments

Denial:

That’s not an empty sac. She just must not have found it yet.

Anger:

At the smiling lady who held the door for us as we left the clinic.

At the ad for the new maternity suites at the local hospital that I passed on the highway afterwards.

At the book on tape I’m listening to, which happens to be a story about a pregnant teenager.

At the bubbly people on the stupid lesbian TTC list I still read out of some sort of masochistic streak who post their expected due dates and talk about names the minute they see a positive pee stick – and who don’t get smacked down by g-d for their hubris.

At myself, for getting my hopes up and for even mentioning it to people and for imagining how I was going to send my mother a copy of the ultrasound with my wishes for a happy belated grandmother’s day and how I was going to post it here with a title “meet tootie”. I should have known better. Good things do not happen to me. And now I get to disappoint my family once again.

At the homeless guy who held up traffic when I was just trying to get here to work.

At my straight friend who just started trying and was going on about how inconvenient it will be if she doesn’t get pregnant this cycle.

Bargaining:

What’s to bargain about? Dear god, I know that it took us 1 fresh cycle and 3 FETs to get to this point, but if I give up taking your name in vain will you actually give us a real baby out of our four remaining embryos? If I hadn’t picked up that damn fit pregnancy magazine at the gym, would today have been different?

Depression:

Check.

Acceptance:

Do I have a fucking choice?

Like I said: Reality is the sand blowing into every crack of the traveller’s skin, the hot wind stealing what moisture remains from his eyes…

Pili urges me not to see this as part of some greater global narrative in which the overall message is YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. But I can’t really see any alternative narratives.

So far…

May 10, 2006 at 12:49 pm | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF? | 17 Comments

so good (whispered).

I was hoping we would hear a heartbeat today, but nurse tall and brusque said it was still early for that (6 weeks even). We saw a gestational sac (14.1 mm) with a yolk sac. And she promised me that was good and normal and all we were looking for today. (Which does seem to be verified by my good friend Dr. Google).

Hcg was 16,000 and P4 was over 40.

We go back next Wednesday, and should hear heartbeat then and see fetal pole, g-d willing.

In the meantime, I feel extraordinarily anxious and obsessive. I mean, even more than usual. My skin is crawling, my heart is pounding, I am engaging in frantic fits of googling.

I want this to work so badly. And my experience of myself is that when I want something to happen this badly, it usually doesn’t.

So yes, I am knocking wood every which way and creating elaborate rituals of protection and control. I must pet all four cats before I leave the house. I must not think about names. I must wear the bangles that Pili’s friend gave her in India. Teetering between feeling like if I try hard enough, this might actually come true, and the rational, logical understanding that I have absolutely no control over whether or not it does.

Fortunately we have some distractions in store for us. The wedding of our very excellent friends this weekend.

Oh, and less fun: my annual opthamologist visit tomorrow. Please keep your fingers crossed for normal all around. Normal fetus, normal retinas. Although if I had to choose…

Donor Fatigue

May 8, 2006 at 9:58 pm | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF? | 9 Comments

A number of people have written about the difficulties of choosing a sperm donor. (And there are lots more, but I’m too lazy to link them all)

That decision is one of the things that people are most curious about when they hear about our family-building plans.

Looking through the sperm donor catalogs on line forced us to think about a lot of uncomfortable topics.

Why is it important to me that at least part of my future child’s genetic heritage be ethnically Jewish? Should we defy our culture’s bias against short people and go for the donor who sounds great – except that he’s 5″6 – and no height is being passed on from either Pili or me. And how important is it that the donor says he’d be willing to meet the kid when s/he is 18? Do we owe our child at least that?

What is inherited anyway? Does it matter if he can speak six languages or hates math? Do academic achievement and SAT scores say more about the person or the socio-economic opportunities he’s had?

When we fall in love, we don’t get to cherry pick like this. I fell in love with Pili, the person. The smart, social, engaging, thoughtful person – who would also, I swear, forget her own name if it wasn’t on her driver’s license. She fell in love with me – g-d only knows why – and I came with a lovely medical pedigree of diabetes, depression, and a family history of obesity.

But we did get to pick. And without the context of a real person and a real personality, these small details took on lives of their own. This one was great – except he prefers dogs over cats. This one was great – except he had hazel eyes, not blue. And so on.

We made charts: +/-, mitigating factors. We bought audio interviews and long profiles and facial feature profiles. We debated the wisdom of including a unibrow in our future child’s genetic make-up. And finally, we made a decision. We bought six vials, so that (ha!) we’d have some for a future sibling.

Fast forward a few IUIs.

This wasn’t working. Perhaps it was his fault. Since we had to order more liquid gold sperm anyway, and we were switching doctors, why not switch donors?

This time, we went through the process in a few weeks a lot faster. No longer so certain that this was going to work, it seemed less crucial that we get every little detail right.

And it didn’t work.

When we moved onto IVF, our criteria changed. Instead of wanting a donor who looked sorta like me, we wanted a donor who looked more like Pili. Our options were pretty limited, and frankly, we just didn’t have that much confidence in it. And until very recently, it seemed like that lack of confidence was entirely justified.

A few days after the plus sign showed up on the pee stick, one of us asked the other, do you remember which donor we used?

And neither one of us could.

We had to go back and look at our tax files for 2005, since we spent enough money on this business for Pili to take the medical expenses deduction (!), in order to figure it out. And then we started looking for the long profile.

The long profile, it turns out, that we never bought.

I don’t think this was a conscious choice. I think we were both just so sick and tired of this whole business, that this choice felt inconsequential. The idea of actually getting a kid out of this seemed (seems?) like an hallucination. Would you like your soda with or without ice, the traveler stranded in the desert imagines the waiter asking him, as his tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth from thirst. And what difference does it make, which he chooses? The obsequious waiter is just an illusion. Reality is the sand blowing into every crack of the traveller’s skin, the hot wind stealing what moisture remains from his eyes…

A tangential story: At one point in this journey, I was eating brunch with soul_brother and his family and talking I believe, about the ridiculously high cost of donor sperm. His dad asked a question, which coming from anyone other than him, would have been incredibly offensive. Coming from him, I almost wet myself laughing.

“You’re both good-looking girls,” he said. “Why don’t you just go out to a bar and find some handsome fella, and do this the old-fashioned way?” Surprised to find his son, his son’s friend, his two younger sons and his wife all displaying their half-chewed waffles, he persisted. “What’s the matter with that? Why are you all looking at me like that?” Once we’d all closed our mouths and stopped laughing, we managed to explain to him why, in the age of HIV, a) this might not be such a good idea, and that b) the whole reason we were in this situation to begin with was that neither one of us had any interest in “doing it the old-fashioned way.”

However, it seems like Papa Soul_Brother gets the last laugh after all. Because (minus the trivial questions of disease, custody, and infidelity) what have we done? Pretty much picked out a donor on the basis of the information that could be gleaned from a somewhat stilted bar conversation. If everything goes well on Wednesday, we will order the long profile. And hope that his family tree isn’t loaded with type I diabetes, depression, or anything even more unpleasant.

The Sweet Life

May 1, 2006 at 12:30 pm | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF?, Linky Love | 2 Comments

I had a pretty good weekend.

My presentation at the main conference in my field went well.

I did not tell everyone I knew at the conference that my wife is five weeks pregnant, although it was very tempting.

Person I used to work with: So, what’s new with you, Art-Sweet?

Me: Y’know, blah blah blah work stuff. (Thinking: PREGNANT, PREGNANT, PREGNANT! Holy shit. Knock on wood, salt, shoulder, blah blah blah)

And I met Julia and her fabulous family. Let me tell you, that woman makes a mean taco. And I hope my mouth didn’t have food in it when she told me how old she was, because I know it dropped open.

Her daughter O. is funny, smart, and caring. She gave me some good pump tips which I will put to use as soon as McClinic gets around to processing my paperwork. The baby I. was adorable. I loved watching her husband interact with both girls – he seems so into being a dad, and that always melts my heart.

Photo um, why do I bother calling it Friday, will be posted tonight, I promise.

Along with a ton of comments on other people’s blogs.

This is how much I love you

April 28, 2006 at 5:32 pm | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF? | 22 Comments

I am borrowing someone’s laptop to post this from the convention center.

Repeat beta = 166.

U/S May 10.

What the hell do I do for the next 12 days?!?

ETA: I found one spot in my friend’s house where I can get wireless internet from her neighbor’s. Hooray, hoorah. For Allison and anyone else who was curious: Beta hcg levels refer to the hormone your body produces when it is pregnant. The initial number is supposed to double within 48 hours. Which it did. Hoorah, hooray.

Oh, and I’m having dinner with Julia on Sunday. How cool am I?

nu?

April 27, 2006 at 5:32 pm | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF? | 4 Comments

I didn’t mean to go wham bam thank you maam with that last post and leave you all hanging.

But I’m actually out of town at a conference and staying at a friend’s house.

And she? Has dial up.

So I’ve been scarce in the commenting and reading of others’ blogs division.

I will try to find a moment to post tomorrow regarding the results of either ebullient joy or total devastation.

your comments and all of you rock, big time.

xo

art-sweet

flabber-fuckin-gasted

April 26, 2006 at 11:04 am | Posted in First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF? | 42 Comments

Holy Crap

Pili and I, holding hands, tiptoeing in to the bathroom to see the inevitable negative:

Me: Holy crap, I think that’s a plus sign.
Me: Do another one.
P: I only bought one.
Me: Holy crap.

Beta was 74 10dpt. Repeat beta on Friday.

I guess the third (FET) time is (cautiously optimistic, until we hear a heartbeat, until we’re out of the first trimester, until the b-word is screaming and pink in the open air) the charm.

Oh. My. God.

Yippee!

April 25, 2006 at 11:06 am | Posted in AdoptThis!, First Comes Love - Then Comes... GonalF?, Linky Love | 23 Comments

No, it’s not that good news. Beta is tomorrow, and I am curious, but not overly hopeful. I think I may actually have mastered the art of not giving a damn.

(um yeah. remind me of that tomorrow morning)

We’ve narrowed our choices down to three adoption agencies, and hopefully sometime in the next two weeks we will actually have the time to sit down together, make some more phone calls, and then make the final decision.

When If this cycle turns out negative, I think we will wait a month to do another frozen cycle, just to give poor Pili’s bum time to recover from all the progesterone in oil shots. Four icey little embryos still await us. But then I start thinking about the calendar, and my head starts swimming with anxiety.

Many things are up in the air at the moment and my poor head aches from juggling sixteen possible scenarios for our life over the next two years, involving timing of tenure decisions, results of said decisions, adoption/pregnancy timing (ha!), six week absences for research travel and its impact on said adoption/pregnancy timing. Oh yes, and the hope that someday I may actually find a full-time job in my field (ha!).

Oh right: yippee. Why YIPPEE?

Because… in her infinite wisdom Michele has deemed me…

Site of the Day!

For this of you visiting from Michele’s – welcome! please, come back and visit again. We promise you only the most exciting news of infertility, diabetes and feline antics here at Artificially Sweetened. For those of you not familiar with Michele – she publishes these totally addictive comment games. I’ve wasted far too much of my employers’ my time playing them and in the process gotten to “know” bloggers I probably never would have met elsewhere. So thanks, Michele!

In tomorrow’s episode: Art-sweet masters zen and the art of pregnancy tests. Or not.

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