I don’t really have words…(but since when am I silent?)

It’s fair to say that in the last two years, I’ve become an unofficial expert on babymaking. That’s not a line I plan on using at dinner parties or anything, but it is the truth. Our miscarriages and infertility have led to months and months of me googling, reading, researching, asking, blogging and participating in discussions about conception.

And what blows my mind about conception is the series of intricate events that need to take place in order for it to actually happen.

The body has to produce hormones at precisely correct levels to signal other hormones that in turn must be at correct levels. The blood flow to the ovaries and uterus has to be just so. The egg has to be free of harmful free-radicals and toxins from that taco bell burrito one may or may not have eaten in a moment of desperation two months prior. The uterine lining has to do its thing while the corpus luteum does its thing, both telling each other exactly what that thing is. Not to mention the fact that intercourse has to happen at just the right time. And then the sperm have to swim well, but not too well, or they’ll overshoot the target.

If you’re me, on top of all those events, a whole slew of other events have to happen just right.

Exactly the right level of synthroid must successfully correct my ever-so-slightly underactive thyroid to produce the right level of hormones. My blood thinning shots have to happen every day, starting on exactly the 6th day of my cycle so that my blood can get to my ovaries at just the right time. My IVIG infusions must be spaced no more than 2 weeks apart with precisely the right dosage to calm my immune system to exactly the right levels. The right dose of prednisone must be started exactly 2 days after ovulation to decrease my body’s inflammatory response. My diet has to be just so and metformin must be taken so that my blood sugar level remains constant. Progesterone, estrogen and about 12 other supplements must be taken in the right dosage on the right day, spaced exactly 12 hours apart.

And after all that, if, and only if, my blood tests and ultrasounds come back in normal range, we can proceed with the babymaking part. Hoping, of course, that that first set of intricate events all happens as it should.

A freaking lunar landing sounds easier and less complicated.

Which is why I am just speechless about the fact that my brother called me last night to tell me that even though he and my sister-in-law were doing everything they could to NOT have any more children, they are now 13 weeks pregnant with their third child.

How does that happen? How do you successfully and flawlessly land a spaceship on the moon when you never even attempted liftoff? How?

And what am I supposed to say?  To this beaming, happy person who has just reminded me how messed up my body must be to not be pregnant despite extreme scientific measures? What do I tell him?

A line I know so well by now: Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! This is wonderful news!

 

 

The sliding glass doors of doom

Yesterday, I did the thing recurrent miscarriers ought never ever do. I wandered aimlessly and purposelessly through the aisles of Buy Buy Baby.

I did enter with a mission. I was to buy a gift for our friends who are in the midst of adopting a little boy from South Korea. After more than a decade of infertility, they are now just a short but completely undetermined number of months away from finally bringing home their forever child. And so we are rightfully celebrating them with a surprise new year’s eve shower.

Armed and ready for action, I headed through the giant sliding glass doors of Buy Buy Baby like I have so many times in the last 20 months: shield over my heart, blinders around my eyes, inhaling the deepest breath possible before directly setting out for battle.

Normally, I speed walk directly toward the gift I am intent to buy, not allowing myself a glance in any direction that is not directly in the path of that specific item, before I pay and finally get the hell out of there, operation complete.

Maybe it was because this was the first baby gift I’ve bought in a long time without feeling that tiny twinge of resentment. Maybe it was because these friends have shown me that there are always other ways. Or maybe it was because I simply had nowhere else I needed to be. But, after I located the all-important Sleep Sheep and onesie and my mission was over, my battalion veered off-course.  I found myself walking, looking, and touching. The things I have never ever allowed myself to do before.

I eyed the crib with the bedding I’d want if I had a little girl. I touched the cute little blue bouncy swing I’d want if I had a little boy.  I saw the stroller I’d want if I had two grand to drop on a stroller. And I saw the empty room in my house as something other than an empty room. I saw it with curtains and a changing table and a rocking chair and a cute little dresser with matching pants and tops that say things like “Mommy’s little stinker” and “I only drink milk.”

I saw a mom-to-be and her mom having a disagreement over car seats. She shot me a look as if to say “Isn’t this the worst?” And I resisted shooting her a look to say, “No, really, it’s not.”

After I’d thumbed through the books and stroked the fluffy blankets and held the tiny outfits up to admire, I took the adorable little things meant for somebody else’s formerly-empty room and I paid for them.

And as I walked back through the sliding glass doors, I realized that I didn’t feel any better than when I first walked in. But I didn’t feel any worse. And that, at least, was a good start.

Fortune cookies don’t know shit. And other surprising things.

One year ago exactly, my work catered in chinese food for lunch during a particularly busy week. So naturally, after we all scraped our plates clean of every sort of wonton, eggroll and fried rice available (don’t judge, it was pre-Dragon Lady times) we moved on to the next fried event. Fortune cookies.

A few of us sitting at the big long table in the office decided to go around and read our fortunes out loud. Fortunes promising new friends, revelations of deep secrets, and unexpected riches were all read. And then it came to me.

“Next year, your greatest wish will come true.”

After just coming off of two early miscarriages, I knew all too well what that greatest wish was. And being in the two week wait at the time, I immediately went ape shit inside my brain. What the fuck, fortune cookie?!! I can’t be pregnant this year??!! There’s still 3 weeks left!!!! Why do you have to ruin my life?!!!!

I calmed down a little when my brain quickly rationalized that I could still get knocked up in 2014, but that the birth itself would be this greatest wish thing, which, of course, wouldn’t happen until 2015.

Everyone around the table oohhed and aahhed, speculating as to what my greatest wish might be. Having just gotten married 7 months before and then having promptly moved in to a big new house right after that, there weren’t too many options left to guess. The ladies all eyed me knowingly, if only they actually knew. And the guys all demanded that I tell them what my greatest wish was. So I had to come up with something quick.

“To meet Fred Savage, of course”

Why on earth I chose these words, I have no idea. Maybe because I’d had a dream a few nights before in which Fred Savage broke into my house to bake me a cake. And yes, it was glorious. But the words came out and successfully diverted the conversation to a discussion about why The Wonder Years was the best show ever  and then eventually to a sing-off of the greatest sitcom theme songs of all time.

I’ve had a fair share of fortune cookies in my time. And I usually forget the fortunes. But this one, I remembered. Not only did I remember it, I believed it. 100%. This fortune was just for me. It’s like it knew me and could stare deep into my soul. But not like in a pervy way. And it probably even rewrote itself to say those words exactly the moment it touched my hands.

I mean, hell, at that point no doctor had been able to give me any reason as to why I kept miscarrying and I had nothing else to go off of. So why not trust the the mystic chinese proverbs developed in a factory in Michigan and then stuffed into a sugary piece of tasteless nothing. Why the hell not?

This fortune spoke truth. And so I believed. 2015 would be the year. My greatest wish would come true.

Turns out, that fortune cookie didn’t know shit. Because here I am, on the backside of 2015 NOT knocked up or anywhere close to giving birth. And I didn’t even meet Fred Savage.

What the hell, fortune? I thought we had a thing where we trusted each other, believed in each other and could stare silently at each other for long periods without things getting all weird and stuff.

Turns out, you were wrong all the time. Unless by “greatest wish” you were referring to the opportunity to re-grout our shower floor. And in that case, you were super super correct.

 

 

An open letter to the sperm in my vagina right now

Dear sperm,

I am writing to inform you of the extreme skill and effort it took to get you into my vagina yesterday in hopes you will take that into account when deciding how long to stay there.

You see, not everyone can find the courage and strength to bone while sleeping in the toy room at the in-laws’ lake house with 15 family members eating breakfast in the next room. But we did, sperm, we did. And we did it, literally, as our six nieces and nephews banged on our door begging to come in and play on the rocking horse. Why on earth they care so much about a damn rocking horse or, better yet, why on earth the only childless couple in the family is continuously forced to sleep in the toy room while the other couples get private cozy bedrooms is beyond me. Such cruel irony. But nevertheless, dear sperm, we got you where you needed to be.

We knew it was the only way. We knew that later in the afternoon, my husband would be traveling out of town and I would be traveling back home and that it would be the last moments we’d have alone before I ovulate tomorrow or Wednesday. Yes, I know that is a long time to hang out up there and that you are bored and have nothing to do. But damn it, read a book or something. Because you are our one and only shot this month, pardon the pun.

And so, dear sperm, before you find yourself tempted to swim toward the light and make this month like all the months before. Before you decide to become an indistinguishable smudge on my underwear and my calendar. Please consider that you could be so much more than the sperm that made its way into my vaj while 6 kids yelled outside the door. You could be the one doing all the yelling.

With hope,

The lady attached to your new digs

The Friend Of A Friend Trap

I was ready to get married long before I was married. Long before I was even close to getting married. Long before I had even come close to meeting someone worth marrying. I wanted the marrying part. My friends were all married. My siblings were all married. All the random people in the aisles at Target were all married. For God’s sake, where the F was my marriage license and wedding band and guy that came with it all?!

Good thing I had smart people all around me to teach me how to catch a man. The secret, they all said, was to just stop looking for him. Because all that really needs to be done to find the love of your life is to stop thinking about finding the love of your life. To start focusing on other things. Like work. And travel. And yoga. And fun trips with girlfriends. And then poof, Love Of Your Life just shows up. On cue.

And how did they know this? Because a friend of a friend of theirs totally gave up on finding the love of her life and went off and bought a one-way ticket to Switzerland. And then, swear to god, a week before she’s supposed to leave she meets Future-Husband in a bar.

So what did I do? I went off and bought my own house. I gave myself my own perfect space and my own perfect yard and my own perfect patio for enjoying evenings alone. And I started running marathons. And filling my time with training and conditioning and long runs. Because who needs a man when you can enjoy all those things all by yourself?

And then, of course, I met my now-husband. And, I too, became a friend of a friend story. A success! More proof! Just stop looking, and you’ll find it! Stop wanting it so bad, and it will happen!

It’s a beautiful story. It’s a wonderful example of just living life. It’s also complete bullshit.

Sure, by all appearances, I did go out and buy a house and get in shape and get the hell on with my life with or without a man. And then poof, I found him.

But that poof was three years. Three god damn years. And, while I might have tried to convince myself and those around me that I had stopped desperately looking for the love of my life. Not once did I actually, honestly, successfully stop.

I closed my eyes to the need to find a man in the same way that a four-year-old hides their eyes when playing hide and seek. No, Guy Down The Street Wearing a Red Sweater Who I’ve Already Mentally Re-dressed In a Tux and Perfect Boutonniere, I’m not paying any attention to you.

And I went on dates. So. Many. Dates. Terrible dates. Decent dates. Good dates that later led to short and bad relationships. And in my heart, I was always still searching for him.

And that friend of a friend of a friend who was days from moving to Switzerland before she found her man? I don’t know who the hell she is. But she didn’t really stop looking either. Because if she had actually stopped, the stories people tell would be about her drinking Schneider Weisse at the base of the Alps rather than her buying a pretty white dress.

The truth is, you can’t just turn your brain off from thinking of and searching for the thing you really want. You can only distract it for a little while.

And for the last little while, I’ve distracted my brain very well. I’ve taken a leap of faith, I’ve started my own business, I’ve struck out on my own to write. Thoughts of babies and embryos and my uterine lining have been pushed aside to make room for thoughts of accounting software and networking and gaining new clients. And so by that old friend of a friend story model, I should be knocked up by the end of the month.

But I won’t be. And those old familiar baby thoughts? They haven’t gone away either. They will never go away. No matter how hard I try and kid myself, they will always be there. Not that that stopped an old co-worker of mine from telling me about her friend of a friend who gave up trying for a baby so that she could focus on her business for a while, and then poof, ended up pregnant.

These friend of a friend, just-stop-thinking-about-it-and-it-will-happen stories are complete crap that we need to stop sharing. We need to stop telling each other these terrible lies. We need to stop making people feel bad for focusing on something they really want for themselves.

Because it’s okay to think about what you really want in life. It’s okay to look for it. It’s okay to try to make it happen. Because who the hell ever got what they really wanted by ignoring the fact that they wanted it?

And you know what? It’s also okay to let your mind wander to other things that will make you happy in the meantime. I don’t once regret buying my own house. I don’t regret a single mile that I ran. And I doubt I’ll ever regret breaking out on my own to write.

But I’ll never convince myself or anyone else that shielding my eyes to focus on those other things is what magically made my real dreams come true. Maybe, just maybe the only way to get what you really want is to face it head on and make it happen. Despite what that one friend of a friend might say.

There’s a baby on the way

I have a baby on the way. And for the last two weeks, this baby has given me insomnia and made me feel like I could throw up at any moment. Okay, no. I’m not pregnant. I’ve decided to leave my full-time writing and creative directing job to start a freelance writing business. It’s been a long-time coming, since I’ve always dreamed of doing this. But I just never had the balls to do it.

But I think this whole miscarriage-not getting pregnant thing has given me the courage. It’s taught me that there are a million what if’s, who knows and things I generally can’t control. And I can spend all my time being angry and confused about those things. Or I can get to work on the things I CAN control. And derive my happiness from that.

And frankly, it’s been an incredibly welcome distraction from all the baby-making business. For the first time in a long while, I’m really excited about something.

Unfortunately, all this scheming and networking and almost throwing upping has taken me away from my blogging duties for a few weeks. But once my full time job is finished and I am on my own, I’ll have more time to write the stuff I really want to write. So get ready world. This little dream of mine’s about to get birthed.

Oh hi there, I’m high.

There are two kinds of doctors in the infertility world. Those who prescribe oral progesterone supplements. And those who want you to put progesterone up your hooha. Okay, so there are actually waaaay more kinds of doctors than that in the infertility world. But roll with me here for a moment.

I have previously seen the second kind of doctor. The pill-up-the-hooha kind. But lately, I’ve been instructed to take my progesterone supplements orally since it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, and my immune system is a blazing, sweltering fire that won’t go out.

Throw progesterone up your hooha, and the side effects are pretty minimal. Sure, there’s extreme constipation and a constant wet and nasty discharge in the underpants. But compared to all the other side effects of drugs us reproductively challenged ladies have to deal with (um, extreme hot flashes, stabbing ovaries, and a condition that’s actually called moon face) it’s a walk in the barren park.

Taking progesterone orally is a slightly different story. The bottle says “may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery.” However, what it should say is “this is going to make you higher than that one crazy night out on your college dorm balcony. Do not attempt conversation within four hours of taking.”

In short, oral progesterone makes me high. I mean bat shit crazy, elephants on the ceiling, wonderfully high. A high unlike any high I’ve ever had. Not that I’ve had very many, because I’m a good girl, people. For about 45 minutes, I feel like the prettiest, most intellectually stimulating person in the long, dark tunnel we’re all suddenly floating down. And it’s awesome.

I never know quite when it is going to hit me. Sometimes it’s 30 minutes after a dose. Sometimes it’s not until 3 hours after a dose. And every luteal phase, I take two doses a day. Which makes mornings at work interesting.

Especially one particular morning two weeks ago when I was getting ready to present to a room full of 60 people, right as the progesterone kicked in.

My colleagues and I were pitching a new and large account for our advertising agency, and I had a significant portion of the presentation to talk through creative strategy and branding. Typically, this is the sort of thing that I can pretty much wing once I think through a few talking points. But typically, I’m also not high.

Right as my colleague introduced me and handed me the clip-on microphone and clicker, I started to feel that oh so familiar feeling floating through my body. Okay, I thought, so…this is happening. Or did I say it? Was that how I just opened up my section of the presentation? I wasn’t 100% sure. But I kept going.

Next came the challenge of talking while clipping the microphone to the collar of my dress while also managing not to drop the clicker or a stray f-bomb. And…I nailed it. Again, I have no idea if I said that I nailed it. Or just thought it.

My voice boomed; in the microphone, through my head, it was crawling up the walls and enveloping the room in a giant shriek. Quick, I thought, I need to re-clip this microphone closer to my boob so I’m not all blare-y. Again, coulda thought it. Coulda said it. To this day, I just don’t know.

The rest was a sort of out-of-body experience. I said stuff, I clicked, I pointed to visuals on slides. I stood upright. I kept my clothes on. These are the things I know. Everything else, I couldn’t tell you.

But I do know that in the last two weeks, nobody at work has said a word to me about that presentation. Which is probably a good thing, as it was hopefully just like any other presentation I’ve given. Or, it’s a bad thing, because they’re all secretly whispering about that time I stood up and let out monotone humming sounds for 15 minutes straight.

And there is one other thing I know for sure. Along this crazy road of injections and infusions and inseminations and negative pregnancy tests and stabbing ovaries and things called moon face, I’ll take all the little highs I can get.