Monthly Archives: November 2010

gratitude

I am grateful for my husband, who loves me and has not yet left me in total disgust due to my ongoing and apparently permanent depression.  He is the best thing in my life and marrying him was the smartest thing I ever did, bar none.  He is kind, caring, smart, and capable.  I love him so much and really want to be the kind of person he deserves to spend his life with.

I am grateful for my family.

I am grateful for my job, which does (barely) pay the bills and which is as secure as any job can be in this economy.

I am grateful for this blog space and the freedom it gives me to work out things that I can’t talk about in other parts of my life, as well as the amazing support I have received from readers and commenters.

 

this is not supposed to happen

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a seven-year-old boy.  That’s why the silly post about clothes shopping yesterday morning–this just wasn’t something I was ready to process yet.  It was the saddest gathering.

He had leukemia and fought really hard, through multiple bone marrow transplants and graft versus host disease, all kinds of infections and complications, and after more than a year of that he just slipped away.

This is not supposed to happen.

He was just a little kid.

There were thousands of people gathered in the church to remember him and to celebrate his life.  Everyone was crying, including the priest.  Somehow his family will have to go on without him, and I hope they can take comfort in the idea that at least he has escaped the pain he was in for so long.

On my way home I started thinking about this community, and in particular this post by Infertile Revolutionary.  The post is about social pressure to keep infertility and early pregnancy private.  I was going to quote her, but you really need to read the whole thing–don’t worry, I’ll wait.

The family yesterday was (is) moving through enormous, unimaginable pain.  They will never get him back, and he will never get to grow up.  But they are doing it with the support of an entire community.  The whole time he was sick there were friends sitting with them at the hospital, cooking them meals, taking care of the younger son who couldn’t understand why his brother never wanted to play anymore.  And now that he is gone the community has once again embraced the family in their grief.  This is not to diminish what they are feeling–just to note that there is a support system.

Contrast that with what any number of you ladies have been through.  So many of you have lost children to miscarriage over and over again–but you’ve borne it alone because of this veil of secrecy around infertility and pregnancy loss.  My heart aches for you–there should be a church full of a thousand people supporting you too.  The world should notice.

And again, I don’t mean to take away in any way from what the family yesterday was feeling; I am wholly uninterested in the Pain Olympics, and I know that losing a seven-year-old is not exactly the same as losing a pregnancy.  But I also know that the pain those of you who have miscarried experience is no less real than what those parents are feeling.  What would it be like if you had the support of your community through your grief instead of an expectation that whatever happens prior to birth is your problem that no one else should be bothered with?

Infertile Revolutionary has taken a step that I haven’t–yet.  She is telling people the truth, and she has found real evidence* of how pervasive fertility problems are.  Before she told, all of those other folks in her post were keeping it all to themselves too.  Someday I will find the courage to give an honest answer when someone asks me why I don’t have children.  I haven’t been able to do it yet–but I do know that I have to be the change I want to see in the world.  I know that this part is up to me.

And if enough of us tell, maybe infertility and pregnancy loss will become the public health emergency it is screaming to be, given how common it is.  Maybe more states will mandate insurance coverage.  Maybe more will be invested in research.  Or maybe none of that will happen–maybe all that will happen is that each of us won’t have to bear our pain alone.  Which would be an improvement.

*anecdata

 

what not to wear

I buy most of my clothes in thrift stores or at Target.  This is partly because of real financial constraints, partly because I am cheap, partly because I got into the habit of thrift shopping when we lived in Tucson and there were some really good thrift stores (not so much here), and partly because clothes shopping feels like torture and it’s just easier to buy yet another black T-shirt.

My friend has decided that I need some new clothes (she’s tired of being seen with me in my pathetic wardrobe), so tomorrow she is taking me shopping.  I am going to spend $100.  On clothes.  For myself.  Which she will pick out.  She’s convinced that I am not just “beautiful on the inside,” and that my negative body image is just because I haven’t been trying on the right clothes, a la What Not to Wear.

I am skeptical.

Clothes shopping used to be fun–when I was 19, and thin, and I liked the clothes in the stores, and before this whole skinny-jeans-pencil-skirts-stretchy-tops fashion horrorshow happened.  I’m not even really that fat–I’ve never once had a doctor tell me that my infertility was related to my weight (which I understand happens all too often), and I’m pretty consistently a size 12.  Nothing to be proud of (I was a 6 once… *stares wistfully into the past*), but not unhealthy either.  The problem is that my body is like a sick parody of fertility.  I have all those characteristics that the evolutionary psychology nutjobs say are fertility markers:  great big breasts, relatively narrow waist, wide pelvis and hips.

No one needs to see that.

Which is the real issue, of course, and why I hate shopping so much.  I am so deeply ashamed of my body–not just the 40 pounds I have put on over the past 15 years, not just the giant ugly scar across my abdomen from this summer, not just the weirdly flabby upper arms, not just my real and ongoing hatred of The Skinny Jean in all its manifestations, but also the freakshow going on inside me.

Infertility just gets its poison paws on everything.

I am grateful to have such a caring friend, and I think she really does believe that I am beautiful (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding), so I am going to be a good sport tomorrow.  I will try on whatever she picks, and I will get out my credit card and try not to think too hard about where else that money could be going (Amnesty International, kiva.org, student loans, Christmas presents for my nieces, a new audio interface for my husband…), but I am afraid that I will just end up sobbing in a mall dressing room.

I’m crying now, just thinking about it.  Why is this so hard?

the loudest bar in alabama

I am so over this not drinking in the 2ww bullshit.

Last weekend I was in Alabama for a music festival.  Unfortunately my “career” (I use the word advisedly) is such that the festivals I’m invited to tend to take place in very small towns.  This creates a problem for us musician types, who require both strong coffee and strong liquor.  Actually the problem really is food–most of us are ravenous after we play, and it’s sometimes really hard to find a place that will serve us after our concerts.  We always end up in bars, which is fine, but sometimes it’s hard to find a bar that will serve us any food at all.  When that happens we end up scarfing down stale pretzels in our motel room.  Not very satisfying.

So there we were, Friday night, 15 or so starving musicians looking for some food at 10:30 p.m.  The first place we tried was cash-only (did I mention we’re all broke too?) and served only…get this…deep-fried pickles.  I wish I was kidding.

We bolted.

The second place we tried had already closed their kitchen, but when they saw how many of us there were they agreed to open it back up.  Hurray!

It was a little surprising to all of us, being yuppified snobs and all, that it’s still legal to smoke in bars in Alabama.  It had been a long time since any of us had been in a smoke-filled room, and that took some getting used to!  We were all coughing by the time we got out of there.  Makes me wonder what we all breathed in back in the good ol’ days when you could smoke in bars in my home city!

Also, the band that was playing at this bar* was very good (sort of rock-country), but their sound was turned up just a little too high.  Conversation was impossible, and so we insufferable snobs kept shouting back and forth at each other about how these guys should move it down by about 5dB.  After a while I started to wonder why everyone but me seemed to be having a good time despite the smoke, the too-loud amp, the terrible service, and the strangely sticky floor.

Then it hit me.

Everybody but me was drinking.  I was just short of CD1 and had that irrational hope thing going on–you know the one.  The one that’s not even any fun and is actually more like an extra scoop of guilt.

“What if this is The Month?”

“You can’t be too careful.”

“Do you want to RUIN YOUR BABY’S LIFE by having a gin and tonic in the Loudest Bar in Alabama?”

So I did the right thing.

I guess that proves that I have not in fact ceased to believe that I’m capable of pregnancy as I stated in a previous post.  Hope is a funny, fucked-up thing.

*And where, exactly, were they going to eat when their set was finished?  That’s what I’d like to know!  We should have stuck around and followed them…

he’s a good man. and thorough.

Just in case anyone is still reading, I have an update.

Today we saw the urologist.  We were really impressed with him.  He’s well regarded in the field and is an active researcher, so he’s up on all the newest developments.  He’s a specialist in fertility issues and works closely with our RE.

It was my husband’s turn to be poked and prodded, and I really felt for the guy.  He’s not nearly as used to dropping trou for medical professionals as I am and I think he felt pretty awkward.

They (the urologist and his resident–remember, teaching hospital!) took some blood to get hormone levels and had him give another semen sample.  We also talked over his history and the numbers from the previous tests.  What we heard was that there’s no real doubt that there is some MFI.  His numbers are low; the questions now are how low, and is there any underlying hormonal cause?  They’re confident there is no structural cause (like a blockage) and no varicocele.  We’re going to look at one or more additional data points to try to find his baseline numbers since the two tests were so different, and the bloodwork may or may not show anything useful.

If the first test (from Dec. 09) turns out to be closer to what we’re dealing with, we may be candidates for IUI.  If the second test (from this past August) turns out to be more like it, it’s going to be ICSI or nothing (which is what our RE told us back in August).

What feels a little frustrating, and the urologist was very open about this, is that we may never know what is causing his numbers to be so low.  According to the doctor today, about 60% of cases of MFI are unexplained.  It feels really different from the experience of going to the RE, where the mindset seems to be that they will keep testing and testing and testing and testing until they find out what’s going on.  What we’re hearing here is that they’ll try to make more sense of the numbers we’re seeing, but that there is only so much testing that will be useful since there is no anatomical problem.

My poor husband was very nervous about this appointment.  He was very worried that there would be invasive tests to look inside his testicles, and I think he was relieved that all he got was groped.*

Looks like it’s time for more waiting.

*He tells me that the fact he was groped by two different guys (the urologist and the resident) is KEY.

Oh, and by the way, it’s CD2.  First fibroid-free try was a big FAIL.  Maybe I will post about that later.

did you VOTE yet?

Go now!

this thing that happened to me at work

What she said:

I was waiting in line for my coffee across the street just now, and I couldn’t believe it–I was surrounded by Muslims!  They were all wearing their garb* and I was getting a little freaked out.  I really hope they weren’t terrorists.  Enough of them have tried to blow us up!

What I said:

…….(static)

…….(radio silence)

I just stood there with my mouth hanging open.

What I should have said, what I wish I had said, what I will say next time:

That was extremely offensive.  There are over 2 million Muslims in this country, and they wear all sorts of things, and exactly none of them have tried to blow you up. I’m going to go over there and say hello to those folks at the coffee shop.  Want to come?  I think most of them actually work downstairs.

What would you have said?  What do you think I should have said?

*Yes, she actually said “garb.”  What is there, some kind of Official Racist Phrasebook?