Monthly Archives: March 2012

i’m not here, this isn’t happening*

Ye gods, but I’m depressing.

I’m starting to feel that familiar drawing away again.  Wanting to stop being present as things happen.  And even as I write this post my stream of consciousness is doing this:

I should write a post about the Smearing of Trayvon Martin and how it relates to the Slut-Shaming of Sandra Fluke (who is, of course, alive while Martin is dead so of course it’s not a comparison that should imply equality of experience) but that wouldn’t really fit in with the usual tenor of this blog and besides, people smarter than I am have already done this so what would I be adding to the conversation?  This post is supposed to be about IUI #3, which was this morning and while we were in the waiting room we heard that someone had won that Mega-Millions jackpot and what would I do if I had all that money?  I could pay down our debts, buy a house, pay for ALL the rounds of IVF (that’s mine and yours, ladies), put my nieces and nephew through college, secure my mom’s retirement, start a new ensemble, and then I get lost in what to do with the rest of it.  Human rights, health care, arts funding, education of women and girls, scientific research.  So much money, so much power, so many people I could help.  But this post is supposed to be about IUI #3, which was this morning and tomorrow I have to finish doing our taxes which are extra complicated this year because of the grant my husband got last fall and I am crossing my fingers that the accounting for the project is good enough even though I know we made a few mistakes with it.  But this post is supposed to be about IUI #3, which was this morning.

I am having trouble focusing on that.  That’s why How to Disappear Completely seemed like a good theme song for today.

I’m not here, this isn’t happening.

Some true facts:  My HSG showed clear tubes and no scarring.  It also showed an arcuate uterus, which was not obvious on the image from 2009 due to all the fibroids.  As usual my Google-fu is lacking (largely because I am not smart enough to read medical research) but it seems to me that people with arcuate uteri can and do make babies in them.

More true facts:  Today’s sperm count was 23 million (holy shit, husband!) with 37.7% motility.  Post-wash numbers:  40 million, 21.7% motile.  With a .5 ml volume used in the insemination, that’s 4.34 million sperm hopefully making their way up my tubes with another 15.66 million just hanging out.

I’m not here, this isn’t happening.

No facts here:  We have started to talk about how many of these we are willing to do.  How many is too many?  How many is enough?  Why is no one looking at the sperm morphology and what difference does it make?  Why have I never been pregnant, not for one minute, in three and a half years?  If we do IVF, how will we pay for it?  When do we tell my in-laws what is going on?  How many of these do we do?

I’m not here, this isn’t happening.

It’s hard for me to focus on this.  I feel like infertility has become a moving target and I’m just too slow.  I don’t know what I think, I don’t know what I want, and I don’t know how many more of these I can do.

minibreak

I was clever last month.  I planned a lovely weekend away (our first in years that didn’t involve some horrible family event) to coincide with CD1, in the hope that it would distract me from my usual depressing spiral.  And you know what?  It kind of worked!  CD1 showed up as expected (actually a day early, the bitch).  But when she got here, there was this:

Yes, please.

That, dear friends, is a very large glass of very good gin with muddled mint and cucumber.  The menu described it as gin and tonic water  with muddled mint and cucumber.  The menu was lying.  If there was any tonic water in there at all, it must have been put in with an eye dropper.  Dee-lish.

There was sightseeing:

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.

We went to the zoo, where my husband photographed every. animal. he. saw.  Including the squirrels and sparrows.  That is what he does, it makes him happy, and it’s why God made giant memory cards.  He did get that cute picture of an emperor tamarin, though.

Then we went to the ballet.  No pictures of that, unfortunately, as the ushers informed me that photos inside the performance hall are off-limits.  It was amazing.  After the ballet we ate snobby food:

I unironically used the word "gestalt" in describing this dessert. I may have a problem.

It was delightful.

 

i can hear you, you know

I didn’t test at all this last cycle.  I had no expectation that it would work; it felt like we were going through the motions, some kind of very expensive and unpleasant kabuki so that we could look back and say that at least we tried.  There wasn’t much satisfaction in being right — CD1 was as depressing as ever, CD3 was as uncomfortable as ever, what with the wanding and all, and here I am a week later in a hospital waiting room for another HSG.

Whenever my RE looks at me via ultrasound he says things to his medical students like “scarring” and “pelvic adhesions.”  He says “unusual shape” and “difficult positioning.”  But in the consult room he says “no reason to think the worst” and “should be clear.”  But over the past few months it’s become clear that he thinks there is something going on in my uterus as a result of my myomectomy.  He has brought this up in the past but his recommendation has been to just go ahead and do the IUI, but this time he recommended “getting a look at things” before we go any further.  I was planning to ask for this anyway since I am not actually deaf in the exam room and I can hear what says to the med students, so it was nice that we were on the same page.

So here I sit, waiting to find out if there’s yet more wrong with me.  For the privilege I will be paying a cool $1500 out of pocket unless the insurance company decides to pony up.*

* Not bloody likely.

hanging fire

My husband moved out here in an all-fired hurry last August, and I don’t think I ever told you how that all happened.

Herr Doktor Professor* finished his degree last May (praise the lord and pass the ammunition) but hadn’t found enough work yet as of the end of the summer.  We were looking at some pretty dire straits, what with not enough money coming in to cover basic expenses, not to mention my job-related anxiety making me physically ill (on the plus side, I did lose a good 20 pounds).

Then I got a Facebook message from an old grad school friend asking me to have my husband call her right away.  This part I told you — a faculty member at the school where she is teaching quit very abruptly, and she was wondering if my husband might be able to come out on very short notice to take over.  One week later he was here for the first day of class.

Unfortunately in academia that is Not How Things Are Done, so he is on a temporary one-year contract for this academic year while the department runs a national search to fill the position permanently.

That means he has to go through the whole search process, which is lengthy, redundant, and overly bureaucratized, in the hope of keeping his job for next year.  If he gets it he will have the brass ring, the golden goose, the Gem of Amara  — a tenure-track job.  If he doesn’t get it we will be fucked six ways to Sunday.  He is the inside candidate and we have high hopes that he’s going to be successful — after all, he’s doing an amazing job now — but still it’s a little scary and we are getting nervous about it.

The process is (hopefully) almost over, and the search committee is ready to bring the three finalists for the job to campus for their in-person interviews and teaching demos.

And then we will have the academic equivalent of the two-week wait.

* How is it that I’ve never come up with a snappy blog nickname for the husband?

 

community

I have Thoughts on What Went Down at Stirrup Queens last week.*

(Background here, here, and here.)

My thoughts are lengthy.  They are rambling and sometimes navel-gazing.  And I am well aware that I am stepping into a situation that seems to have nothing to do with me.  But here I go anyway, because I care about this community and I think some very important issues have been raised.**  I am coming from a place of love and compassion and while I know that Intent Is Not Magic, I do hope that my intent comes through here.  Metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha.

Lived Experience; my house is my house

I have to start from this place, from what I know for sure:  No one gets to tell another person that her lived experience is wrong.  My life is my life, and if it doesn’t line up with someone else’s ideas or with statistics or with whatever fairy tale the media is pumping out at us, that doesn’t make it any less my life.

Another thing I know for sure:  Your rights end where mine begin.  And vice versa.  This blog is my house, and I have the right to conduct myself here as I see fit.  Your blog is your house, and you get to run it however you choose.  I think that means no one should feel pressured to censor herself on her own blog, particularly in this community where so many of us come to get away from the constant self-censorship of the rest of our lives.  If we can’t speak freely in the one place we have created for that express purpose, what do we have?

These two points are, I think, my best way in to understand the people who joined PAIL because they weren’t getting what they needed from the existing ALI community.

Lived Experience.  There are so many comments at Stirrup Queens about people finding their readership drop after becoming pregnant or giving birth, and about people who are pregnant or parenting signing up for ICLW in particular and not getting the support they needed to get out of that experience.  People feeling alone inside this community, which was often the one place they really belonged and could be totally honest.  That is a real, lived experience:  ALI bloggers feeling isolated from the ALI community after becoming pregnant or giving birth.

Obviously I have never done either of those things, but I know some of my readers have and I would love to know if your experience has been similar.  Did your readership drop when you got your BFP?  When you gave birth?  Did it matter to you?  Would you notice?

Your rights end where mine begin.  Many of the PAIL bloggers (and can I say how much I appreciate the strength it took to say these things “out loud?”) also talked about self-censoring.  Feeling uncomfortable writing about pregnancy, or childbirth, or parenting because they remember the pain of reading about those topics after a BFN or an adoption that didn’t go through or just another long slog up this fucking neverending mountain.  It’s an empathetic position: remembering what it feels like to read that stuff, they don’t want to write about it and cause people pain.  But the situation there spirals down — because, again, the lived experience of these bloggers is that readership drops.  (Some of) the people who can’t handle pregnancy or parenting posts have already gone away.  So you have a blogger who is trying to be sensitive to the needs of her readers, self-censoring in the process, and the readers still go away.

The blogger is no longer getting her or his needs met: not only is she not getting the support she still needs, she is not even able to use her own blog to share her real thoughts and feelings.  The ALI community is no longer a safe space for her.

If anyone’s reading who is pregnant or parenting, did/do you feel this way?  Do you censor your blog to spare readers’ feelings?  Do you feel you can be honest in this community?

safe space

Not only is one person’s lived experience her absolute truth; not only do one person’s rights end where another’s begin; on top of those things, something I know for sure is that privilege exists.  And that is why safe spaces are needed.

The ALI community is a needed, loved, and vital safe space for people who can’t say things in the rest of the world.  We are marginalized; we are “not normal;” we are “subverting God’s will,” or proving that “feminism has failed,” or “selfish,” or too stupid to know that we could “just adopt.”  We need a place where we don’t always have to smile, where we don’t always have to start at the beginning, where no one will ask us when we’re going to have kids, where someone knows what we mean by “Anyone get a BFP 5dp5dt?”  This is that place.

It’s been that place for the bloggers who got pregnant, who had babies, and some of whom no longer feel welcome.  And that’s why I totally understand why PAIL is so attractive.  Everyone deserves a safe space; for people who have come through this crucible, regular mommy blogs aren’t going to do it.  And if this community is no longer functioning as a safe space for some bloggers, it makes sense that they would need a new place that can do that for them.

me, me, me

I have to confess that I don’t understand the self-censorship thing.  I have only censored myself once on this blog, and after deleting the post I put it back up.  This blog?  My house.  Your blog?  Your house.  And while I would love to have lots and lots of friends over, it’s more important to me to keep my house in the way I see fit than to try to change it in the hope of keeping or increasing readership.  I guess it comes down to blogging goals, as Mel put so elegantly in one of her posts.  I think we all have to know why we’re here.

I’m here because this (and I mean this community, not just my own corner of it) is my safe space.  I can say here what I can’t say Out in the World.  I have been fortunate to meet so many amazing, strong women.  You inspire me on a daily basis.  When I fall down you are there to catch me.

I know that many times I have taken more support from this community than I have given back, and I absolutely need to do better.   I am socially awkward in real life so I suppose it’s not so strange that I’m the same way here — but really, I need to do better.

It breaks my heart to think that on the other side of those days when I’m just not up for seeing a baby update, there is an ALI blogger wondering where all of her readers have gone.

That being said, though, those bloggers with babies?  They have done it.   They have achieved what we’re all hoping for, and there is a sense for me in which forming a new community just for parents feels a little like climbing into the treehouse and then pulling the ladder up after them while the rest of us are still on the ground.  That’s an ugly sentiment and I’m not proud of myself for feeling it, even for one minute.  I have to respect these bloggers’ need for safe space just as much as my own, and as I said above if some people are not getting their needs met here they have every right to go elsewhere.

What this means for me is that I need to work harder to make sure the bloggers I care about, who inspire me and whose journeys are giving me hope, are appreciated and feel welcome here (small-here as in gingerandlime and big-here as in ALI), no matter what part of the mountain they’ve gotten to.

* It is also, of course, What Went Down at Elphaba’s blog (formerly Yolk, now Alice in Diaperland).  But I experienced it at first through the Stirrup Queens posts, which is how it filters in my head, so that’s how I’m presenting it here.  I don’t mean in any way to privilege Mel’s experience of the situation over Elphaba’s, but it would be disingenuous of me to present this as though I have a complete understanding of what went into creating PAIL.

** I’m not going to talk about the uglier things that were said, except to say that we are all starting from a place of profound pain.  I hope that we can be gentle with ourselves and with others.

arithmetic

As I’ve mentioned, we are paying out of pocket for our treatments.  The insurance company wouldn’t even pay for the Pap smear my RE did at our consult in December because it was part of an infertility visit.  Since December 13, we have paid a total of $2,046.86 to our RE’s clinic and the pharmacy down the street.  (I’ve been tracking the costs on my TTC page.)

During that same period we paid $872.04 in insurance premiums.*  My husband’s employer kicked in about twice that much, meaning the insurance company has taken in $2,616.12 on our behalf.

They have paid out $0.

I have a full-time job.  I make $9.50 per hour.  This means that before taxes, I make $380 per week.**  After taxes, I take home $331.67.

More than half of my wages go directly to my RE.

And I am in a position of incredible privilege, that we’re able to live on my husband’s salary.  If we needed two incomes to make rent, like most families do, there would be no way we could afford this.  We would have to give up.

But the insurance company would still have its $2,616.12.

* And I thank my lucky stars our premiums are as low as they are.

** That’s on a week when I don’t lose any hours to doctor’s appointments — and even though our appointments are always at 7:15 or 7:30 a.m., the clinic is far enough away that I lose an hour or more of work each time.  Let us not even speak of all the extra gas we consume driving to and from the clinic.

comfort food

homemade bread with bunny chow, avocado, and cilantro pesto

IUI #2 was this morning.

The sperm numbers were good — 18 million post-wash with 31% motility.  That’s by far the best motility number we’ve ever gotten.  I had 2 follicles each measuring 19 or 19.1 when I was monitored on Friday, so this is the best chance we have ever had.  Let me say that again.  This is the best chance we have ever had.

So why do I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck?  I’m not hopeful.  I’m not joyous.  Instead I find myself perversely in need of comfort, and as always that means heading into the kitchen.*

My wonderful husband made the bread (I don’t bake at all but he is fantastic), and I did the rest.  The bunny chow recipe is one I’ve already shared, though this time we sliced the bread instead of scooping out the insides and filling it up.  The cilantro pesto is just regular old pesto with cilantro instead of basil — just olive oil, parmesan, and the cilantro all mashed together in the food processor.

* And that, dear friends, is why I am no longer and will never again be a size 6.  Or 8.  Or 10.