marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (charlie-smile)
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Better question: is there any method I would NOT be likely to consider? I mean, seriously, unless you have been there you cannot imagine how loud the ticking of the biological clock can get, particularly when it's been going TICK TICK TICK in your miserable head for the better part of a decade.  There are plenty of methods I chose not to pursue, but when it comes to consideration, I considered every goddamn thing.  This one time I was walking into The Container Store and a guy parked his car in front of the door and went in for a half a minute to pick up his stuff that they had waiting right inside for him to load, and he left his baby in the back seat of the car. With the windows of the car open, which is better for the baby's temp but also better for carjackers.  Who knows, maybe he even left the keys in the ignition. My second thought was "that guy's wife would KILL THE HELL out of him if she knew he just did that" but my first thought was "hey, free baby!"  It was a facetious thought but it was a thought.  (What I actually did was eyeball the kid protectively from the parking lot until the dude came back out).

I opted not to pursue IVF because I don't see the point in paying 10,000 dollars to feel like shit about myself because I can't get and/or stay pregnant, when I was already getting to feel like shit about myself for free every 21 days (my former cycle was ridic; I do not miss her, may she rest in peace).  Surrogacy frequently is about using your own genetic material, and, uh, well if you know me you know that's a mixed bag.  Plus I have a zillion nieces and nephews, a couple of whom remind me of me in a good way, so I am sufficiently represented already.

So: adoption, because I like nearly everybody, I enjoy every type of temperament, and I love every baby I meet. And I particularly love the baby I ended up with, who is the world's best baby big boy, even when he is throwing a choo-choo at my head.

me and charlie 5

In closing, here's a fist-bump of solidarity and/or a hug, as appropriate, to any of you who are riding or have ridden the fertility rollercoaster...it's definitely one of the barfiest rides at the carnival.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (collage1)
I was cleaning out the linen closet recently and discovered one of the weirder artifacts of our excellent infertility adventure:  the Maybe Mom ovulation detector.  This is a little microscope that you use to look at a dried sample of your saliva, to see if there are fernlike patterns in it that indicate ovulation. Seriously.  No, really! It was about 40 bucks and I could never see a darn difference in my dried saliva, but I suspect the combination of my impatience (spit takes an amazingly long time to dry, when you're watching it) and the general hilarity of the concept made me not a great test subject.  Also, if you're already ovulating, you have missed your optimum sperm-depositing window anyway, since it's better to have the sperm hanging out up in your fallopian tubes waiting for the egg to arrive. Or so I am told.  

Anyway we eventually moved along to the much more expensive ($149), much more useful Clearblue Fertility Monitor, which uses a daily pee test to chart your levels of Lutenizing Hormone, and thereby detect the LH spike that immediately precedes ovulation.  Once the spike is detected, you're supposed to have sex within 12 hours; within 6, preferably.  Because it was a little computer that was arbitrarily telling us to have sex, we named it Landru and would say "festival, festival!" to announce a LH spike detection.  You gotta take your fun where you can find it.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (collage1)
I got a big junk-mailer card today, addressed specifically to me, not to "resident or whoever." 

"what would we do? everything would change. what if I got pregnant again? will I ever stop worrying?' [apparently worrying about pregnancy precludes capitalizing one's sentence-starters].  "Free yourself from the worries of unplanned pregnancy." "When your family is complete, insist on Essure."

Essure is apparently a semi-surgical procedure that blocks your fallopian tubes instead of whatever a tubal ligation does to them (presumably the latter involves a ligature, or a light, or a litigant, or somesuch).  Thanks, jackasses, my tubes are already blocked! FOR FREE. Please to not be sending me big cards to remind me.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
1. Ashok Banker's Prince of Ayodhya.  I haven't read any Banker yet...am very excited to get started. I also haven't read The Ramayana so I expect to (1) not understand a lot of this book or (2) eat it up and be spoiled for reading the proper Ramayana.

2. Baby shower invite for infertile friend.  "A shower for mother-to-be _____________, and her surrogate, _________."  Very glad they're doing it openly like this...and very glad they have babies safely on the way after a looong time trying one thing and another.  I knew about the pregnancy, but it was still early and high-risk when mom-to-be and I last talked.  Hooray!  I will have to think of a gift to bring her surrogate...skin care products are a good default, I guess a lousy idea for pregnant women, apparently. LOL, I know not of these pregnancy things. (potentially also a problematic idea for non-pregnant people too...) Further ETA: I don't know what the law in IL is about surrogacy and compensation, actually. Will have to look that up. With adoption you can't compensate the birth parents in any way, including gifts, until after relinquishment. But surrogacy is a whole different dealio.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (mama)
I am discovering that people who take non-standard routes to become parents fall into two groups, when it comes to solidarity.

1. You are becoming, or have become, a parent by some means other than a fertile, heterosexual, & monogamous marriage? Hey, me too; we are alike. Nice to know there are other families like mine.

2. I am becoming, or have become, a parent by a means that, while not simple, is on the right & "normal" side of an invisible line. You are a crazy freak who is doing something unnatural and creepy.

*sigh*
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Charlie)
So, we have at last managed to make some necessary decisions about a second child.

1. We will not adopt another child in the next year; probably not in the next two
2. We will not adopt another newborn

Both of these are because we are still exhausted from this past year of parenting Charlie and don't think we have the energy/time to give the same to another baby while still giving Charlie everything he needs, right now anyway.   Admittedly, he was a more-than-usually difficult baby in many ways, with chronic ear infections, severe eczema, reactive airway, and allergies to entire botanical families of foods.  A second baby might be easier...but might not be.  Charlie's "official" special needs have really not been a problem; all the other stuff is just normal baby stuff, but turned up to 11.

However, we do want another child, despite all of the logic mice in our heads whispering sensible things to us, so...

3. We will remain in the China program for the time being.

Our dossier has been logged in since December of 06 and we are approved to adopt a girl up to 14 months old.  At current rates of placement, we can expect a referral in 2012 or 2013.  In order to actually complete that adoption, we'll need to do a new home study and immigration/visa process starting about 18 months before a referral is expected.

4. Over the course of the next two years, we'll either pay down our debts and make certain noticeable improvements in our health, particularly mine & Charlie's, or we won't.
5. If we improve the health & the debt, we'll go ahead with the new home study and adopt a second child; most likely a toddler girl from China, but possibly an infant or toddler here in the US (if the China program closes, for instance, or if it becomes too expensive for us).
6. If we do not make improvement to the health & the debt, or if we decide that we just don't have the energy, or if we decide that Charlie needs an exclusive lock on us as parents, or if this feeling of wanting a larger family wears off, we will not adopt another child, and that will be okay.

In support of these decisions, we have asked our social worker to close out our foster-parent license (which allows us to adopt domestically).  And after setting aside all of Charlie's baby clothes that I want to save out of sentiment, and the few that are unisex and sized for a toddler, I have packed up the rest and sent them off to a tribe member who is expecting a baby boy.  For some reason, having posession of Charlie's baby clothes, knowing there won't be another newborn here to use them, was filling me with a terrible sorrow--like his things became the focus of my grief over my infertility.  I'm very grateful to know that they will be enjoyed by someone I care about, and going through them one last time and packing them up became a joy for me instead of a burden.  (I tend to cast my emotions into objects rather a lot, yes.)

So now there is a clear path, and in a couple of years when it branches, those branches will be clear, too, and both outcomes will be ones I can be happy with.   I can't express how much of a relief that is.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (collage1)

 Via [profile] shweta_narayan , and actually a bit too late for Invisible Illness week, but I'll go ahead and post anyway.  I actually have more than one invisible illness (food allergies, asthma, endometriosis) but I'm just filling this out for the endo, since that info may be useful and since it's had the largest effect on my life, because it is the cause of my infertility.

 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

1. The illness I live with is: Endometriosis. This is a condition in which endometrial tissue builds up outside of the uterus. During periods it sheds just like regular tissue, but has nowhere to go so continues to implant in the abdomen. In addition to extreme pain during menstruation, it can cause infertility (because of blocking tubes, among other issues), fatigue, hormone imbalances (because the implants create aromatase), and autoimmune problems (because of the immune system trying to break down this tissue).  I have experienced all of those problems.  It gets worse as time goes on.  Treatments include laproscopic surgery to zap the implants (works well, apparently, but doesn't stop them from coming back), having a baby as early as possible to reset the whole system, surgical menopause (i.e. hysterectomy), birth control hormones of various sorts, hormonally-induced menopause (lupron), and various pain-management protocols (which don't do anything about the underlying issue).

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:  Diagnosed with "probable endometriosis" around...1998 I guess.  Formal diagnosis requires surgery which I didn't want to do, since I'm eligible for whatever treatment I want with just the "probable" diagnosis.

3. But I had symptoms since: my first period, age 13. 

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:  Not having babies.

5. Most people assume:  that my cramps are no worse than their or their female friends' cramps.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Mornings aren't bad, now that I'm on various treatments.  When I was still cycling, Mornings when I had my period were ok as long as I'd gotten up every 4 hours during the night to take pain medicine.  Otherwise there could be an hour or so of very bad pain while waiting for the drugs to kick in.

7. My favorite medical TV show is:  Mystery diagnosis

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:
I love many gadgets, but none of them help with cramps or endo.  I am one of those people whose cramps are made worse by heat, alas, so no heating pad for me.

9. The hardest part about nights are:
Nights aren't bad either, now that I'm on treatment. And when I was still cycling, they were ok because sleeping & lying down helped with the pain.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) Let's see - zantac, singulair, benadryl or zyrtec depending on circumstances, usually also 2 small vitamin c pills and an acidophilus tablet.  All of that is because of my allergies, but I'm including them here because the treatment I'm on for endo makes my allergies worse.  Every 3 months I get a depo-provera shot for the endo, which has helped tremendously.  Because of this shot's tendency to nibble on one's bones I need to be taking calcium and vitamin d daily, but I haven't started--I can't swallow multivitamins or any very large pills reliably because esophageal problems (food-allergy-related), so I need to get some small ones of these soon, before I start losing bone density.   Before the depo-provera I would take 12-14 advil in a day during my period, as well as a flexiril or half a flexiril.  I've also tried vicodin which didn't help the pain much but made me not mind it particularly.  Depo-provera is better, for me anyway, even with the increase in allergic problems.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I:  Nah. I think a lot of alternative treatments for menstrual cramps may work--I thought for a bit about trying accupuncture--but they seem geared to more normal-type cramps, and they don't stop the build-up of endometrial tissue.  Endometriosis is a progressive disease, so just addressing the pain isn't enough, IMHO.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:  I wouldn't choose either, but if I had a choice to make, visibility wouldn't enter into it.  Not-very-relevant note:  like a lot of illnesses, it's not 100% invisible.  The fatigue contributes to my high body weight; the treatment I'm on gives me zits, and so forth.  Nobody could diagnose me by looking at me, but I can see the effects.
 

13. Regarding working and career:  I have an excellent career, but in the past couple of years I've had to make use of FMLA to make sure my job was protected when I missed work above and beyond my alloted time off. Companies of a certain size have to give you unpaid time for chronic recurring illness, if you document everything properly and get approval.  Part of why I decided to go on depo-provera is that there is a large project going on at work, and in this economy I'd rather not be the person who keeps missing work because of female trouble. But also parenting a toddler is work, and the endo was interfering.

14. People would be surprised to know: That despite being crazily in love with my son, I am still filled with grief about the other children I tried to have, and filled with rage and angst about being unable to just add to my family when I feel like it.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:  Living my whole teen and adult life with the deeply ingrained notion that being female is a source of ever-increasing pain, and that my body hates itself. 

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:  succeed in a demanding career

17. The commercials about my illness: There are no commercials for endo, except vague references to cramps in the YAZ commercials.  

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:  Nothing.  Getting diagnosed has, for all of my illnesses, been a godsend because it's the doorway to treatment.  The diagnosis doesn't take anything away from me that wasn't already gone.

19. It was really hard to have to give up:  Trying to get pregnant. In order to treat the endo, I have to be on a contraceptive. After 4 years of trying it was clear it wasn't going to work, but it was hard to totally let go of that. 

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:  Adopting babies :)

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:  I have never felt normal.  If anything, the way I feel now, having  no periods at all, is abnormal, and I would totally hate to go back to what was normal for me.

22. My illness has taught me:  That illness sucks?  That natural living is not good living, for me, and that accepting a certail level of medical maintenance is what allows me to feel good and live relatively care-free. Sadly, also, that preserving fertility and improving quality of life are sometimes at odds.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Oh, yeah, I had a really hard time getting pregnant, too, it took, like, months. [My sympathies are totally with anyone who isn't pregnant YET, but when someone already has a baby, they do not get to commisserate with my total lifelong infertility, goddamnit]

24. But I love it when people:  Tell me about the cool drugs they take for their conditions.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:  " http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch-RcZ3bLh0" - That's Life, the Sinatra version.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:  Get on some kind of treatment right away - don't let it keep progressing, because the longer you ignore it, the more it will take away your choices.  Of course, typically people have this for years and don't get diagnosed until it's well advanced; really what I'd say to someone who just thought they might have it is to discuss it with your doc and see what they say.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: That ignoring it really doesn't make it go away.  The cyclical nature of Endo and the brain's way of forgetting pain makes it easy to think it's ok for 3 weeks, and then it hits you again.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:  I can't count the number of nice things my husband has done in 13 years of living with me. He is a nurturing soul.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:  my friends are being brave and telling their secrets, so I think I should do the same, in case it helps someone.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:  embarrassed. One of the hardest things about living with & talking about my illness is that it involves menstruation, which I have deeply ingrained shame about, as with all things female and physical.

 Thank you for reading this. Feel free to ask about anything I haven't covered.

 


marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (collage1)
Girl Talk behind the cut )

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (ShutEye)
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Charlie)
I've never been crushed by the pain of being infertile...it's been more of an ache. I have a lot of nieces and nephews, so my genetic gifts are sufficiently represented in the next generation without my own contribution. And my relationship with my body is one of mutual disdain, most of the time, so I'm mostly ok with missing out on the pregnancy/childbirth thing, although I'm a little sad about it.

Being childless has been painful, but that, too, is something that hits some people harder than it hit me. I have so many happy childfree friends that I've been able to consciously move past the default raised-catholic idea of "life without children is meainingless." For myself, I had to do some serious thinking about what would give my life meaning if I never had kids. And I've spent the past couple of years seriously focusing on those ambitions, and I plan to go on that way now that I'm a mom, time allowing. He's going to grow up and move away eventually, after all, and people who live vicariously through their kids are a real pain to have as parents.

Which isn't to say I haven't yearned to be a mom. I have and have and have, and the journey to get here has sucked a lot. But all of the pain of that journey is melting away now; I really don't care about the pieces I've missed out on, because everything that matters to me is here with me now. [I almost said "in my arms," good lord, mommy hormones or something are inspiring me to write sweet, cloying prose! Thank god my brain said "no he's not, you can't type with a baby in your arms, you moron, and who do you think you are, anyway, L.M. Montgomery?"]

The pain of endometriosis, on the other hand, does NOT melt away. Normally I take flexiril for my godawful, debilitating cramps, but it makes me too sleepy to care for a baby, so today I'm just taking huge amounts of advil and thanking the gods that my new baby is snoozy and that his daddy has mostly figured out how to keep him dry during diaper changes so I don't have to do them all. Ohhh I miss my couch. With luck we can go home tomorrow.

Cycle stuff

Jun. 7th, 2008 11:10 pm
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
I spent a year taking the mini-pill to help with my cramps. It helped a tiny bit, but it had a lot of bad side effects, and it shortened my cycle from 4 weeks to 3. Which means that the total cumulative cramps, viewed on an annual basis, increased by some number I won't bother to calculate.

When I went off the minipill, my cycle stayed at 3 weeks, DAMNIT. Not helpful. Flexiril has helped with the pain, but sheesh. So I should be delighted that this month* it's stretched a bit, to 24 days instead of 21. Maybe I'm creeping back toward my natural 27 days. Yay!

Except. What it really means is that I just spent 3 days hoping I might possibly be pregnant, even though I knew perfectly well I wasn't...and now I know for sure. We stopped trying years ago, and I mostly stopped thinking about it, except at times like these when Mother Nature decides it's time to fuck with me some more. And I couldn't talk to my husband about it while I waited, because he gets his hopes up twice as high as I do, and crashes twice as hard, so I did the kind thing and spared him.

Trying to focus on the positive, as usual: woo! 24 days! And it's the weekend, so I won't miss work this time. Woo!

*not really a month, obviously, but I still think of it that way
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
I've been sick with some kind of food-poisony thing for a couple of days. In fact I was so sick that yesterday I just slept with the cat on top of me (when I wasn't, ahem, more directly engaging with the illness), and today I just lay on the couch watching realtime TV, since the tivo'd stuff is usually watched with my husband, and I didn't have the brain power to absorb anything like "John Adams" anyway.

Discovery Health is one of my favorite channels - and I see they have a show called The Baby Lab. As an infertile chick, I'm interested in ye olde reproductive technology (although I do not partake, being on the adoption track myself). So I look at the info thingy for the show and it says "an in vitro fertilization is unsuccessful, a couple suffers from miscarriage, a failed vasectomy reversal." Um, whee? Who writes these things?

Of course I ended up watching most of the damn thing anyway. End tally: 3 happy couples with babies, 2 devastated couples whose crushing disappointments were recorded on camera for all to see. HOWL.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
[archive transplanted from my old blog]

Ortho-Tricyclin is an oral contraceptive pill that comes in four colors.  Palest blue for the first week, a little darker for the second week, true blue for the third. Each week it's a little bit stronger, until the end of the cycle.  The fourth week's pills are an unpleasant olive green and contain no active ingredients.  If I make it that far I'll throw the green ones away, once a day, rather than taking them.  I'm ok taking hormones that make me what can only be described as "sick," but I won't subject my system to the possible bad things found in an inert green tablet.  Striking a blow for natural living!

I'm not taking the pill because I don't want a baby.  I desperately want a baby.  But my body isn't playing along, even a little bit, so my route to parenthood will be adoption.  Meanwhile the pill should eliminate the cramps that routinely knock four potentially useful days clear out of my monthly calendar.  The alternative is to take Lupron for 6 months, to duplicate the always-popular menopause experience, and then go back off it, in the slim hopes that I'll have a year or so of reduced pain and improved fertility once my cycles come back online.  Then I can get back to the soul-crushing grind of trying to conceive, and hope I don't lose the theoretical pregnancy to one of the other risk factors I'm rocking.  Ducky.

So, I'm taking a different path to motherhood.  And, having decided that, I'm finally free to take the pill to treat my cramps.  I'm in the third week.  Last week I was so queasy I missed a day of work.  I switched to taking it with dinner instead of in the morning.  I figure, if it's going to make me sick for 8 or 12 hours after I take it, I can just make sure I'm sleeping when that happens.  So far, that seems to help.  It's made my allergies a little stronger -- nothing dramatic, just enough that I sneeze a lot and wake up with a headache most mornings.  Supposedly, it gets better after the first month.  Even if it doesn't, I'm willing to be a little unwell for most of the month, if it means I can skip the killer cramps.  It's got to be healthier than taking Vicodin and Advil at the same damn time, which is what I'd been resorting to the past couple of months.

A friend of mine was on the pill for a while but switched to Depo. 

me: Is it true it can kill your sex drive?

friend: YES.  in fact, that is the true contraceptive effect of the pill.  There's probably not really any hormones in there or anything.

me: But I also heard that exercising can help you get it back...

friend: See, that wouldn't work for me because I want to exercise even less than I want to have sex!

We'll see how it goes.

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