Friday, April 25, 2008

Sweet Sixteen

Told you I got married this month - on this very day in 1992. Doesn't this picture make you want to simultaneously go "ahhhhhhhh" and barf? Wow - I was so young and dh is just l'enfant. Holy cradle robbers Batman!

Don't ask what we are planning to do to celebrate. When I asked my significant other, he mumbled something and I only caught the words "Lowe's" and "landscaping stuff". Oh wow - a girl could get spoiled . . . lol!

Ooo Oooo - What a Little Ire Can Do

I first heard about this poll over at Here We Go Again last month. I emailed my thoughts which I have included below. This week I received an email from a fact checker at Parenting asking me to verify my identity and my comments - apparantly they want to quote me. Me? Little ol' me? We'll see how much editing they do and hopefully the gist of my comments will still be there. I got a chuckle out of the subject line of the email I received. They are now calling it a "debate" as opposed to a "poll". Umm, well yeah, ask such a loaded question and it is going to stoke a big firestorm of response. I think though, sometimes, maybe that is the point? It will be interesting to see what becomes of this Once-Poll-Now-Debate. The comments I saw in the forum were all pretty much along the same reaction as mine was. I wonder if others in the Stirrup Queen's blog-o-verse have heard from Parenting as well?

"Should a woman be able to use fertility treatments to get pregnant if she already has kids?

Absolutely. Are you kidding me with this question? Should a woman be able to have sex to get pregnant even if she already has kids? I fail to see the difference. To question if a woman should be able to use fertility treatments to expand her family if she needs to utilize fertility treatments to do so, is ludicrous and quite frankly a bit discriminatory. A woman's family size is her business. How she creates that family is her business also. Infertility is an extremely intense emotional and physical experience - it can be devastating and frustrating, not to mention expensive. Placing restrictions on women who are already dealing with an inequality is just more injustice.

Shame on you asking this question - even under the guise of a poll. The only purpose a remark like that serves is to be inflammatory - just like the "polls" over breastfeeding/bottlefeeding; csection/non-surgical; stay at home/working; etc, etc, etc . . ."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Keeping it Real

My hottie status being a distant memory and all - I almost, but ultimately didn't, enter this contest. I like free stuff as well as the rest of the world - but they were looking for "hot moms" and while the latter fits, the former only applies to me if it is over 75 and the a/c is on the fritz or I am suffering from yet another Lupron induced hot flash. The last time I turned a head was about 10 years and 8 pregnancies ago - and I am not certain, but it is entirely possible the attention was more due to the toilet paper trailing off one of my high heeled boots than my rocking the walk. They also wanted to know about the other "hot moms" I know - and well, pretty much they're all like me, just trying to survive whatever stuff life is throwing their way. (You know, that was the first thing I worried about - the effects of Follistim on my girlish figure . . . but I digress.) Sarcasm aside - I was kind of put off by the idea that I somehow was less worthy of a goody bag by virtue of being less "hot". Pffffftttt - I worked hard for this bod, hot or not, and I am eternally weary of being compared to some impossible standard set by the Hollywood version of motherhood.

Same blog - different post. The mind simply reels. I have so many, many things brewing up inside me just dying to be mashed out on the old keyboard, but I will refrain. All I will say is - this ain't a reality show I think I would be able to relate to - the term reality being a misnomer and all in this instance . . . double pfffftttt. Seriously? Seriously.

However, later in my perusal, I did come across this particular post. Now, here is a reality (minus the Royalty part) I could relate to on some level. This sweet lady - 79 (79!) years old remembering the babies she lost. I was a bit rankled at the use of the word "admits" though, as if it were something to be ashamed of or was some misdeed on her part. So many years have passed (she married and started trying to have a baby 48 years ago - longer than I've been alive, though just a little longer) and she can still recall. Reading this adds substance to that which I have always suspected to be truth - for as long as I live, I will never forget my angel babies. Their mark is deep and permanent - an indelible handprint on my heart.

That is my reality.

Just thinking on all the dumb stuff people told me when I lost my babies - what do you say to a Queen?

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Month by Any Other Name . . .

As some of you will note - April is a "busy" month for me. April is the month I was married in. My husband graduated in April just two years later. That same month and year, my father's stepfather passed away. He was the man who took on the role of raising three children not his own, still raising his first son and adding another daughter during that time. Two months after his passing, my first and newborn son bore his name. In another April, I delivered our youngest daughter. I've been due in other Aprils, with babies I was unable to carry that far. April has always been a favorite month for me - though, for all it's joys, April has also had it's share of tears - a premature daughter readmitted for RSV, the loss of my little Easter Lily (the last of my several miscarriages) and also Caelan.

We had just moved to the midwest. Unpacking took me several months - the more important boxes attended to first. It was while unpacking the last box for the bathroom that I came across a cycle's worth of Clomid I hadn't used. Call me pessimistic, I had filled the prescription right before testing the last time I was pregnant. I sat there, bottle in hand. I knew we would try again - we both wanted a large family. Was I ready to start that again though? I didn't even have a doctor yet - despite having lived in our new surroundings almost a year. The expiration date hadn't even passed yet on the Clomid, it would expire the coming April, and it was only February - was this a sign? Just enough time to think about it - but not so much I could put it off for too long. I don't know that I expected it to work. I wasn't actively looking for a doctor at the time - I guess I reasoned I had taken enough Clomid in the past to pretty much know the drill. Most doctors wouldn't see you before 8-10 weeks anyway, I figured I had time. I think perhaps I also thought that one cycle with "old" Clomid wasn't likely to work. I was wrong.

In honesty, I don't remember my state of mind those first several weeks I was pregnant. I recall being a little surprised - I am sure I must have been a bit anxious, given my track record. Since we hadn't told anyone, I am sure that I must have been hesitant to expect I would be pregnant for the duration. I still didn't have a doctor the day I began bleeding. Because it takes me a while to settle in a new place - I really didn't have any friends I felt I could call on for help. I grabbed the list of numbers of people from church and began calling and found - no one. My bleeding was getting heavier and I was cramping quite a bit - definitely feeling more pain than I recalled with my previous miscarriages. My husband was "out in the plant" somewhere and couldn't be located, notwithstanding he didn't work close by. Fearing I would end up losing so much blood I would pass out with two small children alone at home, I put them both in the car and drove to the hospital. I was the only one in the emergency room. Cramps had me doubled over enough I was barely able to sit let alone keep two energetic small children in check. The lady at check in gave me constant looks. I interpreted them to mean she disapproved of our situation - especially when she asked " is there NO ONE who could take the kids?" in a non-friendly tone. The Triage nurse was a little better, seemingly a little more sympathetic. I was still trying to reach someone by phone - my husband or anyone, leaving message after message . . . .

The cavalry arrived all at once - a lady from church that I at least knew a first name for showed up and bundled my kids into her car and told me to not worry about dinner or the kids. My husband arrived about the same time and the doctor came in right behind him. Up to this point I had only had bloodwork done. My hcg came back at just over 8000, so I was certainly pregnant. I had figured I was about 8 weeks - and while 8000 is in the range for that many weeks gestation, it is right on the bottom end of it. Given my bleeding and cramping, I was thinking that 8000 was not enough. I was examined - the pain was surprising - hot and sharp - I let out a yelp. The doctor seemed immediately concerned, saying I should not be in this much pain. I was sent for an u/s. The tech was rude and thoughtless. She asked me twice "Are you sure you are pregnant?" I told her that's what the test said. She said "was that test here or at home?" I asked her "Why? Are you not seeing anything?" with probably a bit more sarcasm than I normally would have used - tit for tat. She snottily replied "the doctor has to be the one to tell you that." and with that, the rest of the scan continued in silence.

By this point, I am pretty certain how the story ends. When the doctor returned to the exam room, I knew - I knew the last page, before he even opened his mouth. I had read and re-read this book enough times to know. He told me all my blood works shows I am very healthy, that I was pregnant and u/s scan and bleeding/cramping are evidence that I am miscarrying. He doesn't think the baby implanted in my uterus though, there is no evidence of an embryo in my tube or on my ovaries and he thinks I have a rare kind of ectopic where the baby implants in the abdominal cavity. Without a vascular enough spot to support a growing pregnancy, the pregnancy "aborts" - his term. I need to find/follow up with a doctor, given a list of "watch for's" and sent home. At home, I know the drill - this isn't the first time, nor will it be the last.

April 1998

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Consider the Lilies

Lily - there isn't much to say. You were my last angel, my briefest encounter. My doctor said perhaps you were just a late bloomer - and for a time I clung to that image. Twice weekly blood draws showed beta hcgs that were somewhat low, rising - but not quite doubling. Close - so close, but not quite there. At first I blamed myself - I should have given my body more time to heal following the heterotopic pregnancy - to be ready for you. I had overstimulated, developed cysts and conceived 3 tiny embryos - 2 intrauterine, one in my right tube and lost them all one bloody horrific night. I think I jumped the gun a bit after the follow up HSG showed free flowing swirling dye and I was given the "all clear" - it had only been 5, almost 6 weeks following surgery - weeks that had been hard, physically and emotionally. We started follistim shots that same day and had conceived - you. I think I knew - I am pretty certain I knew all along the time would be brief. While others said "all is not lost - yet", I found peace. With you I found peace and the quiet acceptance that this was how pregnancy often went for me, and how this one would be. Perhaps too, in some measure, relief that this time would not be as traumatic as the last because you slipped so quietly in and out of our lives. I would have been thrilled to find myself in the full bloom of pregnancy with you, but knew that trying to hold on to you would be like trying to gather an armful of mist. In a fit of Spring and melancholy - I named you "Lily", for my favorite flower - for my Easter gift. There was no other name that seemed right for you - you were always and will be . . .


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world."

Charles Dickens in "David Copperfield"

One day shy of a year to the day from my seventh and last miscarriage we welcomed our youngest daughter into the world. Today she turned 5. The day before she was born in 2003, the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner were found washed up on shore in California in the marina her husband Scott had been "fishing" the day of her disappearance when she was 8 months pregnant. I held my little girl and wept - for a mother who had lost her daughter and grandson; and a mother to be that didn't have a chance to hold her son. The story was played over and over during the days I spent in the hospital following my csection. After seven miscarriages, the fertility drugs, the surgeries and procedures - I could not fathom how anyone would wish to throw away a life the way Conner's and Laci's were. To turn away from so much potential for joy and happiness? Though, even without the struggles to get to where I was that day - I still don't think I would ever understand. Whether due to my experiences or the combination of the incessant spring rain common to Missouri and the sad tale of Laci and Conner being retold, I kept my daughter with me the whole time, unable to bear letting go of her for even a minute. Because of this - I can still feel her weight in my arms and when I think of never giving birth again, the memory that I recall that epitomizes what I will miss the most is of that time in the hospital with her. During those first days, I held her close and kissed her head, whispering in her ears my wishes for a life filled with happiness, even while knowing that she will surely find sorrow along the way as well - and I prayed for her a lifetime of not ever having to know unfulfilled dreams or empty arms.

To help us celebrate a bright spot in a sometimes dreary world - please see my companion blog Desperate Mothering.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Double B Book Brigade

I've been looking for new books to read and so decided to join in with the Stirrup Queens and Sperm Court Jesters current book tour - see here. This month's tour was "The Mistress's Daughter" by AM Homes. This was my first time reading a book by this particular author and for the most part I found I enjoyed the book. Without any further ado, on to the questions!

1. Genealogy -- the quest to learn more about her birth family's history -- forms a large part of the latter half of the book. On page 152, the author notes, "I remind myself that the quest to answer the question Who am I? is not unique to the adoptee." How much do you know about your own family history? Is it something that interests you? How has it influenced your decisions related to infertility treatment (if at all)?

Family History plays a large role in my chosen religion – coincidentally, mentioned in AM Homes book. I am LDS (or more commonly known as Mormon.) We are encouraged to keep a personal history as well as research out our ancestors and find out who we came from and explore that biological link. Both my parents and my husband’s parents have devoted countless hours to researching their family lines and learning about their ancestors. As a result, my children have stories of ancestors who traveled across the plains and helped settle the western states, ancestors who served in wars and even from when they lived in other countries before crossing the ocean and becoming “Americans”. My children have seen many pictures of their ancestors, and can tell me that Uncle N looks an awful lot like their great-great-grandfather G. Young with absolute knowledge of this fact; or that Great-Aunt So&So has curly hair just like their sister.

When I was younger, my parents had us write to our living relatives (grandparents, great-grandparents) as their birthday months drew near and ask them questions about themselves – what kind of cake they liked, a story from their childhood when they were our age, their favorite book, color, etc. On their birthday, we would celebrate – with cake and ice cream and read the response we got to our letters to the rest of the family. As kids we looked forward to this greatly – perhaps for the excuse to have cake and ice cream, but also because it was kind of cool to hear stories about our grandparents when they were kids like us and what life was like for them at our age. When I was older and at college – my father’s mother often called and we would talk for a good hour or more. I enjoyed these calls. My mother’s grandmother sent me letters and even a card on HER birthday during my first semester at college. Those letters from my childhood had helped to forge a connection with my kin who lived thousands of miles away – literally on opposite sides of the country from each other on either coast, with my family smack dab in the middle in Colorado. We didn’t see each other often – but we had our letters and our phone calls. During the hard times in my life – I looked back at some of the amazing women in my family and drew strength from them. I had grown up in direct communication with some of them, or heard of their life experiences and it made me proud and strengthened me knowing who it was I was descended from. When it came to the struggles I faced trying to become a parent - I drew on that strength, knowing that some of them had faced incredibly difficult and horrible things, including losing some of their children as well, in their life and somehow had survived it all. If they could survive, I could too – their blood flowed through my veins, diluted and sometimes indirectly – but I could still claim a small part of them nonetheless. Knowing who you come from can play a large part of knowing who you are. However, I have also found that blood ties don’t necessarily preclude that ability either. My husbands’ family was more prolific in writing down their personal histories than mine. We have more than one autobiography that graces our bookshelves of ancestors belonging to his lineage. I have read them with interest – wanting to know who it was my spouse came from, as well as my children’s legacy from that line as well. While I am merely a usurper into that line through marriage – I have found their stories just as inspiring as those from my own blood ancestors.

2. Our community often speaks of the injustice of the homestudy process. From our parent-in-waiting eyes, is seems incredibly unfair that some can become parents at the drop of a trou, while infertiles to have to go through the judgments by a third party of their innermost selves to prove themselves worthy. Homes' book, however, shows not the parent perspective but the adopted child's. She talks about the effects of coming into her parents' home just months after their son died, about the burden she felt to heal her family. "I grew up doused in grief." She wonders (a few times) why an agency would give her parents an infant so soon after a child had died. Does reading from the adoptee perspective change your opinion on the homestudy process? Who is responsible for making sure hopeful parents are ready to parent a child borne to others? To what degree should hopeful parents be cleared of their grief, and who should determine this? How should it be determined? Should people stuck in grief NOT pass a homestudy? How should the desires of the hopeful parents be balanced with the rights and needs of the child?

I can understand the adoption agencies’ need to screen their prospective adoptive parents. The media is eager in its telling of “adoption gone wrong” tales and no one would want to subject an innocent child to a life of horrors. Society seems to demand that some sort of checks be made – though this does set up a disparity between those who do not and those who do adopt from a family building requirement perspective. Not all adoptive families give way to a miserable life, and not all completely biological families are free from misery either. I know this – biological or adopted - even under the best of circumstances, I could never absolutely guarantee a child a perfect life – free of pain or burden. I could only guarantee my best effort to provide a good life for them in a loving home – and even then, I cannot guarantee I would be at my best 100% of the time. Life is life – things happen. Children die in families that don’t adopt and the siblings, present or future, feel the effects of their parents’ grief. I know my children even as young as they were at the time, felt my grief over my miscarriages – the ones who have come along since then also feel the effects. Perhaps not those of a mother deep in mourning still – but in that loss changes a person. I am not the person I was before. Should I have not had them because I was changed? Should a person not adopt because they’ve been so changed? I guess my response to “why would an agency give a child to a family doused in grief” would be – why not? I am not sure there should be a different set of “rules” when it comes to adoption after the loss of a child. I realize I am seeing this from the angle of a parent – however, those families who lose a child and have another one biologically shortly thereafter are not put through a screening process first. They are allowed the ability to decide for themselves if they feel strong enough to have another child and take the risks. Plus – could a third party really set an specified amount of time sufficient for “grieving” before they would be “in the clear” so to speak? Grieving is a long and highly individualized process – not everyone is going to be at the same point after a set space of time. From personal experience and also that I have observed – losing a child is not something you get over, not quickly, not ever – you just learn how to move forward again. Making the choice to add a child to the mix after the loss of a child is part of moving forward.

3. AM Homes has a way of writing so distinctive, so enigmatic, that I folded myself into a chair and read the entire book in one sitting. She couldn't not know. Neither could I. Her stream of consciousness style writing had me hooked, and I read each page and kept thinking the same thing: What would it mean to me? What would I do? I am not adopted but I have often battled with that great question: Nature versus nurture. As she says on page 7 of the version I have, "I am dealing with the divide between sociology and biology: the chemical necklace of DNA that wraps around the neck sometimes like a beautiful ornament – our birthright, our history – and other times like a choke chain." How do you feel about your own birthright and DNA – is it a history or a choke chain?

I have to admit – this sounds a bit like the title of a book from one of my favorite authors Erma Bombeck, “Family – The Ties that Bind and Gag”! I am the oldest of eight children. In that case – sure – that much biological connection could certainly feel somewhat constricting, even overwhelming. Now – my siblings are some of my best friends. I can’t imagine living without them. Perhaps it sounds rather idealistic – but I grew up in a very large and very loving family, extended also. I had grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins that while they didn’t live close by – we saw them frequently enough or kept in touch with via letters or phone. Some less than others – but my brothers and sisters and I were always thrilled when one or more came to call or received a card or letter from a relative. We think alike in many ways and act alike – so there is an inherited understanding of each other which makes maintaining a relationship easy in many ways. It wasn’t always love and laughs – we had our share of fighting too. I use to tell people that I grew up in a family that was either hugging or hitting. I cannot say with absolute certainty that just by virtue of growing up with each other all those years didn’t play a large part in that “inherited” understanding and that biological connection accounts for it all. We grew up together because we were related, granted. Though, who is to say I would not have felt the same way if I still grew up with them and was not biologically related?

I have two very good friends who are adopted – one of whom I have known all but 6 years of my almost 40. She was adopted as well as two of her three siblings. I was 12 before I knew she was adopted – though she had known ever since she could remember. I was completely floored by this. Never in a million years would I have ever thought she and her adopted siblings were adopted. They acted just like my biological siblings and myself – in every regard. The squabbling, the interaction with each other and their parents, their relationships with one another – no difference. I could not tell the difference between her, her other adopted siblings and the one biological child in the family – no relationship differences in them or their parents. Nor could I see any difference between her family and mine in the sense of what I considered “family”. My other adopted friend has children who act in every regard just like their adopted maternal grandfather – though there is not one drop of related blood between them to account for this similarity. Nature may account for many things – such as the color of your eyes, hair, build and even the smile with the dimple in the left cheek – but I think nurture definitely has a large stake in the results as well. As for whether it is a history or a choke chain – I think that sometimes, the choice is up to us and what we make of that which we have inherited – through biology or circumstance.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (with author participation!)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Blast From the Past

Thought it might be kind of fun to dust off an older post and repost it - you know, one of those posts that you really liked that got kind of forgotten in the old archives. Also - since I seem to be at a bit of a creative lull at the moment, figured I might be able to tap into some old inspiration that way.

I chose this particular post because it represents the beginning - how I was before the miscarriages, before learning how to give myself injections, before the hsgs and the other invasive procedures. When I thought that I had discovered the "trick" to getting pregnant and that was all I needed, annovulation just a hiccup on the way to parenthood. I had no idea what lay ahead and how the next 12+ years of my life would carry so much pain - physical and emotional, frustration and joy. When I was still mostly innocent and not quite so jaded, long before I knew the things I would learn to fear. If you blog, do you have a post that you feel that way about? If so, I would love to hear about it - feel free to post links in the comments section.

So with that, I present to you the first fabulous rerun on this here old blog. Enjoy!

Houston, We Have a Problem
(Originally posted January 22, 2008)

A hummingbird lives an average of 3-4 years. Contrary to popular belief to the tune of 24 hours, the average housefly can live 8 days to 2 months. The average life expectancy of a glass thermometer in my house ran about 3 weeks. Those of you who have ever lived or died by squinting at a tiny glass cylinder and counting hash marks know what I am talking about. One of the first and simplest things I ever did in regards to trying to have a baby (beyond the other easy and first thing you should try of course) was sticking a thermometer in my mouth every morning without fail before rising and recording the results on graph paper. Sometimes this helped me to feel like I was in control of something at least - but most of the time, it really just frustrated me further. My chart not looking the way it should. Oh I had plenty of peaks and valleys - but there comes a point where you should get one big valley and one big peak and that peak needs to at the very least plateau or peak higher for at least a couple weeks. Mine never did that. Mine just meandered all over the graph like some deranged squirrel trying to remember where he stashed all his nuts. A little clomid and some more charting and I finally started to see something a little more like I should expect. The low dose worked for about 2 months and then they bumped me up to a double dose because my temperature chart started looking squirrely again. During this time though, I still wasn't conceiving. The thermometer that supplied me with my only idea of how any given cycle was going or not going, often bore the brunt of my frustrations. They were often flung. One I shook down so hard I smacked it against the sink and it of course shattered. One flew out of my hand while I was shaking it down and landed in the toilet - while it did not break, there was no way I was fishing that one out and hanging onto it for further use. About that time, it felt a fitting analogy for how my baby making plans were going - completely and irrevocably into the proverbial toilet. Several months of clomid and charting and still no positive pregnancy. This led us to look into (cue dramatic music) male factor infertility. Yes, it does exist! I had the problem of not ovulating on my own, though this was remedied fairly easily with quantities of fertility drugs - in the beginning, clomid and eventually, Follistim. My husband was discovered to have what is called a varicocele. Literally a varicose vein in the right spot to elevate body temperature and drive down sperm production. Urologists often suggest surgery to correct this problem. We discovered that by holding off and waiting a while, it gave production more time to increase and in conjunction with my clomid induced ovulation and charting abilities, we timed things almost to the minute and finally got our first ever positive pregnancy test. Most women's doctors will tell you every other night, our urologist said wait 4 days at least. Urologist wins coach of the year! Score one, finally, for the home team.

I never, ever in a million years entertained the thought that I would have trouble beyond conceiving. Either that, or I was too sick throwing up breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between for the first 6 months that I was too distracted to contemplate the idea I should have something to worry about. I did get hospitalized at one point for puking too much. Yes, you can have too much morning sickness, and had to have shots to try and keep me from having too much. Eventually though, things started staying down and shortly after that, I finally delivered - or rather, had surgically removed from my body, our first child. I affectionately called him my nine month eating disorder. Delivery itself was a sadly comedic event - me turning into a quivering mass of wimpy mushy goo, a csection delivery after 3.5 hours of nonproductive pushing, a post-op hospital grade infection, 9 days on a catheter and seeing my baby discharged almost a week before I was. Though, frankly, I was in the mindset of "who cares?" I had my baby - the much longed for, dreamed of and worked for baby.

The thermometer to survive the basal body temperature charting catastrophe found a nice cozy spot in the bathroom cabinet and began accumulating dust.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

We Interupt this Regularly Scheduled Temperature to bring you this Annoying Hot Flash

Might as well be walking on the sun . . .

But, annoying hot flashes aside - which thankfully are not too regular, and the Lupron headache that is getting a little better and being very tired - I am one week - one week! - from my regularly scheduled af and I am not the total psychopath I typically am at this point AND I am not in abject physical agony as per usual pms. The cherry on top will be if af doesn't even show up at all and the Lupron has shut me down completely.

Oh - do I dare dream??!!