Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dentist vs. Gyno: What's Your Vote?

Next week I have to go to the dentist for a routine checkup and I'm so not looking forward to it - spreading my jaws in front of total strangers, having my gums prodded, people seeing my naked uvula. Oh, the indignity!

So I'm taking a survey: Which is the lesser of two evils - going to the dentist or going to the gyno? I'm talking routine dental checkup and cleaning vs. routine "yearly" (*laughs bitterly*) gyno exam. If you had to submit to one or the other right now, which would you choose?

My best friend can attest that I was a hysterical, pathetic wreck before my first gyno exam ("They're going to do what to my WHAT?! And I have to do this every year??" Sheesh. If only.) Now, though, I would choose the gyno and I stand by my choice even though my friend thinks I am a freak. Here's why:
  • I find it easier to "zone out" when someone is commiting acts of medical care on my far end than when they're right in my face
  • I prefer quickies - the gyno visit is much shorter than the dentist visit
  • After enduring two horrible surgeries, upwards of 60 (!) transvaginal ultrasounds so far, IUIs, saline and radioactive dye forced into my uterus, and a whole lot of other Bad Things, a "routine" exam would be nothing short of delightful.

Sidenote: Q is obviously not qualified to vote on the dentist vs. gyno question since he lacks the necessary body parts (lucky!). He has nevertheless indicated that were the choice between a dental exam or watching a gyno exam, he would choose the latter.

So cast your vote.... what's your pick and why?

Monday, April 26, 2010


I had planned on April being a pain-free and doctor-free month. Stress-free would have been nice, too, but that's impossible with hubby's job situation. Nevertheless, I was determined to have a wonderful time just enjoying my husband and kids and not thinking about past traumas and the uncertain future. Time to enjoy now. I got a couple of pain-free weeks of full functionality and it was wonderful! I got my house cleaned, had lots of fun with the kids, and even met up with two other bloggers (Baby on Mind and The Elusive Embryo) for lunch.

But I just can't stay away from those stirrups! I had a"routine" exam and Pap smear as a prerequisite for IVF just in case that works out. When I made the appointment I was shocked to hear myself say "just a routine checkup". I can't remember the last time I used that phrase. The very next day I started having a familiar kind of pain, which I mentioned to the doctor later that week at the exam. The Groping Method revealed nothing and I went on my merry way hoping the pain would just go away. After all, I've been on the pill continuously since the last cycle's failure. That's supposed to help prevent cysts, right? Why else would I take The Pill and throw away even an infinitesimal chance of getting an infant the old-fashioned way?

The pain seemed to subside until the next week when I was driving home from an IVF consult. My defiant ovary misbehaves every time I even dare think about making it produce eggs! So back to the gyno, where I successfully argued my way out of another Groping and instead went straight for the ultrasound. Guess what? Another cyst!! This one is smallish at 3 cm and only causes intermittent pain unlike the last few whoppers that caused constant pain for months. So that's a good thing. Also, since there are no immediate plans for going off the Pill, it's not currently screwing up any TTC efforts. Also good. But the whole purpose of being on The Pill (which is horribly depressing when I want nothing more than a baby) is to prevent cysts.

I fear for my sanity if there's no stopping these suckers from forming. Last year I spent seven months in pain! This is no way to live! Has anyone else out there had so much trouble with cysts, even on the Pill? If only I could grow babies as well as I can grow cysts . . .

I'm so angry that my body is constantly sabotaging all my efforts just enjoy the good things I do have. Grrr...Maybe May can be pain-free and doctor-free.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pregnancy Loss, Habeas Corpus, and Hamster Funerals

It's my one year blogoversary! This blog was intended to document a pregnancy after losing two sons due to cord problems. Sadly, it has instead turned into an infertility blog.

I didn't start blogging until well after the losses. If I had started earlier there would have been a lot of posts about the frustration of dealing with the patronizing, dismissive, and even hostile attitudes of others regarding the loss of my sons.

I've often wondered why people are so unwilling to see babies like mine as people, and their loss as a legitimate reason for grief. I think one reason is what I call "habeas corpus". We're all familiar with the legal meaning; in Latin it means literally "(We command that you) bring forth the body." With pregnancy loss, your loss will most likely be met with little sympathy and your grief not viewed as legitimate unless your child was far enough along AND in good enough condition that you can "bring forth the body" for all to see, either by holding a viewing or having photos to show. Otherwise the loss is so intangible to others that it seems completely unreal.

By the way, while I do have photos, I choose not to "bring forth the body" by showing them to anyone. A person who needs to see them to take the babies' deaths seriously is not the sort of person I want to show them to. I feel it would only satisfy morbid curiosity and is thus disrespectful to my sons.

Since my losses I've noted with extreme annoyance that some bereaved pet owners receive more sympathy and compassion at the death of their dog than I received at the death of my sons. What the . . . ? Has anyone else noticed this?

When my sister lost her beloved hamster Squib (whose amusing obituary is included below) she had dozens of mourners at its funeral. Of course, this particular funeral was just a diversion for college students, but plenty of people do take pet deaths this seriously. In contrast, some of my family members were bitterly opposed to us burying our sons because they weren't deemed worth the trouble and expense.

It's sickening. Animals are being treated more like people all the time, and humans are being treated with less dignity than hamsters.

Squib Mesocricetus Auratus passed away Monday, December 17 of causes incident to age (ie NATURAL causes). Abandoned at a young age, she was adopted from the Meijer orphanage in January 2006. Acutely aware of her fortunate situation after living in such squalor, she vowed to champion the cause of homeless hamsters everywhere. This never happened, but it was nice of her to care.

Squib was a tolerant, docile beast with a keen mind as hamsters go and a strong love of stunning acrobatics. Her beady little black eyes would light up at the sight of her bungee-jumping harness. Other favorite activities included chewing on things, traveling, sleeping, and the occasional escape. Her one regret in life was that Ellen never petted her.

Squib was preceded in death by the predecessor hamster Jerome (thanks Carmen). A viewing will be held Tuesday, December 18 at 7:00, followed by a short but moving funeral. Internment will be on the grounds of Laura's condo.

In lieu of flowers, Squib requested that cash donations be made to help alleviate the exorbitant costs of burial and the poor fuel economy of Jaclyn's Jeep.

A New Clinic. Maybe.

Yesterday was the consult at the new clinic we'd go to if we get to try IVF, which can only happen if we know we'll have insurance going forward. Interview #1 did not result in a job offer for hubby and he hasn't heard back on Interview #2 yet. We're hopeful, but there is nothing else on the horizon if this one's also a "no". Meanwhile, hubby continues to go into a hostile environment at work every day since his boss is STILL not being clear about when he's out of the current job. It's a genuinely bizarre situation. Friends and family keep telling us they've never heard of anything like it. I tell them we specialize in things you've never heard of before.

So anyways, this clinic (which I will refer to as Clinic 2) was a radically different environment than the clinic we went to previously (Clinic 1). Clinic 1 recently relocated to fancy new digs and Clinic 2 appears very old and run-down. Clinic 1 plays comforting Muzak in the waiting room; at Clinic 2 our nervousness was allayed by the soothing strains of "Play that Funky Music White Boy".
However, Clinic 2 does feature some big financial advantages: the cost sharing program is $1000 cheaper than Clinic 1 AND they'll bill our insurance (we still have $4K in coverage), which is expressly forbidden by Clinic 1's program. Result: Total savings of up to $5K. Also Clinic 2 covers ICSI and cryopreservation in the package cost, while Clinic 1 does not. Success rates are similar at both clinics.

Great. Wonderful. And depressingly pointless unless the job drama is resolved expeditiously. For now, we're just trying not to buckle under the stress of it all. At least we know hubby has a job for today (we're well aware that many don't) and we still have our daily bread:

A dear friend recently sent me these matryoshka doll measuring cups. Aren't they cute? They're a fun reminder of the adventures we had together as teachers in Russia. Thanks, Lins!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Moment of Peace

For years now I've felt that I'm stuck in a nightmare and cannot wake up. I'm sure many of you can relate! In all that time I can never remember feeling even a moment of peace, until last week when paradoxically, I escaped the nightmare very briefly in my dreams.

I dreamt I'd had boy/girl twins through IVF and was holding them while hubby and our two kids David and Tania stood close by. I remember thinking how astonishing it was that the tremendous weight of recent years was lifted so completely and I felt perfectly at peace. I didn't think this was possible after everything that's happened. And then I woke up to my nightmare again.

I would do anything....anything! make that peace a reality. I know lots of people think my rainbow-baby-chasing is crazy, for which reason I rarely mention my efforts anymore to anyone in the "real world". You may call me crazy if you wish, but to quote Lance Armstrong, "We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell."

Lest anyone suggest this dream was some kind of vision or premonition, I can assure you that it was not. It was no doubt inspired by photos we recently received of my sister-in-law's new IVF boy/girl twins. Also because if I could pick a perfect ending to our story, boy/girl twins would be my ideal.

The very next night I dreamt that we did IVF and got a reasonable number of eggs considering my lone ovary. They fertilized at the expected rate, but all died before they could be transferred. We were told that all my eggs were rotten and never to try again. Surprisingly this one made me feel no worse than I feel already, which I suppose only goes to show how low I've been for so long.

It's interesting to note that I almost NEVER remember my dreams - in fact maybe only once a year, but this time I vividly remembered two in a row. Too bad they cancel each other out - I could use a vision just about now to tell me what to do. I don't wish to brutalize myself or my family by pursuing further treatment if it will be all for naught (or worse - further loss and trauma), but neither do I wish to be stuck in a nightmare forever if there is any hope of waking up.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Trying to Get Our Ducks in a Row

For the longest time I have been either immersed in infertility treatment or sidelined by months-long cyst-induced bouts of pain. I am quite enjoying not being in either stressful situation at the moment, but only because as I write this I am still hopeful it's not officially The End for us. We're trying to get our ducks in a row.

Next week hubby has two (yes TWO!) interviews for jobs within his company. We just have to hope his current boss doesn't undermine it. This guy, who I may have mentioned is a spectacular jerk, returns from China tomorrow and will presumably tell hubby exactly when he is out of his current job.

Also next week we have a consult at the clinic we'll transfer to if IVF becomes a reality for us. In the meantime, I've set a few goals to help get me through the Wait of Indeterminate Length:

1) Run the equivalent of a marathon in one week's time, with the last 10 miles in one day to beat last summer's record of 9 miles in a day. This will be tough considering I only logged 14 miles this week.

2) Get my house in order. This means cleaning everything and organizing everything. That way it's ready in case we have to move. Or better yet, if we stay I can then be a slacker for awhile with the housekeeping.

3) Prepare home-school materials for my kids for this summer. Yes, I'm a mean mom. But since my kids have the incredible opportunity to be in a Chinese Immersion program at our public school (another reason I don't want to move now!) that means I'm responsible for teaching them English reading, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.

These projects and the bliss of being pain-free almost all the time (yay!) will hopefully keep me sane for the near future, even with this super-high level of stress.

Before signing off I'd like to thank everyone who has followed along on this bumpy ride (lurkers, too!). Thanks for your kind comments, encouragement, for sharing your stories, and for listening when no one else seemed willing to hear. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Here's what I've been working on for Easter: