Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Beginning

Today is day one.

Well, actually, it's technically day 5, but this is thw official day one of the new journey in my book.

Our appointment with our fertility specialist last month went fairly well. I had to have an ultrasound which was fantastically uncomfortable and unsuccessful (Dr. Maybebaby coulnd't locate my ovary... whaaa?), and it was more or less sitting in his office with my husband discussing the possibilities and that severely uncomfortable 10 minutes of probing. We discussed all the options, went over medical records again, and decided that the best step would be to start with a medication that will hopefully stimulate my remaining ovary to properly ovulate. This drug is called Clomifene, more popularly known as Clomid. The way it's supposed to work is that I take the Clomid on days 5 through 9 of my menstrual cycle, and around day 13 or 14 I start using a home ovulation predictor kit to see if it worked and if I am ovulating. Today is that day 5, which I've been waiting for for 3 weeks (which has seemed like FOREVER). I really have a good feeling about this drug working for us, but I'm trying very hard not to let my hopes and imagination get out of control. Clomid is what worked for my mother when she was trying to get pregnant with me, and aside from the fact that I have one less ovary than she did, our fertility struggles have so far been identical. It's hard not to get my hopes up with that knowledge. We will try the Clomid every month for 4 months (hopefully it won't take that many months but again... tryin' to keep myself in check), and if by the end of four months it's still not working, we'll have to go to the next step. Dr. Maybebaby suggested the next step would be a round of Clomid at a higher dosage combined with IUI (intrauterine insemination). I think this is silly, as we have no problem with getting the sperm where it needs to go... hence, I think the next step would be gonadotropin injections. They are stronger than the Clomid, and obviously not just a pill. And if that doesn't work, we go to IVF. I'm trying not to panic myself by thinking of every step we'll have to take if this doesn't work. My husband is the calm and logical one; I'm the emotional basket-case worrier. I don't even say my worries aloud anymore, but he is strangely/acutely aware of when I am thinking of them. I hear the words, "one step at a time, baby" out of him more than I care to, but certainly not more than I need to. Regardless of the outcome of all of this craziness, I will never be able to forget or take for granted how much of a rock he has been. He is unfailingly positive and relaxed and so freakin'grounded, and I have no idea how a nutjob like myself landed the perfect balance of a man to quell my crazy. As adorably excited as he is at the prospect of us possibly starting our family, he's is a pro at cautious optimism and making sure that I don't get too ahead of myself. I love him so much for that.

So today we start the Clomid, and really start the journey. On the 22nd or so, I'll start testing for ovulation and if that's a go, we get to have a, uh, marathon. Ahem. ;)

Wish us luck!! We'll need it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Changes

I don't know why it's only every six months or so that I feel compelled to blog; I always tell myself to do it more often and I really do mean to, but then I just don't get around to it. I'm hoping that as this new journey begins, I am better able to sit down and take a few minutes to document things as they happen, rather than doing huge update posts twice a year.

Much has changed since my last real post. In February (on Valentine's Day, in fact), we learned that the condo we had been renting for over two and a half years had gone into foreclosure and that we had 30 days to move. That's all the notice we had. Well, having filed for bankruptcy last September and having a young pitbull didn't help us in our rushed quest to find a new place to live, and hence we wound up living with my mother. It was very frightening and uncomfortable to be an independent married couple living back at home with a parent after living on your own for so long. And actually, the problem was never my mom; she was awesome. But her brother happens to live with her as well, and let's just say that I am not terribly fond of the man. Hubby and I had decided we would try to live there for at least 6 months to work on saving for a down payment on a house so we would never have to go through this again. Scott was hoping for a year; I told him that was a BIG maybe. My mom's house is quite lovely and spacious and on a big piece of land, but when you put 4 adults, 4 dogs, 3 cats, 3 chickens and a large tortoise on one piece of property, things start to feel cramped awfully quick. We had our bed, our dresser, our desk and our computers all crammed into my old bedroom and that was all the space we had, aside from my old bathroom which was for our exclusive use. Our bedroom was so tight you had to turn sideways and shimmy to get around the bed and dresser over to the desk. All the rest of our possessions --nearly everything we've acquired in our 7 years together-- sat cold and untouched in storage. After 5 months of feeling confined to our bedroom (because my uncle was always somewhere in the house being awkward and creepy, so I never wanted to go downstairs), I finally told my husband that I had had enough. I knew he wanted to stay longer and I totally understood his reasoning because I had it too. Rent has hugely increased, and moving would make saving anything damned near impossible. But I told him that if he wanted to keep his wife sane, we needed to start looking for a place to move.

After agreeing with me on a Friday night, I found a place on craigslist the next morning and asked if he wanted to go look at it. We loved it immediately, and the owner as well. She's real funky and free-spirited, and conveniently very handy. We told her straight up when we met her to see that house that we had filed for bankruptcy and that we had a pitbull, but that if she was willing to overlook those things (and actually MEET our awesome dog) that we would be awesome tenants, because we loved the house so much. She clearly appreciated our honesty, but she said she had a lot of other interest in the house and she wouldn't be making a decision until the middle of the week. We filled out an application that night anyway, despite our reservations about the cost (same price for a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom old 1930's house as we paid for our brand new 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bathroom brand new condo) because we didn't want to pass up the opportunity just in case. We expected nothing, seeing as she had many more qualified applicants and seeing as on the surface, we did not look like great tenants. To my intense surprise, she called the very next morning and said she wanted us to be her tenants. Apparently she really appreciated our honesty, but most importantly she appreciated that we love the house so much. It's old and quirky and has so much funk, and it's so close to everything. She knew we would love her house and take care of it. Long story short (well, a little), we moved in less than a week later. She met Daisy and adored her and had no problem with her whatsoever. We're broke, but living in such a tight situation really put things into perspective for both of us, and we are just so happy to have our own beautiful space again that we don't care that money is tight. We will survive; we always do. And in this case, we know how to survive and be happy and grateful for what we have, and grateful for a kind person believing that people who have made mistakes in the past are not bad people.

Another perk to being back on our own again is that we can re-focus ourselves on goals we had before the foreclosure fiasco. We had been talking to a fertility specialist in the end of last year/beginning of this year; we had some tests done and a couple of phone consultations, and he advised us to give it a shot naturally for a few more months. Of course, once we had to move in with my mom, things got put on hold because let's face it... who wants to get pregnant while living with their mother?? Not me! This was another reason I wanted to get out... having to put that dream of a family on hold was devastating; I tried not to think about it but found it difficult to cope with. But now that we're on our own again and have settled down (we've been here about a month now), we decided last night to pick up where we left off. This morning I called the fertility center to set up our first face-to-face appointment and to set up our treatment plan, since we've already done all the necessary testing and discussed it via telephone. We have an appointment next Thursday morning; and I'm excited and terrified. Excited for obvious reasons: this doctor is one of the top fertility specialists in the country, and he is willing to help us despite my weight, unlike most other doctors I have talked to. He understands that while there is greater risk for me and a baby during my pregnancy, that I am willing to take that risk and take the best possible care of myself to provide the best outcome possible. He understands that just because I'm fat, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to have a family if we want to. Terrified because money is already tight, and fertility treatment is not cheap. Our first appointment alone is $350. Things will be tight but we are willing to do whatever necessary to have the family we've been dreaming of. The worry is strong, but the excitement and hope is overshadowing it enough that I can't force myself to entirely care. It's been so long since I have felt hope for this particular issue that I can't help but want to sing. Even if things don't work, at least Dr. Herbert is giving us the chance to try.

The past 6 months have been a fairly dark period for us, but now that we are in a beautiful house of our own again and hopefully at the beginning of our journey to parenthood, things feel so much brighter. I've never felt so blessed and hopeful and excited in my life.

Updates to come next week (for sure) after our first appointment!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Silver Lining of Loss

This week I was given an assignment in my English class in which I was to write a narrative essay about an important event from my childhood that I did not understand at the time, but that I have come to understand as I have grown. Though I have written about it numerous times, I chose to write about my father’s death. However, I also wrote about my father-in-law’s death, how both of them were connected for me, and how each event changed me. As far as I can remember, this is the most detailed and emotional account I have written of each of their deaths and by far the hardest to not only write, but to continuously re-read, revise, and re-write. I wanted to share because so many people have experienced parental bereavement and so rarely allow themselves to go back and think about it, feel it and learn from it. I have finally found a place of acceptance and allowed myself to learn what I subsequently became because of each of these awful experiences.


I don’t have to turn this in until tomorrow, so I am hoping for some constructive criticism from those who were not there for a personal account, who can feel it as I felt it just by reading the story. Regardless of criticism, I hope that for these few moments, you can see the world accurately through my eyes as my world crumbled twice over.

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The Silver Lining of Loss

I woke unexpectedly early. I smiled sleepily at the familiar touch that was the culprit of my waking until I heard a pained sigh and a hitched sob. Startled, I opened my eyes to the silhouette of someone I knew heart and soul but, even in shadow, I no longer recognized. Her shoulders were hunched, her face drawn and haggard, as though she had braved the fieriest depths of Hell to get to this seemingly quaint moment of stroking the bridge of my nose so early in the morning. I struggled to focus as my mind registered and matched this utterly broken stranger in front of me to the person I had known and loved for my entire life. Before I could say a word and without any prelude, my mother choked out the words that would forever change everything about who I was and who I would ultimately become, even though I did not truly know it at the time: “Honey, daddy died last night.”

When I was nine years old, summertime was glorious. For me, it meant endless days of being in the water as much as I could stand; every day I would gleefully hop onto my bicycle and ride to the community pool, where I would spend no less than eight hours swimming myself into exhaustion. My mother would shake her head and smile when I would come home, brushing my tangled green-tinged hair out of my eyes while pressing her cool hands to my cheeks, my forehead, and behind my ears in search of any signs of a fever. One such evening upon arriving home from the pool for the umpteenth time that summer, my mother told me we were going to my grandmother’s. I was torn between elation and disappointment; I loved going to visit my grandma, but there was no pool near her house. She and I took to the car the next day alone while my dad begrudgingly stayed behind for work. Bound for the hot, flat expanse of the Sacramento valley, she chattered along the way and rubbed her finger over the bridge of my nose whenever I would doze off. I would smile and open my eyes to her warm grin and playful scolding of preferring to have a conscious daughter to discuss “Big Ten-Oh” birthday plans with.

A few days later while sitting in my grandma’s living room watching a movie and humming along, the phone rang shrilly, bringing with it a curious sense of unease. I glanced at my grandma who was at the counter forming cookie dough into balls, so I got up from the couch and ran to the phone to answer it. I lifted the old ivory handset off of the wall, politely asked, “Hello?” and in return heard my dad’s voice for what turned out to be the very last time.

“Hey Sweet Bug, I need to talk to your momma. Can you get her for me?”

“Hi dad! How are you? When are you coming to Grandma’s?”

“Baby, I really need to talk to your mom. Get her for me now, please.”

I hesitated. My dad had never been short with me on the phone, especially when we had been apart for a few days. But I did as I was told.

“’Kay daddy, just a ‘sec.”

I covered the mouthpiece with my palm and called for my mom, who had been napping in her old bedroom. She emerged sleepy-eyed and groggy; I handed her the phone and she smiled, kissed me on the head and playfully poked my nose. I tried to return her smile, but the strange unease in the pit of my stomach had increased tenfold upon hearing his voice. He sounded awful; exhausted, hoarse, and not himself. I slowly backed away until I bumped into the kitchen counter, and watched my mother’s face as it progressively fell from sleepy contentment to confusion, to alarmed concern, and finally plummeted into flat-out panic before she glanced at me. Upon seeing the worried questioning in my eyes, she pulled herself together, quickly mumbled something to my dad and hung up the phone. At this point my grandma had also turned to face my mom, her expression a mask of concern and curiosity that mirrored my own. My mother took a deep breath and quickly blurted out, “Daddy is really sick. I’m going to go home for a few days to take care of him, but I’ll be back soon.” Anxiety colored her tone as she held my grandmother’s gaze, her eyes much like my own as each daughter looked desperately to her mother for reassurance. Only moments later, she pulled me into a frighteningly intense hug, then ran out the door and drove away. I stood in the doorway, staring after the car that had already disappeared from my sight with confusion and fear gnawing at my insides. My grandma came up behind me, wrapped her arms around my shoulders, and led me into the living room to talk. That night I slept restlessly, dreaming of dark things; images I couldn’t define but which nonetheless haunted me and kept me in quiet, thoughtful concern for the remainder of the week until the very moment five days later that I awoke to the shattered stranger that was my mother.

Eleven years down the road I found myself with my knees buckling, collapsing to the floor as agony tore through my entire being. Not two minutes prior, I received the phone call that had violently ripped me back into the memory of that morning with my mother so many years ago, turning the fragile world I had built upside down and shaking me to my core. My father-in-law had died. My husband was already at the scene; he knew. My brother-in-law was the one to break the news to me, calling us with condolences, unaware that I did not yet know. As the words reached me and my world stopped spinning, I could do nothing but clutch my chest as if desperately trying to keep myself from imploding. I knew I should have called my husband first, but I couldn’t. I fumbled over the buttons to dial my mother, trying desperately to see the blurry numbers through the torrent of tears. I screamed to her, panic and heartbreak ringing clearly in my cries. She was quiet for a moment, then told me to do what I thought –what I then knew– I could not: to take a moment and allow myself fall apart, but to then pull myself together and go to my husband.

She was asking me to do the unbearable: permit my heart to shatter, and only moments later piece all of the shards together again and draw on the strength of my re-forged heart to pass that strength to my husband. Impossible, I thought. But I could not shake an image out of my mind, one that simultaneously petrified me and strengthened my resolve: the memory of the way my mother looked the morning she told me of my father’s death, only with my husband in her place. In that instant I knew I had to go, knew I had to get to my husband as quickly as possible to try to catch as many pieces of him as I could before they all disappeared in the raging black hole left behind by the implosion and destruction of his brightest star. I found him at his father’s house on the porch, a perfect replica of the image I had feared. I ran to him and pulled him into my arms, trying desperately to hold the man I loved together as he crumbled. We cried; a muted stream of constant tears from me, an endless chain of hitched and broken sobs from him. I held him for what felt like hours, trying to wrap my mind around how this could happen to both of us and how we would ever survive life without him. It was as if my father had died all over again, but this time I was fully grown up and knew how to truly feel every searing, agonizing facet of the pain.

I was very young when my own father died. I never cried until weeks afterward, and even then it felt as if I cried because I was expected to. I missed my father terribly and I was heartbroken, but I did not understand. I knew logically that his death meant that he was never coming back; that I would never see him again. What I did not understand is how the death of a parent wholly alters the shape and being of a child and his or her future self. I did not understand that to the outside world, I would forever be that child who lost her father too young and should be pitied, or that I would forever be wary of any kind of relationship with men, terrified so much by the mere possibility of loving and losing them that I would subconsciously push every one of them away. I would be forever broken, and forced to build a fa├žade that gave an air of acceptance and even slight indifference “because I was so young,” when it happened, though the truth lay in the opposite. When he died, I was too young to experience the grief as I needed to. I shut down, and the part of me that needed to process all those emotions in order to move on and grow hid quietly in a corner, biding her time.

When my father-in-law died, that hidden part of me burst from her shadowy forgotten corner, glowing in a passionate and terrible rage born from fear and despair. She brought forth with her every feeling I had spent the last 11 years since my own father’s death unconsciously subduing, and I thought I would die from the sheer concussive force of her escape. I have spent the years since my father-in-law’s death trying to put out the ancient fires of loss and anguish that she stoked, but over time I learned that those fires can never be extinguished. They are always there, smoldering endlessly like hot coals. However, I have learned to ease the flames through understanding what the lives and deaths of two of the three most important men in my life did to me as a whole. I am a completely different person because of each of those men, both for their influence on me while alive and just as much for their influence on me in death.

With their lives, they made me a woman of immense, unabashed love. Because of them I am strong and free-willed, independent and humbled by how lucky I am to have the family and life I do. With their deaths, I learned resilience, acceptance, and humility; how despair and the mere fear of it can drive a person to manic paranoia and crippling instability, and how to process –and even love– the intensely altered person I became. My love for them and my heartbreak at losing them brought about in me a fervent gratitude and wonder at the astounding man I still do have with me, and a constant desire to never take a moment of our amazing life and love we share for granted. These remarkable men taught me how to take something so profoundly negative and devastating and find the obscure, glowing silver lining there that helps to bring some balance and meaning to seemingly meaningless and cruel twists of fate. I am better because of each of them and everything they are and were, even on my worst days. Better, and eternally grateful.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Year/Beginnings/Reservations

Again, it has been ages since I've blogged. I'm gonna try to be better about that.


It's been, strangely enough, exactly 6 months since I last blogged. It is a new year, a new decade... much has changed, and much is still the same. There is a lot of hope on the horizon, of lot of promise of good things to come, but those things aren't quite here yet.


To follow up on some things from my last post:

1) I finished my phlebotomy course. I passed with a B (I would have been happier with an A but really I was just ecstatic to get through the damn class), got all of my 40 required class-lab draws done, did a job shadowing in the ER in September which was awesome, but where I also contracted the H1N1 virus. My phlebotomy externship was due to start 5 days after my shadow and I wound up having to postpone it until mid-October as H1N1 kicked my ass. My externship was amazing. I met some truly wonderful people, both patients and hospital employees alike. I did realllly well and finished my externship with 118 draws, when the state only requires 50. I hardly missed at all and all of my patients seemed to be honestly impressed with my knowledge and skill, and most would forget I was a student. It was nice to say I did well and I am very proud of my accomplishments in that regard. At the end of November I finally had all the documents in hand that I needed to send in to the state to get my license, including my certificate from my school and the hospital, and my National certificate.





November 20th saw them shipped off via certified mail so they wouldn't give me any of that "we never received your paperwork" crap. I hunkered down and prepared to wait until at least February for a response, as that was the time frame people were giving me for the wait. However, Christmas day I happened to check the status on line just in passing, and discovered my application was approved, and very shortly thereafter I had a piece of paper with my license number on it. 2 weeks after that, I finally got my real license.



I nearly peed myself when this finally came, a full month earlier than I had expected it to. I'm super excited, but it hasn't changed anything unfortunately. In the 3 weeks that I have had my actual license in hand, I have yet to find a single opening at any location for a phlebotomist or lab assistant. While I'm proud of my accomplishment, the change a job would bring has yet to come to me.

2) I mentioned in my last post that we were considering filing for bankruptcy. Well... we did. When we found out that my hubby's wages were going to be garnished by over $400 a paycheck, there was absolutely no way we could have that happen and be able to keep our heads above water. We didn't really have a choice. I was totally against it at first and embarrassed, but I am now so happy that we did it. The weight of that financial burden being gone, of knowing that we no longer owe tens of thousands of dollars for ridiculous reasons to mean, heartless companies, is HUGE. My stress level has plummeted. Our relationship has gotten even better than it was, and it has brought us closer. It changed our habits for the better and gave us the opportunity to see and analyze the mistakes we were making, and learn how to make better financial choices from here on out. It was scary and expensive, but it's done and we are happy.

3) Babies. Still, none. But there is, finally, some hope. Remember that clinic I mentioned that specializes in PCOS that I had found? Well, we finally went down there in December. They were having a free seminar to introduce themselves and their practice to potential new clients, and to explain causes and possible treatments of infertility. The clinic is state-of-the-art and AMAZING. I walked in and nearly walked out because just by the decor I thought there might be a $1000 cover charge just to step over the threshold. But they are the same price as, and in same cases cost less than other clinics we have looked at. Scott loved the seminar for all its information; he was engrossed and I was surprised at his interest. He later explained that though he knew what my issues were, he never really knew what exactly our options could be, or why some people are infertile for other reasons and he found the whole thing fascinating. So we stayed and watched the videos and sat through the Q&A, and were invited to talk privately with the doctor doing the presentation if we were so inclined after the seminar was over. I had been very nervous the whole night, getting hopeful then telling myself to stop because I had heard so many "no's" before. So the moment the seminar ended, I grabbed Scott's hand and marched straight up to the doctor and introduced us, and told our story. How we've been to numerous clinics who refuse to help us because of my size. How it kills me that I see women hundreds of pounds heavier than me who can get pregnant, but I can't. How I understood the risks of carrying a child to term at my size and how I was willing to take those risks and sign away their worry of a lawsuit if something went wrong. And I flat-out asked him if he was going to reject me because I'm fat, or if he would understand that I am young and healthy and we want a family and deserve it, because if not then we weren't going to waste the money and time to drive down there again. He looked me straight in the eye and said he would never refuse to help someone get pregnant simply because of their size. He explained he had gotten women bigger than me and with worse cases of PCOS pregnant, and that he would love to work with us. I broke down crying right there, because I had honestly come to believe that no one would ever agree to help us unless I miraculously lost 150 pounds. I hugged him and cried on him, thanked him profusely, and we went out to a celebratory dinner. 2 weeks later, we had a (free, again!) phone consultation with him to discuss our issues and options and next steps. He wanted us to send over our medical records, have lab work done and for Scott to get a semen analysis and me to get an HSG, or hysterosalpingogram, which is a special kind of x-ray done on my uterus and remaining fallopian tube and ovary. The next phone appointment, which was last week, we went over all our tests and determined that my uterus is in excellent shape, Scott's sperm are just fine, and my tube is not blocked. He explained that fertility rates frequently go up after an HSG, so he wants us to try timing intercourse with my supposed ovulation (which I don't think is happening) and see what happens. So now we're stuck there. However, I have also recently been put on insulin, as oral medication alone has not been doing the trick. When I went in for my insulin instruction appointment, I was weighed for the first time in months. I discovered that I am now just 13 pounds away from the weight I needed to get to for my bariatric surgery, which I had kind of given up on. I don't know how I lost the weight, but now I am considering the surgery again. If I do it, my HBP and diabetes would probably go away, and we might not even need infertility treatment as things may normalize after the weight loss. But, if I do do it, we would have to wait at least a year to even start trying to get pregnant for the safety of the baby. I am torn. We both desperately want a baby now, but it seems much smarter to try to get my health fully straightened out, for the sake of not just our theoretical baby's well-being, but for my own. I don't want to be on all the medications I'm on when I'm pregnant. I don't want to barely be able to move because of the added weight. I want to be able to keep up with him/her as they grow. But I'm still terrified of the surgery, of having my system rerouted, of going under, of the possible complications, and of the way of life afterward. I love food. I don't eat badly... I love cooking and eating super delicious, local organic foods. I love experiencing other cultures through food. I love how food brings families together, and I love going out and trying new foods with my hubby. Food is an adventure, and "the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes." My surgery will condemn me to years of jello, cream of wheat, and very small amounts of very boring things. And even after that, even once I'm fully healed and at goal weight, there are foods I can never experience again, and it will always be in super tiny amounts. Giving that up is definitely worth getting a baby in return, but that doesn't make it any easier to commit to the decision. And though 13 pounds is not that much, it feels like 1,000 pounds. 13 pounds will not be easy for me to lose, as the last 35 has taken me ages to get off and I don't even know how I did it.

Reservations and decisions to be made are abundant right now... I feel like a sucky horoscope.

For my own sanity, I need to blog more often, so I will. That's all for today, but Daisy sends out her love: