Friday, 31 May 2013

I'm taking my ovaries and I'm leaving

Bright and early tomorrow we'll be on a plane bound for Helsinki, from where we catch a ferry to Tallinn, and the adventure begins. All I can say is: bring it.

H and I have made a promise that for these weeks, there will be no discussion of babies, or jobs or The Future. (And if we manage to pull that off for three whole weeks, I'll be sure to let you all in on the secret on our return.) We've been talking and planning and researching, and now it's time for a rest. And lots of play.


But first, just to get it all out of my system, I was able to arrange an impromptu update appointment with the RE yesterday when we went to pick up copies of test results and kind of strategically and annoyingly positioned ourselves in the line of oncoming traffic at the clinic reception until the nurse forced the doctor to make time for us. We have to wait almost until the end of July for the real, What's Next? appointment (I sort of feel like they think maybe if they just don't mention it, we'll, like, forget about the IVF stuff or something. Frustrating). Still, I guess this briefest of briefings was informative in its way. To wit: we are both still perfectly normal, perfectly healthy; still can't make babies though.

H was disappointed with his 'entirely normal' semen analysis, hoping that it might provide the means for us to jump the queue, as it were. No such luck. (As an aside, while the results of my bloodwork and ultrasounds are always just a phone call away, and I always ask for specific numbers when calling, SA results appear to be highly classified. We must have called five times, given the run-around, before finally being told H could pick up printed copies, so long as he came in person and with ID; and in the end we still don't have the actual numbers. Just cursory - and condescending, if you ask me - note saying 'entirely normal'.  Why is this? I ask myself. Are these results a national secret? Do they play a role in MI5's future counter-terrorism strategy? Do they hold the answer to the climate crisis? Seriously, what gives?). So yes, entirely normal. Still can't make babies though. 

I, apparently, 'ovulated beautifully' this month. Your Day 21 progesterone was 69 this cycle!, the doctor said in a more-enthusiastic-than-strictly-necessary, whoa-ho-ho get a load of those numbers! way that was slightly disconcerting. So I'm a stellar ovulator with beautiful ovaries. Good for me, I guess...? Still can't make babies though.

He also had an explanation for the weird, pre-cycle bleeding I've been having the last few months. He thinks it's the low dose aspirin that Dr B prescribed (with the aim of both facilitating potential implantation and reducing the risk of miscarriage should we conceive). Seems reasonable, and puts my thoughts at rest. That's something at least.


On Wednesday, after returning to the kitchen for second third helpings of dinner, having already stuffed my face with a (highly uncharacteristic) bacon sandwich at breakfast, H confessed his hopefulness. Maybe you're...?

Uh, no...just gluttonous and indulging in mood eating, methinks.

Still, it's nice to have an occasional excuse and yet have the behaviour indulgently, lovingly gazed at, all dewy eyed, by my husband.


I may get a chance to pop in and catch up with all your blogs during the time H is at his workshop, even if I don't get time to post or comment. Please watch this space!

Now if you'll excuse me, my beautifully ovulating ovaries and I have a plane to catch.

Up, up and away.  Source.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The other wait which has been making me anxious

H and I used to travel. A lot. In fact, for a transatlantic couple whose very courtship spanned North America and Europe, by way of Colombia and the Middle East, you could say that not only has travel been a shared passion, but a defining feature of our love story.

But all that was in the before.

And then as we embarked on what we hoped would be the road to a globe trekker junior, and the spectre of infertility loomed over our lives, all that stopped. In in the beginning it was 'I might be...months pregnant by then' (ha! The foolish optimism!), meaning I wouldn't be able to safely fly/eat the street food/make that challenging hike that a particular holiday would entail. Then it was because of doctor's appointments and procedures. Or, because our travel choices have always tended to be to more off-the-beaten-path, less developed destinations, there was the fact that malaria tablets or vaccines - none of which are safe or compatible with ttc - would be involved. And so like many couples who are struggling in the ways we are struggling, an important aspect of life was temporarily lost. And it's something we miss.

So when H returned from work about a month ago with news that he'd have to travel to Estonia for a workshop, I glanced at the map and I imagined.

I've always wanted to go to Saint Petersburg, I said in an offhand way.

H looked at me and said, we could get a ferry from Tallin to Saint Petersburg. We'd be there during the White Nights, which would be amazing. (The White Nights being the midsummer period in Russia during which the midnight sun illuminates an apparently fabulous range of street festivities, picnics, parties and concerts that run through the night like a kind of two-week movable night feast. How H possesses this encyclopedic local knowledge from across the globe, I don't know, but I'm regularly delighted by it.)

After all, that particular corner of the continent, while perhaps not as intrepid as other possible destinations, is rather off the beaten path, and who knows when we might next get the chance? And before we knew it, we were thinking about itineraries and researching the best beaches in the Baltic and booking flights. How exciting! Without really having an impact our baby making efforts, an adventure presented itself. We're doing this old school people: with backpacks and budget hotels and train passes. We'll relive our wayward actually pretty tame youth. This is my kind of travel.

But then.

Then we found out about the Russian visa application process. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, we realized we'd both need visas but found out very little about the actual process thanks to nearly useless and impossible-to-navigate Russian Embassy webpages. Well ok, let me clarify; for Canadian citizens like myself, it's pretty straightforward really. But for Austrian nationals - due in part, I suspect, to some  historical my-empire-is-bigger-than-yours! sparring between the Russians and the Austro-Hungarians (fact: these kids haven't always played nice in the sandbox) - there was a series of seemingly interminable hoops through which to jump. There were very specifically (but actually also confusingly ill-defined) proof of address documents to supply. There were questionnaires to complete (blood type, boxers or briefs, etc, etc). There was Russian-approved, designated health insurance to obtain. And then there was a mixup with our payment. And the weeks ticked by and we waited. And waited, worrying that the impending date of departure would arrive before our travel documents ever did...It was all a little nerve wracking, let me tell ya.

But the story has a happy ending, because you guys, today they have arrived! One fruitless visit to the Russian Consular Service in London, many phone calls and contradictory email instructions later, we - finally! - are the proud owners of two Russian visas. Yes, we get to see our full names spelled out in Cyrillic script in our passports. 

(As an aside, this has been a much more satisfying wait than my usual monthly anticipations, not least because it resulted in the desired outcome. For another thing, I could yell at the Russian visa officials when they gave me crap information. There is no such outlet, beyond random outbursts at my poor husband, which will relieve the tension of a two week wait. What am I supposed to do, start punching my ovaries? I've already tried that.)

We leave this weekend, for three weeks of hiking and train riding and city exploring, taking in Helsinki, Estonia, Latvia and Saint Petersburg. I could not possibly be more excited. We need this holiday. (Bonus: the next time I find out I'm not pregnant, I'll be in a foreign country!)

I plan to enjoy the hell outta this trip. Because if there's one thing we've learned in all this time, it's the following: while we continue to wait, that doesn't mean we just have to sit around and wait.

Documented and ready to go!

Monday, 27 May 2013

A (kinda) happy post, B sides and other rarities

It's all been a bit doom and gloom, a bit introspective around here recently, I know. Part of it has to do with a series of momentous anniversaries (of the time lapsed since we began trying for a baby, of our pregnancy with S, not to mention the oft dreaded Mother's Day).

But I've also been thinking a lot about the balance of this blog and the way it represents me, what I choose to write about and not. I almost never come here to share happenings in my life beyond the bedroom stirrups. I'd like to think if any of you were to meet me in 'real life', you'd be pleasantly surprised. I am (or so I believe) a many-faceted person with diverse interests and skills, none of which I ever seem to feel particularly compelled to share with the interwebs. Some of it might have to do with the fact that I find most aspects of my life quite blah right now. I'm not currently doing a job I love. We're not in a place of actively pursuing any interventions fertility-wise, other than being told and following orders to sit-and-wait-now-there's-a-good-patient. Too many things are still up in the air for me to do much of anything other than pour my angst and uncertainty into this space, and hope you keep receiving it as graciously as you have thus far. That results in a lot of pensive posting, I know.

But obviously it's not only the fact that things have been tough around here lately. I've had many adventures in life, moved across the world almost more times than I can count, to immerse myself in strange new cultures and take on causes for which I have a fire in my (otherwise perpetually empty) belly. All of these experiences and issues would, I am sure, make great blogging material. But again, despite occasional encouragement from friends and family 'back home' to do just that, I've never before felt the slightest impulse to record any of it on a blog. I'd like to think it's because I was too busy just doing it at the time.

Infertility and loss have been an altogether different kettle of stinky, despair-inducing, crazy-making fish. The isolation, the lack of understanding and awareness from the world at large can, as you all know too well, be suffocating. So here I came.

Still, as much as you all get it, I can be a bit heavy even for myself some days. It never hurts to pause for a brief interlude in our all ovaries!all semen!all the time! scheduling (with a phrase like that, you'd think it should be pregnancy-a-go-go around here. But alas and alak...). For no good reason other than one of my occasional wildly, irrationally optimistic stints, I'm in a good mood today. I'm playing my happy playlist (yes, I have playlists for many a mood).

This is helped along by a three day weekend of beautiful, sunshiny weather which can't help but to lift my spirits (because even if I have to practice hysterical inward laughter to do it, I deserve to get out and enjoy it too, dammit!).

Without further ado, a playlist of songs all of which - if not forcing me to leap from my seat outright and indulge in a spell of kitchen dancing - encouragingly whisper to me, in their ways: You can do this  

On the Radio   Regina Spektor
Absolute Beginners   David Bowie
Fight Test   The Flaming Lips
Forever in Blue Jeans   Neil Diamond
Mushaboom   Feist
We Built This City   Jefferson Starship
Here for a Good Time (not a long time)   Trooper
Love is All Around   Joan Jett
Skokiaan   Louis Armstrong
As Is   Ani DiFranco
Here Comes the Sun   George Harrison
Rainbow Connection   Kermit the Frog

Bloggy friends, what prompts you to post? And, because I'm still compiling, what tracks would make it onto your pick-me-up playlist?


Thursday, 23 May 2013

The 75 Year Plan

I have always been a huge fan of the films of Wes Anderson. I know others find their quirkiness cloying and the characters too full of affectation, but for me there's just something about the offbeat amalgam of the absurd and the angsty that speaks to my heart. The comedy is often not very comical, and it strikes me that it is in those same awkward moments of being human where, in real life, we find not just comedy, but real humour. His stories are almost never about what they say they're about; a lot like life, I think.

There is a particularly hilarious scene towards the beginning of Bottle Rocket in which Owen Wilson's character Dignan unveils a 75 year plan, just after springing his friend from a prolonged stay in an institution where he was hospitalized after having suffered an emotional breakdown. This will be the manifesto that will launch the characters as new men headed on a new trajectory, and they seem to embrace it whole-heartedly. It's a scene I've always loved. The 75 Year Plan is a regular off-hand, jokey reference point in our household. I used to cite it a lot to tease my husband about his Germanic penchant for planning (as in, obviously, you can't really plan for all eventualities, especially not that far in advance). I found it hi-larious.


We've been talking through and re-talking and brain-storming and deconstructing a lot of potential plans in these parts the last few weeks. There is a need for it; for some kind of plan, or at least contingency, to be in place for us. With H's contract ending in August, being the anchor that has kept us here, in this particular spot, we need to figure out a way to scrape together a living, and preferably some quality of life, come autumn. About this in and of itself, I am nervous, but not too fussed; we've always managed before, not just to survive, but usually to make an adventure of it in the process. Something will come (prettypleasethankyou). Patience is called for. I don't feel that same sense of confidence about my fertility journey though. We're on track, it seems, for IVF by the end of the year. Obviously, this would be facilitated by a sense of how things will look in the coming months. (Yes, I'm aware I'm on repeat here). But the more I think about IVF, the more uncertain I am if this is really the right path for us. And it's not just because of the logistics or the potential expense. As far as the 'right path' for our family building, I'm sifting through some big thoughts which I hope will take cogent form soon enough, but for now I'll leave it at that.

Still, it's all a lot to consider, and not the sort of stuff that will sort itself out in a matter of weeks, or even months. And this doesn't even begin to touch on the more existential questions doubts circling in my brain: does questioning IVF say something about my lack of commitment to parenting, which in turn says something about why we haven't managed a healthy pregnancy so far? And just what business do a couple of itinerant, gainfully unemployed holders of PhDs and not much else in the way of worldly possessions have trying to make a baby anyway?!

I'd love it if I actually had a crystal ball that allowed me to see what the future holds for us; I'd like to think that even if it's something difficult, I could handle it if I only knew what I was in for. If I'm destined never to raise children of my own (biological or otherwise), then let me get on with it; building the fun, adventurous, irresponsible, compensatory (yeah, right!) life that will follow for us as a childless couple. I could be good at that too. Yes, I realize none of this is that easy, and attempting to preempt the turmoil is probably no way to deal with things. I wish any of it was easy. For any of us.


Dignan's plan, a series of confusing and yet meticulous sub-categories and 10 year breakdowns all scratched out on a standard lined notepad, concludes with the reminders to 1) remain flexible and 2) consider alternatives. Fair enough. It also offers prompts for further contemplation in the form of two questions:

Why not plan ahead? 
Why not continue?

(OK, so at this point it is probably also incumbent upon me to mention that Bottle's Rocket's characters are hatching a 75 Year Plan to become professional burglars. I'll add a (hopefully unnecessary) caveat that this aspect of the story is clearly in no way analogous to our life situation. Let's not invite any other, screamingly obvious, cinematic comparison here. Raising Arizona!!)

Anyway, where was I? Well, even if things take their sweet time to work themselves out, I can tell you that I certainly don't want to be doing this, what I'm doing now, what I've been doing for three tortuous years now, for the next 75 years to come. Not that I could, obviously. Ya know, menopause and death and all that...

But at the same time, our own road continues to be long and winding into an unknown, unknowable future, so we will indeed place 1) remaining flexible and 2) considering the alternatives as central tenets of our own long-term plan. We may not have 75 years in which to hash out these contingencies, but perhaps that is kind of the point. Once you've faced the kind of prolonged uncertainty that loss and infertility bring* - making any long-term planning seem laughably naive - maybe the best kind of 'plan' you can make is to keep stumbling along, finding what moments of laughter you will, hoping for the best from your yearly sub-plans, recognizing that some things are out of your hands while also trying your best to grasp what opportunities come, and being proactive with the things we do have some command of.

Thinking about it now, that notion of a ridiculously unwieldy life plan stretching into the hazy middle (long?) distance...Well, it doesn't seem quite so comical anymore. Or maybe I'm just growing up.

Why not continue? Wise words indeed, Dignan. Because really, what else is there to do?


*Yes, people. I am drawing pre-celebrity Owen Wilson into an analogy with infertility and loss. Wacky and wonderful, no?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The weekend that was, and forward we go

Firstly, thank you. It's all I can say, really, because the warmth and love by which I felt encircled last week was beyond words. I don't think I can adequately convey the gratitude I feel knowing that not only is my boy remembered, but continues to inspire moments of beauty and laughter. You guys are simply amazing. All the comments and emails and beautiful pieces of artwork that you made in honour of S. The cartwheels, the time spent playing with rambunctious puppies, digging in gardens, picking wild bluebells; the candles and the colouring books.

Just...thank you.

We spent the weekend away, arriving home yesterday morning. Friday was a beautiful day, in spirit if not in weather. There were tears in the morning, gently soothed by the sound of the lapping waves and the breeze in the sea grasses as we sat on the sand dunes, remembered, and looked out towards the horizon. The tears - and the sadness - were neither as copious nor as tinged with bitterness as they have been in past years, giving us both a sense of affirmation that we are indeed intact, as is our sense of hope for the future; just as we release our previous expectations of life, and forgive those versions of ourselves that held them. Our love, too - for what has gone - remains.

And just as there were tears, there was much laughter on Friday. There was digging our toes in the sand and getting very dirty and collecting seashells. There were jokes about H's rather tyrannical vision of a historically and architecturally accurate medieval sand fortification, (I insisted S would be as bored with the notion of historical fidelity as I was, while my dear husband insisted any son of his would be as avid as he. But really...a toddler?). There was ice cream and meadow walks and forget-me-nots and frolicking newly born lambs and freshly caught seafood (because if he can inherit an interest in military history from his father, then I would surely nurture a fine palate and appreciation of local bounties in my boy). And after dinner and a long day in the fresh air of the countryside, there was a quiet and contemplative walk through the twilight of a beautiful little coastal town of winding, cobbled streets. (Some of which appear below, in case you're interested). And so importantly, this commemoration felt woven into the mundane fabric of our lives and our routines in a totally natural way. And S was present everywhere, not least in the tiny space between H and I when we cuddle and comfort one another. In some ways, the love grows deeper, the connection stronger, and I marvel at the experiences that my son continues to inspire me to seek.

A contemplative spot

S's castle, complete with seashell entry gate and accurate (so I'm told) fortifications.


This blog has been a bit of a love fest for my husband lately, hasn't it? In recounting my thoughts of the weekend, I want to offer up one more sickly sweet ode to H, and then we'll return to our regular programming.

After posting this I realized that I too fall prey to the fallacy that we are not active parents, that our parenting will happen in future tense. Of course we struggle. It's not easy learning how to parent a baby who is not here, especially in a society so death averse as ours is. But we try to find ways to express our love. We have to be creative. We learn to honour and include that which we cannot see but know to be present. And H is a master of these touching gestures of devotion. It was he who staked a claim on the 17th as a special day for S, and it has made the ambivalent feelings that come with each birth day anniversary so much easier to bear. It was he who proposed a day of childish pursuits each year, something we hope to be able to include our future children in as years pass. He masterminded the sandcastle.

He is an amazing father. I am so happy to be sharing this journey with him.


And now we are back and life, with all its banalities and tiny moments of the sublime, continues. There are work projects to complete and summer holidays to plan for, blogs to catch up with and, because the moment for jungle time happened to poignantly coincide with this past weekend, there is a two week wait to begin. Because we are resilient, and even as hope wanes, there's no harm in trying. Or in obsessing.  

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Three years

Tomorrow, 17 May, marks S's third anniversary. Not the day he died, and not the day he was born one day later, but the day we were first introduced to his beating heart, strong and thumping as though to announce his arrival. So profound and beautiful was that sound, I imagined that it resonated beyond the walls of that dimly lit ultrasound room, down the corridors of the hospital, out into the sunshiny day for all the world to hear. That is the day we chose to remember, to commemorate.

He wriggled and bounced as if to say Hello! I'm here! Get ready! 

And we fell in love, of course. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

He would have been a handful, that boy.  A little gymnast, more athletic than either his father or I. Or so I think. He had such long fingers, when he was finally born. Would those fingers have been good at throwing and climbing, or more inclined towards quiet pursuits? Writing and drawing? Miniature model building, like his dad?

We were ready. So, so ready. Just not for what came, once we finally got to hold him.

His blanket; too little used

It would mean more than you know, if you could spare a thought for him tomorrow. Maybe do something lovely and life affirming to connect with your inner child. Chase a butterfly. Dig in the dirt. Eat a particularly messy piece of cake. We'll spend the day building sand castles.


We miss you baby boy. We love you so so much, always and forever. To the moon and back.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Behind every case of infertility, apparently a woman, according to our insightful GP's office. I want to share this wonderful gem with you so that we can all indulge in a moment of sisterly, unpredictable-threatening-female-hormone-induced! seething rage at conventional social (medical?) attitudes.

But first - because I just know you've all been on pins and needles awaiting the update - I can confirm that the sperm have left the building and are now, as I type, nestled safely in the andrology lab awaiting results. What can I say ladies?  Thanks for all your comments, commiserations and solidarity over my husband's ability to embrace Zen and the Art of Reproductive Uncertainty. Yesterday he made good and did his small part. And I have no doubt that he would be delighted/horrified at the thought of so many strangers over the interwebs cheerleading his masturbatory efforts. I spared him that detail.

The truth is, it wasn't the first time he's had to do it and it likely won't be the last, so it's not like we didn't know the drill. We are lucky enough to be only 20 minutes from the hospital, so it's possible for him to do his thing at home, aided by me, and drop it straight at the lab, (as many of you suggested).

Oh wait, you didn't actually want to know all that? Oops. Sorry...

Anyway. So yes, that's done. Again. Not that I'm sure it really matters. Will it get us any closer to confronting the eventuality of IVF? Will it provide any answers? What are the questions again? Even I'm getting bored with this dinner table talk.

But none of that is really what I want to dwell on right now. Instead, I'd like to share with you a piece of medical wisdom which H gleaned from the doctor, perhaps entirely obliterating the necessity for his sperm sample at all. A kind of old husband's tale, if you will.

Because of a paperwork mixup, he had to first go to the GP's office to get a signature to send along to the lab. A minor inconvenience, but no big deal. Except that when he asked for the signature, the (male) doctor thought it worthwhile to cheerily provide some becalming (and unsolicited) assurance.

I wouldn't worry. Usually it's a problem with the woman anyway.

Yes, really. (Because, ya know, usually is a totally, scientifically valid, quantitative measure of data analysis.)

To which H, like the consummate feminist social scientist that he is, calmly replied that perhaps if the medical establishment weren't so patriarchal in its vision of the ideal body, it might ask a different set of questions entirely. And also pointed out that really, an approach which seeks to assign blame for the problem on the basis of a clear division of the sexes (or anything else, for that matter), might actually, possibly, just be missing the point anyway, being that this is not really the height of good practice in person-centred care.

(Not that I'm sure the doctor realized he was providing anything but wonderful, reassuring, person-centred care to one of the boys.) I only wish I could have been there.

I will say this though. H may not always get it, and he may unwittingly pose frustrating barriers to this whole process in the form of occasional foot dragging...


I  am so in love with my husband at moments like these.


Insert appropriate comment about patriarchal medicine and the male gaze. Source.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mother's Day

I know this day weighs heavy for many in this community. I feel like I've gotten off lightly; Mother's Day is celebrated in March here in the UK, though - without the ubiquity or commercialism that seems to fuel it's North American counterpart - I scarcely remember the day this year, or what I was doing. During the previous two, we lived in Portugal, where the day is not marked at all. That country, with its traditional, catholic cult of the maternal, needs no such day, but is also not quite so in-your-face, nor as saccharine, in its reverence for motherhood.

But I know this day is hard for many, and as I think of you all, I want to share the following.

I want us all to remember that we are not our just bodies, those which sometimes seem frail and failing and plotting to betray us. Which nonetheless keep us going, continue to pump rushing blood to our abundant hearts, remind us to be slow and gentle and nurturing with ourselves when things don't turn out right, and when all we want is to nurture another. Our bodies are of us, but we are more than the sum of their often unpredictable parts. 

We are more than the struggles, the heartbreak we have faced as we seek to bring new life into the world. And although days like this, and experiences like ours can feel so lonely and isolating and make us question our value in a world that seems to simultaneously elevate motherhood and belittle its expression outside a very standardized norm, please know this: the love that you have accumulated in abundance, in all the months of your longing, the many cycles in which you have nurtured hope and heartbreak, that love which sees you through the dark days, that springs from the saltiness of your tears, that sings through your laughter as you continue to hope, that allows you to nurture your dreams in the face of it all, that love flows outwards.

That love flows outwards, and the world is a better place for it.

Whether you are harbouring love for the children you had and lost. Whether for the children who have yet to come, but who you have dreamed in fiercest technicolour. Whether for the babies you did not birth with your bodies, but parent and nurture with all your heart and soul.

While the world at large may not recognise us as such, we are mothers.

I can think of nothing more maternal than the love, support, encouragement, and humour that I see circulating amongst you badass Mamas every day. Thank you.

You are all amazing mothers, even if your babies couldn't stay, even if they haven't come yet. Your motherlove is strong, amazing, powerful stuff.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Duped by my own progesterone levels

My progesterone levels on day 21 of this cycle were a whopping 59. Clearly, I've ovulated. So in the end, after much trepidation on my part and H's encroaching boredom over my ad nauseum analysis at the potential effects on my cervical mucous, there will be no Clomid for me. At least not for now.

On the one hand, I'm relieved. Obviously. If my cervical mucous is not totally courteous and welcoming to H's little guys now, I'll have no one to blame but myself. I had reservations (which I nonetheless would have been willing to put aside if it would provide me with a real chance of conception), not just about what Clomid might do to my body, but about what such a course of action represents in the bigger picture. My granola-y, hippy commune upbringing instilled in me a deep-seated mistrust of synthetic chemicals that remains hard to dislodge even today.  (Then again, fat lot of good all that organic granola did me...)

At the same time...What the what?! Somehow I've just been tricked by circumstances conspiring against me and my uterus into accepting the status quo. Being totally inert. Changing nothing. Seriously,you guys.  The not-totally-out-but-not-really-doing-anything-not-hopeful-not-hopeless-let's-wait-and-see place? (I know you know this). It's excruciating, and I suck at inhabiting it. I. Want. Movement. Or at least the illusion thereof?

Also, since progesterone levels are out of the way as a source of worry, that frees up my brain to ferret out myriad new scenarios to serve as future impediments to our baby making. I probably certainly have crappy eggs! H hasn't been eating enough avocado to give his little guys the oomph they need! I water skied too much in adolescence! We'll never be approved for adoption once they discover H's weird childhood collection of semi-limbless He-man figures with which he refuses to part! [insert random, illogical, second-guessing worry here].

H, for his part, as if to prove his continued devotion to the there really isn't anything wrong if we don't face up to it! approach seems to have mastered Zen and the Art of Reproductive Uncertainty. He is dragging his feet on supplying a sample for his sperm analysis, because he 'doesn't like doing it'. Whereas, you know, I kind of love the weekly blood tests and regular contact with the transvag invader...  I get it, I really do. But. This is making me want to kick him in the shins. I would try it, don't think it's conducive to the provision of said sample (unless maybe that's your thing, in which case, totally no judgement here).

I'm managing to make light of it, but I'm annoyed and frustrated and constantly second guessing myself. How do we move forward with this? (This...nothing). Should we be looking further afield? (Particularly as we're staking our life plans for the immediate future on this). Do we really entrust this clinic to take us forward? I can't shake the feeling that we need to be proactive because we are losing time here. Surely we need to do everything we can NOW to increase our likelihood of this ever working?

That's kinda the conversation going on in my head - and much to H's delight, at the dinner table - this week. I haven't yet decided if any of these questions are rhetorical. 

Thank the gods for big deadlines that will keep me otherwise occupied all weekend. Yeah, sure...of course they will.

I know I should love my own particular progesterone, but right now I have mixed feelings. Also, how eewww is this T-shirt? Source.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Laughter yoga, Bereaved Mother's Day, and the messy truth of life

Over the weekend, as I promised myself I would do, I tried to find ways to overcome the spring blues which I've been battling these past days. This nascent spring summer! is too beautiful not to enjoy, and the perfect opportunity to move beyond the bounds of my comfortable funk presented itself.

Yesterday, to mark World Laughter Day my yoga instructor organized a taster of laughter yoga, a movement with which I have long been intrigued but have not had the chance to enjoy. Based largely on the medical knowledge that your mind and body benefit hugely from smiling and laughing - whether it's genuine or contrived - the laughter yoga movement begun in India is intended as a 'positive manifestation for world peace and to build up a global consciousness of brotherhood and friendship through laughter'. Nice, right? So although I wasn't in the mood, I cajoled myself into an afternoon of merriment with perfect strangers. Because that's the point of laughter yoga from a health perspective: studies suggest that you can actually 'trick' yourself into happiness even through forcing a laugh, and that you should do so as a means to build community too.

In addition to the kinds of breathing exercizes that are part of traditional yoga, and various absurdist activities in which one really couldn't help but laugh in the end, completely and authentically, our instructor shared some of the science behind the practice. We were taught how laughter-on-command can ease the stress of lots of little situations we all encounter in life; you know those moments that make you grit your teeth and set your muscles tighter and generally growl inwardly? The example used was hitting a red light in traffic. Just laugh hysterically at the light, she said, and you'll soon find it no longer holds the same toxic grip over you.

Since I don't drive, and (being routinely 10 minutes late for everything ever) I have come to accept that such small delays are not the mortal enemy, I don't much have a problem with red lights. But truthfully friends, (bad Sadie! I know!) for the briefest of moments, my infertility-addled brain actually wandered to the possibility of applying that same hysterical laughing technique to the legions of pregnant bellies which seem to accost me on a daily basis.

Hhhmm...guess that wouldn't really be in keeping with the laughter yoga mantra that we are always laughing with, right?

Of course I would never do that. Not really. I'm not going to live up to the archetypal, misogynistic evil-cackling-madwoman-who-never-fulfilled-her-maternal-instincts-and-is-therefore-dangerous bit that our culture still nurtures. Because, well...obviously. That would be too easy.

Anyway, where was I?

We also learned that on average, children laugh 300 times per day, where adults laugh on average 15 times per day. Just, wow....something is clearly getting lost along the way, so whatever we can do to restore it, even if I'm the first to indulge in the occasional bout of duvet diving, can't be a bad thing.

Sometimes laughter really is the only medicine. And you know, with my belly muscles pleasantly straining after one and half hours of mandated laughter, I actually felt not just emotionally lighter, but physically euphoric for several hours afterwards.


It was only on my return home later in the afternoon, after a long and lovely walk, when I learned through several bloggy friends that yesterday was also International Bereaved Mother's Day. At first I wasn't sure what to make of that perhaps cruelly random juxtaposition of days to simultaneously mark such seemingly opposing sentiments: laughter and dead babies. Then I thought, actually, it's quite true to life. And maybe they're not as opposing as they might first appear.

Much as I once might have implored it to - much as I feel at times that mine has - life has not stopped since S died, since we started on this scary, uncertain road of infertility. Much to my own surprise, and despite the brokenness from which I once thought I would never recover, I have gone on laughing (though you'd be forgiven for not believing that if you stumble upon this blog on any given day). I cry, I laugh, I breath. I am alive and he is not. I owe him the full life - to accept, inhabit, embrace it - that he cannot and never will have. And despite the realities of birth and death, we remain connected. I try to remind myself of those things every day.

There was one thing about yesterday which somehow, serendipitously, brought all these sentiments together. The laughter yoga class was held on the grounds of a beautiful medieval convent which remains in use today. It is filled with tranquil gardens designed to bring peace, to foster the contemplation of life's great mysteries (or at least so it seemed to me). Just being there was a special experience. And the lawn on which we sat and moved and breathed and laughed among strangers was also home to this beautiful flowering tree. A memory tree.

The sign under it's branches instructed us to: Tie a ribbon on the tree and remember someone special.

And the next time I visit the lawn to sit and laugh with strangers, I will do just that.

Friday, 3 May 2013

When the sun came out, so did they (along with an onslaught of self-pity)

I'd forgotten how sheltering the icy embrace of winter could feel. We had a long, cold, and in many ways miserable winter this year; which meant that except for the intrepid dog walkers in our neighbourhood, everyone pretty much stayed indoors.

But this last week has been beautiful, sunshiny, balmy.

And with that lovely weather, an army of happy young families have emerged from hibernation. Beautiful little children squeal as they learn to ride their bikes. Soft, mewling, wide-eyed infants discover the world outside as they are wheeled past in strollers pushed by laughing moms. Heavy winter coats are discarded to reveal swollen, mesmerising pregnant bellies.

And here we sit. Watching it all go by.

Spring is in full swing and today I am feeling further than ever from our hoped-for changes in 2013. I'm tired. Isn't spring supposed to be rejuvenating?

S's anniversary is fast approaching, and as with previous years, I suspect the anticipation will be worse than the actual day itself ( the 17th, when we always try to find something special and peaceful to do). Still, the grief is weighing heavy on me right now. It's hard not to take stock, look back over the last three years, and wonder what they have brought. Some things are better, clearer, but mostly we have the same uncertainties as before. The same feeling of being stalled while everyone else goes on with their lives. I'm fairly certain that, as far as S goes, we are amongst the only ones who even remember anymore.

And what about project sibling? Well, we are (finally) really happy with our current care, and have pretty much decided that we'll move forward with this clinic. Obviously that's a good thing in and of itself, but it also means that we'll be left in limbo with everything else that much longer. H can't actively pursue any of the job leads he's been feeling out, each of which which would surely involve a big move (out of region, or even out of country). Not that there are so many leads to be had these days. We don't seem to have much luck in that department either. That likely means that come September, we'll have to take whatever jobs come our way and put the career advancement, (not to say the putting down roots somewhere), on hold indefinitely. 

Something funny also happened to me psychologically once we got on the ART train: I think I gave up any hope (illusion?) I had previously held that our bodies might ever do this on their own. Even though accepting a doctor's advice - starting with medicated cycles and then moving straight to IVF - has in no way altered the brute biology that we've been dealing with all along, I feel like in acknowledging the situation, my very organs have closed shop and left the building. (Perhaps now is the time to find reassurance in the doctor's oh-so-heartening opinion of my multiple conceptions/losses?). Totally, wildly irrational, I know. But there you have it. Though on the plus side, I'm not even thinking in terms of a two week wait anymore, and there is a certain liberation in that I guess.

So. yeah. Everyone seems to be thrilled that this fine weather has at last arrived. I don't blame them, I just don't much feel a part of their forward looking ebullience right now.

I am well aware of the narcissistic depths of my self-pity here, but....When  is anything good going to happen for us? Don't we get a turn? It just feels like no matter how hard we work to make things better, no matter how much we try to go on being optimistic and hoping our big break is around the next corner (a pregnancy to hope for, a career break, the resolution of our immigration issues) nothing much changes.

I'm sorry I'm being such a Debbie Downer. I know it's just a bad week day (please let it only be a day). It'll pass and I'll be back to my usual sass, finding something to be excited and hopeful about. 

But now? As the sun shines, I'll be wearing my sunglasses. Not just to keep out the glare of the sun, (or to disguise the rogue crying jags that seem to strike from nowhere), but also that of all those shiny happy people who seem to have come out of the woodwork.

Spring is in the air, if not in my step.