February 26, 2006

The Beginning of the Beginning

Aidan, his two children from his previous marriage, and I leave for a short holiday tomorrow. His kids are already here and, as with their usual visits, I wonder if I can't find a volume control somewhere, as the sound always goes up about a thousand times the normal decibel level when they're here. The Sims2 are raging upstairs, Desperate Housewives is raging downstairs, cats are popping in and out to mind-numbing amounts of catnip sweets, and in general it's chaos.

I think the kids are great.

I'm looking forward to it all.

So I'm going to be off-line for two weeks as we make our way to New Zealand. We stop in quite a few places along the way and are generally working to make it as relaxing as possible. While packing, I had to sling in my usual great quantities of tampons, as halfway through my period should strike, and it's right about the time that I'll be on a remote island and not very interested in foreign tampons entering the hatch, as my beaver? She is sensitive to the changes in products and reqards me with temper tantrums with a yeast infection flavor.

But that's the big thing, this tampon issue.

I winged many boxes of tampons into the suitcase (I don't bleed, I hose down), as well as my super-extra-strength-kick-your-ass-ibuprofen. I have 6 tablets left, which will get me through this period. For my next period, I don't have enough.

But then, I don't know when my next period will be. Because this is the start of it all, the beginning of the beginning. My period this week (and the zits on the chin, the bloating, the upset stomach tell me it's only a matter of days) is the start of my IVF cycle. 21 days from the first day of my period-which happens this week-I start IVF.

It all starts in a little over three weeks, basically. So this period is being heralded, it's actually being looked forward to. This is it. I've finally made it to the beginning of the beginning.

I'll see you in two weeks, at which time, the world should start to look slightly different.

PS-my domain name bought for me by Statia is now up and running, so you can adjust your bookmarks. Welcome to Twistedovaries.com :)

Posted by Vanessa at 06:19 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 24, 2006

An Open Bottle is a Metaphor For Something....

I met with two of my neighbors last night, two strong and lovely ladies that have also been trying for many years to have children.

Both of them are older than I.

Both of them have given up.

I met these two (Billie and Lana) when I lived as a neighbor in a terrace that they live in. Now that I live across the street, I see them less than I used to, but I still love seeing them. They tell me that I am part of the core team, that of all the ladies that circle in and out of our lives the times that we meet up as the three of us are the most fun, and it amazes me that I can be part of something.

I am used to being alone, to fighting my own battles, to soothing my own wounds.

We meet up at a local bar and order a bottle of wine. Once the chenin blanc is opened, the talk starts. It turns out the two of them were worried about me, and wanted to see how I am.

"You go underground," Billie, a veteran of 5 IVF rounds, says softly. "You're so giving and kind and funny but you have all of these defences. I just wanted to find out if you're ok."

And I sigh deeply and start talking, finding that once the bottle of wine is opened and I'm around two women who have been there, done that, so can I also let it out. I tell them of the upcoming cycle. I tell them of the bombshell of my sister's pregnancy and the severely fucked up delivery of the news. I tell them that the crack between me and my family is now a canyon, and all of us have walked away from the ledge, looking for a space for the soul.

I don't have to tell them of my hundred thousand hopes that IVF will work, because they already know.

"You have to just move on," Billie says. "Everyone gets pregnant around us but us. This is how it is."

"True," I say. I think of everyone I work with having babies, of people I meet in the pharmacy that are pregnant, heck even my massage therapist is pregnant. "And for the most part, I'm ok with it. Sure, maybe I feel a twinge of envy or sadness, but I'm ok with it." I look up at them both. "But we all have One Person...One Person who it hurts more than anything to know that they can have the one thing we want most. One Person, whose news shatters your heart."

Billie tears up. "It's true. I had One Person."

Lana clears her throat. "I had One Person, too. I know what you're talking about."

I look up. "I know if I do get pregnant that you may feel strange, and if I don't hear from you then I'll understand."

"Shut up and don't talk ridiculous nonsense," Billie replies perfunctly, and I know that's Billie talk for "no chance".

We talk on, and the two of them share how they feel now. That they now feel their lives are too hectic, too stressed to have children, that now that they have given up on that hope, they can't imagine life if they did have kids. Things turned out better this way, they say.

And then they admit it's a defense mechanism.

And we all tear up together, three women who can't have kids, over a bottle of wine and three sets of broken fallopian tubes and shattered dreams.

PS-Statia has suggested the name Infertile Bitches for anyone going through IVF in March-April-May, and I think it's a good name. Any seconds?

Posted by Vanessa at 07:24 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 20, 2006

And That Is What It Feels Like

On Saturday we had lunch at the pub with a man that Aidan and I both used to work with at different points in our life in what feels like the great distant past. I get on well with the guy, a Swedish man named Per. It was my first meeting of his wife and children, also Swedish, who moved here 6 weeks ago to live and work.

We got there early and had a pint while we perused the interesting menu. When they showed up it was hugs all around with the adults, and there were two extremely blond children in tow who had a hello tinged with reserve. The eldest, a 7 year-old girl, decided that I was cool and so took up the seat next to me. The youngest, a shy little girl under 4, decided it was a bit much to meet us just yet and so sat away from us.

We talked and laughed, and as the lunch progressed the two little girls talked more and more to us. Even the little one with her big green eyes decided that Aidan was ok enough to help her with her puzzle, and so the two of them went, speaking in a mishmash of Swedish and English. Lunch came and went, the 7 year-old talked to me a great deal, and the lunch was relaxed and happy. Come dessert time I actually ordered some dessert, which is something I never do. The waitress brought us two large pieces of fudge cake-one for me, one for Per's wife, and the two girls wound up eating half of mine, which didn't bother me in the slightest.

The little girl, May, spent more time after the dessert with Aidan as they played the Swedish version of The Itsy-Bitsy Spider and the English version of This Little Piggy. It put paid my theory-I swear that kids know when they are around people that want children. They gravitate to people with throbbing ovaries and lonely arms. Somehow, they just know.

May came and sat on my lap and asked me to help her with her puzzle. As she sat there and guided my hand around the puzzle, both of us speaking Swedish as we tried to finish it with great laughter, I was hit with a memory.

I remembered the last time I'd met Per while I was still working with him. We were at a meeting in Aachen (Germany), and we were sat around a table in the shape of a U. I remember being cranky, being tired, feeling hot and uncomfortable. I reached into the bag behind me and the bottle of Lupron I was on rolled out.

I was going through my first round of IVF at the time, and it was so amazingly difficult.

Per picked up the bottle, looked at it, and handed it to me. "Are you going through IVF, Vanessa?" he asked quietly.

"How did you know?" I asked, shoving the Lupron back in the bag.

"My wife is also going through IVF again, we cannot have children without IVF. She's doing another cycle right now, too, and we have that same bottle in our kitchen. She's going through her round in Gothenberg."

"I'm doing mine in Stockholm," I breathed. "It's so hard."

"It is. If you need to talk, I'm around," Per said, smiling.

I remember that day. And I looked at May and remembered the introductions that Per and his wife had given us-May was 3 years and 4 months old. I did some math in my head and it fit exactly-May was born from that cycle his wife was doing. The cycle that I was cycling through at the same time.

May was born from the exact cycle that I conceived Egg and Bacon on, before I lost them. My twins would have been the same age as May, older by about 2 weeks. I know that Aidan doesn't think that my Egg and Bacon cycle counted, as I was only pregnant for a few weeks, but it really upsets me to think that they should be discounted-I'd never felt anything so real in my life.

And what happens if that's the only time that I ever feel that?

I look at May on my lap, a beautiful bundle of blond hair and bright green eyes. She was what I would have had. She is from that time in my life, of rolling Lupron bottles and pleas to God over New Years to just make the bleeding stop, to let me keep my babies.

But more than that-to my knowledge she is the first IVF baby that I have met. Of course, IVF is more common these days and it's entirely possible that I've met many IVF babies, but she is the only one that I KNOW is an IVF baby. She is the first bundle of chocolate-smudgy-hand proof that I can hold and laugh with and know that it can work.

There are bloggers that get pregnant. You hear of others conceiving. Hollywood is rife with IVF success. But I have to say-actually meeting a little one from IVF is amazing. It's incredible. You want to hug them tightly to your chest and cry, as you just can't believe that something so beautiful is the result of all these drugs, all these bargains with the soul, all these needles, all these tears.

Posted by Vanessa at 03:17 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

Are You Lonesome, Tonight?

Iíve been having nightmares about the egg donation recently. You know. As one does. Iím not having nightmares of the actual process or about the woman herself.

I suppose on some level I should feel like vetting the donee. I could work the same questions that the RSPCA decide to ask when adopting a dog:

Will you take care of these egg babies? Y/N
Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Y/N
Have you ever adopted something then decided it didnít match the dťcor so gave it up? Y/N
Do you think colored mascara should make a return to fashion? Y/N
Does Scientology pose more than a passing interest to you? Y/N
Is there any history of insanity in your family? Y/N
Do you enjoy a little heroin from time to time, like a pick-me-up on a bad day? Y/N

Yeah. And if they answered yes to anything other than the first questions, then I would know that maybe she wasnít the best bet for the eggs. But then, I wouldnít have a say anyway, and maybe itís better that way. I have been known to be shallow, I could rule someone out if there was evidence of shag carpeting in their bathroom.

I do feel this incredible responsibility to this other woman, and with good reason. When I start my IVF cycle (called a protocol, for the non-IVFers out there), it wonít just be about me and the babies weíre trying to have. It will be about me, Aidan, our babies, and another couple and their babies. There are at least 6 people in this, and I am aware that much rides on me.

Iím not stressed about that part. In general, I donít worry about not producing enough eggs, as when I had IVF before I had a whole bumper crop. That said, I did have a nightmare recently where I woke up after egg retrieval and they told me that while I was out they fertilized the eggs and already re-implanted them. I was thrilled to bits, but the first question out of my mouth was How many eggs did the other woman get?

To which the nurse clucked her tongue and told me I only had a total of three eggs, so they kept all three for me. The other woman left the hospital, egg-less. And in my dream, I was crushed. I felt horrible, I felt devastated, I felt guilty.

And I would do. Someone else is counting on me to pass out the Gatorade during half-time. Itís always on my mind that when we start the cycle the end of March, another woman somewhere in England will be suppressing, too. Sheíll be getting her body ready in procedure that I imagine took a great deal of soul-searching to get to-egg donation is undoubtedly a really tough decision to make for someone.

Iím not alone. It should be a stressor, but ironically, itís an incredible comfort.

Posted by Vanessa at 12:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

The Glass is Half-Full

I don't know what it is, but for some reason I am feeling more...optimistic about IVF. Like surely, if I sacrifice virgins to the Pagan God of Trumpet Playing, give up my undying love of peanut butter, and make sure I paint polka-dots on my naked body under the amber Aries moon, that it will work. Something in my head is telling me that pregnancy is just around the corner, it's going to be here, it has to be so, much like Kathy Lee has to sing on every show! So it is written, so it shall be!

It's strange.

And dangerous.

We were tootling along through Ireland last weekend and Aidan asks me if I wanted to come back to visit. I say yes-I do want to visit again, I love Ireland. We tick off all of the European countries that I haven't seen-he's been to nearly all of them, I am missing a handful. He smiles and tells me that as he's imagined we will have "the pitter patter of little feet" (and he did say that like it was in quotes, he really finds that saying a bit much) next year that the European countries will be "easy" for travelling with children. Because with his two children he simply packed up their gear and took them around the world with him, from the time they were infants all the way through today. It's pretty much the same way I want to raise our child, should we be lucky enough to have this work. I want pictures of us standing on a mountain summit, with baby slung in the Baby Bjorn. I want snapshots of us paddling in clear sea water, with baby floating luxuriously in a puffy inflatable chair and slathered with sunscreen and baby sunglasses.

And for some reason, I can visualize it all, which maybe means that it will happen.

That, or I will have my heart irretrievably broken, which is something I'd rather not think about.

Posted by Vanessa at 11:16 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 06, 2006

Planning Planning Planning

The Period Fairy came roaring through a full day late, which is highly unusual for me as I tend to have cycles every 25-26 days, and they of course last for 5 days, to give maximum discomfort. The Period Fairy showed up, stinking like meatballs and yesterday's cigars, at about the exact minute I was kneeling and hugging Aidan's 4 year-old nieces as we met up with his family for Sunday lunch.


Period Fairy has nothing if not a shitty sense of humor.

So I stood in the kitchen and did some counting on the calendar Aidan bought me for Christmas, a calendar of English firefighters. Since I started having my period at the tender age of 13, I have put a tiny "x" on the bottom of every day I have blood hampering my life. For this, I am able to count up when the next one comes. It's always just an anal-retentive action, and often something I can use to figure out when it will next come, usually at a highly inconvenient time.

My next period is no exception. It should be coming right about the time I ease myself in the water to swim in the Cook Islands. Either that, or it will be a few days late and hit me right about the time I am swimming with dolphins in New Zealand, thereby giving irrational Orca fears.

But the next period is important. It's all the start of the uphill crank of the roller coaster, the chain notching. This period I have now is hopefully the last of my free-lovin' meaningless periods. This is, please dear God, the end of the periods of inconvenience.

Because the next period starts the countdown to cycle. As of day 1 of my next period, in whatever body of water I am swimming in, I have 21 days to Lupron start. 21 days to the start of IVF. 21 days.

So close.

Posted by Vanessa at 11:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 03, 2006

It's Like a Gang, Only Without the Bandanas

OK, so after looking around it seems like many of us are starting to cycle through IVF, ICSI, or IUI in March. Shall we start up a club? You know, women whose uterus (is the plural of that "uteruses"? "Uteri"? Why is this important to me?) are rode hard and put up wet, who've been around the block of trying so fucking hard to get pregnant that we look forward to sticking a needle in the fleshy parts of our hips just to try to get a pink line on a piece of plastic?

Am I the only one who feels a little overwhelmed at going through this alone? I mean...what if I want to IM someone at 3 am while going through the Lupron, screaming about the fact that Mindy Cohn? Was she subjected to "You have such a pretty face, if only...."? Who can I call at 2 pm on a Thursday, when I am in floods of tears over the fact that Smurfette will simply never get it together with Handy?

Because this will happen, people. I have seen what I am like on Lupron, and God knows-Aidan is a lovely boy but there are some elements of the scary mental behavior that I'm going to have to farm out. If you swear to be there for me when I go on a crying jag that I can't get Corn Nuts here, then I swear I will be there for you when you IM me in a rage that Old Navy sold out of your favorite blue sweater, those insensitive fucks.

So ok. If you're cycling in the next month or two, what say we join up, bond up, and be there through thick and thin? Because God knows, this is going to be hell, while at the same time being an adventure that we never dreamt was possible.

Who's with me?

Posted by Vanessa at 12:53 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 02, 2006

I Can't Believe I'm HOPING For It

So I should start my period today or tomorrow. Why is this relevant, you may ask? Technically, I should start the little bleeder on Saturday but I am simply not fortunate enough to be a regular girl. Life is not kind to people like me, instead we get 25-26 days between cycles and cycles that last 5 days. 5 days, in which blood output is not measured in teaspoons like the tampon makers would have you think (who does that? Who measured menstrual blood by teaspoon? Do the Tampax people not understand that does some real emotional scarring when you make Nestle's Tollhouse Cookies? We think: One teaspoon of baking powder...oh! That's a super plus absorbancy right there!) but by the outpouring of the Hoover Dam.

My periods, they are heavy.

So I should start my next period in the next day or so. From then, I can calculate when I get my next period (which will be smack dab in the middle of our family holiday we have planned. Specifically, I should be flowing like a stuck pig right about the time I'll be in a swimsuit in South Pacific waters. Nice.)

What does that matter, you may ask?

As of that period-due beginning of March, I have to call my clinic on Day 1 of the period.

21 days after Day 1 of my period, it all starts. The nose sprays, the bloating, the crying jags, the emotional instability...and the IVF. In just over a month and a half, the kickoff happens once the ref throws the ball into the air. Honestly, in some weird way, I cannot wait. I know IVF is hard, I've been there before. I know it's hard on the body, hard on the person, hard on people around you...but it's the start. It's the attempt. It's the first chance we will have as a couple together to try to have a baby of our own.

So any day now, Period Fairy. I know I'm not alone in asking you to get your ass in gear here, but any day now...

Posted by Vanessa at 12:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack