Tuesday, May 26, 2009

note to self

It's been a whirlwind few weeks, although not particularly exciting - just a LOT of work, and crammed-full weekends, and it's not ending anytime terribly soon. So, therefore, not much time to blog, and not much of substance to write about anyway.

But, this weekend, at our oldest niece's college graduation, I did come up with the following note to myself, should we ever actually be in the position of choosing names for our children - and all ye who may be doing the same, perhaps keep this in mind:

Yea, though there are myriad people and concerns to be kept in mind whilst choosing the name of one's beloved child, try to think ahead to the day when - one hopes - some poor college administrator will be trying to pronounce your child's name as he/she walks happily across the stage to accept a diploma.

Have some mercy on said administrator, would you? 500 names is a lot.

Okay. Back to work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jon & Kate + pain

I first started watching Jon & Kate Plus 8 this past winter, when I was living with my parents (insert snort of disbelief here) for a short time. (Explanation: I moved to a new city to start my new job, husband stayed behind 300 miles away to sell house and finish his job, I lived with my parents because, you know, it's free.) Anyway. It's possible that I got hooked on the show because, as previously stated, I was living with my parents. Whom I love, and all that, but at age 35, it's not the easiest transition in life.

I loved the first few seasons, and then I started getting a little tired of it. That probably says more about my attention span, or lack thereof, than it does about the show. The show was fine. Yeah, I thought Kate was a little bossy. And Jon was a little lazy. And Mady drove me nuts. But, if nothing else, I know that editing can create whole new realities, so I cut them some slack.

I make no secret about my love affair with People's website. It's kind of a love-hate affair, actually, because there is no greater Proclaimer of All Things Celebrity Baby-Related than People, but it's my brain candy. Since last week, however, I've been increasingly horrified at the level of Jon-and-Kate-is-he-cheating-or-is-she-cheating-are-they-staying-together coverage, which was capped off today by an actual poll asking people to vote on whether or not they should end their marriage.

I mean, come on. I know these people agreed to subject themselves to media coverage and all that, but a poll on whether they should stay married or not? Have we really stooped this low? I'm all about the brain candy, but I'll limit my voting to the hideousness of celebrity fashion.

Which all begs the question of why people agree to be featured on reality television in the first place. I watched Elizabeth Edwards' interview on Oprah this week (I really do work, I promise) and wondered about the same thing. Is this necessary? On the one hand, I welcome openness in discussing deep human problems. We connect with each other by sharing our stories, and shutting up about them in an effort to stay polite and well-mannered does not make for good community.

But then again, there is something to be said for circumspection, especially where children are involved. I think Ms. Edwards is pretty damn amazing, actually. And she was fiercely correct about saying that women should have more respect for other women than to move in on one another's husbands. I almost gave her a standing ovation in my living room for that. But do her 10-year old twins really need this interview out there? It's her story, and she has the right to tell it, but is there a time to refrain because the collateral damage is just too much?

What especially interests me is the rush to condemn Jon and Kate (especially Kate, which brings up some interesting questions about our expectations of women) for putting themselves in the limelight. Is my desire to write a blog, even anonymously, even if it's only read by a small audience - is that so different from being on reality TV? There are some important distinctions, sure. But is the instinct so different? I want to share my story. I want my story to mean something. And I want to connect with others who have the same or similar story. It will be a cold day in hell before I put myself on television, but I probably ought to be careful about condemning too quickly those who do.

But here's the thing: no matter what your story, no matter how much you believe you're in the right, no matter how much you want your version in the public and not someone else's, ask yourself whether your kids need this following them for the rest of their lives. Nothing dies on the internet, people. This shit will live forever. It will outlive you.

There is a time for every season under heaven. And there is a time to shut up. I think it's time. People magazine, I'm talking to you. Enough already.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

chugging along

I keep thinking I should write an update, but after all the ups and downs of the IVF cycle and the ensuing "what the hell is going on?" saga, it feels very, very anticlimatic around here at the moment.  And I am okay with that.  A few things, in no particular order:

1. The methotrex.ate shot was effective, and my beta number was down to 10 last Thursday.  Hopefully one more test will show a zero level.  And then I will be delighted to stop getting my blood drawn every other damn day.  However, my nurses are stunningly good at it; not a single bruise, and they've only missed once in...well, I've lost count of the tries.  Well done, ladies.

2. If you ever have an ectopic pregnancy, prepare yourself for the WORST CRAMPS EVER when your period finally comes.  Seriously.  I thought I was dying last Friday night; thankfully, it turned out to be a whopper of a blood clot and not my imminent demise.  I was going to give you a "TMI" warning on this one, but then I thought, "Hey!  I wrote a post about how I'm so comfortable in stirrups that I practically strip my pants off at the dentist's, so they've heard everything anyway."

3. Our follow-up appointment with the doctor was great.  "It doesn't make it okay," he said, "but the silver lining is that your chances of a successful pregnancy are actually better now than they were before."  Apparently women who have an ectopic-IVF pregnancy have higher success rates in subsequent cycles.  I'm all about any kind of silver lining at this point, so I'll take it.

4. Speaking of more-than-you-wanted-to-know-about-me stuff, my husband and I actually had sex last night.  For the first time since before the embryo retrieval, which was, um, March 26th.  Wowza.  Funny how this particular method of baby-making really does not lead to a decent sex life.  At all.  We'll be working on that.

5. I qualified for the Shared Risk program, which means we now have the right to hand over $27,000 of our hard-earned savings (do we have that in hand?  no.  will figure that out later) for a 6-attempt package.  Three fresh; three frozen cycles.  I'm not sure we'll go that route, but it's good to know that it's an option.  Honestly, I'm not sure I have six tries left in me.  That's a lot of needles.

6. We recently saw the Ind.igo Girls in concert.  They.  Rock.  I love them.  It was awesome.

7. I did not kill any parishioners on Mother's Day.  I came close twice, once with an older woman who shook my hand and said, "you're not a mother," (thanks for the update, lady), and again with a mom who kept asking, "do you have kids?  do you want kids?  when are you going to have them?  anytime soon?"  These people do not know how lucky they were to escape unscathed.  Next year, should we still be baby-less, I will be taking Mother's Day off.  

I think that's it for now.  I have been enjoying my glasses of wine and slightly-increased caffeine intake, I must admit.  The doctor strongly suggested we take a few months off for physical and emotional healing, and I think he's completely right.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

out loud

So. Sunday. Mother's Day. Again.

Sundays are big days for me. The whole "pastor" thing pretty much guarantees that you work on Sundays, for one thing, and on most major holidays as well. This is my fourth Damn-It-I'm-Still-Not-A-Mother Mother's Day (preceded by four equally titled Thanksgiving, Christmases, and Easters, so it's not new territory).

Some years, going to church on Mother's Day is like being the only Jewish person at a fundamentalist Christian revival. (I have no idea what that feels like, of course, so I could be wrong.) It's a distinct feeling, a voice in my head repeating its evil little mantra all day long: I don't belong here. Smile, say 'thanks' when people tell you you'd be a great mother, try not to kill them, remember that whole 'don't kill people' commandment, smile again, you're a BIG FRAUD and a failure and IF THEY DON'T SHUT UP ABOUT ME BEING A GREAT MOTHER I WILL BE THE FIRST PASTOR TO KILL A PARISHIONER IN THE ACTUAL SANCTUARY WHERE THEIR FUNERAL WILL BE HELD LATER.

I've never been a big fan of Mother's (or, for that matter, Father's) Day. I love my mom, and my dad. I love to celebrate them and give thanks for them. But as a single person for all of my twenties into my early thirties, and then as an infertile person, I get really sick of our society's obsession with family. [Ironically, there may be no organization within our society more obsessed with family than the church. I should totally work there! Awesome!]

My particular denomination is less family-focused than many others. Yes, we use the word a lot, but we try to define it more widely than mom-dad-two-kids-and-a-dog. The congregation in which I am serving is part of the "Reconciling in Christ" movement, which means that we openly and gladly welcome gay and lesbian men and women. Several of our members are gay and lesbian couples, at least one of which has children. Lots of people in this congregation have adopted children. When we talk about "family ministries," we try hard to make sure we are casting as wide a vision as possible.

Mother's Day is not a liturgical day. It has no official place in the church calendar. Neither do the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving (it's national, not church-related), Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, or Father's Day. But just try to ignore Mother's Day. Seriously. I dare you. Try to get through a whole worship service without saying something to the women who are sitting there with chrysanthemum corsages the size of their heads, their freshly-scrubbed and often slightly surly children sitting next to them because it is Mother's Day and we are going to church so get upstairs and get in the shower and I don't want to hear any complaining about it, do you hear me? Those women deserve a shout-out. They really do.

But so do the women sitting out there who never got married and didn't have kids and who dragged themselves to worship even though they know it is hard as hell to sit next to people who will say things like, "oh, you're lucky not to have children, they're just so much work. Did I tell you about how this one...". And the women who are making it through their first Mother's Day after a miscarriage, hoping they don't burst into tears during the hymn of the day. And the women who are pregnant again, with a child they honestly don't want, but they don't know how to say that out loud, so they are keeping it hidden as deeply as possible. And the women who have never, ever heard the word "infertility" said within the walls of the church, so they are pretty sure no one in the church knows anything about what it's like to survive Mother's Day when you're convinced that you'll never have a child of your own. And the women whose child died this year, who are probably not in the pews because that might actually kill them, living through a public Mother's Day without the child who gave them dandelions twenty years ago as a Mother's Day gift.

Here is the sermon I never, ever want to hear again on Mother's Day (and which I solemnly swear to you I will never, ever preach, no matter how senile I get): "God's love is like a mother's love, surrounding us with joy and encouraging us every day." I. Hate. That. Sermon.

Also, it is almost always preached by a man with six kids.

I am convinced that one of the things the church can offer people is to say things out loud. I'm not preaching this Sunday (thank God), so my out-loud chance will come during the public prayers. During which yes, I plan to thank God for mothers. But I also plan to pray for those who wanted to be mothers and couldn't, or didn't. For mothers who are grieving the loss of a child. For those enduring infertility. For those waiting in the adoption process. For those whose moms were abusive, or missing, or otherwise not something you really want to spend a whole day celebrating.

The list won't be exhaustive, of course. I'll miss something. But we'll give it a shot. And then I'll go home and host a brunch for my mom, and for my sister-in-law, who is celebrating her first Mother's Day. In all honesty, I'm really looking forward to it. Which is a good feeling.

To my sisters-in-being-interrupted, baby-wise: Peace to you on Sunday. I'll be thinking of you.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tertia's book shower

My new job is situated directly across the road from the fertility clinic.  I take that as a good sign.  I look for good signs everywhere.  Where I can't find them, I make them up. (So Close, page 51)

I loved this book.  I devoured it in two nights, laying in bed reading as my husband rolled over murmuring, "when are you going to turn the light off?" and I kept saying, "after this last chapter," which then turned into nine chapters later, and I'm still reading.  

I was reading it in the stim-drug phase of my first IVF cycle.  I admit that I wondered if it was a good idea to read about someone who failed eight times at IVF while undergoing the treatment myself.  I think I was literally wondering if that was a bad sign when I read the sentence above: "I look for good signs everywhere.  Where I can't find them, I make them up."

Tertia, you are my sister.  I am a professional sign-reader/maker-up-of-signs (even though I know this is a bad idea and it is certainly very questionable theology most of the time).  

It's as if I can't help myself.  I desperately want something to hang onto, something to lead me in any direction.  I kept telling myself it was a good sign that I was responding without side effects to the stim drugs.  That it was a good sign everytime I got a parking spot close to the doctor's office, or that traffic was light when I had an appointment all the way across town.  For the first time in a long time, during that IVF cycle, I felt like it was a good thing to see pregnant women; maybe their baby mojo would rub off on  me.  Maybe I was finally going to be one of them!  

I kid you not: if there was a good sign to be had during that IVF cycle, I found it.  And yes, when I couldn't find them, I made them up.

And then the cycle crashed and burned in a spectacular manner.  (If you're new to this blog, quick summary: initial positive test, followed by 'abnormally rising betas' for two weeks = ectopic pregnancy.)

Then I looked back at all the bad signs I must have missed which surely would have given me a warning that we were headed for disaster.  And I found those too.

I loved Tertia's brutal honesty, and her unique brand of eternal-optimist-mixed-with-pissed-off-at-reality writing.  I can relate.  Our diagnoses are different.  I admit that I hope our journeys will be too: I know, at this point, that I do not have nine IVF tries in me (and neither does my checkbook).  

My personal mantra is to try as hard as possible to avoid sign-looking when we start treatments again.  I don't think it's good for me.  I know I will not entirely succeed at this, but it's something to work on.  

Reading this book, however, is nothing but a good sign.  Go get one for yourself.  I'll make it easy for you: go here.

Oh - and my book shower game?  You guessed it: are you a sign-reader?  Do you search for them everywhere, or do you think people like me are nutcases?  (Both of those might be true, by the way.)  What's the craziest sign you've ever seen?  Do you think reading signs is a good idea, or a recipe for disaster?

Now I'm off to the rest of the shower.  Enjoy!