Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Country Mouse City Mouse


I had a delightful afternoon catching up with a friend from college. I hardly ever see her anymore, not just because we live almost two hours away from each other (which, let’s be honest, really isn’t that far at all considering my house is 30-45 minutes from all things anyway…and my husband commutes over an hour each way), but because our lives and schedules are so vastly different right now it's astounding.

I felt like the ultimate schlub the moment she walked in the door. The. Ultimate. I had even gone so far as to put on makeup and a bra and pants that had a button—instead of sweats, of course—which, as many stay-at-home-moms will validate, is pretty much the equivalent of getting ready for prom. Anyway, I felt perfectly adequate until she strolled in with her adorable stylish put-together-ness, making me painfully aware of the unflattering sloppiness of my old red pullover hoody and Ugg slippers. 

Then came the catching up. My exciting update lasted about 10 seconds and mostly involved news from other peoples’ lives, although I’m sure I also discussed poo. She noted, with genuine enthusiasm, that we must be doing well because we had brand name Honeymaid Angry Birds graham cracker cookies. Woot woot!


THEN she described the wonders of being in law school (top 10%!) and spending all her free time lobbying at the capital and managing some big press campaign and being all over the news and going to lunch with members of Congress and being an expert witness in trial and getting job offers from judges and CEOs and law firms and being in a photo shoot for a magazine cover and being asked to be on MTV's "True Life" (declined?!) and having people offer to fund her campaign to run for State Representative. Say WHAT? Even recounting things now makes my dumbfounded political ignorance agonizingly palpable. 

Then she told me how she just started dating a guy she met at the capital. Cuz, yeah, we all meet people at the capital. Not online or at the bar or even in church. “The capital,” she said nonchalantly. He’s tall and attractive and respectful and kind and hyper intelligent; he has residency in like eight countries and is a health nut and a political activist. Probably speaks eight languages too. And does homemade caramel. Oh, and he’s a marine and an engineer. Naturally. For a moment she brought it down to my level when she said he was a ceramist. I thought, “Cool! He makes clay pots! I can relate to that!” But no. A ceramic engineer turned aeronautical engineer who also patented some stuff for fracking…until he wanted to pursue more environmentally friendly activities, of course. 


Writing this now I fear that I sound resentful and envious. I want to be clear that that is not the case. I am totally, genuinely, proud and thrilled for her. It does, however, paint a vivid picture about how very very very very far our two paths—which sorta kinna started in a similar place—have diverged. At one point she was saying how she deliberated over adopting a shelter cat, but was uncomfortable with the long-term commitment of pet ownership. Marveling at my ability to readily embrace major commitment, she listed, one by one by one, all of the commitments I’ve made: one husband, two dogs, one cat, two kids, one house…all the wonderful things…that feel like wonderful shackles being clapped on one by one by one as she said them. Like a low, heavy roof slowly squishing me. It’s weird, because the very things that can make me feel oppressed and trapped are the things I love tremendously, the things I love beyond words and really wouldn’t trade for anything. Nonetheless, when contrasted against a life of freedom and purpose and achievement, it can make ya feel sorta kinna enslaved and held back and squished down. BUT…never mind with the what-ifs. It is what it is. And it is wonderful.
My super successful crazy busy illustrious pal can appreciate my opposite life though, and I appreciate that about her. She is sincerely happy to see, hug, and play with my little uncivilized monsters. She told me my messy house looked great. She told me my unkempt hair looked hip. She seemed authentically interested in the mundane details of my life. I know, I know…she’s a lawyer to-be and a budding politician—quite the flatterer—but whatEVs. I’ll take it. She’s still my sweet and honest and supportive friend, even if she is freakishly driven and talks way too much. 

So after she ate all my bagel thins and drank all my coffee, she was like, “Well, I’d better get going. I need to go for a swim and then write a very important document for Judge Bigwig before my teleconference with the President.” Then I was like, “Well, I’m going to feed the kids leftover pancakes and string cheese while we watch Sleeping Beauty. Later, I’m going to enjoy American Idol on DVR while Facebooking.” 


Sunday, March 24, 2013

F



I’m used to being good at things. I’m also used to things coming easily. Yes, I am aware that I sound like an arrogant jerk in saying so. I'll admit I don't much care for the old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. If at first I don’t succeed, I obviously wasn’t meant to be doing it in the first place. Duh. Not that I’m against working hard, but I have to know that success is a definite outcome to make the hard work worthwhile. For example, I knew I could get good grades in school if I worked hard. I know I will eventually finish a painting that I’m happy with if I work hard. I know my kids and I will survive each day if I work hard. Other things are doable, but I normally choose not to do them. For example, I know I can get this gross house clean if I work hard and I know I can get in shape with diet and exercise if I work hard.

Then there are the things that just aren’t doable, even if I try. If I fail at something, despite my best efforts, I don’t take it well. At the very best, I am UNpleasantly surprised. At worst, I am crushed. And embarrassed. So when my “beta” (hcg levels, or pregnancy hormone) test came back positive, but barely, it was like getting a D-, a barely passing grade. Shameful. To be considered pregnant, you need a number 50 or higher; some pregnancy tests only require 25 or higher to be considered pregnant. Mine was 53. See? D-. The worst grade I ever got in school (including college) was a C. L-7 weenie! It was in high school gym class--the only class I repeatedly skipped.

Moving on. Congratulations were bestowed for my "positive results". I couldn't get excited about a D-, and my doubt proved right. In a normal pregnancy, the beta needs to double every 48 hours to indicate appropriate growth, and when I got re-checked two days later, my number was only 57. Two days later it had dropped to 16. That pretty much means that the transfer was unsuccessful. They called it a biochemical pregnancy. I don’t think the term “miscarriage” is applied to a situation like this, but it’s still weird that I was technically pregnant, and now I’m not.

Now. The success rate of IVF is nowhere near 100%. I read somewhere that the highest you can expect is 65%, so it often takes several attempts. Sometimes 4 or 5 attempts. But here I am, thinking how easy it was to get pregnant with my two kids, fully expecting it to work. Not just work. I was expecting an A+. Instead, I got a D- and ultimately an F. I was disappointed, but mostly saddened for the parents. Guilty, even. They are financially and emotionally invested beyond comprehension, and although they are taking it well, I feel like I let them down.

The emotions involved in carrying a baby for someone are really hard to put to words. It’s sort of like being excited for a friend who’s having a baby—involved but disconnected. The emotions involved in trying and failing to carry a baby for someone else are more complex. Of course there’s the question of what went wrong. In all likelihood it was just not a viable embryo for some unknown reason, despite being genetically tested and confirmed, but I still don’t like feeling like I failed. Even if it was beyond my control.

And then of course I wish I hadn't told anyone about the surrogacy, because that means more people to ask questions, more people to worry, more people to doubt, more people to criticize; more people to let down.

HowEVER, my grade is not really an F, just an Incomplete, because we’re going to try again. It totally sucks to have to do a whole other cycle of meds—shots and all—but this is a situation where I need to “try, try again”, because I made a commitment. Even if I’m mad about it. And impatient. The good part is, with this delay, I won’t be so huge in the hot summer months. Another bonus is that if the pregnancy is divided between 2013 and 2014 I won’t get completely screwed in taxes. The bad part is, it still sucks to fail.

But everyone is hopeful.

In the meantime, I get a break from all the meds and restrictions have been lifted. I’m enjoying my coffee and beer for a couple more weeks before we give it another go. Fingers crossed for round two!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Embryos and Bedpans


Here I am lying on the couch typy typing on my brand spanking new laptop. We’ve been discussing the purchase of a new computer since September, and I decided that now is as good a time as any, especially since I thought I might feel compelled to do something other than watch TV during my two day bed rest. I gotta say having a laptop is bomb diggity. So is being on bedrest.

My sister is doing dishes and the kids are running amuck and there is a super blizzard outside and I haven’t been up on my feet for more than five times since yesterday afternoon—and only to pee. I try to be helpful by yelling at the children from my stationary post, but I am on mandatory bed rest since yesterday’s embryo transfer, you know, to get the little sucker to stick and all. Not that it could just fall right out or anything…in fact, the nurse made a point of telling me that it’s perfectly okay to have a normal BM because it wouldn’t get pushed out either way. Giggle. BM.

I gotta say, I’m sort of enjoying being a lazy sack and having people do things for me. Yesterday my husband brought me grilled cheese and tomato soup in bed, and my sister served up some mac ‘n’ cheese for lunch to the kiddos and me on the couch. I tried testing the limits of my husband’s patient servitude yesterday, saying “fetch me this and that”, and he was shockingly cheerful through it all. My sister is super duper awesome and helpful too, but I feel a tinge of guilt when there’s chaos and screaming and people need fed and poops need wiped and dishes need cleaned and laundry needs washed, and here I am lying on the couch surfing the net. I still think that I need a bell though.

Dooley works an hour away and won’t be coming home tonight—to avoid driving in the snow—and as a result, my sister and I are going to have to be brave little toasters and do the butt shot alone. That needle is friggen huge: several inches long and as thick as pencil lead. Old school pencil lead, not those newfangled mechanical pencils the kids have these days. Wait. The kids just have ipads now. Does anyone know how to write by hand anymore? I know I suck at it. My handwriting is an illegible scribbley mix of script and print.

For those who are interested in the technicalities, the aforementioned butt shot is Progesterone in Oil, an intramuscular shot meant to help maintain early pregnancy, and I will have to continue using it every other day for another 4-6 weeks. This saddens me. Amazingly, however, if I ice my arse cheek for several minutes beforehand, it’s numb enough for the massive shot not to be the most painful experience ever, and if the shot-giver is brave enough to use a “quick, dart-like motion”, and really commit to it, I hardly feel it…other than the uncomfortable pressure of the fluid being injected. Then I massage the muscle for awhile and all is well.

Five paragraphs later, the main event: the embryo transfer itself. I hate to disappoint, but the procedure in and of itself was very quick and simple. Similar to a regular ladyparts checkup, only with more people and equipment in the room. There’s the endocrinologist with the embryo warming stuff, and a little screen where we could view the embryo itself before it was sucked up into the turkey baster. But it’s really nothing like a turkey baster, so scratch that. I think it’s a very thin tube. Anyway, there was also the bigwig doctor, a nurse, and ultrasound tech. On the ultrasound screen, you could see a huge black mass, i.e. my insanely full bladder, and also my uterus, where you could watch the tiny embryo get shot in. Really fast. The most uncomfortable part was the bladder pressure. Enter the fun part of this experience…

As I mentioned in my last post, acupuncture is a common procedure on the day of transfer. I had a treatment before and after the transfer. It’s supposed to do things like prevent uterine contractions and regulate hormones. Whatevs. So once all the needles were in for treatment #1, I remembered I was supposed to drink a crapton of water so I had a full bladder (which makes it easier to see things in the ultrasound). Since my arms and hands were bristling with needles, I asked Dooley to be so kind as to pour some water in my mouth. I know what you’re thinking: bad idea…he won’t be able to resist the urge to pour it everywhere. But you’d be wrong, because he successfully delivered several gulps of spill-free water. That’s trust. Then we got overconfident, and we all know that pride comes before a fall.

So there I was, on the doctory bed, in the doctory hospital gown, immobilized by needles, struggling with wobbly abs to lift my head enough to drink the water being carefully poured by my dearest husband (let me just say that drinking while mostly lying flat is very difficult), and suddenly there was too much water, too fast. There was also a second of continued pouring. I coughed and spurted and couldn’t swallow the mouthful of water, and out it came. I was soaked all over my left shoulder and arm, and there was a puddle on the floor. I continued to hack and hack for a good few minutes, but also couldn’t stop laughing about it. Perhaps it was the valium they gave me, but I kept picturing what had just occurred and kept on laughing and coughing and laughing and coughing. It was funny. (Yeah, probably the valium.) Not exactly the restful time that was intended. Luckily no one came in right then, but when the acupuncturist came back and I sheepishly told her what had happened, she made sure I had new warm, dry hospital clothes. All the bedding there was nice and hot, like it had just come out of the dryer. Singsong voice: looooovelyyyy!

Anyway, I cautiously used the hand with the fewest needles to gulp down the rest of the water bottle myself, and by the time we were transfer-ready, I was pee-ready. To the max. The ultrasound tech pushed directly on my bladder the whole time, but luckily the whole thing was very quick. Soon it was time for my second acupuncture treatment, but before that, I had the pleasure of peeing the bed. No not really, but I had to…or got to…use a bedpan. I say “had to” because they wouldn’t let me get up to pee, but I say “got to” because I’ve never been so thrilled to have an empty bladder, even if it meant using a bedpan. Still, very humbling, to say the least, and any girl who’s had a similar experience will know that gravity does unpleasant things with fluid when you’re lying down and peeing, i.e. makes it go all over your backside. Dooley was there the whole time too; our giggling about the whole thing gave me pee stage fright, but once I let loose, it felt sooooo good, and that bowl was quite full. Almost full enough to be bathing my ass checks in my own warm urine. Then the poor nurse who had to remove it almost spilled when Dooley was trying to be helpful by opening the door but bumped into her instead. Almost spilled. Gratefully there was no actual spill.
My second acupuncture treatment was much more restful, other than my intensely itchy nose, which I asked Dooley to scratch for me. He obliged, but then made me “eat my boogars”. Joke’s on you, babe, there are no boogars outside my nose. Plus when he was ever-so-carefully helping me out of the bed, he was surprised upon touching a damp sheet--then horrified when he realized it was a little pee that had escaped the bedpan. HA. And ew. On another note, he very helpfully and maturely kept the IPs (intended parents) updated on progress throughout the day via text messaging.

Anyway. I may or may not be now pregnant with someone else’s baby. I have ten anxiety-ridden days until the first pregnancy test, or “beta”. Tomorrow I can resume normal activity, but sadly, I can’t resume my hardcore exercise routine (*snicker*).