Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Here's why

Earlier today I read two wonderful posts while browsing the blogs when I should have been packing. They made me feel good and guilty at the same time: good in that they were wise and funny and touching and so very recognizable; guilty in that they both reminded me of the fact that I've been failing to appreciate the most important thing in my life. Somehow I've lost touch with the fact that J. is the center of my universe, my religion, the thing that makes me feel most alive. And I need to remember, to keep the reasons fresh in my mind. So here are a few.

When he wraps presents, he uses any item at hand; one time, he wrote my name out on the wrapped box in Aquafresh toothpaste. In cursive. He also likes to wrap up items we already own--socks, plums, aspirin bottles, anything.

J. smells beautiful to me: at the end of the day, when I curl into him and drift off to sleep, I breathe him in and feel at home.

He swims with grace and ease. When he moves through the water, I sometimes stay underneath to watch him, a beautiful streamlined figure, cutting through so cleanly.

He is inconceivably thoughtful. He always wants to do the right thing. He loves my friends, my family and my bird. He is never rash.

When he laughs out loud, his eyes tear up and his nose starts to run. He laughs often.

He created an annual event involving non-traditional badminton, croquet and bocce ball in our tiny back yard. Thirty people fly in from around the West Coast to attend.

He never lies.

He makes too much food. If two people are coming, he cooks for ten. He is a wonderful cook.

Every March, J. prudently insists that we buy fewer tomato seedlings than the previous year. Every March, we buy more.

He loves shoes. And funky shirts. He looks stunning in a suit.

Every morning, he gets up and makes me a cup of tea.

Every night, he tells me that he loves me more than yesterday.


CD1

On the bright side, I did gather my courage and test. On the dark side, my fears of The One Pink Line were, unsurprisingly, proved correct.

Late yesterday, hands shaking, I peed on the stick, averted my eyes, set the timer to three minutes and waited in panic. And then saw the sea of white. And at 5:03 this morning, the brutal cramps started in, a wave of nausea and a flood of red.

J., more thoughtful and lovely and kind than I could have hoped, has decided to take me off on another trip--Lassen and Crater Lake--starting tomorrow. If mud pots and fumaroles and thermal vents don't distract me, my obsession will officially have exceeded any reasonable boundaries and I should be banned from TTC till I can screw my head on straight.

I'm taking my laptop but doubt I'll have internet access, so I'll most likely be back a-blogging early next week.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

If I only had the noive

There are three HPT's in my cabinet. I am afraid to look at them.

I'm 16 DPO; have been certain that my cycle would start any minute for the last two days. Still nothing. Don't get me wrong: I don't think I'm pregnant, I don't feel pregnant; I'm simply still...hopeful. And it's driving me to distraction.

I am paralyzed by the Fear of the One Pink Line. I'm also paralyzed by the uncertainty.

I don't know what to do.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Doctor Useful?

J. came up from his basement office (singing "Loooooteal Phase--Yeeaw!") to find me weeping melodramatically over my laptop, the Valley Yellow Pages in my lap, the cordless phone in the crick of my neck, a pen in one hand and my health insurance card in the other. On the screen were four browsers, each opened to a different but equally useless "Find a Doc" site recommended by my PPO.

(Here I should probably mention that the snazzy new gay guy doctor I was so excited about--the one recommended by Mother T.--would not under any circumstances take my insurance. I was crushed. Right back to square one.)

On one site, the lookup function didn't work at all; on the other three, the same list of 70 "reproductive endocrinologists" was displayed.

These 70 were supposed to be: a) reproductive endocrinologists, b) affiliated with my PPO, and c) in practice.

In actuality, of the first 25 I called, a) 17 were retired or no longer at the phone number listed, b) of the four offices in which I could reach a live person, only one was actually contracted with my PPO, and c) he wasn't a reproductive endocrinologist--just a regular OB/GYN who had no idea why Blue Shield listed him as an R.E.

The customer care rep at the insurance company, while sympathetic to my plight, said she could not help as she only had access to the same websites I was already using. When I asked if there was anyone at the insurer who could get to the bottom of it, she said she'd ask the appropriate people to look into it but that "it would take months." Instead, she recommended that I open the phone book and just start calling around.

"Calling around?" I say. "Names from the phone book? Calling around?! Are you serious?! CALLING AROUND? I pay $617 a month for this--to CALL NAMES FROM THE PHONE BOOK?"

But, in the end, what else am I gong to do? Blue Shield is obviously not going to help me. So I call around. I open the Yellow Pages. There are no listings for reproductive endocrinologists. They are, apparently, lumped in with OB/GYN's. So I look for ads--anything with the word "fertility" in it.

I find two, though I know there most be dozens--guess they just don't advertise in the motherfucking Yellow Pages--and call. The first, quite amazingly, appears to be included on the dubious list of 70 from my insurer, just with a different--presumably more accurate--phone number. Aha!, I think, I've found one! So I call. And am told, after being welcomed with open arms and given an appointment for next week, that he does not, in fact, take my insurance after all. He dropped out of all PPO's last year and never got himself removed from the list.

Double motherfucker.

So I call the other one, a nebulously-named group practice--and am asked to wait on hold "there are five calls ahead of you." So I wait on hold, keep waiting, keep waiting, and am eventually, predictably, disconnected. I start to cry. I redial. And this is where Jeff comes in (singing).

It takes him a moment to realize that I am a wreck, but when he trails off with a final, lackluster "yeeeaw!" and comes to sit next to me, he is full of concern and love. He hugs me, dislodging the phone, and we sit there for a while while I break down. He tells me he loves me. And as I calm down enough to finish recounting the morning's ordeal, I hear a "hello?" from the forgotten cordless, which I scramble to pick up.

Turns out, this group practice is made up of five female fertility specialists. They are five miles from my house. They take my insurance. Two of them are taking new patients.

And I have an appointment on October 28th.

Yeeeaw!


Sunday, September 26, 2004

Loooooteal phase

Occasionally, J. likes to let out a whooping rendition of a song he calls "Loooooteal Phase," a la They Might Be Giants' "Minimum Wage." J., however, does not fully grasp the actual meaning of the luteal phase and belts out his greatest hit at wildly inappropriate times--such as when I'm balled up on the brown chenille futon with murderous cramps on CD1, wishing black misery on all of the world's fertile women. (The rage lasts about an hour, though the jealousy persists.)

For me, the luteal phase brings on two weeks of conflicted feelings--a sort of cyclical bipolar disorder. There's the relief of having completed the ovulatory phase, meaning we can stop having obligatory daily sex, as well as the seemingly insuppressible surge of hope that this month, this time, the result will be different. It also brings about the stark awareness that I'm pointlessly trying to fool myself. The "symptoms" that the rebelliously hopeful part of myself likes to obsess about--uterine twinges, occasional breast tenderness, sensitivity to smells--are doubtless harbingers of nothing more than another gruelling menstrual cycle.

Why is it--how is it--that I contain both hope and the certainty of failure in the same moment, the same breath? That I can resign myself to the inevitable but still break down when it becomes manifest?

Today, I'm at 15 DPO. I'm guessing the futon will be serving its usual purpose this afternoon or tomorrow, and I will once again curse myself for having allowed any shred of optimism. And then I'll start the whole process again.

God, I'm starting to sound like a broken record.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I could be president

Went to Southern California for the weekend to celebrate our family's Momentous Birthdays.

My bird-like grandmother, a woman of impeccable taste and lasting humor, turned ninety on Sunday. She weighs eighty-two pounds, despite her fondness for sweets, and still wears heels every day, even when she's by herself. (Some of her parting words to me were, "J.'s such a smart, kind man, so full of integrity...just like George Bush!" Which she delivered with a sardonic wink and a giggle.)

My father--unbending, turned in on himself, suspicious of change--turned seventy today, surprising himself to some degree as he was just sure he was already elderly when I was still a child.

And there it was, thirty-five, waiting impatiently for me on Saturday. Ready to Get On With It.

On the long drive home from the festivities, my unruddered ship went astray, veering off unpredictably toward the Sierra Nevadas. (I had already changed out of my pajamas, so I figured, heck, let's make the best of it. Make it an occasion instead of heading straight back to The Other City By The Bay).

Meandering up the Owens Valley with vague itentions of seeing Mono Lake, we decided to take a detour to view the ancient bristlecone pines in the Inyo National Forest. These are the trees that were alive when the Egyptians built the pyramids: the oldest living things on earth. They survive on harsh, dry, cold and exposed mountainsides in the middle of nowhere, with little water, infertile soil and cutting winds desiccating all but the heartiest speciments.

You know what's impressive? Even the oldest of the bristlecones is still reproducing. Scattering their little pinecones far and wide, tiny saplings popping out of the dusty soil all around.

And if they can do it at 3,842 years or more, why am I letting thirty-five get me so worried? Plus, I just remembered the one advantage of thirty-five: I can now run for President.

So watch out, Shrub: I still have six weeks to get on the ballot.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Underemployed

The time: 10:03 this morning
The place: Our bed

J: "So, Bugs, what are you going to do today?"

Me, staring vaguely at the swirling plaster on our ceiling: "Hmmmm...dunno, really. Guess I'll go check my email. Once I've finished my tea. And the newspaper. Are you done with the Datebook section?"

J: "Do you plan to leave the house at all?"

Me, somewhat guiltily: "Oh! Yes, yes, of course. I'm going to go into the yard at least and pick some tomatoes."

J: "Do you plan to put on clothing?"

Me: "Yes, of course."

J: "I think you're going to spend the whole day in your pajamas again."

Me: "What, pajamas aren't clothes?"

J: "Not outdoor clothes."

Me: "What's the difference? The bottoms look like yoga pants anyway."

J: "Not the clown ones."

Me: "I wasn't planning on wearing the clown ones."

J: "You did last week. In the front yard. With my pool shoes. And that hat."

Me: "That was last week."

J: "Whatever. Look like a clown if you want to. What else are you going to do today?"

Me: "I could dry some more tomatoes in the oven."

J: "And?"

Me: "I might shower."

J: "Good idea."




A friend indeed

It has finally happened. I let the little cross-eyed siamese out of the burlap sack today: I told a friend about trying to conceive and the attendant infertility melodrama. I hadn't spilled the whole story to anyone else till today. And you know who pushed me to it?

Dr. Useless.

That's right, Dr. Useless herself. But it wasn't like she called to check on me, found me down and recommended that I seek emotional support from my close friends and family. Instead, what she did was simply not to call with another referral name. Not a word. No. Her contribution was, finally, to piss me off so completely with her unbearable uselessness that I broke down and sought out the only person I know personally who is even familiar with infertility--a former co-worker and friend who used to work in a doctor's office and mentioned one time that she knew a couple of R.E.'s.

I will call her Mother T., since she has something of the presence of the soon-to-be-sainted Teresa who tended the poor in Calcutta's slums. Mother T. is the kind of warm, caring, empathetic woman who rescues dogs, gives blood every month and never stops looking for ways to be kind and helpful to anyone in distress--anyone at all. The fact that she's a devout Catholic and I am a devout athiest has never caused us even a moment's tension; she is too generous in her beliefs to think me a heathen.

If I could have chosen a mother, it would have been Mother T. Of course she would have been only twelve at the time of my birth, but I'm confident she would have had the werewithal to make a go of it anyway. She's just like that. A woman who sees lemons and makes lemonade, and then gives it to anyone who might be a tetch dry.

Mother T. had made it known for quite some time that she thought J. and I should have a baby. I was so flattered when she first said it--long before we decided to give procreation a shot--that I wonder now if that might have given me the first flicker of an inclination.

Anyway, these R.E.'s sound delightful: a gay couple, they have been operating a fertility clinic for more than a decade. And they love Mother T. like family. She will even be checking with them on my behalf to find out whether they take my insurance and get me on the calendar.

Of course, they probably won't and I'll be back to square one. But maybe it's more like square two, since I can now add the sympathy, understanding and hopefulness of one in-the-flesh friend to my arsenal. And I have a feeling that will count for a lot.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Directions: Find wall. Bang head on wall. Repeat.

Today I took my first official step on the infertility trail: I saw Dr. Useless and asked for a referral.

Dr. U: So, Bugs, why are you here today?

Me: I'd like to get a referral for an infertility specialist, please.

Dr. U: Oh? How long have you been trying?

Me: We stopped using contraception in July of last year, so about fourteen...

Dr. U., interrupting: Oh, I didn't realize you were trying.

Me: Yes, remember, we talked about it a few months back...

Dr. U.: How old are you?

Me: I'll be thirty-five on Saturday.

Dr. U.: Leaving it a bit late, aren't you? Well, let's see...hmmm...have you ever been pregnant before?

Me: Well, yes, like I mentioned before, I was pregnant in late 1986, when I was seventeen.

Dr. U.: And did you miscarry? Or terminate?

Me: Terminate.

Dr. U.: At least you know you can conceieve!

Me: Well, I know I could conceieve more than half my lifetime ago. Not so sure about now.

Dr. U.: How about J. Has he ever fathered children?

Me: No.

Dr. U.: Are you sure?

Me: Yes, absolutely. I mean, J. is absolutely sure. Absolutely. He's never...I mean...

Dr. U.: OK, then! So, I'll refer you to Dr. Bigshot, R.E. and have your charts sent over. She'll probably want to check out J. first, since that's easy, and then it'll be up to you.

Considering that I didn't have to fight for the referral, I was rather pleased with the outcome, if not the visit itself. I mean, as preposterous and humiliating as the conversation with Dr. Useless was, I ended up with a referral to a female R.E. only fifteen minutes from my house who's taking new patients, and she's the head of a major infertility clinic. Yes!

Actually, No! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I call Dr. Bigshot's office, full of hope. Unfortunately, there's one little, tiny problem: according to the unreasonably bitter receptionist, the clinic is not affiliated with my ubiquitous insurance plan, Blue Shield of California. In fact, they're not affiliated with any PPO's whatsoever. So, unless I want to pay cash on the barrel, there will be no Dr. Bigshot for me. Receptionist hangs up on me without so much as a "sorry."

Agitated, I call Dr. Useless again and get her voice mail.

Me leaving agitated message: Um, Dr. Useless, I called Dr. Bigshot and her receptionist said that they aren't affiliated with Blue Shield or any other PPO's, so I'm hoping you can give me another referral? Thanks. Please call me at home or on the cell if I don't pick up.

Dr. U. leaving terse response on machine while I was at gym, having not even bothered with the cell: Bugs, I don't really know anybody else, except Dr. Old Man. But I think the problem is probably that your insurance doesn't cover infertility treatment, not that Dr. Bigshot doesn't take it.

Which is a load of garbage, I think. The receptionist at Dr. Bigshot told me straight up that they aren't affiliated with any PPO's.

So, I head to the computer to look up Dr. Old Man, figuring, OK, so he's a man, but I can't have it all, right? He's probably qualified and almost every physician takes Blue Shield, so I'm sure that'll be fine...

He is, indeed, eminently qualified. Has been an R.E. since 1987. Works at a well-respected infertility clinic. One little problem: it's the same fucking clinic as Dr. Bigshot. They don't take my plan.

So, I sit down to my insurance company's website and, after logging in, find that my account is no longer associated with a plan. I try to fix this, and find that my membership number--which I cannot edit--is three months out of date, having been modified when I was laid off. Since I can't verify my coverage, what with no plan being associated, I figure I'll at least look up R.E.'s in the area and find some likely candidates, then call Dr. Useless tomorrow and get her to refer me.

Which would have been fine, except that the "choose a specialty" pull-down menu is broken.

And that's it. I give.



Monday, September 13, 2004

When the Dog Bites

Raindrops on roses? Whiskers on kittens?

Bollocks.

Earlier this evening, I said to myself: I'm feeling sad. Which cruelly caused my subconscious to press PLAY on a perpetual loop of the most abhorrently inadequate song ever committed to film.

When I'm feeling sad, no wild geese or copper kettles have even the most remote therapeutic effect on my unhappiness. The schnitzel with noodles? I'm already infertile; I don't need to feel fat, too. And as for girls in white dresses, Jesus, they're the worst. Just a painful reminder of what I don't have. (Though, really, I don't know about the blue sash; there's a 75% probability she would have brown eyes, my imaginary little girl, so perhaps a lovely green, or even pink...)

When my sister, A.K., was thirteen, she landed the minor role of Louisa in a community theater production of The Sound of Music. (Louisa's claim to fame: warbling "I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly!" while twirling around the stage, amrs extended, emulating an airplane.) Being expected to act as her scene partner and cue her during the full eight weeks of rehearsals, every saccharine line of the play became embedded in my head, like mental ringworm.

And the worst was the scene of the thunderstorm, all of the children rushing in to be comforted by the eager and nauseatingly pleasant Maria. Even at age eleven, I was certain that My Favorite Things was really just Things That Rhymed and That Oscar Hammerstein Thought Children Would Find Vaguely Pleasant. I mean, really, woolen mittens? C'mon. What the fuck use would I have for itchy woolen mittens? I'm from California.

Alternate lyrics could be found, I guess--raindrops on our parched lawn might be somewhat helpful; whiskers not collecting in shaved clumps in our sink would be niceish--but they still wouldn't be enough to raise anyone's spirits. So when the dog bites, save your time and just bite him back.

Might be a little harder with the bee, though.

Death March

I have had four OPK positives so far this month. And one that probably should have counted but I decided I didn't want five plusses so I threw the palest in the negative pile.

These are Answer OPK's, two separate boxes. I used most of one last month and got all positives, so I figured it was a bad batch. Tried the second box this month. So many, many purple lines.

For the first few cycles I looked upon my occasional purple lines with pleasure: Darling, it's time! Let's make a baby!

A silk nightgown, a glass of wine, any sexy cliche and we were on our way.

Little by little, the sheen of our lovemaking (god, I hate that word--such a pretentious thing) has tarnished, almost imperceptibly at first, but noticeably. The enthusiasm, the surprise are waning, replaced by a kind of...dullness. And repetition. And more repetition.

And so to this month. What, exactly, does one do with four positive OPK's in five days? Well, one begins the march. Left...left...left, right, left. Wake up, honey, we really need to.... Left...left...left, right, left. Sorry, love, we really should.... Left...left... left, right, left. Umm, sweetness, I think we have at least another day to.... Left...left...left, right, left. OK, it can't really go much longer, I think....


Friday, September 10, 2004

Gulp

Well, I finally screwed up my courage and called my doctor (useless) to insist on a fertility referral. Dr. Useless, unwilling to give up a fee, perhaps, is insisting that I return yet again to meet with her prior to the referral. She will probably tell me again of how she thought she was infertile but just stopped worrying about it and got pregnant! So helpful. She is a nice woman, pleasant to talk to and perfectly qualified to treat my annual bouts of strep throat, but her fertility advice is maddening.

While this is not exactly what I wanted, it is, at least, some sort of forward motion. I will make my case and demand action; I don't think she can put up much of an argument against it. The guidelines are on my side; I'm printing out the INCIID definition of infertility and when to seek treatment so I can politely shake it in her face if she gives me trouble.

Taking this step is scary for me, but I think the haze of inactive futility is probably worse. In fact, I feel better aleady.

Which may also be because the heat snap has finally broken. There's a lovely, crisp breeze.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Forgot to pee on stick

V. hot here. Don't like heat. Laptop hot, radiating heat. Pet not happy. Even tomato plants don't like it. Heat short-circuiting brain.

Should have started OPK'ing yesterday; forgot. Hmmm. Wonder if will remember tomorrow?

Tooooo hhhhhhhot.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Rubbish

Barren Mare's beautiful post on boredom got me to thinking, examining my own state of boredom. I am bored with infertility, bored with worrying about it, bored with everything that it entails. Since I'm bored with my own boredom, I thought instead that I'd ponder my husband's boredom--which is considerable.

He has a resourceful nature, many interests and a cheerful disposition, but ten weeks of my unemployment and four months of his own have, apparently, taxed him excessively. We have watched too much television, stared listlessly at walls, and found ourselves in the car without anywhere to go. I worried that we would eventually drive each other crazy.

The situation was clearly dire when I found him, not just perusing, but ogling pictures in a catalog.

The catalog was not from Victoria's Secret, or even a sporting goods outlet. It was, sadly, from the Alameda Waste Management District. And the pictures were of what appeared to be large, black trash cans.

"But no, love, they're not trash cans--they're compost bins! Do you realize how much compost we could generate every year? I bet we can produce enough to fill half of our tomato bins, easy!"

I stared, agape, thinking he must surely be joking. He couldn't seriously be fired up about dirt, right?

J., radiant with newfound enthusiasm, proceeded to wax rhapsodic about the benefits of compost, the various options and devices, and whether or not we should incorporate worms.

Worms. Jesus. The man's able to distract himself with the thought of kitchen scraps and worms.

Would that it were so easy for me.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The Crane Sisters

In my childhood home, certain words and phrases were banned. No, not profanity--though we would never have dreamed of swearing in front of our father--but perfectly common things that all children say. We might, for example, have been sent to bed without supper for a statement like, "Hopefully, Daddy will take us to Disneyland again. It was so fun!"

He would cover his ears, grimace and holler--usually from the kitchen, where his selective hearing allowed him to discern any ungrammatical utterance within a 50-foot radius but would prevent him from making out our requests for pork chops instead of baked chicken. "Hopefully means 'with hope,' not 'I hope.' Sheesh! And I take it you meant 'so much fun,' correct? We've been over this a hundred times!"

"Yes, Daddy," we would dutifully reply, dropping our wee heads in shame.

The Old Man would also admonish us to use precise words. A car was never just a car, it was a sedan or a coupe. We never referred to pasta as "spaghetti" unless that's truly what it was. (Once a week, we'd have bucatini and meatballs or gemelli and meatballs or orecchiette and meatballs, which necessitated a lot of explaining on the very rare occasions when a friend would come for dinner.)

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970's and 80's, this un-hip grammar and usage burden was a lot to put up with. (Sorry, Daddy, "it was a lot up with which to put." I will not end sentences with prepositions. I will not end sentences with prepositions. I will not end sentences with prepositions.) While the valley girls and surfers peppered the verbal landscape with vivid, entertaining slang, my sister and I spoke like Frasier and Niles Crane.

Sitting down to that aforementioned pasta, "Can you pass the parmesan?" would be transformed into, "May I have the parmigiano reggiano, please?" And while this may sound merely pompous or stuffy coming from a fifty-something man in tweed, it sounds truly preposterous in the mouths of seven- and nine-year-old girls.

We were, quite understandably, ostracized by most of our peers--though sis did eventually hook up with a little blonde girl whose mother had encouraged her to memorize the collected works of Gilbert and Sullivan. (Clearly, she was one of us.) My few friends were very kind little people and likely looked upon me as a charity case. (My garage-sale clothing--always ten years out of date--certainly made me an object of pity, but that's another story and involves my schizophrenic mother, so I'll save it for a later day.)

_______________

My father's obsession with the language also led him to delight in puns. (As a sportswriter covering a national track and field competition in the 1960's, his crowning headline was, "These Are the Tries That Time Men's Soles." He still brings it up, his eyes brimming with pride.)

All Burmashave signs (anybody out there under age sixty-five know what I'm talking about?) were firmly embedded in his long-term memory, so, naturally, he felt that we should learn them as well. We could often be observed barreling down the highway in the back seat of our blue Chevy station wagon, chanting, "Car in ditch/Driver in tree/Moon was full/And so was he!," our tiny sopranos in unison, giggling and wishing we were bold enough to ask him why it was supposed to be so funny.

_______________

While I have allowed the years to mellow my neurotic attention to grammar and usage, my sister has taken the opposite tack, honing her language knife for use on her two plump children.

Several years ago, she served us a lovely veal dinner. On the side was a crisp, delicious salad of mixed greens. E., her youngest--about six at the time--was selectively picking out and eating the watercress and radicchio. I was mentally applauding her culinary maturity: iceberg was the only green I would have endured in my mouth at her age. So, when questioned about the pile of leaves untouched on her plate, E. said she didn't like "the bitter white lettuce."

"But, E.!," cried my sister, clearly aghast, "that's not lettuce, it's Belgian endive!"

Ah, Frasier.


Novice

I'm new to this, comparatively speaking. While I've been trying--diligently, most diligently--I have yet to see specialists, have tests done or take fertility drugs, much less have any form of ART. J's sperm has never even been professionally tested, just that little bathroom science experiment of a home test we did a few months ago, and all I have to go on as a measure of my own fertility is a collection of promising biphasic charts that never amounted to anything at all.

So, I'm a novice. While I know, deep down, that nothing will happen without some form of intervention, I am also deeply frightened of taking the first step. I'm afraid that the first step will not work, and I'll be on to the second. And that the second will not work, and I'll be on to the third. That, in the long run, nothing will work. That I will have bankrupted my financial and emotional reserves just to confirm my deepest, most crushing fear: that I've missed my chance, that it's hopeless. But while I'm still in the dark--untested, unprodded, unmedicated--I can reassure myself that I have this rich array of options still left open to me, that something will be my magic bullet.

Is this preposterous? Is this simply the overpowering paranoia of a lifelong pessimist? Is it insulting to those who have been so much further down the road that I fear joining you?

What I want to know, more than anything, is how other people cope with this. For all of the resilient women who have graduated to the intermediate and advanced infertility stages, how do you stay strong and hopeful? How do you put your heart on the line again each month? How do you stay a part of the outside world, hold down your jobs, buy the groceries, laugh at your husbands' jokes? I feel, quite urgently, that I must buffer myself with your insights before I proceed.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Hell is Other People

Earlier this summer, my sister, A.K., began counseling her 15-year-old daughter, K.G., on birth control. K.G., blushing and appropriately embarrassed, claimed that she didn't need it. However, as my sister's daughter, I can almost guarantee that she'll need it. And how.

This is my sister who has been knocked up a whopping five times, and only once intentionally. First there was the faulty condom, then there was the pregnancy while still breastfeeding, then the failures of the rhythm method.

My sister-in-law--she of the three tries, three HPT positives--was telling me about how, though her daughter is just four months old, she had to go back on birth control right away, just in case.

And what of my long-lost friend D., who, at 37, told me she was glad that fertility had probably passed her by as she really, really didn't want kids. Yep, one mistake, one forgotten pill, and, hey presto!, she's on the baby train.

Then there are M. and J.K., 41 and 39 respectively, for whome one month of trying resulted in perfect pregnancies and beamish blue-eyed babies.

These women are all blissfully, totally unaware of even the basic facts about their own fertility. They've never taken their temperatures, peed on OPK sticks or tried to gauge the position of their cervixes. These are the women who say, "Maybe if you relax, it will happen."

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish reproductive problems on anyone (excepting members of the Bush administration and maybe Paris Hilton), but I wish that they at least had a modicum of sensitivity about it--that they understood that seeing such naked fertility wherever I turn just makes me feel like a shrivelled, angry, jealous hag. That, while I may say, "Oh, ____, I'm so happy for you," what I mean is actually, "Oh, ____, I want to cry and spit and punch something. Maybe not you, exactly, but something."

Of course, I havent's actually spit and punched things, but the desire is nearly overwhelming. So, K.G., beware: If you do accidentally get yourself knocked up, just remember that there's always a first time.