Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Baby Vortex

I am still recovering from Thanksgiving. This year, though, it's not the usual turkey stupor, and it's not the glog hangover.

No.

This year, it's the Baby Vortex.

For the first time, we had baby for Thanksgiving. Perfect, tender, aromatic baby. She was the centerpiece, the entree and the entertainment; we got drunk on baby.

Baby heroin.

When her parents packed her up, sweetly sleeping, and took her home, I felt the stirrings of withdrawal.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Heading South

My person, like my cycle, is now Heading South. We'll be in beautiful Northeast L.A. for a few days visiting friends and family. Winter is my favorite time to be there: everything turns green after the first big storm, the sky is clear and blue, the weather cool but mild. Sometimes, the imposing mountains of the Angeles Crest, which loom up like giants a few miles away, are half-covered in snow after a rain. The view from my father's modest deck in Highland Park is spectacular at sunset, as the light reflects all rosy-gold off the mountains and nearby hills.

This is a welcome distraction from the reality of the One Pink Line that I was faced with again this morning. The friends we're staying with--one of whom is a high-end chef--make their own wine and brew their own beer, which I will look upon as my secret consolation prize for being infertile.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

O+10

This cycle is drawing to a close with a small-voiced whimper. Nothing unusual there; the story doesn't change much from month to month to month. Sometimes the agony is drawn out--the extra long luteal phase, with obsessively analyzed symptoms that prove nothing more than hopeful fancy. And there are those few short LP's that catch me mercilessly unaware; over before I even have a chance to prepare myself, to gird myself with the knowledge that failure is on the way.

Today, though, is the beginning of an ever-shrinking window in each cycle, a now-grimy window that lets in the brown light of muddy, percolating hope; hope that knows itself to be false but belches up anyway, uninvited. What used to be weeks of excited anticipation--almost certainty--is now a few short days of uncomfortable grudging optimism, of thinking, This cycle still has a chance to be the one, doesn't it? My temps are still high enough, my breasts ache a little...couldn't this maybe, possibly, be it?

The unsurprising answer has always been, "no". My temps are no higher than last month; my breasts ache no more than last month; I am no more than last month.

And perhaps I am less, as self-pitying as that sounds. I have fewer eggs, and one less ticket in the monthly lottery. I have less hope: the window gets more and more obfuscated by the accumulated dirt, but I continue to press my nose to it against my better reason, and against my better instincts for self-preservation. I have less forebearance: this is harder each time, I am angrier each time, feel more betrayed by my body each time.

But for today, and probably tomorrow, I can still wish, and dream, and hope. I can allow myself to imagine a life inside of me, adhering, dividing, growing. And in a couple of days when my temperatures are tumbling and I know that this month's dream is over, the blinds will be drawn on that little window and I will wonder at ever having seen anything through it.

We have done the same thing over and over and over and over, and the results have been the same. How could I expect anything else? Perhaps something new--the longed-for December IUI?--will wipe down a pane next cycle and let in a few rays of clean, shiny, hopeful light.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Lovely lady, you deserve better luck

If you haven't already checked in today, please stop by Jen's and show her some love. This is a woman who is full of all things kind, thoughtful, generous and strong, and she deserves better. Much, much better.

Why is it...oh, fuck it all. I know better than to ask that question of the universe.

Blood and testicles

Things accomplished today: O+7 blood draw to check progesterone and a few other things including, on a whim, HIV status. Ugh: The Test of Terror from my youth; not quite so intimidating after eight years of unquestioned monogamy and good health. Still, it's fun, fun, fun to play out the worst-case scenario in my head. Like with the mountain lion.

Also today, found urologist and got appointment for J. on Friday. I may insist on accompanying J. as he is having a hard time grasping the details his own sperm. He still thinks his poor morphology means that we will have a baby with two tails and a dorsal fin, but, with his characteristic optimism, he is looking on the bright side and making plans for professional swim instruction.

Ah, must not forget most important accomplishment: fitting two spanikopitas, a green salad, an entire sourdough walnut levain, a wheel of double-cream gouda, a loaf of cherry-chocolate pound cake and a half gallon of mocha almond fudge (reduced fat!) into my petite and ladylike gullet. Perhaps I exaggerate just a tech. A teeny tech.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

We are pee-po

Yesterday afternoon, J. and I went for a hike in the regional wilderness near our house. It was a stellar day, about seventy degrees, perfect blue sky. The trail was pleasantly hilly, well shaded by oaks; swarms of ladybugs buzzed around and landed on our hats.

We had walked about two miles when we came upon a fair quantity of carnivore scat, which appeared to be made almost entirely of fur. A few hundred yards beyond that, several large feline prints in the mud. A mile or so later, a rather grisly and well-gnawed femur. (A deer femur, we hope, but it sure looked familiar.)

A couple of years ago, after a series of disfiguring and fatal mountain lion maulings throughout California, we happened upon a local news show featuring a pencil-necked park ranger in a silly bulbous hat describing the best way to ensure one's safety from the big cats. Now, it should be noted that there have been exactly eleven deaths from mountain lions in California since recordkeeping began in the late nineteenth century: they are not exactly a common threat. Many adventurous outdoor enthusiasts have gone their entire lives seeking, but not seeing, a single lion. I have had the fortune to see two, both from the safety of my car, and have been told that the odds of my ever seeing another are infinitesimal. However, when one reads the gruesome details of the eviscerated off-road cyclist or the woman who, after a half dozen rounds of reconstructive facial surgery to repair the through-and-through raking and bite marks, said that she was glad to find that she possessed "beauty on the inside," it's hard to ignore the possibility entirely.

So, anyway, back to the park ranger. His advice for anyone confronted with a mountain lion was to look him in the eye, raise one's arms toward the heavens and state firmly, "I'm a person! I'm a person!" This, supposedly, would help the puma differentiate you from, say, a doe or a wild boar.

J. has made a habit of repeating this line, along with the arm placement (think fifth position) whenever I am grumpy and need a laugh. Ahhh. But. When you're a little worried about the actual possibility of being pounced upon by a well concealed puma from the low-lying branches of an overhead oak, it is still entertaining but also somewhat...serious, eliciting a weak smile instead of a loud snort.

When we had reached the 3.5 mile mark, we rested on an open hilltop and admired the view of a little reservoir and miles of unbroken hilly wilderness. Ate a few graham crackers. Shooed a few ladybugs from our persons. Forgot about lions.

Quite unexpectedly, however, we soon heard a helicopter blasting over the nearby peaks, interrupting the pastoral quiet. After a few moments, the pilot began shouting, completely indecipherably, over the loudspeaker. J. and I looked quizzically at each other, shrugged, and kept listening. The pilot clearly was not speaking to us, as he was still some distance away, but we were intrigued and a little worried. What could it be? Fire? (Unlikely; just had lovely rainstorm.) Escaped convicts? (No prisons in the area.) And then the pilot boomed out one final, perfectly enunciated order: "Return from whence you came!"

Return from whence we came? Seriously? Who uses "whence" these days?

We decided to pack up our little picnic and follow instructions. We didn't really think he was speaking to us; it just seemed prudent. But we couldn't help wondering, Why would a helicopter be patrolling this remote trail? And what would be sufficient cause to demand that hikers return from whence they came? As we were already uptight because of the mountain lion traces, what could be more natural than to think that one had been spotted, and that the helicopter was out to warn us all? (OK, it doesn't make much sense, but we were spooked.)

So, on our return hike, J. and I carefully scanned the trees for large, tawny creatures, kept an eye on the muddy path for cougar-like footprints and listened attentively for any disturbances in the trailside brush while simultaneously trying to come up with a concise modern way of saying "reuturn from whence you came" to pass the time ("return to where you came from" was about the best we could do, but neither of us was comfortable ending with the preposition). We picked up "weapons"--sticks and stones--and swung them through the air for practice.

And, of course, we started the refrain: "I'm a person! I'm a person!" Which morphed into a tandem, "We are people! We are people!" Which, erm, devolved into a robotically melodic, "We are pee-po! We are pee-po!," a la "We are Devo." Which we kept up intermittently for about an hour, till we heard a heart-stopping rustling noise around the bend. "We are pee-po! We are pee-po!" we shouted, raising our arms frantically, like bank hostages, and exchanging terrified glances. And then...

A family of seven out for an evening hike rounded the corner. We dropped our hands, smiled sheepishly and stood aside. As he passed, the father turned and said, very quietly, "So are we."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

We

I feel like I've just been reliably informed that I'm colorblind, or that I was born on the moon, or that I've always spelled my name wrong. That up is down, and why have you been traipsing across the ceiling all this time, leaving footprints on the plaster?

The thing is this: I may not be infertile. Man, it's even stranger in writing than it is in my head.

The other thing is this: It doesn't really matter.

You see, after a week and a half of long-awaited, and entirely satisfactory, testing--day 3 bloodwork, pelvic and trans-vag ultrasounds, an HSG--we got something else.

J's semen analysis results.

I had not really given the SA much thought, just another test to tick off on our list; a slightly uncomfortable check box with antique porn and paneled cubicles. No, as the doctor asked three times, J. has never fathered any children that he's aware of. Then again, except with me, he hasn't really had much opportunity. I mean, almost no opportunity at all. As in, I look like a Tenderloin street ho next to him. Which, I guess, is part of the reason it never occurred to me that the problem might lie within him: I'm the one with "a past" (sounds sort of romantic, like Barbara Stanwyck in a noir pic, but you know what I mean). I lived a very full life for the twenty-seven years before we met, with all that that entailed. Which was, well, a lot.

J., though? Eagle Scout. Honest to god. And his conquests (or his conquerors) can be tallied on one hand, with a lovely opposable thumb left over. No health problems, no drug use, no STD's, nothing but decades of exercise, sun block and green, leafy vegetables.

So when the call came, I was utterly unprepared. And when I heard the doctor say "abnormal morph count," it almost didn't register. Abnormal? J? How...impossible.

For an hour or so, I sat, dumbfounded, as the implications sank in: 1) There's a problem with J. 2) There may not be a problem with me.

And, 3) It doesn't really matter.

It may change the route by which we proceed down the infernal, infertile road. But the bigger picture hasn't really changed, it's just more inclusive: We are infertile. We.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Lightness

There are little spots of clearing in my head; places where the pernicious fog is lightening a little. I can feel the small tickles of warmth from bright external things again.

In order to help sweep up the rest of the gloom, like Carol Burnett sweeping up the spotlight at the end of the show, I thought I might come up with another list. A pretty corny theme this time: Things That Make Me Happy. Cheerful things that buck me up. Sunshine on my shoulder and all that. So here goes.


Meryl Streep's laugh

Car Talk

Apple pie (sorry, Julie)

Barack Obama

Swimming at night in a warm pool

Bison in Yellowstone

Space Mountain

Great blue herons

A fresh, ripe peach

The pilot of Arrested Development

Persuasion

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale

Panzanella (a la Jen)

Reading your blogs

Beethoven's 9th

The Philadelphia Story

My mother-in-law's inedible lime jello with carrots and celery

Jon Stewart

Indoor waterslides

My African Gray parrot's one-sided telephone conversations

The Chapelle Show's "racial draft"

"Fall at Your Feet" by Crowded House

This American Life

The close-up feature on our Nikon Coolpix 8700

Every minute of The Princess Bride

My tiny niece's blonde-with-black-tipped chimp-like hair

The fact that my father called it a "fright wig"

Bridget Jones's Diary (so sue me)

David Sedaris impersonating Billie Holiday singing the Coke commercial


Yep, I feel a little better now.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Amid the ashes...

...more ashes.

Where is the hope in this horror?

I cannot find any. I've tried and tried and tried. Tried to tell myself that even the sadness and anger can find useful outlets, can be turned into action, but right now, they can't. Instead, for me, it's simply time to mourn. Time to accept that there's nothing I can do.

So, I am mourning. Focusing on the grief and not the fury. Taking comfort in knowing that half the nation is mourning with me.

The anger in me wants to label all republicans as fools and bigots and zealots for eating the toxic pablum Bush has served up, custom prepared for their particular appetites. But that is unproductive and, in some cases, inaccurate. Some people were simply afraid for their safety, and willingly suspended their disbelief when Bush said he would protect them. I can't hate them for not wanting to face the truth.

So, I sit here and simply let myself feel the pall, the weight, of the tragedy. And hope that one day soon, I can find hope.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

WWJD?

I am sitting here paralyzed with an acidic mixture of fear and hope. It is coursing through my veins like little jolts of electricity. My stomach is clenched, my breathing rapid, my heart slightly palpitating.

I spent the first five hours of the day in downtown Oakland at a GOTV site calling somewhere between 200 and 168,947 voters in swing states. If you are one of them, I apologize. I am not very good at it. I am always shocked when someone actually picks up the phone; goodness knows I don't. Hence my surprised, pip-squeaky, "Hi! My name's Bugs and I'm calling on behalf of..." followed by the inevitable protracted pause as you, the callee, try to process what the hell I'm talking about and I look frantically for my cue cards.

But at least I had something to do; something concrete and even possibly helpful. Now, at home with my laptop and my chamomile tea, I am superfluous to the process. More than that, I am unable to escape, even for a moment, from the incredble desire to have this over with. This waiting is mindsuckingly awful.

I am terrified that the Republican election machine's scare tactics and lies may have successfully clouded voters' opinions. That religious zealots will constrict this glorious country with the insular politics of Their Own Personal Jesus. That people who oppose choice (but, inexplicably, support the death penalty) will believe it their manifest destiny to legislate what I should do with my own body.

I am fortunate. I live in a wonderful place full of smart, well-informed, inclusive and compassionate people. People who respect the past but are not deluded by nostalgia. People who don't think "white" and "Christian" are either compliments or insults. And they feel the same way about "Chicano", "black" and "atheist."

At such a loss for how to pass the next few hours, I sit here and ponder. And, in a moment of spiritual revlation, I just asked myself, out loud, "WWJD?"

That's "What Would John Do," in case that wasn't clear.

In my shoes, I think Mr. Kerry would find a useful, profitable and honorable way to pass the time. He would not be sitting here in his jammies trying to distract himself with Jack Lemmon in The Fortune Cookie or checking Julie's blog for the twenty-eighth time today. Wish I was as smart and capable as he. (As him? I am too distracted to remember my grammar. Apologies.) Oh, and that's my one overriding requirement in a president: whoever it is has to be smarter than me. Than I. Whatever.