Posts Tagged ‘ivf’

“Why Meat” by Cindy

11 years and 7 months (or so). That’s how long I was a vegetarian.

Here is a post from a previous blog explaining my decision to stop eating meat all those years ago (circa 2003):

(postscript… I once called this page “The Veggie Connection”, but apparently there is an internet dating service with that name and some poor souls looking for that ended up here. Never let it be said that I’m not flexible.)

Ok – the purpose of this page is to give my reasons for being a vegetarian. Please realize that this is not because I want to change anyone else, but simply explain my personal reasons. I am often asked why, and it is something I feel strongly about, so I felt it deserved a space on my website. Besides, it’s my website so I can put whatever I want to on it. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.

So…

A couple of years ago I really started asking myself why it seemed OK for me to eat a cow, a pig, or a chicken, but not a cute wittle bunny wabbit. Or a dog or cat for that matter. And then I started to wonder if I would ever actually be able to kill my food before eating it. Could I seriously whack a cow, and then butcher it? Doubtful. And this bothered me. So then I tried not eating meat for a while, and frankly I felt healthier and better about myself very quickly, so I did a bit of research and decided to stop eating meat permanently. The more I thought about it and looked into it, the more I realized that I really didn’t approve of how we treat animals, especially in North America. Between factory farming, growth hormones and other unnatural injections, and the ridiculous amount of meat consumed by North Americans, I realized that I didn’t want to support this industry any more. In addition, the effects on the environment (waste from factory-farming in our own backyard, and losing rainforest to cattle ranches in the South), and the fact that there simply isn’t enough land space on earth to feed the world meat, only furthered my resolve.

So I think that about covers it. Philosophically I should be vegan, but I really really like cheese. So instead I have tried to cut down on eating dairy products and one day I may be able to go all the way. There you are. It’s all about making choices that make you happy with who you are. Being a vegetarian does not mean I judge anyone else for eating meat. Do what makes you feel good.”

I read that post now, and I still believe everything I wrote there, and yet, in November of last year, I started eating meat again. And no, contrary to what many people thought it would be, it wasn’t the smell of bacon that turned me back into a carnivore.

It was a combination of fear and knowledge.

The fear was that I would always wonder if my failure to get pregnant could be attributed in any way to a protein deficiency due to my vegetarianism. I know it was not entirely logical – lots of vegan and vegetarian women get pregnant, but as I was willing to take crazy amounts of medical intervention (a la IVF) in order to try and conceive, it seemed reasonable to try eating meat. A friend suggested an ayurvedic approach (which generally favours a vegetarian diet, by the way), and I dove right into eating 4 ounces of red meat every day for 2 weeks. Surprisingly, my stomach did not revolt in quite the way I expected. I discovered that I like my red meat in burgers or sausages best (you can have those steaks), and I felt fine. Bacon is OK, too.

The knowledge came from my increased understanding over the years of how important livestock are to integrated sustainable farms. I have learned that the manure and nutrient cycling provided by livestock are very important to growing vegetables and grains, and my understanding that the domestication of livestock allowed humans to stop roaming and develop agriculture leads me to believe that if we want to continue living in settlements, we may need to continue raising meat. Further realizing that I would be supporting the use of livestock whether I had them or not (where did I think that fertilizer for my tomatoes and cucumbers was going to come from?), I decided that I would feel less hypocritical supporting the kind of farming that I believe in by buying and eating meat from ethical suppliers than I was beginning to feel in avoiding meat altogether.

I am still vehemently against factory farming (see www.themeatrix.com for an entertaining approach to these concerns), and that is why I continue to eat vegetarian at restaurants and tell people I am vegetarian when coming for dinner. I do not want to put meat that has lived a poor life and been filled with antibiotics and growth hormones, contributed to terrible pollution of our land and water, and then been mass slaughtered in an inhumane environment into my body, and I do not want to demand that my hosts go out and buy expensive organic (and preferably local) meat. It’s far easier in most situations for me to just wear the happy vegetarian hat and enjoy my vegetables. Beans are cheap.

The one place where I still feel uncomfortable about eating meat is in the killing question. I am still pretty sure that if I had to kill a cow and slaughter it in order to survive, that I might starve to death while cuddling that cow. I don’t know for sure, and I hope I never find out. I do feel a little guilty being the person willing to eat the meat but unwilling to participate in the processing of it, but so far, I can live with that. There are people out there who are capable of processing that animal in a respectful manner, and I appreciate that. It probably helps that I believe my husband is one of them.

I cannot claim to feel healthier now that I am eating meat, but there are too many other factors that have influenced my health this year for me to give an objective opinion on that. I think some answers can be found in seasonal eating (really enjoying a book called “The 3-Season Diet” by John Douillard), and I certainly continue to believe that meat should be enjoyed in moderation. I have no need or desire to eat meat on a daily basis, and I suspect that the lack of nutrients in factory-farmed meat leads many people’s bodies to desire more meat than necessary – creating a cycle of craving food that doesn’t actually provide the nutrients that their bodies need.

Do I think all vegetarians should reform and start eating meat? Absolutely not. I think we all need to listen to our bodies and discover what feels best for us. I believe that the world can support a mixture of vegetarians and carnivores and fruititarians and raw foodists and omnivores and… Basically, I do not think that there is one answer that fits every person and every situation.

Do I think all carnivores should reform and stop eating factory-farmed meat? Yes.

Do I think that will happen any time soon? No, but I hope that we will get there eventually. Given the glorification of the economy that governs policies in agriculture, I think it will be a bit of a slog. I am very confused by agricultural policies that negate a free-market economy and treat us consumers as too ignorant to make our own decisions. When we are able to convince policy-makers that we have the right to make our own decisions over what we eat (I fully support “buyer-beware” policies over strict guidelines that limit our options), I think we will make great progress.

In the meantime, I will continue to eat beans when I can’t afford or find good healthy meat. And I give myself permission to change my mind and be vegetarian again at any time. Whether that’s today, tomorrow, or 12 years from now.

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“Body Hate, Part 1” by Cindy

(Side note, I have no current plan for Part 2, but I felt certain that this post would be Part 1, so I just went with it. In other words, don’t hold your breath for Part 2 – it might be a while)

As much as I hate to use the word hate (see what I did there?), it had to be done.

My body and I have never been on the best of terms. I’ve never been particularly happy with any part of it, always finding fault with this lumpiness or that lopsidedness. This kind of discomfort, though, rather unfortunately, seems to be the norm for women of my age and culture, so right or wrong, I kind of accepted it.

From early teenagehood, I learned to see only my faults when I looked in a mirror, and quite illogically, I yearned to look sleek and polished like the women in the magazines (this was especially illogical because I never put much effort into actually trying to look like them – I occasionally did some exercise, rarely dieted, and hardly wore make-up). I never thought I looked particularly bad, just never particularly good.

I also quickly recognized that I am about the least photogenic person I know. At least I hope I am, because especially lately, the person I see in pictures does not look much like the person I see in the mirror, and I am often horrified to see just how large my ass is in pictures, when the mirror told me that I looked OK in those jeans. The mirror also seems to be kinder to my double chin… the camera, not so much. Like honest children, that crafty bastard finds it and several friends every damn time. (I have a sort of fond memory of my niece at a young age sitting on my lap patting my neck. When I asked her what she was doing, she sweetly said, “playing with your double-chin”. Awwww. I have some stories for her wedding when the time comes…)

I knew a woman in university who jumped in front of the mirror in my dorm room and exclaimed, “I love my body”. I had never heard a woman say that before, and I was amazed. I have often thought of her and wondered how she came to that place of self-acceptance. She was not model-thin or athletic or any kind of body type that is easy to describe, but she loved her body and I have always admired her for it.

These days, I have two reasons to really dislike my body. Not only does it not conform to societally accepted norms of beauty, but it stubbornly refuses to perform its biological imperative and reproduce. So, I have some anger issues to work out with my body.

Last year, before we decided to do IVF, I decided that as a “fuck-you” to my body, I would make 2013 the year of the “hot-bod” and I would work out and diet until I looked so fabulous all my mom friends would be jealous. I shamefully admit that was part of my motivation. I thought if I couldn’t join the mom club, maybe I could at least be the fit friend they wished they looked like. All my shrinking clothes will tell you how well that worked out… (Also, all my mom friends are hot, so I was never going to meet that spiteful goal, no matter how well I did).

See, I neglected to take into account a couple of important factors. Namely, my personality and Cheetos.

My conflicted personality wants to look hot, but doesn’t want to want to look hot. This is a problem. Philosophically, my brain rebels against trying to conform to outrageous expectations of beauty. Shouldn’t I be able to just be happy with how I look? After all, everyone knows that sexy is a feeling, not a look, right? Except, how can I feel sexy when I think I don’t look sexy? It’s a conundrum.

I mean, I could probably do a lot with make-up and style, but am I ever lazy when it comes to that. Have you seen the videos and pictures of the difference make-up makes? Wow. I suppose I could learn to do that, but then, my idealistic side says, wouldn’t I be projecting a false image to the world and kowtowing to those unrealistic views of beauty? And what is a realistic budget for cosmetics? Do you know how many bags of Cheetos you can get for one MAC product?

And style! Oh my goodness do I have a problematic relationship with style. It all goes back to grade 5 when I went on my first “style” shopping trip with my Mom, and my much more stylish best friend and her mom. It was the first time I was really allowed to pick out my wardrobe and try to be stylish. Yikes – style is not my friend. Even now, I am too embarrassed to dig up a picture for proof.

I have a really hard time choosing style over comfort (and yes, I know, lots of you ladies are able to do both, and do it within a budget, and blah blah blah, I hate you, shut up). I love the look of heels and hate wearing them. My best friend wants to confiscate and burn my favourite shoes because they are so ugly, but they are so comfortable that I can’t bear to part with them, and I hate shoe shopping. Does anyone really notice shoes anyway? And why should I care if they do? And yet, the little voice inside says, I do want to look hot…

In addition to my ideals raging against my societal conditioning, I just don’t like being told what to do. Call it my rebellious side, but even when it’s me telling me what to do, part of me says, “You’re not the boss of me, and I don’t want to!” So, every time I think, “I should go for a run”, my brain says, “But I don’t want to. Look – a “Pretty Little Liars” we haven’t seen yet! We should get some Cheetos!”

I realized a while ago that I don’t really like doing exercise for exercise’s sake. It was freeing, in a way, to realize that, because then I could stop trying to make myself do things I didn’t enjoy doing and start thinking about the kinds of things I do enjoy doing.

I enjoy playing tennis, for example. It’s the one cardio activity that I will do and enjoy until I am panting and sweating (please note that this does not mean I am any good at tennis – quite the opposite in fact). The problem is finding people and time to play (winter was a bit of a problem, but I think we may have a couple of months of tennis possibilities now). John is my only reliable tennis partner because the other people who are interested in playing don’t actually have time to play because, you guessed it, they have kids. And John just doesn’t seem to like tennis as much as I do, perhaps because he so easily beats me every time we play.

I enjoy climbing, which is a great joint activity for us, and if he would only go a few weeks without getting injured, then we could get back into it… (that’s not entirely fair, we have jointly found it difficult to get motivated to go climbing when we are both exhausted in the evenings, but it’s not entirely inaccurate either).

I enjoy riding a bike, but not for exercise, which means that John and I are not great cycling partners. He wants to go fast, and I want to leisurely enjoy the ride. A spin class sounds like a complete nightmare to me. A bunch of sweaty people in a small room cycling really hard for no good reason? No, thank-you.

I tried a couple of Zumba classes, but it was more aerobics than dance, and I didn’t really love it. I liked going with friends, but I wouldn’t go for fun on my own, so that’s out.

Swimming is nice, and then I get to hot tub after, but I feel I have to shave my legs for that, and this winter, I really felt I needed the extra warmth… (or got lazy, whatever).

All that to say the only regular exercise I have been getting is walking to and from work (20 min downhill to work and 25 min uphill home), walking the dog, and doing the occasional yoga DVD. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great.

To be fair, there were a couple of other factors that hindered my fitness plan. It is not really recommended to do high-impact exercise during the 2-week wait, and since there was a 2-week wait every month, it was pretty hard to get into any kind of routine.

So, the exercise plan part of the year of the hot-bod never quite got off the ground. I did successfully calorie-count using MyFitnessPal (which a couple of friends have had great success with), for about two weeks. Then, I lost interest. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I suspect that Cheetos played a role. There are only so many times you want to admit to that little app that you have gone 1000 calories over your goal before you just decide to stop telling it.

And here’s the thing – it’s pretty hard not to comfort eat when you are going through major disappointment every month. I was telling a friend that I was concerned about gaining weight, and she looked at me and firmly said, “you can’t be worrying about that right now,” and I realized she was right. Stressing about my weight was not helping, and I deserved those Cheetos. So the year of the hot-bod died a quiet heavy death.

And then there was IVF. Sure, I gained a few pounds with Clomid, but nothing like what I put on with that one round of IVF. I never thought I would see my scale hit the numbers it hit, and I almost declared it broken and threw it out the window. When my loving husband reminded me that the scale had actually underweighed him according to the doctor’s scale, he was lucky to leave the room unharmed (or more truthfully, he was lucky I was able to do anything other than sob for the rest of that day).

I tried calorie-counting a couple of months ago for a few days, felt awful, and kept gaining weight. I decided to wait until the hormones had faded to even start trying to lose the IVF weight. Then, last week, I was starting to feel hopeful and more emotionally strong, so I thought it might be time. I was wrong.

After 2 days of calorie-counting, I was becoming grumpier and sadder and I couldn’t figure out why. On the third day, I looked at John and told him that I didn’t think I was ready to diet, yet. He agreed, I ate an enormous lunch, and I felt immediately better. For now, I said, I will just try to include more healthy foods, add in some exercise, and still eat those Cheetos when I feel the need (side note – please don’t send me Cheetos – if I see them, I will eat them).

So in addition to forgiving my body for letting me down in the reproductive department (I think that’s going to take some time), I know I need to come to terms with my body image somehow, because I have a sense that no diet or exercise regime will work until I do. I just don’t quite know how to do that.

There is a video (the Embrace Project) going around Facebook of a woman who bucked the norm and publicized a picture of herself as a body-builder (the “before” picture) and then as a new mother (the “after” picture). She says that even when she was in tip-top shape, it didn’t help her love her body. She then says that after a year of hard work, she learned to love her body as it was. What she doesn’t say is how she did it. What kind of hard work leads to this self-love? (If it involves being naked a lot, I really need to move to a warmer climate. Actually, maybe that’s the way to talk John into moving South…)

So I guess that’s why I instinctively titled this post “Part 1”. For this kind of post I would like to be more solution-focused, and I just don’t have any of those yet, so it feels unfinished. Maybe “Part 2” will arise with progress. I hope so, because when I look at all my beautiful nieces, the last thing I want is for them to hate their bodies as most of their mothers and aunts do. So perhaps this is something we all need to figure out together so we can break this destructive cycle. Who’s with me?

And who knows how to start?

 

 

“Thoughts on CIAW” by Cindy

It’s CIAW from May 24-31. If you are not part of any infertility support groups, then you may not know that this means “Canadian Infertility Awareness Week”, but there are quite a few of us that wish we didn’t.

I have to admit to having some ambivalent feelings about CIAW. On the one hand, I think it is absolutely important that people like me get a chance to talk about the life-changing grief that comes with wanting a child and being unable to have one.

Every day, parents get to talk about the joys and tribulations of raising children, and my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of children, links to articles about parenting, and even the occasional video of a mom justifying her inability to be both a good friend and a good mom. Because people who have children cannot possibly understand the sense of loss that we feel on a daily basis, our grief is often minimized with cliches and insensitive comments, so a week to spread awareness sounds good.

Our counsellor recently shared an article from a therapeutic journal that described the grief of infertility as being similar to the grief in losing an ability (“Narratives of Infertility: Reclaiming a Fertile Lifestyle” by Hewson, Colagiuri, Craig and Yee – I had difficulty finding a full reference, sorry) . There is the initial shock of the loss, then an adjustment period that never really ends. For the rest of my life, I will encounter situations in which I will suddenly be reminded that there are certain things I will never be able to do.

I will never know what it feels like to have a life growing inside me. I will never get to watch my child grow and learn and experience new things on a daily basis. I will never be that person that child is happiest to see. I will never get to see my husband fall asleep with our baby resting on his chest. I will never get a card or macaroni art on Mother’s Day. There will be no mother/daughter picnics or dances or music lessons. When I am older, I will never get to be a grandmother. And every now and then, someone will ask me why I don’t have children, and all I will be able to say is, “we tried, and we couldn’t”, and that person won’t know what to say.

If you have children, have decided not to have children, or haven’t started trying yet, I know what you are thinking. Please don’t say it out loud. There is nothing you can say to make me feel better. Here is your personal primer – if someone tells you about their struggle with infertility, whatever you do, do not try to say something that you think will make them feel better. You do not have that power.

Here is what I suggest you say: “That sucks. Would you like some wine/chocolate?” Listen, but do not give advice. I guarantee that you do not know more about their situation than they do.

For those of us on the other side, here are some tongue-in-cheek responses to typical insensitive comments that I’ve been working on (that I will probably never actually have the courage to use):

Comment: Have you considered adoption?
Response: Adoption? What’s that? (because of course we have! Adoption is not as simple as people seem to think – please see this post for more details)
or…
Of course.  How about you? (because why is this question only asked of people who can’t conceive?)

Comment: Want my kids?
Response: Yes.  (seriously)

Comment: You’ve just got to relax.  Stop trying.
Response: Good idea.  How should I do that exactly? (if I stop trying because it will increase my chances, then really I am still trying… I can go in circles for hours and get nowhere with this one)

Comment: My cousin tried for years, and then got pregnant after she adopted.
Response: That’s nice. Pass the wine? (really, what are we supposed to get out of these stories?)

Comment: If it’s meant to be, it will be.
Response: (I have no good suggestion for this one… the implied judgment is too brutal, so perhaps just walking away and never speaking to that person again is best)

Comment: Sometimes misfortune is a blessing in disguise.
Response: I don’t think so. Just out of curiosity, would you say that to me if I were grieving the loss of my husband? (and I guess some really insensitive people would)

Comment: Is it because you waited until you were older to start trying?
Response: Actually, it’s because the combination of my genes and my husband’s genes would be too fabulous for the mortal human realm to tolerate. Pass the wine? (and don’t take it personally. Remember that age is much less a factor than most people think)

Comment: Well, keep up the hope.  We tried for a year before we got pregnant.
Response: Congratulations.  Pass the wine? (there is no reasoning with this person. Leave them in their bliss.)

I know that people say all these things with good intentions, and I understand that it is difficult to know what to say to anyone going through intense grief. So, once again, repeat after me, “That sucks. Would you like some wine/chocolate?”

Spreading understanding of how much our society does not know what to do with people who can’t or choose not to have children seems like a great objective for CIAW, and I am happy to participate.

Many people, on the other hand, see this week as an opportunity to talk about the need for provincial health coverage of infertility treatments, and despite my own struggle with infertility, I have not yet signed a petition to have fertility treatments like IVF covered by Alberta healthcare.

I think my problem on taking a stand on this topic is that the rhetoric currently used to support the cause is faulty. For some reason, groups campaigning for coverage have chosen to focus on the financial side of funding fertility treatments, and as recent Globe and Mail articles pointed out (see “When the State Funds IVF, the Cost is Too High for Everyone”, May 11, 2014, and “Reality Check: Does it Make Sense for Taxpayers to Fund Invitro?”, May 20, 2014), the financial arguments just don’t quite make sense. Any savings made by funding IVF cycles would only offset costs created by the industry in the first place. Secondly, if IVF is funded, as it is in Quebec, the number of people requesting it will rise, so the numbers will not equate. If we are going to get really financial here, bringing more people into the world will mean lifelong healthcare costs. Pursuing a financial logic here just doesn’t make cents (I couldn’t help myself).

I am not, however, opposed to IVF being funded by provincial health care, and given the right rhetoric, I think I would become a vocal supporter.

It wasn’t until someone at an infertility support group I attended expressed her ire at the fact that her tax dollars pay for the costly medical bills of a lifelong smoker that I started to see another side to the financial argument.

We easily accept that fertility treatments are “elective”, but treatments for conditions brought on through personal lifestyle choices are not. Bob can choose not to wear a helmet while mountain-biking, and we will pay for all the surgeries to put his skull back together. We even pay to treat the people who attempt to end their own lives. We don’t question the cost of any life-saving treatments, but life-creating treatments are too expensive.

(side note: if you are reading this and thinking, “yeah, we shouldn’t pay for those things either”, you have completely missed the point)

Where is the compassionate side of this discussion? When is it OK for financial considerations to overrule the human side?

Some campaigners talk about their right to have children. I am not sure that this is or should be a right. And yet, does that matter? Lots of people get accidentally pregnant and are allowed to keep their children. People who don’t even want children are allowed to keep them. Racist people are allowed to keep their children and raise them to be racist. Those are rights.

In fact, in Canada, we women even have a right to abortion in case of unwanted pregnancy. We have the right to use medical intervention to prevent life but not to create it. Of course, abortion is way cheaper than fertility treatments, so that makes good financial sense, if not moral sense. Please do not get me wrong, I am pro-choice. For our sake and the sake of all the other wonderful people I know hoping to adopt, I wish that more women would choose adoption over abortion, but I would never take that choice away.

The social justice argument catches my attention as well. Whether we consider having a child as a right or a privilege, the current situation advantages people who can afford costly infertility treatments or adoption, and that is truly unfair. I was really fortunate in being able to try the treatments I tried, and I can afford to pursue adoption. There are many people out there who do not have these opportunities.

I also worry that keeping these options in the private sphere may lead to the commodification of children, and that is very concerning. In Canada, we are not allowed to pay surrogate mothers or egg/sperm donors for their contributions, but other countries do not have these rules, and desperate people will find ways to work around the law. How far will that go?

Of course, from a social justice perspective, there are many medical supports that are not funded that I believe should be, so it is hard for me to put IVF at the top of the list. Mental health is woefully underfunded, for example. While I was fortunate that I work for an organization with a great EAP that allowed me to get a counsellor to help me through this difficult time, many people do not have that “luxury”. Dental care and vision care are other “luxuries” that really seem more necessary than luxurious.

I can think of lots of reasons to fund IVF, but the financial side still confounds me. It is definitely a gamble (success stats very from clinic to clinic, and I find them somewhat suspicious to begin with, but most quote 15-30% depending on diagnosis), and any Catan players will know that repeated tries do not actually increase your chances. You can play a whole game without rolling a single damn 6. Yet, the prognosis of other treatments do not factor into public discussion over whether to fund them or not, so I am not sure that should be a factor here. Again, if we focus on the numbers, we lose the human side, and I am not comfortable with that.

The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada (IAAC) states that, “The Canadian Infertility Awareness Week is dedicated to raising awareness and breaking the silence about infertility. It is also about advocating for access to fertility treatments for all Canadians.” I agree wholeheartedly with the goal of raising awareness so more people suffering quietly behind closed doors will reach out for support and so more people will know how to give that support. Whether or not I come to any personal conclusions about whether or not IVF should be publicly funded, I do appreciate that the discussion is happening, and I hope to hear some new perspectives soon.

Earlier, I referred to the “life-changing” grief of infertility. I do not use that phrase lightly. Being unable to have children has caused my husband and I to question our own identities and our plans and dreams for our future. We are working on figuring out how to deal with that, and we take comfort in knowing that others have continued through this journey to find joy. Talking about our grief and giving it the attention it deserves has helped us a great deal, and so I am thankful to IAAC for providing support in opening this discussion.

And yes, thank you, I will have some wine. And chocolate.

“Getting through to Escape” by Cindy

At the risk of being a bit of a downer, this has been a tough week. [understatement]

I pretty quickly decided that what I needed most was to get far away and soak up some sun (and maybe some rum), so I became quickly addicted to searching for last minute deals to get away as soon as possible.  John came on board, and we decided to do it.  Unfortunately, because our schedule was not really flexible, we weren’t able to get a great deal, but I’m happy with what we’ve picked and I can’t wait to get a tan and smell the ocean. Cuba, here we come.

My boss was amazing.  She immediately gave her condolences and told me to take all the time I need.  She also told me to call it bereavement, which it is.  I appreciated her understanding that so much.  I know how lucky I am.

John’s work is not so great.  They actually denied his request for leave because he is not entitled to any vacation during his first year with the company.  I am absolutely flabbergasted at the insensitivity, and I would really like him to not have to work there anymore.  It would be slightly better if the company wasn’t currently overstaffed, but they don’t actually have enough work for the people coming in, so it wouldn’t hurt them at all to let him take a week.  I just can’t believe it, and the stress this has put us through almost put me over the edge today.

I’ve been holding it together pretty well, but the only thing getting us both through this week was the idea that we would be far away next week and able to just be together without thinking (perhaps that’s not entirely possible given that it is us, but I really believe the sun and surf will be healing).  I found out that cancellation was possible, but the thought of not going was too much.  I feel guilty for pushing for this, but I know that we will be OK if John doesn’t have a job after.  This isn’t a long-term career job anyway, just a starter. I know that the thought of coming back to no job will add stress to John and impair his ability to truly relax, but I just can’t imagine staying in this house all next week.

There is a room upstairs that we call the office that was always intended to be a nursery.

In case you weren’t sure if the universe has a sense of humour, the first woman to come into the centre on Monday brought a baby in a carseat.  Then, a daycare group with about 10 toddlers dropped by and asked for some photocopies – that has never happened before.  The kids sang songs while I made their copies.  Then, on Tuesday, one of my regular clients came in and told me all excitedly about her new grandchild and showed me pictures.  She told me not to worry, I would be a grandma soon enough.  I realized that this is something that will happen for the rest of my life.  People will make innocent comments because they won’t know, and I don’t know that I will ever be OK with this.  It wasn’t my choice.

This article came into my inbox today (because I am a member of the infertility awareness association on facebook): Infertility Dilemma – Are You Giving Up Too Soon?  It describes the difficulty of the decision pretty succinctly, and the comment in response to the article describes how I feel right now.  The gambling aspect of doing treatments is so painful, and this IVF cycle was just a mountain on top of so many molehills.  I haven’t had one failed cycle – I’ve had over 36.  I can’t imagine looking at another negative test again.

So, I will do what has worked for me in the past and run away for a little while – only this time I get to do it with the person I love most.  I know I will be OK.  This is not the worst thing that could happen to us.  John and I will be OK.  We will have other dreams, and we will continue to be grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives.  One day at a time.

“Negative” by Cindy

So, after two weeks of waiting and hoping and dreaming, we got the results, and I’m not pregnant.  It’s a huge blow.

We have spent the weekend together trying to let out as much emotion as we can in hopes of being able to face the week.  We have also entertained the idea of running away – both temporarily and more long-term.  I dream of drinking mojitos on a white sand beach, and John dreams of taking a sabbatical and wandering the country in the trailer. We might do neither, or we might do both.  We know we shouldn’t make any major decisions right now while we are so close to the loss, but it feels like everything has changed, but everything is still somehow the same, so we need to do something radical to honour this change somehow.  It doesn’t have to make sense – nothing about this makes sense.

We have no plans to try another round.  I feel convinced that it would have worked if it was going to work, and I don’t think that I can put us through another rollercoaster round of IVF gambling.  I don’t trust the clinic, and I don’t trust my body.  I don’t know how people do this over and over again – they must have limitless stores of hope.  I’m glad we tried it because I needed some kind of closure to this process, and now, maybe I’ll be able to face the grief and let go.

We are very grateful for the support and love we have received during this journey.  We know many people have been sending us loads of positive energy and prayers, and we appreciate it.  Thank-you.

“Transfer tomorrow” by Cindy

It’s been a stressful morning.  I expected the clinic to call around 8 a.m. because that is when they called yesterday.  There is construction happening outside the house that is literally shaking the house, and the clinic finally called at 9:15 (I work from 12-8 on Tuesdays, so I’m at home).  The guy asked how I was doing, and I said, “Oh, you know, trying not to panic…”.

He was very nice and said there was no reason to panic, that we have three good looking embryos this morning.  One is a 4-cell and two are 2-cell.  He hopes that they will be 6-8 cells tomorrow for transfer, which is set for 10:30.  That’s 10:30 Mountain Time, if you want to set your watches to send us positive vibes… 🙂  He said that if one is 8-cell and two are 6-cell, then we might want to transfer all three because he has no way of knowing which 6-cell is the better.  He then said if all three are 8-cell, then it would be irresponsible to transfer all three because then we would end up with triplets.  That was the most positive thing I’ve heard all week – he made it sound like it really is going to work.

It’s really amazing that they can do all of these things, and that they watch these embryos grow outside of the body and determine the best time to put them back in.

I am totally freaking out.  I felt so relieved after the call that I cried a bit, and now I’ve got to pull myself together to get ready for work.  Life continues even as all this stuff is happening.

“Post Retrieval Update” by Cindy

So, retrieval was yesterday.  I survived.  Here is a pic of me in the recovery cubicle:

recoveryThe tears started when the IV went in before the procedure.  I wasn’t emotional because of my fear of the procedure – I was afraid of the results.  Also, that backless “robe” wasn’t very warm and I started shivering from the cold liquid dripping into my vein pretty quickly.

It was a difficult retrieval – my left ovary was not cooperative, so I was given extra drugs, but we got 6 eggs out of the deal (yay!).  We were told yesterday that we wouldn’t know the maturity of the eggs until this morning, so we had to wait to know more.  We had agreed to do ICSI (which involves them putting the sperm directly in the egg) to minimize loss given that we had so few eggs.

This morning, I got a call from the embryologist, and she explained that 4 of the eggs were mature enough to ICSI, and three made it through the night.  I tried not to feel too sad over the lost eggs – getting six yesterday made me feel pretty optimistic, but being down to three brought out the fear again.  She said that if all goes well, we will transfer two on Wednesday, but there is a possibility that they will decide to transfer 2 or 3 tomorrow.  We will find out tomorrow morning.  She said to keep our schedule “loose”.  I wonder how many people can actually do that.

I also had to start new drugs to prepare for transfer.  If all goes well, I will need to take these for ten weeks or so.  One of the drugs is oral.  The other, is not.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

So, we continue to be “cautiously optimistic”, whatever that means.  I was in a lot of pain last night, and John took care of me, but I was much better today and able to walk the dog this morning and walk into work.  I was pretty slow all day and asked John to pick me up so I wouldn’t have to tackle the upward hill coming home.  It was a good choice.

And that’s about all I have to say for today.