Archive for September, 2010

Life After Miscarriage: Houston, We Have a Problem – Again

My ovaries are holding my eggs hostage.  That’s what the doctor called to tell me last week. She didn’t say those exact words – that’s just my spin. What she actually said was, “Based on your blood work, it doesn’t look as if you are ovulating. I’d like for you to come in to talk about taking Clomid.”

I said, “Yeah. I figured as much. Twenty dollars, twenty ovulation predictors sticks, and lots of squatting over a cup with no positive result led me to the same conclusion.” OK, OK, I didn’t say those exact words, but that’s what I was thinking.

I have a routine down for dealing with bad news. It’s just happened so often during the past few months that I realized it’s an established protocol.

First, I call my mom. This is usually because I want to be dramatic and download. I spill a crescendo of conclusions, she (as a nurse) points out all the flaws in my logic and my misinterpretations of clinical possibilities (or impossibilities). I cry and ask her why she can’t just listen and validate my feelings. And then I hang up and call a girlfriend.

The girlfriend is great for validating the emotion.  She will eventually get to logic and talk me off the ledge, but first, she wholeheartedly encourages the drama because she knows that to try to talk logic to a woman who is hormonal and unpredictable will do no good. She offers to come over and break dishes with me and knows that when I say, “No, don’t worry about it,” she can tread lightly on to the terrain of sense and sensibility.  By the time I hang up, I’m ready to call my husband.

These are usually very short conversations because to try to explain how my ovaries and other girly bits are not functioning without a diagram and hand motions is pointless. We agree to talk at home later and hang up to return to our normally scheduled work programming as if nothing has happened.

All up, this takes about 26 minutes of phone time and is entirely necessary for me to go on functioning. From connecting with people who have experienced what I have, I can confidently say that behind every woman coping with and healing from a pregnancy loss is a strong cast of characters. They are the people who answer the phone, endure verbal abuse, sympathize and empathize, and simply show up when it matters.

I am so grateful to my supporting cast because they have carried me.  To them, I say: Thank You for dancing in my ballet of grief and hope. You are the best in my worst of times.

Life After Miscarriage: Dreading the Due Date

It’s September and I should be 35 weeks pregnant. We should be putting the finishing touches on the nursery. I should be waddling like a penguin. My husband should be figuring out how to put a car seat in our vehicle.

If I was still going to a counselor, she’d probably say something about living for the future and moving on from the past. She’d probably tell me it’s time to let go of the “should have.” I know this. My head knows this. But wherever it is that rage, and anger, and anxiety live – that part of me doesn’t know it. That part of me sees October 29 speeding toward me. I am about to be in a head on collision with my due date and there is no way around it.

I wish Hallmark made cards for times like this. I should write them and tell them to nestle a section in near the sympathy cards. The marker could say something like, “Remembering Estimated Due Dates.” The cards would have stars and moons and say things like “Today probably hurts more than childbirth. I’m sorry.”

Life After Miscarriage: Just Where is the Grass Greener?

My husband and I went out for dinner the other night. We sat at a table for two overlooking the kitchen at one of our favorite restaurants. I sipped on a Cosmo and looked around, spying on the other diners. A few tables over, there was a young couple with a baby. The woman was giving the kid a bottle as her food sat off to the side. I swirled my martini around the glass, watching, wondering if she wished she was at a table for two sipping a cocktail and eating while the food was still hot. I asked my husband,  “Is the grass really greener on the parenting side of fence?”

It occurred to me that as jealous as I am of couples with babies, maybe, just maybe there are a few out there who are a teensy bit jealous of us.  Maybe that couple was looking at us thinking, “I remember when we used to go out to dinner and drink martinis and didn’t have to worry about where we were going to put the stroller, or if the baby would cry through the whole meal.”

Or maybe that mom who was standing next to me as I was buying my Size 0 pants the other day was thinking, “I remember when my butt used to fit into smaller clothes.”

Or maybe our friends who get up in the night to change diapers or feed a crying infant think about us sleeping in until 9:00 on the weekends and say, “I’d give anything to sleep past 4:00 in the morning.”

My girlfriend, a working mom of two, reminds me all the time that though the joys of parenting are great, there’s something to be said about being a youngish couple without children. I love it when she says things like “See what you have to look forward to,” as she tries to wrestle her toddler into a highchair.

The other day we were out at a coffee shop with her two and half year old. We were talking about ovulation predictor kits when she stopped mid-sentence, looked at her son and said, “Are you pooping?” We put our conversation on hold as she checked his diaper and carted him off to the bathroom. I stayed at the table, kept my eye on the plastic dinosaurs and the Buzz Lightyear doll, and started thinking, maybe life without children isn’t so bad.

I mean, we do have a pretty sweet life. I took a two hour nap a few days ago and when I got up, I poured myself a glass of wine. I sat on my couch and read Cooking Light and listened to the sound of silence. Not once did I think, “I really wish there was a baby crying for me to feed it this very second.” I also didn’t think, “It sure would be nice to change a diaper right now.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not changing my tune. I still want to start a family, and seeing pregnant women still makes my heart hurt. But I’ve decided, a baby isn’t going to make my life perfect and it’s probably not going to make me happy, especially in the short term. I don’t know how many people smile through a diaper blow out, a 2:00 AM feeding, or a colicky wail.

The whole subject of whether being a parent makes a person happy is hotly contested these days. A recent, controversial article in New York magazine cites numerous studies that show, statistically speaking, parents are less happy than non-parents. If I was a parent, this article would irritate the heck out of me. But as a non-parent, as a woman who has recently been through the trauma of a miscarriage, and as someone now on the verge of diagnosed anovulation, the article gives me strength to get out of bed, put on my size 0 pants, drink a Bourbon and gingerale at a table for two, and do it all with a smile on my face.

Life After Miscarriage: Operation Conceive

We have an empty room upstairs. It’s supposed to be the nursery but I’m seriously thinking about converting it to war room and calling it Operation Conceive. I’ll hang wall-sized basal body temperature charts and dry erase boards to track the changes in my cervical mucus. I’ll set up a computer and several monitors that will show my most fertile times of the month based on complex algorithms that take into account the date of my last menstrual cycle plus the variables of progesterone pills, consumption of conception friendly foods, and my desire to conceive.  Think about the Mission Control Center at NASA. That’s what I have in mind.

I’ll arrange to have a police escort on standby so that the moment the stars align, I can whisk my husband into the bedroom and we can get down to business.

I shared this plan with a girlfriend who doesn’t have children and has no desire to do so. She said, “Gee Em.  Conceiving doesn’t sound very romantic.” Uhh. No. This is a science. In fact, I can’t imagine anything less romantic than calling my husband and saying “My cervical mucus looks like egg-whites. Get home now!” Sex is definitely not recreational anymore.

After having success with the progesterone pills, I decided to buy my first ovulation predictor kit (OPK).  I actually have no clue IF I’m ovulating. My body is giving me mixed signals. My cervical mucus is all over the place. So is my basal body temperature. I’ve had random pain around my ovaries for the past five months so I can’t rely on that as an indicator of anything. Sigh.

The good news is, I will go back to my doctor on Cycle Day 21. She’ll blood draw that will tell me if I’m actually ovulating. In the meantime, I don’t want to miss my fertile window so I thought an OPK would be a good idea. I didn’t however, take into account how depressing a negative result would result would be.

Every afternoon I sneak away around 2:00 to pee on a stick and wait an agonizing five minutes to see if a line will appear giving me the green light to shave my legs and pretend I really want to have sex. So far, it hasn’t. I’m depressed and my legs are hairy. How long can a girl live like this?