Wednesday, June 30, 2004

arranged marriage

Though Fertility Friend hasn't confirmed it yet, I'm pretty sure I ovulated yesterday. And I can't help but wonder if my eggs are getting tired. Not tired in the old sense- though I know they only have a few good years left- but tired in the bitter sense, wondering each month if this will be the one where the lucky lady who makes her way down my fallopian tube runway will meet her Mr. Right. Will meet THE ONE.

I'd like to give my eggs some hope- don't want them to feel like their existence is for naught. God forbid they decide to go on strike, declare themselves swinging singles who have no desire to meet someone.

I want to tell them not to worry, that at the end of July, I'll be meeting with Dr. Hope to set up an arranged marriage for them. That a few lucky eggs will be united (hopefully forever) with the strongest, most handsome, most charming sperm we can find. But I'm a bit hesitant to break the news too early. Don't want to get their hopes up only to find that there are no eligible bachelors squirreled away deep inside my husbands's testicles.

Please be patient little eggs. Keep doing your thing. If you can just wait a little while longer, I promise you a match made in heaven.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

quitters never win

About a month before I went off of the pill to start trying to conceive, I started preparing for pregnancy. I quit smoking, weaned myself off of caffeine, drank less alcohol. I went to the gym everyday, ate more vegetables, started taking a pre-natal vitamin. I was certain that all of these things would help me conceive faster, would make for a healthier baby.

For six full cycles, I took care of myself, watched what I put into my body (for the most part), but the day that we found out about the azoospermia, I bought a pack of cigarettes and drank myself silly at a party that night. As I write, I'm sucking on a cancer stick and sipping a grande latte.

I know I have to get back on the TTC regime- start those pre-natals again, stop the cigarettes and the coffee. And I will. We meet with Dr. Hope in 4 weeks or so and I want to be clean, full of folic acid and calcium, non-addicted to my substances of choice.

I don't want to end up blaming myself for every failed IVF cycle. Worry that the glass of wine I had, or the double espresso, or god forbid, the cigarette, was the reason it didn't take. And I certainly don't want the lectures from the medical staff on how my bad habits not only affect me, not only affect my baby, but also affect my chances of getting pregnant in the first place.

And still, something tells me that its going to be a harder row to hoe this time around. This time around being trying to conceive with the help of Dr. Hope in an office as opposed to doing it the other way- in bed alone with my husband. If I thought trying to get pregnant the "natural" way was stressful, I know now that I was sorely mistaken. Now, we're adding the expense of time and travel and medical procedures to the mix. We're adding injectable hormones and mood swings and hot flashes. The two week window between ovulation and the inevitable arrival of my period used to be hell, but now? Every time my period shows up means one more trip back to the States, one more cycle of shots, one more extraction of sperm, one more egg retrieval, one more embryo transfer, one more two week wait.

Just thinking about it all makes me want a drink.

And I guess that's my point. My vices are just that, my vices, my way (albeit an unhealthy way) of dealing with stress. And when I gave them all up last November, it was easy because I really believed that in a month or two I would be with child. I believed that giving them up was a small sacrifice for a greater good. And that's still the case, I know. But I don't have the same naive faith that I will soon be pregnant. I know it could take months or even longer. I know that there is a chance that I won't get pregnant at all, that we'll have to look at other channels for having a baby: donor sperm, adoption.

So, while I know that I have to quit again, I'm not looking forward to it. Not in the same way that I was looking forward to it before- as a means to an end. I worry that at the end of it all, I'll have nothing to show for it- except maybe slightly healthlier lungs.

Monday, June 28, 2004

its not my party. i can't cry though i want to

We just got a wedding invitation in the mail. This is really no surprise since my husband is the best man in the upcoming wedding and has been planning the bachelor party for months. But getting that invitation in the mail makes it all so real. And what I'm selfishly thinking about is not the happiness of the future bride and groom, but how months ago I wondered if I'd even be able to go to the wedding at all or if I'd be too pregnant to fly. And then as time passed, whether or not I'd be able to find a cute maternity dress to show off my little belly. And then, whether or not I'd even be showing, if we'd tell.

Now, all of those worries sadly cast aside, I wonder where we'll be in the IVF process- if we'll know by then whether my husband has viable sperm in his testicles, if I'll be put back on birth control pills to regulate my cycle, if I'll be shooting myself in the ass every night with my daily dose of hormones, or if maybe we'll be even further along than that- if we'll have had an IVF cycle, if I'll be unable to take part in the champagne toast, afraid to dance too hard and shake my precious little embryos out of their new nest.

Only a couple of my husband's friends know about our predicament. The future groom is one of those friends, although he hasn't yet (as far as I know) responded to the e-mail my husband sent him telling about his lack of sperm. And who can blame him? He's planning a wedding for godsakes and who wants to think about infertility just weeks before they're tying the knot, planning their own future? And so my husband continues to e-mail with other news, updates about the hotel they'll stay in during the bachelor party celebration, who's arriving when. One of the bachelor party revelers replied to a mass e-mail with "There's so much shit going on in my life right now, I need a fucking break!", meaning of course, that it'll be good to be with the guys, drinking and carrying on, telling embarrassing stories about the groom. . .But when I heard about his reply, I could only think: If you only knew what shit was!

My husband called the "friend of the shit" after he got the e-mail. He wanted to make sure that all was okay with the new house, the job, the girlfriend. And his friend told him that he was overwhelmed with everything at the moment, that they'd have to really catch up at another time. He did ask my husband if I was pregnant yet (he knew that we were trying) and when my husband said "no, not yet", he asked if we were still trying. Oh, yeah. Trying and then some. But my husband didn't go into it. Politely said he'd let his friend get back to all that was overwhelming him. They'd talk again soon.

I don't think I give my husband enough credit. I worry and think about having a baby every day. I usually find myself in tears about it at least once a day. And I've gotten angry at him, picked fights with him because he doesn't seem to care. Won't talk about it unless I bring it up first. I've accused him of spending more time planning our anniversary vacation, the bachelor party for his friend, than thinking about the various medical procedures in our future. I've blamed him for not reading more about male factor infertility online. I know that he copes differently than I do, but I want him to cope the same way. I want him to come home from work and say not "There's an art museum in Atlanta that we have to go to!", but "I've been giving more thought to the donor sperm option." or "Did you go to the resolve website today? There was a great post about ICSI."
I want him to confess that he found himself in happy tears after reading about someone else's BFP (that's Big Fat Positive) after 6 tries at artificial insemination.

I know its not fair. I know that he wants a baby just as much as I do. And I know that he's sacrificing time off from work, may have to undergo a painful surgery, will have to live with my hormonal moodiness. He's always said he wanted at least two kids, maybe three and that now we may only have a chance at one. And I know that we're two different people who experience things in two different ways. I obsess. I can think about only one aspect of my life at a time and right now that aspect is our infertility. He, on the other hand, feels like until we see Dr. Hope, things are out of our control and we might as well keep on living our lives. And ultimately he's right. I know that he's right. And yet I still can't let go. I feel as though the more I read online- both scientific research and personal stories- the more prepared I will be. The more I will feel in control, whether or not that's actually the case.

So, there's this wedding in a couple of months. And there will be at least one new baby there that I will have to coo and smile at. There will be questions from friends who knew that we were trying, wondering what on earth is taking so long. But there will also be a couple in love who is making a formal commitment to each other in front of us all. It will be their day. And I will have to follow my husband's lead and keep on living my life, dance like there's no one watching, celebrate like I haven't been hurt.

one in six

It's a little less than a month until our appointment with Dr. Hope (not his real name, of course, though wouldn't that be a good omen. Even better would be Dr. Baby or Dr. Getpregnantonthefirsttry, Dr. Bestsuccessratesinthecountry- but I digress ). So, we meet our Dr. Hope in a little less than a month, but already the anxiety dreams have started.

Last night I dreamt that my husband and I went to our 5 am appointment at the clinic, only to be shuffled into a dark room half full of women sitting in those chairs with desks attached to the arms, with a couple men lurking in the back. A video was playing on a small TV towards the front- a video of women who were, I think, telling about their experiences with IVF, except the picture was bad and the sound was even worse. And I felt guilty for dragging my husband along since husbands were clearly in the minority in the room.

When the movie was over, we all went into a lounge to mingle. And it felt like the first day at a new school or summer camp all over again. The women seemed to know each other and were sharing stories about their follicles, their egg retrievals, their embryo transfers. They were chummy among themselves, but pretty much ignored me.

But it was in the lounge that I ran into an old friend from college. I vaguely remembered him telling me at reunion that he and his wife were having infertility problems. But suddenly, I wasn't anonymous anymore, suddenly someone knew me and I made small talk with this old friend, avoiding the topic of why we were both there. Though later, I pointed him out to my husband as someone I had gone to school with and guessed that he had a low sperm count. Why else would he be there among all of those women?

Later in the dream, in another location that I can't really remember now that I'm awake, I ran into another old college friend and his wife and knew somehow that they had been to the clinic too. That they were experiencing infertilty and that this time, it was a problem on her side. He invited my husband and I to come visit them in Oklahoma and I said maybe we'd make it there, but if not, we'd see them at the doctor's office- once again carefully avoiding the reason that we'd be at the doctor's office.

Dr. Hope himself never appeared in the dream. And there was no medical exam for me, none for my husband. All we really did was watch the bad video and drink coffee in the lounge among all of those women who had been through it before. I don't remember feeling disappointed, though, that we had come all that way for nothing. I just remember feeling surprised that infertility had touched the lives of two old friends and their wives.

In real life, infertility touches affects 1 in 6 couples (or 1 in 5, depending on the source). And so, while I may not know the ramifications for my real-life friends, it does not surprise me at all that there are so many women in infertilty support chat rooms online. Or that there are so many other blogs written about the trials and tribulations of trying to get pregnant by women like me.

In fact, I'm reminded of a late night chat that really did happen while I was back on campus for my reunion. I was talking to a guy who had totally intimidated me during the days that we were in school. Back then, he had dated a good friend of mine and we had some other mutual friends, but besides asking him for a light for my cigarette once or twice, we never actually spoke. When I first saw him at reunion, I wasn't even sure that he remembered me, or if he even knew who I was way back when, but he did and late nights after the official activities of the day had ended, we found ourselves in the lounge together drinking and chatting about things we never knew we had in common. One of those things was my good friend that he had dated. I lost touch with her years ago, but knew that he had attended her wedding from the picture she sent in to the alumni magazine. I asked him about her, where she is, what's she's doing now. And he told me that she was happy, except for one little hiccup. Her husband was sterile. He was hesitant about telling me, and I didn't push him. Hadn't told him about the little hiccup in my own happy life. And I didn't ask more questions about it, didn't ask what steps they were taking. I didn't want to reveal just how much I knew about the issue. I just said how sorry I was to hear that. And then we moved on to another topic of conversation.

This old friend of mine, who I'll call Julia, has been on my mind a lot over the past few years. When I work on a short story, she inevitably comes up as one of the characters. I've written letters to her that she'll never receive, I dream about her. And while I'm not sure that Julia and I will ever really be in touch again, there's just something (comforting isn't quite the word) about knowing that she's out there, 3000 miles away, going through what I imagine is very similar to what I'm going through right now. I really hope she's doing okay.

Friday, June 25, 2004

prestigious school in mexico city is looking for. . .

I just got home from my job interview. And I have to say it was a strange one. My worries about arriving late were completely unjustified, the commute was only about 25 minutes door to door. So, to avoid appearing way too eager, I made a quick stop at the mall across the street from the school for a pee break and a chocolate croissant.

That taken care of, I walked over to the school, told security that I had an appointment with the principal and was pointed in the direction of her office. I found it easily and introduced myself to her secretary. I even made small talk with her in Spanish, no small feat! She gave me a form to fill out which among other things asked me if I was married, how long I had been married, and how many times I had been married. I was also required to answer whether or not I had any children. If I was blessed with children at this stage of the game, I would have had to name each of them, give their age, tell where they were going to school, and what they were studying. I did, however, have to give my husband's age, his title, the address of his job, the length of time he's been there, his salary, and the number of people he supervises. Ummm, excuse me, but I thought I was the one applying for this job?

Form finally filled out, I was ushered into the principal's office. We did the kiss hello thing (very big here- I kiss my doctor hello when I have an appointment). And she asked me to talk a little bit about myself. Since the ad I had responded to only mentioned that they wanted someone who spoke English, had teaching experience, and was willing to travel frequently, I spoke about my teaching experience. And I went on to mention my administrative experiences in the afterschool program I directed in my former life. I was eloquent. I accentuated the positive, but acknowledged the challenges. I was direct, honest, but polite and tactful. I felt like I was doing very well.

Sounds normal, right? Well, it was to the extent that I was talking about what I thought was my relevant experience. And it wasn't to the extent that the principal kept interrupting what I was saying to put her own twist on things. When I was finished she explained the philosophy of the school and told me that they're opening up another school in Queretaro (a few hours north) and that they need someone who will visit the new school frequently to ensure that the original mission of the school is being addressed. (I'm sorry, but how does this qualify as an English teacher/coordinator position?) Then she looks right at me and says: "We're still not sure what this position is going to entail. We haven't decided yet whether we want an internal candidate who understands the philosphy of the school or an external candidate who will be trained."

That's all fine and good, but perhaps you should have thought of that before you put an ad in the paper and before you start calling people and asking them to come in for an interview.

She asked if perhaps I might want to teach for awhile to get to know the school. And then she proceeded to call, not one, but TWO Directors in the English department who both informed her that all of their positions had been filled. Hmmmm...

And so, she gave me her card and told me that she would get in touch with me next week. She likes my background, she says, and would like to find a position for me, but they just don't know exactly what this position is going to be.

Umm, yeah, I got that.

So, it would have been an utterly frustrating morning for me had not the woman from the DC clinic called us this morning. We have an appointment! We're going to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist who speaks English, who has brought many babies into this world with the help of injectable hormones, a petri dish, and a special little syringe! And we're going to meet him! In a month!

The ball is rolling. . .

Thursday, June 24, 2004

onward and upward

I have a job interview tomorrow. The first since my rejection a couple of weeks ago. The ad was vague: English Teacher/English Coordinator, but I applied anyway seeing as I speak fluent English, taught elementary school many moons ago, and have coordinated numerous things (both professionally and otherwise). Those qualifications, it seems, were enough to get me in the door.

I'm glad for the distraction of trying to figure out what to wear to this interview, of trying to time the commute just so- I don't want to be late, but I also don't want to be too early, and then there's the infamous Mexico City traffic to figure into the equation. But between fantasizing about this potential new career development and planning the upcoming trip to the Southland, I've had little time to dwell on the lack o' sperm in my life. That's been a good thing.

My husband will probably want to kill me for mentioning this, but I have to say that there's something better about sex now that we're not doing it purely for procreational purposes. We are no longer beholden to my cycles, forced to mate on a daily basis just because I have an egg that's about to drop. We can do it when we want, because we want to, not because we have to. And the added bonus is that I can get up to pee immediately afterwards if I feel like it. No more legs in the air, butt propped up by a pillow for at least twenty minutes following the act. Romance isn't dead. A post-coital cuddle is possible again.

That's not to say that if by some miracle of miracles, we happened to get pregnant without the aid of a laboratory I wouldn't be happy. I'm just relieved not to have to equate love-making with baby-making all of the time. And I'm happy to let the pregnancy/infertility/baby obsession go for awhile. At least until the fertility clinic calls with the date of our first appointment. Then- potential new job and anniversary trip be damned.

in the middle of the night

The anniversary plans are well underway. My husband found a bed and breakfast in Savannah that appears to meet our requirements: romantic, not over-top-expensive, tastefully decorated, and the rooms have private baths, color tv, and cd players. So, while we'll spend most of our trip in the familiar chain hotels, we'll hopefully have two romantic nights at the Kehoe House. (Please let them have vacancies!)

Over dinner last night, hubby and I reminisced about our wedding night which was spent in an upscale B&B in Maine. My mother had given us three nights there as a wedding gift and unfortunately, we were too tired and too busy that weekend (getting married and all) to enjoy it to the fullest. The kicker was that on our actual wedding night we stayed out so late after the reception that we got locked out of the inn and while I waited on the front porch in full wedding regalia, throwing stones at the nearest windows hoping someone would wake up and let us in, my tuxedo clad husband found an open window and crawled through (luckily not setting off any alarms), unlocked the front door for me and found our room key in its little cubbyhole behind the front desk. The next morning, the friendly concierge greeted us with "I hear you had a little trouble getting into your room last night." To which we shyly answered "Yes, but it all worked out okay."

I'm positive we'll never be allowed back. We created quite the scene that morning. And it was morning when we broke in. Around 4 a.m. I hope that history doesn't repeat itself on our anniversary.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

making plans

I'm feeling a little anxious today since it's been over a week and I still haven't heard back from the fertility clinic about scheduling an appointment. We filled out the online form last week and were hoping to get a reply a couple of days later, but so far nothing. They did warn us that it could take up to four weeks to get an appointment, but I assumed that meant four weeks until we were meeting with a doctor, not four weeks until they told us that we'd be able to see a doctor in another month or two. I'm tempted to call them, but am afraid that if I do, they'll write me off as an impatient patient (which I am) and I'll end up waiting six months or so for that initial consultation.

The bright side to not knowing if and when we'll be traveling to DC to be poked and prodded and questioned about all matters personal and private is that sans appointment, we're free to plan our first anniversary trip. When I arrived home from my ten-year reunion a couple of evenings ago, my darling husband was on the phone with United with a print-out of the itinerary for our romantic anniversary get-away in front of him.

The plan is to go to Atlanta for a couple of days and maybe see some friends there, catch a Brave's game, do some sightseeing before renting a car and driving to Savannah and Charleston.

Now, when we traveled to Asia for our honeymoon last year, I was the one who did all the preliminary research of where to eat, where to shop, what to see. And in true type-A form, I wrote up a detailed itinerary for each place we'd be visiting. So, it was a lovely surprise to see that my husband had already figured out the best places to eat, the most romantic bed and breakfasts in the southland, and even found a free concert on the water to go to on the fourth of July.

So last night we found ourselves online looking at the sites of these romantic bed and breakfasts and were sorely disappointed in what we found. First of all, they were all pretty expensive- not unaffordable, but certainly more than we'd like to pay for a night in essentially what will turn out to be someone's home. And then, even more discouraging than the cost, was the decor. Where is it written that all B&Bs from New England to Florida must be decorated in a calico Holly Hobbie theme, or if near any body of water, look like part of the Master and Commander set? Is there no such thing as a tasteful B&B? One with rooms that don't feature pastel flowered wallpaper, a canopied bed, and a teddy bear on the pillow? I've yet to find one. And if I'm going to spend more than $200 a night to sleep somewhere, please let it have cable TV, internet access, and a shower in my room. A pool would be nice and/or a balcony, little shampoos and conditioners by the bathroom sink. I don't even need room service (though that would be a bonus), I just don't want to sleep in someone else's idea of quaint.

So, while the trip to the South is still on (as of this writing), we're rethinking the bed and breakfast idea. A chain hotel, while not as homey, will at least guarantee us some sort of familiarity- and my husband can earn his beloved points to assure us future stays at said hotel.

There's so much uncertainty in our lives right now, that perhaps it is best to stick with what we know. And there is comfort in knowing that we won't have to make polite conversation with strangers over breakfast, that we won't have to worry about thin walls or walking down the hall to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There is comfort in the fact that we will be together, anonymously celebrating our first anniversary in a room that doesn't remind us of our grandmothers' homes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

age before beauty

I got back from my ten-year reunion yesterday evening. And let me tell you, I am exhausted. I am not as young as I once was and staying up until 3 am for three nights in a row really took it out of me. I think its going to be a couple of days before I feel normal again, before the bags under my eyes disappear.

It was great to be back on campus and see old friends and aquaintances. Everyone kept telling me that I looked exactly the same and I hope that's a good thing. I even got carded twice during the trip (something that never happens in Mexico), so I guess I still look eighteen even if I can't drink like I did back then.

Back in the day, my friends and I had nicknames for everyone on campus- I think it was so we could gossip about them without having anyone know who we were talking about. We named this one chick "27" because we thought she looked so old. And at eighteen, twenty-seven just seemed so ancient to us, so mature. 27 wasn't at reunion but I can't help wondering how she looks these days- older? younger? exactly the same?

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of balding guys and people who had gained more weight than me, people with more gray hair. On the whole, the women looked better than the men. But no one was unrecognizable. Folks had kids and spouses and grown-up jobs, owned property and all that, but we somehow reverted back to the people that we used to be- filling the same roles we filled then, playing off of each other in the same way. It was a little eerie.

I'm definitely planning on returning for my 15 year reunion and hope that I can convince my husband to join me. It'll be interesting to see where we are then- where our lives take us. Maybe 27 will show up to that one and surprise us all at how young she looks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

off to the races

I leave for my ten-year college reunion this afternoon and I'm surprisingly prepared. My clothes are all neatly folded in my suitcase, I've got a stack of 90's cds ready to go for the radio show I'll be hosting with some friends, my plane ticket and passport are safely tucked away in my carry-on bag.

But I'm most proud of my emotional preparedness (is that even a word?). Packing was the easy part- after all, we're not going to do much more than sit around drinking and reminiscing for four days straight. But the emotional baggage? It'doesn't always fit into the suitcase so easily.

I was worried that I'd be an emotional mess with all of this infertility stuff that recently reared its ugly head. And while I haven't come to terms with it 100%, let's just say I'm not spending my days weeping into the bedcovers. (I was for a while, believe me.) But now I feel ready to meet the off-spring of my classmates and feel something other than jealousy and resentment.

I didn't go to my five-year reunion because I didn't feel "ready". I was a broke grad student at the time, in-between relationships and I just wasn't quite sure that I could handle my fellow alums' stories of their story-book weddings, full-rides to Harvard, latest million-dollar investments, nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Looking back, I realize that I could have held my own at the five-year reunion. Just as I am confident that I can hold my own at the ten-year. So what if I'm unemployed, am unable to have kids the "normal" way, am living in a country that makes me crazy, am fifteen pounds heavier than I'd like to be? The whole point is to see people I haven't see in ten years, to remember the good old days, to drink and get nostalgic, to marvel at the new buildings on campus, to comment on how young the underclassmen look and act, and to drink some more.

And as my husband is quick to remind me, things could always be worse. I could have been unemployed since graduation, dying of some dreadful disease, living in a cardboard box, carrying around one hundred and fifteen pounds of extra weight. Compared to that, things are pretty good.

So, I'll be back here in a little less than a week to report on the whole experience. I figure if I'm lucky, the cafeteria food is still as awful as it used to be and I might even come home a couple of pounds lighter.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

natural disasters

There was an earthquake in Mexico City yesterday evening. And it just so happens that my husband and I were in the waiting room of the Centro de Fertilidad when the tremors started. He had gone for his second semenalysis and we were waiting for the results, hoping that just maybe, the first test had been a fluke and this one would show at best a normal sperm count and at worst, some slow swimmers. So we're sitting there, trying not to get our hopes up too high, trying not to worry about the long, scientific process of getting me pregnant should the confirmatory test actually confirm the azoospermia of the first, when the walls started swaying.

We've had earthquakes here before and they usually only last a few seconds, but this one felt like it kept going on and on and on. We could hear creaking and I was not at all happy about being on the 4th floor of a building where our only way out was an elevator. A small, old elevator. My husband and I tried to joke about the earthquake's effects on his results- that if there were no sperm present it was probably because they'd gotten shaken off the slide, or if they were there, the tremors would aid them in swimming. "Wow!" we imagined the lab techs saying, "Look at those guys go!"

But the tremors stopped and the lab results came back. And they confirmed what we already knew. Hay nada. There was nothing there.

While the earthquake was happening, I thought maybe it was a sign from the powers-that-be. And I think, in fact it was. We returned home to our apartment to find that the power in our part of the city had gone out. But none of our art had fallen off of the walls, none of our dishes were shattered. Things had been shaken up a bit, but nothing was broken. Eventually the lights came back on.

Bear with me here, but right now I'm feeling that our infertility is a bit like yesterday's earthquake. It's certainly rocked our private little world. And it's a bit scary in that we're not sure when it'll all be over, when we'll be bringing a baby home. But it won't last forever and at the end of the day, we're merely shaken, but still in one piece. The lights will come back on and life will continue.

Monday, June 14, 2004

cocktail hour

I saw this at Mindy's and had to give it a whirl. . .(a whirl in the blender that is. hee hee.)



How to make a la gringa
Ingredients:

1 part anger

3 parts crazyiness

1 part beauty
Method:
Add to a cocktail shaker and mix vigorously. Top it off with a sprinkle of lovability and enjoy!




What's YOUR personality cocktail?

the pretenders

On Saturday morning, my husband and I woke up, packed our bags and took a ten minute cab ride to Hotel Centro Historico in downtown Mexico City where we checked in for the night. We've done this before (just 3 weeks ago, actually). It's an easy way to feel like we're on vacation without the hassle of plane tickets and passports, taking time off from work, feeling the pressure to sightsee. We holed up in that hotel room and watched TV, ordered room service, watched TV, took luxurious bubble baths, and watched TV. It was exactly what we needed to pull ourselves out of the funky rut we've been in since we got the "bad news" a little over a week ago.

Our little 18 hour vacation made perfect sense to us, but yet we couldn't cough up the real story when the bell hop made polite conversation with us in the elevator on the way up to our room. I offered that we were visiting from DC (luckily before my husband had a chance to answer New York or Maine- the other 2 obvious choices) and that yes, we had been to Mexico before and that we had even stayed in this very hotel. When the bell hop seemed a bit disappointed that we were only there for one night, my husband comforted him with the fact that we were considering a trip to Puebla the next day and we might be interested in a tour of DF that afternoon. I felt a little sheepish when the bell hop opened our curtains to show us the view and pointed out all of the sights from our window: the Palacio Bellas Artes, the Torre Latino Americana- places we've visited many times, on a street we've traveled more often than we can count. We tipped him well and sent him on his way, promising to call down to the front desk when we had decided about a tour.

Sadly, this isn't the first time I've told bold-faced lies to complete strangers in Mexico. Normally, I'm not a strong proponent of lying. I do believe that honesty (combined with tact) is usually the best policy. But in Mexico, I have become quite the teller of tales. Usually, I do it because with my limited Spanish-speaking ability, its easier than telling the truth. The woman who does my dry cleaning thinks that my husband's name is Carlos. When I drop off the dry cleaning, she writes down this name on the pink slip. We use Carlos regularly now, when we make reservations at restaurants, when we drop off film to be developed. It's just easier than having to spell out our American names which inevitably end up butchered.

The towel lady at my gym knows that I am from the United States. I may have even told her that I am from New York. Okay, I'm not really from New York, but that was the last place I lived before coming to Mexico, so its not quite a lie. What is a lie, is that when I miss more than 4 or 5 consecutive days at the gym, and the towel lady asks where I've been, I always tell her that I was back in the United States, that I was in New York.

Sometimes I really have been back to the States. Once, I think I had actually been back to New York. A couple of times I was in Maine or Oregon, places I wasn't sure the towel lady had heard of. And sadly, there have been times when I've been right here in Mexico City, absent from the gym because of sheer laziness or because I had guests visiting or because I was sick, explanations that require too much grammar for my taste.

Similarly, when I dropped off a bunch of sweaters to the dry cleaner in early December and she asked me if I was going back to the States for Christmas, I smiled and said yes, to New York. I told her that I have family there. She asked if it has already started snowing in the States and I said yes. None of this was true. I brought her the sweaters because I had just returned from my Thanksgiving vacation in Maine where my mother lives. My husband and I were going to Hong Kong for Christmas; we've never spent Christmas in New York; we have no relatives there. I had no idea if it was snowing in New York. My guess would be that it was not. It was surprisingly warm in Maine just a few days earlier.

While waiting for the bus once, a woman admired my coat and asked me where I got it. I told her that I bought it in New York. Oh, she says and nods and smiles. New York. It looks like its from New York. I wonder what that means, especially since the coat isn't from New York at all, but from an outlet store in Kittery, a small town on the border of Maine and New Hampshire. Its an old coat, I've had it for years, but when I told the woman I bought it in New York, I made it sound like I was just there, that the coat is brand new.

I leave for my college reunion on Wednesday and I'll miss more than a few days at the gym while I am gone. And I imagine that the towel lady will once again believe that I am New York. As long as she doesn't ask me why I travel there so often, I'll be fine.

Friday, June 11, 2004

disclosure

I had a crazy nightmare last night. I was at my college reunion (which in waking life starts next week) filling out these ridiculous forms at the registration table. The one question I actually remember (now that I'm fully awake) is: Which spot on campus is most likely to make you cry? And I dutifully answered the name of the dorm I lived in my freshman year. The form went on for 3 pages, and supposedly you had to fill out the entire thing (in pencil) in order to be eligible for some sort of prize. And there were other folks (including some people who didn't even go to my college) at my table, writing away, but I couldn't think of a single answer for the rest of the questions.

And then it happened. As I was frantically trying to come up with responses to these ridiculous questions, the woman sitting across from me (who in real life will be at the reunion sharing a room with me, and who happened to be my sophmore year roommate)asked me if my nipples were still sore. In front of everybody! And when I tried to shush her, it only egged her on. She asked about my dear husband's sperm count, whether we were considering donor sperm, whether we had considered adoption, where we were going for treatment, how I was dealing with all of it, how he was dealing with all of it. But not in a nice, concerned way. Almost as though those were the responses that HER questionnaire required and she was just getting the facts straight.

I was angry. Especially when I realized that I had never even told her about the problem in the first place. And she argued that I had e-mailed her (which I didn't- neither in real life or in the dream). And then I realized that it was the blog. She had read my blog and figured out my identity and was now calling me out in front of all of my former classmates, most of whom I haven't seen since graduation day.

I think I slapped her. I think I huffily explained that I didn't want to think about infertility stuff while I was at the reunion. I think I stopped filling out my stupid questionnaire (forfeiting the FABULOUS prizes) and walked off.

I definitely woke up (albeit 2 hours later and after yet another strange and distrurbing dream). And when I woke up I noticed that my boobies (ha! I never really call them that) were actually sore. And then I realized that I was having slight cramping in the place I believe my uterus to be. And in one still half-asleep moment, I convinced myself that the azoospermia diagnosis was a total fluke and that I actually could be pregnant. This month. Right now.

And in that half-asleep haze, I actually had the gall to worry about how I would explain it to everyone. My panic, my obsession, my last few posts in this blog. "Whoops, it was all a mistake, please don't hate me. I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again." I was actually fearful that I might lose some credibility. That the three people who actually read this blog (my husband and myself included) might hate me, think me a drama queen, someone who jumps to conclusions, prepares for the worst.

I assure you, dear readers, that should a miracle happen resulting in a pregnancy this month, my fear and panic were all very real. I'm too pessimistic a person to really hold out any hope, but hey, the boobies are sore. Probably just a funny little practical joke being played on me by the powers-that-be. It's happened before.

Just don't ask me about it at reunion.



Thursday, June 10, 2004

my bad

Yesterday I posted about how unsupportive my real life friends have been through all of this infertility nonsense. And well, I was wrong. Again.

This is a bit confusing, but the woman who was my maid of honor(the one I was so angry at) e-mailed this morning, basically re-sending the e-mail that she had sent to me a few days ago, the one I responded to with my bad news.

She wrote that she had tried to send her e-mail once, but it got sent back to her. And so she was sending it again. . .Now, when I replied her to original e-mail a few days ago, it got sent back to me. So I re-sent it by forwarding the "undeliverable" message to her other e-mail address, BUT I didn't change the subject line. So, I'm thinking that she got my e-mail, but thought it was hers being returned and so she just deleted it without reading it.

Anyway, I wrote back to her this morning and got an almost immediate reply. She'd even tried calling me, but the line was busy. Of course it was- I was here posting away. . .So, I feel like a total ass for jumping to the conclusion that she was just an insensitive bitch. She's not. And I'm sorry. And that's my formal apology.

two week window

So, I'm 9 dpo (That's nine days past ovulation for all of you non-trying-to-conceivers) and in my past life (okay- one month ago), I would be pretty crazy right about now. Well, I'm pretty crazy right about now anyway, but for a different reason, of course.

I slept until 9:54 am this morning, something I rarely do. And my right nipple is a little sore and I had weird cramping in my uterine area yesterday afternoon. These are the things I used to live for. In my past life, I'd be stocking up on the home pregnancy tests, hanging out for hours on The Knot with my fellow TTC-ers, comparing every twinge, the number of times I peed in a day, the headaches I don't usually get, the sore breasts, the weird discharge, sure that THIS month would be the month.

For seven glorious cycles, I held out that hope. And for seven glorious cycles, I checked and re-checked my ovulation chart at Fertility Friend, praying that the temps wouldn't take a dive. And even when my favorite Aunt Flo (That's Ms. Menstruation to you!) reared her ugly head at the end of the two week window, I was okay with the fact (mas o menos) that the NEXT cycle would be the one.

It's a little liberating (in a sad sort of way) that I'm able to ignore all of these "early pregnancy symptoms" this month. There are no HPTs in the bathroom cabinet calling out to me to test even though its still early. I'm not attacking my husband when he comes home from work to report every little symptom I experienced, to tell him "I think this is the month." I'm drinking coffee again, and wine. And even smoking the cigarettes that I supposedly gave up last November when we started trying. (I'll quit again, I promise.)

I know that the time will come when I'm monitoring my cervical mucuous again. That I'll count my trips to the bathroom once more and pray that there won't be any blood on the TP. I'll look forward to sore breasts and nausea and exhaustion and check all of these symptoms off in the checklist in my head. But for now, I'm a little bit grateful that I have one less thing to obsess about. One less thing to be disappointed for at the end of the month.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

lost

I just got an e-mail from the alumni magazine at my alma mater telling me that they lost the wedding photo I sent to them. Never mind that we're celebrating our first anniversary in less than a month or that I sent them the wedding photo SIX MONTHS AGO!! How do you lose such a thing in the first place? And why has it taken them so long to let me know? Did they just lose it? And if so, why were they holding on to it for so long? Why weren't we pictured in the last issue among all the other happy brides and grooms who attended our school?

Now they want me to send them another one (Luckily I have copies). I'm going to do one better and hand-deliver it to the alumni magazine office when I'm on campus next week. But can I even trust them with it? Will our wedding announcement be published anytime in the next few years? The information that I wrote to accompany the picture is not even relevant anymore. Not that it really matters, I can tell anyone who gives a damn at my reunion next week. But still.

I'm just in a foul mood today and this is one more thing to complain about.

the kindness of strangers

What is it about infertility that makes people who normally love and support you lose their shit? I've been shocked at the lack of response from my friends. Since we received the news last week, we've only told our families and a few close friends. Keyword: close. And while our families have been more or less great, the response from my friends has been, well, lacking.

I still haven't gotten a response to the emotional, panicked, honest e-mail that I sent to the woman who stood next to me as I said my wedding vows. At first I was hurt. Now I'm just angry. Is she really so busy that she doesn't have a spare moment to dash off even an "I'm so sorry. Don't have time to write right now, but am thinking of you." e-mail? Because that's all I want really.

It's hard enough being 2500 miles away from my friends and my family. Hard enough that I have no network of friends here. That on a good day, someone from my pilates class will strike up a conversation with me, but more often than not my husband is the only person I talk to for days at a time (if you don't count the cashiers at the grocery store). But now, my so called friends don't know what to say.

I know better than to act the part of the needy friend who can only talk about one thing that no one else has experienced, that makes everyone else feel uncomfortable. I know better than to obsess about this all with them. That's what this blog is for- to blow off steam so that I don't find myself in the position of boring people with my tales of woe, of this thing that consumes me. And it does consume me.

What strikes me most, though, is the kindness of complete strangers. I've been amazed at their warmth and support, their ability to offer kind words, their insistence that I write with questions or if I just need to vent.

Yesterday, I sent off six e-mails to various bloggers who write about motherhood, infertility, being a woman and asked them to link me to their sites. All but one wrote back to me, all but one linked me to her site. And the reason the sixth was so unresponsive was because my e-mail to her had been returned to me. Her address was no longer activated. Five complete strangers offered me some comfort and my own Maid of Honor is MIA!

Never mind the ridiculous number of thoughtful responses I got to the questions that I posted on the bulletin board at an infertility site yesterday. Women sharing their most personal stories, the factors influencing the hardest decisions they'll ever have to make. People I've never met, will never meet who were willing to reach out to me. It's quite amazing. Heartwarming even.

I do have to say, for honesty's sake, that the other woman who stood next to me at my wedding sent me an extremely kind e-mail in response to the one where I broke my bad news to her. And I thank her for it. I get to see her at our 10 year college reunion next week and I feel so lucky that she's the friend I'll be spending 4 nostalgic days with. If I had to face bridesmaid #1 right now, I'm sure I would be tempted to give her a swift kick in the ass.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

to err is human

Okay, when I'm wrong I admit it. Usually. Indigo Wolf found a fertility clinic here in Mexico City with the bonus that its in the colonia (neighborhood) right next to mine. And so, we'll make an appointment there. As soon as possible. And my in-laws can go on their 2 week vacation ignorant of the fact that I was ready to strangle them last night for not setting up an appointment for us back in Maryland.

I feel better already.

hoping for the best

Apparently, there are no fertility clinics in all of Mexico City. At least according to google. Do a search for fertility clinics in English and there are pages upon pages of places that promise to get you pregnant within a few cycles. Add the words "Mexico City" to that same search and you get a bunch of irrelevant sites, most of which talk about the fertility rates of the Mexican population and one little gem that should serve as a warning to all of us: about the fertility doctor who was stealing eggs from his patients and fled to Mexico. And yes, he IS still practicing here!

I tried the search in Spanish too. But to no avail. Apparently, the people of Mexico City have no problems getting knocked up. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, given that the population of this city is over 22 million. But still. Is it too much to ask for one fertility clinic to be listed on google?! I suppose so.

We were planning on going back to the US for treatment anyway. But it would be nice to have a preliminary consultation here before shelling out the dough for the plane tickets. My husband will have to take time off of work, of course. And despite all of the web research I've done so far, I have no idea just how long this is all going to take. I don't mean the getting pregnant part- I mean the true diagnosis and the testicular biopsy and the extraction of the sperm (if there is any up there) and the harvesting of my eggs. . .And well, it gets a little overwhelming.

Forgive the comparison, but I'm reminded of how I felt when I realized that I would have to plan my Maine wedding from Mexico. Sure my mom was in Maine and could do the legwork for me, just as my husbands parents are in Maryland and can do the legwork for us. But when it came down to the nitty-gritty details of tasting the cake and meeting the florist and trying on my dress, well, I had to be there myself. And so I flew up regularly to have the appointments that my mom had set up for me. Just like my husband and I will fly up to make the appointments that his parents set up for us. But still, I feel like I don't have as much control over everything as I would like. The good news is, the wedding came off without a hitch. And perhaps this will too. Perhaps we'll have a baby in our arms by our second anniversary. I can only hope.

Still, my in-laws are about to embark on a two week vacation and have yet to schedule an appointment for us. This despite the fact that they are good friends with someone who supposedly knows "the best" reproductive endocrinologists in the area. I think in some sense they're hoping the problem goes away. They called last night and tried to comfort us with the fact that my husband's cousin had twins after 10 years. They didn't seem to get the fact that it was an ovulation problem with her. Not a sperm count problem with him. And that without some sort of invasive procedure, our problem won't go away. I've read in more than one resource that female factor infertility problems are harder to diagnose than male factor infertility, but easier to treat. Great.






Monday, June 07, 2004

wait and see

My husband and I went to Acapulco for the weekend. The trip out of town had been planned before we got the bad news on Thursday, but it was definitely good to be out of the apartment, out of the city. We took the bus down on Friday afternoon and arrived late Friday evening.

It was cloudy and rainy almost the whole time we were there, so I didn't get the glowing tan I was hoping to show off at my 10 year college reunion next week. But we logged in a lot of hours in front of the TV. (We don't have television in our apartment in DF, so couch potato-ing it is always a treat for us) And we were able to forget about the baby problem for a few hours at a time.

We talked about it, of course. It's impossible not to. And yet, as much as I would like this to be our only topic of conversation until we've figured it all out, I know that's neither realistic nor healthy. The thing is, I'm a planner, a list maker. And I like to know what's coming next. In this case, nothing is in my control. We're in a wait-and-see mode. As in: wait and see what the results of the next semenalysis are, wait and see what the second opinion doctor says our options are, wait and see whether we will go forward with the various medical procedures here or in the US, wait and see if they work. I am not a wait and see person by nature, but I will become one.

For now though, I have to get back on the job search bandwagon and try my damnedest to find some sort of employment opportunity here in Mexico that is even marginally related to my degrees in public health and social work. Easier said than done, since I've been looking for almost a year. The prospect that there's nothing out there frightens me since I really need the distraction right now. Perhaps the job search in and of itself will serve as enough of a distraction to get me through the next couple of months. I'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, June 04, 2004

trying in vain

After 6 months of trying to get pregnant with no results, my husband and I went back to the doctor last week to find out what the next steps were. Our regular doctor was out of the office and so we had a somewhat frustrating appointment with his replacement who could neither find my data on the computer nor speak a word of English. So most of the appointment was spent giving him all of my basic stats. I've been charting my temperature and monitoring my cervical fluid every day so I was pretty sure that I'd been ovulating, and I showed replacement doctor my charts which I had brought along. He barely glanced at them before writing me a prescription for Mexico's version of clomid and ordering a blood test for me and a semen analysis for my husband and sending us on our way.

Luckily, with so much time on my hands (not working and all), I'd been doing some research of my own about the various tests for infertility and I knew that I'd have to take my blood test on day three of my cycle in order for it to actually give us any useful information. I also knew that the drug he prescribed for me has some not-so-nice side effects and is intended to promote ovulation in women who don't ovulate on their own. So husband and I discussed it and we decided that I'd put off taking the medication until he had gotten the results back from his test.

He went into the lab last Friday morning and masturbated into a little plastic cup. The people at the lab told him that he would get the results the following Thursday. I know for a fact that in the US, you get the results back the same day. But of course, this is Mexico and things rarely work the same way as they do in the States.

So, yesterday, my husband stopped at the lab on his way home from work and picked up the results of his test. The chicas who worked in the lab were giggling when they handed over the papers. (Gotta love that professionalism!) They gave him 2 copies: one for us to keep and one to give to the doctor. Again, things don't work this way in the US. The results of any blood test, x-ray or ultrasound I ever had in the States was automatically sent to my doctor who would call me with the news. But here, we're on our own.

We called the doctor who agreed to see us to interpret the results and we walked over to his office. When we got there, the waiting room was jam packed with pregnant women and their husbands, so we decided to go have a drink and return later. While we were sipping our cervezas, I took another look at the results and realized that the letters that we originally thought were codes actually spelled out the medical term for zero sperm count in Spanish. Sure enough, where there were supposed to be percentages, there were only asterisks. Zero fucking sperm count!

We went back to see replacement doctor who told us what we had already figured out. And not surprisingly, he didn't have much else to tell us, except that my husband should have a testicular biopsy to determine if there are any live sperm trapped up in there. If there are, they can extract them and artificially inseminate me.

I really expected that he would have normal results. Or at the very least, he would have a low sperm count and would get some sort of shots to remedy the problem. I never expected this. Am still in a state of shock, I must admit.

We got home and called our parents. His mom is going to make him an appointment for a second opinion back home in the US with an English speaking doctor who might be able to offer us more options. My mom thinks its a blessing in disguise that I didn't get that job I was hoping for. And I suppose it is, if I'm going to have to be traveling back and forth to the States for various procedures.

I'm an adopted child, but I really don't want to adopt. Is that a horrible thing to admit? That I want to share my genes with someone else in this world? That I'm not feeling generous enough to open my home and heart to a child who didn't spend 9 months in my womb? Is it terrible also, that I don't want an anonymous sperm donor, that I want my child to have my husband's eyes and smile? And the kicker? That I don't want to NOT have children at all.

The news is, just that, new. And granted the second opinion we get in the States may be more optimistic than what we heard yesterday from our foolish replacement doctor who told us a second semenalysis wasn't necessary. And I'm hoping that this has all been some awful mistake. In my heart, though, I fear that its not. And that I'll have to get used to the idea of adoption or artificial insemination.

This is really a time when I wish I was back in the US, to have the support of family and friends, to have easy access to English speaking doctors who graduated from medical schools I've actually heard of. But alas, I'm here, south of the border, trying to figure this all out on my own.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

the game show of life

I just got an e-mail from the organization where I applied for a job. Apparently, I was one of three finalists for the position, but not the grand-prize winner. Unfortunately, there's no consolation prize for the runners-up. No year supply of turtle wax or Rice-a-roni for me.

They did say that they'll keep my CV on file and will let me know if another position opens up. But I think they're just trying to let me down easy. I know that I could have done this job, and done it well. But if they didn't think I was the best candidate for the position, why would they want me for something else?

Last night, in a terribly anti-Mexico mood, I told my husband that I was going to start applying to jobs back in the US. I probably could find something here if my Spanish was better, or if I had the connections that are oh-so crucial to job-hunting in this country. I meant it as sort of an empty threat. But now, with this rejection, from a place I was pretty sure would hire me (I even did a free-lance consulting gig for them last fall), I feel like its time to start exploring my options elsewhere. Elsewhere being back in the states.

The one good thing to come out of this news is that I can go ahead and start making travel plans for the summer. My husband and I were hoping to go away somewhere for our first anniversary, but the plans for that were on hold until I heard about this job. Well, I've heard now and am as free as a bird.





Scarlett Fever

Wednesdays are my movie day. Besides wanting to be out the apartment while Silvia cleans, movies are half-price at all of the theaters in Mexico City on Wednesdays. At 27 pesos a flick, I can afford not to be too picky about what I go to see. Which is a good thing since my choices tend to be pretty limited. The cinemex just a couple of blocks from my apartment tends to favor artsy foreign films which ordinarily would be a good thing. Unfortunately, I have a hard time translating the Spanish subtitles fast enough to really grasp any subtleties. And so I usually settle for a safe American romantic comedy.

Yesterday, however, I went to see Girl with a Pearl Earring. I love Scarlett Johansson, even if she seems to choose projects where nothing much happens. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Lost in Translation so much that I bought the dvd as soon as it came out, but you have to admit, it's not exactly action-packed. Still, I thought Pearl Earring was a satisfying film; I certainly got my money's worth. And it was a nice change from The Prince and Me which is what I settled for last week.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

she works hard for the money

I feel a bit guilty admitting this, but one of the perks to living in Mexico is that I have a maid. Okay, here we call her the maid, but if we were back in the States and could actually afford her, she'd be our "cleaning lady".

Silvia comes once a week on Wednesdays and cleans our apartment. I'm a neat freak, but a dirty neat freak. That is to say- I hate clutter, but I also hate scrubbing the bathtub. So, left to my own devices, everything in our apartment would be in its place, but covered in a thick layer of dust. I can organize things until I'm blue in the face, but don't ask me to iron your shirts!

So Wednesdays is Silvia's day to come and do all of the stuff I'm awful at. She washes the floors and dusts the bookshelves and irons my husband's shirts. She scrubs the top of the stove and wipes the mirrors, waters my plants, and beats the rugs. And believe me, she is a godsend. I love coming home on Wednesday afternoons to the smell of lemon fresh goodness.


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

ay carumba!

So, I'm finally jumping on the blog bandwagon after thinking about it for some time now. More than anything else, I need something semi-constructive to do with my time.

Just came back from the gym- my one structured daily activity in my life here. That is, if you don't count showering and my daily trips to the superama. Sure, I was working when I first got here, but left the job due to, um, lets just call it an emotionally unhealthy environment. That was over a year ago. So now I find myself living the life of a stay-at-home mom, minus the kids. It's not exactly where I expected to find myself at 31. But then again, neither is Mexico. I came here for love. (Isn't that always the way it is?) And love I have, which should be enough and I suppose it is in most regards. But I have to admit that I'm getting a bit restless. Unfortunately, the job market here isn't all that promising. I am looking. And I was recently told (recently being the end of April), that I'm a semi-finalist for a position that I applied for. But I'm still waiting to hear from them. Am still waiting to find out if I've made the list of finalists. And if I have, well, who knows how long it will take to find out if I actually get the job. My friends in the states assure me that its a non-profit thing. But I've worked for non-profits before and this seems to me to be more of a Mexico thing.

Anyway, I've given myself a deadline of sorts. More like I've given my husband a deadline. And that is: if I remain unemployed or if I don't get pregnant, we're out of here next July when his job contract runs out. So those are my two goals right now. To find a job and/or get knocked up. Neither is as easy as I'd hoped.

I know that there are plenty of things that I can do with my time here(it's a huge city after all)and I was studying Spanish after my first failed attempt at working in Mexico. But at the end of the day, I really just don't want to be here. I miss my former life. I miss having friends around. I miss working. I miss understanding what's going on around me without the help of dictionary. And so, I'm hoping that something happens soon.