Kryptonite

Today was Monitoring Day 3 appt. I was nervous, I admit it.

Blood work and ultrasound, and the results of my AMH test. Blood work was ok. E2 59.9, FSH 11.2. The ultrasound, not so much.  After not being able to find my stupid right ovary again, there were no follicles visible in either ovary. I was nervous about this happening again, after last months cycle. Dr said not to be too worried about it since my periods are every 28 days, my E2 and my FSH are in the normal ranges for my age.

You can learn what AMH is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-M%C3%BCllerian_hormone

Last month on day 2, E2 was 61, FSH was 13.9. Theoretically these starting numbers are a little better than last months.

The AMH test was .16   Which I believe puts me in the bottom 1 percent of women in my age bracket.

When I asked him what it meant, he refused to answer and said “I want you to go home and do your homework” So I have researched it. Part of me thinks he wants to test me to see what attitude I take, to see if I choose defeatism or to see the more complete larger view. I am a methodical person, it’s very easy for me to get bogged down in the details, the negatives, and focus on a single issue.

Under normal circumstances he doesn’t even bother testing for AMH because unlike a lot of clinics he deals with older women, and some really tough cases. A lot of clinics see AMH as the “gold standard” for fertility. I don’t think he does. He only asked for me to be tested because I had the zero follicles on day 2 last month. That being said, last month I had my best numbers ever and the single egg I did produce, on an un-medicated cycle, became a very high quality blastocyst.

He’s spent 27 years in this field so I’m going to take a page from his book and believe he’s correct. It is a factor. It is not definitive in terms of whether or not I can become pregnant, or what my egg quality is. It does however mean, I need to probably bank while I can. It’s a big deal for me to trust someone like this. I’ve said it before. I question everything.

I joke a lot in this blog, because my life has become something almost unrecognizable to me. I am not normally overly emotional. I am not normally illogical. I am not normally unreasonable.

“Infertility is like kryptonite to reason and logic. When reason and logic are obliterated by that kryptonite, what takes their place is the mental equivalent of a Swiss army knife; a single tool that can make you question your faith, challenge a marriage, wreck a friendship, destroy a savings account…all at once” – http://infertilit-he.com/

I am a control freak. I am type A. I am also a perfectionist, I am methodical, detail oriented, and I am the most pragmatic person I have ever known. I am the Queen of the worst case scenario, and predicting them. It’s been how I’ve coped with my work, my crazy family, (not my husband and stepdaughter) Nothing in my life has ever come easy. Nothing has ever been handed to me. Nothing has come without work, why should this be any different? Even coming out the other side at hope for me has been a journey and hard work. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I refuse to live my life in despair. I refuse to allow this to define me.

Am I scared? Yes. But tonight at 8pm I will take the clomid he gave me, and I will hope for the best. Next week, I will face whatever comes.

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Blue Moon

I hate the phrase “Aunt Flo” and TOTM, and other such 7th grade expressions of my menses. I just call it “shark week”. Because I’ve evolved to at least the 9th grade, and think it sounds funnier and more obtuse than a mundane “Aunt Flo”.  According to my calendar its about 3 days out, but I’m hoping that its more like 6 or 7 days, because I’d like to not have to drop my drawers on a Saturday, the only time my husband, stepdaughter and I have time together.

After a solid 2 week break, yours truly will be featured under the Big Top, at the Circus, sans pantalon ( french for “without pants”) starting the end of this week. I may rethink this sentence later because it sounds less like a circus and more like some kind of drunken bachelor weekend in Tijuana.

With my 5th month at the Circus, comes the beginning of a second “package” of cycles, the anxiety that last cycle will be precedent setting for all future cycles, the no follicles part, not the awesome blastocyst part. And my birthday. Which I have always hated.

Why do I hate my birthday? It’s another year gone with no child or pregnancy, it’s another year closer to menopause, and mostly it’s because I was twins, and my twin died. It’s a funny thing to be a single surviving twin. People talk about that special connection twins have, and I dont know if its real or not, but I’ve spent most of my life, wondering where he is and why he left me. A weird thing to think about someone you never met.

8 weeks or so before my mother was due with us, she tripped and fell over an ottoman, and went into an early labor. They didn’t give Caesarians out like party hats in those days. She had 3 other kids vaginal so she gave birth to us that way as well. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and so he was stillborn. Consequently my birth certificate also serves as his death certificate.

Twins run strongly in my family. For 5 generations the youngest daughter has had a twin, always fraternal, always a boy, and never has the boy survived. My younger brother broke this cycle with fraternal twin boys, both of whom survived and flourish.

Secretly I’ve always wanted twins. But at this stage, I don’t want to be greedy. I would be happy with one healthy normal baby.

When I start writing those posts I don’t always know where they will end up. Sometimes its something I’ve half planned and sometimes its a stream of consciousness I should probably do a better job of trying to control.

There is a name for months where there are 2 full moons. They are called “Blue Moons”. The last week of March will bring my second period in a month. REALLY? Who decided this? I’d like to speak to a supervisor!

I guess it’s a proverbial blue moon. Blue moons are rare and considered lucky. Maybe I will get a good cycle, with several mature eggs, all of which become high quality completely healthy blasts. I’d settle for an easy uneventful, successful cycle with a single healthy blast.

 

Unmarked

I have tattoos.

3, in mostly places you can’t see but I know they are there. I got them in the 90’s, when I was really coming into my adulthood. At the time, I thought it was important that I marked these major events in my life. Permanently.

The first one was an act of rebellion in a marriage where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Where his violence, alcoholism and judgment, that is to say, him judging me to not be smart enough, well read enough, educated enough, pretty enough or good enough consumed me.

The second represented my divorce, and the forced independence I tried to face alone. I was so scared. It marked forever, the ending of my naivety, my blind faith, and of my trust in, there are so many words I could put here, but lets just leave it at people.

The third was about me finding myself, my voice, my path in life. Which at 27 I still hadn’t found. Looking back, I have to smile at my arrogance. I had no idea where I was going or who I wanted to grow up to be.

All these years later, I don’t think about them much, except to think that I’d be happier if they weren’t there. I wonder, if they weren’t there, that the painful memories of these events would have quietly slipped into the recesses of my mind.

At some point, after the third tattoo I realized that I have enough scars. Some you can see and some you can’t, but that I didn’t need to mark events of my life on my body. In my early 30’s I started to have them removed. But the process was so blisteringly painful that I stopped. You can remove them, but not cleanly, and not without more scarring.

Given the opportunity to do it again, I wouldn’t. I don’t regret them exactly but I’d prefer to be unmarked. The scars on the inside can be hidden, the ones on the outside, especially ones you gave yourself, can’t be. I’d prefer to go through the remainder of my life with a clean slate, a clean skin.

But that will probably never be.

I want to state for the record that I hate the word “step daughter/son”. It offends me. But I use it because my stepdaughter has 2 functional and loving parents. I am not one of them. I am secondary. I do not discipline, I do not judge. That is her parents job. I get to be the “aunt” she has fun with, who taught her to use chopsticks, to ride a bike, who plans birthday parties with her. I get to be the one who taught her to drive. Who helps her with her iTouch, who suggests songs and apps she might like.

I don’t count as much. I step aside a lot so her mother doesn’t feel like she has to share or is trod upon. I do my best to never make my stepdaughter feel like she has to choose. Because I know her loyalty lies with her mother. I understand that, it’s as it should be. This child never asked for the chaos of divorce. So it’s all of our jobs as parents to make sure she isn’t raised in chaos.

Should I ever be lucky enough to have my own child, I want him or her to grow up like my stepdaughter has. She is confident, smart, clever, optimistic, secure in the knowledge that she has a family and extended family that love her, she knows she will be well looked after, that she’s pretty, she is poised and graceful and kind. She loves animals, and school, plays the piano and looks forward to college.

J.K. Rowlings said “I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.”

Boy or girl, let them grow up as unmarked as possible.

Carnival Swings

You know that swing ride at the carnival, the one that spins faster and faster and the swings spread out and rise through centrifugal force? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. Kind of dizzy and light-headed.

I’ve been pretty calm since the Dr told me about the blast. I’ve been happy, calm, feeling really positive and good. Trying to eat right and catching up on my sleep.

Yesterday I started feeling anxious to get started again, I can’t do a transfer with just one blast, because well, I don’t know, I just think that banking is better. You see the more blasts you have the higher the chance that you have a successful pregnancy. Once I get pregnant I will then need to focus on not miscarrying as women of my age are at a higher risk of miscarriage later into the pregnancy. There’s also the amnio, and then, and then it all begins the spiral of crazy. Which I have promised myself I will not be going down again. I’m not a fool, yes I will probably have more meltdowns, but all this anxiety, is under my control. I can choose to give in to it, or I can choose not to. To continue with my little plan of one hurdle at a time. Which is what I have every intention of doing. Each step I get a bit closer to trading each little prize in for a larger one. Realistically, I’m still a ways out so pacing myself is important. In fact it might be the key to this whole endeavor.

Last evening, I wasn’t feeling that well, I was dizzy and tired and taking some stuff upstairs. I have 2 little dogs and they follow me everywhere. I was getting light-headed about halfway up the stairs. I stopped at the top of the landing, the dogs, kind of weaving through my feet, I was already kind of off-balance and I fell. Backwards. Down 16 polished concrete steps. I tried to grab the railing, my butt hit first, and then my head and fell all the way to the bottom. My husband was still at work, and as I lay there at the bottom of the steps, my eyes watering, with the dogs at the top of the stairs looking at me like I was an idiot I realized something. That I’m not doing well enough at taking care of myself. Eating, sleeping and exercising is one thing, but what about managing stress, anxiety, fear of failure and giving in to the spiral of “what ifs?”

4 months ago the overwhelming nature of these thoughts would have brought on an anxiety attack, a barrage of tears and a feeling of defeat. Today I just went to the Dr to make sure I didn’t really hurt myself, I made an appointment with my acupuncture Dr and I began researching meditation and visualization. Even though I feel foolish. I will do it because while I have done pretty well, I haven’t been doing well enough. If I am going to make it through the long road ahead, I must have some more tools at my disposal.

There is a Buddhist temple near where I live that’s so beautiful, and so incredibly peaceful, it doesn’t even seem like you are in Ca. It’s otherworldly. We went there during the Lunar New Year to see the decorations, its been on my mind ever since. I also went there today to clear my head and take in the peace of the place. Plus I took this picture of a statue of Buddha surrounded by children. All fat and happy.

Life wouldn’t be a circus if there weren’t a fun house, some questionable rides, disgusting food and those mirrors where you look all wavy and distorted. There’s some kind of parable or metaphor in this that I’m not articulating well but you get the general idea.

Cont.

As he would walk through the streets of downtown LA, alone, in his head he could see how beautiful some of the old buildings were he would see the clean lines and ornate carvings, through the layers of dirt and graffiti. He would dream about a time when those buildings were offices and banks and respectable places of business. Of what LA looked like back then.

He went to a high school in Los Angeles call Belmont. Where you were as likely to finish with a 4 year prison sentence than a diploma. He did well, got into college, and the day after he graduated he drove off in some crappy broken down car, to the bay area where he intended to go to Stanford University, and get a head start by attending the summer session. He had all the money he had saved, and he did attend the summer session, but being ESL, not knowing anything about financial aid, he spent every penny he had saved to attend that summer session. So he came back to Southern Cal, went to the Harvey Mudd colleges, and did a degree in physics. Then he went to Cal Poly Pomona and did another degree in architecture. He worked as a janitor and on the cafeteria on campus. There were whole semesters where he didn’t have the money to pay for a dorm room so he slept in his car. Somehow, he graduated from both places.

I’m going to omit his first wife and her family because it’s not fair for me to write about them without their permission, and because there are always 2 sides to every story.

But he was married before, and eventually they had a daughter together. Who is now almost 16, brilliant, looks just like her father, she loves animals, and school, I generally adore her. Shes funny, kind, well-meaning and way more poised and articulate than I was at her age.

The trajectory of my husbands career as an architect has been pretty impressive. He’s published a lot. ALOT! He’s well-known in his industry and for his skill and incredible design is always in demand. The recession has hurt us, but while a lot of his peers have lost their business, their homes, their marriages, we have squeaked by and come out a little poorer, but have not experienced the kind of devastating losses they have.

He has some kind of genetic hearing loss, which I believe works in his favor, because there are whole ranges of sound he can’t hear at all, and it works as a filter for background noise. I admit it drives me crazy when I feel like he’s not listening to me.

He was also diagnosed  last year with a mild case of Aspergers. Aspergers is a spectrum disorder like Autism. He love talking with people, connects to them, but he sometimes gets caught on a single though or opinion usually triggered by stress and can stay on it for a long time. He doesn’t always understand or need emotional connections. There are times when he’s hard to talk to. He’s highly intelligent, which is one of the things I love the most about him, he’s always curious about how things work, he is really well-intentioned and for whatever reason, this brilliant man, who has been through so much, and carries almost none of it with him, loves me. For sure I got the better end of this deal.

An Extraordinary Husband

This weekend was our 6th wedding anniversary. Our 12th year together. 5 years living together total before we married. I should tell you something about the Mister since I pick on him a bit in this blog.

He’s amazing. On every level, he’s handsome, hes kind, his spirit is generous and he came from the kind of poverty we don’t really understand in the US. He has defied the odds and come out successful in a way that shames me, and makes me feel like even though my upbringing was enough to bring a decent person to their knees, I don’t know anything about being alone, the way he does.

He was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong in 1962. His father was 65 when he was born. Which means his father was born in 1897. During the reign of the last Emperor. He was educated,  wore a queue, wealthy, and married several times as his wives kept dying in childbirth. During the 30’s when the Japanese invaded China, he sent his sons to the 4 proverbial corners of China, so that if one city was bombed and a son was lost, he wouldn’t lose all his children at one time. Most of them never saw each other again.

By the time my husband was born his fathers wealth was long gone. His father was punished for his education. His children were punished for being doctors and lawyers, artists and thinkers. Most of them were executed during the cultural revolution. His father escaped to Hong Kong, continued to try to work but was over 60 and considered an old man of little value. I’m not sure who his mother was, I’m not sure he knows either, however I can say that he identifies as completely Chinese, and gets upset when you being up that he is 50% Japanese.

They lived in an area of Kowloon that’s since been demolished. It was called the Walled City. There is a book about its horrible conditions, its poor lighting and the fact that it was built around a temple in the center, where people threw their waste, their trash and their leftovers. The smell had to have been suffocating in the Hong Kong heat.They lived in an 8 by 8 room, with 2 walls walled off with curtains, a shared kitchen and a bathroom shared by the entire floor. Theirs had a window, which meant they got at least a little fresh air. He didn’t have a crib, only a mahjong table turned upside down to make a playpen for him.

As he grew older and attended school they had money for congee or rice porridge, but could afford meat only 3 or 4 times a year. There is only one photograph taken of my husband as a child. It sits on our living room mantlepiece, showing him in all his fat legged glory as a toddler, maybe 4 years old with one leg eating his shorts and a really happy look on his face.

He spent his youth being afraid of clocks, clocks that would foretell his fathers passing and what would happen to him then, clocks that would chime death and bring an uncertain future to a smart, talented boy who loved his father so much. Clocks that indicated the closeness of the Cultural Revolution and how he would never ever have a family again. Time made him afraid.

At some point it was decided that he would be sent back and forth between the US and Hong Kong because his father was aging, and didn’t know how much longer he would be able to take care of a young and growing boy.  He tolerated it, until the day came when he had been sent to the US and his birth mother told him ” I don’t love you, I never wanted you, I have my family now, and you will never be part of it”

He was 12. He ran away. His mother lived in Beverly Hills with her new husband and family but he took a bus to Pasadena, lived under a bridge near Echo Park, where he was going to school, and stole for food. He lived like this for several months, never missing a single day of school. He would be so ashamed if he knew I was writing this.

Eventually his fathers 4th wife heard about it. She never bothered to divorce him she just emigrated to America with her daughter and started over. But she heard, and she went searching. Over time she found him, and raised him as her own son.

They were so fucking poor. Even as a child he worked in the sweatshop until midnight, and then the days would begin again with him getting dropped off a few miles from school, and then going to the sweatshop after.No time for projects, for the AP classes he was assigned to, no help with homework, and no help in the general idea that education was beneficial. They believed his best use was at the sweatshop, making clothes along with them. No better no worse.

to be cont.