Infertility sucks

We started actively trying to get pregnant in 2006. We knew we were going to get married, had (still have!) every intention of staying together, and it seemed like a good time. I went off the Pill and we expected to be within average – a year or so, and we’d be pregnant. We had friends who were getting pregnant by accident. How hard could it be?

For twelve months we did what all of the “Want to get pregnant?” books suggested. No pressure, no big deal, just puttering along. I’ve been teased about having baby making hips all my life. We both have big families – four kids in my family, five in his – so there was no reason to think anything was wrong.

After a year or so, I went to see my OBGYN. She did a few blood tests, said I might possibly have PCOS, said to give it a few more months, and let it be. A few months later we went back, and more tests were ordered. Something came up which indicated fertility treatments might be necessary. The doctor who did that test said he really thought we would make amazing parents. At the time, it made me cry. In retrospect, he probably says that a lot. I mean, is he going to say “Well, good thing your genes won’t be passed on!”?

I was starting to have a hard time when, every month, I got very clear confirmation that we were, yet again, not pregnant. This was supposed to be easy.

We discussed our options. Insurance didn’t cover anything having to do with fertility. Neither one of us wanted to go through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Cost benefit analysis, for us – well, $15,000 for a 60% chance at having a baby was not reasonable to me or to Xander. We didn’t have that much money to play with, and even if we did it would be a lot of heartache for a chance that wasn’t good enough. We knew we had to make that decision before it became a question, because when emotions run high, no one is good at being sensible. We went into this knowing that intra-uterine insemination (IUI, which is much cheaper) was the only procedure we were willing to do, and if that didn’t work, that was it.

We were referred to a fertility specialist in town. I will not name names, but he’s an ass. He talked down to us every time we were there and tried to make us feel like idiots. We said, at our first meeting with him, in the interests of laying all of the cards on the table and being very clear, that we were only going to do IUI and that, if it came to IVF, we were done. He sat and nodded his head, and we thought he understood. He explained the IUI process in very small words (usually the sperm has to get from here to China, but with IUI we give it a head start and it only has to travel from Hawaii!-really? That’s the best example you could come up with?). I would have much preferred that he treated us like we had brains, but that was not his style. He was very…paternal. I don’t appreciate feeling like a doctor would, if he thought he could get away with it, pat me on the head and say, “There, there. You aren’t a doctor, so you couldn’t possibly understand. Let me make all of those difficult decisions for you so you don’t have to worry your pretty little head about it.”

Ick.

Did I mention that he irritated me?

So. Fertility doctor, not the best rapport, whatever. Mostly we interacted with his staff, anyway. His staff who did not once call me by name. Instead I was sweetheart, darling, dear, or whatever else they could come up with.

I overlooked it, although it felt much too sweet. We weren’t there for the social interaction. We were there to try to have a baby. I can put up with a lot if there is a goal that’s important to me.

Ultrasound. No problem. HSG was not comfortable, but not too bad. First results were fine, then they said they might have seen a mass on my uterus, so they had to do a water ultrasound. “Mass” is one of those words that scares me when it comes to medical tests, so I worried for a week. The water ultrasound showed that it was just a slightly misshapen uterus, not a mass. The uterus shape was not odd enough to cause issues with implantation.

So, we were good to go.

Clomid sucks. I mean, the whole process sucks, but apparently I react rather strongly to hormones. (One more reason I miss being on the pill – twice a month I get hormone swings. Argh!) Have you ever seen Cool Hand Luke? Not generally a deeply moving movie, right? I mean, yes, the ending is sad, but not *that* sad. At the end of the movie, the first evening of Clomid, I was weeping copiously. It was so sad! I couldn’t get over it! I figured I was just tired and ignored it. The next day, at belly dancing, I was having a great time and ended up in tears. Clomid takes my good mood and slams it, hard, between about 7 and 8:30 PM. Before and after those times, I was fine. In that stretch of time, I would weep about anything. TV commercials, someone smiling, a moth landing on the window – anything. It was ridiculous. I knew it was ridiculous and it didn’t help or change anything.

5 days of being hormone slammed later, we were finally through that.

Clomid makes me ovulate. 2 follicles, one on each side, good sizes. I got a trigger shot to make sure I was really ready, and we did the IUI.

Two weeks later (we’ll just ignore all of the in-between pain-in-the-ass-ness that is the two week wait) I wasn’t pregnant.

A week after that, we were asked to come in for a consultation with the fertility specialist. Xander had a meeting he really needed to go to. No big deal, I figured. It would just be a “Yes, that was sad, let’s try it a few more times and we’ll see where we are” kind of meeting.

I walked into the doctor’s office and sat down.

He walked into his office and sat across from me.

“You will never have children without IVF. I am ethically unable to do another IUI cycle for the two of you.”

“What?” Just like that, I was crying.

“In this office, we never want people to go without having a child due to financial constraints. Here is some information about IVF. We have several very good programs to spread out the cost, low interest loans, and possibly a grant to help with some of the costs. You see, IVF is like taking that sperm, which had to swim to China, and putting it on a helicopter and getting it right to the egg.”

I was very upset, furious, and a little part of my brain was thinking, “There aren’t any helicopters that can make the flight without refueling, asshole.”

“You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want a child. You wouldn’t have come this far if you weren’t serious. IVF is not that expensive. I don’t want you to get 30 years down the road and think, ‘If only we’d done IVF, I might have grandchildren by now!’ I know you want a baby to hold. There’s really nothing like the experience of having a child, knowing that you and your husband have added to your wonderful families.”

“We aren’t going to do IVF. It’s much too expensive. I know it sounds cold, but we basically did a cost benefit analysis, and we can’t do that. We told you that the first day we were here.”

“We have programs to help, though. You really can’t put a price on a baby! It really rounds out your family, and you and your husband clearly want one. Let me call my finance person and she can talk to you about the options.”

(I remember thinking, “You can’t put a price on a baby? You just did!”) “But we don’t…”

“Hello, I’m sending Wendryn in to you to talk about financing options for IVF.” He hung up the phone, walked out the door, and asked a passing nurse to take me to the financial person’s office.

I was crying. You can’t tell from this, but I don’t cry much. This was too much to handle, though, and I felt like I was getting steamrolled by the equivalent of a used car salesman. I sat in the financial person’s office and numbly answered questions, was handed a wad of papers regarding the procedure we didn’t want, then left as fast as I could.

I was angry. I felt cheated. I felt like the doctor was looking for money, not working with our best interests. I felt kind of…well, slimed. I was very unhappy with how the whole incident had been handled, and I wanted to curl up in a hole and pull it in behind me.

After over three years of trying, all of the tests we had done, everyone saying how good we’d be as parents, to be told, flat out, that we couldn’t have kids…it was immensely painful.

There is more to this, but nothing I can write about yet. Infertility sucks.

Fiction-toothbrush

Sometimes something runs around in my head until I write it out. I do not lay claim that any of this is good; it’s just what is there sometimes. These pieces will tend to be snippets without much background. They have nothing to do with any part of my life. I just seem to need to write them.

—————-

“You can leave your toothbrush here,” he said as he walked by the bathroom. He took three steps down the hallway and waited.

He heard her choke on her toothpaste, rinse, spit.

“What?” She came into the hall.

“You heard.”

“You don’t like clutter. I’m leaving tomorrow to go home, which is fourteen thousand miles away. Why would I leave my toothbrush?”

“Maybe you’d come back sooner.”

She stood in front of him, head tilted slightly up. “I thought you were coming to visit me next.”

“Four months is a long time. It’s symbolic. You know you have a place here.”

“I don’t. You are my friend. I don’t leave toothbrushes at friends’ houses.”

He reached up and brushed his fingers across her cheek. “He was my friend. I miss him. Despite that, I somehow managed to fall in love with you.”

She looked stunned. He looked worried.

“You waited until the day before I have to leave to bring this up?”

“I didn’t even know I was going to tell you until last night. Now if you decide you can’t stand me you only have to deal with me for another twenty-eight hours.”

She shook her head. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Just think about it. I needed you to know how I feel about you before we go back to emailing as our main communication.”

He held out his arms, just a little, as he had done so many times before, and she leaned in for a hug. His lips touched her hair. They both stepped back at the same time.

“So,” she said, in a purposefully normal tone of voice, “what are we up to today?”

“Well, first order of business is definitely breakfast. I have waffles ready to go whenever you get hungry.”

She smiled up at him. “Let me get through a shower and I’ll be right down. Do the waffles have walnuts?”

“They can!”

He went downstairs. She watched him go, shook herself, and retreated to the bathroom.

The morning was as normal as they could make it. Waffles for breakfast, swimming, hiking, lunch. They talked about light subjects and teased each other about silly things – his irritation with anything out of place, her frustration when she ran out of things to read. They made it through lunch, then found themselves sitting, looking out at the vast landscape, content.

“It’s peaceful here.” She looked over at him. “I have to work to fit peaceful times into my life, and here it’s just…” she waved her hand at the scenery “it’s almost unavoidable. The cars are all on the other side of the hills, and you have this land that just keeps going. If you hold still, the only noises are bugs, birds, and breathing.”

“It takes a little bit of getting used to. When I moved here, I was restless a lot, but it’s gotten so I miss it when I’m out in the rest of the world. I’m around people, at school and work, but I can always come back to this place, where it’s silent if I need it.”

“It would be easy to grow to need this.”

“I was worried about you coming to stay for two weeks because I thought you would take away the silence, but you’ve kind of sunk into it and accepted it. I thought I’d be happy to see you go, just like I have with everyone else who has come to visit, but I’ll miss you.”

The silence was suddenly less comfortable than it had been.

He reached over, touched her hand, and got up.

“I’m going to go work on the piece for a while.”

She nodded.

He went to his studio, saw her head out to her favorite spot under a tree. He began to paint, layering colors and textures to get the effect he was looking for. He didn’t notice when she came in almost an hour later, sat down quietly on the floor, and watched. She stayed, still and quiet, until the sun began to set and the light changed too much for him to continue. He looked around, blinking, and swore quietly, then jumped as he saw her.

“I didn’t see you! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to abandon you. It was just coming together.”

She smiled, stood up. “Don’t worry about it. I enjoyed getting to see what you do.”

“I can’t usually focus as well when people watch. I guess you are an exception to a lot of rules.”

She smiled her crooked, not-sure-how-to-take-that smile that he’d seen before.

“Take it as a compliment,” he said, and watched her smile grow into a grin.

“I like what you are doing with the colors. I’m not good at colors or almost anything artistic, but I know what I like, and that just appeals to me in a kind of challenging way, if that makes any sense.”

“Not really, but that’s ok. I’m glad you like it.”

She took two steps, suddenly in his space, and he looked down at her, startled. Her arms went around his neck, and he wrapped his around her waist. He jerked back too late to avoid getting paint on her clothes, but she steadied him. “The clothes don’t matter,” she murmured, and his arms went around her again. She rested her head on his shoulder, tucking her face into his neck.

“I still miss him.” She didn’t speak loudly.

“You were with him, and happy, for ten years. Of course you miss him. I think I’d be worried if you didn’t.”

“I don’t know how to love anyone else. We matched, and where we didn’t, we worked it out. We didn’t fight because we worked through things. I don’t know if I can love you without hurting you by missing him. Which is convoluted.”

“You don’t want to let yourself love me because you miss him?” Amusement and a certain gentleness were in his voice.

“I didn’t say it made sense. That’s just where I am right now. You matter a lot to me, and you helped me through living with his death. I just never really expected anyone to be interested in me again. Especially not you,” and now her voice was amused, “the famous artist who could have anyone he wanted.”

His arms tightened around her. “You’re the only one I’ve wanted for a long time. I just didn’t figure it out fully until about a week ago. I’ve gone on dates in the past six or eight months, but I end up feeling dissatisfied. I’ve spent two weeks with you, together almost constantly, and I’m happy.”

She leaned into him.

“Maybe I will leave my toothbrush.”

New beginnings

I haven’t blogged in several years. I felt like I ran out of things to say. I got through a very bad relationship, basically made peace with it, and ended up with a really good, fairly calm life.

It’s still a very good life. Busy, but good.

I can’t seem to stop writing, though. I may not write very often, but I seem to need to write. It helps me focus and work through things. It also helps, when my brain is doing its hamster-on-a-wheel routine, to just write whatever random story builds itself in my head.

The website will be somewhat different from its last incarnation. There will be a fiction section now, where I write snippets of stories that show up. They may not be any good, but that’s life. There will also be comments, which I have not done in the past. I will be checking comments before they are posted, though. If they are rude or spam, I will delete them before they are posted. If that ticks you off, go read something else.

Who am I? I was born in 1975. I grew up in Oakland, CA, with two brothers, a sister, both parents, and an assortment of dogs and small animals. I didn’t grow up with a TV, so I became addicted to books. That addiction still exists. I’m married to a wonderful man, but I probably won’t talk about him much. I’m a belly dancer – I love it, but I’m still learning. I’m an aerobatic pilot when time and money allow. We have a reasonably well behaved Great Dane and two cats, all of which will probably get written about periodically. I won’t talk about work much, either, but I love my job. I live in Nevada now. We eventually hope to move to somewhere in Washington state. I really miss the rain. I have an MBA, which was a lot of work but completely worth it. Some days I think about getting a PhD because I like research, but that may never happen. I love swimming and singing. I swim as often as I can, but I don’t sing much right now due to time constraints. I’m sometimes a pain. When I believe in something, I will pursue it and make it work if at all possible. That does not always make other people happy.

If you have questions, feel free to ask them. I like discussion.

I hope you enjoy this little corner of the internet. I am looking forward to trying a few new things.