Two years ago today my maternal grandfather, the only grandparent I'd ever known, died. He was 89 and had been ill on and off for about five years, so it came of no surprise. The Dude and I joke that he was finally released from my Mom's constant impassioned pleas of, "Please Pru, call/visit/write your grandfather, he won't be around much longer" which peppered each year of my life from the age of 12. The poor man was classified as nearly dead for 13 years despite being in relatively fine health until his mid-80s.
My grandfather lived in Arizona, and I in Pennsylvania until I moved to the UK, so I wasn't able to see him often. When I still lived in the States I talked to him weekly, and even as he got older and his body failed him to previously unknown heights, his mind was sharp and his wit even sharper. He had a tremendously dry sense of humour, one which, as an old man, some people interpreted as cantankerousness. Most people would look baffled when he would attempt to be funny, unsure whether to crack a smile and nod their heads at the confused old man, or pretend he said nothing at all.
I have a younger brother who is 5 years my junior, who my grandfather designated "The Chump". I, of course, was "Princess" (stop puking into your hats. I'm darling!). My brother was at one time "The Champ"--good grades, athletic, and a good churchgoing kid. Somewhere it all went wrong- the grades declined, the sports decreased in number, and church was a trial rather than a pleasure, hence his new designation of "The Chump". In his gruff voice, my grandfather stood up at a family reunion, with dozens gathered around this aged patriarch and said, "These are my only grandchildren. This beautiful young lady is my Princess. I'm so proud of her. This boy is my grandson. He used to be called 'The Champ' but now I just call him 'The Chump'." There was an awkward silence as everyone looked at each other, unsure as to how to react. I ruined the moment by laughing hysterically and mocking my humiliated brother. My brother saw the humour, reluctantly, and my grandfather looked over at me and winked.
It was difficult for my grandfather to cope with getting older. He was always being rushed to the hospital for cuts and bumps due to attempting to carry out things he could no longer manage to do, like pick oranges from the tree in the backyard, do basic DIY around the house, and play golf, which he loved. He was infuriated that he could no longer do much aside from sit in his armchair and read or watch sports on TV. One of his few joys was his evening bowl of ice cream with his Chow, Candy. He and Candy would each settle down with a bowl of ice cream every night, generally the standard strawberry, vanilla or chocolate, and put on a baseball or golf game.
Old age wasn't what he thought it would be. My Mom used to tell me about his periodic bouts of depression because he hated what he had become, but he was also terrified of dying. Talking to him after learning this made me horribly sad, as he always put up such a strong, confident front. I often wished that his mind would decline as well so he would be less aware of his ailing health, but even moments before he died he was cracking jokes to my step-grandmother.
A few weeks ago I dug out the last letter he wrote to me which said, "I think it's about time old grandad rides that trusty old steed into the sunset". Not long after that he passed away. He died on the 26th, and my birthday is also on the 26th day of a month, albeit July. When my Mom told me that he had died, I told her that I wasn't surprised that he passed on the 26th. "The Chump" was born on the 27th of July, and he certainly wouldn't want to go on the day of The Chump.
In honour of him, I thought I'd put this picture of him on my blog. He is as he would want to be remembered - young, strong, and rather dashing if I do say so myself. I love this photograph.
Because I am completely irrational and slightly crazy, I will interpret the importance of the 26th day of the month as a sign. I was born on the 26th day of July, my grandpa passed on the 26th of October, and here I am on the 26th day of October two years later, starting my meds for IVF #1. I'm not suggesting anything kooky, just that this significance might bring me a bit of luck. I do know that if I do get pregnant this cycle and it sticks, my child would likely possess at least a bit of his or her great-grandfather's black sense of humour. I wouldn't have it any other way.
"Ah!" you say, "Your ignorance has caught up with you! Not so casual as to vaunt your cluelessness now, are you?" To that, I say piss off. Ok, you're allowed to be smug now that I'm asking for your help, but I want no taunting. Taunt not. Random aside: in looking for a synonym of "ignorance", my online thesaurus has suggested "creeping meatballism". I ask you, what in the fu--...uh, fresh hell is creeping meatballism? It sounds like some sort of latent form of elephantitus, but rather than looking like John Merrick you look like a lumpy meatball conglomeration.
Anyway, creeping meatballism aside, I have no idea what sort of IVF arrangement WHYBAML has constructed for me. I'm a bit concerned that there is no Buserelin involved, despite the fact that I have no.fucking.clue what that even is. People use it, I know that. Thalia uses it, Mare used it. However, it is not on my lovely List 'O' Drugs as supplied by WHYBAML. Is this cause for concern, or shall I keep on with the blind trust of WHYBAML?
I am, according to my handy "IVF/ICSI treatment start" bible doing a short protocol. Oh. Good to know. I will be starting Norethisterone on Wednesday. We are to assume that my period will start soon after. Letrozole (Femara in Yank Speak) will commence on day 2 and carry on until day 6. The rest of my meds are as follows: Puregon (Follistim in YS), Cetrorelix, Ovitrelle (is this like Gonal-F? Colour me confused), and...PUSSARIES! Obviously we are not sure about dosages at this point, but I know my ovaries are going to be stimulated like they've never been stimulated before! Hey now.
Have I mentioned how much I am looking forward to using my Puregon Pen again? Bring it on. I love that thing. I wish there were things you could inject into your body just for the hell of it because ladies, that pen would be busy around the clock. I'm not the only one, lest you think I'm some sort of needle-happy freak; check these people out. Puregon makes them happy! They looooooooooooooove infertility. Look at those smiles.
While I'm asking questions of the learned folk, what say you on the topic of small-headed sperm? I'm sure it's no laughing matter, but really...that shit is funny, right? The Dude was crestfallen that WHYBAML told him in our last meeting that some of his sperm had small heads, and I can't stop thinking of the hilarity. I asked him tonight whether I was allowed to spread the small-headed sperm word, and he said, "Yeah, but only to bloggers!" Damn, and here I was going to go to work tomorrow and blurt out, "My husband has small-headed sperm!" in an otherwise quiet office. Pity. I do a mean 'simple' sperm impression that involves a dopey expression and a simulation of bumping into the uterine wall while saying, "Duuurrrrr", but I can't do a small-headed sperm impression yet. Yes, I'm such a sympathetic wife.
I welcome any advice you have. Just don't say "I told you so" or I will kick you in the ovaries.
NB: Quick housekeeping issue--does anyone else have difficulty viewing my posts? I don't mean that you're offended or repulsed, but rather the font is difficult to read/decipher, etc? Someone informed me that they had trouble reading it and I hope it's not a common problem.
I received a chatty email from my Mom the other day recounting the status of the house sale, the weather, and this gem to conclude the conversation:
"Oh, guess who subbed in my class the other day? Bitch Beeblebutt! Bitch just returned from Australia with her new Irish husband, and now she's ready to give birth in January! Isn't that grand?"
Yes, it's fab. Great for her! May I just mention now that Bitch Beeblebutt is the recovering alcoholic slut I blogged about a few weeks ago? I need not reiterate how very thrilled I was to hear that she had been impregnated. Yeah, people change, grow up, whatever. I'm a vile, bitter witch, what of it?
Next day came chatty email number 2 from Mom:
"Bitch Beeblebutt also said that Dweeby Nutwad is pregnant now too, do you remember her? I think she only just got married, so that didn't take long, did it?"
My Mom, bless her, is rather flighty. She is incapable of being malicious, but she is often completely and utterly blind to how her words might affect others. She would not hesitate to ask when the IVF is going ahead in one breath, and follow that query with the sudden rememberance that someone I hated in high school was pregnant. Being the person she is, she is always happy for them, without a second thought as to how I might find that juxtaposition upsetting.
What astounds me is that this is my own mother - one of the 4 or so people in my non-blogging life that knows of my infertility problems. If you can't get understanding from your own mother, you're pretty much fucked that anyone else is going to proceed with caution.
This is why I don't share my dodgy ovary tale with people. If it isn't misguided advice such as "just relax" or "if it was meant to be...", it's the absence of common sense.
The lesson today is: You're fucked if you do, and you're fucked if you don't. Basically, just fucked.
There, I have satisfied my "fuck" quota for today. Fucking marvellous.*
*Apologies to the sensitive for all the swearing. Who am I kidding? They all left months ago. Fuck 'em.
The past day has found me crying off and on about something that I'm desperately hoping some people will understand -- the sale of my family home. My Mom has been talking of selling her house and downsizing for a few years, but given her tendency for procrastination, I never thought it would happen. I received an email yesterday to say that she had accepted an offer and will move in the middle of next month. This is upsetting as is, but it is exacerbated by the fact that this Christmas will be the first one I have spent back home since moving to the UK three years ago and now it will be in an unfamiliar house, in surroundings that aren't a comfort to me as her house currently is.
I feel like I want to say goodbye to it. I lived from the age of 9 until I left at 22 (I was in college, not leeching off my Mom, for the record), so that is where so much of my life took place - climbing the trees during long, sweltering summer days spent locked outside by my mom in an effort to tear me away from the tv; the lawn I was forced to mow on our rickety riding mower, forever hoping that no cute guys from school would drive by and laugh at me bouncing up and down on this massive contraption over the slight hills in the front yard. It's strange to think I will never again sleep in the bedroom where I would sit on the floor as a teenager, phone in my lap, staring at the phone number of the latest boy that I LIKED liked and hanging up right after dialing the seventh digit.
There are bad memories too, though the fact that they took place in that house somehow tempers their negative emotional impact all these years later. The living room, where I was seated on the left side of the plush blue sofa, when my Mom told me that she and my Dad were separating. I distinctly remember seeing her distorted face as viewed from the bottom of the glass of orange juice I was drinking from as she gave me the news, with my first thoughts rushing to suspect infidelity. My mom's bedroom was the setting for the phone call telling us that my Great Aunt Betty, a woman who played a vital role in our lives as surrogate mother to my mom and surrogate grandmother to me after the death of my maternal grandmother, had passed away suddenly. I recall gazing out the window in disbelief as my Mom cried on my shoulder and I did my 12 year old best to comfort her.
The Dude tried to cheer me up with Manisms such as, "It's only a house." (Oh, THANKS. And so it is. Duh, silly me.) and "At least you have your memories, isn't that enough?" (Short answer: no). I'm sure I will get over it...I won't pine over this house when I'm 56 or anything, but it's difficult to deal with it as this is my place to go home to. Having moved 4000 miles away from "home", I am now acutely aware of that trite phrase "You can never go home again", because I have felt that in subsequent visits. However, I now feel even less that I can never go home again, because the place I will go to is not my home. Some may feel I am overemphasising this concept of "home", but for me it is my ultimate comfort. If my life here, for whatever reason, went horribly wrong I would find solace in the idea that I could go back "home" to get back on my feet. This reliance on this makes me worry that perhaps I'm holding on to something that left a long time ago. I'm an adult now, surely I shouldn't be so fixated on the past?
This is not the only property-related news in my life. On the same day a major feature in my previous life was passed on to another, a big decision was made in my current life as regards to property as well. The Dude and I decided, quite impulsively, to buy another flat in our building which we intend to let. Yes, IVF and property buying in one month is a bit overwhelming, but as we are the least spontaneous people ever, this feels good. If I do get pregnant via IVF this cycle (still not buying that), we might be bordering on the very skint for awhile, but we think it will be worth it down the road. Alternatively, if I don't get pregnant and we decide to give the finger to IF treatment once and for all, one day I'll be driving a very nice Jaguar and seducing a poor defenseless pool boy. Which is the better outcome?
A few days after our decision to carry on with IVF, I happened upon a show on the Discovery Channel entitled "Baby Lab". The Discovery Channel, in its attempt to educate, has apparently gotten confused and instead decided to cater to the agenda that chooses to portray ART as an unnatural, entirely synthetic event devoid of any human involvement. Within the first few minutes, statements such as "Brenda and Tom's baby was made in a lab" and "It takes 4 weeks to make a baby via IVF" were uttered without pause. I was shocked that 4 genuine infertile couples consented to be in this show, and I can only hope they did not know the spin that would be applied during editing.
Trust me, there is emotion and a distinctly human role in all of this. I take Metformin three times a day regardless of how horrible it makes me feel so that my body can attempt to function at least a little bit like that of a normal woman. I will be injecting myself with enough medication to make an elephant pregnant with triplets to ensure that I have enough eggs to give me the tiniest hope of reproducing. I have the added benefit of regular wandings, not to mention the times I get to have eggs removed and transferred. Inevitably I will hate everyone during the time I am going through the things on the aforementioned list, and I will tell myself that it is ok to feel that way. I might snap and beat down my co-worker with the crisp-chewing issues (Yes, that again. Can you tell it bothers me?), but I'm entitled.
The Dude would also beg to differ, as he will have to be the recipient of numerous rants and threats of violence because bitch has holes all over her stomach and wants to kick everyone in the crotch just for existing. Additionally, he has to face the pressure of performing on D-Day. Wanking into a cup whilst reading "Big Tits 4 U" is strenuous stuff if he is to be believed. My heart bleeds, it really does.
So yes, there is a human face to IVF. It's not all catheters, microscopes and petri dishes. It is all about pain, sacrifice, and mood swings - all for the elusive baby that is dismissed in a "serious" documentary as being whipped up like a smoothie.
However, I have now been inspired to creating my own Baby Lab. It's missing a good egg, and yes, I've been bitchslapped by the irony. I know I'm just copying other bloggers that have gone before me, but this is just my interpretation of the IVF meds still life genre. Please note the small sperm poised potently beside my beloved Puregon Pen. Yes ladies, I own a plastic sperm.
Eagle-eyed viewers may note the absence of pussaries. Worry not, dear friends, they are soon to follow. The pharmacy at the hospital was fresh out of pussaries, which must mean there are a lot of uncomfortably waxy women about.
And so it is. Confirmation. This woman's reproductive organs are soon to be besieged with numerous medications, the volume of which will be far greater than known previously. Fanfuckingtastic. The final marker of the assisted reproductive trail will commence within two weeks. :::gulp:::
I had appointment with WHYBAML today to discuss the next step, which of course is IVF. I didn't want to waste any more precious time deluding myself with IUIs. Apparently, it costs a couple of hundred pounds to sit at a desk for an hour and sign some release forms. Who knew? Amazingly, and also frighteningly, I will start this gig on the 26th of this month. This is what I wanted, but shit, I thought I'd have at least a month or two to stress over it and question my true desires to be a mother. Now I have to cram this into a couple of weeks. I'm sure I'll manage.
Oh, and for all women whose words I have read regarding failed IVF cycles -- WHYBAML said not to treat your words as gospel, so henceforth I shall sequester myself in the realm of TTC messageboards rather than filling my mind with your evil, cynical thoughts. Instead I will read volumes from people that have wanted to have "babys" since they were children themselves - entries written by women known by nicknames such as "DreamzOfBabys" or "Mom2Shayla". Inevitably these names are written in a sparkly font, no doubt as the result of liberal sprinklings of babydust. Below each post will be the omnipresent tickers signifying cycles, due dates, ages of children, marriages, deaths, length of time left on mortgages, etc.
If all goes as planned, and I do not assume it will, my 2ww will end about a week before our as-yet-booked trip to visit my family in the States. As WHYBAML said, allowing me just enough time to “get over it.” You know, like you do. Ah, the wisdom of the medical profession. Worry not, WHYBAML has maintained his messianic status with me despite such casual, yet mind-numbingly stupid comments.
This means if I meet up with those other infertiles at the end of December to cluck about understanding partners, not-so understanding partners, ass shots, belly shots, cooter pokings, dildocams and other polite conversation often had by the ladies who lunch, I will either be with zygote, or quite painfully without. It goes without saying that I sincerely hope it is with the former, not with the latter. That way we can go out to dinner and afterwards make a quick trip to Babies R Us, where I can be showered with gifts while sitting on a throne shaped like a uterus. I will wear a crown shaped like a string of cysts, a theme that is well known to me and my “classically” PCOS ovaries.
For those of you close to D.C. please do let me know if you are interested in joining us. I’m talking like I know I will be there, which I don’t, but it would be lovely to meet some of the glorious blogging women that I read so faithfully. Luckily Molly lives in Wisconsin and therefore cannot come. She would surely wear a low-cut top to show off her cleavage, and let’s be honest—we don’t need to see that shit.
Now is not the time to receive an email from the president of my senior class in high school regarding our 10th reunion. I perused the names of the other alum, noting the many apparent marriages of my former classmates. I came across one person (Woman A) whose name has changed, and my first reaction was, "Someone married that bitch?", which isn't the kindest initial thought to have considering I haven't seen her since graduation. In defense of myself, she went out with the guy I had a crush on all through junior and senior high. He was genuinely one of the nicest guys I have ever met, and she was (and I will just say for my own selfish reasons, still is) an evil, materialistic, big-nosed succubus.
:::Ahem::: So, like any other normal, stable person with no agenda whatsoever, I googled Woman A, with and without her married name. As it turns out, she married well -- a young, hot guy who is a professor at an Ivy League university. Typical. No word on children just yet, but I'm certain that they will soon follow. They will be blond and blue-eyed, artistic like their mother, and academically-inclined like their father. Hopefully they will also have her nose, just to make me, an anonymous spiteful bitch, satisfied with having something amiss in her life, however small the detail.
Moving onto the second name, Woman B...Married. Not a big deal. I didn't dislike this one, I actually felt sorry for her. That is, until another friend informed me post-reunion email that this woman is 6 months pregnant. Woman B went into rehab at 18. On a school-sponsored trip to the UK after graduation she spent most of her time either passed out in the coach bathroom, or slumped over its toilet. A few times she would meet random men at the hotel bars and seduce them with her overpowering breath, slurred words, and prodigious cleavage. The last time I heard about her prior to this email, she had more or less gotten her life together and her rehab stints were fewer and far between. Of course she's pregnant. Why not?
Basically, this has brought me to the conclusion that infertility has made me jealous of anyone for any reason I see fit. I have spent so long - three years and counting - envying other women's fertility, that my jealousy has oozed into other aspects of life. In the case of Woman A, I don't want her husband because mine is fabulous most of the time, so in that sense I'm not jealous, but I am irritated that despite being an absolute cow she has managed to snag herself a good-looking, successful man. Much of this is residual animosity surrounding the high school guy, but C'MON (said in Gob voice)...how many chances can one person get? Thankfully I have not read anything about her career, which I'm sure is fantastic, or else I would dangling dangerously at the end of the jealousy precipice.
Ms Prufrock. Infertile. Brunette. 27. Coffee-drinker. Animal lover. Jealous bitch.
The other day there was a thread on one of the websites concerning whether or not Alicia Silverstone is all knocked up and what not. I saw the picture, girl looks like she's packing a baby gut, so it's possible. The comments in connection with this story were laughable as well as being annoying at the same time. The basic gist was - well, Alicia Silverstone HAS been married for four months now, so why WOULDN'T she be pregnant? Duh. I'm surprised she even waited that long. Everyone who is anyone gets pregnant right after exchanging vows. Also, do non-married people not get pregnant now? Is that passe?
It is people like Alicia that sell out infertiles. Not pregnant within 6 months post-marriage? Infertile. You're outed against your will thanks to comparative measures. Given that this is the widely-held perception, I'm shocked that people still ask me when we're having kids. If I haven't had them after being married for nearly 4 years, what is the point in asking me when we are having them? There are a few possible scenarios here - a) We are not the kid-having type b) We're infertile c) We are focusing on such petty things like career and education d) None of your goddamn fucking business.
I have probably mentioned this in previous posts, but I have been hassled about my lack of children numerous times in the past few years, with advanced maternal age generally being the gem these people like to throw at me. I only turned 27 two months ago, but yet I am bordering on being the pensioner that miraculously conceives via IVF much to the consternation of most of society. A former co-worker once said to my then-24 year old self: "What is the hold up? You're not getting any younger." Eh? I still see this woman regularly and she still harps on about my lack of children. How do people not yet realise how incredibly rude this line of questioning is?
Well Queen Fuckwad, I have this wee little condition called PCOS which makes it very difficult to conceive. Unfortunately for me none of the drugs meant to assist in conception are working very well, which means I am still infertile, and still have to put up with these inane questions from inconsiderate Smug Fertile assholes. You're old -- have you still not learned tact in the many, many years you have spent on this earth?
Phew...I'm glad I got that off my heaving bosom. In other news, Gwyneth may be pregnant again. Sister, you're on my Lesbian List, do you really have to lap me twice? Show some consideration for a poor downtrodden infertile, will you? Meh.