Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I am at a loss for words. I haven't written because I am speechless. But I can't leave you hanging, my dears, so I will attempt to bring forth the verbiage.

I'm really and truly pregnant. Yes, I'm happy about it. I'm also nervous -- nervous that it won't last. And nervous that it will.

I refer to the future with caveats: "If this pregnancy continues..." "If there is a baby..." carefully keeping my optimism on a leash. The rest of my sentences are often equally uneasy, "...we're going to have to bring in some more money somehow", "...we're going to need to do something about that rickety bookshelf", and "...B~ can't drop his backpack/shoes/clothes/books/games all over the place when he gets home from school anymore. He's going to have to learn to be helpful. He's going to have to hold the baby for an hour while I go for a run and take a shower."

When people tell me they believe it will work for me this time, they just know it, I say to myself, I've heard that one before. I appreciate the good wishes, the hopefulness, but I don't pretend to believe anyone has any true vision into the future.

On the other hand, I don't want to function in this land of ifs and maybes. I want to trust it. I want to admit to myself that this time, unlike last time and the time before that, I actually believe it myself that everything is going to be fine. Yes, I do believe there is a baby on the way.

I haven't done a thing about medical care, except call my naturopath, and hesitate to cancel an appointment with a Reproductive Health clinic, an appointment intended to assess my health and J~'s health, and our options for increasing chances of conception. My naturopath says that if I do have one of the autoimmune diseases the evil gastroenterologist mentioned, it might go into remission, since pregnancy supresses the immune system. "It might never come back," he said. "I've seen it happen." Indeed, my symptoms have improved, but they aren't gone yet. I have a number for another, hopefully less evil gastroenterologist. I intend to call today. A friend gave me the business card of a midwife. I will likely call her today as well.

I owe you the details of the first pregnancy test, our reactions, etc. but I'm out of time. Next post. I promise.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


The test I did last night was faint, but that second line was definitely there, and definitely pink. If there was any question then, there isn't anymore. This morning's test:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007


I've been reorganizing and redecorating. Check it out: New and updated links! Book recommendations! New three-column format! I hope you like. And a bonus: If you count this one, there are three posts for today. The topmost (Doctorpalooza, Ambivapalooza) is the most recent news. Yet Again deals with slightly earlier happenings. Enjoy~

Doctorpalooza, Ambivapalooza

I saw a gastroenterologist. I didn't like her, I'll have to find someone else. There is no way I'm letting that woman stick anything up my butt.

, she did put my mind at ease: my symptoms don't raise red flags about cancer. Then again, she put my mind back on edge because apparently, they do indicate Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, "or one of the other colitises." What are the other colitises?I asked. She chuckled. "There are so many," she said, "I don't have time to give a seminar." The bottom line (this subject is a minefield for unintentional puns, forgive me) is that she doesn't want to speculate. She wants to look. When I asked about how my chronically low iron might relate, she just about lost her patience, thinking it tangential, something I should talk to my gynecologist about. Or a hematologist. "Why are you here?" she challenged, exasperated. "For. My. Health." I said, and just about walked out of the office.

Yesterday J~ and I went to a follow-up appointment with the urologist, and got this news: a repeat semen analysis puts all of his scores within good-enough range, very similarly to the last time he tested. All, that is, except morphology (the shape of the sperm), which was only 5% normal (last time it was 7%). This is borderline not good enough. There is a surgery he could do that improves morphology in 70% of these cases. But the improvement usually doesn’t show up for six to twelve months.

I know we're talking about an outpatient procedure, but still, it's surgery, and as you may gather, I don't enter into that lightly. Maybe I'm the uberwimp, but I believe in never gambling anything you are unwilling to lose. And I want my husband healthy and intact much much more than I want a baby.

J~, by the way, is willing to do it, though he wants to be sure I'm not about to say: On second thought, I don't want a baby after all. I do entertain such thoughts, he knows this. "But," I told him, "I'm not at that point."

"But," I also told him, "I can't promise that, at any point down the line, I won't change my mind."

Which brings me back to where I left off last week, two posts back: exhausted by all the experts, all the rituals and routines of trying to conceive (except for the sex, thankfully, that is still great fun. More than fun.)

It has become clear to me that the most important issue to address is this: how much do we want this? This much, I know: It makes me sad that it hasn't happened. I would be thrilled to discover that I am pregnant. And, uberwimpiness not withstanding, I'm not particularly concerned about my other health issue. Unless death were imminent, which I doubt, I would not let it prevent me from having a child. That is, unless it is already playing a part in preventing me from having a child...

On the other hand, I still dread the financial and energetic strain, the loss of freedom a child brings. All of these are very real concerns. We aren't independently wealthy. And J~ works long, stressful hours. Plus, he is ten years my senior. By the time B~ goes to college, he'll be 52. Even if I'm pregnant right now, this second child will still be a year or two from beginning first grade. Do I dare do the math? How old will J~ be when that child goes to college? Oh lordy.

In the wise words of David Allen: "Whatever has your attention needs your intention engaged." So far, it seems to me, my intention has been to arrive at menopause without regret, knowing that I did my best, that I tried. And who knows, maybe I'll get pregnant in the meantime. At times I'm more resigned, at times more determined, but deep down, I haven't truly embraced the intention of having a baby, and creating a life and lifestyle that best supports that. This intentionless intention needs to change. When the universe deals the surgery card, limbo is no longer an option. If we truly want to have a child, then we have to do everything that we can -- within certain rational limitations, some of which are yet to be determined (see my gambling motto, above) -- to make it happen.

I have to decide: Given the very real limitations of our lives: energy, age, and financial resources, Do I want to have a baby or not?

Yet Again

My sister-in-law, K~, is pregnant with her third child. She tried so hard and so long for the second child, I didn't think there would be a third. This news came on the heels of my friend L~'s pregnancy announcement (see Where to Begin?) three entries back. L~, as I've told you, is forty-one. It's her first pregnancy, conceived on her first try.

This is how I found out about K~: I was standing in the parking lot of the food co-op. J~ went inside to begin our shopping, while I finished up a phone call with my brother. When he dropped the news, I had a half-eaten kiwi in one hand, my cell in the other, and I literally could not respond because, suddenly, I was choking on a scrap of kiwi skin. There was a long, awkward (dangerous - maybe I was about to die) silence which I finally broke with coughing, and then a wheezy congratulations, then more coughing, during which I pulled a muscle in my back.

Inside the store, I told J~ the news. "Wow," he said, and hugged me. My eyes were already watery from my near-death experience, but apparently not enough: I burst into tears. Right there between the dairy case and the juices. We were blocking the aisle.

This is self-indulgent, but here it is, here's what I'm thinking: What is wrong with me? Why isn't this happening for us? What the hell! J~ had similar sentiments, though he put it this way: What's wrong with us? Aren't we good people? It's our turn! This, followed by looking ahead into a near future of watching K~, who lives nearby, get more and more pregnant. Baby showers. A birth. Family coming around to see the exciting new life. And us on the sidelines, smiling, keeping our sadness out of the picture, still wishing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pin Cushion

This week fell apart first thing Monday morning.

One of the two naturopathic doctors I've been seeing had ordered a bunch of tests, some of which required fasting. I had to skip breakfast and go to the lab to have blood drawn. But with clients to attend to, I didn't get out of the house until close to ten. My stomach churned, partly due to hunger, partly dread. It's not the blood I mind, or the needle itself. It's the pain. I'm a wimp about the pain.

At the lab, there is a sign: "Take a number and find a seat. Wait until your number is called." I waited until everyone else waiting had gone, and then waited some more in the empty, aptly named, waiting room. I overheard the woman at the desk asked the other tech, "There's no one out there, right?"

Then came the second leg in my waiting marathon, and more eavesdropping: while the lab tried to decipher my doctor's orders. She called headquarters, held the line for customer service, held again, and gave up. She called my doctor. As it turned out, the test in question was one my doc had already given me. She nixed it, then added two others to the already long list, for good measure. I was beginning to feel like the guinea pig of an absent-minded professor. My doctor had talked up this test with great confidence, implying it could potentially reveal the secret to my infertility. She had my hopes up about it, but in the back of my mind, I wondered, Didn't we already do this one? Um, yes.

By the time I got into the little white room with the tech and her stickers and glass vials, my stomach was churning again. Two men arrived to do some construction thing, and they kept peeking in at me where I sat with my sleeve rolled up. I told the tech that I just couldn't take it if she had to dig around in my arm. "Please use your smallest needle," I begged, "and if you miss the vein... just -- just don't miss the vein."

She was very sweet and understanding. But she missed the vein. She dug around. She missed again. She dug around a third time. She missed. Again.

"That's it," I told her. "Stop."

"Maybe you're dehydrated," she ventured, "Have you been fasting? You can drink water, you know." It was eleven-thirty at this point. I didn't mention this, or the fact that I sat in the waiting room for an hour. And yes, come to think of it, I was thirsty the whole time. "Maybe you should come back another day," she said, on her way out to get the other, more experienced technician. But the other tech was busy with another long line of intake, and I was done.

I sat in the car, fuming, then crying, then thinking.

I don't know what's wrong with my digestion, or why I am not getting pregnant. Naturopath number one ordered blood tests and dietary restrictions and perscribed vitamins and herbs and tinctures. Naturopath number two added more supplements and powders and a suppository, and insisted that, as far as my digestive system was concerned, I would be fine. As for pregnancy, there's this guy who collects amazonian cures and swears he has something among all his jarred snakes and potions that never fails to get a person pregnant. I might want to check it out, he says, shrugging.

I also go to the acupuncturist, who sticks needles in me once a week, and hands me baggies of Chinese herb powders, labeled pre-O, ovulation, post-O, and period, which I'm supposed to take on an empty stomach morning and night.

I keep doing everything the so-called experts tell me to do, glossing over my continued ambivalence about getting pregnant in the first place, and my growing conviction that this problem with my digestion is getting worse and I very much want to know what the heck is going on in there.

So I made a decision: I will go back to the lab, I will do these tests. I'll hear what absent-minded doctor number one has to say about the results, but after that, I'm done with her. I will continue with the protocol doctor two has prescribed - after all, my symptoms did clear completely, if only for the few weeks before my honeymoon and the infamous traveler's diarrhea I picked up in Costa Rica. But in the meantime, I've made an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

On Tuesday morning I did not return to the lab because I went to my acupuncturist, and told her I didn't want to do acupuncture anymore. In the end, I compromised: she'll stop putting needles in my wrists (those are the only ones that really hurt), and I will only come to her once a cycle, around ovulation.

As for ambivalence about pregnancy, I've made a decision about that, as well, though it took a little longer to come to this one. And it will take a little longer to explain. Next entry, and soon. I promise.

By the way, thanks to everyone who commented and emailed (and called) about the digestion stuff. It means a lot to me to have your support. And for those of you suffering likewise (I'm surprised at how many of us there are!), if you want to share the gory details, I welcome it. Post comments, send emails. I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Leap of Faith

Have I mentioned that I, my husband, and stepson, are taking ice-skating lessons? We go every Wednesday evening to our respective classes, and on Fridays, we come for open rink time. All this, and I don't own a decent pair of skates. As awful and uncomfortable as the rental skates are, my own cheap skates, I've discovered, are worse. To get a decent pair, I'm told, involves more than two hours of driving. I should be prepared to spend upwards of $150 and three or four hours getting them properly fitted. I hesitate to do it. After all, I keep thinking, what if I get pregnant and don't skate again for years? Or ever? Do I really want to invest so literally in a life that assumes it's never going to happen? Besides, there must be infinite better ways to spend that time and money.

B~ and J~ both have inexpensive hockey skates, but they are beginners, and happy with what they have. In the short time they've skated, B~ has advanced from clinging to the nearest solid object, feet flying out from under him in all directions, to circling the rink all on his own, albeit in a nervous, chin-forward hunch. J~ has gone from said nervous hunch, gripping my hand so hard my fingers hurt, to a relaxed, upright, independent glide. Occasionally he'll move to the center of the rink to attempt backwards skating, drawing his feet apart and together again, carving slow hourglass patterns into the less-traveled ice.

I spend most of my rink time in that center area, working on figure-skating basics: the 3-turn, the Mohawk, backward cross-overs, two-legged spins. Last night, I admired one of my more advanced classmates, H~, for launching up off his left skate going forward, and coming down on the right, gliding backwards. "I think it's called a toe-jump," he told me. "If you can add three hundred sixty degrees to the spin, it might be a single toe-loop." We both laughed at that one. It's unimaginable.

H~ showed me how he first learned the jump, by practicing against the boards, placing a hand against the wall to steady himself on landing. "Use your arms for momentum. Throw your leg forward," he encouraged, and I did, leaning heavily on the wall for support. By the end of the evening, I was risking little jumps, awkwardly, not always successfully, without touching the wall. One time I tried it away from the wall entirely, and when I didn't chicken out, and didn't fall either, I was like a triumphant kid, wishing Mom was there to see.

So I made a decision: I'm going to buy good skates first thing Monday.

Who knows what the future holds. Maybe I will get pregnant, and maybe I'll hang up those expensive custom-fitted skates. Or maybe I'll find a little baby helmet and learn to skate with an infant strapped to my chest. Or even better: maybe I'll get my Mom to come along, ostensibly to hold her grandchild, but really to admire my grace and prowess on the ice.

Then again, maybe I won't ever conceive. But I'll learn to spin on one leg, and master a toe jump, the as of yet unimaginable single toe-loop, perhaps. Although certainy incomparable to the adventure of pregnancy and parenting, wouldn't that also be great?