“The Clinic”

I use quotes on “The Clinic” because that’s how I communicate with my friends that I mean “The Fertility Clinic” (a dirty word?).  Today was my first appointment.

I am lucky to live in a large city.  We have access to several fertility clinics and specialists here.  After being referred to one clinic and not getting an appointment, I did some research, took matters into my own hands. Through my helpful counsellor, I was able to get an appointment at a clinic that specializes specifically in “the study and treatment of ‘unexplained’, recurrent miscarriage”.  This feels like the right place for me.

I was really excited about this appointment.  I might be on the path to getting some answers and, if all goes well, on the path to carrying a baby to term.  There’s no guarantee of answers or a successful pregnancy but I at least feel proactive about going.

My bubble burst a little when I arrived in the waiting room to see a family gleefully playing with a little baby.  I decided to take a deep breath and tell myself that this is proof of the program’s success and then attempted to distract myself by flipping though a magazine.  It didn’t help, but I’m giving myself an “A” for effort.

I knew the specialist was a man, so you can imagine my surprise when a woman, an 8-months pregnant woman greeted me and introduced herself to me as a team doctor.  The specialist would be meeting with me at the end of the appointment.

Baby in the waiting room, pregnant doctor…not liking this clinic experience so far.

Doctor Prego was actually very kind. She admitted that it must be difficult for me to discuss my losses because she was pregnant.  It made me feel a lot better to hear her say that aloud.  Elephant in room eliminated.

She went through my medical history and began to create a long list of tests that they would be doing over the next couple of months.  The test included hormones, genetics, ultrasounds, another sonohysterogram, cycle monitoring and screening for autoimmune diseases.  They will also be testing my husband (he’s a good sport. He will likely need to make a trip to the “audio-visual room”).

I was able to do a number of my blood tests right on the spot.  That was A LOT of blood! I’m surprised there is any left in me!

I’m looking forward to getting some of the results back.  I feel strange for thinking it but this is one time I want something to be “wrong”.  The doctors assured me that “nothing wrong” is a much better scenario but to me “nothing wrong” means “no answer” and “no answer” means it could happen again.  I can’t stomach the thought of another loss, but I’m willing to take a calculated risk.

On My Bedstand

Womb Wasteland

Dr. Alan Beer's Is Your Body Baby Friendly? jacketIs Your Body Baby Friendly?
by Dr. Alan E. Beer et al.
2006, $15

This book outlines Dr. Beer’s well-researched theory that many women who suffer from unexplained infertility, multiple miscarriages, or IVF failures may be experiencing an autoimmune response that prevents conception or terminates pregnancies. Unfortunately, the in-depth testing this type of diagnosis requires is not routinely administered by most fertility doctors. Essentially, this book is about thinking outside the box.

So far, it is a slow read as it offers a lot of technical explanations, but it is worth your time. It is especially interesting to read the sections written by two of his former patients as only another infertile can explain it. This book was brought to my attention by a friend, Ms. B–, who has suffered seven miscarriages. She and her husband are heading to Chicago next week to undergo evaluations based on Dr. Beer’s research. I’ll…

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In My Next Life, I Will Be a Construction Worker

Another one!

I just got an email from a close friend and colleague announcing her pregnancy.  I thank her for her tact.  She knew that it was a really sensitive topic and she didn’t want me to hear from someone else.  It’s still hard.  I still spent my morning blubbering.  I’m lucky to have friends to blubber to, having a good cry helps to get it all out of my system.

I say “another one” because this is going to be the 5th pregnant colleague that I will be working with next year.  FIVE pregnant ladies in one building…and that’s just the ones I know about!  This doesn’t include those who just had their babies that will be parading them around the school for a visit this fall.  (I’m really going to have to work on my “pleasant” face and buy plugs for my tear ducts).

In the spirit of gender stereotyping, THIS is why I want to be a construction worker in my next life rather than a teacher.  I love my job but how many construction workers out there right now have FIVE pregnant colleagues?  My guess is very few.

Being a teacher, I work with almost all women (we only have 3 men on staff).  This makes avoiding pregnant ladies VERY difficult.

I’ve got a good team to lean on.  I’ll try to be strong but in reality, I’m just ready for it to be my turn.

“Back to School” is next week.  The ads on TV continue to remind me.  This year, much like last year I have so much more to anticipate (dread) than getting back to my morning routine and meeting a new crop of students.  Once again, I have to prepare myself to watch  bellies of my co-workers grow full of life.  Once again I need to put away the speech that I prepared to tell my students and parents the exciting reason that I won’t be with them for the whole year.

No Staples…it’s not the “most wonderful time of the year”.

When are you due?

Seriously.  Seriously!!!

This weekend, I was at my friend’s wedding and one of the guests asked, “When are you due?”

Deep breaths… don’t freak out. When my heart resumed beating, I answered, “I’m not”. (Thank you hubby for holding my hand so tight).

The woman promptly apologized, pointed to herself indicating her own fat and said “I should probably know better”. (Yes, you should.)

If only she knew how much deeper this went beyond misinterpreted body fat.  If only she knew how hard it was not to make a public spectacle of myself by screaming and crying (that all went on in my head).  If only she knew the weight of this question.

Before coming up with my simple, “I’m not”, I listed in my head all of the “due” dates I had in my mind…including 18 months to 2 years which will hopefully be my adoption “due date”. Instead, I answered, “I’m not”.

I thought about my previous post stating that my bloated tummy was probably only visible to me.  I guess I was wrong.  This pain is on display.

I also thought about other times that I had been asked this question.  Most recently by my brother-in-law who knew I was pregnant at the wedding.  Even then, even when I WAS pregnant this was a very difficult question for me to answer. I no longer take for granted that pregnancy means a baby.

I’m way over due.

Gush Gush

It is reference time!   This is the one part of the adoption process that I was expecting.  I didn’t quite know how it worked, but I knew there would come the time to ask our friends and family for references.

The way it works here in Ontario, is that we had to select a few friends and family members who know us well, know us as a couple and are willing to show their support for our adoption.

This part of the process has been very positive and very heart-warming. It was REALLY easy for us to find people to do this.  Almost everyone we tell about the adoption offers to write us a letter.  The “people” want us to have a family.  We have good “people”.  We are very lucky that way.

The social worker contacted our friends and family, and to my surprise, rather than a letter, there was a form for them to complete. The form is mostly complied of checklists and asks about the nature and length of the person’s relationship to us, it asks about our personalities (checklist), our experience with children, our capability to raise a child, any problem behaviours (another checklist: drugs, abuse etc.), our social network, our relationship as a couple (checklist), and the final question, “Would you feel comfortable allowing the applicants to care for your child permanently if you were unable to do so?”

The last question really stood out for me.  This is the one that really proves that the person writing the reference is truly genuine.  It’s not something that anyone could lie about.  I was brought to tears reading an email from one of our references, a very good friend of mine:

“There’s a section about if I would let you raise my kid if need be.

Just wanted to let you know, the answer is without a doubt.”

The funny thing is, she doesn’t even have any children and it STILL made me cry!

I don’t take for granted the fact that we are surrounded by kind and supportive friends. Several of our references have offered to write accompanying letters to go with the form.  I have read a few and I am overwhelmed.  Even if we don’t come across as “perfect” (nobody’s perfect), it will be very clear to our social worker that we have a strong network of people who love us.

This week I’ve been feeling very mushy about my friends.  Gush gush.  Thanks friends.

It’s Always There.

Last week, my husband and I went on our “honeymoon” in New York City.  It was a really nice romantic week. It was great for us to get away together, spend some time and enjoy ourselves. I’m so crazy about that guy.  I feel very lucky to have him in my life.

I had a great time, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that the losses were not with me the whole time.  I think life will just always be like that.  I wasn’t crying or moping.  It didn’t ruin my vacation.  It’s just always there.

It started when a friend who has new baby twins told me how jealous she was that I got to go away for a Honeymoon.  My eyes are still rolling from that one. Jealous!!????  I’d trade in that trip to New York for baby twins any day!

When we had originally booked the trip, we knew (or hoped rather) that I’d be about four months pregnant at the time.  It would have been good timing  – just past feeling sick, and “safe” enough to do some walking around town. While we were there, very time I passed a pregnant woman on the streets (for the record, every third woman in New York City is pregnant) I thought about what should have been.

Shopping was difficult too.  I’m still bloated and a little heavier than a non-pregnant woman should be (a year-long fear of exercise is not good for maintaining a hot bod).  It’s hard for me to look at my protruding belly and not think about the babies that used to live in there.  A vacation in Manhattan is usually a time for some SERIOUS shopping.  I’m still not ready to by “in between” clothes and walked right by every clothing store.  Fear not, I did buy a pair of shoes- at least my feet have stayed relatively the same size.

Money was also on my mind.  We booked this trip before starting the adoption process.  I’ve always been a bit of a penny pincher, but this process is going to be very expensive and I know I need to save all I can.  We have already spent a few thousand dollars on our Home Study, Parent Training (which takes place in September) and application form.

“Living in limbo” is a real challenge.   It’s a challenge that’s not going away, so my job is just to do my best to stay positive and get through day by day. I also know that it’s ok to feel lucky and unlucky at the same time.

The belly that I’m sure only I can see. This isn’t about body image. I can deal with that. It’s about knowing what’s missing.

The Text Message

Yesterday afternoon, I received a text message with a photo from my Aunt (yes, she’s THAT modern).  The photo was of my cousin’s minutes-old baby and the text was a proud boast from my Aunt about being a grandmother again (this is number 8).

A few years ago, this exact message would have made me jump for joy, run out to buy a present and hop in the car on the way to my cousin’s place to go give that baby a squeeze.

Now things are different.  Instead, I deleted the message and spent the rest of the afternoon in tears.

Not only do I mourn my babies that never were, but I also mourn the ability to enjoy other babies.   I truly wish that I could have looked at that photo and felt joy.  I wish that I could look beyond the fact that I was pregnant at the same time as my cousin and that she got to keep her baby.  I wish that I did not resent her for holding a baby in her arms as I choke back tears.  I wish that I could see, squeeze and cuddle all of my friends’ kids.  I’m still not ready.

I’m trying.  I was very proud of myself for cuddling my friend’s one year old the other day.  That is a huge step for me.  I may have cried on the way home, but I did enjoy it in the moment.  Maybe there’s hope for this lady after all.  I’ll accept the tears when they flow, try to stay positive even when it’s impossible and look forward.  I will have a family.  I can’t choose when.

beware of incoming text messages