Wednesday, 26 October 2016

TMI in one convenient post

(updated at bottom)

Back when I started this blog, I thought I'd be writing a lot about fertility treatments. It seemed logical; we'd been told we would not conceive without IVF and had been referred to The Fertility Clinic. I spent a lot of time reading about (mainly) IVF and considering how I felt about medical intervention. As it turned out, I barely wrote anything about fertility treatments.  The feelings I had to learn to process were entirely different.

This is not a bad thing, but it does feel a bit odd to be writing about fertility treatments now. Despite my five year journey with sub-fertility this feels new (and uncomfortable).

My first cycle with Clomid has ended. It didn't result in a pregnancy, but other than that, there was some good, some bad (as per usual).

The good:
I had signs of successful ovulation, and they all happened around the same time:

  • Abundant CM days 10 through 12 (mainly watery, but I'd read that Clomid dries up CM and that didn't happen in this case)
  • Positive OPK on day 12
  • Temperature rise 1-2 days after positive OPK (not sure when it started as I had poor sleep the first day after OPK. But definitely rose in the days after)
  • Blood test on day 21 showed progesterone at 11.3, which nurse said indicated ovulation (anything over 10 is considered sufficient)
The bad:
  • I had a sonohysterogram on day 12. This was not related directly to the Clomid cycles (they are not monitored with ultrasounds) but to check on the fibroid which a previous ultrasound had shown possibly intruding into uterine cavity. I had to call in to schedule this test on day 2 (the same day I start the Clomid). I'd assumed they would put it earlier in my cycle and was not too happy when they put it on day 12, as that's close to when I typically ovulate (in so far as I'm typical). I had already started the Clomid, but this meant we couldn't "start trying" till the test was done. I decided to go ahead with test anyway, since I don't know for sure when I'll ovulate (but as it turned out I was right, or close).
  • The procedure began with an internal ultrasound performed by a technician (my 3rd this year....sigh) She then went upstairs to get one of the fertility doctors, "Dr. Irish" (not my regular doctor; they take turns doing this procedure). He did the sonohysterogram in the cheerful nonchalant manner doctors (especially male ones) tend to adopt when they are up one's privates. The sonohysterogram went OK. I was mainly concerned about getting some results. Getting an appointment with Dr. Cotter takes six to eight weeks, which is a giant pain when we are waiting on results. It bugs me that people do tests on my body, especially invasive ones like this one, and then I can't know the results for weeks and weeks (and I know they have them). So I was quite anxious to hear at least something about these scans.
  • Dr. Irish, cheerful as ever, assured me that the sonohysterogram results looked good: the fibroid is a non-issue. "You have a pretty big cyst on one ovary, but the uterine cavity looks great." And breezed off.
Wait what? In hindsight there's all kinds of questions I would have liked to ask:
  • What do you mean, cyst? I had had my positive OPK that day: did he see a lead follicle ready to ovulate? or another kind of cyst? How do you tell the difference?! (both normal follicles and abnormal ones are called cysts....because that's not confusing at all.)
  • Could Clomid have caused the cyst?
  • Will the cyst interfere with my cycle and/or ovulation?
  • Will the cyst affect the next Clomid cycle?
But I didn't have the presence of mind (or the background knowledge of cysts) to think of these questions especially when lying on the table half naked. For some reason being in this position affects my ability for analytical thought and self-advocacy. Maybe I haven't had enough practice. Dammit! Two minutes after Dr. Irish and the nurse made their exit, I was frantically googling ovarian cysts on my phone.
  • Oh, one more bad.  Despite the positive progesterone result, my cycle ended on day least four days sooner than it should have if I was right about ovulation (pretty sure I am).
I finally decided that before I take Clomid again (that should be right now, or yesterday), I want to ask about that cyst and if it's a good idea to start it again. I'm not monitored for cysts, but they are a side effect of Clomid and I happen to know I did have one (although not what kind it was). Everything I've read about Clomid, or for that matter any fertility treatment, and everything I've heard anecdotally says you do not start a treatment, you DO NOT PASS GO, if there's a cyst. So I'm not comfortable making the decision to start Clomid again without a doctor's opinion. The nurse I talked to could not give me advice, but she said she would leave a note for Dr. Cotter and ask for her advice. So I hope I hear back from them; I could really use the reassurance.  This feels like sort of a test of The Fertility Clinic to see how helpful they really are, too. Sigh. As I noted before, I really don't feel good at this stuff. I admire all the IFfers who have learned to advocate and make decisions about these kind of things.

Well other than that. AJ turns two this week. So I will write something more cheerful next time.

Dr. Cotter called me back. Of course I was in the middle of teaching and when I see the phone number, I say "sorry: got to take this call" and sweep out of the room to have a conversation about my ovaries. Luckily I have educational assistants who can step in during awkward moments. Well I have to laugh at it because what else can I do.

The information I received as I understood: Dr. Cotter reviewed the ultrasound/sonohysterogram results and gave her opinion that the "cyst" was the maturing follicle (why Dr. Irish didn't just say "follicle" I don't know....). She even told me the sizes that they saw; one was 18mm I think. She said that was not big enough to qualify as a problem cyst. So basically, my body was doing what it was supposed to do, and the Clomid was working as expected. I brought up the short luteal phase: thank you to those people who have told me to ask about that. She said "do you know when you ovulated?" I said yes, pretty sure, because I had a positive OPK and charted temperature. Her explanation was that sometimes in people with low AMH, the follicles "don't behave as they are supposed to," and reminded me that while I'm still relatively young, I have poorly functioning ovaries. I asked about progesterone supplementation, as I'd heard that's sometimes used in similar cases. Dr. Cotter said "yes we sometimes do that," but that it doesn't necessarily make any difference. She said that since this was the first Clomid cycle, she would like to see how I respond to another one first.

Fair enough. It was a good (if perforce quick) conversation and helps me to worry less. (I really need to bring down my stress level about all aspects of life.) Also I can go ahead with Clomid this cycle: will be starting day 3 instead of 2 but she said that was fine.

Thanks to commenters for the emotional support and suggestions of what to ask about! I'm glad I did get a response and it's shown me I have to keep advocating for myself.

Monday, 17 October 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Crown

This morning, one of my students gave me a crown he had made me.

Best. Way. To. Start. Monday. Ever!

You better believe I wore it all day.

Monday, 3 October 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Five

Five am seems to be when my internal clock has decided I'm going to wake up: weekdays, weekends, days with commitments and schedules, days without commitments and schedules. Six am is when I have to wake up on workdays, and at least an hour later on weekends, so I'm losing between one and two hours of sleep every night, and it sucks.  But I'll try to take five minutes and write a microblog, at least.

I've had numbers on my mind the past couple of days. I'm starting a new cycle, which means entering and changing data in various places: phone reminders, Ovacue, the unpublished blogs I write about my physical minutiae, scheduling appointments and entering them into my calendar, counting OPKs to see how many more I need (I need a lot), and this time around, setting up a chart again. I haven't done one of those in a long time; I have just been keeping running notes. I hadn't logged in to the charting website in a long time and there were a whole bunch of charts from 2012 and onwards. I deleted them.

Maybe that's what reminded me that we've been trying for a child since fall of 2011, or five years. I started the blog in 2013, which doesn't seem that long ago.  And AJ was conceived a year after the blog started, which again isn't that long.  It's almost two years since she was born, not that long.  But five years somehow sounds like a long, long time.

In those five years we've had one pregnancy and birth. Amazing and miraculous and blessed, that event, and I wouldn't trade AJ or whatever unusual circumstances led to her existence for anything. On the other hand, it's not so hard to imagine what could have been in five years. Two children easily, maybe three. And five years is a lot of cycles, charting, hope, disappointment.

It also raises the question: When is it time to stop? Not yet, not this month, nor probably the next. But five years. Five years.

Me, five years ago. This place no longer exists as pictured, it was destroyed in a 2013 flood.

Monday, 12 September 2016


Last week we returned to The Fertility Clinic and met with Dr. Cotter again, to review my tests and talk about next steps.

What's new in my skin:

 I started bleeding after 30 days on my last cycle. I had one positive OPK and fertile mucous, albeit not on the same days, which was sort of confusing. I suspect I might have had a second LH surge, but missed it. Still, there seemed to be some good stuff going on, and 30 days is a decent length, so I considered it a normal-ish cycle.

Dr. Cotter was on her typical form. I can add a few more zingers to my collection of quotes. As Mr. Turtle observed, "She starts every meeting with an insult so later it's hard to argue with anything she proposes." True enough. Nobody can accuse Dr. Cotter of looking at reproductive systems through rose-coloured glasses.

She started with "You're not better." No, after a year and a half of "trying", I know I'm not better. We went over the results of the tests. My CD2 bloodwork (Estradiol, FSH, LH, TSH, prolactin) was totally wrong. "You were not on CD 2 when you did that blood test." In hindsight, I guess not. I had indeed been bleeding for 2 days when I did the blood test, but then I started bleeding again after only 2 weeks. So that was not a cycle. Dr. Cotter said that my estrogen levels during that "CD 2" test put me at about mid-cycle, possibly ovulating. WTF? We couldn't explain it so shrugged and moved on.

Dr. Cotter then launched into an explanation of AMH (anti-mullerin hormone) that seemed to go on for an uncomfortably long time. A fertile woman has an AMH of between 15 and 25. Well, that was not going to be my number. Under 7, it's very hard to get pregnant. "And yours is 0.9." Which sounds slightly better than zero, but admittedly not much better.

Next were the results of the pelvic ultrasound which I did on day 3 of the next cycle (the one that was 30 days and maybe actually a cycle). I had 2 antral follicles on one ovary and 1 on the other. I don't even know anymore what the normal number is supposed to be; something in the double digits; again, that's not me. As we know.

Dr. Cotter said she saw no need to repeat the blood tests as the other tests told the story well enough. In addition, the ultrasound showed a fibroid of 3.3 cm that might be beginning to intrude into the uterine cavity, but it was not too clear. She recommended a sonohysterogram to take a better look at it.

As for fertility "if you are going to be trying anyway, we might as well do what we can to help." So the plan is to do low dose Clomid on days 2-6. Dr. Cotter said they have seen results with low stimulation on wonky ovaries.  "It tends to work best when the last cohort of follicles is being recruited." (Oh, that's a good one.) After taking the Clomid, I will have blood drawn on Day 21 to check for progesterone levels, to see if ovulation happened. If not, they will look at adjusting the dose. I have my prescription for four cycles. And the requisition for the sonohysterogram.

I'm happy with this plan; it seems reasonable enough. But I have a problem. To get the show on the road, I kinda sorta need to know when CD 1 is. Apparently, that's not so easy. Case in point, I am bleeding again on day 11 of this cycle. Is it the fibroid? Unbalanced hormones? The low dose aspirin I was taking? (Cutting that out). Is this my period? Or was the bleeding one and a half weeks ago my period? Or neither?! Cue WTF moments. I might need more guidance what to do in this situation, as it really isn't clear to me.

One good thing though. I have new menstrual products. My frequent periods/EBBs mean I spend a lot of time wearing pads and panty liners (tampons I gave up some years ago; while I don't always have a lot of pain and discomfort, they seemed to increase it when I did).  I had been getting a lot of chafing and discomfort from them. In addition to my reproductive issues, I have this cyst in the clitoral area that flares up every now and then (I had a bad abscess last year that require surgery.) So a few weeks ago I started looking into alternatives for period stuff, and finally decided to try cloth pads / liners and now some underwear that is designed to absorb flow. These options are WAY more comfortable. I feel so free knowing I don't have to buy that crap from the store anymore.

So there you go. The joys of further intervention, the limits of physical self. It's tiring and frustrating. But I still feel I have to trying whatever might make a difference, because if not, I'll wonder about it. Humans have a strong gambling instinct, and in this respect at least, I'm no different.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

AJ at 22 months

Well, I promised an AJ update and I will try to do it in my increasingly precious free time. May not be the best writing ever but I do like having AJ's milestones recorded to look back on. Plus I feel strongly that the blog needs these entries to balance the trying to conceive stuff, both past and present.  As I've said before, AJ owns the process of growing up.  I loved and marveled at her when she was teeny tiny. Now that she's a toddler, I can't imagine her without her new talents and quirks. It's like AJ's personality is a comet approaching earth. When she was a baby, it was a far away twinkling star, but every day now it appears bigger, brighter and more sparkly.

How I'd  describe AJ at 22 months: easy-going, fun, cautious but attentive in unfamiliar situations, talkative, humourous, responsive, silly, generous, loving, considerate, teachable.


AJ talks in sentences about 80% of the time, though they may be missing connecting words. She asks for what she wants; she tells us what she doesn't want. She comments on people, toys, weather, food, books, clothes, animals, cars, the stars in the sky....well anything that she can see and comment on, really. AJ remembers things about people and talks about them when they are not there. Uncle M. plays guitar and piano. A black cat lives on Baba's street. Uncle N. shipped a machine out of Baba's house in a big box (see the first few paragraphs of this entry for what that was about). Grandma read her The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss and now she wants it.

AJ has been exploring the idea that certain things belong to certain people for a while: "Mommy's shoes, Daddy's shirts, AJ's jacket, Gidi's ladder " (which we borrowed a few months ago and haven't returned). Recently she's become interested in the idea of presents: she will point out that Grandma gave her this jacket, Nana gave her this book. She also says "thank you" and "you're welcome" all the time (not always in context).

Wearing mommy's shoes

AJ is (once again) enjoying daycare and looks forward to seeing her "friends and teachers." She talks about "fun at baby school" and is most interested in the "bikes" (which are still too big for her), the balls, the blocks, and the other children, of course. She and her peers know each other's names and how to say hello and goodbye to each other (soooo sweet) and they play side by side, with maybe the beginnings of some interaction. AJ knows boy and girl, and talks a lot about boys. Boys at the playground, boys dancing, boys riding bikes. I feel obligated to mention that girls do all these things too, although I'm pretty sure she knows that.

AJ knows and is responsive to her extended family. She knows the first names of mommy, daddy, and all 5 living grandparents (I'm OK if my dad is simply "Grandpa" to her). We didn't try to teach her our names; it didn't even occur to me, to be honest. But she figured it out, and it was adorable, so we encouraged her to learn more. Sometimes she will tell us her second name and last name upon request.


Current items of fascination are kitty cats (still), dinosaurs, penguins, balloons, ice cream, blankets, , counting, the playground. We spent a lot of time at the playground this summer. In early spring AJ was still just sitting and playing with gravel. Then she learned to climb up on the toddler slide and went down on her own. A few days later, she was climbing up to the full size slide and going down. She requests to swing and lately has been climbing a sort of ladder (with paranoid parent supervision).

I'm climbing!
AJ has collections of small toys (we let her play, supervised, with smaller objects because she doesn't mouth things anymore, except sometimes her kitties).  She likes to put small items in baskets/bags. She also likes to throw things in the garbage (I had to stop letting her go through my wallet for this reason). She is trying to learn to dress herself, though it's still tricky. AJ likes bracelets, watches and necklaces that she can take on and off herself, and she like to adorn herself and say she's "pretty." She remembers where things go and will put them back when she's done playing a lot of the time, sometimes with a prompt but often without. Daycare staff are always impressed by this.

AJ reads all books; she is very interested in new books as well as old favourites. Current favourites are "If you give a Pig a Party" ("Balloon Book") and "If I ran the Zoo" ("Zoo book") and "Do you love me mama" ("bunny book").

AJ can sing a few lines from familiar songs. Current favourite song is "The Wheels on the Bus" with made up lyrics. She likes to play with her toy instruments and the piano (not a toy). I got a lovely series of photos of her playing piano the other week. I especially like these photos because they capture her being engrossed in an activity. There's no way to pose her for pictures like these: it's a matter of being in the moment with her.

As mentioned above, she loves to count things. On occasion she's counted up to ten and even eleven correctly. Mostly though, we hear some variation of "One, two, five, seeeeeeeven!" Still surprises me a little. I hardly ever read those milestone things but I didn't expect her to have number awareness before age two.

AJ also associates some words with their beginning letter. For example, she knows both "hammer" and "hockey" start with H. (how do I know....because if we are reading the book where H is for hockey, she will sometimes say "hammer" when I say "'H' is for....." It took me a while to figure this out. I was puzzled why she wasn't saying "H is for Hockey" because she memorizes her books quite quickly. Finally I realized that she was saying "hammer" which is in a different book. Same with "zebra" "zamboni" "zoom". She'll use them interchangeably when prompted "Z is for...."

AJ recognizes at least 3 dozen kinds of animals. I bought Mr. Turtle a National Geographic photography book for Father's day and she can name almost every single one, although she needs to work on the different kinds of birds. We have a running gag where she points to the albatross and says "duck." Me: "Albatross." AJ: "Duck." "Albatross." "Duck." "Albatross." "Duck." Finally AJ will say "Duck goes quack quack" at which point she wins the argument because, one that's true, and two, I don't know what an albatross says.

Neologisms I love: "Sunny dark" is evening. "Peepee towel" is toilet paper.

Fine and Gross motor:
As noted in previous entries, AJ is slightly slower on her gross motor development than some peers. Not to say she's delayed, but in this area I'm not |(yet) the parent that brags "My child can already....!" (Unlike in social/fine motor/language development, where I absolutely get to be that parent.) And you know, I think we totally lucked out in that her social and language development outpaced her motor development, because when she finally did get mobile and er, highly interactive with her environment, she could also communicate with and relate to people at what feels like a pretty advanced level. I know this can change at any time, but right now at least she's mostly calm, easy-going, and teachable. She knows how to communicate her needs, she has a lot of love and trust for the people around her, and so there's not a huge gap between her desires and abilities, and therefore (I think) not a lot of tantrums and anger and frustration.

What she can do now: "Running" - kind of. More like a fast trot, done with glee. She tries to jump, which means she springs upward and then falls dramatically to the floor. Too funny. She carries and kicks a ball but doesn't respond to a prompt to throw or kick it to someone.  Climbs on furniture and off of it. Climbs and descends stairs holding on with one hand (person or railing). Learning to climb a ladder. Goes down a full size slide on her own (I got tired of telling her it was too high). Does ballet "attitude", partial headstand, and downward dog.  Rises up and down on her toes.  Makes a "bridge" between a table and couch (head on one, feet on the other, body suspended in plank). Bops to music and twirls around.

Fine motor: Scribbles, puts down stickers, stretches elastic bands between her fingers, is very close to undoing a screw top lid, does up buckles, undoes and does up zippers, feeds herself with spoon and fork, drinks from an open cup.

These days, AJ mostly puts herself to sleep in the crib...eventually. Like 45 minutes to an hour after her "bedtime." She tries very hard now to put off her naptime and bedtime, although once she is asleep she sleeps through the night. I'm hoping this evens out a bit now that she is back in daycare full time and we will have a more regular wake up schedule (so goddamn early...sigh). She still will fall asleep in my arms sometimes but it's a rare treat now. She is still sleeping in her crib, with the setting at lowest. The day is coming when we will convert to toddler bed.

AJ eats most foods - whatever we are eating - unless they are hard to chew, like steak. She doesn't like leafy vegetables yet. AJ tried sushi this summer (cooked rolls and tempura: we don't eat the raw fish because Mr. Turtle is immuno-compromised.) AJ tried everything but only really liked the edamame beans. She still will eat anything mixed with mashed potatoes: most common is "fishtatoes" which is salmon or steelhead trout mixed with potatoes. I consider it a personal victory to have a toddler who eats salmon! There is a stupid commercial for some toddler supplement which has this as the selling line "Toddlers are often missing important nutrients because they don't eat foods like salmon....blah blah blah buy this supplement." This commercial always bugged me because, I thought, why on earth shouldn't toddlers eat salmon? This was before I had a toddler, mind you. Anyway, we introduced fish by the time AJ was one and what do you know, she eats it, albeit mixed with potatoes. No supplements needed!

Corn on the cob was a favourite this summer

AJ drinks from a straw cup and open cup, as noted above. She drinks milk, water, and apple/prune juice at home and when we are out at a restaurant she will usually ask for chocolate milk or apple juice.

We are potty training - kind of. Meaning I try to remember to put her on the potty after meals and before bed, and I'll ask the daycare to start doing the same. AJ likes to look at small books while sitting on the toilet, so I keep a stash for her (picture). She pees quite often in the potty, and poops occasionally. She's giving more and more cues that she knows when she wants to go, and she asks to have her diaper changed. I'm not very goal oriented with it, though. I'm just hoping she'll gradually get more and more used it, I think.

One of the best places to read, after all

Body awareness:
She knows all her body parts, including "vulva" (which she cheerfully points out when the diaper is off, and you better acknowledge it because if you don't, she'll say it over and over  and over again till you do....hahahaha it was funny to see Mr. Turtle learn that one by experience. I let her play with my Lammily doll and she likes to open up the blouse and air out the boobies. She also points out mommy's boobies frequently (I'm not very modest). Once she pointed to my chest and said "Mommy's boobies" and then looked down her shirt saying "AJ's boobies?" Oh the hilarity. I hope she can retain some of this easy-going pleasure in her body as she grows up and encounters the gamut of female (and male) insecurities. But seriously, I often find myself looking at my baby girl thinking: how can some people grow up to be total jerks when this human is so, so, lovely, from her toenails to her soul?

And I'll end on that note.

Mommy is cavorting with the rainbows; AJ just wants to grab the phone.
An image to look back on when I'm writing about some depressing crap.

What's new this fall:

Mom and toddler dance class starting next week! I'm so excited, especially seeing her get interested in music, movement and dance. I have registered us at a dance studio that offers classes from toddler to adult and has a dance company, so AJ gets to be part of not just a class but a whole culture. Who knows, maybe she will continue there?

Second birthday!? Bloody hell. Do we need to have a party? Birthday parties terrify me.

Halloween! We are definitely making her a costume and going out this time. I didn't celebrate Halloween as a child so it will be my first time, too.

TTC update next. Not pregnant, we'll get that out of the way right off.

Back to work with the students this week. Yay! Blog may be attended to even more sporadically, or possibly more regularly as I need it for a sanity outlet.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Microblog Mondays: Tangible and Intangible Accomplishments

Summer is winding down! As a teacher who is paid for 12 months of the year and can afford to not work extra in the summer (this is by no means true of all teachers) I have an extra helping of unstructured time. So, what did I do with it?! Some of it I spent doing not much (or fun activities: I'll write about some of those in an AJ-centred entry) but I feel like I must hold myself accountable as well. A lot of projects get put off during the rest of the year, when we are both working full time and being parents to AJ. Two months sounds like a great opportunity to get caught up, to feel like I'm "on top of life" again.

On this theme, I started the summer with a To-Do list prominently on the fridge, and even posted it on Facebook, too.

A few weeks later, not doing too badly I think:

Some of the jobs are/were mainly Mr. Turtle's, I should point out. I can put together IKEA furniture but it always is a bit wonky when I do, so I leave that to him. He's also doing the anchoring and baby proofing. We took the first step toward consolidating our bank accounts together, but Mr. Turtle has to do the last steps. We are actually both still working on the office clean up, but I was so excited that we even got started that I wiped it off the list early.  What else: I'm not sure I can take all the bottles to the depot on my own, so I'm procrastinating that till we both can go, and neither of us want to. Running the oven cleaning cycle only involves pushing a few buttons, but it makes the house smelly and I'm afraid of fire and won't do it when I'm alone. Plus we have to wait for cool weather. Photo organizing is just as intimidating today as it was June 30, so I have done nothing there. We have done a pretty good job on the yard. We never got around to "landscaping," but at least it's not totally overgrown. Visitors nod thoughtfully and say it has potential, which is what it's had for the last six years.

And then of course there are other  things that weren't on the list that I did. The freezer is getting well stocked up with frozen lunches, including a giant pot of butternut squash and ginger soup cooking on the stove today. I have new eyeglasses! I went, or am going to, two work-related professional conferences, which feels great and is getting me excited about the new school year. We spent a lot of time with family. Not so much with friends; I have to address my social apathy/avoidance at some point.

These are some of the "tangible accomplishments" alluded to in the title. They are the things I believe I should be doing with my time.  They are the most visible to other people (sometimes even to me). They aren't always the things I feel I need to do. I call this other category "intangible accomplishments."

My intangible accomplishments this summer:

All the entries on this blog. I guess a blog entry is sort of tangible, in that it's visible and people read it. But it doesn't make an obvious difference in the progression of everyday life. Still, I'm driven to write in a way I'm not driven to do a lot of other things that appear superficially more important or urgent.  I want the documentation of that feeling or experience to exist. I want validation that goes beyond the ephemeral pleasure of having a clean house for 10 minutes or clean laundry for 5.

Following/reading other blogs. I enjoy following people's stories, and sometimes, philosophical musings driven by their experiences. So much of this drama is invisible in everyday interactions and relationships because people hide it beneath their facade. But it's so interesting.  (You would have to know and closely interact with me for at least a year to see a glimmer of what I share on torthúil. This is probably true of many other bloggers as well). 

Reading books. No novels. I don't have any interest in fiction lately.  I don't want to escape; I want to go down deep. Although I can't say exactly where I'm going with my summer (soon to be fall) reading. I'm exploring a sense of powerful uneasiness; I'm trying to figure out what it's about and where, if anywhere, it lines up with the some of the political battles currently being fought. I've read (or am currently re-reading) three very interesting books this summer.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel. JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, and finally Sebastien Haffner's Defying Hitler. The one thing that draws me to each of these writers is that they all have a strong sense of self, and they struggled (successfully, more or less) with a dysfunctional culture. I'd like to write more about these books, but I don't know what shape yet that writing will take. I'm still note-taking, comparing, contrasting, turning over ideas at 1am. Sometimes I get the laundry folded too. I don't know how I'll work in the infertility angle. But I'm creative that way. :-)

Oh, yes, speaking of fertility. If ever there was work that was grueling and intangible. Trying to conceive has been a major focus this summer. After my previous discouraging non-cycle, the current one is at least a little more promising. I had a positive OPK. And fertile mucus! Not at the same time though, that would make too much sense. About 6 days apart. It's possible that I had a second LH surge, of course, but I ran out of OPKs before I could test for it. Anyway. Two week waits are so much fun, because I have no idea how long they are actually going to be, although I can make some guesses. I'm afraid I can't call hours of Googling symptoms and bodily functions any kind of accomplishment at all. But I'll call maintaining some form of mental and emotional balance through this "is or isn't it possible to conceive again" time an intangible accomplishment.

In summary, what I've learned this summer is that I need to work on both the tangibles and the intangibles, and that they both take effort, though with tangible accomplishments the result of the effort is a lot more visible. And sometimes the biggest effort is to get started at all.

Next entry will be AJ-focused. Promise.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Things I can do and things that I can't

Yesterday evening I spent some time in my family's workshop with my brother N. My dad put together the workshop, but it would not be entirely accurate to call it "his" as it was always a family space, shared by him and my brothers (I didn't have an interest in it). N., who lives in an eastern province, is visiting for a couple of weeks and also making plans to ship the milling machine out to his shop. Shipping it involves building a crate around it. I helped N. start the base of the crate by sliding wedges of wood under the (100 lb? 200lb?) machine while he tipped it carefully. Despite feeling like we were making one of those workplace accident videos, things went well.

In between nerve-wracking lessons in the physics of large heavy objects, I found it surprisingly comfortable to be in the shop. It's not a place I spent a lot of time in, but I think it tells a story about my family if you look closely. Tools cover almost every space on the wall, and over the lathe, somebody carefully traced the outline of each tool and then painted its silhouette, so that each would always go back to its correct place. Who did this? Possibly my mom, who would have felt proud that she was supporting her husband and children. Or quite possibly my oldest brother A., who shares her sense of detail and precision and would have take pleasure in creating an efficient system (he now works in IT for a pipeline company). Scraps of wood were tucked away in corners. To me they look like rubbish that should have been thrown out, but when N. wanted pieces of wood to place under the base of the machine he was able to find exactly what he wanted amid the scraps. If I looked very closely I could see remnants of family projects (a puppet stage that we built when I was eight years old).

Standing in the shop I felt both my dad's presence and his absence. The absence obviously, because I felt he should be there taking an interest in what N. was doing. The fact he wasn't felt almost like a betrayal. Also apart from obvious ones like screwdriver, hammer, crowbar I have no idea what most of the items in the room are for. I even have some difficulty appreciating a milling machine (is it really so complex just to drill holes in stuff? Uhhhh....yep.) All the knowledge that my dad brought to that space to make it meaningful and useful is gone. Except it isn't. N. knows what the tools are for, and intuitively where to find them, although he hasn't lived in my parents' house for almost 20 years. It was interesting to hear him having a sort of dialogue with the place as he worked: "Did Dad have a socket set....I can't imagine him not having a socket set....he even gave me one.....ah yes there it is!"

I felt my dad's presence there because even though I never worked with the tools and machines, I know exactly why they are there. My parents were always transparent about their values and it is something I deeply appreciate. I might agree or not agree with aspects of how they raised their children, but I know why they did what they did.  The world outside our house might be random, ridiculous and even cruel, but within there was purpose and intention, always. The shop existed to encourage their children's interests and build skills. My parents believed (as do I) that children need to learn skills and develop interests in order to make good choices for themselves with regards to leisure, education, careers, relationships. Although they were very frugal about luxuries, they spared no effort or expense to make that happen to the best of their ability. I should add that even though I'm talking here about something that didn't really include me (by my own choice!), there were many other family pursuits that did.

All this has got a dialogue going in my mind about things I can do and things that I can't. As you know, I'm trying to figure out which category "have another baby" fits into. There is an answer to that question, but I don't know what it is yet. I hope that having another baby is a "thing I can do," but, well, I have to consider that it's a "can't," as well. Right now I'm pondering the "can't" possibility. This cycle I went for bloodwork on day 2. I don't have the results yet, but I'm as sure as I can be that I have had an anovulatory cycle. Since I was doing the bloodwork I decided to get "scientific" on my end too. I bought 20 OPKs and tested from day 5 to day 15, twice a day in the middle of cycle (or what I thought was the middle). I never got a positive. I also didn't have fertile signs like slippery/stretchy mucous, which I do usually have. And I started bleeding after only 15 days.

It sucks that my bloodwork was done on this cycle. I wish I had it drawn on what I consider a "good" cycle (more than 24 days, fertile signs).  I already know that the crappy cycles are crappy; what I really need to know is if the ones I consider good are actually good. But of course there's no way to know which kind I'm going to have on cycle day 2. Anyway, in light of recent events, I may have to re-name The Period as The EBB (estrogen breakthrough bleeding). The EBB is not a real period; rather the lining sheds because in the absence of progesterone produced by the corpus luteum, estrogen alone can't sustain it.

Funny, eh? When I started sharing this TTC business online, the drama on the message boards was about whether or not you'd get your period. AF here again? Soooooo disappointing! Well. Now I'm wondering if I'm even going to get my period. How nice it would be to be sure that I'm actually having a real period.

It all gets me thinking of how we can so easily take for granted what we can do. I know, and have known for some time, that absolutely everything I can do without a thought is something that another person in the world struggles to do every day. It's a sobering thought. But that's not all: everything, absolutely everything, from cuddling my daughter to driving to work to typing on this computer to kissing my husband to eating food to breathing: every single thing that I can do today, I will not be able to do one day. I will lose every last one.  Every last learned skill. Everything my body does to keep my alive. I may lose them slowly, or I may lose them all at once. But I will lose them. I do not have a choice.

Kind of a depressing thought? It is....but it's also liberating, in a way. If I'm going to lose it all in the end, maybe instead of clinging to those things that are on their way out, I make the most of those I get to have, for now. I know my dad had many regrets when he died, mainly for every(thing)(one) he still could have done and seen and held close if he had more time. But he did not have any regrets of what he passed on to us.

Anyway. This doesn't mean that we intend to stop trying for a child. I still have a few months to take the DHEA / COQ10 and see if it helps. There might be a good egg or two. If not, we are still in a position to use donor egg, as far as I know. But it's useful to put the whole process in a little bit of context.