Katrina and Her Waves

Five years ago this weekend found Mr. X and I stuck in a little CR-V with two cats, a litter box and our most precious worldly possessions stuck in traffic in Houston on a very hot day.

Six hours earlier we had left our home in New Orleans, bound for Mr. X’s parents’ house west of Houston, not knowing what the future would bring.   As we were leaving town, we listened to C-Ray being interviewed on WWL -I distinctly remember his talking about how Katrina was like a storm on steroids due to the warm waters in the Gulf.  I probably snorted at the obviousness of this statement and the total lack of awareness by C-Ray at the obviousness of the statement.  By the time contraflow had kicked in and most people were getting themselves out of harm’s way, we were ensconced in a Mexican restaurant in BFE nowheres-ville Texas downing margaritas.  They were not celebratory.

The rest of our Katrina story is actually pretty boring – although, Mr. X did get to play commando loading handguns going back in nine days after the storm via the Causeway with my boss to check on our house and my firm’s office.  Our house was undamaged, if only by the grace of the levee on the other side of the canal being a little weaker.  We had no looting or other problems. We even managed to save our fridge, which was a very big deal since after the storm, new fridges were taking four months to come in.  Four MONTHS.

Still, Katrina changed our lives dramatically.  We moved out of New Orleans for good two months after the storm.  We had been thinking about moving before Katrina, but the storm turned our vague discussions into action plans.  I was tired of living in fear six months out of the year and the city, even our relatively undamaged portion, was going to take a very long time to recover.

You would think that ours was a Katrina success story, and in many ways it was.  Mr. X quickly found a new job in a new city and we determined that I could continue working at my jobin our new city.  We were able to sell our house not three months after the storm, which was virtually unheard of at the time.  We were able to get a moving company to come in from Dallas and move us.  We were able to extricate ourselves with the least amount of effort imaginable.  Yet, Katrina marked the beginning of a tough five years for us.  It was as if the storm was the opening salvo in a barrage of bad luck and adversity that we have only just now been able to emerge from.  I speak, of course, of our infertility journey and subsequent multiple miscarriages.   We had started our conception journey three months before the storm and of course, nothing had happened.  By January 2006, I knew that something was right and, in our new city, began the first of many infertility workups that would lead to our diagnoses (blocked tubes for me, low count for him) and treatment (IUIs, IVFs, FETs, you name it, we did it!).   All of this effort and heartbreak culminated in Rex, who arrived four years, ten months and about 11 days after we first decided that it was time to become parents.

Like New Orleans, we have come a long way since Katrina.  We are different, stronger and more resilient in some ways, more cautious and untrusting in others.  We had no way of knowing that bright, gorgeous Saturday morning in August when we left the city that had been our home for ten years that we never be able to fully return just like we didn’t know then how much it would take for us to realize our dream of being parents.   But, five years later, we are parents to the most beautiful gift ever conceived and our city has and continues to reinvent itself.  Perhaps, someday Rex will return to New Orleans and continue to help with the rebuilding of the city that his parents so love.

image: omnibus

What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

The other day, I spent about an hour counseling a friend who has just passed the bar and is looking to break into the legal job market.  Of the hour I spent talking to her, only 15 minutes was spent discussing her resume with some ‘move this here’ and ‘change that around’.  The rest was spent trying to get her to stop apologizing for her lack of everything – legal experience, good class rank, etc.  She would never get a job that way.

I thought about this as I was reading the over much-hyped article about infertility in Self magazineResolve has taken up the article as a rallying cry against infertility being ignored. I think this is missing the point.  Being ignored is not the issue here.  Not being able to sell our disease to the public as a crisis and a travesty that needs public support and funding is the issue.

After all, infertility is nothing but fault based, a sort of you-break-it-you-buy-it scenario.   It is our fault that we can’t get pregnant: we waited too long to have children, we were promiscuous in our youths, we drink too much caffeine or alcohol, we were foolish enough not to request a semen analysis before the wedding and married men who shoot blanks, we can’t control our lady parts that have the nerve to grow outside of the uterus, we don’t have a uterus but can’t seem to grow one either, we just happen to be gay and have two of the same parts, our hormones are wonky because, hello, we’re just crazy bitches that way! As if this weren’t enough, infertility isn’t even fatal.

No wonder your average non-infertile person is going to look at infertile people and shake their head in disbelief that we want sympathy and money for treatment.  Or, they offer up one of those famous lines that we should just adopt because there are so many kids out there that need good homes or that we’re being selfish for spending so much money (ours and other people’s) to do something that is supposed to be natural and free.

The thing is for infertility to be taken seriously as a disease that needs to be treated like other diseases with the funding and treatment, we need to change public opinion about infertility.  I think one of the most crucial steps is that we need to stop apologizing for wanting the same experiences as our more fertile brethren.

I will say this again since it bears repeated. We need to stop apologizing.

People who don’t have difficulty conceiving don’t apologize for not having difficulty conceiving (although, frankly, some of them should).  And, on the other end of the spectrum, people with cancer don’t apologize for getting chemo.  So, why do we feel the need to apologize for wanting to have our own kids?  We need to stand up and say, “we have just as much a right to conceive our own children as those who do not have difficulty conceiving .”  We have to answer those who tell us to adopt.  We have to respond when we are accused of being selfish.

Being infertile means never having to say you’re sorry.

Getting Back on the Train

Big Red arrived right on time yesterday so I will go in for a baseline ultrasound tomorrow. I’m having the same ambivalent feelings that I always do at the beginning of a new cycle. I want to be invested in it so that it will work, but I don’t want to be so invested that I get all caught up and totally bummed if it doesn’t. I want to be positive so that I can have a good response to the stims, but not get overly so that I am again bummed in the even it doesn’t work. I know that the best thing is to just take it one day at a time. But as with most things, that is easier said than done. Onward and upward.

Waiting and Waiting No More

So, I’m actually waiting to get my period (rather than waiting not to get my period). Since I was benched this month due to a cyst and Dr. Uterus pretty much dashed any hope that I would get pregnant this month, I’m just chilling, drinking my beer and waiting for Big Red to make an appearance. So far, just a couple of false alarms, but that also means that day 3 when I can go in for a baseline ultrasound will actually come around when Dr. Uterus’ office is open.

I have decided to stop waiting, however, to begin stitching a Christmas stocking for a future baby. I had bought a kit to make one last year and was going to start it later on in my pregnancy earlier this year. After I lost the baby in April, I couldn’t stand the thought of starting it. But, now, I realize that I am tired of putting things on hold for when I might get pregnant or when we might have a baby. And, I know, to paraphrase those sage ladies of A Few Good Eggs, that if you want it, you will have a family, although it may not be in the manner in which you had originally intended. I firmly believe this and still take great comfort in it.

Remembering this, I know that I can start the project and not feel as if I’m putting the cart before the horse. I had never bought ‘baby’ things because it seemed like I would just be asking for more difficulty. But, I’m tired of being superstitious about this and want to just do what I want to do. And, right now I want to get started on this thing because it’s going to take me forever anyway. I see now that the most important thing is giving myself permission to just start it. I just have to find where I put the damn kit.

The Curse of the Cyst

We have been benched again (!) by an ovarian cyst as a result of the stims. This news has formed the third leg in the Trifecta of Bad News these past few weeks. The other two legs of the Trifecta are 1) we had a negative beta last week and 2) this would have been my due week for the baby that I miscarried in April. So, not only do I have no baby, I have no pregnancy and very little chance of getting pregnant this month! Hence, the Trifecta.

I thought at first I was just really sad, but then I realized that I’m also angry that we again had an overresponse that resulted in a cyst. This is the second time in three months that we have been benched and it’s getting a tad tiresome. This assumes that the months that we are doing stims and IUI that our chances are much higher than months where we are on our own. It also assumes that there is no chance that I could get pregnant on one of these benched months. I haven’t found much literature on the effect of cysts in getting pregnant (although I haven’t exactly looked very far).

If this trend continues (and of course, we don’t get pregnant), we will essentially be having only half the chances in a year that we would otherwise. I may be only 31, but time is still not on our side, not to mention that we have been at this for almost two and a half years and have one pregnancy and one miscarriage to show for it. (But, the personal growth and development from all the pain: priceless.)

I’m actually tempted to just go back to Clomid, which Dr. Uterus labeled a ‘nasty little drug’. Nasty it may be, but it also may not have the same overstimulation problem as the Menopur I’ve been using, not to mention that it is infinitely cheaper. Oh, and no poking. Would we still do an IUI with just Clomid? Part of the reason we chose to use the injectibles was that it increased our chances of getting pregnant faster, which has always been my main goal. I wish Dr. Uterus used email so I could just email him my question rather than having to go schedule an appointment, sit with all of the pregnant ladies, and then look at his ads for success (“He made it so easy!”). Wow is that demoralizing.

Sweetie also had the bad luck to be sent out of town this week so I don’t even get a snuggle for my trouble. He also expressed his growing frustration with the benching and declared that he’s impatient with the process, not me. That didn’t really make me feel better, it just made me feel even more powerless. I can’t exactly speed things up. As usual I decided to let the cyst resolve on its own rather than go on BCPs or doing some hormone intervention. That’s worked in the past so I see no reason to start messing with things even more.

My furry children are aloof as usual and have been squirreling themselves into piles of fur on warm surfaces such as my polar fleece and blankets. I suspect they are beginning their winter hibernation. I may just follow their lead. They are smart beasties, after all.