3rd Time’s a Charm

Today we received a phone call from a renowned fertility doctor in Los Angeles. Yes, he called us just to talk about our history with trying to conceive. His close buddy is a distant friend of ours who arranged the phone call. We were pleasantly surprised. Basically he just wanted to hear our story and then recommended to us some “next steps.” He also knows about our Dr. Frankenstein in Slovenia and confirmed to us that he really is one of the best in the field of IVF. After we finished telling him our story he concurred with Dr. Frankenstein’s advice: do a hysteroscopy one month before the next IVF and go ahead and try it again. He echoed Frankie’s words to us that after transfer there is a “black box” of unknown happenings, meaning, the medical community can explain how embryos attach to the uterine wall but cannot explain why they stop the process of cell division outside of genetic testing. Dr. L.A. said that we should plan ahead to do genetic testing (if possible at our clinic) with the next round of IVF, just in case it fails. We’re hoping that the 3rd time will stick though.

We’re going to postpone the next IVF round until June-ish since we don’t have real peace about doing it sooner than that.

Lost in Fertilia

During the month of August we spent some time on the island of Sardinia to get away from daily life, with no interruptions. One item on our list of questions was whether or not to try IVF again or just call it quits on the whole thing. One day we were sitting on the beach and discussed the matter in great length and depth. Our conclusion was to keep trying, feeling real peace about it.

The following day after making our decision we ventured over to another beach town just a few more miles by bus from our usual place in Alghero. It just so happens to be called “Fertilia” and yes, we chuckled about the name as we rode the bus. It was given the name Fertilia by the Romans who were avid water lovers and found this place to be very healing.

It’s super hot in Fertilia, around 100 degrees F, and the beach is far from the bus stop… We’re walking on hot asphalt to get there and by the time I get there I am probably on the edge of heat exhaustion. Jumping into the delicious water didn’t even entice my tired body. The hubbs jumped right in while I slowly waded into the water, totally exhausted. We swam for a bit and then I found a rock to hide under so I could take a delirious nap.

The hubbs woke me up to let me know he was going for a run (he’s a machine). He left everything and took off with only wearing running shoes and shorts. His last words to me were, “the bus tickets are in my wallet, let’s meet at the bus station at 7:30.” I fall back asleep and wake up around 6:30. Everything is foggy and my mind is pretty relaxed after suffering from heat torture. I gather our belongings and walk slowly back to the center of the town. I passed by a gelato stand and stopped to order my all time favorite, chocolate. It was about 7:25 when I reached the bus station.

As I sat on the bench under the palm tree, enjoying the cold gelato, the sky filled with sunset colors; orange yellow, purple and pink. The hubbs is usually 10 minutes late to everything so it didn’t bother me at all that by 7:40 he hadn’t yet arrived. 7:45 comes and the bus which would take us back to our city arrived, but still no hubby in sight. The bus pulls away and I’m sitting there on the bench next to two very old Italian men who begin to look at me with wonder since I didn’t get on the bus.

8:00 no hubbs. Where is he? He said to meet at the bus stop at 7:30 and I was there! Immediately I start to shed some tears since I know that when he left, he carried nothing with him; no wallet, id, cell phone, or money.

8:10 no hubbs. The two older men begin to ask me if I need any help but all I can do is dancer sign language since I do not speak Italian.

8:15 no hubbs. My imagination runs wild: 1. he’s fallen off a cliff while running and is floating in the sea 2. he’s been hit by a car and is at some hospital somewhere 3. he was kidnapped and his being held captive in the back of a van somewhere 4. he got lost and is trying to hitchhike back to Fertilia. All this and more ran like storyboards through my mutilated mind.

8:20 no hubbs. I search our phone for outgoing calls to find the phone # of a local guy  we’d met a few days before. I find it, I call him… he picks up. “Pronto?” he says. Thankfully he speaks a little English and figures out that I am trying to ask him to come to Fertilia.

8:30 no hubbs, but Mario shows up in his car. 8:30 Mario takes off in his car to search for the hubbs leaving me by myself with the two dear older men who still try to talk to me.

8:45 Mario returns, no hubbs.

8:50 We go to the police station which is closed (?) but we ring the bell anyway. A voice comes out of the speaker and Mario explains to the metal box the situation. After he finishes all we hear is silence. Mario rings again. Again the voice says, “Pronto?”, and Mario asks the voice in the metal box to help us. The voice responds in Italian, “I can’t hear you.” and hangs up.

8:55 no hubbs. more tears. a very angry Mario at the stupidity of the police. The two old men ask us what happened at the police station and the three Italians begin chatting loudly about politics. I sit back down on the bench and had this thought pass through my mind, no joke: Well that does it. All is going well until today. We made it through our grief and are ready to try again, BUT, the day after we decide to continue trying for children I lose my husband in a stupid accident of some sort and am left here in FERTILIA of all places, an infertile widow. I know, it’s stupid. But really, I was freaking out and trying to keep my mind under control.

9:00 the cell phone rings. “Where are you???” the hubbs says. “Me??? Where are you?” I respond. Turns out, he jogged all the way back to Alghero from Fertilia and the bus station we were supposed to meet at was the one there, not the one in Fertilia. “I’m at the bus stop in Alghero,” he says. “Stay there! I’ll be there in 10 minutes!!!” I shout and hang up. I tell the men what’s going on and Mario tells me to get in the car. One of the old men comes up to me and gestures & tells me that when I see my husband to give him a big whack across the head with the cell phone he should have had with him. I laugh, say I will, shake his hand, and then jump in Mario’s car.

9:10 Reunited with my dirty, shirtless, wallet-less, cell phone-less hubby. Turns out he was desperately trying for 45 minutes to borrow a phone from someone to call me but people ignored him since he was the weird sweaty shirtless guy walking around a posh Mediterranean town on a Friday night with nothing but running shorts and sneakers. The image still makes me crack up.

9:11 We don’t argue over who was right and who said what/where. We’re just so happy to see each other, and that each of us was alive, that nothing else matters.

August 8, 2000

A few weeks ago while packing for my trip back to the States I ran across a journal that I had completely forgotten existed. It was a journal I began in my last year at college and only contains 5 entries. Apparently, I quit writing and over the years since then erased this journal from my memory. I took it out of the box where it had been hidden and shoved it in my backpack, then decided to read it during my flight. While I sat in my seat while everyone around me slept I clicked on the overhead light and began to discover something shocking about myself. The first words in the journal are: “This book is dedicated to my children and written especially for my children.” Thankful that the seat next to me was empty, I took a deep breath and kept on reading, having a private and intimate moment with God in a metal box, 37,000 miles above the earth. Here’s the first entry:

August 8, 2000 – Exactly one month ago I was given a ring, and with this ring, a promise was made, and life as I knew up to that point made total and complete sense. With that ring and a promise, I merged my life with your father, the most wonderful man in the world and also, my soul mate. So on July 8, 2000, your father and I looked into each others eyes and became, in a sense, the same person. As I sit here writing, thinking of your father, I dream of our future and reminisce about our brief past together. When your father and I are together, we are the same element, completely devoted to each other’s existence. I started writing this, in complete devotion to you, my children, who yet do not exist in the flesh, but exist in my dreams and thoughts. I often think of you and who you will have become by the time you are born. What will we name you? How much will you cry? and laugh? and sleep?

I am writing this because I want you to share with you everything. Everything about myself and your father, and our life together. This book will contain experiences that your father and I will go through long before you are born, my sweet. This book begins just a couple of weeks before our senior year in college. I am studying dance and your father, theater. We both live in Tampa and are 22 years old. But all of this, the year, the place where we live, the college degrees, and even our ages are of no importance outside of any function of time. Your father and I exist out of time, in a different realm as if we have always been – and we always will be. Forever. Everything you have in life is because of God. This is why we share so much with friends and family.

My children, place these words in your heart for it will be through pure love between myself and your father that you are given life.

*** Now keep in mind, this journal is coming from a troubled young woman, 22 years old, who is in the midst of struggling many battles. Written way before I began following The One who rescued me from those battles, through the writing I clearly see how close I was to God in my search for ultimate Truth. Why I dedicated the journal to my unborn children is well, freaky and weird to me now as I read this, a childless woman, 12.5 years later. I honestly do not remember writing this, however, reading it somehow soothes my infertility wounds and brings me great joy.

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

… but there never seems to be enough time to the things you want to do once you find them… (blogging included)

I’ve been writing a lot lately. Writing, erasing, and re-writing actually. I am in process of writing a short story about a solitary tree in a garden which longs for a companion and to share life with something. One day it notices two intruders sleeping under its branches; a man and a woman. They’ve come to find shelter from the scorching mid-day summer heat. Through observing them daily and discovering something deeper about them the tree realizes its own anguish and longing and through helping this couple in their emotional state the tree acquires a new a beautiful perspective of its purpose and position in the garden.

During our time away this summer we were working on a farm and enjoying the endless warmth and sunshine of the Mediterranean. We arrived completely exhausted and in great need of finishing the process of grief we so desired. We had no plan, just open bleeding hearts towards God. It was under a mastic tree where I had an encounter. This encounter was one of those “this is truly a sacred place” kind of experience.

Before setting off for our time away I had hit the bottom, emotionally. We spent three days in Rome before continuing our flight to the middle of nowhere. While in Rome, with tears in my eyes, I admitted to the hubbs that I just didn’t feel like a woman anymore. The constant thought that I was incomplete or faulty had crushed my spirit. There in front of (ironically) the Church of Holy Mary, Mother of God, I wept bitter tears of infertility while my husband wept tears of his own, hating to see his wife in so much pain. However, how we left Rome is not how we returned 16 days later. We returned having had one of the most prolific experiences in life to this date.

I joyfully shared details of the mastic tree experience with a friend of mine when I returned and she gave me the brilliant idea to write down the experience from the tree’s perspective. So, I’ve started something that I cannot seem to finish. The process of writing a personal story in the 3rd person is so difficult! The tree has actually become me; my emotional self and all that it has been through. As I write about the experiences the tree and the woman (me) have together it is clear that they are the same person, just in two different forms which gives the story this whole unexpected mythological flavor.

I’m looking forward to sharing the story as it nears a final draft. Until then, I’m baaaack to blogging!

Able to Laugh Again – Return of Mirth

I love that word: mirth… sounds too serious as a synonym for cheerfulness. You must laugh when you hear it (and I admit that I cannot read or pronounce this word without adding a bit of an English/Monty Python accent to it, simply for giggles). Good news today: my appetite has returned and I actually cooked a meal… well 1/2 a meal really. Bought a rotisserrie chicken at the market and then came home and stir-fried fresh veggies to go with it for lunch. I know, I know… I cheated but hey, cutting those veggies took a lot of energy I don’t seem to have lately.

Today was also the Fourth of July and I attended the invitation only picnic at the embassy since my hubby was playing in the bluegrass concert they hosted. So ironic really… American girl can’t attend an event at her own embassy unless her non-American husband gets a gig playing American folk music at the embassy and can get her in via marriage. Hmmmm… It wasn’t enough to flash my American passport at the entrance; I also had to add, “Hey, I’m with the band.” (Well, secretly it’s something I’ve always wanted to say anyway at some point in my life. Just sounds so cool, “I’m with the band.” check)

I’m definitely somewhat a stranger to American culture now. But I’m also a stranger to the culture I live in. It’s very clear to me now how culture itself is an island. Being at an embassy is quite the hyper-reality experience. White upper class culture intensified = weird place for middle class me. There were plenty of children running around; playing slip’n’slide & sack races, being mesmerized by the magician dude, dancing to their own rhythm while the band played. An island of ‘American bliss’ in the middle this very non-American city. I felt out of place but honestly it didn’t bother me that much. Seeing the parents with their kids was sweet but it did bring up some tears too. I’m just the girl who married the fiddle player – and dang it, we ain’t got no kids but, man can he spew out some fire from dem dar strangs!

Energy level is still low and sadness still hangs out with me; my quiet companion. I definitely need more filling up because I’ve been running close to empty the past few days. Two local friends of mine took some time today to pour into me, in their own cultural way. Neither of them said anything stupid either, thank God. I really appreciated that and realized once again how important community is, no matter what form or shape it looks like. As Merton said wisely, “No man is an island.”

We have a phone appt with Dr. Frankenstein tomorrow to talk about our BFN. Hopefully it doesn’t get cancelled or postponed. Hopefully he will have something genius to suggest. Hopefully he’ll be hopeful for us. Hopefully.

***

Now that the anger is gone as well as no traces of cynicism, I feel free to post these highly humorous posters which, if I could, would print off, frame and hang up somewhere near my desk to remind me of this day: July 4, 2012 – the day I could laugh again.

This reminds me of my last post (thanks Heather for sending me this):

How the days following a negative pregnancy test feel like:

Picking up the Pieces

Friday night was surreal. A blob of a memory perhaps. The hubbs came home and echoed my anger at the bad news. In an act of spite he opened a bottle of the most expensive wine we have, and after drinking a glass of it, whisked me away to the most expensive restaurant in town. We ordered fondue (fyi, I have never seen fondue offered anywhere in this city before). We also ordered a bottle of expensive wine. What the hell, this was supposed to be our celebration dinner – celebrating the good news of a positive pregnancy test. We sat there, breathed, talked and cried for hours. Adding to the surrealness of it, we were the only guests at the restaurant the entire time we were there. God was there too – I’m pretty sure he wanted it to be only us. God was even the DJ (no, not making a Faithless reference) because just about every song that means something to us was on the restaurant playlist; including our #1: Sting’s Fields of Gold, performed by Eva Cassidy.

I cried while text messages from friends poured into my cell phone – lovingly interrupting our ‘celebration feast.’ We wanted to be happy but the anger and frustration of the unknown robbed us of our joy. I ate sparingly. The hubbs finished what I couldn’t. If I began to think about all of the hope that had been crushed that day my body literally would shiver. The clearest moment for me Friday night was when I asked God to protect me from myself; for I knew that while the anger was good and necessary, the cynical and bitter thoughts I kept having would danger any hope I had of processing through this grief. Thankfully, God’s chest is big enough for my fists and out of desperation I pounded away. It felt good; I could feel His love exude towards me with every punch. However, it also scared me because I envisioned slapping anyone who would dare to tell me something stupid like, “well it’s just not God’s timing.” Worse yet, I had images of laughing at the next person who would ask me if they could pray for me. Laughing and saying, “yeah right, like that’ll do anything!” Hmmm, anger = good. Cynical bitterness = bad. It was a Jekyl and Hyde feeling that I held onto for the rest of this night, hoping that Hyde would go away somehow. We walked home 3 hours later, around midnight, then came home and fell asleep in an, ‘us against the world’ kind of embrace.

15 seconds is all it took after I woke up the following day for the tears to begin falling. The hubbs still asleep and not wanting to disturb him I rose up quietly to sob aloud in the living room. In the midst of the tears I felt alive. Mr. Hyde was gone and once again I felt free to cry and wail without the fear of becoming bitter. I had come up to the surface of the sea of grief and could finally take a breath.

Hubby woke up and came out to talk with me but somehow we ended up in an argument. Obviously, we were taking out our anger on each other. I noticed it first and decided it would be better to just go into the kitchen and get some coffee. As I poured it into the glass I couldn’t help but feel this surge of rage boil up from my stomach and shoot down my arm. The next thing I know is the entire cup is at the bottom of the sink in a million pieces and there is coffee everywhere: on the walls, on my nightgown, on the floor. Hearing the noise the hubbs came racing into the kitchen, just in time to gasp for air, shout out “oh my God,” and then catch me from falling as I stood there limp crying out, “We can’t have kids my love. We can’t have kids! WHY???” Over and over I repeated myself. “Oh my God my love, I’m so sorry,” he said apologetically from the brief argument we had moments prior.

And that is basically where I am still at today. Really sad and letting the tears fall when they come. The anger has almost subsided. I’m very calm, but very sad. It’s just such a familiar place for me – this sadness. Somehow, I am very acquainted with grief. I wonder why my life has spent so much time swimming in this sea? Seems strange and yet all part of the plan at the same time.

Negative. Still Infertile.

I’m bleeding. This was a total failure. Once again the disappointment leaves me sad, angry and asking so many questions. This time more angry than sad. The hubbs is numb. We’re both too tired to cry – crying just seems like so much effort. If the walls weren’t made with concrete I just might punch a hole through one.

Thanks for all your comments and prayers. I know God isn’t deaf, He hears our prayers. But I am mad. There’s nothing to say except that once again, we’re left with no answers… just more questions.

Last night I dreamt that I started bleeding. I also dreamt that everyone I knew came rushing into the bathroom to ask me if I was pregnant or not, trying to peek at my panties. I began screaming at everyone to get out – shouting at the top of my lungs so loud that I woke myself up. I was so angry in my dream. It’s interesting that anger is how I am sincerely reacting to this today.

Why is this so hard? WHY???!!! Shit, I just want to escape my body and fly away somewhere. I’ll return when all the bleeding stops.

Some Spotting

On Wednesday night I noticed some light brown spotting. It stopped but then returned yesterday; but only briefly. Today there seems to be more and I definitely feel like I am ‘getting my period.’ The only thing is; it would be a week early and my menstrual cycles never start this slow. I want to believe that it is what is called implantation bleeding, but that would just get my hopes up. The hubbs is also worried. So, we’ll see… To be continued…

I Want to Cry

The first few days back home were wonderful and everything was feeling like it should but, a few days ago I woke up feeling totally normal – meaning that I didn’t feel bloated nor were my boobs sore. Seemingly overnight all the hormonal symptoms were gone. As the days have progressed I keep continuing to feel normal. Three nights ago I was attacked by something I ate and claimed the porcelain throne as my seat of power – canceling plans we had with some friends, and now today, I wake up with a huge cold sore on my lip. I’m pretty sure that diarrhea and cold sores are not pregnancy symptoms. The point is, I am starting to have doubts. But I really don’t want to give up hope, but today has really been a blah kinda day in so many ways.

I came home this evening and opened up the email. Dr. Frankenstein’s office wrote me some bad/sad news… our 6 remaining embryos did not continue growing and never made it to the 6th day of development, which means, nothing was frozen. So either the two embies in me are going to stick and this is gonna really happen, or, it’s back to square one 9-12 months from now.

I want to cry.