Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Meditations on Happiness

I was on a long hike with one of my best friends today and told her about the Maureen Dowd piece about happiness, "Blue is the New Black." This friend is beautiful, successful, and single. She adopted her son two years ago and he is literally cotton candy. Her life is incredibly full and she wants for nothing, not even a man. She asks herself on a daily basis, am I happy? Now mind you, there have been many times in her life where the answer has been, 'no', but lately she said, when she really asks herself that question and thinks of her state of mind, the answer is usually, 'yes.' What could she possibly be unhappy about? There is a lot if you want to go there.....the state of the world, unemployment, wars, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis, but really if you want to look at happiness as a state of mind then it's conceivable, all things considered, to think that we can choose it.

When I was in Africa last summer with Jason, we spent a lot of time in the most remote part of Swaziland visiting homesteads where people were being treated for HIV/AIDS. We met some very happy people despite the most unhappy circumstances you can imagine. I was stunned by the eagerness to be happy. And then I went to an Island off the coast of Mozambique, where they made their own beer, fished for their dinner and lived in Gilligan's Island style huts. I drank their warm beer, hung out with the locals danced to amazing African beats under the moonlight, and found myself the HAPPIEST I have ever been. No worries, no hormonal imbalances, just pure bliss, smiling from ear to ear, feeling in my body and full of life's pleasures.

Cindy and Sandy came over the other day and peered through my fence. I was outside filling the new birdbath with water. Cindy asked me, "Andrea are you 24?" I said, "24 what?" She said, "24 years old?" I laughed, "Nope. 41." She gasped. "Wow you look young." (trust me I don't look 24). One of the twins went on to say, "it's because you don't have kids, and all that stress." (they are 10 years old) and then Sandy said, "I don't know if I'm going to have kids. I want a career." It's like they are reading my blog and saying just the right things so that I will keep writing about them. But there are just some things you can't make up, and Cindy and Sandy (with their dog called Baby) are two of those things. I felt happy in that moment. Not African happy, but happy enough.

I don't know if you can choose happiness, I'd like to think you can. I do believe happiness is a state of mind, built around our perceptions of what we believe we need to make us happy. So that's the idea, change our beliefs of what we think make us happy and get on with our happiness.

It's been a week since I did IUI. I will know something soon.

Note to Self: Act the way you want to feel.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Disclaimer: I am writing with the use of all my fingers so no more typo excuses. I am, however, experiencing such hard core abdominal pain that I am writing from bed. So this is what it feels like to have four follicles ovulating at once.

The day after I posted the "Are you happy?" blog, I sat down with my big mug of coffee and the New York Times and just about fell out of my chair when I read Maureen Dowd's column about declining happiness in American women.

As you may recall from previous posts, I have always felt a special kinship with Ms Dowd, not because I know her, but because I've read her for YEARS (huge fan) and then ran into her at an airport back in April, slipped her a note to come to my book party and she did. It reinforced my belief in miracles and God. It was a magic moment. Maureen and I are, in my fantastical and delusional mind's eye, red-haired, sassy, soul sisters, who are now writing about the same thing on the same weekend. Creating more evidence that we are indeed more alike than different. If only I had her audience and her job.

So here she is debunking happiness in women with full proof, hard core evidence. The theory being that since the 70's women have too many choices and therefore too many responsibilities than they used to have. Responsibilities include but aren't limited to: dinner on the table at 7:00, gardens, social calendars, kids to school, homework with kids, higher education degrees, full-time, six figure salary job, sex with their husbands, and last but not least, remaining fit and looking young well into their 60's.

There was also a theory in this article that children, although no one will admit this out loud or in print, create more stress and unhappiness than any of the other aforementioned responsibilities. I'm not going to lie. This made me pause and ask myself, "Why am I creating so much stress and unhappiness in the life I have now, trying to have a child that's ultimately, according to Maureen Dowd, only going to increase my unhappiness and stress if and when it gets here?" Is that the definition of insanity? And is it one of those things that seems like such a good idea at the time, but when you get "there" from "here" it's just another "here" with diapers.

Note to Self: There's no "there" there so be happy here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

L’Shana Tova

Jason gave me the HCG shot in the butt (OUCH) and tomorrow I ovulate. Fun. We are going in for another IUI and another shot at a baby. Anything is possible and while I have the statistics floating around in my head of 10 percent chance that I will get preggers, I am going to sleep tonight with the hope and faith that one of these follicles is holding a good healthy egg ready for some serious fertilization.

I look forward to the day when this is a distant memory and nothing matters but the miracle of holding a baby. Our baby.
Until then, this baby is the best thing since sliced bagels. Happy New Year. L’Shana Tova

Note to Self: When you want to feel awesome, roll around in the grass with your dog.

photo credit: leelee groome :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Are you happy?

Today as I sat on the front porch, brushing my dogs Shweetie and Wiley (pictured looking very happy), Cindy and Sandy came strolling by with their chihuahua Baby in their arms. By the way, Baby is vicious and I don't trust her as far as I can throw her...I think it's because they never put the poor dog down long enough for it to socialize, so it growls and snarls instead of licks and wags.

The cutie pie twins who live next door and who are quickly becoming regular guest stars in my blog, stopped to ask questions pretty much everyday. Mostly about when I'm having children. and I tell them that we are working on it, HOWEVER, I think they are more astute than I give them credit. They've gotten the hint and now they are resorting to dancing around the issue rather than the blunt tactic used before. Cindy said, "Andrea (in a thick Guatemalan accent) did you know they opened a pet store around the corner? You can take your dogs there instead of grooming them yourself." "I know" I said, "but I like to brush my dogs, it makes me feel good and they secretly love it. I will take them there next week for a bath." Next Question. "Andrea, are you happy?" I took a moment, "Hmmm....yeah, in what sense do you mean, happy?" Cindy said, "Do you have a happy life?" I responded, "Yes, I do. I have a happy life." And then I asked her if she has a happy life. Without hesitation, Cindy said "Yes, I have VERY Happy life." I asked her what makes her life a happy one. She said, "My twin. My cousin. My family. My friends. In that order." God, I love these girls.

Are you happy?

Note to Self: Happiness is relative, but it's always personal.

By the way, I went to the Doctor today for the progression of my follicles. Happy news is that I have five growing and both sides are ovulating. Keep your happy fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I know nothing.

disclaimer: still typing without the use of my index finger....typos may occur.

Angela, thank you for your amazing comment on the previous blog!! Loved getting your perspective and I wish you the best in your fairly new journey with your husband.

I started stimulation shots yesterday for another round of IUI. Follistim anyone? I feel like I'm getting let out of my Femara prison camp which has been sheer hell. Femara made me feel like Sybil, actually the shell of Sybil, is more like it.

On Tuesday morning, just hours since the near miss catastrophe with my finger, and day three on Femara (in case you don't know, Femara strips you of your estrogen; they give it to breast cancer patients) I was driving to the doctor's office for an ultrasound to see if the rogue follicle was a 'leftover' not an 'egg.' Barely listening to Robert Siegel on NPR, it was all I could do to hold back tears. Not normal.

Once I was in the doctor's office, forget it. I sat in the waiting room, tears at the brims of my eyeballs, no magazines this time, no tuning into Good Morning America, instead I watched every woman walk in and out of the joint. I wondered about each one of them and where they were in the Pursuit of Parenthood. I inappropriately stared too long at their Jimmy Choos. I had purse envy, hair envy and bangle envy. I was certain that not one of them was spending their savings, going into debt or was being accosted by their Guatemalan twin neighbors about if and when a baby would come. I felt like the back of the line in a very well dressed, incredibly rich, beautifully coiffed herd of cattle.

The prettiest woman in the waiting room had her husband sitting by her. She wasn't overdone, you should see some of these women, but the rock on her finger was enough to tell me that this journey wasn't a financial hardship for her. Her hair was slicked back and her natural light pink toe polish was a perfect combination for her tanned feet and leather open toed slingbacks. She must have a pool or maybe she just returned from her summer on the Mediterranean. Her husband held her hand, with his body toward her and placed his head on her shoulder, as if to say I'm sorry, I'm worried, or I like the way you smell. She barely noticed him, as she stared straight ahead in a daze. I was certain that something horrible had happened.

I got called into the ultrasound room, quickly undressed, could barely speak to Helen the technician, for fear I would burst into tears. I have no problem crying in public, but I am getting quite the reputation in this office. Two months ago, I actually drove myself into Beverly Hills to begin an IUI round the day after Newman died. Well, that was stupid. The nurses gave me my own room, so that I wouldn't have to wait in hysterics in the public waiting room and embarrass myself and scare the other ladies on the verge. Needless to say, I didn't go through with the IUI that month. I decided to give myself a break and grieve the passing of my dog. I wasn't really feeling like having a melt down AGAIN in front of Helen. I held back the tears just long enough to get up to the counter and pay for my visit. I watched the beautiful woman with the pretty toes and her clingy husband burst to the counter with happiness, announcing to all the ladies in their green outfits behind the front desk that they were having a girl. And then the tears came gushing out. I didn't make a sound, but I was screaming inside, "WHY AM I ME? AND NOT HER?" The woman checking me out didn't say a word, other than, "sign here." They really do need to learn some manners at the front desk.

I lost it in the elevator, in the car ride home and when I walked through the front door I collapsed onto the chair and told Jason that my soul is splitting apart. (That was fun for him). He called my doctor in a bit of a panic. It didn't take long for the doc to deduce that it was the femara fallout that I was experiencing. Studies show that 10% of the population respond to the drug like I did. I would have done anything not to feel what I was feeling. Anything. I downed 2 mg of estrogen and within hours, I started to feel "normal" again.

And that's when I realized that I know nothing.

I have no idea how to feel. I don't know how to act when I do feel the way I feel. I don't know how to walk into that waiting room and not feel a pit in my stomach. I am not sure if this is the right path for me and my body. I don't know if wine with dinner is a no-no (although I did ask my doctor today and he said there would be no Italian or French folks if wine kept a person from getting pregnant). I don't know if coffee in the morning is a no-no (doctor said one cup is fine). I don't know if acupuncture is a must (why doesn't insurance cover it)? I don't know if all these drugs are going to give me cancer (they probably won't, but I do worry about it). I don't know how anyone is alive because getting pregnant seems like climbing Mount Everest without a coat. I don't know if any of this is ever going to result in pregnancy. I don't know how I can have an FSH of 7 and not get pregnant. I don't know how I make good embryos and not have a baby.

I know nothing. Except that I can't give up, not yet. And I now know, that Best Price Pharmacy is a discount drug company that delivers to your door and charge you half of what Rite Aid does. 1-877-509-2378.

Note to Self: Tenacity is the root of pregnancy (for women over 40).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

chop chop

Disclaimer: I am typing this blog without the use of my index finger....please forgive any excessive typos.

I cut a portion of my finger off last night with a big, newly sharpened knife, while I was chopping arugula, watching the news and crying about Patrick Swayze's passing. I cried about his death not just because he was too young or that he was so handsome or that yet another one of my generation's icons is gone, but because I learned that his wife of 30 plus years never had children. They didn't have children and they built a beautiful life together in spite of, or maybe because of, that fact. I don't know the details, but it struck me as a rarity in this day and age to be married so long, HAPPY and not have kids. I found peace in learning that. It's something Ive been struggling with. The fact that I've been with Jason (he's the pensive, cute guy in the photo sitting in the chair in a really rundown 1970's ER room, waiting patiently for the doctor to release me) for 15 years and somehow we don't have kids. We were very happy without them, not ready to have them and then one day when I hit 40 I realized that not only did I want kids with Jason, but I was now READY to be a parent. Almost two years later and still no kid, I am beginning to wonder, can you be with your spouse your whole life, childless and happy?

I pulled up a note I wrote to myself many months ago, a feeling that has happened more times than I can count since I realized that I want to be a mother, and I thought I would share it because it's easier than typing with no index finger and well, I just feel like it. It's from a very vulnerable place...a place that I find myself in a lot these days. Deep breath.

I am stunned. As I sit in the kitchen and weep from a deep place, so deep that a spelunker would have a hard time finding the bottom. Fears. Doubts. Regrets. All of it, pouring out of my nostrils and tear ducts. Words flowing from my mouth, “I Know we will have a good life together, we’ve had one already. 15 years together, traveling, careers, weekends, Newman, our friends, insane dinner parties, a beautiful house; our life is good and it will continue to be great. But I want to be a mother. And I want you to be a father. I want to parent a child together. I want to be that person. What have I done? Why have we waited? What were we thinking?” I thought I would never stop crying. The only thing that would get me to stop is the halting fear that I may never be a mother, then I would literally lose my breath. And without breath, crying is impossible. That’s it. I’ll just die right here. What’s the point of going on? I feel like such a fool. An impostor of epic proportions. What was I doing all this time? I was living in FEAR is my first thought. And then Jason reminds me that we were living our life not our fear. And I stop crying, if only for a moment.

I thank God for Patrick Swayze; for his black tank top, his sparkly eyes and smile and for living a beautiful life with the love of his life, on his own terms and for showing me that is enough. And I thank God for Jason, who wrapped my bleeding finger, sat with me in the ER and always says the right thing just when I need to hear it the most.

Note to Self: Live your life not your fear and always keep your eye on the knife.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not this time.

Getting my period has never carried so much psychological weight.  I am not pregnant. 
I am so bummed and sad.  And along with the tears come cramps, a sore back
and a bloody reminder that no baby. Not this time. 

Jason remains so positive and says we have to get back on the horse. 
I fall into a helpless abyss and take a nap (something I never do and quite frankly judge myself for doing it).
Not this time.   

And it seems the day that it feels so far away is the day where everywhere I turn there is a reminder that everyone  on the planet has a child, or is going to have a child or is telling me to have a child. 
Amazon sent me an email today asking if I want to order a years worth of Pregnancy Magazine. 
My best friend asked me to join her for lunch with her two kids. 
And my neighbors, you know the ones, Cindy and Sandy, come over as if they have a "radar for the absurd" attached to their head and say to me, "now that you have a beautiful yard, you need to have babies."  

We just landscaped our yard. We saved money for two years.  Hired a very talented Englishman to design it.  Hired the guys to demolish the previous yard. Hired other guys to plant and put in new sprinklers.  Hired other guys to build and paint a fence.  Four weeks later -- we have a yard.   It's beautiful. Drought tolerant while still having grass.  Cindy and Sandy and their friend, Diego (seen in photo) are very excited about all the green and I assume we will be seeing even more of them because we have a yard that's soft and colorful, while theirs is hard and concrete.  I'm happy to share. 

It's amazing that during the course of one day, the world can feel like it's full of deep despair and by the end of that day, it becomes a little more hopeful, with green grass growing, 
water fountains trickling and a bird washing itself in a bath. 

At the end of this really crappy day, in this new yard, despite my well-meaning,  inquisitive ten year old twin neighbors,  I am finding some peace and happiness.

Note to Self:  If you need to take a nap, take it.    

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Pursuit of Parenthood: Cindy and Sandy

We live next door to identical twins girls from Guatemala named Cindy and Sandy. They have very thick accents, always dress in the same clothes and walk up and down our sidewalk holding their chihuahua named Baby. They come to our house everyday to visit our dogs whom they love. They both wore black the day Newman died.

Cindy and Sandy have that gift of most ten year old girls. They say what's on their minds. No filter. No edits. No matter how inappropriate it might be.

The day before Newman died, they both came over for a visit while I sat with Newman on the front porch. I told them that he was going to heaven and I wanted them to say good bye. They asked me how I knew he was going to heaven, and I said, "because he is very sick and we have called our vet to come over and help us." They asked me if we were going to shoot him. I said, "uh no."

About once a month they both ask me in unison "when are you going to have babies?" They don't understand how we can live in such a big house, be married, and NOT have children. This simply does not compute. I recently learned that they live in a two bedroom one bathroom apartment with their parents, grandparents and they share a bedroom with their young cousin. He seems way too old to be sharing a bedroom with ten year old girls, but whatever.

Every time they ask me, I tell them that we are working on it. Recently, the conversation got a little bit more in depth. They asked me if we knew HOW to make babies? I told them that indeed we did we know how, but it is taking the time it needs to take. (subtext, you know nothing. you are ten. please stop asking me this question.) Cindy and Sandy said we know how babies are made. You get naked and lie down next to each other. If only it were that easy. It reminded me of when my Mother who was visiting from Texas and saw fertility books on my nightstand said to me, "you know Andrea, it takes more than reading to get pregnant."

I have learned that everyone has something to say on this subject. Advice to give. Thoughts to share. Questions to ask. I try to be patient and understanding, but sometimes I want to scream and throw myself on the floor and cry. Not today. Today I will stay upright and keep on walking.

Note to Self: Shoes or no shoes, you can never know the walk someone's taken.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pursuit of Parenthood

Thank you to all my readers who commented on Newman’s passing and shared their own stories of grief over losing a pet. They give us such joy and they inevitably move on, it’s never easy, but what a gift.

Today I was on the phone with my friend on my way to see my fertility doctor. I looked over at the passenger seat and a brown paper bag harboring a sperm sample was safely placed inside my purse, and the words, “I’m driving Jason’s sperm to the Doctor's office” came out of my mouth and it struck me that I should start writing about this journey I am on. Today is the beginning of a series of blogs that I am calling the “Pursuit of Parenthood.”

It has been an 18-month process so far and I have often thought of writing about it and sharing with all you lovely people what I’ve been going through. I think I was in denial that it was going to take this long, and somewhat embarrassed about this predicament. I also thought it might not be the most uplifting subject matter, but that’s where things have changed. I have found some inspiration on this journey, even if it’s just a little bit, and I am hoping that by sharing what’s going on for me, other women and men might feel compelled to talk about it when they are feeling alone, lost and confused.

I have done acupuncture, with three different acupuncturists. I switched so many times because the first two were Chinese and I literally couldn’t understand them. I’ve taken Clomid (the devil’s drug), put my feet into the stirrups for countless ultrasounds, 8 IUI’s, given so much blood that we had to switch veins, needles in my stomach and ass and one failed attempt at IVF whereby my Dr. told me “I made perfect embryos and he was shocked that they didn’t take.” Not as shocked as I was.

In this blog, which I plan on making an entry every other day, I am going to write about the shame, the devastation, the acceptance, the hope, and maybe I might even write one day that I am pregnant, or that we are on our way to Africa to get our baby, either one would be a miracle.

I am going to start with an email I sent out the morning of my first IUI in April, 2008, just to give a little flavor of how things have changed in the last year and a half.


April 16, 2008

Hey friends and family,

I woke up this morning at 3:30 am and couldn't fall back to sleep. It seems that the blue light on the computer that likes to turn on and off in Jason's office (by itself) was in rare form like a blue light special at KMART. I had the thought, what if that blue light is a little spirit trying to "come on down you're the next contestant on the Price is right" instead of the adult man who used to live here and likes it so much he doesn't want to leave, that I've made it out to be? I started meditating on that energy for a while. I saw little spirits dancing around in the bedroom letting me know that the time is right for allowing them into our home and hearts.

Finally, I couldn't go back to sleep so I went into the guest room and meditated more and kept seeing little ones everywhere like baby fetuses (not sugar plums) dancing in my head. I logged a couple of more hours and awoke to Jason on a conference with some company in France and realized that we were late for our big Turkey Baster day otherwise known as IUI in Fertility Clinics. We had to be there in 30 minutes or it was a no-go. Rush hour was good to us and we made it.

It's amazing who is the waiting room at these clinics. This morning it was Julia Ormond, looking beautiful as ever and a Kristi Lee Cook look alike, she's a finalist on American Idol, and loads of hot lesbians, with long hair, long coats and not so long nails. I saw them thumbing through a sperm donor book, perusing the pages like a Restoration Hardware clearance catalogue. Then I thought if she can get pregnant with sperm from page 213, then this should be a piece of cake considering I have half the equation sitting next to me answering emails on his blackbery.

Jason did his business in the bathroom and about an hour later they pulled me into the room where Dr. Marrs, (not Dr. Venus) he's a big man from a big ranching town in Texas called Lubbock, looked inside my uterus and saw that I have two follicles not one, that are primed for some implantation this month, which means I could end up with twins this go around!!! HA!!! Wouldn't that be something? He basted my turkey and pushed the button on the bed to tilt my body and lower my head and raise my legs for gravity’s sake, and ten minutes later we were back in the car and moving on with our day. I can't believe how far I/we've come.

I feel nauseous.

I feel nervous.

Who knows what will happen.

I am perfectly happy with the outcome and trust that it is the right one for me.

Thank you all for your happy thoughts and prayers and saints,

Love, andrea


And today, 18 months later, I walked into a different doctor’s office for another IUI. I am a little less likely to announce it to friends and family via email. I’ve lost a little hope along the way and the novelty has worn off, but I am reinvigorated with the possibility that this time it has worked.

Note to Self: Desire and preparation are only half of this fertility game – patience and faith is the other.