Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Seethingly angry

First, thank you for all who have contacted me via blog, e-mail, IM, etc. to check on me. I'm surprisingly o.k.

Anger is literally pouring out of every pore in my body right now - inextricably entwined with such overbearingly heavy sadness. I am honestly dumbfounded to find that such a vindictive, and simply evil person could exist. To find out that there are indeed two of you is even more pathetic. To find out that these people have the opportunity to corrupt and malign the minds of young people makes bile rise in the back of my throat. Perhaps it is naive, but I truly believe in the inherent goodness of the human race. To be confronted on such a personal level with such depravity and bitter vitrol, I am finding myself mystified - perplexed and saddened that such a person is given the privilege to breathe the same air as common criminals.

Perhaps this person is truly sick, and needs medical assistance and intervention. Perhaps it is a factor of immaturity and spite. Maybe they are truly just evil, the thick bubbling sludge left over at the very rock bottom of the gene pool. I don't know.

And in addition to the anger, I find myself oddly pitying them. Shaking my head, wondering what could possibly possess someone to create such havoc and inflict so much pain on not just one person - but an entire family of innocent bystanders. What causes a person to lash out like that? Is it a misfiring of neurons, being picked on too many times as a child, being uncomfortable and unhappy with their own existence to the extent that they feel compelled to pull down others to their same abysmally low level? Is jealousy truly personified as a green monster? I don't understand the psyche of what makes someone so off - so seriously emotionally unstable. I don't understand how someone like this could have a soul, a heart that beats like the rest of us.

Right now I'm focusing on mopping up the mess that has been caused, and trying to comfort those that I love. Right now, I'm trying to simply get through the day without breaking down, to simply keep going and try to be strong for those that need me. To be strong for myself.

And it's hard. It's really fucking hard. To be in the midst of the holidays makes it even harder.

But what I'm proudest of, is that the person who has been hurt by this the most isn't giving up. They aren't throwing in the towel and letting it go. They are fighting tooth and nail and I hope they know that I will be there, always beside them to support them and love them unconditionally. You see, the old cliche is true - evil does not triumph in the end.

This is the extent that I will elaborate upon it any further on my blog, as I do not feel comforable discussing something so wretchedly vile here. This is not a fight that should be conducted in cyberspace, but rather in the courts. And so there it will be.

I hope you're ready to face us there.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Oh the tangled web we weave, when first we decide to deceive.

There are a number of things that I will let people do to me. You can hurt me in thousands of ways unimaginable, but when you start screwing with my family - when you start hurting the ones I love - you're in for a world of hell (all within the confines of the law of course).

I am quick to forgive those that have hurt me. Perhaps more so than they deserve. I have forgiven things that others have deemed simply unforgivable. I absolutely will not, however, forgive someone who maliciously and purposefully seeks to hurt those that I hold close to my heart. When this happens, any hope of forgiveness is replaced with vengeance. Raw, primal absolute vengeance.

Our paths have inadvertently crossed - much to my chagrin, and I know you read here often, so I'm giving you fair warning. You may appear to be a sheep to others, but I know who you truly are. And so will the proper law enforcement authorities, and so will the courts via the lovely defamation complaint that is currently being filed. The problem with telling lies, my dear, is that they come back to haunt you. The problem with making false allegations under oath is that you have committed a crime. I hope your pockets are as deep as your lies are false.

I would advise you to seek competent legal representation. You're going to need it, because I will exhaust all available legal options to ensure that the tangled web encloses you.

You have seriously fucked up this time.

Everybody Knows That a Burrow Owl Lives in a Hole in the Ground

Sweet heaven am I glad to be sleeping back in my own bed, and in my own house.

Wow, I don't remember Dallas/Ft. Worth being so dirty... there was garbage all over the sides of the highway and it was just down right filthy. A lot of the old neighborhoods are starting to become less desirous locales, and it made me sad to see a lot of businesses we frequented when I was young were gone and replaced by chain establishments. Entire fields of mesquite trees and cattle pens were now Best Buys and other big box stores.

I got to spend a great deal of time bonding with my sisters, and got to see a few members of the family I haven't seen in years. We had an overabundance of pie, ham & turkey - and my middle sister (who just turned 17) had an overabundance of tequila - but that's a whole different story.

We spent time out at my aunt's farm, and with my cousin Breanne, who just turned 4. She greatly enjoyed spending time with "her Michael" and he was teaching her how to fish with "loooowwwlllooooooores" (as she pronounced lures). When he caught around a five pound bass she ran up and told everyone in the house that "Michael caught a fish for me, just for me - not for you."

My sister taught Breanne to dance to the Black Eyed Peas song "My humps" and it made me thankful that we're going to live too far away for them to corrupt our child.

We visited with my mom - and I found out that she had a fallopian tube removed when she was only 16, and they told her that she would probably never had children. She laughed and said that she was glad they were wrong, and then got religious on me. That things will work out when it's right, to trust in God, yada yada yada. For the most part, I was stunned - as my mother is not a religious person. She asked if we had considered adoption, but not in the "just adopt" type assvice most people give.

I found out my stepmother tried for five years to get pregnant with my oldest sister, and then the middle girl came easily and the baby was quite a surprise as she was still nursing the middle child.

Of course, everyone else had all sorts of advice to give us ranging from accupuncture and full-body detoxification and green tea to "have you used an ovulation predictor kit?" and "you know you should have sex 14 days after your period starts" and all sorts of other helpful information. The most popular advice of all was that it would happen "when it's time" and that "God will make it happen when it's supposed to."

For the most part, things went relatively smoothly, but I have to say that I'm thankful for the Flying Saucer in downtown Ft. Worth, as we escaped there for drinks when I reached the point that I just couldn't hear anymore about Aunt so and so's new surgery. And I had forgotten how much I treasured Maredsous 10 (and 8 too for that matter - although only the 8 was on tap).

Visiting with the extended family helped to give us a good conversational starting point as to how we would discipline our children, what we would do if our underage kid got shitfaced, etc. etc. And considering we had a ten hour drive back, well, we had plenty to talk about.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What next?

I overanalyze everything. So when this cycle came to a rather abrupt and unexpected end (how rude!) at first I had a day to deny that this was the end. I was holding out for whatever hope I could. Then, I was overwhelmed with grief. The next day - furious that if it had worked, the embryo wouldn't have had time to implant before it's enviornment started dissolving around it. Anger seethed from every pore in my body.

Now, I'm just sort of here. And I will be for some time as I won't be cycling this month due to the hyperstimulation.

So, while I realize that every woman is different, and that every cycle can be different - I have questions. I want to know what it is that I should be asking the doctor when I go back. (That's your cue). I was supposed to be baking pies last night - and I made two burboun pecan pies and key lime bars before I burned my hand on the oven and decided to say screw it and delve into the wild world of medical journals.

During the last cycle, I started Follistim on day 3, and took 150 iu each day through day 10 (that's 8 days). The HCG trigger shot (day 11) was followed by an IUI 36 hours later (day 13) we had sex again on the next day (day 14) and there were around four- five follicles or so released at ovulation. I started the prometrium (200 mg. in the morning, 200 mg. at bedtime) on day 14 and kept using it until I started bleeding heavily on day 23. On day 23, 8 days post ovulation, my serum progesterone levels were 33.9. Now, that should be high enough to sustain a pregnancy - but for some reason I started spotting that same afternoon.

I knew I had a progesterone deficiency before we started this cycle, and I had begged and pleaded with doctors to put me on progesterone supplementation for over a year. They pooh-poohed my concern, saying that it's just normal to spot before your period. I showed them charts - that I was routinely spotting 3-5 days before my period started, and I generally have an 11-12 day luteal phase while unmedicated. My current R.E. agreed that I obviously have a luteal phase defect and said that he would put me on progesterone supplementation - and he did, in the normal dosage (or even a little higher) for someone undergoing IUI.

For his IVF patients, however, he prescribes PIO. Why? Based on the reading I've done - instead of merely raising serum levels of P4, it is more swiftly absorbed into the uterus, where it's needed (as is crinone as well). With high levels of E2 prior to ovulation, as is often the case in IVF, where the patient is intentionally overstimulated - or in cases where a patient has mild OHSS, as I did - higher levels of progesterone are needed to counterbalance the artificially elevated E2 levels.

Other studies that I have read indicate that if you have had OHSS in the past you are at a much higher likelihood of having it recur with subsequent cycles (check). Being young (check), PCOS (news to me - but check), also greatly increases your risk of OHSS in a cycle.

So, while I can hope it will not be the case, the likelihood is that I will probably overstim again on my next cycle. Which seems to me that merely being on the oral progesterone is not going to be enough again.

The nurse said she's never heard of someone starting already after only 8 days on the progesterone. My question is - why do they use this to help potentially sustain a pregnancy if they also use it for anovulatory women to bring on a period?

So, am I overanalyzing here? What other questions would you ask the doctor?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why is the measure of love loss?

(the title is a blatant plagarism from one of my favorite authors, Jeanette Winterson in case you were wondering)
I was in the lobby of my building yesterday at lunch and heard a little child cry out - "mama!" and I nearly crumpled into a heap on the floor. I wonder if I will ever have someone call me that? I wonder sometimes if I will ever hear my child's voice calling for me.

Given the amount of blood over the last two days, the R.E.'s nurse said that I can skip coming in for the beta tomorrow if I want. I know it may seem crazy, but I'm not going to go. I don't see the point in wasting the money to have a lab technician tell me something that my body is making quite painfully evident (both physically and emotionally). And if the result was positive - I think it would just upset me more to know that it worked, if only briefly. Last night I sat on the couch numbly watching Law & Order reruns and trying not to spill the giant Culver's root beer float on Michael's Ramones t-shirt that I stole out of his drawer. Michael was holding my hand, and he looked at me and just said "I don't know what to say to make it better. I don't know how to make the pain stop for you, but I wish I could. I just hope you know that I love you. No matter what, I will always love you."

Right now, I'm ready to move on to the next step. At first, I was furious that the R.E.'s office told me that I would be wasting my time to come in for a day 3 scan, as given the overstimulation that I'd be nearly guaranteed to be out for this cycle. But, in a way, I think that this little break may do me some good. It will give me the time to enjoy the holiday season without having to rush back and forth to doctor's appointments and being forced to be jovial while bloated with overstimmed ovaries.

So, instead of my usual bitter and grouchy self, I'd like to take a few minutes to be "moony" as Michael calls me when I'm acting this way - and tell you what I'm thankful for this year. Too often I get wrapped up in the sadness and despair of infertility and forget the abundance that I have to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for our two cats, Alex and Ashton - the 20 pound plus monsters that manage to wake me at three in the morning at least once a week while batting a catnip filled mouse under the highboy in the bedroom. I'm thankful for the love and support of my parents and the love of my siblings. I'm thankful for my new job, for living in a city that feels like "home." I'm thankful for the beauty of autumn. Aside from the reproductive challenges, and the occasional seizure, I'm thankful for generally being in good health. I'm thankful for my mother's sobriety, my father's mellowing, and my stepmother becoming a bigger part of my life. I'm thankful that I've recently been reconnecting with people that I've lost touch with, and for finally being comfortable in my own skin.

I'm thankful that I've found an outlet here to talk, to grow and to heal. I'm thankful for the outpouring of support I've been blessed with from each of you. I'm thankful for finding out that I'm not alone, and I'm even thankful for finding out that medical help is available, even if it's not helping me a lot right now. I'm thankful for being given the opportunity to get to know some of you - on different coasts, different countries, different continents.

I'm thankful for flowers, for hope, for the fact that I have a plant in my office that I have actually managed to not kill, for the simple joys of a good cup of coffee and a nice glass of red wine. I'm thankful for the sunrise and the heaviness of the down comforter, the feel of the smooth hardwood floors beneath my bare feet.

And most importantly, I'm thankful for having Michael in my life. He's the best friend I've ever had, and I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else. He is my home, and my family. Even if we are never given the opportunity to be parents, my life will be complete standing by his side. We've been through some incredibly difficult times in our short marriage, and I'm thankful that we've been strong enough to stand by each other through it all and make it work. When Michael and I were first getting to know each other and before we were even officially dating, one of the first gifts he gave me was a copy of Shel Silverstein's book The Giving Tree. Now, setting aside interpretations about how the book is arguably misogynistic and depressing, it represents to me what each of us have strived to do in our marriage. We have each attempted to give as much as we can of ourselves in order to provide the other with happiness and security. It seems in some ways that our marriage has been about one loss after another. But instead of letting it ensnare and consume us, we've fought back. Together. And I'm thankful he hasn't given up on me.

And, I'm thankful I haven't given up on myself.

I could go on and on forever, about the big and small things that I have to be thankful for, but I should probably work some today.

So, instead - tell me this year, what are you thankful for?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Today, in a nutshell.

Yeah. This is about what I feel like telling today to do. You'll notice the eyes red from crying, the puffy face (although I did spare you from the Tammy Faye mascara).

So aside from your lovely comments. This is what today is reduced to in a nutshell.

A kick in the teeth and a reprieve

First, thank you to each of you who commented on the last post. You have no idea how much it comforted me and gave me the strength to keep going and not burst into giant racking sobs.

What is more upsetting than starting to bleed again at 10 DPO while on progesterone supplementation to prevent this from happening? How about as soon as you walk downstairs from the bathroom to tell your crestfallen husband - he hands you the mail for the day, and in it you find an $800 bill from the R.E.'s office, and a letter from your insurance carrier saying that they will cover $9.00 of it? To be honest, in some ways I'd be less pissed if they had just decided not to pay for any of it.

On Friday, at first it was just light pinkish spotting, internal only. Then Saturday it progressed to red. Then it went away for awhile, then brown sludgy... then nothing. Then Saturday night it progressed to the point where I thought my period was here in full force. Sunday morning it had tapered off again. Sunday night, it was back to the point that I thought my period was here, so I gave up on panty liners and decided to finally use a tampon.

Poor Michael tried his best to comfort me. He kept telling me that he loved me no matter what, and that if we never had a child he would never love me less and stroked my face and held me tight while I cried. Poor thing, it just made me cry harder, but I know he was trying to help. I told him I was going to quit taking the progesterone and break out a bottle of the wine we bought in the Loire Valley, and he beseeched me not too - to keep going and not throw the towel in just yet.

So I decided to make some fudge to cheer me up (and by cheer me up I mean drown my sorrow in chocolate and sugar and butter), and the damn fudge never set up properly. It's too runny. Don't think that didn't stop me from eating it with a spoon this morning for breakfast though. Not the entire tray of it, but I must say I did a rather impressive job obliterating a huge corner of it.

This morning, I went to change out the tampon - and I'll be damned, but the bleeding had stopped. Completely. None at all. I was shaking when I crawled back into bed and Michael leaned over and asked if it was that bad. I don't know. I said. It's - well it's gone. It's stopped. Well, that's good he said. Isn't it?

I don't know. I said. I just don't know. I want closure.

I'm not hopeful, as it's just not in my nature. But I'm not sure that I'm not either.

It's a rather precarious position to be in.

The R.E.'s office just called, and my progesterone on Friday - the day that the bleeding first started was 33.9. The nurse said to keep up with the progesterone until the beta on Wed.

Wednesday is so incredibly far away.

Oh, and because I overstimmed this cycle, she told me that I'm basically guaranteed to sit out a cycle, so the fact that I've now reached my deductible for my insurance, and could cycle for free is kind of irrelevant.

Well, so much for that sliver of hope. Full flood.

Fucking fuck.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hung in my throat.

Trying so hard not to give up hope.

spotting. 8 DP IUI.

Trying so very hard.

updated - Well, last night I was just barely spotting - internally. Sort of a light pinkish color. This morning, it's red. Bright red.

I knew it would happen... that it wouldn't work. I knew it deep down in my heart. What devastates me is that it's only 8-9 days after the IUI and I'm on 400 mg. a day of fucking prometrium. I thought that was supposed to make this not happen? I thought that would help. After having all those eggs, after all the shots, after all the pills... I at least wanted something akin to a normal cycle for length. Granted, I usually have a short luteal phase (around 11-12 days) but 9? How is it possible that all this medical help just caused to make the situation worse? There are just no words to describe how incredibly broken and worthless I feel.



Woolen unitards and animal instincts

Hope is a funny bitch eh? Not one of us want to welcome her into our lives on our own accord, but it's amazingly comforting when there are others who are wishing her on you.

So thank you. yous guys? yous girls? you women? you womyn? I would say thank y'all as I was brought up to say, but that just makes me think of Brintey Spe*ars which in turn makes me feel itchy. Sort of like wearing a woolen unitard. And taken from someone who's horribly allergic to wool, well - that would be really itchy. Damn, I'm breaking out into hives just thinking about it.

Nonetheless, a sincere thank you from the bottom of my shriveled up little bitter barren heart.

CD 21, 8 days past IUI. I went in this morning to have my progesterone levels tested. Given that I'm on 400 mg. a day of prometrium I have no idea what effect that will have on the test, or honestly what it matters.

Michael is convinced that I'm up the duff. He's fascinated with my boobs - and more than once I've caught him staring at them in amazement. While I would normally like the attention (I married an "ass" man, and well, apparently the good Lord decided to smack me in the rear with a 2x4 so instead of a nice round tush I have a nice wide flat space back there. Clear Channel may be leasing me out soon) the thought of him touching them is a big giant nono. I can't even shower facing the water right now they're so sore.

This is kinda strange, and I've never heard of it before, but he can usually tell when I'm about to start my period, about a day and a half before by how I smell when I first wake up. He says it's a very faint sort of a metallic chemically smell. Yesterday he asked me if I had implantation spotting - and I laughed and said "uh - no and where the hell did that come from?" He said "are you sure?" I confirmed that there was definitely nothing there. I was cramping badly - to the point that I thought my period may start gushing at any minute, but there was no blood.

This morning when I woke up he rolled over nuzzled into my hair and then looked at me and said I smelled strange. I got pissed and got up to go get in the shower thinking maybe it was smoky residue from the place we ate dinner at last night - and he said "no - not stinky... just different somehow. Your scent is "off" and has been for two days now."

My husband thinks he's a bloodhound. And my cats who normally have nothing to do with me have decided that they are now lap cats, and need to sleep on top of me. They hiss at anyone who comes close and they've been pulling my dirty clothes out of the hamper and sleeping in them. It's very bizarre. Not quite as bizarre as this show I remember watching in elementary school about spaceships and science and Russian invaders (yeah, that's about all I remember - but the cast all wore bitchin' metallic braided shoelace headbands) but still - pretty weird.

The doctor's office is having me come in for a beta Wed. morning.

In the meantime, I'm trying to convince Deputy Dawg and the guard cats that I'm just fine and that all this attention is for naught.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Resigned.... well, mostly.

I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that this cycle didn't work. And to tell you the truth, if it hasn't - I'm o.k. with that. Really. I just hate this not knowing. The wait is far harder for me than it would be to have negative results. We have been waiting for so long that another month - hell another year - is just another drop in the bucket.

Logically, I know that it's too soon to have symptoms (I'm on CD 19, 6 DPIUI) assuming the "hypothetical" happened. As of yesterday evening, the swelling was down quite a bit and I could bend and twist and - it didn't hurt! This morning however I woke up and felt like I had been run over by a semitruck.

The progesterone is having some not so nice side effects on me. Please god if you know me don't read any further. If you're the person who's reading (often) from Miami or Nashvegas - I would really appreciate it if you could drop an e-mail to let me know who you are. I'm starting to wig out a little that you're family who has unsuspectingly stumbled here. And I'd really like to not have to start self-editing. Or worse, to be forced to take the site down completely. But this is really not sanctioned for family friendly reading.

No really. If you know me, now is a good time to stop reading. Seriously.

My nipples are on constant alert now. Like most redheads, I have incredibly fair skin - and my breasts right now are a roadmap of blue veins more convoluted and criss crossed than the LAX or DC area highways. My breasts are hard and heavy and I've gone up nearly a cup size already. I shudder to think what it's going to be like by the time I finish the pills I have left to take.

My intestines are on strike. But sometimes they decide suddenly that they're not and they are cranky. Or maybe they are. They can't decide what to do. And we won't even speak of the issues with gas. I feel so horrible for people with IBS or Crohn's because this is the closest I have ever felt to hell.

And everything smells. I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell as it is, but now I can smell milk souring in the refrigerator two houses down.

My face has decided to break out in constellations of zits so painful that they woke me up in the middle of the night. I never really had bad skin as a teen, so this is somewhat new to me.

And I'm sleepy. Really really sleepy. I'm sleeping a good 8-13 hours a night. Hard. And everyday I'm tempted to shut the door to my office and take a cat nap each afternoon. But when I'm asleep, I have the most bizarre, vivid whacked out epic length dreams that I've ever had in my entire life. And um, they're often about sex. Really dirty sex.

Oh, and when I do belch (which is too often for my dainty self to admit) often bile rises in the back of my throat and I have that moment of - oh god - am I going to hurl?

I've suddenly developed an unexplainable affinity for beef jerky, or really any meat for that matter. And normally, I would be quite happy with vegetarian fare. Not so much anymore. Have I mentioned that beef jerky normally would make me ill to just contemplate?

So yeah, to sum it up the hormones have made a greasy, pimply, obscenely gassy, perverted fat truck driver with acid reflux and an affinity for slim jims. I know you're jealous.

So anyway, I'm resigned to the fact that this didn't work. Which is going to suck considering the joyous goings on of my body for the last week. All this for nothing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Progesterone addled brain

I had no idea that progesterone would make me so incredibly stupid and slow-thinking. I have said things in the last 48 hours that are so ridiculously stupid that I am left wondering why my own husband didn't just save me from myself and send me straight to bed. To stay. All day. With no interaction with anyone at all.

Even the cats are convinced that my brain has turned to mush. I went to put their food this morning in the freezer instead of the pantry. Ashton just looked at me and mewed quizzacly, something I am sure is catspeak for "what is wrong with you - you crazy bitch?!?!?."

Taking notes this morning in a meeting? Worthless. On a document this morning, I spelled my OWN name wrong people. My own damn name.

Yesterday, I thought I forgot my morning prometrium pill, and counted out the pills SIX times because I couldn't figure out how many were there, and how many should have been. People, I used to be a math major. Basic arithmatic should not be so complicated. Michael finally found me muttering over a pile of pills at the dining room table and counted them for me.

I'm still quite swollen from the OHSS, and incredibly thankful that it was just a rather mild case of it. Still hurts to bend or twist my torso at all, and it's quite painful to urinate (you really wanted to know that didn't you). I'm drinking like crazy trying to alleviate the swelling. Of course, considering how chock full of salt Gatorade is, I don't exactly see how that's supposed to help swelling, but I guess that's why I'm an attorney and not a doctor.

Speaking of progesterone - does anyone know what a "good" range is to see on a medicated cycle for a progesterone result 7-8 DPO? I'm taking 400 mg. (200 mg. pill 2x orally) daily of Prometrium. Does that change the result? Long ago, in a land far away, when I was on clomid they wanted to see a level of 10+ on a natural cycle, 15+ on a clomid cycle.

Ohh, and another question... how long does it take the HCG shot to be "out" of your system? I.e. when can I resurrect the peeing on a stick ritual I neglected some two years ago? I took 15,000 IU of HCG if I remember right - last Tuesday night.

And as for the butterflies and flowers and bluebirds bullshit that you've had to endure the last few days... I'm sorry. Forgive me. I'm already convinced that this cycle was a waste of emotion, energy and $$. I promise I am turning back into my snarky cynical realist self. Once I get through this medicated haze and remember how, anyway.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The "Hypothetical" and getting far too ahead of myself

Yesterday I was craving fried chicken something fierce. We didn't have anything planned for the day, other than the excitement of cleaning house, so we decided to head to my favorite restaurant that specializes in chicken. Oh, and did I mention that the restaurant is 220 miles away, one way? And when we drove all the way down there we found out the damn restaurant had burned down? Thankfully for us, they had another restaurant a few miles away... so I was still able to imbibe in the goodness of panfried chicken, fried okra and homemade chunky mashed potatoes.

On the rather lengthy car ride down, Michael and I spoke in depth about the "Hypothetical" as we have taken to referring to the possibility. The doctor's office is having me come in a week from Wednesday to have a beta done before the Thanksgiving holiday. As soon as we leave the doctor's office, we will be driving down to Dallas to spend the holiday weekend with my family. We will have the results at some point on Wednesday before we get there.

If this works (and I realize that as naive as I am, that this is an incredibly big "if") it would be the first grandchild in the family, and since I rarely see my parents, I'd like to be able to tell them about it in person. I want them to be able to participate in it from the beginning. Then, there is the partof me that is so fraid. I have seen so many of you suffer such unspeakable heartache through miscarriage that I don't want the pain and burden of 'untelling' my parents if ncecssary.

What would you do? Assuming it is good news (an assumption I am nearly too afraid to even speak of) would you share it with those that you love? Even so soon? If so, how would you do it?

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Venetian

Last night, we had sort of a surprise getaway. Michael had won a night stay in a themed hotel in the area at a charity auction, and the stipulation was that it had to be used before December 1st, and from Sunday - Thursday. The 33 rooms each had their own theme, ranging from a Colorado cabin, a Serengheti excursion, a Camelot themed room, and everything in between. We realized that we were coming up on the end of the time period, and thought - in all honesty that a follow up "personal reconnection" would not be an unwelcome afterthought after yesterday's stress.

So he picked me up last night from work and we drove out to the hotel, and as it turns out they gave us a complimentary upgrade to a much nicer suite, known as the Venetian. The room had fresh sparkling beverages and chocolates waiting for us when we arrived. My favorite part, however, was the enormous jetted tub with chromatherapy. I think I took three baths in the last night. We went out to dinner and dined on the most exquisite bison filets I've ever tasted with sides of creamed three cheese spinach and roasted asparagus and I had my last hurrah glass of a deep rich cabernet for a while. We laughed and held hands at the table, and it felt like it did when we first fell in love.

After returning to the hotel after dinner, we watched a movie and ordered two delicious desserts from room service, snuggled into the most enormous bed that I've ever seen that was covered in linens that felt like heaven. The bed was surrounded by 12 foot marble columns, and as I woke from a deep relaxing slumber I thought to myself, you know, I could get used to this.

This morning, we dined on breakfast in bed - cheese blintzes with berries, and ham and cheese omelets with sides of fresh melons and strawberries and the biggest cinnamon roll I've ever seen.

If you're ever in the area, I would highly suggest the hotel. It's not quite a hotel, not quite a bed and breakfast, but it was a great night.

I didn't realize how foggy my brain would be already on the progesterone. Before I even started my first pill I felt like I was in a haze and my breasts are so swollen and sensitive.

I am so thankful for our evening last night. It was like a fairy tale, and I'm delighted we had the opportunity to remember why we fell in love in the first place.

I feel like a million bucks today.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A City, a Village or Just One Baby.

First, let me say how much I appreciate my husband's ability to perform on demand within a set time frame. If I was in his shoes - er, so to speak, all systems would be definitely not set for launch. I have a shy bladder, and cannot even perform that on demand. If I was a man, well - it would be more than just that to be shy. This man is a trooper - and a definite keeper.

He teased me that he was going to go fishing this morning instead of accompanying me to the clinic, and leave me at the doctor's office alone, because it'll make such a better story. You getting knocked up in a room with a man who looks like Morgan Freeman, and I'm out fishing somewhere across town when it happens.

We traded rather crude jokes about the fact that the specimen rode in my bra in the trip to the doctor's office, and tried to keep it as light hearted as we could. But, to be honest we were both really nervous. It reminded me a lot of our wedding day. The day we got married, I asked him if we were really going to go through with it, and he responded "yeah, well - what the hell. We're already here" and then he kissed me.

When the doctor first inserted the speculum in me, I looked over at Michael and asked if we couldn't just get a puppy instead - or if he really wanted to go through with it. He looked over at me, squeezed my hand and said, "yeah, well - what the hell. We're already here" and then he kissed me.

The doctor called me "the queen of ovulation" but said in all likelihood there were only four eggs that actually released. He said that it's quite possible we could end up with twins, and were running about a 8-12% chance of "triplets or more". Where that number comes from I have no clue. Then he asked if we had twins if we would be finished. I said I don't know - Michael just looked as if he would pass out. "Four eggs released?!?!" he asked incredulously...

The procedure itself went incredibly smoothly. To be honest, when the doctor stepped away from me, I asked him, "how long will it take? He laughed, and said - "I'm done - what did you want it to hurt? With good mucus it makes it easy." Do you hear that Internets - I have good cervical mucus! (never, ever in my life did I think that I would say that) .

We were holding hands, with my legs propped up on the table and the doctor came by and patted my tummy. He said - I bet the next time I see you we'll be scanning to see if you have a city, a village or just one baby in there.

Please, just one. Just one.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gatorade, how I loathe thee, or freaking "right the fuck out"

So, does anyone know what the difference is between "really overstimulated" and "hyperstimulation"? Is it a mild version of OHSS? Is it completely different? Is it

The R.E.'s nurse called yesterday afternoon and told me to start drinking Gatorade last night, and to drink as much as possible, and to stock up on extra strength tylenol. Apparently Aleeve, Advil and Ibuprofen (all of which I do have in the house) can interfere with ovulation, or something. Can I tell you how much I absolutely loathe gatorade? Seriously, I detest it. So, I relayed this information to Michael while we were out to dinner last night, and he freaked out - our conversation went something like - WE HAVE TO GO TO THE STORE RIGHT NOW! No, honey, seriously we can go tomorrow morning. GET THE CHECK - YOU'RE GOING TO DIE! No, seriously. I'm o.k. WE HAVE NO GATORADE AT HOME, HERE DRINK MY WATER! Ugh. Fine.

O.k., I admit it wasn't quite that dramatic, but the poor man is a *little* wigged out by this whole thing, and I'm trying to convince him that I do not have, and will not get OHSS, so anything you can tell me (or lie to me too - that's fine - as long as it's believable) to that effect would be great. We did however, go to the store after dinner and I am trying my best to choke down Gatorade "Frost" right now as we speak, or rather as I type I guess.

Last night, after I had gone to bed he came upstairs with a giant glass of water. Granted, I usually go to sleep every night with a small glass but this was enormous. I told him I couldn't drink it all - and he said just try, I'm really worried about you. You're really swollen already.

And indeed I am incredibly swollen. I could barely zip my "almost too lose to wear, without accidentally losing it on the street and having no clue that I am sashaying down the street with only panties on" skirt that I'm wearing today. This, my friends, is not good. How I'm going to get through the next few days, clothed - appropriately for work, is a mystery to me. I am not really in any pain, but I get full very fast, and I have a raging headache.

And I had horrible, unbelivable nightsweats last night. I soaked completely through the sheets - and this was after I ripped off my pjs.

And the trigger shot, yeah. I gave it to myself in the thigh. Hurt like a bitch this morning to walk downstairs. Michael was freaked out about it (he's skeeved out badly by needles - as if I'm not) but I decided that I'd much rather have the control of knowing what was going to happen, so I did it myself. Thinking about it is much worse than actually administering it.

Oh, and did you know that apparently follicles continue to grow 1-3 mm a day after your trigger and until ovulation (approximately 36 hours later)? I didn't. So, that means that assuming a 2 mm growth pattern, I've probably got on the left side: 23, 20, 15, 15, 14. On the right, I probably have 20, 20, 18, 17, 16, 14, 13. Do you know that eggs as small as 15mm could hypothetically contain fertilizable eggs? Um, and that could in theory mean NINE FUCKING EGGS? I haven't told you what my last name is, but I can guarandamntee you it's not McCaughey. I did read a scientific study this morning that said that typically HCG only will cause those follicles that are approximately the same size to release eggs. Which leads to my question - what is "approximately the same size"? Persephone was wonderful to calm me down and tell me that only those around 18mm or larger will go, but still, that's five.

Do you know how afraid I am? And how curious I am as to why I wasn't cancelled, or - as Thalia asked why I wasn't converted (or offered to be converted) to IVF? Because I am starting to freak right the fuck out [that's a technical term], in case you were wondering.

Last night at dinner, I told him, you know - maybe we just need a puppy instead. And for a brief moment, I was completely, dead on serious. And he looked at me, and said - well, you may end up with a litter.

And I came this close - (that's me showing you a very tiny space between my thumb and index finger) to projectile vomiting.

Oh, and I just realized that 14 days from the IUI is um, Thanksgiving Day. We're going to be in Dallas with my family, so I'm guessing that I won't have any bloodwork done - and will be relying on an HPT.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Folly update

Just got back from the scan, waiting to hear from the lab. My how things have changed in a day. Remember, this is for IUI, not retrieval. Thus my panic about having too many.

Left: 21, 18, 13, 13, 12

Right: 18, 18, 16, 15, 14, 12, 11

Endo is at 15.

Trigger tonight at 9.

I am scared shitless. This may actually work.


The nurse just called. Estradiol levels are in at 1108. She said to start drinking gatorade now, because I have already overstimmed and it's just going to get worse from here on out. Apparently there are tons of other small follies hanging out in addition to the 12 I listed. I am definitely bloated already, and feel achy and have a raging headache. She said in 24-48 hours I wouldn't need to ask about how I'll know. You'll know, she said. You'll know.

I really hope & pray this works, but I'm petrified of multiples. We want three children, but we'd like to have them one at a time thank you. Of course, I suppose that's getting ahead of myself a bit.

Oh, and I just found out that apparently I may be working onsite for one of our largest clients. Their headquarters are approximately a four hour drive one-way away from our house. This is a two month long project, which means - a) I will be staying in a hotel M-Th. away from home; b) it's a long way away; and c) I won't be able to have my cats with me, um, or my husband either. Oh, and did I mention that this may start on Monday? Let's just say that with a client of this size and importance, however, you don't say no. You never ever say no.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I promised...

More pics will be forthcoming, unless I get too spooked. If you see this, and you know me - well, let's just keep this between us eh?

Granted, this was done by an "artistic" photographer who I am pretty sure was smoking crack. This picture has always sort of creeped me out, because it looks like I'm dead and lying in a casket. Nonetheless, this should show you at least a little of what I look like (although this picture is admittedly a little dated, so new ones will be up soon). My hair isn't as dark as in this picture, and my eye makeup is much less whorish in real life. And my eyes are much lighter blue, and I have (unfortunately) a lot more freckles.

It just happened to be one I could easily link to, and thus less work on my part was required. The scanner is still refusing to cooperate.

How many follicles did you say again?

I swear, I'm working on the pictures. Things just were a little crazy around here this weekend, and I can't find the scanner software, and the batteries that I picked up for my digital camera are apparently bad, and need to be returned. Go figure right?

Another day, another scan. Oh, and did I mention that I nearly fell off the table? Mind you, no one has ever said that I have any indication of PCOS, and rebuffed me when I asked about it. So I was a little surprised today when the wandmonkey said that she was looking at a "classic PCOS presentation." Slow responding to meds, but apparently rather aggressive recruitment of follies. I'm waiting for the E2 levels from the lab to find out if I'm supposed to trigger tonight or tomorrow. The doctor wants me to potentially take another dose of Follistim tonight to help get the follies a little bigger, but I'm becoming petrified.

I have eleven measurable follicles right now. ELEVEN. There were more, but she basically hinted that those were all she had room to write on the form.

On the left, I have one at 18, 15, two at 11, and one at 10.

On the right, I have one at 16, 15, 13, two at 12, and one at 11.

Endometrial lining is at 13. I'm a little concerned, as it appears that this may be on the high end of normal, and I've seen that linings in excess of 15 can lead to problems with implantation. Needless to say, I'm not suffering from a thin lining though.

I was shaking when I was talking to the nurse. She assured me that this is fine, and that I'm not going to be cancelled. She did tell me that I'll be in a bit of pain afterward, as I will "definitely overstim." I freaked out and was asking questions about the risk of HOM, and she assured me that it will be o.k.

So now, I sit anxiously waiting for the call from the lab to see what I'm to do tonight.

Updated: The nurse just called, my estradiol level today is 709, on cycle day 10 - after 7 days of shots - the doctor gave me the go ahead to shoot another 150 IU of Follistim tonight. I know, I know - he's the doctor, but I'm just praying this is a good idea. Another round of labs & sono tomorrow a.m.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Monday, Monday...

I tried to post some pictures this a.m., really - but it appears that my scanner (a 4 in 1 fax, copier, printer, *ahem* wannabe scanner that is) is indeed the spawn of Satan himself and doesn't *do* mornings. So I decided that I would post a picture of me in my "matronly" (as Michael grumpily calls it) light green chenille bathrobe using my digital camera. Did I mention I had hot rollers in my hair? And no makeup? And I was sitting in the dimly lit basement cussing up a blue streak? Well, apparently the fright skeeved the poor camera out, and it bitterly refused to force my horrible visage upon your poor unsuspecting eyes. Yeah, that or the damn batteries in it were dead, a.g.a.i.n. Seriously that camera eats batteries like they're those yummy little miniature Milky Way Midnight chocolates that are sitting in the foyer. Well, I'm blaming the camera anyway on both accords.

Nonetheless, I promise, pictures are forthcoming at some point this weekend after I have performed appropriate exorcism rites over the scanner (i.e. finding and reinstalling the *$%&ing software) or feeding my camera more candy, I mean batteries. And I've gotten a few cool e-mail requests for others so I'll try to cobble those together as well.

I went in for a scan this a.m. as my clinic does not apparently do scans or bloodwork over the weekend. At this point, this is what I'm dealing with:
  • Cycle Day 7
  • Taken 4 shots of Follistim 150 IU thus far, starting on CD 3. (technically tonight is day 5 of stims). I'm petrified of shots, but to be honest, they're really not bad at all. The pen is incredibly easy to use, and I've had some bruising - but I bruise really easily anyway.
  • E2 levels: 199 (the doctor said this is "right on target" based on follicular growth). Google U says that the level should be 100 or above after 4 days of recombinant FSH such as Follistim. At the time of trigger, it should be 150-250 pgm per 15 mm or greater follicle.

O.k. - begin mild deviation from topic. The R.E.'s office is thankfully devoid of round pregnant bellies although it is at the end of the hall next to a midwifery practice. Thankfully, there were a number of sweatpants rocking in the R.E.'s office this morning. However, while I'm waiting on the phlebotomist (a.k.a. leech, bloodletter) with my arm poised waiting for the needle, her 21 month old daughter comes barrelling up the hallway to see her. Her name, Emma - the name we've chosen for a daughter. I was trying really hard to hold my shit together, and hoping that it's a good omen or something.

  • Left Ovary: three total follicles at 14, 11 and 9. What happened to my 17 mm cyst?
  • Right Ovary: (the underachiever) two total follicles , one at 11 and one at 9. The follicles need to be at 15-16 mm to contain fertilizable eggs. For a gonadotropin cycle, mature follicle size is considered between 16-20 mm. Evidently, if you're on a clomid cycle, mature follicle size is considered between 18-30 mm, and those cycles are triggered when follicle size is 17-26 mm. Why the difference? Hell if I know. All I know for me personally is that clomid was so last year.

Another small deviation. I'm a little chatty today o.k.? I told Michael as we were driving to dinner last night that what happened would be dependent on what the dildocam saw today. He looked at me, and said dildo - what? He thought it was hilarious. "Wandmonkey" made him laugh so hard he nearly swerved into a parked car. O.k., back to topic.

  • The doctor wants, based on my age and results thus far, no more than 3-5 mature follicles at trigger. Considering that they grow approximately 2 mm a day, by Monday (the anticipated trigger date) assuming these follicles continue to grow - we'll have follicles at 20,17 and 15 on the left, and 17 and 15 on the right.
  • If there are more than six follicles at or greater than 15mm, or if my Estradiol levels are greater than 1500 pg/ml on Monday, then the cycle will likely be cancelled due to the likelihood of high order implantation.

The uterine lining should be between 7-12 mm in thickness on the day of trigger, with better results obtained if the lining is at least 9 mm thick and trilaminar (or "triple striped"). Implantation (oh that's funny) should take place 5-6 days after the IUI.

In short, three more nights of 150 IU Follistim shots (for a total of 7 shots, or 1050 IU) , and hope that everything grows, but stays within reason. IUI is tentatively scheduled for Wed., when of course - of course, the doctor will be in another office, and I can either travel there, or have yet another person up under my skirt. At this point, what's one more person having a hand in there really going to matter? And to think when Michael and I were first together, I refused to have sex with the lights on. Oh how things change.

The good part of today, three separate women have stopped me to tell me how beautiful my shoes are today. One older woman (maybe in her late 50s) said - "honey you must feel like a million bucks today with those shoes!" while I was in the elevator. You know, once she said that - I did. And I thanked her and told her so.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

What do you want to see?

Michael is a phenomenal photographer. The black & white pictures of me that he took on our wedding day with his trusty completely manual Nikon FM2 are hanging on the wall on the way up the stairs in our house. The ones from the photographer that we paid through the nose for - meh - those are in the basement in a rubbermaid tub next to the dryer.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the voyeuristic anticipation of "exposing" myself (g-d only knows what perverts I'm going to get with that statement, although it probably can't beat the "sadist bra training for men" or "first love tampon" searches I've gotten in the last few days, which I don't even *want* to contemplate). We're going on a photographic expedition this weekend, hopefully before the trees are completely stripped of leaves by the unbelievable wind that's been blowing for the last two days.

My photography skills are not so phenomenal, but it's a hobby that we can spend time together doing, so I'm learning. Slowly. Very sloooooooooooooooooowly. Thankfully, he's an incredibly patient man, and I do enjoy learning. For me - having my subject in focus or not overexposed is an accomplishment in itself. Something completely in the frame - call the Vatican - it's a miracle!

I could tell you about him trying to teach me how to tie my shoelaces (no, seriously. Before my 23rd birthday I had a B.B.A, an M.B.A. and a J.D. but I still don't know how to tie my own fucking shoelaces) but I'll just tell you about the photography lessons instead. He's patient, but even he has started suggesting I just stick to slip on shoes as I think he's given up hope for me on that one.

So, now that I've successfully disclaimed any photographic skill whatsoever, what else do you want to see about my life? I'm learning to use a new camera this weekend, so make me a list of things you'd like to see, and I'll try to get around to photographing all of them in the next week.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What do you see?

Edited: This is absolutely hilarious. Some of you are nearly exactly on the mark... and some, well - not so much. It's really entertaining though, much more so than what I'm *supposed to be doing*. Is being scatter-brained and emotional a side effect of Follistim?

I've learned a lot about myself, my husband and our marriage through this battle with infertility. In some ways, I've willingly allowed infertility to define who I am to other people - such as here, on this blog. In other aspects of my life, it remains very much a stigma - the hidden secret we never talk about, the topic to be avoided at all cost. For that reason, I've been reluctant to post actual pictures of us on here, because I've been too afraid to lose the safety of the cloak of anonyminity. Maybe you do know me. Maybe you know my husband, or our families.

Like many of you, when we first realized that we were dealing with more than a little "trouble" I sought stories of other people online, hoping that I might learn something from them. I found Grrl, and Julie, and then all the rest of you and I realized that infertility affects so many people. I decided to post anonymously first, using the blog basically as my journal to catalog our fears and hopes. And hey, let's be honest, it was cheaper than therapy - and for me at least, it was a lot easier to "talk" here than it was to someone face to face.

But I've learned to accept the vulnerability inherent in posting about something so personal, one could even say that I've embraced it. I've opened up the most personal, painful aspects of our lives to a literal world of strangers. I've told you (and by "you" I mean the Internets) things my closest and dearest friends don't know about me. And you know what, my deepest fears didn't come true. Instead of having these hopes ridiculued, instead of having my personal failings mocked, I've received the love and support and friendship from people all over the globe. It's helped, tremendously. I know that I'm not alone - and the despair and burden of loneliness being lifted is simply indescribable.

I've also learned as indicated with my previous post, that other people have gone through many of the same nightmares. Perhaps the subtleties are different but we're all going through similar versions of the same hell. I've learned that I can count on you for support, and I hope I can offer the same reassurances.

And perhaps it sounds conceited - although it's certainly not meant to, but I feel that we are helping others by posting our stories, the vignettes from our daily lives. Every day I get a surprisingly tremendous number of hits on a post I had a few weeks ago about progesterone therapy where I was asking for help and advice. The advice you gave me in the comments is now helping, I hope, others who have questions about the treatment they're undergoing and don't have people they know in "real life" to turn to. [that phrase has always bothered me - because to me, this is as "real" as it gets, but I digress].

With the advent of technology, I think that in some ways we've lost a sense of community. The days of sitting on the front porch just talking with neighbors until the sunset are for the most part a thing of the past. Michael and I lived in the same house for three years and never knew the names of the majority of our neighbors, not that we didn't try to make an effort. But with blogging, I feel that we are in some ways creating another community. Like any community it has its cliques, there are times we don't agree, but for the most part, it's an open and embracing group of people. For those of you lurking, we're here - and we'd like you to be a part of it as well. {thinking to myself, wow - I sort of sound like I'm recruiting for a cult there. Very come on over, the kool-aid is tasty, no?}

A friend and I were talking yesterday about radio personalities and how you "picture" what they look like, and how surprising it can be when you see them in real life and they look nothing at all like what you expected. Or for that matter, the casting for characters in books that are remade into movies. For me, blogging is somewhat analagous. I "picture" some of you to look a certain way, and sometimes I'm surprised by how differently you look in your pictures. For others of you, your picture looks exactly how I imagined you would look.

A favorite pasttime of mine growing up was "people watching" - I'd sit on the fringe of activity and make up lives for the people who pass - wondering what they did for a living, if they were in a relationship, who they talked to, what made them laugh. This is in some ways the reverse of that, you know those things about me, and I'm learning them about you.

So, now, I'm curious. How do you picture me? Do you picture me as a certain race, body type, height, eye color? Who is it that you imagine is typing these words? Do you see me with glasses or without? If so, what kind? A perfectly coiffed newscaster hairstyle, or dreads? Something different? Do you picture piercings or pearls (or both)? Tattoos? Do you think I'm more Pottery Barn or crunchy? Is my wardrobe more traditional/preppy or thrift store chic?

And tomorrow or Friday (assuming I can remember how to link pictures) we'll see how close you come to the face behind the curtain.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mothering, Forgiveness, and Thankfulness

As much as I want to be a parent, I am inherently frightened by the enormity of the responsibility. My parents married exceedingly young (they were only 17 and 18 respectively) and had me two months before my mother turned 20). As they were merely children themselves when they got married, it was no surprise that their union dissolved when I was just an infant. I have no memories at all of my parents together. My mother never treated me as a "child", and when other children were first printing out letters in crayon, she had already taught me to write in cursive. When others were struggling to count to ten, by the first day of kindergarden, I could easily go beyond 1,000. She taught me at least a new word every day from the dictionary, and we did puzzles together in our one room apartment. My mother has only a high school education, but she instilled in me the desire to learn more - to experiment, to strive to be the best. She was funny, beautiful and vibrant.

And then, she began unravelling. Slowly - as if a part of her soul had been snagged, and then more quickly and violently. At about age two my father remarried. My mother was desperately afraid that he would get custody of me (as she was a single parent) so she married - literally within a week - to her boyfriend at the time. It was not a good move on her part. She was so afraid of losing me that she did the only thing that she thought would save "us". To be honest, it was really the beginning of the end. They fought - horribly. I remember after my brother Michael was born, my stepfather beating her in the face, holding her down and spraying windex in her eyes. I remember cowering over my baby brother protecting him from the shards of glass that exploded off the wall when he threw an ashtray at her. I remember him sugaring her gas tank, breaking into the apartment when we moved out. I remember him kicking in our apartment door and taking my brother (then age 3 or so) away. We were watching Circus of the Stars, and it was so cold that night. We were curled up on the couch beneath a scratchy blue blanket with satin edging.

My mother was struggling to support us, and I know two children on her minimum wage salary must have made it nearly impossible to make ends meet. During their divorce, when he requested custody - she was penniless. She was working two jobs and to be honest, I think in a way she was just too tired to fight anymore. My brother never really knew his mother. He didn't know how funny she could be... how the sun made her skin the color of bronze. He didn't know how comforting it was to curl into her arms - or how green her thumb was - she could make anything grow. He didn't know how creative she was, how much she loved to read. He didn't know how much she loved spicy food. He didn't know how tender she was - or what a skilled artist she was. He just didn't know her at all.

But, after about third grade I didn't really know her anymore myself. She remarried (round three if you're counting). She met him at work, and was forced to resign her job because of a nepotism policy. Her marriage lasted only a few months before he started hitting her. She was madly in love with him, and stayed - hoping that he would love her the way she loved him. I remember coming home from my dad's house one Sunday and all the furniture in the house was gone. He had gotten drunk and literally smashed it all to pieces with an aluminum bat. When he was done with the furniture, he turned to her and used the bat on her face shattering her cheekbone, and then he broke her arm. They never told me what happened. She lied and said they had decided to sell the furniture. The furniture we had just gotten not a month or two before. There were still shards of glass from the curio cabinets sunk deep into the plush carpet. I knew. The entire side of her face was black. I knew she didn't just fall. If there's one thing I didn't get from my mother it is my klutziness.

Her husband started having an affair with another woman - with the same name as my mother. He broke her down, and made her believe she was worthless. He flaunted the affair. He pointed out her failings. He made fun of her in public. In order to deal with the broken bones [literally] she turned to other outlets for her pain. She started having an affair with alcohol.

I would find empty vodka bottles hidden in my closet amongst my sweaters. He moved out, and she moved on to prescription painkillers and alcohol together. Then it got worse. She started blacking out. We had to move out of our house and were forced to jump around from apt. to apt. I became the parent. I walked to the store and bought groceries. I walked to school. I think we lived on cheetos, pickles and bologna for about a month one time. I did the laundry. I wrote the checks for the rent (I didn't realize you had to have money in the bank for them to clear). I forged her name on my report cards. She was usually drunk by 10:30 in the morning. If she didn't drink she would have horrible seizures and hallucinate.

My father tried to get custody of me. I was afraid to go live with him, afraid of what would happen if she didn't have anyone to take care of her. She checked into detox. We had to go to family meetings and the therapist told me it was my fault. Me. The chubby little ten year old. It was my fault.

She got out, and I went back to live with her. She was sober maybe two or three days. We were living in a run down apartment across the street from the hospital. She started hallucinating, and woke me up in the middle of the night and threw me out of the house, locking the deadbolt behind me. I was barefoot in my nightgown, and it was starting to snow. I begged and pleaded with her to let me in. She thought I was the police -coming to arrest her. I didn't know what to do. I was afraid to walk through the ghetto to find a phone and it was so icy. I fell asleep on the porch, exhausted from shaking. She let me back in the next morning. She thought God was talking to her. She drove me to school shaking so bad from d.t.s that she could barely keep in the lane and dropped me off and started driving to a mental institution. They wouldn't admit her. Over the next several months, she went back into treatment, and then out, and back in. This "program" was the most dysfunctional place she could have been. It's no wonder she didn't stop.

On her last stint in the treatment facility, she met a man there who was in trying to recover from a heavy duty narcotics addiction. They started up a flaming romatic relationship while still hospitalized. When they got out, he moved in with us. And so did another addiction - cocaine. His brother was a dealer, and soon she was selling everything we had to feed the desperate need she had for more.

Finally - I had enough. She was passed out, and I went through the house and took every vodka bottle she had and stacked them on the coffee table. They were hidden in the plants, the dishwasher, in the couch cushions, everywhere. I left a note - "this has to stop." When she finally came to, she was infuriated. She was screaming at me - and I snapped. I slapped her hard across the face. So hard that it knocked her down. I was so full of rage - her addiction had stolen my childhood. She retailiated. It's the only time in my life that my mother ever struck me. She never even spanked me as a child. My meager belongings had been packed for weeks in my closet. I told her I was moving in with my grandparents. She started throwing my boxes over the balcony into the parking lot below. She told me she didn't love me. That she never had.

I didn't talk to her for a long time. Without me to pay the bills on time, she was evicted. She lost her job, and bounced around sleeping on friend's couches, and then soon she had no one left to go to. Then she lived in her car. I didn't know if she was dead or alive. She finally cleaned up. She stopped using on my 13th birthday. She stopped drinking soon after that - and has been clean and sober ever since. Our relationship is still extremely strained. I love her - she is my mother after all. She honestly doesn't remember about three years of what we went through. I do. I remember - but I forgive her. In a lot of ways, I think it's made me stronger.

We rarely talk - at times it's just too painful for both of us, our conversations often peppered with awkward moments of silence. But I'm trying. And she's trying. It's just hard.

My mother has been sober for ten years, and given what she's gone through - to be honest, I'm not sure that I could have been that strong. She's now caring for my grandmother, also an alcoholic, and she broke down on the phone last night and told me that she was so sorry. So incredibly sorry for all she put me through. That she understood now, caring for my grandmother, how difficult it must have been for me.

We talked about my shots, about our failed dreams. About growth, and love, and forgiveness.

This morning, I had an e-mail waiting for me, and she said in part:

I am going to pray hard that your new round of shots work without causing you discomfort or worse, danger to your health. I know how desperately you must want a child to try this route again and as much as I would love to be a Grandmother, your health MUST come first. DO NOT put yourself in jeopardy for the sake of anything. You are everything to me, and no baby or anything else is worth the thought of harm coming to you. I also realize you are a grown, intellligent woman who has thought long and hard about this decision so I am, as always, in your corner and will be here in anyway for anything I can ever offer if you need me. I'm still your Mother and will always be here when needed. I love you more than I can describe and could never be prouder of you. Please be safe, happy, never give up on your true dreams and remember I love you.

She's far from perfect, but she is my mother - and I love her. I'm proud that she's tried so hard to stay sober, when it would have been so much easier not to. At times I'm still angry with her, but I'm learning to open my heart to forgiveness and let go of the hurt.

For a long time, I didn't want children. I was petrified I would make the same mistakes she did. And then I found Michael and he made me realize I had this longing ache in my heart for a child. Occasionally, I wonder if perhaps I want children to somehow make up for my own flawed childhood. I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm thankful that I believe things can be different. I'm thankful she's bee so strong. I'm thankful she and I are working to repair our relationship, and hopeful that my children will have the opportunity to see a grandmother who is the mother I remember from my early childhood. The one with the deep body shaking laugh, who can always be counted on to color and play dress up. The one that read stories and flew kites, made beautiful quilts and halloween costumes by hand, who gave fierce "horsey bites" on my knees and gentle butterfly kisses. This is the woman I want them to remember. This is the woman I want them to love.

I'm just thankful that I'm starting to get her back.

I hope that they learn to love her as much as I do.