Words to Live By

Happily married. 41. Infertile/perimenopausal. TV and iPod addict. Transplanted Canadian living in California. {Warning - abundant sarcasm and frequent *gasp* profanity lie herein.}

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

How to Help & The Wrath of God

Many bloggers have posted about Hurricane Katrina and their feelings about New Orleans, Biloxi and Gulfport, and other cities affected. Having never been to this area, now I fear I will never get to see the charm and history of New Orleans. Another good reason not to put off doing the things you always said you would do. Here's an excellent link with information on how to get help and how to give it. Be generous if you can.

Below is an abstract of an audio entry at a popular religious blog site (if you really want to read more about Pat Robertson, email me and I will give you the link). This is just about the most ridiculously scary thing I have ever read. I swear, I did not make this up, its an example of many, many articles and radio/TV programs swirling about at the moment:

This is a series about why God has brought such devastating judgment in the form of Hurricane Katrina on the United States. I'll summarize it here:
A couple of weeks ago the Israeli Disengagement Plan was completed. This Disengagement Plan forced thousands of Jews out of their homes. President Bush and the United States supported this Disengagement Plan.

Now, God has returned a just reward to the United States. The United States government encouraged Israel to move thousands of Jews out of their homes; now tens of thousands of Americans have been forced out of their homes due to Hurricane Katrina. Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For whatsoever a nation sows, it shall reap. The United States sowed the seed of forcing people out of their homes, and now the nation reaps the reward as Americans are forced out of their homes.

But God has used Hurricane Katrina to also bring severe judgment to the United States economy specifically oil and gas prices. Gas prices all across the nation are around $3.00 a gallon now, and supplies are getting low in parts of the nation. This storm has also ruined crops all across the Gulf Coast, and you'll see a rise of prices in grocery stores as well. The United States gave the Palestinians $50 million a couple weeks ago, and now God is damaging the U.S. economy.

Don't get the wrong idea that all this judgment is just over Israel as well. The United States turned its back on God many years ago as this nation now worships money and itself. Millions of innocent babies are murdered each year before they leave the womb, homosexuals are now being allowed marriage in places, the American Christian church is very lukewarm and caught up in the love of money and America as well. God has many, many reasons to destroy this sinful nation, and turning on Israel may have been the "final straw" for the USA.

God is now giving this nation a chance to repent from its sinful ways and turn back to Him. God is also testing this nation to see if we will have compassion and help out our fellow Americans who are in trouble. So we need to pray for the people on the Gulf Coast, and if possible, we need to help them in anyway that we can. God is looking for compassion out of this nation...He didn't see it from most regarding Terri Schiavo, will God see compassion and love now as cities drown and people are left homeless with nothing? God has stepped up the judgment, and this nation can either repent of its sins and turn back to God and get healed, or it can harden its heart and reject God and face more judgment. What will you choose? Your life and eternity depends on it? Do you really want to live without God's protection? So let's get washed in the blood of Jesus and get saved.

Wow. Isn't it amazing that so many people claim to KNOW what God is thinking and why he/she/it does the things he/she/it does? My position as an atheist just got a whole lot stronger. Since I don't believe in Hell I'm not worried, I will continue to support capitalism, women's rights, gay rights, the right to die and all other rights and privileges I currently enjoy.

One more thing: if you can't donate money, donate blood.

Monday, August 29, 2005

TV is my Novacaine

Over the weekend D. and I went to an anniversary party for his brother and wife. His brother is only 8 years older than D. and has been married 30 years, has a grown daughter and a grand-daughter. Our niece and her friends are the Fertile Girls Network, all of them having at least one child, husbands be damned, and all under 25. They were all at the party with all their children. At one point several little girls were dressed as princesses or fairies, complete with magic wands, wings and tiaras. The little boys were making mud pies and climbing into the ice tubs with the beer. The FGN parenting skills tend to be on the lenient side. Ah, good times.

In the past two weeks, three friends have given birth and another has become pregnant. I'm happy for them all. Really. The couple who live in the yurt next door have a 5 year-old daughter. Her sing-songy voice is the first thing I hear every morning; the sound travels effortlessly through the trees to my bedroom window. I'm surrounded, and I surrender.

Thank God for TV. Honestly there are only a handful of new shows that look like I might be interested in watching, but I’m willing to give almost anything a shot. In the past the shows I watch would have been partly based on when they were on, but now I won’t have to worry about that because we finally got a DVR! Our cable company installed it Friday afternoon. Our current VCR set-up is so complicated that even my computer-geek husband sometimes screws it up and all we get is two hours of static.

In alphabetical order, here’s the new shows I’ll be checking out. (Of course, if they suck, don’t blame me – sometimes my instincts for TV are for shit.)

Premiere: Tuesday, Sept. 13, 8 pm/ET, Fox
Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) is a forensic anthropologist and part-time crime novelist (the character's based on best-selling author Kathy Reichs). With help from fellow lab geniuses, she unearths evidence from even the most decomposed or damaged remains. FBI guy Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) often enlists her aid, although he's no fan of science-geek "squints." Headstrong Dr. Brennan insists on joining Booth in the field, but she's a lot less adept with the living than the dead. [I don’t know why I am fascinated with forensic-type shows, but not medical shows (except Gray’s Anatomy, but that barely qualifies). I guess I can’t stand to see live people suffering, but I do love a mystery and to see the bad guys go down.]

Commander in Chief
Premiere: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 9 pm/ET, ABC
When a Republican president dies, his V.P., Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis), makes history as she is sworn into office. Her résumé: Nobel-winning university chancellor, congresswoman, mother and, yes, an Independent. But everyone, including the president on his deathbed and the power-hungry speaker of the House (Donald Sutherland), wants her to resign. [LOVE Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland, plus this is an idea whose time has come, except not for Hillary.]

Premiere: Friday, Sept. 23, 10 pm/ET, NBC
And baby makes... money, for the staff of Family Options Fertility Clinic, where therapist/cofounder and single mom Rachel Lu (Ming-Na of ER) clashes with cocky docs Jonathan Cake and Angie Harmon on ethical and legal issues. [OH COME ON! You know you are going to check it out too.]

Kitchen Confidential
Premiere: Monday, Sept. 19, 8:30 pm/ET, Fox
Celebrity-chef Jack Bourdain (Alias' Bradley Cooper) is cooking up a comeback. Having crashed and burned as an overindulgent young star, Jack is given 48 hours to assemble a crew to jump-start a fancy New York City eatery. Jack's short fuse and arrogance, plus his staff's antics could be a recipe for disaster. [I am loving the real Anthony Bourdain’s show on The Travel Channel called No Reservations, so I’ll at least give this a look. Plus Bradley Cooper is really cute.]

Premiere: Thursday, Sept. 8, 9 pm/ET, Fox
One of six childhood friends (Will Estes, Chyler Leigh and Amanda Righetti, among others) has been murdered. As a detective (Mathew St. Patrick of Six Feet Under) investigates, the trail takes him back 20 years to the friends' 1986 high-school graduation. Each episode is a flashback to a pivotal point in a different year. The story advances year by year, week by week, until we learn whodunit. [Sort of a rip off on the 24 idea, but Fox has made that work.]

Premiere: Friday, Sept. 16, 9 pm/ET, CBS
When a freaky alien object wreaks havoc on a Navy ship in the North Atlantic, the world's sexiest risk analyst (Carla Gugino) puts into action her "threshold" contingency plan for first contact. She assembles a team of eccentric geniuses (Brent Spiner, Peter Dinklage, Rob Benedict) to investigate. What they see, even on video, makes their noses and ears bleed and invades their nightmares, maybe even their DNA. [This could be really bad. Its one of three alien-related new shows – I’m not a big sci-fi fan so this could be a stretch.]

Of course, I will still be watching my old favorites: Alias, Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, Gray’s Anatomy, 24, The Amazing Race, Lost and Without A Trace. And I wonder why I don’t have more friends in real life. I’m curious, do you watch TV shows that have to do with your real profession? Do you lawyers watch the lawyer shows? Knowing TV, I would think that watching anything to do with something I actually knew anything about would be annoying as hell. Luckily my skills, knowledge base and talents apparently aren’t good fodder for television. Except that Inconceivable show.

P.S. Thanks for all the love -- keep it comin'.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lack of Contact

See, this is what I was afraid of...the minute I stopped talking about infertility or my cooter (take your pick, high-brow or low-brow), I would start to lose readers. Or at least commenters. Really, I'm an interesting person despite the fact that I am trying to move forward after years of disappointment and heartache.

No drama, no love?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Meanwhile, in Amsterdam...

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (Reuters) -- Billionaire television producer John de Mol, behind the pioneer show "Big Brother," will test the limits of reality TV with a program in which a woman searches for a potential sperm donor to conceive a child.

His new TV station Talpa, launched earlier this month, confirmed it will air a program called "I want your child ... and nothing else!" but gave no further details about the show due at 1830 GMT on Wednesday.

"The plan is that we visit potential donors and -- of course on camera -- decide which man is most suitable," the 30-year old woman who will feature in the program said in an interview with De Telegraaf newspaper. "Afterwards there will be artificial insemination," said the woman who was identified only as "Yessica" and who has bought a house with a room for a child.

The show is a one-off competing with four other reality TV programs, one of which follows five former prostitutes starting a cafe. The program receiving most votes from viewers on Saturday, after all the shows have aired, will be turned into a series.

De Telegraaf also published an email address for men wanting to donate sperm to Yessica.

Oy. I think I heard about this before but it seemed worth mentioning. Stay tuned for my picks of the best of the new Fall TV shows. Cuz I am all about the info.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

News Flash

I'm doing better, not great, but moving in the right direction, at least today. Spent most of yesterday shopping for new stuff for Hawaii. This was extremely conducive to a better mood, as was the Orange Julius I had at the mall.

There have been a couple of interesting news stories I heard this past week I thought I would pass on to you.

From BBC News: Sperm donors to lose anonymity
Men who father children through sperm donation are to lose their right to anonymity, the government has announced. The changes, which will also apply to egg and embryo donors, will come into force from April 2005, meaning the first time donor children will be able to find out their parent's identity will be in 2023. However, the changes will not be retrospective. Supporters say children conceived this way have a right to information about their genetic parents. But some fertility experts have warned many potential donors may be deterred if they could be identified. Read the rest of the story here.

From San Francisco Chronicle: Court grants equal rights to same-sex parents
The California Supreme Court broke new legal ground for same-sex parents Monday by ruling that lesbian and gay partners who plan a family and raise a child together should be considered legal parents after a breakup, with the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual parents.
Read the rest of the story here.

Not having any personal experience with either topic, my opinion hardly matters, but as to the first story, I'm inclined to agree that some donors may think twice if they know they might be identified later. The UK already has a shortage, particularly of sperm donors, and this may worsen the situation. The second story seems like a no-brainer to me, but then again, I'm a big fat liberal.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mountain Climbing

It’s been a while since I’ve been this depressed. A year, in fact. This is my annual trip into the depths, a self-deprecating pool of shame and guilt that marks what would have been the impending due date of the pregnancy I terminated all those years ago. This year it’s even more gut-wrenching and hollow, knowing as I do that for sure, for sure, that was my one shot at it.

I’m sure because we’ve decided I should stay on the Pill. I think this is the only way that I am going to be able to get past this rough patch. The best that I can hope for is to be happy with the life I’ve got (which is pretty damn good). How can I be happy with my life while I am trying desperately to change it, fundamentally and irrevocably? If I continue to leave the nursery door open, even a crack, I’ll eventually want to open it wider and wider, while reality is pushing to close it. I don’t want this struggle in my life any more. I haven’t been a good wife, sister, daughter, friend, or even employee for quite a while now. As Jenna so nailed it in her comment, I have a lot of life to fill and I don’t want to waste the next 10 years waiting for a train that’s never coming.

Am I sad? Do I feel like a failure? Yes, and yes. This will be a process, with ground gained and slips back, but I have a support system that will allow me to do this, I’m safely bound on this slippery slope by many ropes.

When I questioned my husband whether it would have been better not to have gone down this road at all, he disagreed, saying we are both better people for it, and have a stronger relationship. Whatever my faults, I must have done something right at some point to deserve to have this man in my life.

I mentioned immortality in my last post. I realized later how grandiose that sounded. How many people on this earth actually achieve immortality? How many have it for all the wrong reasons? I have good works still in me, perhaps even a novel or two, and many opportunities left to make a difference. As I thought about this I felt a tectonic shift in my thinking about my husband’s son. Up until now his very name would knot my stomach and overwhelm me with sadness. Now I realize that even though I might never meet him, the fact that he exists means that my husband’s genes will live on for at least one more generation. And that means more to me than I can express.

Here's a song for all of us still trying to find where our soul and our home is.
Nelly Furtado - I'm Like A Bird (acoustic)

P.S. This is not the end of my story, or my blog, not by a long shot.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Reality Bites

I recently finished having a "deep cleaning" done in my too-small-for-dental-instruments mouth. The technical term is "scaling and root planing", or as I call it "Medieval Torture involving Pointy Things in Your Mouth for Two Hours without Anesthetic".

They want me on a 3-month periodontal maintenance plan. Every 3 months I have to have this done? WTF? She said I have a lot of bleeding in my mouth. Um, bitch, that's because you just scraped and poked at my gums for two hours.

She also said that periodontal disease (disease?? I have a disease now?) is a sign of osteoporosis and I should be taking steps to keep that under control. Yippee. Is this another perimenopausal thing? I've been doing a little research and found out that Clomid (and other fertility drugs) can cause periodontitis, which is the worst kind of gum disease, which I am rapidly moving toward. Great! And, that fertility patients with periodontitis have lower success rates. The classic revolving door.

“The ultimate result of our study is that ‘the drugs used for infertility management may cause and/or worsen gingival problems,'" says Dr. Haytac. "The other statement – poor oral health can negatively affect fertility – is just a suggestion, but it is a very reasonable suggestion. Periodontal diseases are infectious in nature and lead to systemic release of highly pathogenic microorganisms and/or their products.”

I guess that makes sense, if your body is constantly fighting an infection it can’t very well be a comfy place for an embryo, now can it?

This particular dentist (new) is also freaking out about my bottom front tooth because of "bone loss" because of the periodontal disease and says I will need a bone graft so I don't lose the tooth. A BONE GRAFT. Can you say ca-ching? $$$$ Bad teeth are a family trait, this is nothing new, but despite having many different types of procedures done, I am still phobic as hell.

Just thinking about having an upcoming appointment, no matter how far in the future, can send me into a panic. I have two old silver crowns that need to be replaced as well. All of this is going to have to wait until we get back from Hawaii. That’s right folks, we are going on a real vacation. Next month. I’ll keep you posted.

I really need something good to look forward to. Besides being anxious about my teeth (again, or still), I’m depressed. I don't know how to be a person who isn't trying to have a baby. What am I supposed to replace that with that even comes close to being in the same league? The end of my fertility struggle is no less than the end of my quest for immortality.

I'm still having night sweats and endo pain, even on BCPs, although my period has been lighter and on time. I've already wasted six months since our last injectibles cycle failed, and I'm still in the same place, only now add in BCPs just to liven up the party. I feel stuck. I'm scared to get pregnant with my own eggs and would only consider IVF with PGD as a possible safe alternative. But, we have no money and no insurance to do IVF, and its not even on the list of things that we agreed we would try. Adoption is still an alternative but the whole reason both D. and I were willing to go through all this was to have OUR baby. If that makes us selfish, guilty as charged. So I need to just buck up and realize that its never going to happen. But how do I do that??

I can now be around pregnant women and babies and not feel sad or angry, sometimes I even think, "Boy, I'm glad that's not me", I don't know if that's healthy or not. Like Rooshie said, I miss the high of having hope every month, even though I know the disappointment crash at the end of the month will be there. My world is flat and gray. Sorry for being melodramatic, I can't explain it any better than that.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

United Nations

Even in my little corner of the blogosphere, there seems to be a lot of intolerance and downright cruelty lately. Not to me, although I have had a few trolls in my time. I don’t think I’m big enough to warrant the kind of feedback and offline posting that some of the Cool Kids do, but no doubt there are those who have formed an opinion of me based solely on what they’ve read here. As I read other’s struggles, whether that be with infertility, other family issues, illness, financial or otherwise, I am thankful that there are those of us willing to put our lives out there and welcome the world to read about our angst and our joys. I’m not saying that every comment has to consist of “I couldn’t agree more” or “Good luck!” with a big sparkly dose of baby-dust on the side, I just believe we all need to think a little more before we hit that Post a Comment button sometimes.

It’s very easy to judge others, we do so every day. We base our opinions on our own experiences and belief systems, but we have no right to do this. Let me throw out some questions for you.

Would you:

** terminate a pregnancy?
** agree to selective reduction?
** use donor egg or sperm?
** use a surrogate?

Or, let’s broaden the discussion – would you:

** take a loved one off of life support?
** kill someone in self-defense?
** stay with your spouse after an affair?
** be able to cut off a limb in order to free yourself?
** consume victims of a plane crash in order to survive?
** harbor a fugitive?

There are a million more questions like this. All heart-breaking, life-changing, personal decisions. We all think we know what we would do in certain situations, we’ve formed opinions and even plans for events that may happen. In reality, until you are there, you can’t know what you will do or what you are even capable of. So, the answer to all of the above and every question like it is: I DON’T KNOW. Even if you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, you still don’t have the right to judge them because they made a different decision than you did.

This post isn’t in response to anything in particular, just a feeling that I’ve been having lately. I’ve heard of several bloggers closing down or password protecting their sites, or closing off comments because they can’t bear to be hurt by the words of strangers any more. Sharing our personal stories is what this is all about. Disagreements in a healthy and civilized discussion forum are as helpful as positive feedback, but there is no excuse for hate-speak.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Digging for the Truth

I sent a couple of family members the details I had uncovered about the institution my aunt lived in, the class action lawsuit and the contact information, and so far, no response. I got a message from my brother yesterday and he didn't even mention it. I haven't heard from anyone else but I strongly suspect that nothing has been done to try to find her. This was my fear. That there is too much guilt or shame or the topic itself is just too uncomfortable for anyone to really delve in and try to find her. I don't want to step on anyone's toes but I think I may have to become the lead in this investigation if its to be successful.

I've always loved history. I am addicted to the History Channel (and now History International too); my favorite show at the moment is Digging for the Truth. It doesn't hurt that the host, Josh Bernstein, is h-o-t.

But mostly I gravitate towards the darker stuff. Hitler, Stalin, serial killers. Man's inhumanity to man. I know I'll never understand it, but I want to. This is what happens when you grow up in an extremely dysfunctional household with a mother who is mentally ill. I truly believe she suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Fun stuff. The sad thing is that she will never get treatment because the hallmark of this disorder is she believes herself to be superior and special. So why fix what isn't broken? Her complete inability to empathize and her pathological lying make it impossible to discuss anything of substance, which is why she just recently found out about my infertility issues. There's way more here to write about, obviously, but that's enough for today.

I'm still struggling mightily with my own thoughts and ideas about my situation. Every time I get to a place where I think I'll be OK with my life the way it is (i.e. without children), I'll hear or read something that makes me think...wait a minute, maybe, just maybe there is still hope for me. Damn you, Holly Hunter!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Beyond Belief

I find it interesting that the further I stray from infertility- or baby-related topics, the fewer comments I get. I hope this isn't a trend. To further test this theory, this post is about movies.

The other day I watched Beyond Borders starring Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen. If you look at the poster you'll see the tag line is "Where hope survives." While this is meant to be both mysterious and intriguing, its actually prophetic. [If you haven't seen this movie and you plan on it, I suggest you stop reading, spoiler alert.] You see, hope survives in the form of a child. A child that is conceived on the ONE NIGHT that the two main characters spend together before one of them dies. This is the same thing that ruined Cold Mountain for me. I realize it helps to put salve on the wound that is inflicted on us when one of the beloved main characters doesn't survive to the credits, but does anyone really believe this is the way things work? Even in times of war? Or am I just bitter and can't suspend my hard-earned reproductive knowledge for the two hours required to watch a movie?

Otherwise, I thought they were both decent movies. There is an especially poignant moment in Borders where Angelina's character is driving through the Ethiopian desert on a truck bringing food supplies to a refugee camp when she spots a baby sitting by itself in the sand being approached by a vulture. She demands the truck stop so she can shoo the bird away and scoops the child up in her arms, saving its life. Spending time in the camps in Cambodia and Ethiopia during the filming of this movie obviously had such a profound effect on her that she adopted children from both countries in real life. You gotta respect that.

And, let's face it, you can't go far wrong with Jude Law and Clive Owen on screen.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Dark Parts

I’m finally finished with the two-month assignment at the second client I took on. It could go on the books as two of the longest months in recent memory. I’m happy to be out of there, but happier to have my old life back, working part-time and making my own hours at the client I’ve had for over 2 years. Now I can blog more, get back to the gym and have some alone time to reflect and regroup.

I took the last Pill in the first pack yesterday, so I should start in the next couple of days. That last week I was feeling pretty crappy. My doctor made me do a “Sunday start” and I actually started on a Monday, so I took the pills almost a whole week longer than I should have. My poor body was trying like crazy to start and I ended up with some unpleasant side effects that shall go unmentioned, you get the idea.

Although I’m leaning heavily in one direction, I’m giving myself the next month to come to a decision about staying on the Pill. Other than a few casual remarks here and there, D. and I haven’t had The Conversation yet. Thanks to all of you that left comments. Stay tuned.

In the meantime there’s been an un-IF-related post swirling about in my head for a little while. I’m more than a bit hesitant to give details, this IS the internet after all, and I don’t have control over who is reading this and what they do with the information, or how people will react or respond. There’s plenty enough shame and guilt to go around without adding to it by reading a stranger’s cruel comments. On the flip side, you just never know when someone out there will have information that could be helpful, so I’m willing to risk it. Just know that, as usual, any comments I find to be offensive will be deleted, hopefully before anyone else gets to read them.

When S. was born her brothers were 5 and 3. She was born deaf and blind. Before she was 5 the family moved across the country to B.C., and two years later the final child, another boy, was born. It was around this time her parents determined they could no longer provide the kind of care she required with three other small children at home, and decided to put her into a school for the disabled. This institution was the only available choice, unfortunately, since it was primarily a school for the mentally handicapped. At the time a child that was deaf and blind was probably determined to be mentally deficient, although this later proved to be untrue. She lived her entire life at the school and as an adult was moved with other patients into a group home.

S. is my aunt. I never knew she existed until I was a teenager, when I overheard a conversation I wasn’t supposed to hear and started asking questions. Her mother visited her, I don’t know how often, and perhaps other family members did as well. After her mother died and she was moved out of the school, the family lost track of her. Now we are trying to find her.

I’ve always wanted to find her, I always wanted to let her know that I think about her often and I love her even though we’ve never met.

My most recent attempts to gather information about the school and how to go about getting information on her whereabouts has gleaned some terribly disheartening information. All too unsurprisingly, a government report from a couple of years ago determined that physical and sexual abuse occurred at the school and that it failed to protect patients and to report abuses that occurred. A formal apology from the government was issued and a trust fund was set up to help former patients. Unfortunately this money has not been distributed as a class-action suit has now been filed and certified by the court. To imagine how her life must have been at the school was bad enough, now to put the possibility out there that she may have been abused as well is almost more than I can bear. What are the chances she completely escaped the systemic abuse in her 40+ years as a resident? There is an organization of former patients (or “survivors” as they call themselves) of the school, we are starting there to see if they can help us to find S., and to determine whether she is part of the class-action. If she was abused then we want to make sure that she is compensated, although that will not be any means make up for the years she spent in this god-forsaken place.

If you want to know more details or think you may have information that could be useful, please feel free to leave a comment and I can correspond with you offline.

I wonder how many other family members have suffered sexual abuse that I don’t know about? It seems to be a family curse, on both sides. Tears are streaming down my face as I write these words…its like infertility – unless you’ve lived it, there isn’t any way to explain how it becomes a dark part of your world. For someone like S., who was born into a world of silence and darkness, I just can’t even imagine the fear and the pain and the shame, the shame that was never hers but that I'm sure she carries nevertheless.