Eli's Corner

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a summer in brief

So last time I posted was after that miserable failure of an IVF in April.  Around that time I hit a point where it was no longer helpful to talk about my shrinking window, my crusty ovaries, or my dwindling hopes.  Voicing all this did nothing but give center stage to all the anxiety crowding around the edges of my mind.  I stopped blogging. We told our families that IVF didn’t work. (Those who asked. Mostly my family sucks and pretends I don’t exist, so we just let them figure it out.) But we didn’t tell any of them that it would probably never work, that my body just didn’t respond to the drugs anymore.  I just stopped talking about my reproductive system, except when I cried and grieved to my therapist about it, and in those periodic what the heck do we do now conversations with B. In general, it was too heavy to give words to.

Without any further plan, we took a break. We had family visits over the summer. We grew our little business. We got all obsessed with food allergies and got expensive tests done. We talked about adopting. We found out B is supposedly allergic to All Foods Known To Man. We started identifying friends and friends of friends who had adopted so we could get together and ask them about their experiences. We didn’t follow through.

We talked about doing that absurd aggressive IVF which had such slim chances of working. We saw naturopaths about the damn allergies.  Mine told me I needed to detox from all those years of fertility drugs.  I figured, what the hell, and I forced us both on a 3-week detox / elimination diet to kill the dual birds of allergies and toxins with the one Mediclear stone.  No coffee, sugar, alcohol, eggs, dairy, meat, gluten, tomatoes, almonds, soy, etc. etc. etc. made for a super boring summer, but I had minimal expectations for the summer anyway. We reintroduced the allergens one at a time. B decided that each of his reactions was attributable to something else – like how hot it was that day, making this whole exercise essentially pointless as far as he was concerned.

We visited our friends at their cabin on the Sunshine Coast. We drank. I learned to wakeboard. (This is major.) That weekend I finally dumped it all out on my friend that we were pretty much never going to have children. She didn’t say anything particularly horrible.  We jumped off the pier. (Also major.)

We came home, closed our eyes, and dialed up the fertility clinic. In the absence of being able to wrap our heads around anything else, we decided to do one more try with IVF.  We told no one. I think I kind of just wanted to pretend it wasn’t happening until it was over. I didn’t know how I was going to get through it this time, frankly, but I didn’t see any other way to move forward except to get this over with and out of my system. I had my orientation, started my inositol/coQ10/vitamin cocktail and waited for CD1 to call and schedule everything. Went to a double baby shower for two friends that are both on their 2nd since I started trying. Survived by subversively conspiring with H2 to wear matching black tees she got us as gifts when one of those friends announced. (We’ve started buying each other presents when other people get pregnant.)

The next week I suddenly became super chatty about my ovaries.  Had a picnic at the beach with a couple of girlfriends, threw back some gin and tonics and told them all about how I was doing to do one more shitty IVF before giving up completely. Next day another picnic at the beach with a friend who has endo (she comes from a family of endo sufferers, and her sister had just had her second failed IVF cycle that week).  We grieved together about never having babies that will look like us.

B and I took our staff out for drinks that Friday night and felt excited that our little crew was finally starting to feel like a team.  Got home and realized it was too late to call the clinic before the weekend to kick off IVF scheduling.  Also realized CD1 should have been yesterday.

And this brings us almost to the end of summer.  Hold up, I’ve got to pee.





sunshine award

Hey all,

I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Award!  Yay!  I have to confess I had no idea what that was – being pretty green at all things bloggy – and it took me a minute to figure it out.  It kind of reminds me of the old chain letters you used to get.  Yes, I’m old enough to remember chain LETTERS, none of this email-this-to-100-people-or-your-cat-will-die crap.  I’m talking mail a pair of panties to 9 friends and you’ll get 200 pairs of panties in the mail.  I never actually did that because it was a lot of postage, and I felt weird getting panties in the mail from strangers.  Also, really, who needs 200 pairs of panties?  But this I will do, because it means that A Calm Persistence believes that I am a writer who brightens other people’s days – which is amazing and awesome.  Especially since I write pretty honestly about some pretty dark things on here.  I think we all need each other in this journey, and sometimes the honesty perhaps shines a light in the dark.  And if there’s any kind of silver lining in this process, it’s thinking that your going through it might then help you carry the burden with someone else a few steps of the way.  To be told something like this brings a little ray of redemption into the whole thing, and that is pretty wonderful.  And if I can help introduce you to some of the brave women who have been helping me along the way, then I welcome that opportunity.

Incidentally, you should read A Calm Persistence‘s blog.  Here is one good reason why:

stay positive

See what I mean about we need each other?  Ok.  Down to business.  This is my first ever award and I’m determined not to mess it up.

The rules are:

Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post – done!


Link to the blogger who nominated you – check!

Answer 10 questions about yourself – see below

Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award – ibid

Make up 10 questions that are super long and/or annoying to answer (ok, I invented that rule) – check!

Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them.  – part 1 done and part 2 will do once I publish this – whew!

Ok – here are the questions I need to answer:

1. Why do you Blog?

I started blogging as an outlet for myself in the TTC process.  I typically journal to sort out my thoughts, but I thought perhaps if I did an anonymous blog, maybe someone else dealing with the same things might come across it and find it helpful.  At the time I had no idea there was a whole community out there.  Connecting through this medium with others on this journey has been an amazing resource and encouragement for me.

2. What are you most proud of?

Honestly, I know it sounds kind of pathetic, but at this point I’m just proud that I’m keeping on keeping on.  It’s been a rough few years, but stuff like this teaches you a lot about yourself.  One of my favorite quotes is “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” and my hope in all of this is that it will not be wasted but that somehow I will manage to stop wrestling God long enough to allow him to use this to shape me into a sturdier, kinder me.

3. What is one thing you want to learn how to do?

Dive.  I’ve always had trouble with getting inverted (flips, dives, cartwheels, what have you).  I’m an avid swimmer – goggles, swim cap, the whole 9 yards, but I’ve never learned to dive and am now at the point where it’s just embarrassing.  (As one gets older, it turns out, one really finds fewer and fewer scenarios in which bellyflopping and cannonballing are considered acceptable methods of entering a pool.)

4. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

This one:

Only less kill-everybody-and-start-world-war-III and more visit-my-family-whenever-I-want-and-have-dinner-in-Istanbul-tonight.  Also, it opens up several career paths:  search and rescue, crime fighting, crime, transportation-for-hire, smuggler, coyote, etc.

5. What is your best piece of advice?

Be kind to yourself.

6. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

I aspire to do what my totally inspiring in-laws have done with their money: pick a just standard of living and stick to it.  Then continue to work hard and invest wisely so that you can give extravagantly.

7. What is your favorite season? Why?

Summertime!  Sun on my skin, bra-optional sundresses.  (Don’t worry, I’m pretty flat-chested.)

8. What is your all time favorite meal?

First date with my now-husband.  He took me out to a 5-star French restaurant in San Francisco.  Neither of us had ever eaten a meal like that before (it involved pear soup with african peppercorns, a quail, a souffle, and chocolate mousse to end your very life).   The food, the conversation – and, doubtless, the swirling pheromones, made it the meal of a lifetime.

9. What is your favorite song?

Right now?  Probably this one.  It’s kind of been my anthem in my TTC process:

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Well, when it comes down to it, I guess we could live almost anywhere in the world, but we live where we live (Vancouver), so I guess the question then is why.  I mean, it’s very pretty and nice, but it’s also rainy and expensive.  I think the thing that keeps us here is the community.  There are just some seriously cool people around here.  And they seem to have time to hang out, whereas in San Francisco, we had to book 3 months in advance to do anything with anybody.  Also, he’s got family nearby.

Ok, next step: As many of us do, I follow a lot of wonderful blogs, and these are just a few of them.  These all happen to be women working to build their families – most are trying to conceive, some have adopted, some are redefining what family means to them.  All are honest, brave and human.  These blogs have encouraged me, helped me feel less isolated and crazy, and have inspired me.

Here, in no particular order, are my nominees:

Adding a Burden

Redeeming Infertility

Project Sweet Pea

Abby Hummel

You Can’t Choose When

Stupid Stork

Hey, Myrtle!

Hang Your Hopes From Trees

On the other side of the belly button

The Elusive Second Line

And here are my questions to you:

1. Why did you start blogging and why do you blog now?

2. If you were running for President (or Prime Minister or whatever your head of state is) what would your platform be?  (Not trying to make this political…but wondering what social issues matter to you most.)

3. Of all the places you’ve been, which one would you like to return to?  Why?

4. If you could go back in time to the beginning of your TTC journey and tell yourself one thing,  what would it be?

5. If you were being interrogated by the CIA (or the KGB or MI6 or whatever your country’s scary secret police is…in my country it’s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I guess, which is just so Canada…our scary cops wear cute outfits and ride horses) what song would they need to play over and over to break you?

6. Any random hidden talents?

7. One of your top 5 quotes ever? (Because I always find it hard to pick my #1 of anything.)

8. What’s your proudest moment before the age of 10?

9. Best fictional book you’ve ever read (or one of your top 5):

10.  What question do you wish I had asked you?

Play along if you like!


the other losses

This whole process puts such an enormous strain on relationships – even the ones you thought were unshakable. In the past month, I’ve gone through this with my two closest friends. It’s brutal. I think these friendships will emerge intact, but they will be changed.

H2 was my maid of honor, and I was hers. She had two miscarriages in the past couple of years, and she was a tremendous support to me in mine. This last pregnancy she had was fraught with difficulty, but her baby made it. He’s been in the NICU for about 3 months, and he’s still not ready to go home, but he’s defied all the odds a baby born at 24 weeks faces and is (in my mind, anyway) a bona fide miracle child.

I know it must be so hard for her to not have him at home, to be able to hold him, feed him, tuck him in at night. I’ve tried my best to support her. I found a place online that sells micro preemie clothes and sent her some. In those early days, I wanted her to have something that was specifically for THIS child, not potentially for some later child who might have better chances. As weeks went by, though, it became less clear how to be supportive, but I made my awkward attempts. We live in different countries, and we communicate mostly by text now, so it’s not like it’s been in years past. Somewhere in there it all blew up. I got a cutting message from her that I was saying the wrong things. I was livid, as I felt like I was giving her the best I could and had been sucking it up forever that she was telling me the wrong things.

At the end of the day, after a few explanatory emails were exchanged, what I think is that we were each giving each other what we ourselves needed…in my case, it was acknowledgement. I was working hard at demonstrating to her that I understood that what she is going through must be so painful. I even felt like acknowledging this was an expression of love to her, a sacrifice on my part, because, despite all of this, she has not one but three living children. And this last little one, who looked for all the world like he wouldn’t pull through, is actually going to make it. I feel like she’s incredibly fortunate, even though this is hard. I’ve never had a living baby out in the world. I don’t know what it’s like. So I tried to imagine what it must be like to have your baby be alive but not with you, and to sympathize. But she was well in touch with the hard part, and she didn’t need to be reminded of it. My efforts were only rubbing in her face what was already so difficult.

She, meanwhile, was giving me what she needed: hope. Looking at the bright side. Focusing on what’s going well. Telling me things are not that bad, that they will get better. But what she doesn’t understand about what I deal with is that I don’t have a baby in the hospital that I can post pictures of. I don’t have a single thing to point to to say “this is why I hurt.” I have an invisible disease, and I have an absence. People don’t relate to those things. They don’t remember them. Or if they do, they just have no idea how to talk about them. So nothing is said and nothing is done, and the world marches on. What I actually don’t need is for people to look in the bright side. I just need someone to sit in the dark with me.

So while my heart is crying out for someone to please acknowledge that what I am experiencing is real, she is making light of it. And while she is desperately needing to look forward to good things, I’m harping on the hard thing. And we’re both busy and exhausted and keeping our heads above water and accidentally hurting each other while we’re trying to help.

We emailed back and forth and settled it at this: We love each other. We’ll sort this out. Later. We’re too maxed out with our respective situations and our life circumstances to sort it out at the moment, but we will sort it out. We’re just putting everything on pause. I don’t have to be her cheerleader at the moment, even though I’m trusting she knows in my heart I’m wishing her and her little boy every good thing. And she doesn’t have to be my confidant, but I’m trusting that when the dust settles, we’ll be able to find each other again. I wish we each had the capacity to be there for each other during what are rough times for both of us, but we just don’t.

Then there’s the other friend, the one I was pregnant with – a year and a half ago, we were incredibly close and had everything in common. We worked together, got pregnant about the same time, even got laid off on the same phone call. Then she had a baby boy, and I lost mine. She’s now a full-time mom, and I work with my husband in a field unrelated to the work we used to do together. If we’re honest, we have little to talk about. We try, but it’s hard. I find it particularly hard. I finally had a clear-the-air talk with her about it – because I felt like she deserved my honesty and not some kind of fake pretendy thing where we all act like nothing’s going on. She told me she understood if I needed distance, and she wouldn’t take it personally, but she wasn’t giving up on this friendship. I appreciated that.

She was also a bastion of hope and positivity, bowling me over with her enthusiasm and certainty that I WILL have children. Part of me feels glad that somebody feels that way, because I certainly don’t feel it anymore, but part of me just wants to say, “Here’s the thing –  just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it must work for me – that the score has to be evened out somehow. We might need to live with this dissonance.”

I didn’t say that though, and then she told me my least favorite story – the one about the friend who went to go adopt a baby and suddenly got pregnant. (EVERYBODY has a friend who has that story…don’t even get me started on that story…) I ended up telling her that sometimes closure is kinder than hope.

I realized while speaking with her that I’m not giving up on hope, but my hope cannot be that I will be able to have a child. Because when it comes down to it, the universe does not owe me a child. Neither does God.  My hope has to be that no matter what happens, I will be able to embrace my life. Whether I have my own kids, somebody else’s kids or no kids, I have to believe – even to swear to myself – that I will be ok.  And even though there’s some bitterness now, I have to believe I will be able to adjust and not live in the shadow of what “should” have been.

This transference of hope is, I think, wise. But I also know there’s an element of self-protection in there. Hope makes everything so much harder. But now as I find myself in my fourth (and quite possibly last) round of IUI, I feel a little like a robot walking through the steps. I’ve promised myself I’d take the holidays off if this doesn’t work, so I’m almost just gritting my teeth and holding my breath until I can get a break for a couple of months. But I’m remembering the innocence of that first IUI attempt, how I was wanting to make my soul and my body a welcoming place to host a new life. And I miss that. I want to engage. But I’m so beat up right now.

And the people who have helped carry me in the past are not able to walk this with me now. I’m finding myself praying more, hoping that God will be able to pick up where they left off. Hoping that this works, hoping that I’ll be ok if it doesn’t. Hoping that of all the things that are lost in this process, I am not one.

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oddly, gratitude

My husband set off on Saturday to do his first (un)official century ride.  He’d trained and crosstrained and was so ready when he set out with his buddy in the morning.  An hour later, the landline rang.  Nobody has that number.  I glanced at my cell phone.  Dead.  I ran upstairs as quickly as I could to get to the phone.

Flash back to a few days after our honeymoon when my husband set out for a ride and I got a call from an unknown number on my phone.  I didn’t pick up at first.  The person called right back, and I dove for the phone, knowing instinctively that something had happened to my husband.  Sure enough, it was a stranger telling me that my husband was being loaded into an ambulance.

Flash back a few months before that to me coming home from a movie with my mom and sister who were in town to help me plan last-minute wedding stuff.  I glanced at my phone and saw several missed calls from my dad’s number.  I checked my messages.  It was a stranger’s voice.  Somehow in my gut I immediately knew that my dad was either dead or in a coma.  It was just a question of which one, and if he was dead, if he had died alone.  Somehow it was that simple.  (A phone call would reveal that when he fell, he never hit the ground, that he was caught by two young men he had mentored when they were in prison.  I was so thankful they had been there to catch him when his heart stopped beating.)

These are the calls that make the earth stand still.  I remember that rushed, interminable drive to the hospital to find my husband, my father’s death still fresh in my mind, my whole universe imploding, thinking how things don’t always end up ok now.  Everything is up for grabs.  I remember a calming presence enveloping my mind, telling me this was not that, telling me he would be alright.

Running up the stairs to grab the phone, I went through an abridged version of all of these experiences.  It was my husband’s voice on the other end of the line.  Thank. God.  Yes, he had been in an accident.  Yes, he was on his way to the hospital.

We spent Saturday in the Emergency Room.  His elbow is badly broken, his forearm essentially dangling there.  For some unfathomable reason, they have not been able to get us in for surgery yet, so it’s been an exhausting week of waiting at the hospital, being sent home, being ready at 6am to go in and being told not today, getting 5:30am calls saying we’ll call you again every hour on the hour until we know, and on and on.  Meanwhile, he is swelling and in pain and has a giant hunk of sharp bone floating loose in his arm.  It’s incredibly frustrating.

And yet, every time I look at him this week, I’m so thankful.  Yes, I’m frustrated that they aren’t taking this as seriously as I think they should, but when I compare this to when 20 doctors were gathered around my nephew in the trauma ward last year, I’m thankful.  And when tomorrow (yes, it will be tomorrow.  It will.)  they wheel him out to put him under, I will make sure I say I love you, and I will be a little afraid, but I will be thankful.  And just so very thankful when it’s done.


ten tips for surviving the two week wait

Today I’m officially past the halfway point of my Two Week Wait. (For the uninitiated, this is the time between ovulation and being able to tell if you got pregnant during said ovulation). It is a time of great neurosis for women dealing with infertility. I have spent precisely half of the last two years of my life in a Two Week Wait, and I am not a fan. It was particularly awful in the early days – obsessing about potential pregnancy symptoms and using up pee sticks like they were going out of style – but after the passage of months, then years, I now kind of mostly assume I’m not pregnant and try not to torture myself. I try not to drink, but, as drinking is a gray area during this time, I usually drink and then have guilt. Otherwise, business as usual.

The Two Week Wait after a major fertility procedure, however, is an entirely different story. These are the Waits in which you’ve invested a large sum of money, a good deal of time – and worse – a significant measure of hope. You’ve surrendered your flesh to be needled and probed and inflated with dye and have bid adieu to your dignity and modesty all in hopes that this time – this time it might work.

Launching into my second Superovulation IUI Two Week Wait, I googled how to cope with it and found much of the advice to be profoundly unhelpful. Stuff like, “Don’t think about it,” and other impossible suggestions. So I’ve decided to share my own coping techniques with you. These are not doctor-approved or possibly even psychologically sound, but they are the best I’ve got.

1. Make a paper chain advent calendar thingy. Every year as a child on December 1st I would make a chain with twenty-four alternating red and green links and one yellow (gold) link at the end. I’d break off one link everyday until it was *gasp* Christmas! (I was not good with waits even as a child.) At the beginning of my last IUI Wait I decided to try to see it time as a time of anticipation. Something to be fully experienced and even celebrated. In that spirit I made myself a paper chain. I didn’t go with red and green this time, but I did put pink and blue stripes on the last link. (And then the next day I drew black line through it to symbolize uncertainty because otherwise the pink and blue looked cheeky.)


Every morning, I broke off a link and sat and prayed and asked for something to hold onto that day. A true thing, a beautiful thing, or, on more difficult days, a cry for help to carry with me and anchor me throughout the day. I wrote each day’s anchor on its broken link. I kept them all and would look them over when it got rough.


It actually was a pretty special time, and it was exactly what I needed. This round, however – perhaps partly owing to the fact that I got my plus sign and had my special moment and then had a bunch of really really sad moments after and might be a little disillusioned – I’ve made a quality decision to be distracted…um, rather than present. Which somehow sounds very wrong.  At any rate, here’s my best advice so far from this round…

2. Go paddleboarding. If possible, here:


And if possible, sit on your board in the middle of the cove with your legs dangling in the water next to someone who will grab your paddle and pull you in for a kiss.

3. Do acupuncture and guided meditation. I was raised among rednecks. Acupuncture was not something we’d heard about (but it would have given us all a real hoot if we had). People who meditated were crazy and also going directly to hell. So when I lie on a massage table with needles in all my meridians and Circle and Bloom’s guided meditations pulsing through my ears, I feel the judgment of my six-year-old self. But the acupuncture does help. And I love the way the guided meditations correspond to the exact day of your cycle and tell you precisely what your body is doing and say good things over your body. It’s good to have life spoken over your body, especially when so many bad things are being pronounced over it all the time.

4. Zumba it out. Preferably with friends. Preferable still are friends who can laugh at themselves.  A word to the wise though – the ads make Zumba look like this,


but in real life it perspires more, is less attractive and has far less abdominal definition.  It is essentially a place to go sweat your face off, make a fool of yourself (if you share my level of athleticism) and laugh it off.  I recommend it.

5. Start an exclusive, smarty-pants book club. A friend and I are reading Isabel Allende’s Casa de los Espiritus in Spanish and discussing themes of matriarchy and machismo over tea on Saturday mornings. It makes us feel cultured and cerebral.  Ok, she is cultured and cerebral.  It makes me feel cultured and cerebral.

6. Do a major hair change.  It will (hopefully) make you feel fabulous, and it will give you and everybody else something to talk about.  It’s amazing how much people are willing to fixate on a haircut, which makes it a very useful diversion.  Incidentally, today I went from quotidian blonde to saucy redhead.  (My husband was not keen on the idea of me going red, so when I got home from the salon I made sure he didn’t see me until I came into his office half naked and bearing chocolate chip cookies – to provide a positive mental association with the new haircolor.  It totally worked.)

7. Don’t tell people you did the procedure. Unless you want to update them all along and tell them right away if you’re pregnant or not. Rookie mistake.

8. If you’re a person who prays, pray.  Even if you’re not, consider it.  I had forgotten until recently how utterly humanizing it is to take a moment to sit in a presence that knows you infinitely and loves you without any edits.  Even if it’s just a moment out of a day, sit and ask to be loved.  It’s something I’ve foolishly taken for granted, but it’s one of the great marvels of existence.

9. Find a really wonderful therapist.  After hitting a really low point in January I realized that I was going to have to change some things (many of the activities listed above are a result of that realization, as was swallowing my pride and asking around about counselors).  A friend recommended someone to me who has turned out to be amazing, and I am so thankful to have her in my corner.  I realize this is not easily done or attainable for everybody, but if you can, do.

10. Have a back-up plan.  I’m already researching cocktail lounges for my epic bender in the event of a negative test result.