Adventures in making and raising our test-tube babies

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Young Man's Game

The reproductive arts are a young man's game, and I am an old woman.

As I cast my elderly, ancient eyes back in time, I realize that it was only one year ago that James and I signed up for our first IVF. I was a new 35, so sprightly that my doctor said we could just consider me (and my probably success rate) in the 30-34 year old category.

Two weeks ago our third IVF came to an end. With my body thirty pounds heavier than this time last year, and full of gallons of natural and unnatural hormones -- some of them produced from the urine of post-menopausal women! -- I'm beat.

I'm resting. When you see my posts not appearing on this blog, know that it's because I'm not moving my arms that day. I'm napping. I'm taking a break from society. I'm regaining my balance.

Yes, you may send me chocolates. That would be fine. Or watercolor sets. Shrinky-dinks. You get the picture.

I'll see you when I wake up.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chatty Kathe[rine]

You may know that I talk a lot. Not so much that my mouth is always moving, but there is almost NOTHING I won't share with a stranger. To say nothing of friends.

The other day I saw a woman I worked with for one month, seven years ago. She was in the grocery store and immediately pointed to her new masterpiece: a two-week-old baby. She said, "This is what we've been doing." I accosted her with talk of babies and fertility. I told her about my infertility struggles, and it turns out that she did IVF too, and used my same doctor. "I'm 42," she explained. "Yeah, I'm 36." By the time our conversation had faded, we were at her car and her husband had unloaded all the groceries and snapped the child into the back seat.

The day before that I went to the chiropractor. My chiropractor is now on her second pregnancy via IVF. This time, she told me, it's twin boys. The first IVF rendered a little girl. She goes to the doctor we did our first IVF with. I think my chiropractic sessions run a little long because I don't shut up on the topic of IVF.

So in the meantime, our dear friend Eric Roston has come out with a book about carbon. It's called The Carbon Age: How Life's Core Element has become Civilization's Greatest Threat (order it on at We love Eric, and we love his book. My college friend, this historian-turned-Russophile, at some point became a science writer, and he has devoted the last few years of his life to researching every little implication carbon has in our world -- from the oil industry to low carb diets to plastics. When James said that Eric talks about carbon as much as I talk about IVF, well, then I knew that I talked about IVF a whole, whole lot.

And as I draw to a close here, I'm thinking that you're wondering how our pregnancy test went. It is with great physical concentration that I tell you, "We're not talking." You remember that I tried this last time: if the test were positive, we wouldn't want to tell you for 12 weeks. And if the test were negative, I couldn't talk about it, lest you be able to deduce from my not talking about it that it was positive. You see, right?

You may also remember that after about 3 weeks I broke down and announced the bad news on this blog.

Not this time, baby. You will not hear one peep out of me for 3 months. Not about the specifics of what is or is not going on in my body.



I mean it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

These Dreams

Martin Luther King, Jr., as I understand it, was a guy who had vivid dreams. One of his dreams, in fact, which he told lots of people about, had to do with racial harmony. It was one of those wacky dreams that differed drastically from reality, but nevertheless made sense when you talked about it in the waking world.

I have a lot of vivid dreams, too. Like MLK, mine have a lot to do with my struggle. Unlike MLK, they might not be all that coherent in waking. But that doesn't stop me from talking about them.

In the last week I've had a lot of dreams relating to my abdomen. I dreamed that the fuzzy blanket we had in the rented Rhode Island house was my endometrium (the uterine lining). I don't know what it's really like in there, but I don't think it's white and fuzzy. But if it were it would be great. Boy, that was a good blanket.

I also dreamed about how 20 embryos would line up in my belly if I had duodecimuplets. (I made that word up). If I had a really big litter, say. I dreamed they would organize themselves in drooping lines from one side of my waist to another, like a beautiful Athenian belt of stars. Like Orion's, but more bling'ed out. Never mind that my uterus is not at my waist level. With duodecimuplets, one has to branch out.

Finally, I had the strangest dream of all: that I was skinny again. I don't think I have to say much more about the weirdness of this one.

I've also had more existential dreams, like one in which my otherwise tolerant and sweet mom issued me a citation for insolence. Using her authority from her job in the State Department, she took out one of those old tickets they used to tear off a roll and give you at the movies. She wrote "rude" on it, and the time and place of my hearing. I didn't understand how asking "why?!" could be against the law, but she didn't back down. Fortunately, the hearing didn't take place because of some natural disaster that made people have to evacuate the State Department building. The evacuation prevented me from having to defend my constant asking of "why?" and also saved me from some kind of foggy situation in which I had lost one of my shoes and was trying to replace it with a lime green pump.

As I analyze these brilliant snippits of imagination, I am reminded of what Heart offered up to us in the 80s, in the song "These Dreams:"

These dreams go on when I close my eyes.
Every second of the night, I live another life.
These dreams that sleep when it's cold outside,
Every moment I'm awake, the further I'm away.

No, I don't know what that means or how it applies. Since when have dreams made any sense at all? But the melody sticks in my head.