This week for Show and Tell I am revealing the winner and prize for my Guess The Beta Contest.

The beta at 12DPO was (drumroll) 79.

This means that Fattykins from I Can’t Wash My Jeans, My Fat Is In The Way is our winner, with a right-on guess of 79.

(Honorable mention to S from Misconceptions About Conception who guessed an ever-so-close 78.)

I gave Fattykins prize options of some pottery that I had made or a gift of her choice from Spain. She decided to split the difference with some pottery from Spain.

Here it is, from an incredible shop in Madrid that sells all sorts of functional and artistic porcelain items made by a pottery collective. Note the deceptive-as-usual photo tricks distorting the scale — this vase is less than three inches tall. Sorry, I didn’t bring my old pal Wonder Woman pez to Spain.

Vase for Fattykins

I actually bought myself a gift at that same shop too (despite my rule that I’m not allowed to buy pottery, which this doesn’t technically violate since it’s a sculpture) but for that you’ll need to wait for a future Show and Tell.

Congrats, Fattykins! I hope that you can locate some tiny flowers to fit the vase. I will mail it once I return to the U.S., which is only a couple of days away. Sad news for continued enjoyment of this fine country, but happy news for the ability to do a repeat beta.

Which leads us to… another contest! Guess my second beta, which will occur at 21DPO. It could have doubled many times over from 79 at 12DPO, or it may have declined. No hint of becoming un-pregnant so far, but if I’ve learned anything from this BFP, it’s that anything is possible. Hell, it might be quadrupling because I’m carrying quads. Anything is possible.

Ojo los otros de Show y Tell.

Thoughtful Thursday¡Hola desde España!

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday is inspired by my recent positive beta following Perfunctory IUI #7. As I have discussed before, this cycle carried none of the hopes of most other cycles, and therefore none of the anxieties.

Since the news, though, I am not entirely anxiety-free. Every trip to the bathroom involves examination of the toilet paper under a metaphoric microscope, for traces of blood and signs of danger. My wistful “what if” moments are tempered by doomsday “what if” scenarios and recollections of past miscarriages.

One thing that has reduced my anxiety is being on holiday. I highly recommend it. There was not a trace of anxiety, for example, when I was sitting at the beach yesterday looking at the Mediterranean. I was aware of being pregnant, but nothing about infertility or potential/past miscarriage ever crossed my mind.

Something else that has reduced my anxiety are positive affirmations. Some might call them mantras, but for me that conjures a meditation context. My little statements do not occur during moments of mindfulness, but more commonly during moments of freaking out. I also like to say affirmations sometimes during neutral moments, just to give myself a pep-talk.

Historically, aside from TTC, the affirmation that has helped me most in life is, “Just for today…” and then filling in the blank. Just for today, I will not be angry. Just for today, I will not worry. Just for today, I will let myself be happy. I like this because it does not deny emotions — it just compartmentalizes them. It gives me permission to experience them tomorrow. This affirmation actually involves playing a little trick on myself: by tomorrow, the emotion in question has often passed, and I can continue as before without having to have wallowed in that emotion.

Obviously, affirmations can apply to TTC, infertility, pregnancy, and beyond. Rife as this whole process can be with potential disappointment, waiting, frustration, and anxiety, affirmations are perhaps better suited for reproduction than for most other aspects of life.

Newly-BFP Fallopian ‘Tudes posted earlier this week with her own affirmation, “One day at a time.” Regular pregnant women seem to do a lot of forward-thinking, but those of us who have lost pregnancies in the past (or who had a hard time achieving pregnancy in the first place, or both) tend to white-knuckle it through each day.

There are a few affirmations that I have been using this week.

  • “I am closer.” Whatever happens, I am closer to ending up with a child. If this pregnancy continues, I am closer for obvious reasons. If it does not, I will then have experienced my third loss, which will spur Dr. Full Steam Ahead into recurrent pregnancy loss testing.
  • “Maybe.” Just maybe this will work. No guarantees, no setting myself up for a fall; merely a little hope.
  • “Just for today…” Just for today, I am pregnant. Just for today, I will enjoy this. I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but today if I feel like buying something that I may never be able to buy anywhere else, I will. Uncharacteristically, I have allowed myself to make a physical acknowledgement of the pregnancy by buying a couple of “gifts” for the baby during this holiday. You will see them at upcoming Show and Tells. These objects may take on other meaning tomorrow, but just for today, they are gifts for the “theoretical child”  — as DH likes to call it. Apparently he has his own set of thoughts that help him deal with the situation.

Do you have affirmations that have helped you through TTC/infertility/pregnancy/life? If not, is there something else that you say to yourself to get through difficult times?

Barren Bitches Book Brigade Welcome to the Barren Bitches Book Brigade, featuring Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

I really enjoyed this book. I have rarely experienced such a well-orchestrated denouement. (I can’t believe I spelled that correctly on the first try… thanks, Mrs. G., my 7th grade English teacher!) Thought-provoking, touching, haunting, even occasionally funny.

Choosing “Never Let Me Go” as the title of the book makes me almost cry every time I see it.

Hey, did you see the news that it’s going to be made into a movie staring Keira Knightley? Not how I imagined Kathy at all. I’m glad that I finished reading the book before I learned that information.

I will read and comment on everyone else’s BBBB posts as soon as I can, but right now I can barely keep my eyes open, having slept a total of 5 hours in the past 2 days (and also Barcelona is calling).

At the end of Never Let Me Go, they mentioned “designer babies” had turned people against the whole clone issue.  Now, ABC news featured a story tonight (3/3/09) about parents being able to build their baby (a bit of reality reflecting art).  How does this make you feel?  Do you think PGD should only be used to avoid health issues and genetic defects?  Is it ok to use it to have a baby who can save your current child’s life through marrow transplant?  Is it ok to pick hair type and eye color?

Honestly I think a lot of the worry is overblown. Yes, those who use donor gametes already do this to some extent by choosing certain characteristics. But the rest of us choose characteristics by picking a partner.

I happen to have chosen a very tall partner — not because he was tall, it was just part of the package. If I wanted a short child for some reason, I just don’t think the genes would be there, no matter how many embryos we tried to test.

Blue eyes? Different story. DH has blue eyes — a beautiful shade of blue, in fact. My eyes are quite brown. Some people in my extended family have blue eyes, so it’s possible that I am heterozygous for the trait. If so, each embryo would have a 50/50 chance of being blue-eyed. Would I ever select on the basis of eye color? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Would I love to ensure that my child won’t end up with the heart disease that killed most of his/her paternal ancestors? Of course. Would I use PGD to do that, or to select any other trait aside from preventing life-threatening genetic disorders? No. Especially given that we haven’t gotten any embryos to freeze in two IVFs, selecting out healthy embryos because of whim or preference (and reducing the chances of ending up with any baby at all) is just plain silly. My baby has to play the hand that s/he is dealt, just like the rest of us. The upside of the hereditary heart disease is having many amazing relatives who are smart, funny, and kind. Anyway, my kid won’t eat meat and therefore will be at substantially lower risk of heart disease. Suck it, fate.

If you knew with certainty that you had a child with a shortened life expectancy, would you raise the child any differently? For example, are there certain experiences you’d want to ensure that they had? Are there things that you wouldn’t bother to make them do (flossing? eat healthy foods? go to school?) since they wouldn’t have the same long-term impact as they would for other children? Would it make a difference in your parenting if you knew exactly at what age the child was expected to die as opposed to a general sense of foreshortened lifespan?

I’ve seen this in action with parents of terminally ill children. They seem to try to treat all of their children equally — so if the healthy children have to floss, so does the ill child. If questioned as to the reasons for treating children differently, the explanations would be absurd. “Timmy doesn’t have to floss because he’ll be dead before periodontal disease could possibly affect him.” Instead, everyone flosses, because that’s what the family does. Seems reasonable.

In terms of the reverse, ensuring that the child does have certain experiences, absolutely yes. We already are quite liberal with spending money on travel and worthwhile experiences for ourselves. We have no plans to stop once children arrive (and once we can stop paying for treatments, we’ll have all sorts of surplus cash!). The child’s shortened lifespan would just expedite matters. If my sick kid was fascinated by the Great Pyramids, you’d better believe that we’d be on the next plane to Egypt. If a healthy child was fascinated by the pyramids, we’d probably plan a trip to see them in the near future — just not as urgently.

Short answer to the original questions? In practice, mostly no. But I’m sure there would be all sorts of intangible differences and random bursts of crying and extra snuggles.

If you were a student a Hailsham, would you have wanted to know your ultimate destiny as a Donor? Why or why not? How do you think knowing at that point in your life would have affected you? Does this desire to know your outcome apply to your own real life? In what situations do you find knowledge helpful? At what times can it be detrimental?

Having knowledge of the destiny all along seems preferable to getting surprised with that kind of information. Thinking you will have a normal life, then finding out that the assumption is wrong, is a rude awakening.

One aspect that I have in common with Hailsham students is infertility. It’s unclear whether they are genetically altered to be infertile, or whether perhaps they were all surgically sterilized at a very young age. It is clear that they will never become parents.

As an infertile whose ability to have a child is uncertain, I would have liked to know in advance of my problems, because it would have caused me to stop denying the situation early on, to seek help earlier, and to be more aggressive with treatments. I had no idea about anything when I started TTC, and I wasted years of my fertility on patience.

If it truly were impossible for me to have a biological child, I would want to know ASAP so that my treatment efforts aren’t futile and that I can redirect my energy and time to a more productive method.

One thing that struck me while reading the book is that the characters seem very passive. Although certain knowledge is withheld from them along the way, and they do have questions, they do not really rebel or protest their fate, or try to escape. They seem quite accepting of the future that has been laid out for them. Why do you think this is so?

They reminded me of the underclasses seen throughout various societies and historical periods. The idea that you can escape your designated destiny is pretty recent, and still not universal. They seem passive from our point of view, but their attitudes allow the system to continue. It is part of the greater good.

Along those lines, the idea that someone would fantasize about bucking their destiny by becoming a drone in an office is hilarious.

Holy Fucking Shit

March 9, 2009

[Breaking news from Madrid airport]

Remember how Perfunctory IUI #7 was only done to satisfy the insurance company that I’d failed enough injectible + IUI cycles to qualify for IVF with the Trick Up My Sleeve insurance?

Remember how I used expired/ruined FSH?

Remember how we skipped the pre-IUI sex?

Guess who got a positive beta!

I am flabbergasted. Cautious, dubious, cackling with laughter at the irony.

Contest: Guess the beta (12DPO) and win a prize. Either a present from my travels or some of my new pottery.

Barren Bitches post coming shortly.

Show and Tell: Passport

March 7, 2009

Since I’ll be using it in less than 24 hours to enter the homeland of Don Quixote, I thought I’d show you my passport. (And apologies in advance for less commenting and reading than usual for the next week. I’ll still post a couple of times for Barren Bitches Book Brigade and Thoughtful Thursday.)

I was quite surprised when I renewed my passport last year to see that they’d made some changes to the design. U.S. passports are renewed every 10 years, and these changes were made in 2007 to incorporate enhanced security features and presumably enhanced patriotism. It’s been described as “a coloring book that your brother already colored in”, “the ugly khaki shorts of passports”, and “Colbert-cliched”.

The cover hasn’t changed much.
Cover

The blank pages used to be pretty close to blank — blue, with an eagle insignia lightly printed. Every passport from another country that I can recall seeing is also quite simple.

Not anymore. Apparently, they decided that the eagle and “United States of America” on the cover wasn’t obvious enough. Every page now screams, “America!” and most include an inspirational quote.
Inside Cover

Here is the Independence Hall/Liberty Bell page with the visas from my trip to Asia last fall:
Independence

Here are some of the many pages still awaiting stamps.

Free-roaming buffalo, a thing of the past:
Buffalo

Mount Rushmore:
Rushmore

The Heartland of America:
Farming

Cowboys:
Cowboys

And my old friend the Statue of Liberty:
Statue

I have not included the following pages: information such as ways that I can lose my citizenship and a reminder not to carry illegal drugs across borders (with a mountain background), a reminder that I’m still obligated to pay taxes even if I live outside the U.S. (Hawaiian background), a ship at sea approaching a lighthouse, a steamboat on the river, a locomotive spewing smoke across the countryside, Alaskan totem pole and bear eating a salmon, satellite orbiting earth, and the emergency contact (cactus background) and photo page. C’mon, you didn’t think I was going to show you my passport photo, did you?

Go around the world in a different sense at Show and Tell.

Thoughtful Thursday
It’s a new month, and that means a new crop of Intelligentsia (people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of February). Returning from her January Intelligentsia appearance is Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?, the only two-time Intelligentsia member. She has some fine company this month:

Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy
Fattykins from I Can’t Wash My Jeans, My Fat Is In The Way
Heather from Joys In My Life
Leslie Laine from What You’re Not Expecting When You’re Trying to Expect
Mel a.k.a. Lollipop Goldstein from Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters
Shalini from By the Pricking of My Thumbs

Thanks for your diligence, ladies! If you would like the icon for your sidebar and need the code, let me know. Otherwise, enjoy your bling and your accolades. Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Onto the main event. This week’s Thoughtful Thursday will focus on socks. Huh? Yes, socks.

SockItToMe
The topic was inspired by Kym’s Great Sock-It-To-Me Exchange (signups end on FridaySunday, but if you hurry you can still join in the fun!). Send a pair, get a pair. Make a couple of new friends. Fend off the winter chill, snuggle up filled with bloggy camaraderie, or bring yourself some good luck for an upcoming cycle (even though many of us have come to realize that we don’t believe in luck).

The Sock-It-To-Me exchange actually won’t be the first time I’ve sent socks to another blogger. You may recall the Mojo Sock giveaway, in which I found redemption following an unfortunate pottery calamity through the simple purchase and gift of some socks. I am so thrilled to say that the donor FET in which Miss Conception wore the Mojo Socks has resulted in a twin pregnancy, about to reach the 14 week mark. I don’t believe in luck, but I just might believe in Mojo.

Oh, and Miss Conception would like to pass along some kindness of her own. If you are in the U.S. or Canada can use any of the following extra meds, please email missyconception at gmail .com:

1 full box of Crinone (18 applicators) worth $400…free to a good home
1 bottle of Prometrium (100mg tablets x 41)
1 Bottle of Estrace (2mg tablets x 17)

Enough thoughtful giving. Now, time for the usual kind of thoughtfulness.

Thoughtful ThursdayOnce “lucky” socks have been worn for a fertility treatment (IUI, embryo transfer, etc.), what happens next?

It’s pretty clear what happens when the cycle works. There are many cases in the blogosphere of socks from a successful cycle being passed along to someone else, in the hopes that the success would also be passed along.

Before her transfer, Miss Conception talked about visualizing herself wearing the Mojo Socks at delivery, waddling down the hallway of the hospital as labor progressed. In addition to the transfer, she has worn them at several ultrasounds, continuing the power of the Mojo.

But what happens to socks from an unsuccessful cycle? Move them into your normal sock rotation? Banish them? Wear them for a future cycle?

I’m not so superstitious as to discard “unlucky” socks, but I can understand the impulse. The socks I wore for IVF #2 retrieval are in my normal rotation now — wool socks are quite useful under winter boots, regardless of the zany stripes. I don’t believe that they’re cursed or anything, but I still wouldn’t wear them for IVF #3, especially now that I’ll have my new Sock-It-To-Me socks.

There’s an added layer of complexity if socks are a gift. If you give someone socks for a cycle that turns out to be unsuccessful, should you feel bad? My happiness for Miss Conception was combined with relief that I didn’t jinx her.

I realize that this doesn’t have the gravitas of some of the other Thoughtful Thursday topics, but it’s something that many of us have to deal with, and something that I’ve never heard discussed elsewhere. You can play along whether you’ve worn “lucky” socks for a treatment, whether you’ve done IF treatments but haven’t worn special socks, or whether you’ve never done IF treatments.

What should you do with socks from an unsuccessful cycle?

I did not encounter a single person today. I emailed and blogged and talked on the phone, but I did not come within 50 feet of another human being, nor talk to anyone face to face. I did make physical contact with my cat and talk to her, but I don’t think that counts.

There have been a few days in my life where I didn’t make any contact because DH was away and I didn’t leave the house, but this is the first time I can ever remember that I left the house for several hours yet did not bump into another human being.

DH out of town + snowstorm causing snow day for literally millions of people = the last woman on earth.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t lonely. Mostly, I missed DH’s snow shoveling abilities, and perhaps some of his interpersonal charms — but mostly the shoveling. Everyone else I could take or leave.

After spending an hour shoveling myself out of the driveway, I finally made it to Old Job, where I discovered that I was the only person who had come in. As of noon when I arrived, mine were the first footprints in the snow approaching any of the building’s entrances. You know, I never actually got an email saying that everything was closed — I am pretty sure an email should go out in situations like this. Apparently everyone else used common sense.

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