In the film world, award season runs from December through the Oscars. In the blogosphere, apparently Award Season has been the past couple of weeks.

I have received awards from several people lately. Thanks, ladies!

Shalini from By the Pricking of My Thumbs, Bunny from Bugaboo Envy, Laura from Mommy In Waiting, and WiseGuy from Woman, Anyone? gave me the Honest Scrap award.

Heather from Joys In My Life and Eve from Infertility Rocks gave me the Sisterhood Award.

Although I appreciate the recognition, I’m not a fan of the chain-letter nature of these awards. Just as I’m not a fan of the emails I receive from my aunt that tell me to honor womanhood or support America or praise Jesus by forwarding the email to a dozen people. She sends me about 100 forwarded emails per year, and maybe 5 that she’s written herself. I vastly prefer original thought.

Thus, I’m going to ignore the awards’ instructions to nominate other bloggers. Instead, I will create my own award and meme.

Let’s call it the Original Thought Award and the Me-Me-Me-Meme, since most of the questions are about receiving things. If you answer the questions, you can have the bling, if you want it. That’s all you need to do — just answer the questions and stop there. There is no mandate to pass it along.

But, if inspiration strikes you, feel free to honor another blogger for showing original thought. If you pass the award along on your own blog, in the spirit of original thought I recommend that you make up an additional question for the recipient to answer along with the ones below.

If you answer the questions on your own blog or pass the award along, please leave me a comment so that I can read the answers!

Original Thought Award
1. What was the last compliment you received?
2. What was the last word someone used to describe you?
3. What was the last gift you received?
4. What was the last favor someone did for you?
5. When was the last time you made up your own mind, instead of doing what everyone else would do?

Here are my answers.
1. Today I had a facial after a hiatus of several months. During the extractions my esthetician said, “I’ve missed you! Most people can’t handle very many extractions. You’re my brave little soldier — you barely even flinch! Your pain tolerance is amazing.” I didn’t bother to tell her that extractions are nothing compared to giving yourself intramuscular injections in your own ass.
2. Cerebral
3. Depends whether you consider a prize to be a gift… The last real gift was a FedEx package with chocolates from my dad on Valentine’s Day. More recently, I won the Name the Car contest that Kristen and her friend Rys held, and received this pillow. Thanks, ladies! Now I just need to get a little bug of my own to love — the baby kind, not the Volkswagen. I’m pretty fed up with my own VW these days.

bug

4. On the eve of Dora’s donor embryo transfer, I called in a favor from my massage therapist friend to go to her hotel room and melt her cares away.
5. This, obviously! Before that, I diplomatically confronted someone for doing something inappropriate instead of smiling and nodding.

Your turn!

Mel is full of original thoughts. For example, Show and Tell.

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Thoughtful ThursdayAt last week’s Thoughtful Thursday, we considered our family trees and whether they might provide clues to our own infertility, loss, etc. Some people could trace broken branches throughout the tree, and some people found that they were the first “stump” (as Murgdan put it).

This query revealed another related issue: did we know all along, or did we only find out about the family history after revealing our own struggles? A few people received full disclosure, some people had heard vague information, and some people only discovered that they themselves were conceived through infertility treatments after struggling with their own infertility! Some people still have not received any information, and don’t know whether relatives are holding back or whether there is nothing to tell.

This then led some people to raise a different issue, which we’ll explore today: Do parents have a duty to tell children what they may have inherited as far as infertility or loss?

Many of us seem to wish we’d known more, earlier.

Ernessa already answered this week’s TT in last week’s comment:

This issue really burns me up, b/c I don’t think families realize how important it is to let their descendants know about their medical history.

This isn’t your dark secret that’s yours to keep and not talk about in my opinion. If you have a medical issue that might affect your children’s or grandchildren’s chances of having children, then you should TELL THEM EVERYTHING. I don’t understand why anyone thinks it’s okay to withhold this kind of information. It costs a lot of money and time to test for all of the stuff that might be leading to infertility.

Imagine what would happen if we could all walk into our first fertility appointment with both of our parents’ and grandparents’ medical records. In many cases, that would tell the doctor exactly where to look.

…our diagnosis is pretty straight-forward and contained to us. It isn’t inherited and it probably won’t affect our future children. However, if either of them ever have any fertility issues, here’s me promising to tell them EVERYTHING. I’ll even make them a copy of our fertility records if that will help.

Heather said:

Now having a daughter who’s 8 years old, it has made me think of what am I going to tell her when she gets older. I plan to be honest. I think this runs in the family. However, I don’t want her to make any rash decisions to run and try to have children early in life to try to circumvent it. I will advise her to go to college, find the right person (guy/girl – I don’t discriminate), have a career and then think about building a family. But be aware for certain signs of issues and be armed with the genetic facts of our family and know when it’s time to see the doctor for help.

Lindsay, the Steadfast Warrior said:

If I have any girls, it will be so important for me to let them know about the family history. I don’t want them to get to the point of wanting to have children only to be blind sided by loss.

Sassy said:

I guess I just hope that when we finally do make it, and have kiddos, that as infertiles we’ll know how to prepare them for this, or whatever other obstacles they might have to overcome.

Some people, like Mel, are thankful to have received honest information:

Well, my mother and grandmother are both pretty open and frank and shared their histories with me so there is no wonder, just knowledge.

Sometimes children find out because it’s obvious. I have a friend IRL for whom severe secondary infertility runs in the family. She was born 15 years after her sister, with no pregnancies in between. Her sister’s first and second pregnancies were 18 years apart, the second achieved through IVF. Her mother and sister were actually very open about it, but even if they weren’t, it’s not hard to do the math. As a direct result of this information, she chose to have her first child much earlier than any of her peers, because she knew it might take time for #2. Turns out she didn’t have any secondary infertility at all, and her second child arrived quickly and without incident, before many of her peers had even started thinking about their first child. I think she is glad to have erred on the side of caution.

But there must be people out there who think it’s better for children not to know (many of our own families, it would seem). Or people for whom the shame of infertility or loss is so strong that they can’t bear to reveal it to their children (most of the rest of our families, perhaps). I realize that the ALI blogosphere is not a representative sample, but I am curious to know whether anyone thinks it would be better to wait or withhold information altogether. Anyone taking a page from Sophocles and wanting to refrain from telling people their fate, lest they take inappropriate action to circumvent it?

As you might have guessed, I’m in favor of disclosure. It will be pretty obvious to my child that they were conceived through ART when they look through the baby book and find a photo of themselves as an 8-cell embryo. I also think that it conveys how very much a child was wanted to inform them about how much time and effort went into bringing them into the world. And, to the extent that I can, I would love to save my child some of the heartache of IF — either by encouraging them not to delay TTC once they think they’re ready, or to proceed more quickly to treatments instead of waiting around for years like I did. There’s also a difference between providing information about the parents and foretelling the child’s possible problems — I knew that there was some kind of infertility issue when I was in preschool, but I had been TTC for years before I ever connected the dots to my own fertility.

But at the same time, timing is tricky. Young children can’t fully grasp the information. Teenagers might misuse the information that they could have problems conceiving as an excuse to have unsafe sex (though DH would say, “My kid wouldn’t be that dumb”). We don’t want young adults to make hasty choices such as choosing the wrong partner because they want to hurry up and get married, or trying to family-build before they are ready. Do you work the infertility information into the “where do babies come from” talk? Into the “today you are a woman, here’s how to use a tampon” talk? Do you wait until the wedding? What if your child is 37 years old and unmarried — do you suggest that she start looking for a sperm donor? I think I’ll start explaining ART as soon as we address the Birds and the Bees, but I won’t start emphasizing the potential repercussions for the child’s own fertility until adolescence. But, I reserve the right to change my mind.

Today’s question is a Choose Your Own Adventure since situations vary. Or, you can embrace the hypothetical and answer all of the questions.
If your infertility or propensity for pregnancy loss may have a genetic component, and you end up with a genetic child, do you have a duty to inform that child? How much do you connect the dots between your history and the child’s possible future? If it’s clearly male-factor or female-factor (or if it’s a pregnancy loss issue that would only affect female children), do you only inform children of the corresponding sex, or do you tell all children? At what age/stage do you tell the child about your history and their possible future?

or…

If your infertility or loss does not have a genetic component, or it is genetic but your child is not your genetic offspring, do you have a duty to tell the child information about yourself that is not directly relevant to their own fertility? Regardless of duty, would you tell?

Liberation

February 25, 2009

Perfunctory IUI #7 occurred today (Tuesday, though it will probably be Wednesday by the time you read this).

It has opened up a whole new world of freedom. I expect nothing from this cycle, and therefore I cannot be disappointed.

Sort of like the birth control pill cycle before an IVF. Can’t possibly get pregnant, so the advent of your period means that the real work can commence, rather than the usual heartbreak. Also like having sex during non-ovulation times of the month. Or going on a job interview for a job that you have no intention of accepting. Or creating a piece of pottery just for the sake of testing something out. It cannot be more than it is, and that is a welcome change.

This IUI was more crampy than usual, but having had two IVFs and a hysteroscopy since my last IUI, my exact words during the worst part of the cramping were, “I’ve had worse.”

They had scheduled my beta during my trip to the land of Don Quixote. I don’t particularly want to lug progesterone suppositories around the Iberian Peninsula, so I convinced them to move up the beta date so that I can discontinue the progesterone when the beta invariably turns out negative.

It’s such a strange position to be in, compared to where most of us are almost all of the time. Expired FSH? Sure, why not, who cares. Negative beta? Of course, no problem, thanks for calling! Have coverage sex with my husband before the IUI? Naah, it’s not convenient, why bother. Liberating!

I’m not even going to POAS. There, I have committed. For the first time in all these years of infertility treatments, I am going to wait for the phone call.

Sure, it’s occurred to me that pregnancy from this IUI is not technically impossible. After all, miscarriage #1 resulted from clomid + IUI. As Dr. Full Steam Ahead pointed out, stranger things have happened. In the unlikely event that I actually get pregnant, it would mean one of three things.

  1. “Man plans, G-d laughs”. If you plan not to get pregnant, you will get pregnant.
  2. Miracles do happen, and my “healing” treatment really worked.
  3. The advice to “just relax” was right all along.


Since my description for IComLeavWe mentions pottery, it’s time for some truth in advertising.

After the Great Pottery Catastrophe of 2008 took the wind out of my sails, it’s taken me a few months to get back into the studio. I’m currently taking a class in a technique I’ve never before encountered — it’s pretty unusual and quite amazing. I’ll show some examples of my newest work at future Show and Tells.

Almost every time I go into the studio for class, I come across some of my work that has come out of the kiln. These finds have revealed that the Great Catastrophe actually involved more than one kiln firing, since different ruined pieces were at different stages. They have also revealed that the kiln has been fired at least once since the Great Catastrophe without incident. I’ll show each find at two different angles — from the side and from above. The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good. To give you a sense of scale, The Ugly are 5 inches in diameter, The Bad is 8.5 inches, and The Good are 5 and 6 inches.

Find #1: The Ugly. From the Great Catastrophe firing, a glaze firing that went horribly wrong and destroyed months worth of my work. These were both supposed to be turquoise — don’t adjust your screens, the horrible green is true to life. Adding to the ugliness are giant chunks missing from the bottom where the pots stuck to the kiln shelf, as well as unsightly bumps which absolutely weren’t there when I created them (seen on the second photo, the blotches inside). These little pots were some of the replacements for my Zen Non-Attachment pot, which itself had turned out perfectly except for the final step where I dropped it on the ground. A suitable replacement for that one still does not exist.

ugly1

ugly2

Find #2: The Bad. On the next visit to the studio, I noticed this piece sitting on an out-of-the-way shelf. When I last saw it, it was waiting for its first firing (called the bisque fire). Now I have proof that the fateful Catastrophe glaze firing wasn’t the only firing that went poorly. This came from bisque firing that clearly was fired far too much, so that it looks as if it’s been through the second much-hotter firing (called the glaze fire). At this point, it doesn’t really work to try to salvage it by glazing and refiring — it just won’t absorb the glaze. It also has some of the same odd bumps seen in The Ugly.

What’s especially funny about this piece is that it’s the fifth chip-and-dip I’ve tried to make. One of them has made it all the way to being a finished piece — though there was a problem with the glaze, so that itself is not what I intended (but it is attractive in its own way and fully functional). The others have faltered during the process of drying: I throw the chip part and the dip part as one piece and the dip part often tries to escape (technically, it cracks away from the chip part because the part where they connect is thicker than the rest of the piece). The one you see here was an attempt to prevent the dip from fleeing, successfully achieved by drying it ever-so-slowly over a period of five months last year with finishing work done periodically through the drying process. Once it was perfectly dry, I put it on the shelf to be bisqued and patted myself on the back. The next time I saw it, it looked like this. Technically it’s still functional, but again, this is not what I intended. If you’re wondering if it hurts more to see a perfectly-shaped piece get ruined, the answer is yes.

bad1bad2

Find #3: The Good. The following week, I was shocked to see that these bowls had come out of the final firing wholly intact. There is nothing wrong with them at all. In fact, they match, and the smaller one nests inside the larger one quite adorably. That sums up my pottery life lately — I’m shocked when something turns out well. Come to think of it, that sums up my fertility life as well. If IVF #3 turns out as well as Find #3, it will be the most pleasant surprise ever.

good1good2

Visit Show and Tell — very little ugly or bad, mostly good.

Thoughtful ThursdayNote to ICLW visitors: Welcome! Although this feature is called Thoughtful Thursday, comments are invited every day of the week. Thanks for visiting!

Sometimes, infertility gets me thinking. Obviously, I think excessively already, but sometimes IF raises an issue to which I’d given little thought before.

One of those is my family tree. Specifically, the timing of births, and whether those might be clues to a genetic predisposition to infertility.

Let’s start with me. I am an only child (clue #1), born about five years into my parents’ marriage (clue #2). I didn’t want to be an only child, and when I was about 3 years old I used to beg for a sibling. Usually my parents gave me everything I asked for, but in this case they didn’t oblige. Quite a lonely little girl, I persisted. They ended up telling me that they wanted to have another child but that it wasn’t possible. That was the extent of the age-appropriate explanation. I also got messages about being the only child that they needed. I have no idea which one was more true.

Around age 4 or 5, I distinctly remember someone asking me why I didn’t have any siblings. I replied, “My parents can’t have any more kids.” And they left it alone. See? Almost 30 years ago, I was already talking about infertility, and I was also already shutting down people’s intrusive lines of questioning. In your face, person whose face I don’t remember despite recalling the conversation almost verbatim!

I never got a straight story about my parents’ reproductive difficulties — as in never. In my 20s I asked my mother why they couldn’t have any more children, and she said it had something to do with my father and shut me down. I actually doubt what she says, because I doubt the sophistication of IF diagnosis in the 70s (if a diagnosis was even attempted) and because my mother is a dubious source. She is always keen to blame others, she has a terrible memory, and she usually either flat-out refuses to answer questions or makes up transparently false answers. I’ve never asked my father the same question — too weird. “So, I hear there was a problem with your sperm?” Uh, no.

Moving on. My mother comes from a huge family. The number of children is just shy of double digits. Actually, it is double digits if you include the adopted sibling along with the many biological siblings. The biological children are spread over more than 20 years, but there are almost ten of them, so the spacing checks out. It’s hard to imagine any infertility on that side. No clues there.

My father comes from a big family. Not big as in can’t-remember-everyone’s-name big like my mom’s family, but big enough. Four kids. Spread over almost 20 years (clue #3). With as much as 7 years separating siblings (clue #4). Infertility? Losses? Both? Very suspicious.

It all makes me wonder. Although I have often felt alone throughout these 7 years of infertility, it seems that I may have some ancestral company. My mother’s mind is genuinely a mystery to me, so I find it hard to imagine how she felt waiting for my conception (assuming that it didn’t happen immediately, which seems pretty likely) or how she felt waiting for more children after me. Was she obsessed? Patient? Not paying much attention? My mother doesn’t filter much that she says, but she’s never said a word about her emotions regarding infertility. I guess if you’re going to stay silent about only one thing, infertility is a good choice.

It’s a little easier for me to imagine my grandmother’s experience. Her first child was conceived within the first year of her marriage, so it would seem that secondary infertility (or loss) was the problem. In that era, what must it have been like to watch her siblings keep popping ’em out while she kept waiting and waiting for #2? How did she feel when her teenage daughter got knocked up — disappointed, worried, relieved? How does she feel about having 3 children with multiple offspring and one with an only child (me) — sad, philosophical, guilty? Does she ever wonder about me, her granddaughter who has been married for over a decade yet doesn’t have children? Is she grateful that I’m educated and successful (unlike some of my knocked-up cousins) or fearful that she passed infertility on to me? Examination of the family tree can go in both directions — I wonder if she wonders like I do.

Today’s question:
Has your own experience with infertility and/or loss made you reconsider your family tree?

Perfect Moment Monday: Sleepy

February 16, 2009

I had another cupcake moment.

Thursday was Cycle Day 1, so on Friday I went into the RE’s office Too Damn Early for bloodwork and ultrasound. I had been up past 3 a.m. working, so I was even sleepier than I usually am for early morning appointments.

I drove home to catch another hour of sleep before heading to my first meeting at Old Job.

During that hour of sleep, I had a dream. Highlights:

  • I was driving home from the RE’s office. I was so sleepy (have you ever dreamed that you were sleepy? first time for me) that I drove into a wall of someone’s house — just nicked it, really — and sent their balcony crashing to the ground. I went into the house to explain the situation and apologize to the residents. They were very understanding.
  • The little boy — around age 5 — in the family saw that I had several boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and asked if he could have one. (They looked like Do-Si-Dos, but we were calling them Tagalongs — some peanut butter Girl Scout cookie confusion. In real life we only ever buy Samoas and Thin Mints, but remember that this was a dream.) I said that he could have a cookie, then I remembered that I was saving them and rescinded my offer. It then occurred to me, “You just drove into their house. Don’t be a jerk.” I gave him a whole box.

Pictured: Tagalongs. Much better than Do-Si-Dos. I bought them to show you, but I don’t want them to go to waste so I suppose I’ll need to eat them.

Tagalongs

  • Back to the dream. I went home, eager to tell DH about the house crashing incident. Our house was incredibly full of his friends. (Echoes IVF #2 when half a dozen houseguests descended on our house from retrieval day through transfer day.) I could barely squeeze a spot onto the couch, and when I did, people’s elbows kept bumping me. (I really don’t like to be jostled.) I was trying to tell DH about the crash but couldn’t get a word in. I was still sooo sleepy, and wanted both to talk to DH and to take a nap.
  • We then adjourned to the kitchen. DH’s mother showed up and declared her intention to have a barbecue. (IRL she constantly wants to have a barbecue, but it drives me nuts because I never get enough to eat. It’s possible for a vegetarian to eat enough at a barbecue, just not at MIL’s house.) She starts producing platter after platter of raw meat. (I don’t allow meat to be cooked in my house, and I don’t allow meat to touch most of my dishes. If someone wants to bring in a sandwich and eat it off of a designated meat plate, that’s fine.) Platter after platter kept appearing from nowhere. All sorts of raw meat — sausage links, steaks, burgers, whole chickens… I counted 9 huge platters before she switched to platters of raw seafood — entire fish from head to tail, filets, lobsters. I kept getting angrier and angrier, exhausted from lack of sleep plus revved up from the crash and frustrated by the inability to tell anyone. Once there were a dozen platters on the counter, I screamed, “Stop it, you fucking shrew whore!” (Mother-in-law issues, anyone?)

I was just about to get a response from my mother-in-law when the alarm went off, and I woke up. I was pretty riled up from the dream, but after a few seconds it dawned on me — none of the events in the dream actually happened. Immediate sense of calm. I was still sleepy all day, and I had all sorts of annoyances from the insurance company and a repairman. But, I kept reminding myself that the dream was just a dream. “There’s nobody in my house!” “There’s no meat in my house!” “I haven’t (yet) called my MIL any terrible names!” “I am sleepy but I haven’t crashed into any houses!” Compared to the dream, everything about the rest of the day was fantastic.

Perfect MomentLori from Weebles Wobblog is a dream come true. No, not this kind of dream, the good kind.

Show and Tell: Quixotic

February 14, 2009

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I showed you a photo I bought from Wall Blank and I gave away a Wall Blank print of her choosing to Anita from Hope.Faith.Patience?

The past week has been particularly good at Wall Blank. Anita has chosen her prize: an artistic rendering of the Japanese symbol for water, mizu. If you happen to like it yourself, it’s still available for a few more days — and the profits go to the Australian Red Cross to help victims of the bushfires in Victoria.

mizu

Hope you enjoy it, Anita!

I myself was smitten with one of this week’s offerings, Don Quixote and Rocinante in pen and ink. Also available for a few more days if you want to copy me. If you do, just be prepared, if I ever walk into your house, for me to point and exclaim, “Copycat!” But, I always show up at people’s houses bearing gifts, so it’s not all finger-pointing and name-calling.

don_quixote
I like it aesthetically, but it’s the subject that particularly calls to me. First, I’m headed to Quixote’s homeland next month. Second, I quite enjoyed the book, though it’s been almost 20 years since I read it. Third, I’ve been feeling a bit quixotic lately as I embark on Perfunctory IUI #7 (BTW I started stims yesterday) in preparation for non-Perfunctory IVF #3. I hope it’s not an impossible dream, but it sure feels that way sometimes.

To bear with unbearable sorrow

To try when your arms are too weary [from all of the blood draws]

One [wo]man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with [her] last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.

Interestingly, both of DH’s parents have prints of Picasso’s Quixote in their respective homes. As I considered buying this new Quixote, I wondered if the appreciation for the character had trickled down to DH.

Me: What do you think of Don Quixote?
DH: He’s stupid.
Me: Huh?
DH: Tilting at windmills is stupid.
Me: You know he doesn’t think they’re windmills, right?
DH: Yeah. He’s delusional.
Me: Have you actually read the book?
DH: No, I don’t think so.
Me: I think you’d remember — it’s one of the greatest works of literature of all time. Have you seen Man of La Mancha?
DH: I know that one song.

And so, in a rare turn of events I am ignoring DH’s otherwise-infallible opinion. I have employed my own judgment in coming to the decision to make another Wall Blank purchase. I’m building quite the collection of infertility-themed art.

I will leave you with my favorite version of “that one song.”

More metaphoric, symbolic, and literal beauty at Show and Tell.