Thursday, January 31, 2008

Getting it off my chest

When I was on bed rest last week, I spent a lot of time reading blogs. Mainly from Stirrup Queens 2007 Creme de la Creme's list. Needless to say, it brought up a lot of stuff. I'd read the post and then go to their most recent post. Some are even pregnant right this very moment. And one woman had just lost her twins. That was just too much. I cried. I knew the longing, the journey of a thousand needles. I understood the long ass haul it took to get there. Yeah, I know, life's unfair. I can't believe she actually posted so quickly. But that's the world of bloggers eh? Nothing but raw emotion. No judgment (mostly) from like-minded women. We blog because we don't talk about this at the water cooler. We don't talk about it with our friends or family or in society. (well, maybe a little but then it's behind the veneer of "I'm fine, though.") We hide the reason why we have to leave work, or why we don't go to that baby shower or quit calling our pregnant friends or pass on socializing during the 2 week wait. People constantly ask us when we're going to have kids right after they say hello: What are you waiting for, what are you waiting for, what are you waiting for? I wish I had cards that said, "If I could've, I would've by now."

Once your innocence has been trashed, you get a little bitter. And once you get past bitter, you're just different than you used to be. And I expect that even if you had a child or adopted a child, you never truly get over the experience of being infertile.

I spend hours doing what? Reading infertility blogs? Yep. Sssh, don't tell anyone. I wouldn't even join the local infertility support group while I was in the thick of things because I didn't want to spend time feeling obligated to encourage other people and hide my own pain. And what if one of my newfound friends, gasp, ended up pregnant? What happens then? Do they cease to exist? I expect it would be like graduating to a prestigious university and you'd never want to hang out with your old stoner high school friends again, would you?

When I first inquired about uterine artery embolization, the radiologist asked me if I had considered a hysterectomy. No way. Was I still trying to get pregnant? Mmm, no. I got the impression he was trying to tell me that having a UAE would not help me get pregnant. Yeah, I got the picture. A woman my age shouldn't be trying to get pregnant. Cause if a miracle occurred, I can just imagine how completely worried and anxious I'd be the entire time. And knowing what I know now, I'd just be waiting for the worst to happen. To be punished by the universe for having the gall to be pregnant against all odds. Didn't the fact that all that ART, positive thinking, visualization, relaxing, acupuncture, herbs, prayer prove to me that it just wasn't meant to be? Yep, I get it. My mission, in terms of children, lies in another direction. I did my crying, my grieving, we both did. I can now hold and smell babies, not turn my head at the sight of pregnant women, buy shower gifts and cheer on friends on their own conception journeys. I was going to have a family.

Which is why I could begin adoption. This was a joint decision. And I started to imagine what it would be like to be a parent, a mother to an infant to a woman who was willing to relinquish that privilege to me. I was willing to jump through the hoops, be interviewed about how much sex I don't get and how much wine I drink. And, for better or worse, the process highlighted what was lacking in my marriage. A smaller waistline. Yes, I know, it's deeper than that. I'm grateful in a way. However, the way in which it was presented to me was so full of pain, so much anger, and resentment that it stole the frisson of excitement and happiness I was starting to feel at anticipating a child in my life.

The question I've been asked is am I truly ready to go forth in the adoption process with my present feelings of insecurity within my marriage? I've asked my dh for emotional reassurances and I've been getting them. Still, I'm not 100% sure in my heart. I told him about the inquiries for our adoption profile and he says go ahead with it. I was hoping myself things would move a little slower, but as a bi-racial couple, apparently we go to the head of the list for bi-racial babies.

The question I asked myself months ago was could I be who I wanted to be and still be married? At least to this person. I'm willing to bet he still wonders what the answer is. I've had my cranky moments. I still believe that we can have the marriage that we both want. But it takes changes on both sides. We both need to communicate better with one another. I need to take a better grip on my financial contribution and the size of my ass. (Which thank you very much is down to its' 2002 size. I feel a shopping spree coming on.) I'm feeling healthier and the more I work out, the stronger I feel. He needs to decide if smoking pot and playing video games is an valuable use of his spare time. Well, that's not fair. He thinks it is a valuable use of his time. It's really how I feel about it. Since our last appointment with the counsellor, I made one request that he remain available to me i.e. not stoned. So he took that as not getting stoned while I was around. Which turned into smoking as much pot as he could aside from the occasional "date" night out with me. And yes, I've let him know how I feel. Just the other day, he told me he and his buddy are going on the wagon and they're going to start working out. Really. He actually had the nerve to bristle at my sarcastic response. What a nerve, eh? Maybe I should have put our marriage on the line. It's a great motivator, let me tell you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Good news!

Just got back from my breast ultrasound. It's just a cyst. I can't believe they even told me, I was prepared to wait to hear back from the doctor, but they told me. I'm so relieved! Yeah, I was a bit worried. My life has been so full of major disappointments and setbacks, I was not prepared for another one. As I told the news to my husband as we left, tears flooded my eyes. Today is the day my dear friend is undergoing surgery to remove cancer from her lymph nodes. I'm fine, but she's not. Yet. 3 years later, she's still fighting for her life.

I've had more good news today. I got not one, but two phone calls from the adoption agency for a boy to be born in March and one in July. My head was spinning. I haven't even completed a final version of our adoption profile. The homestudy has yet to be signed off by the adoption agency. I haven't even done the birth mother letter yet. Yikes. But hubby is totally gung-ho about it. We still have a couple of marriage counselling sessions to go to though. I guess I'd be jumping for joy, but for the fact that the security I used to feel in my marriage has been shaken. And as much as I'm ready to make changes to address my husband's needs, I'm now ready to have my own needs addressed. My health issues have been quite minor compared to a lot of people's, but it has taught me to not take life for granted. If you want happiness in this world, you have to go out there and grab it!

At my Buddhist discussion group last night, someone shared this incredible experience and it gave me so much hope. It was about determining to get what you want, no matter how lofty the goal. That's what I will do.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It takes a village

I have to admit, I felt a little pang of the "what ifs", when I read this story in the local paper. It's called "It takes a village" and it follows the story of a woman pursuing fertility treatments at the latest fertility clinic to open in Vancouver. I was like, oh, I didn't get a plush robe, I want one of those. Why weren't they around when I was in "trenches"? At least the story doesn't make her sound like a crazy woman. She was just like the rest of us. Wanting to have a child by the man/partner she loves. Unlike the woman in story, I actually had great response with my follicles and had a lot of eggs for a "woman my age". Of course, that doesn't ensure a successful pregnancy. And I totally related to her optimism and hope. She's now going through her two week wait. Oh, I know how she feels. I wish the very best for her.

On another note, I'm feeling much better since I stopped taking the percocet. As with any codeine product, constipation is its companion, so I talked to a couple friends of mine, a pharmacist and a nurse's aide. I tentatively switched to ibuprofen/extra strength Tylenol and started drinking more water, prune juice and a couple of Senokots for good measure. Okay, and coffee. Yes, it truly does take a village to move some things.

Third in a series on one woman's journey through 2 week wait. Also surrogacy in Canada.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why did I do this again?

Hah! I kept my pretty pedicure! No one said a thing. It's all about looking good. And now for the bad news....

What kind of world is it when taking a percocet and Tylenol #3 doesn't work? For all those who wanted to know what a uterine artery embolization procedure was like, I'll be happy to tell you - it sucks. I was not in the precious group of women who do get pregnant through IVF, but I am in the small minority of women who do experience great pain and fever after this procedure. But I'll get to that in a moment.

A nurse told me that they would be giving me sedation during the procedure that would make me sleep. I was right to be a little doubtful about that because I was wide awake for the whole thing! And it lasted about 1 1/2 hrs. I chatted through a lot of it, but not when the radiologist was doing his thing. Somebody has to concentrate on what he's doing. It was only after the procedure that the pain set in. I hung in until the morphine drip kicked in. Bless the people who invented that. Now I know why people get hooked on it. It didn't make me high, it just took away the pain. And when I needed more, I pressed the magic button and it delivered a shot. However, it was programmed to only deliver a certain amount in any given time period so you couldn't overdose. I stayed overnight in a ward (didn't see much point for a private room since I wasn't planning on staying very long. (The wards here are free, but semi-private and private rooms are extra). That was a mistake in hindsight. We actually have insurance for semi-private rooms, but neglected to bring that info when I was went in for the procedure. When you are in a ward, you have nurses coming and going at all hours of the night, taking temperatures, and blood pressures with machines that go beep, beep beep and having loud conversations with patients who are suffering pain. Every time I feel asleep, either my nurse or someone else's would come by with more beeping machines. I have to say, though, they were all really great. I was well attended to.

The next morning, I was feeling pretty good, I was discharged but about half hour later at home, the pain come back with a vengeance. At one point, I was actually tripodding (as in limbs went rigid) and sobbing with pain. So much for chanting for no pain. I was ready to convert. Hubby was on the phone calling the nurse line and alternatively letting me squeeze his fingers while trying to keep me from hyperventilating. Jack Bauer (the character on 24 who undergoes torture without giving up the goods) would have been ashamed of me, because I would have turned in my whole family to get drugs that would actually work. By early evening, I had a fever so we went to emergency at another hospital, Vancouver General. They've had a lot of bad press in the past but let me tell you, I had the best care there. I got my morphine and in a private ER room! I sent Scott home around 11pm and I finally got a private room around 1:30am on the cardiac floor. I slept like a dream for hours until my IV bag ran out and the machine's alarm went off. Then I saw 2 gyn residents and my own gyn later this morning before I was discharged. Once again, fab nurses, great care and I went straight home and popped my medication. Apparently what I went through is quite "normal", it's called post fibroid syndrome. I don't know how they could call fever and unrelenting pain and nausea normal, but whatever. I guess my pain threshold is low, but I would have rather stayed in the hospital for one more day instead of weeping for mercy and swallowing percocet and T3s.

But my toes and my pudenda look fabulous! Glamour wins!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My crappy uterus

Once again, I'm going to be exposing my snatch to complete strangers. How's that for an opening line?

I'm having a UAE (uterine artery embolization) Monday morning. It requires a tube being inserted into my groin area to have plastic pellets block the arteries that feed the multiple fibroids in my uterus. So of course, I had my curlicues ripped out in the applicable areas as to present well. Didn't really want the nurses scraping away at my privates with a disposable razor. "Oh, my, it certainly has been a while since you trimmed this, eh, dear?" Well, yes, and a welcome break that was! As I've been sweating more than I ever thought was possible in far off places, taking a break from powder puff maintenance has spared me the agonies of ingrown hairs.

Did you know that you're not supposed to wear nail polish on your toes for surgical procedures? Well, I didn't. I lost 5.4 lbs over the past two weeks (okay, last week I was sick with cold and barking like an Arctic seal and I didn't work out. By the way, don't you hate when people come to the gym sick and hack and spew all over the place?), so I celebrated with a pedicure. A lovely frosty aubergine. Then I find out I may have to remove it. What if I feign ignorance? My fingernails are not done, can't they just check my colour on my fingertips? I'm not going under anaesthesia, just sedation. Rats! Gotta remember to bring some nail polish remover just in case.

Today, I had some friends over for an hour chant. It was lovely. I feel much more serene. You'd think that after all the procedures I've been through, this procedure would be a cakewalk for me, but frankly, I'm a little gun-shy with doctors. I'm about done with having medical personnel assess my bits and pieces. Come to think of it, I've never met this radiologist. I had the consult with his partner who, due to a vision problem, wasn't doing the procedure anymore. Pity. I'll always have nostalgia for that condescending, little ...... never mind. I'm all chilled out. I hope he has a good bedside manner anyway. And doesn't use the phrase, "women your age".

So as I'm sure you all understand, I've been cleaning, doing laundry, did the shopping, so I'm all set for a few days resting in my clean, semi-orderly house. The food is frozen, so hubby can cook something up with as little trouble as possible. I hope to be attending our first ballroom dancing class in a few days. Optimistic? Yeah, but it gives me something to shoot for.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Is there something in the water?

I was telling you I heard from an old friend who is battling breast cancer. We've been playing phone tag for months, but finally caught up a few days ago.It is actually a recurrence of breast cancer. She had her right breast removed last May and then unfortunately it came back in the lymph nodes. Chemotherapy didn't work, so now she's having surgery in a few weeks.

My friend, I'll call her Devadatta, is one of the most amazing women I've ever met. We met through her sister ages ago while I was living in Toronto. It was because of her that I got to move into my dream first apartment in High Park. And it was because of her that I got a good job that paid me decent money. She was like a big sister in a way. She always listened to me, never judged me, and was always up for a good time. She was also very, very wise. Spiritual in a way I never knew before. This woman gave up a full time job paying good money, gave away most of her possessions, her apartment and went in search of spiritual learning. She would go away with her guru and learn lomi-lomi massage. Her older sister thought she was a little crazy, but I always admired her search for peace and happiness. This woman had lovers, not boyfriends. I was in awe of her. And she always managed to keep her old boyfriends as friends. She's Jamaican and can switch back and forth from the King's English to patois in a heartbeat.

I always wished I could have been there for her more, but I was already well settled into Vancouver when she was first diagnosed. I tried to get back at least once a year to see her and other friends. This cancer thing was a mysterious thing, something I could not relate to. She was tired in a way I had never seen before, but still funny. I assumed she would beat it and move on. I mean, she was pretty healthy, ate right, did yoga and all that. I chanted lots of daimoku for her.

So when I heard from her and found out she was back in chemotherapy, I got really worried. This was not supposed to happen. She already lost a breast, isn't the worst behind her? And then last week another Buddhist friend of mine told me she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. And a local celebrity, Bif Naked, went public with her breast cancer diagnosis. (I don't know her personally, but I see her around town from time to time.) She's only 36, crazy in shape and a vegan. This is getting crazy. And of course, I got the dreaded phone call to come back for an ultrasound. I'm a little freaked out. Most of the well known women who go public with their breast cancer diagnosis are fit, can afford to eat organic and probably do, and take care of their health. My Buddhist friend said she thought it was the wine she drank. I let her know that that couldn't be the cause. So much for living a healthy lifestyle. I told Devadatta all this and she just got pissed, really angry. Was there something in the freaking water?!

I would often read all the material in magazines during October, the breast cancer awareness month. After all, I was entering mammogram territory now at this age. I wanted to be educated, I checked out my breasts often. Often enough, hard to say now.

And yes, I know, I'm fine. I'm fine. And I will stay fine. But a lot of women aren't. And a few nights ago, I cried myself to sleep. Because of their pain and also because I'm scared of not being fine. If you've experienced infertility, you know the pain of your body not doing what it's supposed to. You know what it's like to deal with the doctors, the tests, the poking, the prodding. The loss of control. But it wasn't going to kill you, was it?

I don't care much for the colour pink.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My "Surprise"

We had our closing night at the theatre last night. It was great. We sold out and actually had to turn away people who hadn't made reservations. My actors put in amazing work and I was really proud of them. It was a really great learning experience for me, it's a real challenge dealing with 4 completely different women, some egos were involved, not that anyone was really difficult but some people are more sensitive than others and/or require more managing. Actors, they can be so exhausting! I can say that because I am one.

Hubby gave me a present to tell me how proud he was of me. It was a beautiful mirrored silver bangle watch. Gorgeous. We noticed it just before Christmas while we were shopping for a friend and I told him not to buy it, it was not in our budget. But he just couldn't resist. I'm glad he didn't.

Now I'm down with a cold. Crap. But I heard from an old friend back east this morning who is battling breast cancer. I was so happy to hear her voice. I'll tell you more about that later. Now it's time for the oblivion of Nyquil.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A rose by any other name.....

A few weeks ago, we were walking around our neighbourhood with our dog and I had ducked into a fair trade gift store to check it out. When I came out, my husband was introducing a little girl and her mother to our handsome black lab, Sampson. We chatted for a bit and then the woman called her little girl, Maya. My hubby commented that it was an unusual name these days and that it was beautiful, that we in fact wanted to use that name for our own child one day. And then he told the woman that we were "trying". I almost corrected him and then thought better of it. After they had moved on, I asked him what he was thinking. We weren't "trying", what was he thinking when he said that? And then he said, yeah, but we're adopting and we can name the child, right? But I explained that that name was no longer in consideration for a little girl. Why? Because that's the name of the little girl that I wanted to conceive and deliver. (In honour of Maya Angelou who is one of my heroines in life.) In my mind, that name was for that child. And that "child" is gone. I even wrote a letter to her. I was almost angry that he had even entertained that thought. It was almost like if we had had a daughter that died at birth, would we use that name again for the next child? He understood, but I was shaken for quite a while.

Now it seems that every child named Maya reminds me of a little girl I never had. So our child in the future - boy or girl - I can't even begin to wonder what I would name them. I just can't.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Opening Night

My play opened last night. And it went really well. The whole evening was comprised of six new works by female playwrights, all female cast, all female directors. It was a full house. It was so exciting, I was pretty nervous. I wanted my cast to do well, and let's face it, if they do well, I look good. I discovered in the event's publicity in our national newspaper that though I was directing this year, my performance was mentioned from last year as "stunning". (You know I passed that little tidbit on to my agent, who didn't actually come to see me perform.) You know I grabbed two copies of that. When I came home from tech rehearsal, my hubby had flowers in a vase and had framed the article from the paper for me. It gets even better. A producer friend of mine brought a woman who runs a workshop for burgeoning female directors and she liked my work! Yay! I remembered when I applied to her workshop as an actor and a director years ago and I didn't get in and I was devastated. And now she's asking for my card.

It was such a great night, my actors were grounded and solid in their performances, everyone was so encouraging and positive vibes were flowing. We even took my mum who made it through the evening (barely). She can get quite restless and agitated. I know it's difficult for her to sit that long, but she was so proud of me. It meant a lot to me that she was there. I want to share as much of my life with her as I can, particularly my artistic endeavours, but I know it's not easy on her. My mother was a singer, but she never really started to perform until late in her life. And when my father left, she started to try to have a career of her own, singing in clubs, community centres, Canada Day events, wherever she could. She even sang at my wedding. I wonder what she could have accomplished if she had not had such a difficult life.

Anyways, last night made up for the 0.8 lbs I gained in two weeks during the holidays. Damn those delicious sugar cookies and copious amount of wine! I tried to keep up my workout schedule, but as fate would have it, my spinning instructor's father suffered a stroke and went into a coma and when I went in, we ended up having a chat. I know what it's like to watch your parent suffer, you always think they're going to be around, always going to be strong. Her father passed away a few days ago, and whenever I see her next, I hope that I can say something useful. I must remember to bring a card.

The weather is hellish but the dog awaits.