Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Big Bounce

File this under random musings, infertility and otherwise.

Well, after writing about feeling pretty hopeless last week, I have entered another two week wait (for those not in the know - the time frame between ovulation and either a positive pregnancy test or your period) filled with hope.  Oh, not particularly hopeful for this cycle.  We've been at this long enough to know the likelihood of us being one of those few random infertiles who magically gets pregnant on our own is unlikely.  But I'm just generally hopeful for the future outcome of this not-so-fun adventure.

One of the reasons I'm feeling particularly hopeful this week is because we're going on vacation next week to Belgium and Amsterdam.  I've never been.  I am going to eat all of the waffles.  And all of the frites.  There won't be any left for the people of Belgium.  And spending the latter part of a two week wait in a foreign country is a pretty great way to take one's mind off of possible outcomes.  

And yet another reason to feel good - the old man turned 78 two days ago.  If you had asked me four years ago if Dad would make it to his 78th birthday, I would have said no way.  And I sadly don't have a crystal ball to tell me if he will see his 79th.  But I'm hopeful he will and in the mean time, we try to make every birthday we get as fun as possible.  Jeeves and I went out to Jersey to visit him and take him out to dinner.  We went to Savini, which is an Italian restaurant that we really like out there.  Here is how good the service is - I did not tell them when I made the reservation that it was Dad's birthday.  I did not mention it to the waiter.  But when dessert came out, there was a candle and they sang happy birthday.  They had overheard us wish Dad a happy birthday when we toasted, and they made a note of it.  Amazing.  And Dad declared it the best birthday yet.  I think that's hyperbole, but I'm glad he had fun.

Today, on the other hand, would have been my mother's 75th birthday.  As mentioned about a billion times on here, I miss her very much, and even more since the infertility business started.  Still, even though I wish she were here for her birthday, it doesn't feel like a sad day to me (Mother's Day and the anniversary of her death are still tough).  It seems I can look at it two ways - I can look at my mother's birthday as a sad day because she is not here with me to celebrate it, or I can look at it as a sweeter day.  The day my mother was born 75 years ago, how my sister and I wouldn't be here if not for her, and how I would not be the person I am now without her love and guidance.  When Mom died, we got so many wonderful cards from her co-workers and clients (she was a social worker at a place that served as a food pantry, and provided rent and utility assistance) telling us about the impact she had on their lives.  But the card I remember best wasn't even from that - it was from the year before she died.  It was a Christmas card from a co-worker that said "Merry Christmas to the woman who embodies the Christmas spirit year round."  I am focusing on that woman today, and how I can and should be more like her, and how even though it's sad she's gone, I had almost 28 years with her.  What luck, to have her as my mother.  John Green writes in The Fault in Our Stars, "There are two ways to tell a sad story and we made the funny choice."  At least for now, filled with all this hope, I am choosing the funny version.

And even though Elmore Leonard, whom I adored, would not approve of how verbose I am being here, I am sad he is gone.  I've thought a lot about him this past week.  Although he was 87, and that is a good long life, he was putting it out there, honing his craft right up to the end.  Something to strive for.  If you haven't read his work before, I think Fire in the Hole: Stories is a great starting place.  And it's only fitting that I leave you with his legendary rules on writing, "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Especially Hooptedoodle."  I promise I'll go easy on the hooptedoodle from now on.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My eyes! My eyes!

One of the goals I set for myself this summer was to go to all the doctors I have been avoiding since we started going to the RE.  It wasn't really that I was avoiding my annual physical or skin check, I just am so tired of going to the doctor.  And every time I have a $25 co-pay.  So I just avoided all other doctors (except for the dentist).  Anyway, I was very good this summer - I went to my GP for an annual physical, saw my gynecologist to tell her what had been going on and get a pap smear, saw my dermatologist for an annual skin check.  But I kept putting off an eye exam.  I don't have an eye doctor in the city and I haven't had an eye exam in four years.  Part of it is laziness, part of it was that my eyes seem fine.  I didn't notice any real change in my vision.  But that all changed this week when I realized I was almost out of contact lenses.

I started wearing contacts when I was 24, and the brand I originally wore, which I really liked, is no longer made.  So in my late 20s I got switched to this other brand.  I never liked them.  After about six hours, my eyes itch and I've noticed that I always, always feel them in my eye, even when it's a brand new pair.  In a word, they kind of suck, and as a result I usually wear my glasses.  Still, we're leaving for vacation soon and if I want to wear sunglasses, I need the contacts.

So I made an appointment for an eye exam at a Lenscrafters because I just didn't give a crap and wanted to go somewhere within walking distance.  I should note that I have complained about my contacts to past eye doctors and they all basically told me that it's normal for the contacts to bother me after wearing them for 8 hours, and that they didn't see a point in switching my brand.

Anyway, eye exam was fine, nothing wrong with my eyes, my vision has degraded a little, so I have a new scrip.  The eye doctor noted that my eyes are dryer than normal, but that didn't surprise him because I am a ginger and super pale and have light eyes, and people like me tend to have dryer eyes (as well as a propensity for eye cancer and macular degeneration due to sun exposure!  Yay!).  We talked about how much I hate my contacts, and he was basically like, "Yeah, no shit.  This brand is no good if you have dry eyes, you need a brand with better lubrication."  And he also confirmed my suspicion that I should not be feeling my contact lenses and they shouldn't be bothering me after six hours.  So he switched my brand and gave me a sample and they are AWESOME.  I can wear them all day, they don't bother me at all, and my eyes are not dry and itchy, even after wearing them all day.

I left feeling vindicated.  I wasn't crazy!  I knew those contact lenses suck - why didn't I stick up for myself with all those other eye doctors?

I was reading a piece on the Well Blog over at the Times a few weeks ago.  It's a series written by a woman who has advanced ovarian cancer, but she's been living with it for quite awhile.  She talked about her oncologist and a lot of what she said resonated with me because it reminded me of Dad's and my relationship with his onco, Dr. T.  Anyway, the writer wonders whether it matters who you choose as your doctor when the gold standard of chemo protocols is pretty uniform.  Yet in the end, she knows that having a trusting relationship with her doctor really matters.  She writes:
The strange rightness of our relationship underscores how quirky the needs of cancer patients are. Some people want physicians with the best record of keeping their patients alive the longest amount of time. Others look for a Jewish or an Indian doctor or an older man of high rank. Some put their faith in a particular research center, others in a particular referral system. Some need a good deal of time spent on reassurance, others crave the clarity of honest disclosure, as I do. 
Because I trusted Dr. Matei’s truthfulness, I enrolled in many more protocols than I ever thought I would. In return, she gave me a priceless gift. While she implicitly accepted my conviction that the disease would kill me, she offered a limited quantity of quality time — four years in which I have been able to write . . . usually not about her. 
Although I profit from the research investigations of Dr. Matei, what I cherish is my sense that she will level with me when medical interventions cannot control the cancer and become pointless, or worse. Our monthly dialogues revolve around our families or our writing, and in the process I believe that she has discerned and respects my values.
This perfectly encapsulates why my dad chose his doctor - he respected that Dr. T leveled with him and didn't sugar coat things, and he believes that when the time comes, his doctor will tell him that it's time to stop pursuing treatment.  As a result, I know for a fact that Dad has done many more rounds of chemo and tried many more types of meds than he originally thought he would.  Because he trusts his doctor. 

I pretty much chose my RE because they were affiliated with a university and they accept my insurance.  If I had been going on SART statistics, I would have preferred to go somewhere else.... but those places don't accept my insurance.  Still, I'm happy with Dr. M and I have been since we first met her.  I think a big part of it is that I don't feel like she's unnecessarily shoving me towards IVF, and because she didn't push us in that direction, I trust that if and when she tells us it's time to move on from IUI, it will really be time to move on.  I've read a lot of reviews of REs in the City and one of the main complaints people seem to have is bedside manner, or that they feel like they are just a number and not a person.  I generally think REs are just not great in this department.  At the same time, if I ever felt like my RE wasn't listening to me or wasn't considering the questions I pose to her seriously, I'd be out of that office.  Dr. T's job is to give Dad as much quality time on earth as he possibly can.  Part of that involves monitoring Dad's side effects and his mood, making sure that he isn't pressing Dad to go further than he can.  But my RE's job is to get me pregnant.  Maybe REs ought to look at their job more holistically, as some oncologists do, but generally they don't, and I'm okay with that.  I don't need my RE to make sure I'm feeling okay emotionally. But no matter what the specialty, whether you're an eye doctor, an RE, or an oncologist - if you're not listening to me then you're not doing your job.

I guess this is the long way of saying that I wish I hadn't spent 8 years wearing contact lenses that I hate.  I won't let something like that happen again when it comes to my health, especially with getting pregnant.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Living in an infinite fiction

Last year I read The Fault in Our Stars by the amazing John Green and it was hands down my favorite book of the year.  It so far blew away every other book I read, there was just no competition (maybe if I had read Wolf Hall or Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk last year, there might have been a little competition, but I read those books this year).  It doesn't seem to matter how many times I recommend TFiOS to people, I can't get anyone to read it.  I think because everyone thinks it is going to be a SAD BOOK about CANCER.  I will say our dear narrator Hazel has cancer.  But it's not really a book about cancer.  And yes, there are things in the book that are sad, but there are many things in the book that are happy, hopeful, and very, very funny.  The book is being turned into a movie, and the director, Josh Boone, said this about it (side note, he read it right after a close friend of his died of cancer):  "John's book came along just when I needed it. It pierced my heart and helped me deal with my grief. I laughed and cried and was left with an overwhelming feeling of hope. That our lives matter, that the love and kindness we share with others reverberates long after we're gone.

"  I couldn't agree more.

Anyway, early in the book Hazel meets Gus and the two of them become fast friends, exchanging their favorite books with each other.  Gus's favorite book is a silly series based on a video game, but Hazel loves it and she remarks, "It was exciting to live again in an infinite fiction."  I'll get to that in a minute.

Emotionally I was really struggling early in the week.  I was definitely feeling hopeless and angry and I had no idea where to put these feelings.  I started a new cycle, and I decided to let Jane, my acupuncturist/herbalist, do whatever she thought best.  Next cycle we'll go back to the RE for treatment, and while I'll keep doing acupuncture, you can't really take herbs when you're doing that stuff.  But as I was dumping my herbs into a cup, it just all seemed so pointless.  "None of this is ever going to work," I thought to myself.  "We'll never have children, every last avenue will close to us," that cruel voice in my head said.  And then I thought if I can't get my emotions in order and have a little hope, then of course it won't work.  Good old magical thinking - I was damned no matter what I did or thought.

I went through work, and even though I usually like to cook when I'm down because it helps me take my mind off of things, the thought of doing anything other than sitting like a sad lump on the couch just seemed impossible.  So I told Jeeves I just couldn't cook dinner tonight, and we went back and forth on whether he should come home and work, or if she should stay at work that evening (he's especially swamped with work right now).  I think he could tell that I just needed to sit on the couch and watch multiple episodes of Orphan Black, washed down with a big glass of wine.  Our apartment is smallish and we only have one TV, so if Jeeves needs to work from home, I can't watch TV.  So he stayed at work that evening so I could watch my infinite fiction.

And that is what snapped me out it.  I don't know how it works.

So, Orphan Black.  OB is a Canadian television show that airs on BBC America.  I started watching it On Demand because I read a lot of positive reviews on the television blogs I frequent.  I don't want to give too much away because the discovery of what is happening is half the fun.  But I will say that our main character is Sarah.  She's a bit of a grifter and she's just come back to town via train (I think it's set in Toronto, though they never specify).   While at the train station, she witnesses a woman who looks exactly like her throw herself in front of the train.  Who was this woman, this twin?  Sarah was in the foster care system her entire life, so she could theoretically have a sister, even a twin sister.... or is there something more to it?

Anyway, watching a couple episodes of Orphan Black took me out of myself, dumped me into this world of fiction, and helped me clear out some of my crap feelings.   I've always found solace in the fictional world, whether it a book, a movie, or a TV show.  When studying for the bar exam, I saw basically every movie that came out because it was 2 hours of relief from the stress.  After my mom died, I became a total Battlestar Galactica junkie.  And where would I have been without season one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey the week that Dad was diagnosed?  I'm not saying it's a cure-all, or that every shitty feeling I have is gone now.  But with infertility stuff, there isn't always a neat way of dealing with these feelings.  I don't think you can bury them, but at some point you need to put them aside and just do something else.  For me, that's getting sucked into an infinite fiction.

I'm feeling better now, and part of that is because we finally got our results from the thrombophilia tests (aka the recurrent pregnancy loss blood tests).  I am normal.  While that doesn't guarantee that I won't have another miscarriage, at least we will know it's not from some sort of clotting disorder that could have been treated.  So we'll be ready to start again with the RE in September.

And now if you'll excuse me, these episodes of Pretty Little Liars aren't going to watch themselves.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spinsters get up for breakfast

That's a Lady Edith quote, she being a useful spinster and all.  I've been thinking about Lady Edith a lot this week, but my thoughts on Downton Abbey will wait for another time.

I feel like I've been spending all my blogging time talking about infertility stuff, and even though I feel like I could talk about it ad nauseum, I do other things and think about other things too.  Mostly I think about food. 

The other day I mentioned to Anh, perhaps my biggest blogging cheerleader from back when I started this thing all those years ago, that I was blogging again.  Her first words: “Are you blogging about food?  Oh, I hope you’re blogging about food!”  I felt so sad that my blog posts have not only had nothing to do with food, but have generally been mope-tastic.  So this food post is really for Anhabella.

Jeeves and I eat at a lot of great places, but mostly I cook for us at home.  So I’ll start out with some recipes I tried this summer that worked out very well.  Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures – I don’t really bother with pictures of things I’ve cooked.  Also, almost everything I’ve cooked falls into the “healthy” category because I’m pretty anal about eating a lot of vegetables ever since Dad was diagnosed.  We don’t eat a lot of meat at home, and if we do, it’s chicken or fish (although we did have a really good dry aged NY strip for our anniversary dinner at home). 

Back in the spring, I went with my friend Tati to Frankie’s 457 in Brooklyn for lunch.  We shared a fennel, parsley, celeriac salad to start.  I’m not generally a big fennel person (I don’t love licorice as a flavor), but this salad was amazing.  So I found the recipe online and made it at home.  It wasn’t quite as good as the version at Frankie’s, but still so good and worth making.

I’ve gotten really into Smitten Kitchen, and if you haven’t bought her cookbook, do yourself a favor and get it.  Everything is relatively easy to make and I have not had a single bad meal from it.  And from her website, I’ve made some amazing zucchini fritters and two carrot recipes: a carrot harissa salad and roasted carrots with avocado.  We get carrots every week from our CSA and it’s pretty easy to make them delicious.  Oh, and also her crunchy salad is divine!  A great way to use up cucumbers and radishes and any other crunchy vegetable you want.

I’ve also been baking a lot because we signed up for the fruit share of our CSA this year.  One particular thing I baked that turned out quite well was this cherry rum cake.  Quite easy to make.  Not healthy at all, but that’s fine – dessert doesn’t need to be healthy.

And where have we been eating?  This time I have pictures!  Back in June, I went to Craft with Roo, Devon, and her husband.  Three out of four people at the table had the fried chicken.  It was stupendous – moist on the inside, crispy (and well-seasoned) on the outside.  I’m a Top Chef fan and I recalled the fried chicken challenge from this season.  After eating Craft’s fried chicken, I can see why Tom Colicchio is so picky.

Jeeves and I went out to dinner at Alder, Wylie Dufresne’s new, casual place.  It was quite good, although a few things really stood out more than the rest.  We particularly liked the asparagus dish (not currently on the menu) and the chicken liver toast.

At the end of June, we went to see Eleanor Friedberger at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (I really heart her).  I tend to rag on Brooklyn a lot.  It’s not that I think there aren’t good things there.  I know there are good things there.  It’s just that I feel they tend to be overhyped and overcrowded.  One night a couple of years ago we went out for dinner at this new pizza place somewhere in Brooklyn.  Our friends who live near it went on and on about how great it was supposed to be.  It was completely mediocre, in my opinion, and I think everyone was just excited because it was the first thin crust fancy pizza place in that neighborhood.  After dinner, we spent 30 minutes going from bar to bar before we found a place where we could actually get a seat.  And people say Manhattan is crowded.

Anyway, I had super low expectations about our pre-show dinner at Allswell, but dinner there was really, really good.  I had the flatiron steak – perfectly cooked and super flavorful (and we learned that you need to have flatiron steak cooked medium, not medium-rare, otherwise it will be too chewy).  Our appetizers were good, too, and if I had been in the mood for a non-alcoholic drink (instead of the wine I had, because why not?), they had a mocktail option.  The only downside is that it pays to get there on the earlier side as they tend to run out of stuff.  By the time we left, all of the entrees except for one were sold out.

Over the 4th of July weekend, we had a whirlwind of good food.  4th of July in NYC is the absolute best time to go to places that are usually very crowded.  So, on the Friday of that weekend we hit up Pok Pok Ny (Thai food out in Brookaleen, again), on Saturday we went to Mighty Quinn’s BBQ in the East Village (with Reefy, of course, because I feel it’s wrong to eat barbeque without Reefy), and on Sunday we went to Uncle Boon’s (more Thai food) on the Lower East Side.  Each meal was fantastic in its own, unique way.

At Pok Pok, we put in our name and waited down the street at a bar until they called us. The standout dish was this pork belly in curry.  I could drink a cup of that curry sauce straight.  Super flavorful.  The papaya salad was great too. 

At Mighty Quinn’s, we agreed that the brisket was kind of dry.  But the brontosaurus rib and the pulled pork – fantastic.  The sides were generally good, though I actually felt like there was too much meat in the baked beans.  Reefy did not agree with me.  We had absolutely no wait there – thank you, holiday weekend!

Uncle Boon’s was my favorite meal of the weekend.  Absolutely every last dish we had was fantastic. Unfortunately I have no pictures of it.... I'm not sure why.  We were eating there with Dave and Jess and they certainly aren't the types to judge me for taking food photos, but I think it must have been because we were so hungry, we descended upon the food like those crazy beetles in the rain forest that eat everything in their path.  The mee krob (spicy sweetbreads) and the spicy chicken and banana blossom salad were particular standouts.

For Jeeves' birthday at the end of July, we went to Wylie's flagship - WD-50 and had a great tasting menu.  But before dinner, we went to Attaboy, a bar on the Lower East.  Attaboy is now in the space that used to be Milk & Honey.  It has a similar vibe, but you don't need a reservation, and the bar has been lengthened.  Best of all, it's run by Sammy, our favorite M&H bartender.  Sammy was tending bar when we stopped in and we got to have a couple of exceptional cocktails.  Dinner at WD-50 was phenomenal, although a little less quirky and molecular gastronomy focused than our first visit a few years ago.  My favorite dish of the night was a cold egg drop soup with uni.  I pretty much love anything with uni.

And now for the big dinner of the summer (I know, we're fucking ridiculous - the big dinner?  Like the rest of these were little trips out or something.).  Jeeves got us a reservation at the Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare to celebrate our second wedding anniversary.  I was a little nervous about this dinner because it is a) very expensive; and b) they send an e-mail of rules, such as dress code (fine, no biggy), no picture taking (ugh) and no note-taking (what?).  So I have no pictures of this meal, and I can't give great details about each course because I can't remember all the ingredients.  What I can say is that the food was absolutely 3 Michelin star worthy.  It was perfect.  One course was uni on this tiny brioche with a truffle gelee on top.  It was the best bite of food I've ever had.  Hands down.  There were so many incredible sashimi fish courses - types of fish flown in from Japan that I had never even heard of before.  Unbelievable osetra caviar with potato.  A Wagyu beef course that was cooked to perfection.  A memorable chocolate and apricot dessert.  The service was professional, but it was not seamless and not particularly warm.  And the pacing of the courses was far too quick for Jeeves' and my taste.  Still, for the food alone, it was memorable and worthwhile.

Phew, and that's been our summer of eats.  No wonder I've gained weight.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Slap Out of It

I feel like this post is just going to be brain vomit.  Sorry.

So, there's a thing on the show Cougar Town where our heroine, Jules, changes common phrases that she thinks don't make sense so that they will make more sense to her.  Anyway, that's the point of "slap out of it."  Jules is feeling down that her son is going off to college, and she tells her friends she needs to "slap out of it."  Her boyfriend points out that the phrase is "snap out of it."  And Jules argues that snapping isn't going to knock her out of her funk half as well as a slap to the face will.  I had forgotten about this phrase until Wendy told me the other day that she needed to slap out of it.  And today, I really, really need to slap out of it.

It was a very baby heavy weekend.  That is generally fine with me.  I know some IFers struggle around babies and little kids, but I usually find I have no problem with them, they don't make me sad at all.  I don't know if it's because I have nephews, or I have so many friends with kids.  I just don't equate other people's kids with disappointment or sadness about my own situation.  Pregnant ladies are another matter.  Anyway, Friday we went out with an old friend of mine from college, Brian.  Brian was one of my absolute besties in college, but he's spent the last 10 years out in California, so we don't get to see each other much.  He and his partner just adopted an adorable little girl, and it was so great to see them so happy, and also to hear about their long adoption process.  It's nice to know someone in real life who has gone through that process and had a happy ending, since it's possible that could be us some day.

And today, Sunday, we went out to brunch with some friends who have kids of varying ages.  At one point in the conversation, two of the moms were discussing mom stuff, and I was kind of spacing out.  One of the moms tried valiantly to keep me included, but there's only so much she could do.  I mean, I can't really contribute - I can listen, and ask questions, but I can't contribute.  It's nice to be around my friends and their kids, all of whom are adorable and fun, but it was a little bit of a reminder of how there can be a barrier, and it's nobody's fault, between people with children and people without.  There was actually a nice piece written about that subject on the Times Motherlode blog this week by a woman who has kids.  

But anyway, the part that has me really needing to slap out of it involved a phone call on Saturday afternoon.  A very close friend of mine (I'm not going to name her because it's her news and her business and I'm sure at some point in the future on the blog I will specify who, but for now we will leave it as "a very close friend.") called to tell me that she is 12 weeks pregnant.  I had not know she and her husband were trying, and for some time, at least until a couple of years ago, she and her husband were uncertain about whether they wanted children.  I had noticed a softening in their stance in the last year or two, but still, she had not specifically told me that they were trying.  In retrospect, there were plenty of Easter eggs that I missed.  Anyway, my first emotion was surprise/shock, and that was quickly followed by happiness.  Honest and true.  I was really, really happy for my friend and her husband.  I had always hoped they would have children, I think they will be amazing parents, and while I definitely don't think parenthood is for everyone, I really did think that they would maybe regret it if they never became parents.

We talked for awhile about how her pregnancy is going.  And my shock and happiness continued for maybe another hour after I got off the phone.  And then I cried, and they weren't happy tears.  My friend has known all about my infertility, the miscarriages, etc.  She knew when it was taking us awhile to get pregnant, she knew about when we first went to the RE, all the tests, the IUIs, everything.  And even though I know completely that the decision to have a child and that process is no one's business and I certainly don't feel entitled to know what's going on between my friend and her husband in that regard, a small part of me did feel hurt that she didn't confide in me.  Especially because I told her a lot of things that I would not have told her if I had known she was undertaking this process.  Like, did she really need to know the details of my miscarriage and D&C in her first few weeks of pregnancy?  No.  I wish I hadn't told her any of it.  I probably said a bunch of dumb shit too.

Beyond that, there was of course the "so happy for her, so sad for me" part.  The only thing I can compare that to is that scene in Julie and Julia when Julia finds out her sister is pregnant and she bursts into tears.  Her husband puts his arm around her and Julia chokes out, "I'm just so happy for her!"  And of course, I then felt like an asshole for having even an iota of a negative emotion around something that is nothing but wonderful news for someone I love so very much.   

A week before my mom died, this same friend was on vacation with her husband, and I had just been chatting with her about her upcoming wedding and the trip she was about to take, etc.  She was at a very happy phase in her life, and I was in a very unhappy phase in my life - I'd just been dumped by some loser, I had a job I hated, a ton of school debt.... and I was on the phone with my mother, talking to her about my shitty day.  And my mom asked about Friend, asked what she was up to, and I told her about Friend's vacation and how much fun it sounded, and that wasn't it nice that her future in-laws had given them their airline miles so they could fly for free?  And my mom said to me, "Oh, Meggie.  It will be your turn soon."  And then I cried.  Because my mother always knew exactly how I was feeling, and she knew exactly what to say to me, and she didn't judge me.  And all this bullshit infertility stuff makes me miss her so much more. She knew how to slap me out of it.

I expect good old Aunt Flo in another day or so, and I'm sure that's not helping my funk.

Dear Friend has a sister who is also undergoing treatment for infertility, and we actually have cycled at the same time in the past, serving as texting buddies to cheer each other on, and to buck each other up after a loss.  My first thought after I got off the phone with Friend was how her sister, who has been at this for 3 years, must be feeling.  I texted her, "I just heard Friend's good news.  Sending you love and hugs."  She wrote back, "Thanks.  Right back at you."  That, combined with Stupid Stork's hysterical new post about the lizard in her house, was about as close to a slap as I could get.  I don't have my mom to slap me out of it anymore, so I'll just have to do it myself, like the tough broad that I am.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

"Here is the stat that the doctors gave Mr. and Mrs. Spicer: One in four.  That's the last stat I'm going to give you, because so what?  So what?  Stats don't mean anything.  Every time Joe Pepitone steps up to the plate, it's new.  It doesn't matter if he's hit five hundred home runs or if he's struck out five hundred times.  It's a new thing.  And no one can predict what's going to happen, except that he's Joe Pepitone, and he's going to try his darnedest, and he's not going to let anything get him down, and he's going to fight his way through no matter what, and he's got all his friends behind him, and if you don't think that matters a whole lot, then you don't know how to get from first base to second.  Because stats don't mean anything."
-Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now

Last week we got the results back from our karyotype test - we're both normal.  That was a huge relief.  And even though I knew that statistically speaking, it was unlikely that one or both of us would be abnormal, I found myself really nervous on the day I called for the results.  I thought, well, statistically speaking, it's the minority of couples who need help getting pregnant.  And statistically speaking, it's the minority of couples who have a miscarriage in a given pregnancy.  And it's an even smaller minority of couples that have more than one miscarriage.  So seeing as how we're already in this tiny minority, why wouldn't we be in an even tinier minority that also has an inherent chromosomal defect?  Happily we are not.

When Dad was first diagnosed, I spent a lot of time reading online forums populated by other caregivers and cancer sufferers, and it started to really make me sad.  Dad's five year survival probability was in the single digits and Dr. T (my dad's fucking amazing oncologist) basically told us that if Dad decided not to do chemo, he'd die in a year, but with chemo he should probably have two years.  My dad's decision to do the chemo will be the subject of a post all on its own, but let's just say that two years sounds a whole lot better than one year when it comes to dying.  And as I was reading (and comparing) our situation to what other people were going through on these forums, I just found myself sinking down into this dark world where MY DAD IS DYING ALL THE TIME.  And what's the point of having Dad for two more years if I'm going to spend those two years obsessed with him dying instead of enjoying his life?  So I decided not to partake in these forums anymore, but right before I stopped, I read a post where a woman said, talking about her dad, that the stats don't mean anything when this is your life.  The stats can tell you that this situation is dire, but everyone affected by cancer is an individual and everyone's outcome is different.  And if you get bogged down in those stats, you will make yourself miserable.  And in the end, that's exactly what Dr. T said to us (and what he continues to say to this day) and we've been very lucky that two years stretched to four years, and we'll see what happens next because the stats don't apply to us now.

Other IF bloggers have very eloquently debunked a lot of myths involving statistics and infertility, but my personal favorite is Aramis from It Only Takes One's post about the law of averages and how every cycle is a new cycle, just like every flip of the coin is its own new toss and the chances of it being heads or tails is still 50/50.  It's so easy to look at other pregnant women and think that there are only so many women who will get pregnant in a given year, and if that lady walking around Whole Foods is pregnant, and oh look, there's another pregnant lady at Whole Foods, then that's reducing my chances of getting pregnant!  Of course that's not how it works, that's not how the statistics of infertility work.  

I try to remind myself that actually the statistics are on my side that I will someday get pregnant.  Still, I can't help but sometimes think that I might wind up in the ever dwindling minority of people who keep failing.  But statistically speaking, IUI shouldn't have worked for us - I've read the studies - but it did work for us, twice.  So while I'm going to keep using the scientific studies to inform my decisions on my treatment and care, if I get too bogged down in the stats, I'm going to sink into that same dark hole I was in four years ago, reading cancer forums.  When we start a new cycle, it is a new cycle.  The game starts over again, but this time we'll have a little more information and that's a good thing.