Friday, December 26, 2008

Parent's Prayer

This morning I attended the Bat Mitzvah of a colleague's daughter, at the area of Robinson's Arch, near the Western Wall. The Conservative Jewish ceremony moved me, but especially the prayer that her parents gave when she was finished reading from the Torah. It made me cry, not only because of the emotion of the event, but because of the process through which I am plodding at the moment.

After the Bat Mitzvah itself, each guest went to the Wall and gave our own personal prayers, and I felt that this was a place where I could be heard, though I believe that G-d is not geography specific, listening wherever we may be found.

I reproduce this Parent's Prayer below, for all of you who are already or are trying to become mothers:

What I wish for my child I wish for all our children.
I wish for you to be a person of character: strong but not tough, gentle but not weak.
I wish for you to be righteous but not self-righteous, honest but not unforgiving.
Wherever you journey, may your steps be firm and may you walk in just paths and not be afraid.
Whenever you speak, may your words be words of wisdom and friendship.
May your hands build and your heart preserve what is good and beautiful in our world.
May the voices of the generations of our people move through you, and may the G-d of our ancestors be your G-d as well.
May you know that there is a people, a rich heritage to which you belong; and from that sacred place you are connected to all who dwell on Earth.
May the stories of our people be upon your heart and the grace of the Torah-rhythm dance in your soul.

(Written by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Round Two, AS (After Surgery)

By my own calculation, I have had only legitimate IUI attempt, since for the first six trials there was the small issue of the IUD/polyp. Having negotiated successfully with Hadassah to allow another IUI this month, I start my journey, less than a month after the last insemination.

The way I see it, I am meant to have the next procedure on January 1, 2009, the day of little baby Jesus' brit milah. Sounds like a good day to invoke the good will of G-d.

25/12/08 (Day 5): Hadassah for blood tests and ultra-sound. I received a lot of sympathy from the nurses, who said to me, "We really thought the last one was going to take." Walked home (in the drizzle) from town instead of exercising this morning.

29/12/08 (Day 9): Hadassah for blood tests and ultra-sound. I have three follicles on each side (so far), and have spent the morning smiling. I also bumped into the older sister of a woman who attended college with me, and we spent the morning discussing US politics.

31/12/08 (Day 11): Hadassah for blood tests and ultra-sound. In addition to going to the mikva in preparation for tomorrow's IUI, I also returned all the mini-ice packs I had received from the HMO to transport the hormones thus far. They were grateful to have the supplies - there were lots to return - and I feel this is a gesture that says, "It is going to work for me this month, let some other woman benefit now from the hormones."

Hooray for Michal

I am pleased to report that my friend Michal is unofficially pregnant. I met her today at the hospital, as I successfully negotiated one more IUI try this month, and she and her partner Yael told me the good news.

Of course it is very early, but nevertheless, it left a smile on my face all day, just the right way to celebrate the holiday season.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Integrating Plans

My blood test came back negative, but I knew that was going to happen.

I spoke to the nurses about the transition process into IVF, and they told me that in a best-case scenario, I would still have to wait at least a month.

In the past, they have pushed me not to "miss an opportunity," even when I felt I needed a break. Using their motivation to manipulate the situation, combined with my highest desire to avoid IVF if possible, I suggested that I "might as well" do another IUI this month, if I would have had to wait until 2009 anyway to enroll in the IVF program.

Furthermore, I pointed out that my first six rounds were destined to fail, due to the blockage of the neck of the cervix. Now that the surgery in November had repaired that crucial design flaw, in truth my seventh and most recent attempt - the first after the surgery, could be thought of as the first try, and so my body deserved another chance.

I provided as proof the fact that this period has been the heaviest in the history of my cycle, since I started at the age of 12 and a half. Maybe my body has just woken up.

I await their consideration and response.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No Chanukah Miracle

Yesterday, I started bleeding, three days ahead of even my normal schedule. Assuming that I was not pregnant, I called the hospital and asked them if I still needed to come in for the beta hCG blood test this week, or if I could sleep in.

Eternally optimistic, the nurse suggested that I come in today instead, take a blood test just in case my body was bleeding and it had nothing to do with an unsuccessful IUI. (Whatever...) She also suggested that I make an appointment with my doctor, to officially confirm the transition from IUI to IVF.

I am in un-chartered territory here, and all I know about IVF is that it involves many more hormones, and removal of the eggs under general anesthesia, followed by several days of not working due to partial incapacitation. I did not want to go this way, if only because I wanted the process of life to begin from the first second inside my womb, instead of a petri dish.

I was so hoping for a miracle this week.

As I hung up the phone from Nurse Chava, she said in a chirpy voice - as if all our intentions would make a difference with the results of the blood test - "Good Luck!" Whatever.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hope and Despair

It has been less than a week since I had the IUI, and this morning, when I took my temperature, it had dipped almost to baseline. Not a great sign according to the books I have read.

Then I tried to console myself with the awareness that this round feels different than all the previous ones, and maybe that is a good sign.

Then I took a shower and cried, and subsequently avoided any public places other than the supermarket (food, out of necessity). When I saw a mother with a baby, I smiled, hoping that would be me in nine months or so. When I saw a woman carrying a gerbil cage, I imagined the discussion I would have with my child; how it would not be prudent to have a gerbil in the house, with two clever and determined felines.

My fears and hopes overpower me still, no matter how much busy-work I create for myself today.

Did I go back to work too soon? Did I lift something too heavy? Did I wait long enough (four days) before going back to exercise? Did the cold weather freeze out my chances?

Is G-d punishing me in some way? When I went to the Mikva, maybe I didn't do all the preparations, mental and physical?

Can I even take this one piece of superficial evidence, 36.1 degrees Celsius, and decide that all is already lost?

Meanwhile, I distract myself with prayer, directed toward a potential life growing inside me: Please stay. Please stay.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Going Into Round Seven

When I got my period five days ago, I actually felt excited, because it meant that my body was ready for another try, and it meant that the timing was excellent for the insemination. I have been carrying around this positive attitude since then - even my Chiropractor made a comment to that effect yesterday - and am holding onto the optimism of the doctors after my minor surgery last month. According to them, I am clean and good to go.

I noticed something particular and wonderful to Israel; an Ultra Orthodox woman sits all day at the Sperm Bank and prays. I don't know if she is praying for the health of the frozen sperm and eggs, or the success of the process, but either way, I appreciate all the positive energy coming my way and for the others trying.

12/08 (Day 5): Hadassah for ultra-sound and blood tests. One woman (a newbie, named Orit) keeps asking me permission before she does anything, I think she thinks I work there. I bump into Michal, who will probably do her IUI tomorrow; it would be fun and fantastic if we gave birth around the same time.

Several of the woman described a torture session with the blood tech, who apparently after 20 years in the field is still missing the blood vessels and causing massive bleeding and bruising. For me, having gotten over the personal needles issue, I did not need to hear that.

When I had my legs up and the ultrasound inside me, literally, the cleaning woman for the floor casually walked into the room and started chatting with the technician about cakes, with no sense of the privacy I might desire. The test shows at least two follicles and other baby follicles on the right side, excellent for Day 5, especially when I only start injecting myself with hormones this evening.

4/12/08 (Day 6): Hadassah for ultra-sound and blood tests. Because of the changes in traffic in the center of town, I arrived even earlier than usual to the ward, and it is a good thing too. By the time the doors were opened, over 30 woman stood in line, fighting about who gets to get pricked and examined first. Orit The Newbie and I played tag team, I secured her a good spot on the ultra-sound list and she got me an excellent place in the blood lab.

And because I had already procured advance paperwork, I was able to get in and out, and have enough time to exercise before starting my work day.

7/12/08 (Day 9): Hadassah for ultra-sound and blood tests. Not quite the rush there was on Thursday, though the ultra-sound tech came late, so there were a few irritated women waiting for her.

8/12/08 (Day 10): Blissfully, I was able to sleep in this morning, no blood tests today. I did, however, have my first in the series of three acupuncture sessions, to encourage my follicles to grow big and strong. (Energetic Wheaties, so to speak.)

9/12/08 (Day 11): Hadassah for ultra-sound and blood tests. Apparently I am meant to report back to the hospital tomorrow in the early morning for another round of tests, which seem superfluous, given that I am also meant to get inseminated tomorrow, in the mid to late morning.

Here's hoping and praying that this round is the last round.