Friday, June 7, 2013

We Wasted the Good Surprise on You!

For the life of me, I can’t find a decent YouTube clip or picture of the scene in Big Daddy when the roommate’s girlfriend says to Adam Sandler, “We wasted the good surprise on you!”  Therefore, if you haven’t seen it, well, you’re missing out.  It’s perfect for this scenario because we did some great surprises with my family and received some great reactions when our pregnancy test was positive.  However, none of them really count, now.

The first question I want to address today is what a chemical pregnancy is.  Basically, it’s a miscarriage before the fifth week of gestation.  The embabies were definitely starting to hatch and secrete hCG, which is why I had a positive pregnancy test.  I was actually pregnant.  However, they never fully latched onto my uterine lining.
·         9dp5dt, my hCG level was 21. 
·         15dp5dt, my hCG level was 5.
·         16dp5dt, my hCG level was 1.

The last beta test was what told Dr. Bundren it was chemical and not an ectopic pregnancy.  On 9dp5dt, they were still hoping it would turn into a viable pregnancy.  It did not.  The one difference between a chemical pregnancy and a clinical pregnancy is that the chemical pregnancy miscarriage does not require a D&C to remove the embryo.

We are already moving onto the next steps in order to help deal with our grieving.  Within the next 2 weeks, we’ll go back for a doctor visit & the “WTF meeting” (thanks for that term, Carri…love it) to discuss what possibly went wrong and what we’ll do differently next time.  The next cycle will probably be in August.  Mary Kathryn told me yesterday that July was too hot for a cycle.  That doesn’t make sense to me since August seems to be the hottest month of the year, but she’s the expert.

As far as how we’re doing, we’re surviving.  When I told my boss what happened and asked if I could leave yesterday, his response was, “Well, if you’re going to cry like that all day, I guess.”  Isn’t he a peach?!

The one thing Todd and I always try to do is find the silver linings in situations.  Now, you may think that’s a little early to be doing right now, but you have to realize that we’ve been dealing with this situation for 9 days.  Therefore, I started a list of things I can do to get me through this loss.  However, I would like to preface this list by saying that I would rather have a baby growing in my belly than to do any of these things:
1.       Stop Progesterone shots…my bruised, itchy, numb rear and panties ruined from Sharpie stains thank me!  J
2.       Eat sushi
3.       Take a vacation
4.       Drink pop & Starbucks…but just this weekend
5.       Go back to boot camp
6.       Lose some more weight – maybe God is trying to tell me I’m too much of a “fatty-fatty-two-by-four” for a healthy pregnancy  J
7.       Go to my cousin’s wedding next weekend without restrictions
8.       Spend more of our savings – What else do we need that for?!

Being at work for 10 hours today is starting to wear on me.  I’m pretty pumped to get out of here, but I don’t know if we’ll be going to dinner with friends tonight or curling up on the couch together.  Whatever I do, I’ll be with Todd, my rock.

I really don’t want to make this entry too sad, but there is one thing I can’t leave here without posting.  I’m not sure if I’ve talked about my friend, Ashleigh, on here.  We knew each other in college but had lost touch since I graduated.  The wonderful Mr. Zuckerberg reunited us.  When I posted an entry about “Sticky Thoughts,” she left a very clever list of all of the sticky things she could think of.  It really made me laugh.  Anyway, we have really formed a good friendship since we got back in touch; actually, we’re closer than we ever were in college.  Yesterday, she sent me the sweetest message, and I just want to share an excerpt from it:
Last night I laid in bed and was thinking of you and the embabies and found myself reciting three times:
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord their souls to keep
And if they should die before she wakes
I pray thee Lord their souls to take
And if they should live for other days
I pray the Lord will guide their ways.
You know what?  I think they're up in heaven, and now having known you so well, are hand-picking the souls that you will come to know and cherish as your own.

For being an Engineer, this girl is good with words!  J  That prayer even brought tears to Todd’s eyes, and he’s been pretty strong through this entire process.

To everyone that sent kind thoughts, prayers, and beautiful flowers to us yesterday, thank you.  I can’t thank all of you enough for the support you’ve given us!  Even though it was hard to tell our friends and family the bad news, I was glad to have the responses flooding back in with love and prayers.  It reminded me why I have chosen not to keep our journey a secret.  We appreciate you all more than we’ll ever be able to tell you!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No Update

After 3 phone calls and 1 text message, no one from Dr. Bundren's office called today.  I'm heartbroken by their lack of caring.

Two Week Wait, My Rear!

Let me start by explaining that in IVF, there is a thing called a two week wait (2ww).  It starts from the day of retrieval and ends 2 weeks later when your first beta test (pregnancy test) is performed.  For me, my 2ww ended last Wednesday.  Today officially makes 3 weeks since retrieval, and we're still in limbo.

The last week has been a rollercoaster of emotions!  Because I wasn’t fully ready to talk about all of this until today, I did a few updates that I would just share all at once.


Wednesday, May 29 Update:
This morning, I decided to break the Cardinal Rule of infertility treatments.  I took an at-home pregnancy test, which on IVF blogs is known as POAS.  (You’ll have to look that one up on your own.  J)  Anyway, it was negative.  Now, I know why they told me not to take them.  I cried and cried and cried.  After that, I cried some more.  I just knew at one point that I was pregnant.  Then, I doubted that I was.  This test confirmed that I wasn’t.  This emotional rollercoaster is no fun!
After I finally pulled myself out of bed, I got dressed and went to Dr. Bundren’s office for my beta test.  Yes, I actually had my blood draw for my pregnancy test scheduled for today, May 29.  I didn’t post the actual date (lying and saying it was June 3) because I was hoping to surprise my friends and family this evening…including my blog readers.  [Truth is, I haven’t told very many people even up to this point because of the way this all went down.  A few of my IVF friends had figured out that I lied about the date, so they were in on the secret.  However, that was it.]  Anyway, I asked Todd to go with me for moral support.  I knew I would be crying a lot while I was up there.  I did.  Again, I cried and cried and cried.  The nurses were all passing me around from shoulder to shoulder like a new baby.  Ha, no pun intended.  Claudia (the fill-in nurse for Mary Kathryn because she’s out this week) drew my blood and told me that most likely, I would get a negative on the beta test, too.  That crushed me because up until that point, I had kept telling myself that maybe the POAS just couldn’t detect the small amounts of hCG in my system, yet.  I suddenly lost all hope.

Then, as I was driving to work, I was subconsciously singing “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Baby Provence in a baby carriage.”  It’s like my brain was acting like a mean, taunting 6-year old bully!  I had to pray harder to get it out of my head.  J

Well, at 2:37pm, Claudia called.  She asked if James was with me.  (Ugh!  I hate when they don’t remember that we call him Todd.)  Anyway, I told her I was at work, so she went ahead and told me.  My hCG level is a 21!!!  Now, that’s low.  Really low.  Kelly (my Lupron nurse) called after I talked to Claudia and gave me a little more insight.  (I really like Kelly.  She’s patient and oh so loving.)  Anyway, she told me that I need to be cautiously optimistic.  This number could be just fine or maybe not.  I was scheduled to go back for another beta test on Tuesday, June 4…only 6 more days of waiting!

I told Todd tonight that I feel like I just got to the end of the reps in my workout and the trainer said, “6 more!”  This is like a never-ending waiting game.

Anyway, I learned my lesson about taking the POAS.  I won’t do that, again.


Thursday, May 30 Update:
Last night was a fun night.  The girls were with Mom and Dad playing all day, so the four of them and my nephews came over for dinner.  Well, before dinner, I said I wanted to line up for a few pictures in front of our fireplace.  Todd played photographer.  First, he took a silly picture of the kids.
Then, he lined the rest of us up and said, “Say ‘Laura’s pregnant.”  Watch the video to see what happens next.
video
Oh, what fun!  I’m so glad the girls know, now.  I felt like we were keeping a huge secret from them, which we were.  They were so thrilled and loved seeing all of the things we already bought for the baby.  They’re going to make great big sisters!...and diaper changers!!  J

After that, we called my sister, Amber, that lives in Dallas.  I asked her husband to let me speak to Campbell, my amazingly intelligent five-year old niece.  I knew she would be a perfect messenger!  She was super animated on the phone, which just increased my enthusiasm.  I asked her if she could go tell her mommy something for me.  I said, “Go say, ‘Aunt Laura’s going to have a baby.”  Amber said she ran in there so excited!  I talked to Jason for a few minutes about it.  He was thrilled and had a great reaction.  Then, Amber got on the phone and asked if she heard Campbell correctly.  We talked for about 15 minutes.  Sometime during the call, you could hear Campbell in the background screaming, “Yay!  Aunt Laura’s going to have a baby!!”  It was a great call!  Amber and Jason so happy for us, and I just love that.  Amber’s really been invested in this process with me.

Once my oldest sister, Jenny, showed up from her business meeting, the kids performed a skit they had prepared to tell her about the pregnancy.  Considering I had threatened my family with their lives if they told the girls about us doing IVF this month, she wasn’t sure how to react.  It was pretty funny.  J  It was really fun for the kids, so I’m glad they were able to do that.

Next, came the call to Kaleb.  I so wish he could have been here for the announcement, but he really needed to stay in Arkansas and make some money to fix his car.  His reaction was great, though!
video
Todd texted his parents, as well.  They are very happy for us and texted that they are praying that the pregnancy sticks!

As for everyone else, they’re going to have to wait until Tuesday.  I hope everyone understands that I need this time to myself to figure this out.  I am nervous as can be right now and am just not sure I want to explain the details over and over and over.  I would rather wait until we know more.  I pray and pray and pray.  I’m a very lucky girl to have Todd, though.  He’s been a rock these last 28 hours.  I love him!!


Friday, May 31 Update:
Not much of an update today.  I posted on the actual day that I’m having itching.  Well, it’s later in the day, and the itching isn’t any better.  Maybe I’ll try a little ice, but I’m worried it will make my knots worse.  Oh, well…anything to have a baby, right?!


Wednesday, June 5 Update:
Dr. Bundren, himself, called me last night…at almost 6:30pm.  That late call wasn’t a surprise, but him calling was.  He informed me that my hCG levels are rising quite as fast as he had hoped.  However, because my symptoms don’t say I’m not pregnant, he’s not ready to give-up on this cycle.  I had to go back in this morning for another blood draw.  Hopefully, I’ll hear something tonight.  I’m officially emotionally numb.  I know I could just cry for hours right now, but I won't let myself do that, again.  This rain doesn’t help much because it just makes me want to sleep.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Anxiety Overload [said in my best robot voice]

Countdown:
Pregnancy test – TODAY!


I should get my results somewhere around 5pm.  Could it take any longer?!  I’m seriously a nervous, anxious, excited wreck!  If I were able to leave work at my regular time, I would probably be home to celebrate with Todd when the call was received.  However, for the first time ever, my assistant general manager has asked that I stay and help him finish a presentation.  I don’t know how to say ‘no’ to that, so I’ll just comply.  It will be a little awkward if he’s at my desk, I get the news, and I’m crying.  Maybe he’ll just finish it on his own.  J

Anyway, I had my blood drawn this morning.  Nothing different there.  Mary Kathryn informed me that there is nothing I can do for the itching.  However, they’re going to change the oil to sesame seed oil, so the itching should actually get worse.  Awesome!  I look forward to that!

I feel great besides being anxious and wanting to eat all of the most unhealthy stuff in our vending machines.  Ugh!  They call my name.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I’m Not Crazy

Countdown:
Pregnancy test – TOMORROW!


I’m excited!  I’m very, very excited!!...and nervous.  I’m just praying that my wishes and God’s plan are in accordance with each other for this cycle.  I trust that He has my plan in place, but I’m still anxious and nervous to find out what that is tomorrow.  It couldn’t get here fast enough!

I still have no symptoms.  My itching at the injection site still occurs, but it’s not constant.

For the last 9 months, I have had my hormones all over the board, literally.  From September until January, I was in a state of menopause.  Then, I was put back on birth control pills until May.  Then, I started injecting the follicle stimulating shots, followed immediately by sticky-uterus-making shots.  That’s the technical name for Progesterone.  J

Anyway, the one thing I have learned during these hormone changes is that I get really sick of hearing people act like I’m crazy.  I can’t tell you how many people say things like, “Oh, be nice to Laura.  Her hormones are all out of whack” or “I figured you weren’t ready to talk since you’re hormones are going so crazy.”  (That last one is an excuse someone close to me has actually used in order to not have to ask or be involved at all in this entire process.)  When my family and friends treat me like I’m a crazy person, it does nothing but hurt.  I didn’t realize how much it bothered me until I read the below article.  I think all women can agree that there are times that our hormones just leave us completely out of control of our emotions and feelings.  However, on top of that happening to us, the last thing you want to hear is a loved one treat you like you’re overly sensitive or overreacting.  Sometimes, I know it’s not me that’s being unreasonable, but no one will admit that because ‘I’m the crazy one on the hormone meds.’  I don’t know how to really confront the situation (so I usually just make a joke about it), but writing about it helps.  Thanks for letting me vent!

Until tomorrow…

 


Why Women Aren’t Crazy

SEPTEMBER 18, 2011 
BY Yashar Ali
Has gaslighting conditioned women into thinking they’re emotionally unstable? Yashar Ali thinks so.

You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!

Sound familiar?

If you’re a woman, it probably does.

Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?

When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling—that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.

And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.

I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation and we need to use a word not in our normal vocabulary.

I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a term, often used by mental health professionals (I am not one), to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.

The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.

Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, “You’re so stupid” or “No one will ever want you” to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged.

The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-mediated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.

Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction—whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness—in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.


My friend Anna (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight. Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, “You’re so sensitive. I’m just joking.”

My friend Abbie works for a man who finds a way, almost daily, to unnecessarily shoot her down and her work product. Comments like, “Can’t you do something right?” or “Why did I hire you?” are regular occurrences for her. Her boss has no problem firing people (he does it regularly), so you wouldn’t know that based on these comments, Abbie has worked for him for six years. But every time she stands up for herself and says “It doesn’t help me when you say these things,” she gets the same reaction: “Relax; you’re overreacting.”

It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.
Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.

But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, “You’re so sensitive,” to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, that person is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.

While dealing with gaslighting isn’t a universal truth for women, we all certainly know plenty of women who encounter it at work, home, or in personal relationships.

And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.

Why?

Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.

It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.

Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: it renders some women emotionally mute.

These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.

When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, “Forget it, it’s okay.”

That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking.

No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.

They say, “I’m sorry” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.

You know how it looks: “You’re late   ”

These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.


Since I have embarked on this feminist self-exploration in my life and in the lives of the women I know, this concept of women as “crazy” has really emerged as a major issue in society at large and an equally major frustration for the women in my life, in general.

From the way women are portrayed on reality shows, to how we condition boys and girls to see women, we have come to accept the idea that women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in times of anger and frustration.

Just the other day, on a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a flight attendant who had come to recognize me from my many trips asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I write mainly about women, she immediately laughed and asked, “Oh, about how crazy we are?”

Her gut reaction to my work made me really depressed. While she made her response in jest, her question nonetheless makes visible a pattern of sexist commentary that travels through all facets of society on how men view women, which also greatly impacts how women may view themselves.

As far as I am concerned, the epidemic of gaslighting is part of the struggle against the obstacles of inequality that women constantly face. Acts of gaslighting steal their most powerful tool: their voice. This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways.

I don’t think this idea that women are “crazy,” is based in some sort of massive conspiracy. Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis. And gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as “crazy”

I recognize that I’ve been guilty of gaslighting my women friends in the past (but never my male friends—surprise, surprise). It’s shameful, but I’m glad I realized that I did it on occasion and put a stop to it.

While I take total responsibility for my actions, I do believe that I, along with many men, am a byproduct of our conditioning. It’s about the general insight our conditioning gives us into admitting fault and exposing any emotion.

When we are discouraged in our youth and early adulthood from expressing emotion, it causes many of us to remain steadfast in our refusal to express regret when we see someone in pain from our actions.

When I was writing this piece, I was reminded of one of my favorite Gloria Steinem quotes, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

So for many of us, it’s first about unlearning how to flicker those gaslights and learning how to acknowledge and understand the feelings, opinions, and positions of the women in our lives.

But isn’t the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?