It was interesting to read the comments from my last post – I asked people to comment on what they were going to be working on in the upcoming year. Of course many of you are going to be finishing up UFO’s and using up stash, but I was surprised to find out that many of you are looking to improve your machine quilting and applique skills! I think many quilters avoid this two techniques, so I was excited to read that so many of you are wanting to pursue them. I think it’s a great goal for the new year. I should probably do a couple posts with some of my hints . . . but for now, the winner of the kit from my last post is:
Stephani in TX, who commented on Jan 3rd, at 11:57 am. Please e-mail your shipping info to email@example.com to claim your kit!
I also have a project or two that I will be working on in the upcoming year. I am so happy to close the book on 2011. This last year has been a difficult one, for reasons that I never usually talk about on this blog. I think people are usually looking for happy blog posts and I never know just how personal to get. I feel as if anything written here might just as well be up on a flashing, digital sign on main street or across the ticker on the bottom of your TV screen. But, all year I felt as if I have been living a double life from you. I have read Anna Maria’s blog post and several from Alicia at Posy Gets Cozy that have given me courage. Never did I think they shared too much. Instead I felt a connection with them. I thought of them often, prayed for them. A line from a favorite movie came to me – it’s Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, sitting across the couch from Tom Hanks saying, “What’s so wrong with being personal anyways. If anything else, it ought to begin by being personal. What’s so wrong with being personal anyways” . . . So today, this goes beyond being my creative journal. It is my personal story – and I’m warning you, it’s really looooong.
Where do I begin – I married Joel over eight years ago. We began by optimistically remodeling a house together. That huge project and our careers were our focus. Before we knew it, we were over thirty. Then my career kicked into high gear, and I spent every available moment trying to keep up. The thought of having kids was always easily pushed into the back of my mind. I was living my dream, but I knew we had to decide sooner than later. A year of “seeing what would happen”, was followed by a check with the general doctor and trying his suggestions. I began to wonder if there was something wrong and decided to see an OBGYN, even though I still wasn’t sure about this whole kid thing. After numerous tests, they found nothing wrong and recommended the typical treatment of Clomid and IUI’s (intro uterine insemination). The mention of the higher twins rate with Clomid sent me running from the office to hide for another two months. Eventually, we decided to give it a try and I was in and out of the doctor’s office every month. Another year passed with no results. Another long year, somehow longer than the previous years.
We started talking about other options and trying other drugs. No luck. We began to come to the realization that we would probably need to do IVF (invitro fertilization). Our doctor recommended a clinic in the Twin Cities and we reluctantly signed up to take an informational class. At the class we were overwhelmed with information – what I would be going through, the (low) rates of success, the staggering financial costs. I felt a ton of bricks begin to settle in on my heart. We drove home in the dark, too overwhelmed to talk about what we were dealing with. I didn’t like the clinic, it’s location in a huge hospital, even the people. Joel agreed. We talked with others who had tried another clinic. We looked into their class and waited another month to get into that class. We decided to go with this clinic. It was the beginning of December, 2010. Who wanted to deal with this during Christmas? I couldn’t do it. We set up an appointment for January. Knowing how much monitoring this requires, I give up all my traveling for work in 2011, speaking and teaching classes.
We came in for our initial screening. Some of it ok, some of it painful. I had no idea what the images on the ultrasound screen meant. We were told to wait in a waiting room for the doctor to come and talk with us. The Dr said that I had developed a uterine polyp and would not be allowed to move forward. We had signed up for their warranty program, so they weren’t going to allow us to continue without resolving that issue. The polyp had not been there during my previous testing, but was probably a result of the fertility drugs that I had been on for the last year and a half. We were sent back to my OBGYN. There was a three week wait for my appointment, then a few weeks on some medication, then a wait for another appointment. During the appointment, they weren’t able to get into my cervix with the camera to see if the polyp was gone. This had always been a painful procedure for me because apparently, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings lives in my cervix. If you have seen the first movie in the series, you will remember Gandalf standing on a bridge facing the Balrok. He lowers his staff to block the way and yells “You shall not pass”. Again, he yells, “You shall not pass”, slamming his staff down harder while fire and rocks are falling all around him. (Joel doesn’t think I should put this part in here. He questions whether quilters spend much time watching Lord of the Rings and will even know what I am taking about. I still think it provides a good visual and every time I went in for an appointment, I would think of this and hope Gandalf had the day off).
This was not that day, so thanks Gandalf, now I had to be put under and have surgery for them to get in there and take out the polyp. Now it is April and I have to heal before I can go back to the clinic in the Cities. Eventually we are cleared to start the process. We take the class on the injectable drugs that I will have to learn to administer and we set a time-line with the scheduling nurse. I struggle to finish my book for quilt market.
The next issue is that I have Quilt Market in a month, and this procedure requires lots of monitoring. We finagle a little and I begin the first part – being on the pills for 21 days. We come home from market (worst market ever – with the economy and knowing what I am coming home to) and I start the injectables. I wait for the monster I hear I might become. (Joel worked at a pharmacy selling injectables and had to deal with lots of hormonally crazed women. My OB told me his practice ends with injectables, because women on injectables are psychotic). Luckily, the monster is kept at bay. I am in the clinic every over day for a blood draw and ultrasound. Each day I get new instructions on tweaking my meds. When my ovaries each feel like they have eaten a giant Thanksgiving dinner, I go in, am put under, and 10 follicles are harvested. This is now Memorial day. After two days of bed rest, I am called in for the transfer, followed by another two days of bed rest. I deal with the side effects of the drugs. The main problem is that I cannot sleep on these meds. I spend night, after night, awake. The long days are followed by even longer nights. I feel the hands of this thing reach it’s fingers around my creativity and squeeze until there is nothing left. We begin the long two week wait for the results. After two blood tests, we are told the results are negative. In the meantime, everyone around me (and their dog) is getting pregnant and having babies. I am happy for them, but it is hard not to feel surrounded by babies.
After a waiting period, I begin another type of drugs, this time for use with the two frozen embryos that were saved from the first retrieval. After five weeks of drugs, waiting in waiting rooms for more blood draws and ultrasounds, we have the second transfer. I spend my days of bed rest up on the deck, as it is now July. We wait the long two weeks again. I continue to deal with the side effects. No sleep. My creativeness, my livelihood, is now laying somewhere behind me, squashed and choked. Two blood tests are done. The first one is positive for a chemical pregnancy. The second one, three days later, already says that it is gone. Meaning there was some level of attachment, that we must start over again.
In August I start the cycle again. We have no more frozen embryos, so we will do the whole process again. I start with the injectables, I am in the clinic every day. A nice receptionist says, “you are starting to be a regular here”. I try not to kill her with my look. I try to get out before anyone else sees me. The phlembotomists are silent as they draw my blood. They know I have been here too many times. My ultrasounds show that my follicles aren’t responding like they did the first time. After a full round of drugs, five ultrasounds, and lots of money wasted, the retrieval is cancelled two days before the scheduled date. I only have three mature follicles (last time 10 of my 20+ follicles were mature). There is a good chance that having only three follicles won’t produce any good embryos (out of 10 follicles last time, we got 4 useable embryos). If they put me under to harvest them and they don’t cooperate, I have to wait another three months before we can try again. Our doctor recommends that we convert the cycle to an IUI instead. I know what this means. I have already had 9 IUI’s and none of them worked. I turn off my phone. I text my family to tell them what happened, as my voice doesn’t work. I tell them not to call. It is easier this way, as nobody knows what to say anyways. My close family members go through this too. I need sleep. I still haven’t created anything for months. That hasn’t happened since I was about 3. Who is this person I have become? My blog is silent. I have nothing to say.
After two weeks, I do another couple blood pregnancy tests. Joel is in St Louis for a work meeting. The nurse leaves a message on my cell phone, but I do not check the message until that evening. I call Joel in his hotel room. He thinks he knows the results, as he hears crying on the other end of the phone. But he is wrong. The result is positive. POSITIVE! I tell him what the nurse says – that they rarely have to cancel an IVF cycle. Even more rarely do the IUI’s ever work. (Most people have had so many by the time they get to this point, that they aren’t working for a reason). We can hardly believe it. This hasn’t gone at all how WE had planned, but we will take it! It is the end of September.
We spend the next three weeks wondering what is in there. Is it still there? Having three mature follicles means that we wonder – Is it just one or is three? four? Which thought is scarier, none or three? After three weeks, we have an ultrasound and my OB says there is a confirmed uterine pregnancy. Just one, and everything looks normal, though it is still very early. He picks up the heartbeat and we see a small flashing on the screen. He warns us that 20% of babies miscarry. At my age he says to figure on 30%. (Did I mention that I never felt old until we tried to have kids? Apparently, 35 is practically over the hill when it comes to having babies.) That 30% seems huge to me. It is hard not to worry. I say to myself, this is my miracle baby, and I want to keep it.
After another couple weeks, a second ultra sound still shows a heartbeat and all things being normal. During the appointment the doctor still seems cautious, calling it the pregnancy that never should have happened. That is how lucky we were to have it work in this way. I pray harder. At ten weeks, a third ultrasound shows something that actually resembles a baby. It is busy boxing and turns its head to look at us (I think) while the Dr is talking about it. The doctor hears the heartbeat with the hand-held Doppler . He extends his hand and says congratulations, you are through the miscarriage window. You now have a 95% chance of keeping this baby. At ten weeks, we breathe a little easier. We start to tell some of our family. At Thanksgiving, we tell more. At Christmas, I show up sporting a slight baby bump. At New Years, it is even bigger. We have the multiple markers test and everything looks good. As I write this, I feel the baby moving.
Finally, the four year wait is over. We still have some things to get through and there is still uncertainty. But hopefully, in about five months, we will get to meet this little baby. Life will be changing in a big way, and I am finally ready for it. Sometimes I think I needed to go through all of this to be ready. To know for sure (not that I would ever choose to go through it.) I have been able to unstrap the misery that had tied itself to my back and move forward. Joy is back. I know each baby is a miracle, but I am still going to think of this as my little miracle baby. Considering what we have been through, the significance seems greater somehow. We are grateful. I am over 18 weeks – almost halfway. Here I am with Joel, trying to show off my bump.
So, getting back to where I started with this post, this year I am making a baby quilt.
Or maybe even two, or three!
or four, or five . . . .