i’m determined to keep 72 hours between my tests (the deadbabymomma’s version of a hairshirt), so in the interval, some more history:

spring 2005

earl’s delivery was very easy, but my recovery from it was hell. i had only started wearing maternity clothes 2 days before she was delivered, so my shape and size hadn’t changed much. i had gained 8 pounds total and they were all in my belly, so i figured they would slide off easily and i would quit looking pregnant and boy, wouldn’t that be great because then people would quit asking me when my baby was due. ha. for the next three months i lost and gained back those same 8 pounds roughly every week. i still needed my maternity pants. that sucked.

but that was nothing compared to the bleeding. my post-partum bleeding had practically stopped after 2 weeks when i saw my ob, which he considered great news. but instead of actually stopping it kept going and going…and going. my uterus, like my weight, was totally out of whack for the next 12 weeks. yes, that’s what i said: twelve excruciating weeks — 94 days — of non-stop bleeding.

nine weeks into this ordeal i went back to the doctor to ask, tentatively, if what was happening was, you know, normal. he smiled his smile at me and said “no, not really,” which i heard as “good god you insane woman why didn’t you call me four weeks ago?” he put me on a 5-day course of progesterone to stop the bleeding.

it didn’t.

one week after i stopped the progesterone, still bleeding, i started another 5-day course of progesterone. to stop the bleeding. which it didn’t do.

but the third time worked. only by now my doctor had decided that the best thing to do, since i was obviously in distress and had to fight tears every time i sat in his office and saw all those pictures of living, full-term babies and their exhausted but elated parents all over his walls, was for me to get pregnant. and since my cycle was obviously not reliable, he decided the best way for me to conceive was using fertility drugs. and he thought we should start NOW because not only did he think it would be nice for me to be pregnant before earl’s due date came around (it was still two months away), he himself was leaving on vacation soon and thought ideally i’d be pregnant before he left. that way he wouldn’t have to monitor my meds from afar.

his decision was confirmed when he started staring at my ovaries and saw those tell-tale “pearl-like” strands of eggs, all underdeveloped, in both ovaries. he had been treating me with progrestone based on the diagnosis of luteal phase defect; now, he told me, i had polycystic ovaries. this would make it even harder to get pregnant. the meds were definitely a good choice for a woman like me.

i’ll make the shameful confession that i had a hard time wrapping my mind around this. i wasn’t infertile — i’d been pregnant four times in less than two years. how were drugs going to help me? i needed help keeping the babies i’d conceived, not conceiving in the first place. i was still learning the ropes of my “new normal” as a the mother of a dead child. i was. not. ready. for my new normal to include infertility.

but i liked my doctor and while i was his patient i dutifully did everything he told me to. so i started clomid and then upped the ante with gonal-f shots. he didn’t like the looks of my lining on day 17 or so, but decided a few days later that it was time “to have relations.” which we did (me & s, not me & the doc), also (and sadly) pretty dutifully. we really thought we’d get pregnant — remember, doc, conceiving is not our problem? — but we sure as hell didn’t like being told when and how to do it.

i know there is a lot of research (some real, some really bad) about the ways our minds influence our bodies. when it comes to fertility i believe some of the hard science — like since the hypothalmus has a both a role in fertility and in regulating stress, then *actually* reducing various kinds of stress can improve fertility. (in this, i really really trust alice domar and not well-meaning fertiles who tell us just to relax. SO not the same thing.) anyway — when i’m being rational, i do not believe that having a bad attitude about sex, or medication, or about life in general, can prevent pregnancy. (too bad, though, ‘eh? there would be WAY fewer unwanted babies in the world were that true.)

and yet. yet there was a part of me that june that thought i was somehow to blame when i didn’t show up pregnant. i mean, i had taken the meds! i had science on my side, for godssakes!

sometimes i miss those long-lost days of innocence. of thinking things might be easy, or predictable. of easy diagnoses and sure-fire treatments. not that they did any good — more on my pcos status in another post, i promise — but still. it was easier to hope with stats on your side. i miss that ability to hope.

every holiday season i buy a few new ornaments — usually but not always during the massive sales that start december 26. but in december 2005 i paid full price (a whopping $5) for a capital letter “e,” which s and i hung together in earl’s memory.

ears-e-xmas-2007.jpg

it didn’t occur to me this year until almost christmas day to go back to restoration hardware (so much for living green and shopping locally) to see if they had letters again. they did! and m and i picked out a nice capital letter “r.”

rubys-r-xmas-2007.jpg

instead of a tree — which was far more than i could wrap my arms around, what with falling needles and months of vacuuming and a very toddly toddler (made more so by the fluid in her ears, a special gift from her sinus infection) — we hung garland over the arch between our living room and dining room. we hung ornaments on the garland, and found that we even started to feel festive, not to mention relieved that the fragiles were out of reach of the grasping, smashing fingers of a 16-month old. we hung the r and the e first.

it turned out to be an ok christmas after all.

peace-garland-xmas-2007.jpg

the timing on this is all wrong, since this is, by all rights, a february poem. but i find that the more i miss ruby this christmas the more i miss earl, and this poem was a gift to her from our dear friend and poet km. earl was delivered on the 21st of february, so today i remember her. my big girl. i miss you, sweet child, my first born.

Mid-Winter Grace

In February
the sky is brilliant blue and cold air,
sound travels faster: someone reports a chickadee calling from half a mile away.
Tress, undressed in this season, appear like the inside
of our lungs or a pocket of capillaries.
We belong to this place, our bodies modeled on earth,
or earth on body — who knows?

There is bodily loss and longing here
in the middle of winter,
the glory of a holiday worn off
and spring joy still too far ahead
to grasp: a hand always waving goodbye
but never actually leaving.

Consider, though, the cold air,
how it makes planes and birds rise faster
there’s more lift,
or less pull to earth.
And that sound of another calling out to you,
are you okay? take my hand.
It comes faster in February.