House-hunting infertility dream

Sean and I have lived in apartments the entirety of our marriage. We’ve thought about buying a home before, but the time has never been right. It’s starting to look like a good idea these days, though.

Last night I dreamed that we went to look at a house together. It was waterfront property on marshy land, such that there were boardwalks to get from the street and driveway to the door. The house was huge, and there were at least half a dozen real estate workers there to show it to people. I was wondering the whole time why we were there, because there was no way I wanted a house that size.

The house was three stories tall. I really only remember the top floor, which had the bedrooms, a kitchen, and a courtyard-like area, but we toured all the floors and they were all gigantic. Around the time we finished looking at the third floor, the head real estate agent cornered us.

“I hear you’re pregnant!” he accused me. “Are you just having fun, touring houses for for exercise?”

“Um,” I said, and suddenly Cheryl and Reid were there, overhearing.

“I hear you felt it kick!” Reid said to Sean, who nodded awkwardly.

“Yes, no, that’s our child there,” I said, pointing to a brown-haired two-year-old someone was carrying.

“I know that can’t be true; you can’t have had the child that fast!” the real estate agent said.

“Okay, fine,” I sighed. “The truth is, we just started trying.” I glanced over at Cheryl and Reid, knowing that this was news to them and that now they’d get their hopes up. “And we’re seriously looking for a house to buy.”

“Oh. All right then,” the real estate agent said, and backed off.

Sean pulled Reid aside then. “Actually,” he said in a low, unhappy voice, “Luigi told me that it could never, ever happen for me.” (Apparently in dream-canon he had a fertility doctor named Luigi.)

I started crying in the dream, and woke up snuffling a little, although not actually crying in real life.

Weird that in the dream, Sean was the one with infertility.

It’s just us

Last night, Sean and I decided not to try to have a kid.

The decision has taken nearly 15 years. It all started in 1999 when, after cancer treatments, I was told that the likelihood of becoming naturally pregnant was extraordinarily low.

I spent five or maybe even ten years trying to recover from that news. During that time, Sean and I met, fell in love, and got married. In the beginning, my lack of fertility wasn’t an issue; Sean didn’t want children at all, though he said it would be okay if it happened.

Obviously in my case it wasn’t going to just “happen”. I approached an endocrinologist fairly early in our marriage (we were still living in our first apartment, which was destroyed by fire in 2005) and started on hormone treatments, but all this did was allow me to have normal periods. We were in our mid-20s then. As time passed, more health issues cropped up for me, and I also started finding my career path. The fertility problem was put on the back burner.

Sean’s mind started to change around the year we turned 30. He started looking at kids with the sort of indulgent expression you see on daddies, and we’d talk about names we liked and how we’d raise a child. Eventually we decided that once my health issues were taken care of, we’d see if anything could be done fertility-wise.

That time is now. I’ve had surgery to help me lose weight, taking me out of obesity and ending my sleep apnea and pseudotumor cerebri. At this point I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years. I was all set to talk to my weight loss doctor on Friday about what I needed to know about trying to conceive.

Then, yesterday, I read a CNN article that reminded me of exactly what position I’m in.┬áThe article, entitled The ‘Big Lie’ in putting off pregnancy, discusses how fertility decreases as we age:

Forty may be the new 30, but our ovaries have not gotten the same makeover. Even with all the advances in reproductive technology, our eggs have a finite shelf life and the odds of having a child over 40 years old are shockingly slim.

According to the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine, a woman in her 20s has a 20-25% chance of conceiving naturally per menstrual cycle. In her early 30s, the chance of pregnancy is 15% per cycle. After 35, the odds of pregnancy without medical intervention are at 10%. After 40, that number falls to 5%, and women over 45 have a 1% chance of conception.

[…]

A 2009 report on Assisted Reproductive Technologies, or ARTs, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the single most important factor affecting the chances of a successful pregnancy through ARTs is a woman’s age. Selvaratnam reports that at age 40, the chance is 18.7%; at 42, it’s 10%; at 44, it’s only 2.9%.

Sean and I have been married since January of 2003, and from then until September 2011, when I had weight loss surgery, we never used any form of birth control whatsoever. Obviously conceiving naturally was never going to happen.

I’m now 35 years old, the age at which the chances of conceiving naturally have dropped by 10 to 15% in a normal person, someone who hasn’t had their ovaries damaged by chemotherapy.

We always knew that given my situation, there was a chance I had no viable eggs left. There’s a test that gives you an idea of that situation. When I was taking hormone replacement therapy in 2005 and 2006, my doctor said the hormones were meant to essentially jump-start my ovaries, but my ovaries never started working properly on their own. Without hormone therapy or birth control, I only have a random period every several months to a year. This doesn’t bode well for my eggs.

I honestly don’t know what other options there are beyond hormone therapy. I’ve heard of people getting shots, and of course there’s IVF. What I do know is that hardcore fertility treatments are expensive. The first time I approached an actual fertility doctor, maybe 2008 or 2009, I was told to prepare at least $10,000. (At the time I didn’t have that, so the issue was back-burnered again.)

While we are in the best possible place right now, both health-wise and financially, the other factors are huge: my age and dwindling fertility (if there was ever even any left), the cost, and the potential danger to the child. At this point, we would be putting ourselves through years of distress and heartbreak, and realistically we would probably just be throwing money away.

And so last night I told Sean that I didn’t think it made sense to even try.

As he always does when I discuss my body or health with him, Sean said, “Okay,” agreeing to my decision. But I pressed him on it. I said that the decision whether or not to have children wasn’t just mine. I asked him how he felt about it, if he would be unhappy or disappointed.

He responded that he would love to see me able to have a baby like I’ve always wanted. Hearing that meant a lot to me. He’s watched me struggle with this for the length of our marriage. It makes me so happy (and a little sorry) to have him empathize.

He also said that he likes the idea of having and raising a child, and that we are in a good position to offer a child a stable life. But he also concurred that chances are low and there are a lot of risks to the child’s health.

“It’s not something I’m set on having,” he concluded. And then he said, “It’ll just be us.”

I almost started crying at that point. It wasn’t sorrow, though. There was an aspect of mourning to it, but the flood of emotion was also an acknowledgement of everything we’ve gone through, everything we’ve thought about, and the fact that now we don’t have to worry about it anymore.

It’s decided. There’s no “maybe,” there’s no “you never know.” We know now. We’re not having kids.

There’s something amazingly freeing in finally being sure.

Equal rights for women

In my previous post, I talked about Georgia HR 954, a bill that would move the cutoff point for abortions to 20 weeks and limit the circumstances under which which abortions can be performed in the state. I addressed some specific problems with the language of that bill in the post.

Now I’d like to talk a bit more about why broadly-written legislation like this is problematic, and why this debate is not so simple as “kill children” vs. “don’t kill children”.

Soraya Chemaly of the Huffington Post has compiled an excellent roundup of information on this topic, entitled 3 Videos Everyone Who Assumes Women Are Free Should See.

The first video tells the stories of women who were criminalized for wanting to have their babies on their own terms. In other words, their stories aren’t about abortion at all–they’re about when and how the women and their partners wanted to bring their children into the world. Why were hospitals interfering in these decisions? Because the state governments had passed “personhood” laws for zygotes, giving doctors the right to supersede mothers. In one instance, law enforcement came to a woman’s home, dragged her to the hospital, and forced her to have a C-section. In America.

Here’s a direct link to that video.

As Chemaly points out, the “personhood” idea behind these laws is the same thing as the Personhood Pledge most of the Republican candidates for president signed. What does this mean? That these men have promised to, if elected, work to grant “personhood” to life inside the womb at fertilization. So, for example, if a woman has a miscarriage, she could be charged with feticide.

What this sort of law ignores is that women are not incubators. Here’s how Chemaly puts it:

I’m not keen on pitting a woman’s rights against those of her fetus. Although useful to understand certain issues, it sets up a false and misleading dichotomy. Gestation, during which a woman chooses to share her body in complex, fully integrated ways, is the exact opposite of separation. Women are not separate from their fetuses. A key strategy of this movement is to pretend that they are and to enshrine that idea in dangerous laws. Women are not production facilities or vessels or any number of other updated variations of spermist theory homunculous container. But, because of the constructs being established by this movement on “behalf” of zygotes, a hospital can waive your right to life, in violation of your or your family’s instructions, to save your fetus.

I think there is an interesting social aspect to consider here. A lot of the female advocates of “personhood” for zygotes and/or stiffer abortion legislation are mothers. Mothers are exceedingly familiar with self-sacrifice. It comes naturally to them. They give up much and more for the good of their children. Some women do so happily, others reluctantly, but all eventually become some sort of martyr, some sort of hero. To these women, their own lives don’t matter. To these women, an abortion would be a failure, regardless of circumstance.

I am not a mother myself, and I probably never will be due to infertility…but these feelings are not foreign to me. I held them throughout my young adult life as a fervent anti-abortionist. I knew–knew–that I would give up my life for my child, without hesitation. I was convinced that my theoretical child deserved to live more than I did, and that if there was ever a time when a pregnancy threatened my health, I would choose the baby over myself. Even if the baby was in danger and I was not, I’d choose it over myself. If I was ever raped, I fervently believed that I would raise that child and make something good out of something terrible. If I knew that my child would be born with severe physical or mental disabilities, I would have it and love it, because it would be my baby, and the difficulty would make me stronger. Knowing ahead of time would just give me time to prepare.

Abortion, for me, was simply not an option, and I didn’t see how any woman could feel differently.

This is where the problem begins. When you believe everyone should think the same way you do, and you start supporting legislation that forces them to follow your way of living.

Time has passed, and my opinion has shifted. I am no longer certain what my decisions would be in the situations above. I spent much of my young life hating myself, believing I wasn’t worth anything, and those feelings informed my decisions. Now I have come to see at least a little of my own worth, and I am not so eager to sacrifice myself.

I am not saying that I would not do it. Technically, we all give things up every day just to maintain the status quo. Compromise is the cornerstone of any relationship, and we all have at least one person we must compromise with. I am not just doing what I want, living as if I don’t affect the world; instead, I am seeing my value and place in it, and thinking more broadly than I was before.

And because my opinion has shifted, I can now see that there are times when an abortion might be the right decision for a family. It will always be a painful decision. But now I see that it is one to be made by the people involved: the mother, the father, the doctor. Not by blanket legislation that ends up taking reproduction decisions out of the home and handing them to the state.

I am not in favor of late-term abortions; once a fetus is to the point that it could survive outside the womb, it is unconscionable to terminate its life. I am interested in the fetal pain issue and will continue researching the studies that have been done in that vein; someone on Facebook sent me some references to look into. Ultimately, if there is going to be an abortion, I think it should happen as early as possible.

But there may come a point when it’s obvious to everyone involved that something needs to be done, and broad, restrictive legislation only causes further pain in those instances.

Icky

Feeling icky today, due to my (TMI)period(/TMI). Yes, it’s back. Haven’t had one since March; back then it coincided with our move to Atlanta. Mom surmises that stress sets them off, and that maybe once I’ve lost all the weight, they’ll be regular again. If the latter happens, I just hope they don’t last seven days, like they do now. Ugh.

I don’t share this just to be gross, but also because the menstrual cycle is (obviously) connected to fertility, and that’s been a big issue for me since chemotherapy damaged my ovaries. I take any change in this area as a sign of hope, though it may be folly. That’s me for ya.

Anyway, I talked with the neurologist’s office today, and it turned out they hadn’t received my fax, so I had it sent again, and they have it now. I also called the psychologist about setting up that appointment, but I had to leave a message and I haven’t heard back about that yet. I’m sort of leery of undergoing such a session during this “time of the month” (to use a wholly inaccurate euphemism), but I am in a hurry, so if that’s how it’s gotta be, that’s how it’s gotta be.

I’ve been thinking about the cardiology appointment set for Friday, and wondering how the stress echocardiogram is going to be. The last (and first, actually) time I had one, my heart was so weak they didn’t want to risk putting me on a treadmill, so they gave me medicine to simulate exercise. This time I expect I will have no problems with the treadmill :) So that will be a new experience.

Children: The solution to all existential crises?

“I don’t really remember what it was like before. Whatever I had going on, it was bullshit. It wasn’t important. It’s kind of a nice thing about being a dad. My identity is really about them now, and what I can do for them, so it sort of takes the pressure off of your own life. What am I going to do, who am I? Who cares, you’ve got to get your kids to school. So I like it that way.”

-Louis C.K., from this interview.

It has long appeared to me that kids crystallize one’s purpose. I think that’s part of why I’ve felt so directionless in my adult life. I’d always assumed I’d have kids, and everything I’d do would be for their benefit.

It’s possible we will adopt in the next few years. Sean’s finally not only receptive, but eager to have a child. So maybe I’ll get to experience that crystallization of purpose too.

A transformation

I mentioned before that Sean abruptly announced he wants to have a daughter, as if that had always been the case. Historically, his fierce desire not to have to deal with parenting had always overshadowed any romanticized notions he might have had about raising and pampering a little girl.

Now, he seems enamored with the idea of children. He still only wants one, but he talks about it a lot. A few weekends ago we visited Charles and Heidi in Atlanta, and one of the things we did was get frozen custard at Sheridan’s. A little girl and her mother were there at the same time. Last night, Sean described to me in detail the way the little girl was managing to spoon and eat her own custard. At one point she dug the spoon so far in that she couldn’t get a bite out. She strained at the spoon, willing it to bring the frozen treat to her mouth, digging so hard that finally, all of a sudden, the spoon slid rapidly free of the custard.

“It didn’t fly everywhere, but it could have,” Sean said, miming the little girl’s action and the surprised look on her face. “And the whole time, her mother was just sitting there texting. She missed a neat little scene that will never happen again. I guess that’s what happens; you start to tune them out. It’s sad, really.”

I don’t know if Sean and I will be able to have a child, or what will come of any possible adoption efforts. I spent many years trying to talk myself out of wanting kids. Now that Sean is where I was, I’m engaging in these discussions of parenting and not worrying about whether or not it will actually happen. My years of struggle have simply tempered the fun we’re having, making our conversations into hypotheticals rather than plans. For now, I’m not thinking any further. I’m not getting my hopes up. I’m just enjoying a refreshing change in my husband.

A challenge changes shape

I have always wanted to be a mother. I like to tell people that I’ve thought about having children since I was a child, because it’s true and because it sounds good. I like to read about teaching methods and childhood development and what effects experience can have on personality and learning. I often think about what sort of environment I want to provide for my children, how I want them to feel comfortable and safe and loved, and how I’d like to foster in them a love of exploration and creation and imagination. To this day, when I hear about a fun trip or project, I think about doing it with my kids.

Two things came along in my life to derail my assumptions. Neither of them managed to snuff out my dreams, no matter how hard they tried. But together, it seemed that they would see to it that my dreams never became a reality.

The first thing, of course, was cancer. I was diagnosed with biphenaltypic leukemia in 1997, and the three rounds of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant I underwent to conquer that disease effectively destroyed my ovaries–or, perhaps, the eggs inside them. I only have regular periods when I’m on hormone replacements, and despite having nothing but unprotected sex throughout my seven-year marriage to Sean, we have never had so much as a miscarriage.

Through my struggles with this reality, Sean always told me to face reality, to try to be happy without my dream. Sean didn’t want children; that was the second thing.

He never wanted kids. Never dreamed about it, never thought about it except when I talked about it. The most he would ever agree was that he’d accept it if I happened to get pregnant; aggressive fertility treatments and adoption simply weren’t things he was interested in. There was a time when I tearfully tried to express just how important having children was to me…he was silent for a time and then said quietly, “I didn’t think it was a deal-breaker.”

It wasn’t, of course. I knew how Sean felt when I married him. I married him because I loved and still love him, not because I expected him to give me everything I wanted. I’ve come to realize that Sean doesn’t fully grasp how much I love him, how leaving him to pursue one of my dreams simply isn’t an option.

And so, over the past ten years as I struggled with the knowledge of my infertility and had doors slammed in my face with every test, I was alone. Sean ached for me, but never with me. He wanted me to be happy. He wanted me to forget about having kids and just enjoy my life with him.

In a way, that made it a little easier. At least that way, if I couldn’t give him children, I wasn’t disappointing him.

But that part of the equation fell away last weekend, when Sean said, as if I’d known it all along, “I still want to have a daughter one day. Just one. Of course, with my luck, we’d end up with a boy. I’d like us to be able to have a kid, but if that’s not possible…I would be okay with adoption.”

We’ve got a lot going on right now. We’re planning to move across town, and Sean’s trying to get a certification and move on with his career. Once that’s settled I will be undergoing elective surgery. We won’t be ready to try expensive fertility treatments for a year after that.

But that’s the plan now. It may be too late…or it may never have been possible. But we’ll try.

And if that fails, it looks like we’ll be adopting.

I honestly don’t know how to feel. This isn’t a too-good-to-be-true situation, but it’s still so much more than I was led to expect these past ten years.

My world view, which for so long has felt so narrow, seems suddenly to have expanded. If I just turn my head, I feel like I could see it all.

But I can’t bring myself to go all-in just yet. Not with all the disappointments I’ve already gone through.

At this point I will clamp down and allow myself only the tiniest cautious flicker of hope.

Negative, of course

Today, it’s over a week since the day my period would have started, if I were on a normal cycle. I wouldn’t even know this, but it happened that I had two cycles recently, exactly 30 days apart. That hasn’t happened to me without the application of hormone therapy since before I had cancer.

It didn’t take much for me to begin to hope that my reproductive cycle had recovered somehow. So I waited to see if I would have period #3. And waited, and waited. If a week goes by, I told myself, I’ll take a pregnancy test.

This morning I took two. Just in case.

They both rather quickly came back with the “Not Pregnant” message.

As you might imagine, I had been hoping for more than a regular cycle. I hoped that the missed period not only meant I was normal again, but that I was fertile.

I seem unable to keep from hoping.

It is a good sign that I had two periods in a row. Maybe I will have another one at some point. Maybe if I can get back into my healthy habits and lose some more weight, I’ll be able to have them regularly again.

That won’t mean I’m fertile, though. After all, I did undergo hormone therapy. That should have helped me get pregnant, if it were possible. It didn’t happen, and that is likely my answer. Even if my ovaries do recover, it’s likely that none of my eggs are viable.

I’ve known all of this for years, though, and it doesn’t matter. I’ll probably keep on hoping until I’m 50.

A whiny ramble–feel free to skip

So, I’m pretty miserable.

Aside from being horribly depressed, I keep coughing, and my left foot is huge and swollen and purple from where I kept it crammed into a dress shoe all day. I also started having abdominal pain again on my way home (early; my boss said I could finish up remotely). This morning I coughed up snot for the first time in awhile; last night I forgot to Flonase, but I’m not sure if that’s related.

I had a bad dream right before I woke up this morning, in which Sean basically informed me that I existed to amuse him, and when I tried to leave, he threatened violence, so I headbutted him and then grabbed him hard in a very sensitive place. But as this was happening, dream-me thought that maybe this was all pretend, so I shouldn’t hurt him too badly.

Then I woke up.

When I told Sean about the pregnancy test last night I had already been asleep for awhile, and I woke up when I heard him settling in in the living room. He said the same thing AJ did: “Don’t get your hopes up.” And like I said before, I really thought I wasn’t. But apparently I did a lousy job.

The nurse said that false positives hardly ever happen; it’s usually false negatives. I looked up false positives online and it said they are usually due to taking fertility drug shots, which I have not done recently. I guess the test was just defective.

Pretty lame. Oh well, yet another bad memory to add to the pile. I’ve been thinking about writing a timeline of all the bad things that have happened in my life, but I’m pretty sure that would be counterproductive. Not to mention whiny.

I should be thankful I’m alive, and have such a great family, and a cute and sweet husband who loves me, and a job I enjoy, and enough money to be able to save and eat out and have fun.

It’s funny, I had decided recently that I was just going to assume I couldn’t have children, because I figured that would be easier. But I guess I never fully embraced that path, because I was so susceptible to the idea when the nurse (who apparently knew nothing of my situation) asked, “Do you think you might be pregnant?” It took a week or two, but then, like a moron, I looked into it.

And then, like a moron, I posted about stat labs on Twitter, and that made Mom wonder why I needed stat labs, and so I ended up telling her, and she was at the farm with Dad and Ben and Manda so they all found out, and so I called AJ because everyone else knew…and I originally wasn’t going to tell anyone until I’d had a blood test. I’d had one that morning but it turned out the lab couldn’t do them stat, so those results will actually be in tomorrow, and it was too late to get them done by the time I found out, so I had to wait and do them this morning. And I guess I just got upset and frustrated and nervous from all the waiting and ended up blowing it, and I got Mom’s hopes up.

Damn it.

When the nurse called to tell me, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, so I just sent Sean and Mom a text message about it. Mom called back and I may have been rude. I just tried not to think about it for as long as I could for the rest of the day. But of course, eventually it overwhelmed me, because I’m a stupid wuss, so here I am, sitting at home gushing in stream of consciousness on my blog when I should still be at work. That frustrates me too, because I’ve been sick so much lately, and I was just getting back to being the kind of employee I strive to be. And now this.

I think life likes to let me rise up before it kicks me back down. Maybe it’s more amusing that way. This time I feel like I was crouched on wobbly legs when it hit.

Whine, whine, whine. Let’s take a step back. What have we learned here? I was told years ago when I first went to an endocrinologist that my chances of being fertile were low, especially if I couldn’t have my own periods. I started out taking hormones, but after awhile I decided I was tired of pills and wanted to be normal, so I just stopped taking them. (Good job.) Five years later, I have a period out of the blue, which is likely a menopausal flushing of all the lining that had built up for those years. I take this as a sign that my body is curing itself, instead. My doctors tell me otherwise but I am apparently incapable of comprehension. I start back on hormones religiously and take pregnancy tests anytime I start to feel “weird”. They are all, of course, negative. I get frustrated. After my doctor leaves her practice, I let everything slide again. But after awhile I decide I want to get back on track with my health, so I find a new doctor. She tells me that the chances of someone who’s had chemotherapy regaining ovarian function after this long are practically zero. I feel like I can maybe move on. Then she adds, “But miracles do happen.” I have grown to hate this phrase because it gives me hope.

That brings us to now. I have weird symptoms where I get overly tired just walking from my office to my car. I have chest pains. I seem to not be breathing properly at night, and sometimes during the day. Flonase, saline spray, and elevating my head seems to help with sleeping, but does nothing for the weird day breathing. Eventually I started getting bloated in my legs and hips. I also occasionally experience abdominal pain, at one point so bad I threw up. I am often so hot that the only thing that helps is sticking my head and arms into the freezer.

Of course I think the hotness is a menopausal symptom, but I have put off starting my hormones because I thought I had a drug interaction one day when I threw up. I’m still not sure what happened there.

In discussing my various symptoms with my various doctors, the nurse at the endocrinologist’s office asks the fatal question, the question I’ve been asking myself. “That’s supposed to be impossible,” I say, keeping my voice level. “But I suppose I could check.” And eventually I do. And for some fucked up reason it says “Pregnant”.

Why would you do this to me? I mean really. What is the point?

Maybe the point is that I should just have a hysterectomy so I can stop worrying about it. (Or I could stop having sex, but I doubt Sean will get on board for that.)

Your host, dear readers, is a moron

Hahahahaha, I did it to myself again! I let myself believe it was possible. At least this time I had a decent reason–the pee test SAID “Pregnant”, it didn’t say “Not Pregnant”.

But whatever!

I do promise that I tried very hard not to get excited. I was even marginally successful! But you know what, I honestly thought when they called with the blood test results that they would say “Congratulations.”

[Edit:] My family sent me flowers. They’re pretty.

Just say no

Doctors seem to think they’ll hurt my feelings if they say no. “Never say never,” they’ll say, even after informing me that there is only a 7% chance of ovary function returning to normal after a bone marrow transplant, and even then it usually happens within the first year of recovery.

I would rather you just told me it was impossible, because I hate wishing and hoping and planning when I don’t know if it will ever happen.

Regardless, I do think I like my new doctor, despite her tendency to ramble.

Deciding to decide

Growing up, I had many ideas about motherhood: what I believed was important, goals I hoped to achieve, things I wanted to do for my kids. I wanted to be like my mom, first of all, and think of fun and educational activities that would keep my children engaged and prepare them for life as adults. As I got older, I started thinking about what I’d feed my kids and how I’d keep them exercising, and that’s at least partially why I get so upset with myself for being out of shape. Because it was also important to me to practice what I preached, and not expect anything from my children that I didn’t expect from myself.

I wanted to have a large home with a swimming pool and a game room, and I wanted to host my children’s friends often. I wanted to make healthy and delicious snacks for all the neighborhood kids and provide them a safe and fun place to play after school.

Travel was also very important to me. I wanted my kids to see more than just the town where they were growing up. But I didn’t want to be constantly moving and taking them away from their friends; I just wanted to broaden their perspectives. When they got to be in high school and college, I wanted to send them to study abroad, and take in exchange students.

I wanted to foster in them a love of community and a desire to serve. I planned to take them to retirement homes and hospitals and other places where they could volunteer and meet people and brighten someone’s day.

I also wanted to teach all of them to know their way around the kitchen and how to do their own chores, and to enforce it–and in recent years that plan included implementing some FlyLady methods.

I wanted to take them places where they could learn: Shaker Village, astronomical observatories, big cities, small towns, historical cities, museums, beaches, forests…anywhere that practical learning could take place.

My goal was to make sure that my kids grew up safe and happy with the knowledge of how to enjoy life, and with a strong curiosity and love of learning.

Another one of my notions about motherhood was that I wanted to absolutely make sure I had my kids before I was 30. I wanted to be a young, “cool” mom. I wanted to be able to keep up with them, sure, but I also wanted to be able to relate to them. Not so I could be their friend instead of their parent, but so I could understand what to say. Somehow, I always thought that 29–the age my mother was when she had me–was too old to be beginning, that by then I should already have my kids.

These ideals have lasted this long because “before I’m 30” was always so distant…but as I continued into my 20s, I started to see that things weren’t quite going to work out the way I’d planned. Sure, I knew somewhere inside that things wouldn’t be perfect. I might not be able to provide all the trips and recreational activities and educational tools and such that I hoped to–money, space, compromise, those and more factors could easily alter the end product. And I knew after three rounds of chemotherapy that it was possible my ovaries and eggs were completely shot. But somehow I still imagined that I would find a way to have my cake and eat it too.

So now here I am, 29, no kids, no plans to adopt or even to ask a doctor if there isn’t some sort of aggressive treatment we might try. Up until now it’s always been treatment to bring my body to a sense of normalcy. The goal wasn’t pregnancy; pregnancy was a marginally possible side effect. Given my FSH levels at last check, I am a little afraid of making pregnancy the goal, but Sean and I also haven’t committed to having children. We haven’t planned for it at all. Up until now, the idea has been that if it happens, it happens.

But I’m 29. I don’t know if I can just bounce around anymore waiting to see if something will happen.

I don’t know that I want to start trying to adopt immediately or anything like that. I just feel that it’s time to take a larger measure of control over my potential parenthood. Even if that just means deciding to wait. At least then the waiting will have been a decision and not simply the natural outcome of doing nothing.

Too many kids

I had another weird dream the other night. In this one, AJ and Faye had six or seven children. They were living in this tenement-style apartment building, and the kids were distributed throughout various floors. We used the fire escape to go between them.

I was trying to play with all of the kids and get to know them, and it struck me as odd that some of them had the last name “Mills”. “Why aren’t they Aubreys?” I asked AJ.

“You’re the one who came up with Shelly Mills,” AJ retorted. Shelly Mills is the fictional deceased girlfriend of a character of mine from the AMRN who was loosely based on AJ.

“Oh,” I said, because this was somehow logical.

“I think we have too many kids,” AJ said later. “Do you want one?”

He’s said this to me before in real life, as a joke, but in the dream he was absolutely serious. And I seriously considered it for awhile in the dream.

She says I’m visiting her in July though

I went to Brooke’s old apartment during my lunchbreak to spend a little time with her. Right about now she should be at Augusta Regional Airport, getting ready for the first leg of her transcontinental trip home.

While I was at the apartment I noticed she had a tiny Magic 8 ball sitting above her stove. I picked it up, and, stupidly, I asked, “Will I ever be able to have children?”

There was a big blue glob in the way, so I couldn’t see the whole message. The last word was “Doubt”.

“Will I see Brooke again this year?” I asked.

The reply appeared to be “Count on it”, but I just checked a list of standard Magic 8 Ball responses, and the only one like that in the list is “Don’t count on it”.

The list does include “Without a doubt”, though.

TMI

Due to illness, I have not had a normal menstrual cycle. In 2003, I had my first natural period in five years. However, I didn’t have one after that, so I consulted doctors.

The general assumption was that uteran lining had built up over those five years and finally come out. I sought the opinion of a specialist to see if this meant I might someday be fertile.

Under the specialist I took hormones off and on for two years. When I was on hormones, I would have periods normally–sometimes very strong ones. When I went off the hormones, I would usually have one more period, and then stop.

Recently the specialist I was working with retired, and I haven’t sought help elsewhere. To be honest, it has been very tiring dealing with this issue, waiting for periods, thinking I might be pregnant, etc. I have been off hormones for at least four months. But a few days ago, I started spotting.

The spots were red and brown, and I continued having them through the next day. On the third day, a regular–though mild–period arrived. The blood was alternately brown and red. Then today, the fourth day, it seemed to be ending. I wore a pad just in case to a party, at which I went to the bathroom twice and found practically nothing when I wiped.

But after I got home, I discovered a sudden rush of bright red blood, including a mass of clots.

Now it seems to have subsided, but I don’t know that the period is over just yet.

I had somewhat assumed that if I adopted a healthier lifestyle, my body would become strong and perhaps repair itself. However, this period has come at a time when I am overweight and sedentary, so I’m not sure what the catalyst was.

Generally, I have been feeling all right. For weeks now I have felt lethargic and uninterested in doing more than I had to to get through the day–I’d eat out rather than cook, watch TV rather than clean, drive rather than walk. But in the past few days I have felt very energetic. I have accomplished more in the past two days than I have in weeks.

I have tended in the past to get highly motivated on my period, so that may be the cause. However, I should also mention that at my mother’s recommendation, I have started taking Vitamin B Complex. I first took it on Thursday.

I am also taking a multivitamin, calcium, and folic acid. I am not taking any medications, though in the past I have taken thyroid medicine and blood pressure medicine.

Today’s weight: 241