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February 2005
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March 2005

Other Than That How Was The Play?

Thank you. Thank you so much for the messages. You (the collective you) kept saying that you knew the sympathy didn't help but it DID help. A metaphor, if you will:

If life can be imagined as a painted canvas, indeterminately sized, then this miscarriage could be visualized as a smear of grays and black. A dark space, a space that hurts. And yet all around it there are these sunny flecks of color, each representing a comment from one of you, or a phone call, or little package from friends and family. When you tack this metaphor up on the wall and stand back a bit, the overall effect is much cheerier than it otherwise would have been. This period of time is lighter; I am lighter. So thank you.

A rotten thing happened. I can wallow in the rottenness or I can feel grateful that I had all of these hands (fleshy and digital) waiting to pat my head and prop me back up again. I choose to feel grateful. Of course, I also choose to occasionally go into the backyard and scream at the squirrels for incessantly chattering in the face of my recent tragedy. Fucking squirrels.

I have spent the past few days forcing myself to cheer up. Periodically I find it is necessary to remind oneself, over and over in a relentless monotone, what is so very GOOD in life, lest one dwell too heavily upon the crap. I have repeated a hundred times a day, "Patrick is healthy. Steve is healthy. I am healthy. I have a rich, full life that is daily filled with joy and wonderousness. My feet have apparently stopped widening. We finally found the perfect rug to go in front of the window seat. My mother is healthy. My brother is healthy. The purple orchid is blooming again, despite being dropped stamen-down in the bathroom last October... ." At first I found this comforting once in three hundred repetitions. By yesterday I was being consoled every twentieth time. Improvement, you see. Small steps.

Yes, I am sad. Do I have to tell you how much we wanted this baby? Every time I think about all the time and effort and (oh god) money we wasted only to arrive at this macabre Groundhog Day again (it's not just that I am miscarrying encore, it is the fact that it is the SAME miscarriage that I have had three times in a row- not to mention the first four), I feel nauseous. When I consider what this means for our chance to ever have another child I go ahead and throw up.

And yet, I am not only sad. I am happy that I have friends and family and internets that care about me. I am delighted each and every day by Patrick's sense and nonsense. I am sort of madly in love with my husband. The basement is almost finished. I am reading a good book. My mother sent about fifty pounds of assorted teas. We have fun trips coming up.

It would be nice to have all of this AND the certainty of another child. It would be de-lovely to get pregnant and stay pregnant and have a baby at the end of it. Of course it would. And maybe it will happen, perhaps we will get lucky again. We won't stop trying, I know that, although the next step for us is very uncertain.

Right this instant, today, tonight, tomorrow, I am just concentrating on all of the things, little and big, that make me happy. And, at increasingly more frequent intervals, it is actually working.

So I think I am doing very well, thank you for asking.

Not Good

The heart rate has fallen to 74 bpm. The embryo is dying and I will inevitably miscarry.

I guess that is all I have to say tonight.


You are not going to believe this.

The super-fancy ultrasound machine broke.

No, really, I'm not kidding.

She did a transabdominal scan and we could see the heartbeat but she could not measure it. So she started the transvaginal and took one picture of the sac and then... it crashed. The machine's hard drive crashed and I sat there for fifteen minutes wrapped in a sheet while the lovely tech talked to the GE Medical Systems support line. We all concluded after the third unsuccessful re-boot that they would have to send out the repair guy. What a pity. I sure hope it isn't his day off.

Meanwhile, um, I still don't know anything. Nice, huh?

They scheduled me for a 6 o'clock appointment at another office. That is two hours from now. If you need me I will be inside this box of Triscuits.


I lied.

I said that I was going to write about something other than obstetrical ultrasound and yet this is my first of two posts today that will be about nothing else. So I apologize for luring you here under false pretenses. Have one of these Cadbury Creme Eggs while you mutter threateningly.

I lay in bed this morning and tried to figure out why I had not already scheduled another ultrasound with a trustworthy machine. Why wait until next week? And I decided that I was putting off a follow-up because I am afraid to find out that the heartbeat is, in truth, dangerously slow.

But you know what that is, my cupcakes? That is just cowardice. And do you know what we are vehemently opposed to here at the Signe of the Hippoe? Snakes! Also, cowardice.

So I am going back to the radiologists' office from last week in, um, five minutes.

And I will see what the deal is.

And I will report back.


Scorchingly Inconclusive Again


I had my second ultrasound this afternoon and it was, yet again, slightly unsettling. Last week, as you may recall, the machine at the OB's office (the old and decrepit one) was unable to measure either the embryo or the heartbeat so they sent me to a radiologist. Today this was no longer the case, as even on the crappy machine the embryo was clearly much larger and the heartbeat was thumping away in the center of it. So... good, right?

Well,  when she measured the heartbeat it averaged about 93 bpm. Just so you know, if that is accurate it is without question a miscarriage waiting to happen. It is my understanding that embryonic heart rates should increase 3 bpm per day. Last week it was around 107 so I was hoping it would be about 130 right now. 

However, I don't know... I just don't believe it. God knows I have been wringing my hands and moaning, "It's doomed... DOOMED!" for weeks. It is certainly no secret that I am dour and pessimistic about all things pregnancy. And yet, I think that the embryo looked just about right and I don't think that that horrible ultrasound machine could locate a parade if it marched up my cervix. I watched as she tried (and failed) to get the cursor to meet up with the little blinking bit. I watched as she consistently placed it a smidgen to the left or a fraction to the right. And I listened as she explained that sometimes their machine only measures half the beats. Gr-e-a-t, I thought, an ultrasound machine in 2/4 time.

So I don't know what to tell you. On the face of it this totally sucks but I submit that we should ignore the Evidence of the Ultrasound and think positively for a change. I know this is a total reversal of policy and I apologize for the abrupt platform shift but I just cannot get too worked up about another questionable ultrasound by the Death Star 1000.   

You are probably asking yourself why I keep returning to this little clinic on the prairie. The reason is that I had an OB I really liked. He knew me, he knew my history and he let me order my own testing. Then he left the practice at the end of December and I was horrified but I had no time to find a new doctor before we started IVF. And I was by no means certain that IVF would result in a pregnancy, so why flip out about finding a new OB until I needed one?

For the past few weeks I have been coasting along by talking to the local nurses and having the DC IVF clinic send ultrasound and bloodwork orders. This has been fine but I decided I needed to actually talk to a doctor at some point. Either the pregnancy was going to progress and we would need an OB to order the genetic testing, or the pregnancy was going to fail and I would need someone to decide how to proceed with the miscarriage. 

So I checked out the other doctors in the practice and picked one. I scheduled a consult with him for after the ultrasound today and hoped we would be able to cobble together a strategy for the next few weeks.

Unfortunately we instantly became sworn enemies and I was forced to staple his tie to the exam table upon leaving. I am just sorry I didn't give him an ultrasound while I was at it.

Seriously, I fucking hated this guy.

I could go on and on about our failure to achieve rapprochement but I can sum it up in the following exchange.

(After listening to him incorrectly explain CVS for three minutes and then having him stand up to leave) Me: Wait, I am concerned about the ultrasound I just had and would like to discuss it.

Him: Um, 107 last week, 93 today... yeah that looks ok.

Me: (incredulously) Really? But that's a decrease.

Him: We feel anything between 90 and 100 is appropriate [TOTAL FUCKING LIE]. Also, the heartbeat doesn't stabilize until 8 weeks so fluctuations are normal [Ditto that].

Me: I have to be honest, this looks like every early miscarriage I have ever had. Normal ultrasound at 6 weeks, slower heartbeat at 7 weeks, no heartbeat at 7.5 to 8.5 weeks. I think under the circumstances a follow-up ultrasound next week would be appropriate.

Him: I disagree. Even if that is true and you are going to miscarry it is not like we can give you medicine to prevent it. 

Me: Don't patronize me, you bug-eyed, pasty-faced fuck.

Actually that last bit is my fantasy response but, seriously, show of hands here. Can anyone see the advantage in determining if embryonic demise has taken place PRIOR to going for CVS testing with the perinatalogist at ten weeks? Anyone? 

Ultimately I prevailed and I scheduled another ultrasound with them for next Monday, but I was so irritated that I had to negotiate this in the first place. I mean, if seven miscarriages don't buy you an extra ultrasound or two (especially in the face of today's dubious ultrasound findings) I cannot image what will. I hate to pull the Tragic Hysteric card, but, fuck me. Just give me the goddamned appointment already.

So I came home and created a little doll in the image of this new OB and burned it thoughtfully over the sink. After there was nothing left but a smoldering pile of ash I made a few phone calls.

1. Shizzle Grovizzle has agreed to fax orders to any radiologist I want for another ultrasound anytime I like. Say, tomorrow. Good ol' ShaGro. 

2. I researched every other obstetrical practice in the area, called the one I liked and spoke to one of their nurses at length. I then talked to their business office and another nurse who had to check whether my anticipated due date lined up with the OB schedules "since every doctor here delivers their own babies." This seems rather acrobatic, but I knew what she meant and appreciated the sentiment. The upshot is that I have an OB appointment with a nurse there on Thursday. We will schedule another ultrasound with them, hopefully for next Monday. If everything looks ok I will see one of their doctors in two weeks.

3. I called to transfer my medical records to the new practice.

4. I called to cancel my future appointments with the old practice.

So, yeah, DON'T patronize me you bug-eyed pasty-faced fuck or I will take the gold mine that is my habitually aborting self and go make some other OB's boat payments.


Tomorrow: Something else.

Advice Requested. Inquire Within.

The cold which had settled in my sinuses like a low pressure system over Seattle suddenly swung into my chest a few days ago. After two weeks of moaning, "All I want to do is breathe through my nose. I will do anything to just breathe through my nose again!" I have had to hastily revise that to, "And lungs! I want to be able to breathe THROUGH my nose INTO my lungs. And out again. Inhale... exhale... repeat if necessary." Cough cough cough.

I suppose there are people who can continue to produce wholesome prose for the masses despite feeling like hell. Flaubert could've done it. Edgar Allan Poe obviously took a stab at it. Me, though, I am just a lump of icy mashed potatoes. My fingers are in perfect working order and yet I have just been sitting here for days in a miserable, non-blog-writing torpor. Sorry.

In addition to cursing the fact that I have failed to develop gills despite the obvious evolutionary benefits of doing so at this point in time, I have been rather busy this week muddling over what to do with Patrick. Tuesday before speech therapy we went to visit a preschool for next year and, since it was not infested with giant rats and the rainbow seemed fairly represented in the crayon bin, we signed him up. My friend in San Francisco had told me about her nursery school shopping ordeal that had all but included a swimsuit competition and I was nervous that this would prove to be the case here, too. Actually my refusal to drive more than five minutes to a preschool simplified matters immensely: there are three. One advertises itself as promoting "Christian, faith-based play" and my pagan husband choked on his tongue at the thought and could only be revived with vodka-and-limeade. Of the two remaining only one answered the phone, so voila. Something Something Preschool, Ho!

I plan to employ a similar strategy for colleges. Actually, Patrick can go to any college he likes as long as it is Brown. Steve and I have discussed it at length and we feel Brown is the only school to offer the right mix of Ivy, Providence Rhode Island and a decent ultimate frisbee team. Patrick'll love it. And just think of how his 18-year-old face will light up when he hears that mommy and daddy are coming too!

I cannot stress how desperately, for Patrick's sake if no one else's, we need another child around here. Someone has to distract us from poor Patrick's every twitch and eyelash before we drive him completely insane. [Oh please. Oh please please PLEASE let this pregnancy turn into a baby. I'll do anything. I'll never ask for anything again. I'll give up breathing forever. PLEASE.]

Having mailed off my deposit check I then sat here and second-guessed this decision (the preschool decision, not the Brown decision or the second child decision.) Patrick has things he is not so good at and he has things he is very good at and I wondered if I am supposed to be developing the former or the latter or what. He is socially very immature and just today we went to an open play at the community center where Patrick got knocked down every time he took a step. The other kids weren't out to get him or anything, he just has no ability to recognize that people don't always get out of your way or, conversely, that sometimes you need to get out of their way. So he could use some help in that area. He's not mean or vicious or a crier or anything, he is just completely baffled by other children. He looks so CONFUSED by them.

So I had been thinking of preschool as an opportunity for him to gain a little independence and interact with other three year olds surrounded by toys, followed by Dixie cups of apple juice and Ritz crackers served on two foot tall tables. Two days a week, two hours a day. Right?

But then there are the things that the boy does really well. He has known the alphabet forever and he can tell you what letter most words start with if you say it slowly for him. His speech is improving tremendously and he speaks in long lovely sentences like: "We are going to leave that green book and that blue book on the table but we can bring this red book in the car. I can only bring one book, not three." He has a small vocabulary of words he can spell in his head or recognize if you write it for him regardless of context. He can count forwards to I don't even know what and backwards from ten. He can add and subtract up to 10. He started stacking playdough circles the other day and told me he was making a cylinder (I had to check with Steve to see if this was right- geometry, my old nemesis.)

[HEY! COOL! There is a coyote in my back yard! He's beautiful!]

Anyway, he has all of these neat-o kindergarten skills already and I wonder if I am supposed to do something about that. In two years of ECFE no one has ever asked Patrick if something is a hexagon or an octagon and it seems like sort of a shame.

After beating myself up for a while, I looked at the Montessori school out here and I thought maybe we should try that next year instead. It is, quite literally, five times more expensive than the little local school I had chosen but, you know, how do you put a price on your child's future etc.   

This is where I admit that I not only do not have a parenting philosophy, I have never read a parenting book since What To Expect caused me to go on that rampage. So the Vision Statements and the Values Section for this Montessori program were all a bit much for me. We are a little more laid-back ovuh hee-yah. Sometimes we have blueberry pancakes for dinner. Sometimes Patrick watches the same Little People video three times in a row. Recently Patrick has started peeing in a potty (huzzah!) BUT he will only do so at night. Right before his bath. In fact, we put the potty in the bathtub and we start the bath water and he stands there in the tub and pees into the potty in a manly little fashion and then we take the potty away and he takes his bath. Does it work? Yep. Is it the Montessori Way? Well, not according to this school's website.

I am not sure where I am going with this. I guess I am looking for advice. No, no really. No assvice caveats needed. I am asking. Patrick is two and a half right now and we are talking about next Fall when he is three. Should I just send him to go play for a couple of hours, two days a week? Are there programs/schools/PHILOSOPHIES out there that will encourage his unquenchable interest in scholarly pursuits? SHOULD we encourage his scholarly pursuits? Does it matter? Am I the only person who thinks four days a week for four hours a day (the Montessori schedule, although they prefer FIVE days) is a bit much for a three year old? If we neglect his interest in pre-math and pre-reading will we doom him forever in post-math and post-reading? Do you know? 

You guys TOTALLY nailed the color choices for the basement (I'll let you know what we have decided to go with as soon as we pick our finalists) so I figure you might as well tell me how to raise my child.

Oh, and no offense intended to Montessori schools and the people who love them. My discomfort with them is stemming from one specific website for one specific school. I would love to have someone explain it to me if I have gotten it wrong somehow.

Kisses. Actually, no. You certainly don't want to catch this. Um, fond distant wave...


Amended to stress: No, we definitely do not think that Patrick is a genius. I am pretty sure a genius would manage to NOT get knocked over. A true genius, like Mozart, say, would side-step the smaller child hurtling in his path. Patrick just happens to like school-y stuff the way some kids like animals and others like trucks. Now me, I am a genius (as attested to by the tickle dot com Test Your IQ site) and I NEVER get knocked down. Never.