Thursday, October 30, 2008

Losing it, part 0

I started to write a post a few weeks ago about my weight loss journey - and a very long one it has been too. But I am feeling a bit under the weather (I apparently had pleurisy, but not very badly - it sounds like something Victorian heroines die of, but it's really just one of those viruses, but in my chest). So I have done zero exercise as it hurts rather, or at least it did, then I felt OK and went up a mountain to somewhere with little oxygen and walked up a hill and my heart was about to burst, and then it started hurting again.

So I am not in a good place to talk about my newfound love of exercise. I actually feel bereft and cut off from exercise. Am I mad?

This is very dangerous

I had an "explain myself" office visit with a random OB/GYN just yesterday and she suggested she refer me over to an RE but also, as it happened to be CD3, that we do FSH/estradiol (and I have no clue if I've spelled that correctly, but in real time I will be able to tell you). I just got an email saying the results were ready and they are...

(Only FSH is back. So my spelling could still be completely wrong).

FSH 8.1

Well - that's about what one would expect up from 6 point something 2 years ago. Could be worse.

I was as I think I said unsure about having these done earlier in the year but I think I'm easily persuadable as I just said "OK, whatever" when she suggested this. Infertility treatment is not covered under my particular plan but apparently I should be OK with investigations linked to recurrent miscarriage, if they think there is any point in doing any of them. I cannot remember the name of every single clotting test done by my previous clinic, surprisingly enough, though I did find one of the consultants' email address and begged for some results or summaries to be sent! To be honest the chances of us getting pregnant while we are here are low, so I'm seeing this as a just-in-case set of contacts to have on hand.

However, this doctor did suggest they may consider Clomid, which all the doctors in the UK have said is completely pointless if you are already ovulating. If it is going to cause me to release more than about 2 eggs per cycle (I don't know, I have no idea what Clomid does really) then it could be worse than useless. It seems to be about $75 for 30 tablets so it wouldn't be TOO expensive an experiment if it did nothing.

She also mentioned - a theory I've never heard before - that it's possible to have a long, but insufficient, luteal phase - so insufficient maturation but taking a long time to do it. I guess another question is in order for the RE.

(Later - estradiol is 17.5. It says it should be less than 80.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Someone is missing a trick

My name is Dr Spouse and I am a forum-aholic.

There, I've said it. I am addicted to several fora, including a very nice community of women which is primarily a UK-based forum. It has a bit of a history, and has come into being via another well-liked but creaky forum and a rather political sideways move into a parenting forum. Lots of the women are mothers, but not all, many many of them have had miscarriages, including recurrent miscarriage, and I love them all. Apart from the ones I have healthy debates with about vaccination (I'd be happy for it to be compulsory in the UK except for medical exceptions) and letting your husband give you housekeeping money that he expects accounts of (why? it's your joint house/kids so your joint money, no? we are not in the 1950s). And I love them too, really.

I still drop in to that forum but there are some things I'd usually ask there but can't. Where do I get fair-trade undies in the US? What about Hershey's seasonal flavoured Kisses, which stores have people seen them in? What's a good cookbook for Southern California? Do you need to cook the lasagna you buy here before putting it in the oven or did I just pick out a duff recipe that doesn't know you can get no-pre-cook lasagna? What can we use to air out our cold and poorly ventilated bathroom? How do we find out if the gas heater in our old rented house is safe? What are good clothing brands for women of my more top-heavy shape? What about running shorts, where can I find the kind I'm looking for?

Someone (perhaps the publishers of the magazines I seem to be reading here - mainly Real Simple but also Redbook) needs to cater for addicts like me. Sunset has a forum but it is poorly laid out and hardly has any recent posts. I found one "women"s forum but it hurt my eyes - if the signatures can be five times as big as the message, why would you read it? (it looked a lot like Babycenter and no, I am not going there either). There do seem to be lots of mothers' fora. Shame you have to be a mother to be a woman, isn't it?

Woman's Hour - Egg Donation

Somewhat neutral programme but this is a little-talked-about issue in the UK so worth some publicity. Should be available here probably until Friday 31st (a week from its broadcast).

One particularly pertinent comment was about the rate of non-paternity - if all children with a risk of different genetic origins to their presumed parentage (a conservative estimate for the UK where paternity is not disputed is 1-2% i.e. vastly higher than the rate of donor conception) were to demand investigation into their genetic paternity, we'd be up for near-universal paternity testing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Of course

Cream trousers (the ones I've only recently been able to fit into) plus the white undies I have to wear with them = my period, two days early. What's with that? I'm not 100% sure when I ovulated, but I think it was on time, and it's rarely early. Don't tell me I'm starting to have short luteal phases (11 days isn't short, though, is it?).

And I need to have a repeat smear because the last one was done on CD3 and the sample wasn't good enough - and I have an early morning gynae appointment, just to familiarise the new people with my complex history, in 2 days' time. So I was kind of hoping it would hold off so I could get the smear the same day. But no. Gah.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Statcounter shows I have had no visits since late September. Clearly I have - not just IComLeavWe people and regulars but even someone who found a 2005 post where I reported a friend's doctor's recommendation for C.lomid, who clearly was on a mission to post her (what struck me as very mild and common) side effects Everywhere Possible On The Interweb That Even Mentioned C.lomid.

Anyone else found Statcounter is broken?

(It was the code - I realised I'd gone over to the new template and although it had brought over my links it hadn't imported the code).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Kid (Spoilers - though what did you THINK happened??)

This book is nearly 10 years old now and it seems it was written when domestic open adoption was really new in the US. It's been an interesting and fun read and I've been wondering whether a fully accountable open adoption system (mother's choice of adoptive parents, full and frequent contact) would change the adoption culture in the UK, or whether it's too late for that.

Dan and his boyfriend are a very real couple and worry that they are too real. The birth mother who ends up choosing them is also very real. Having browsed a few "Dear Birthmother" letters, I can see that there must be a temptation (even if you are also a very real and down to earth couple) to paint yourself as cheesy and, at least socially, conservative. They worry that this will handicap them in being chosen by a birth mother; in fact, the mother that chooses them would almost certainly not have chosen a traditional couple, and certainly not a conservative couple.

Although this book is a personal story, I think what I got out of it most was information on how and why open adoption works, and in particular - and I suppose this slightly surprised me - how it can work well for mothers in really difficult situations, like the mother that chose this couple.

I suppose like Dan, I thought that birth mothers tended to be "nice girls" who wanted a "good Christian home"; the birth mother that chose them was actually afraid that her child would be taken away by Social Services and in some ways was quite desperate, and (it is clear, though I don't think she necessarily chose this couple because of this) needed a couple who would be accepting of her situation and make an effort to take care of her before the birth, and try and keep in touch although this might be very difficult, after the birth. Some of the couples I've either read blogs of* or read Dear Birthmother letters from, without being judgmental, would almost certainly not have the personal resources to understand an intentionally homeless girl and track her down thousands of miles away.

Dan Savage is, as many of you know, a sex columnist. Also (duh) gay. So if you are of a sensitive disposition then some of the asides and descriptions may be a bit much for you. I assume I'm not subconsiously being homophobic in saying this as I also find some of the descriptions in Belle du Jour a bit much for me. Aside from that (and it didn't really detract as you know who he is and what he does when you pick up the book) it's well written and an easy read. I've even recommended it to Mr Spouse who is not a very fast reader.

(Bother - realised just now after the post had gone up I forgot to say, one of my favourite parts was his assessment of the alternatives for them as a couple - I paraphrase - apart from adopting a kid, they could carry on partying until they were old and sad, travel loads and bore everyone with their travel pictures, or collect antiques. I often feel that the alternatives for a straight couple - especially one who like us was done with partying long ago - are somewhat similar).

*Note - not my regular blogs - just the odd one I come across that seems a bit clueless so tend not to read again...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reader advice - Halloween

So, Halloween approaches, and my last Halloweens in the US were a) as a small child (monster head anyone?) or b) as a young single with trendy friends who threw trendy parties.

Mr Spouse is an old fart shy and retiring and doesn't want to do mega dressing up. In the UK dressing up for Halloween is rare but if you do it is usually something scary. I did suggest a pirate (he's a fan of Talk like a Pirate Day and they had some costumes in a local thrift store that was selling Target overstocks) but he vetoed that. He's a bit portly for most of the Doctors or I'd suggest one of them.

We are probably going to go on a haunted walking tour mid-evening and have had a Firm Notice round from the local residents' committee stating No Porch Lights On After 8. So we may be handing out candy early evening but are more likely to be out (the other going-out alternative is with a friend's stepkids, who are old enough to be trick-or-treading in the post-6pm slot).

I'm looking for something appropriate to a) my age (no Playboy bunnies please) b) the weather (it will be a bit chilly outside, but not freezing) c) Mr Spouse's conservatism* in these matters (so nothing completely over the top for me if he'll only wear a thrift store suit or something) d) lack of dressing up box or sewing machine e) not unlimited funds f) preference for some of the items to be recycled/semi-homemade - it is fun putting these things together, so I'd rather not just rent a costume!

*NB that's a small c and not politically. Just to clarify.

Happiness Sold Separately (Spoilers)

I just finished reading this book and at one level, felt it was so far, so predictable (couple can't have kids, couple do IVF, wife in deep depression, husband has affair). At some point in their assisted conception roundabout she had one pregnancy which ended in miscarriage very early, and which was kind of glossed over. By about a third of the way through the book, I was thinking "well, my life is rubbish, but at least it isn't that rubbish". Although I haven't done IVF, the author appears to at least have done her research well.

Later, following a brief reconciliation, in a fairly predictable "pregnancy as dramatic device" storyline, she gets pregnant and they have two successful ultrasounds and a very happy early pregnancy doctor. Those who have followed my own story will perhaps be able to see what is coming. At her 12 week scan they don't see a heartbeat; woe is everyone; a neighbour dares to say "some things aren't meant to be"; chromosomal analysis reveals a lethal trisomy.

So far so likely, but we then veer into Very Unlikely/Has Been Reading Julia's Blog. The main character is diagnosed with a balanced translocation ("It's as if you have a spoon in your fork drawer and a fork in your spoon drawer" - while a good analogy it didn't really explain the consequences of an unbalanced translocation, but no matter). Following this the husband was lured to meet his ex-girlfriend by the ex-girlfriend's pre-teen son, who was obsessed with the husband, and had probably deliberately told the ex-girlfriend's violent ex-boyfriend (hope you are keeping up) that they would all be in a certain place. So, they were, and violent ex-boyfriend stabbed husband.

Of course I am at this point (and it was the middle of the night, because I couldn't sleep) thinking even more "Gosh, I'm glad my life is only a minimum amount of rubbish!". But then I still couldn't sleep.

One line I especially liked, towards the end of the book, is when they see a counsellor who suggests they also discuss "living child-free" and the main character says she doesn't feel free. I'm not sure I will ever feel "free", not having children.

Thursday, October 16, 2008



No 2
No 3

I'm a little late but here's a candle

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Oh dear

Have just found out that a friend's son - age 14 I think, adopted at the age of 6 after some time in foster care and, before that, neglect/abuse from his birth parents - has been arrested and is likely to be convicted, and is currently on remand (pre-trial) in what used to be called Borstal.

I feel strangely personally affected by this - we know L and her sons fairly well, but don't see them that often, and Mr Spouse and I have often noticed that while this son (the older one) is Trouble with a capital T, he comes across as rather childish in some ways, while the younger one seems to ingratiate himself with adults, and be The Good One. I know No 1 can be difficult and he has been in (minor) trouble before but I suppose we both feel that no 2 is not as innocent as he makes out, and have perhaps underplayed the troubles of No 1. But I have also I think invested slightly in "oh, what nice boys, see, adopted children with awful early backgrounds can turn out very nice" (the second one was placed with her at a younger age, with a slightly different background).

Without putting too much on our friend, I know that both boys have shown some problems at earlier ages, and some of the "therapies" that have been recommended to her are, at best, unproven. There is very little help available to families in her situation, but this does mean a vacuum in which dodgy therapies have room to grow.

And of course I also know of birth children (see: people I went to school with, see also: children of my parents' friends) who have had a loving family since the year dot and who have still got mentally ill/addicted to drugs/in trouble with the police.

And likewise I know (although they are still mainly young) of lovely children adopted by friends from foster care, who (so far) have no non-age-appropriate behaviour or developmental problems.

But it worries me.


Phew! I feel able to blog again after being worn out with IComLeavWe!

I blogged a few weeks ago about feeling quite refreshed and able to disconnect slightly from our horrible recent history while we are in a new place. I'm not sure it's quite that simple.

Most of the bloggers I read are from the US and I think I've been able to slightly distance myself from some of their stories and paths to parenthood, it now seems a lot more immediate, since I am here too. These people have done IVF with the fanciest, most famous doctors/been prescribed weird and wonderful miscarriage-prevention regimens/adopted perfect beautiful infant children. What if this could work for us, too?

Also, I'm catching up with some old friends from when I used to work here (I arrived here 10 years ago and stayed for 2 years, yet it seems like yesterday - how did that happen?). Of course they all have (more) kids, apart from one Very Dear Friend who has stepkids, and a nephew she actually sees frequently. And - very close to the bone for me - a sister who is pregnant, I was going to say for the second time, but actually for the fifth time after 3 miscarriages and one (I think) preemie (the nephew), at risk of early labour again but still Pregnant! and nearly having A Baby!* and with clotting problems, so of course I know people will compare us, and wonder why I can't do what she did, and how on earth can I feel jealous of someone who's had 3 miscarriages? Except, fortunately, Very Dear Friend will not do this as she is a) knowledgeable and b) very dear.

And on the stepkids and nephews/nieces front - I've been watching The Starter Wife which, by the way, Fun, it's The O.C. for adults - and it occurs to me that Mr Spouse very annoyingly didn't bother with a starter wife, and kids for me to be Not-Wicked Stepmother to - he went straight to Younger Model/Grownup Wife. And how dare my brother move to another country. I'd never do - er, oops.