Thursday, September 29, 2005

hope springs eternal

I bought a pregnancy test yesterday.
It was negative.

I was 2 days late (I'm never late) and I had none of my typical PMS symptoms.
Could it be???
We had used OPKs last month. I know we did the deed on the 'right' days.
I obsessed about it all day yesterday, and finally bought a test after work.
What was I thinking?

Not 2 hours after I'd tested negative my period arrived in full force, as if to say "what were thinking, you ignorant slut. how dare you actually think you can have sex and get pregnant".

So not only am I not pregnant (shock, horror) but I'm feeling acutely embarassed about the panicked email I'd sent to the IVF nurse yesterday. I'm supposed to let her know when it's Day 1 and, ignorant slut that I am, I sent her a long, rambling email about the missing period, 'what shoud i do?' 'please help' etc. etc.
I will have to call her now and say "ahh..yeah..ahem.......disregard that email please, i'm not a moron..really"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

folie d'aubergine

I am extremely annoyed with my eggplant plants. Pissed in fact.
In late May I carried them home tenderly from the garden center. On the Victoria Day long weekend, when every Canadian with a patch of grass happily squanders their hard earned money on bags of dirt and manure*, I brought home 4 lovely starter plants to grow my very own eggplant. I gave them prized locations in my very tiny garden. I watered them, fertilized them and watched over them like a mother hen. One plant was promptly eaten by a squirrel. The other three grew lovely, huge leaves and promising purple flowers. Then nothing. June, July and August passed. Not an eggplant in site. Notta one. Now it’s the end of September. Any day now we’ll wake up to frost and all the plants will be dead. And what do I find on my plants? Six shiny, smooth, elongated, dark purple eggplants. Each is a couple of inches long. At most they’ll be 3 inches before I need to pluck them and save them from a horrible frozen death. How daft could these plants be to lazily, greedily enjoy three months of warmth, water and food, and then choose to sprout their fruit when winter is around the corner? Why now and not 2 months ago? Stupid stupid plants.

*there’s nothing I resent more than having to pay perfectly good money for dirt and manure. It’s dirt for god’s sake. Now that I think about it, I resent that slightly less than having to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a ‘try’ at getting pregnant. Something the vast majority of the rest of the world enjoys for free.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Cost of 3 IVF cycles: $19,500
Cost of 1 cancelled cycle: $1,000
Cost of 1 IVM cycle: $4,000
Cost of 6 return airline tickets
(for husband and self), numerous train tickets,
taxi rides, hundreds of km of driving: $4,500
Cost of drugs for 4 cycles: $28,400
Cost of consultation with 'top notch' clinic in NY*: $520
Cost of travel to NY (x2): $800
Cost of 1 blood test at NY clinic: $585
Cost of 2 nights in NY hotel: $650
Cost of second flight to NY: $455
Cost of biopsy and misc tests: $975
Cost of 2 nights in NY hotel during busy season: $854
Cost of approximately 90 acupunture appointments: $4,050
Cost of vitamins B, CoQ10, fish oil, folic acid, and asprin
taken daily for past 16 months: $600
Cost of visit with psychologist: $625
Cost reimbursed by insurance: $0

Cost of having a baby to love and hold: priceless.
Oh wait a second. I don't have a baby.
Priceless indeed.

NY costs adjusted to sucky Canadian $$.

Friday, September 16, 2005


I often hear my parents refer to people's kismet, good or bad.
Those affected by Hurricane Katrina are picking up the pieces of their lives. We've heard many stories about those from New Orleans. I just wanted to add one more.

My uncle* lived in New Orleans and now finds himself ensconced in Houston with his his wife, daughter, her husband, and 2 children. He is retired professor and 1) had the good fortune of having family close by that he could go to when asked to evacuate 2) actually had a car to enable him to evauate 3) being retired, didn't have to worry about work 4) being retired comfortably with a pension, doesn't have to worry about finances.

So, he and his wife managed to leave with a couple of suitcases expecting to return home once the hurrican had passed. They have not yet been back to their house but have been told that their neighbourhood was extensively damaged. Not being familar with New Orleans I have no idea which neighbourhood it is.

He was visiting my mother in Toronto. I spoke with him on the weekend and he sounded perfectly sanguine. You see, he's been through this before.

He was a child living in Punjab when India gained independence. The decision was made to split Punjab giving part of the area to a newly created Pakistan and part to India (aka "The Partition"). My uncle's family being Sikhs had little choice but to leave their home in what was now Pakistan. They packed their belongings onto a cart he said, and joined a long procession of people making the exhausting and trecherous journey to India. He doesn't recall taking anything other than some clothes, and household items (pots, linens). Everything else was left behind.

As he grew older and completed his school he decided to pursue studies abroad. If you were bright, in those days, you were encouraged by Indian universities to seek higher education in America, Canada or Britian. He chose Canada. Again, he packed all his belongings into a suitcase and headed for London, Ontario to work on a PhD. Eventually he graduated and was offered a job in New Orleans. A tempting offer since the Canadian winters were taking a toll and he longed for sunny days and warm nights.

He got married and together with his new wife settled in New Orleans. He began teaching Math (or is it Chemistry?) at a college. They raised 3 children. On the side he pursued his real passion: poetry and languages. In addition to the Punjabi and English he spoke and wrote fluently, he taught himself Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and Bengali. He wanted to be able the read the 'classics' and poems in the language in which they written.

What I fear most, he says, is that all the books and papers I've collected over the years have been destroyed. He had amassed quite a unique collection of old books of writings and poetry in Sanskrit, Urdu and Bengali. Many of them were in fragile condition. Many of them existed in limited print. And he has most likely lost all his notes, his transcripts, and the drafts of two books he was writing. A life's worth of collected treasures.

But as I said, he is resigned to his situation. It's my kismet he says.
At the age of 74 there's little chance he can regain what he has lost. There's little time for him to rewrite what he had written, re-seek the books he'd sought.

For the third time in his life is living from a suitcase. I'm not a materialistic person he tells me. I'll be okay without my house. I can buy new furniture and clothes. But ohh I wish I'd thought to pack my books.

*well, he's not really my uncle. He's one of those Indian uncles- a close family friend that is thought of as family. In any case, he was a childhood friend of my father's and my father's brother (who he was also classmates with). So they've been friends now for over 60 years I think.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

good news/bad news

First the good news:
My sister has agreed to be a donor.
She is single. We don’t need to worry about including a fourth person in this decision. She is younger than me, so her eggs are, hopefully, plump and healthy. She has 2 good ovaries.

Then the bad news:

Although she has agreed, at the back of mind I’m always thinking “what if she changes her mind?”
She is single. She has no children herself...maybe she wants to have a baby herself...soon. What if she finds a partner between now and the potential IVF cycle? What if she wants children with this hypothetical new partner? And who really knows whether her eggs are any better than mine. She has not yet had the pleasure of vaginal ultrasounds.

There’s so much more to this. The first time I really discussed this with her (after failed cycle #3), I think she was completely freaked out. She became defensive (‘why don’t you just adopt”…yes, she really said that). I became upset. You see, just because I’ve been living through IVF hell and thinking about egg donation vs. adoption vs. childlessness doesn’t mean that she has. I know what it’s like to go through IVF. She doesn’t. There’s a huge incentive for me to put myself through this crap: the prospect of a baby. What’s the incentive for her? Just because it means the world to me to have a child, doesn’t mean that it means the world to her.

It took many emails back and forth to try to explain why we were asking for her help and to try to get her to express her concerns. After failed cycle #5 I think she realized how hard and heartbreaking this was for us. She called me and said yes, she would consider being a donor.

So, we have put the wheels in motion (all the while gearing up for cycle #6- my last cycle with my own eggs). The three of us (my husband, sister and I) met with a psychologist and a clinic in her town (we live 300 km apart). The psychologist was wonderful. She had thoughtful questions, and clearly has lots of experience in this area. She made us think through a few things (would we want the potential child to know how they came about?- we answered yes; did we know what would want to do with any extra embryos?- the thought had never occurred to us, we’ve never had the luxury of ‘extra embryo’s). My sister left the appointment reassured. Turns out she’s not the first person in the world who has been asked to consider this. Turns out this happens more often than you would think.

The clinic appointment
The good news is that the clinic we met with for the donor cycle is only 1 block away from my sister's workplace. It's really really important to me that this be as painless/easy/hassle-free/convenient for her as posssible. The nurses have reassured her that she can come to the clinic for her daily injections. The doctor has assured that he'll choose a protocol that involves the fewest number of injections. AND he has reassured her that she in fact has hundreds of thousands of eggs and he will likely only take 10-15.

The bad news is that this is actually not one of the best clinics in Canada. I think they are reasonable. Then again, we have gone to the two best (supposedly) clinics and the result is the same.
Here I am, getting my sister to undergo injections, ultrasounds, bloodtest etc. and go through a potentially painful retrieval.
Here I am, giving up a chance to have a baby with my own eggs.
More than anything, if/when we go this route I WANT IT TO WORK (damn it).
So am I sabotaging it by choosing clinic convenience over excellence??

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Could I borrow a cup of sugar and some eggs?

A few days ago, we visited another IVF clinic.
This time, we took my younger sister along.

You see, it's getting pretty clear that my eggs are not doing the trick. We have tried to cajole my remaining ovary into giving up a few eggs every 4 months or so by bombarding it with every hormone known to mankind. The ovary is not happy. It, reluctantly, spits out a few crappy eggs and then retreats into its usual lethargy.

So we have ventured into new territory.

This new territory involves very awkward conversations with a sibling. The kind of conversations one would never, in a million trillion years ever have imagined having.

My one and only sister is three years younger than me and I have asked her to consider donating eggs. Is this a reasonable request to make of a sibling? I think not. I have made it nonetheless. I share more genetic material with her than anyone else in the world. We look alike, we sound alike, we have similar interests and intellects. There is the added bonus of passing along her (better) nose and more outgoing personality. Egg donation from my sister means that even if I cannot have a baby with my husband, I can still (maybe) have a baby that I have a genetic link with and yes, that is important to me.