Ugandan Odyssey

Ugandan Odyssey
Me and the kidlets of Uganda

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Still in the game & a potty-mouthed update...

Hello out there...This may read as a bit of a rant at times but there's some sweet stuff at the end so please try to get through it all...Also, pardon my potty mouth, I'm in a mood this eve...

So, I'm still plugging along with life and waiting for an egg donor...With all the crap that's gone down, I'm giving myself a gold star for staying in the game...

I haven't bought sperm yet cuz it's sooo expensive these days ($700 per kerplunk), and just a huge production: I have to get a really tall sperm donor who looks strikingly like me (good luck with that one Kara as there's only one sperm bank in the country who gives away pix & most are of the donor when he was a baby...WTF?! Who cares what he looked like as a kid? How did he turn out, that's the question...). I have to do this because of the fact that there are virtually no tall egg donors in the USA (Hey fellow amazon sisters, "What's up with that?!?) and I'm 6'0" AND there are a gazzilion and one sperm banks out there so choosing, (without said photos I might add) is a bit of a bitch and can make one truly nutty...Case in point, my friend Tessa, who is also trying to get knocked up, recently threw a sperm-searching soiree and by the end of it both she and I were a blathering mess of nerves and all of our girlfriends, each armed with a computer of their own, as they were all searching different sperm sites, were exhausted...I'll go into that more another time...Yeah, I know, throwing a party in the name of searching for sperm? it's just one more kooky thing that's gone down in my fertility journey and I'm definitely thinkin' a one-woman show on all this craziness is in order...but I'll save that for when I'm finally holding my precious little one in my arms...

Also just found out I have a septum in my uterus...That's all kinds of crapadoodle as: 1) It was what killed my 2nd baby...Biscuit (that's what we called my 2nd one), attached to dead skin (a septum) in my uterus and couldn't get any nourishment and died of starvation 2) The septum was supposed to have been removed 4 yrs ago at my old/new-again clinic, UCSF 3) the clinic where I just did my FET (called PFC-jeez, can anyone say abbreviation overload?!), didn't even test me for it, so I could've had another 2nd trimester loss! How freakin' infuriating, as I paid them nearly 5,000., used 5 of my 9 remaining frozen embryos and was on all sorts of hormones that made me a pretty unhappy camper.

Seriously the baby-making industry for all of it's insane expenses and supposed in-the-know, elite Dr.s  f*cks up left and right...How do I know this? It's not just my story (and there's more crappy Dr. behavior in mine that I haven't shared on here), most every woman in my fertility group has a sh*tty story to tell about unskilled practices and behaviors by fertility specialists that skate the boundaries of malpractice. OK, everyone all together, "Wake the f*ck up and smell the estrogen, people!" Jeez...

So this surgery is going to set me back $9,000. Yep, I, like most women, have insurance for pregnancy but none whatsoever for fertility...There are friends of mine who work for Google and Apple who have mad insurance for everything fert. related and up to 3 free IVF tries, but that's the exception rather than the norm...UGH! There goes the trip I was planning to take back to Africa...In fact, there goes lots of stuff as this journey is seriously draining my life savings...

So all of this should be making me nuts but I'm now firmly trying to stay away from CrazyTown as much as possible so I'm going to conveniantly put all this on the back burner after I post this to y'all otherwise I'll be a blabbering mess and will be beside myself for days on end and I just dont have time for that sh*t anymore...I'm sick of feeling upset and angry and lost and helpless in this fertility journey so I'm making a decision not to feel this way if I can help it, and I feel that I can...

Mark my words, "As God as my witness, I will never go hungry again!" No wait, oops, sorry, wrong line...Let's try that one more time, "As Yoda (what can I say, I heart Yoda) as my witness, I will become a mommy in this lifetime (damnit!)"

OK, thanx for tuning into my channel for a bit...

Switching gears now...Here's a beautiful and heartbreaking quote that my dear friend Stephanie found on her friend's FaceBook page...It brought many tears to my eyes as just like this woman, I am trying hard to fight back against the huge stigma and taboo that still surrounds fetal loss...Please help us out by talking about it, and supporting any sisters that you know of who have gone through a loss in talking about it.

"Today we remember babies who were born asleep, babies we have carried but never met, babies we have held but could not take home, or the babies who made it home but didn't stay"
Make this your FaceBook profile status if you or someone you know has suffered the loss of a baby.
The majority of you won't do it, because unlike cancer, baby loss is still a taboo subject.
Please break the silence.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Doing much better & feeling renewed strength.

You know that expression from Eleanor Roosevelt: "A woman is like a tea bag- You can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot waterThat is soooo darned true!

It was a difficult 8 weeks but I got through it and I discovered, once again, just how strong I am. Don't get me wrong, I am indepted to my close female friends who are some of the most supportive, warm and compassionate women this side of the Rockies. Yet, I realize that my resilience, stamina and bravery come from deep inside and I am beyond thankful for that. Thanx for that universe!

Not sure who out there is still reading and that's A-OK with me as I now realize that this blog is really most useful for me to be able to write and get things down on paper (OK, so it's not paper anymore but cyberspace, but who's checking?!)

I've discovered that I need to take time off from this dream when setbacks occur or I won't be able to proceed successfully. What a relief it is to completely let go of the "must make a baby NOW" mentality and just live in the moment with no agendas.

So where I'm at is that I've switched clinics and now working with my old RE at UCSF. She rocks and is now the head of their egg donor program which is where I've also plunked myself. Been given a "it's gonna take 6 months to find you a donor" decree and at first it threw me for such a horrible tailspin that I felt punched in the gut and had another few day of crying outbursts. At my age, being given a 6 month sentence is comparable to a 10 yr jail sentence (OK, perhaps I exagerate just a teeny tiny bit, but you get the picture).
Am now focused on finding new sperm and it's a freakin' heavy deal as it appears that my egg donor will not resemble me (for some odd reason there are virtually no tall egg donors...Sheesh!...What gives fellow amazons?!?!) so I have been instructed to find a sperm donor who looks just like me...Sounds easy, right? Well keep reading:
Considering that only one sperm donor agency in the whole country publishes current pics of their donors (and I've already checked it out and found zilch), I'm gonna send a "Good Luck with that" message to myself and tie it in a bow. Perhaps I should just walk around a crowded place every day like Fisherman's Wharf and go up to random look-a-likes and offer my sad story hoping for a donation?! Allright, since that's not gonna happen, I guess I'll just have to guess about our resemblance and go with a tall, dark eyed, dark curly haired dude. But wait, I'm not done my rant:
When I was doing this last in 07' sperm was only $100. per vial, now it's near $700.
Yeah, it's become a real racket this spunk bizness and I'm none too happy about it...Didja know that this one well-known sperm bank in LA offers celebrity look-a-like-sperm?!? It's nuts, I tell ya!
Despite all of these crazy challenges I'm feeling positive and uplifted about the future and my dream of mommyhood...I know, that's nuts too, right?!
But hey...Yeah me!!! Gold star please.
big love,

Friday, June 3, 2011

A sad yet uplifting update...

I sent this recently to a bunch of my close friends:

Hello BabyDust Sisters and Brothers,

First of all, thank you to so many of you who have visited, called, emailed and skyped over the past several weeks...You are all true angels!

As many of you now know, my embryos did not survive and sadly, I am not pregnant.

I found out on the 18th of May but was just too devastated to send out a mass email...
And quite frankly, who the hell wants to send out crap news like that anyway?  There we were, my babydustsisters and I in the clinic Om-ing & meditating & laughing & singing while the transfer was happening. I was so hopeful as there were so many auspicious omens that day and so, so many of you from all around the globe were sending me such awesome vibes, that I thought, "Yes, this really feels like it's going to happen!" 

When it didn't, I was hurt, sad, furious and bitter.

It may seem like it's not a big deal and actually, because I'd had four years off from this roller coaster ride, I thought I was immune to a big, huge let-down, but the truth is, that for someone who has had so many sad outcomes in this arena, every lost baby and every lost cycle build upon each other. In other words, the losses add up. 

As one of the courageous women in my fiercely amazing Resolve group (national infertility organization) put it after she had had a second blighted ovum (false pregnancy), "I have now lost all of my innocence around trying to become a mother." 

That's how I felt: sad, disillusioned and beyond pissed off...I thought of the extreme injustice of crack mothers who often have a brood of severely neglected and abused children and then I thought of those of us who've had so many heartbreaking fertility losses and are sorely aching to have just one, healthy child. We have suffered so much that any one of us would be a phenomenal mother because due to our losses, we would never, ever take our children for granted. It just felt so f*cking unfair and all kinds of wrong.

If you had asked me ten years ago if I could ever imagine this kind of emotional pain, I would probably have said, "sure, I think I can imagine what that would feel like" and I would have been completely ignorant in my thinking. There really is no description, no imagining, no conjurring up of what this feels like...It's just such an intense experience: to create a life, become attached to it and then loose it within your own life-bearing vessel...Or, to try to get pregnant with your own possible "snowflake" babies, ones that took so much out of you to create in the first place, and have them not survive...It's so upsetting and overwhelming that it can be crazy-making...I have some friends in my Resolve group who because of their losses can't even go to a park right now, visit with friends who have kids, or even go to a baby shower as it's just too painful and triggering for them.

Thankfully, that's not my story...I've had years of self-reflection, meditation and other therapeutic practices to draw upon and so I know how to "grieve well" and let go and move on...Still, grief is often a murky and messy business and I hated that I couldn't just sail right through it but instead had to bear witness to often tumultuous and heartwrenching feelings...It was like I was lost in an ocean of giant waves without a boat or even a surfboard to cling to...One minute I'd be feeling fine and the next, I'd feel so devastated 
that I crawled into bed and went through 2 boxes of tissues (I really need to buy stock in Kleenex sometime soon)...I even took off and went to a festival where I indulged in all manner of hedonistic activites...It was an escape of sorts, and yet I was able to excercise some more of my grief demons.

I am now, today, feeling pretty darned OK...NOT that the situation is OK, but I'm doing OK and that is f*cking awesome.

I've had a lot of time to think about things as well as to talk with my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist)...I got angry with him as he had convinced me not to put in all 9 embryos at once...I had a feeling, that because these were 41 yr old embryos, were the "B" team, and were frozen before the invention of vitrification (fast-freezing process) that they wouldn't make it...My doctor, however, was concerned with me having multiples...In the end, I acquiesced and we only put in four...and they didn't survive...It turns out that my odds were only 25%...If I'd have known that they were so crappy, I'd have insisted that he put in all 9...But that's water under the bridge right now.

So here is where I'm at: I do not want to deal with anymore pregnancy dissappointments, 
in-utero losses or stilbirth possibilities....And yes, I know that there are no guarantees in this risky world of infertilty HOWEVER, I can greatly increase my odds if I make the transition to donor eggs.

This is intense as it means that I will no longer be trying with my own DNA. It makes me sad to think that I won't be passing on my genes to my child. However, I am encouraged as science has recently been uncovering amazing things about the donor egg process. 
Due to these discoveries, there is even a new form of genetics called "epigenetics".  Within this field of science there have been lots of recent clues regarding how the gestational carrier, has a HUGE affect on the donated embryo/baby growing inside of her.

Check this out: there is now evidence that gestational carriers (that would be me), not only affect things like a child's intelligence and their emotional stability, but there are now unexplainable outcomes happening like a 6 ft tall, blond haired, green eyed woman giving birth to a child who has those very same physical characteristics but whose egg donor was 5' 2", dark haired & dark eyed!...Science can't even explain it yet. It's pretty miraculous as all signs point to the fact that gestational carriers are deeply affecting their embryos DNA regardless of whether these embryos are theirs or someone elses...How freakin' COOL!!!

Now for the bad news: this will drain me financially...One shot at a donor egg/IVF cycle is 
a whopping $36,000-$43,000!!! Subsequent shots at FETs (frozen embryo transfers--as hopefully the egg donor will produce at least 6-9 good embryos and we will only put in two 
at a time) will run $3,500. Using an egg donor does increase my odds to 80%, but it will hit me hard in the pocket book as when all is said and done, I may be looking at upwards of $50,000. Also, there will be even more hormones and other fun things like shots in the leg, stomach and tush each evening, as I will have to get on the same exact cycle as my donor in order to make a successful cycle happen (it's kind of like imagining 2 people on a flying trapeze....they have to fly out towards each other at exactly the right moment in order to make a successful "catch"  happen).

I've asked my doctor if I can put in my four remaining embryos with a fresh, donor egg embryo and he has said, "absolutely not." Apparently it is all kinds of unsafe to mix up frozen embryos with fresh ones...Therefore I am thinking of giving away my four remaining embryos to another needy couple who can't afford an egg donor cycle...I have a lovely one in mind...They are willing to deal with the 25% odds and the chances of a misscarriage, 
I, because of where I'm now at in this journey, am not.

I've recently begun my search for an egg donor and it is truly daunting:
All of the things that we take for granted about ourselves have to be put into the mix:
my donor's intelligence, her eyesight and hearing, the health of her siblings, parents and grandparents, whether she carries possible birth defect genes, her emotional and mental stability, her physical appearance, her values, her morals, her reasons for becoming a donor (some do it for the money yet I'm looking for someone with more altruistic reasons). This is a very lucrative business so there are a lot of agencies out there and therefore I find myself looking at lots of photos and bios each day and getting overwhelmed. 

But it's cool, as I know my donor is out there.

I just have to locate her AND if I select her hope that she doesn't back out at the last minute AND hope that she passes the physical and psych. testing AND hope that she is not already "in cycle" with someone else AND hope that if she is, that she will be willing to do another cycle after this one is completed (it does take a lot out of them as they are put on a ton of hormones during the process) AND hope that if she has done a lot of successful cycle's that the agency doesn't "retire" her before I can use her as my donor...
Jeez, it's like a freakin' game of chess!!

But, never fear... as most of you know, I'm a very persistant and fierce little bunny when I want something badly, and I won't stop until I manifest it...Soooooooo, if I have anything to do with this process (and I will), come hell or high water, I will make my dream of becoming a mom a reality. 

In fact, if this egg donor process doesn't work, and I've exhausted my funds, I've decided to adopt from the county, as those children are free (the govt. even provides for their health insurance until they are 18). However, at that point, I will be opening myself up to adopting a child who has been crack or heroin exposed or may have other special needs...but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. 

In the end, it really is all about me mothering a child and so I have to give up the dream of the way I thought that it would look. Still, I am heartened as many women give up way before these possibilities are even pondered...I know deep down inside that me being able to be open to multiple outcomes is a gift. 

What I'm discovering in this process of having to let go of all of my wants, desires and expectations around motherhood is this:

It doesn't matter who I mother, it just matters that I get to mother in this lifetime.

OK, I think that's it...Thanks for listening to this very long diatribe...I'll keep you all informed as things progress..and they will likely progress more slowly at this point because so many things have to fall into place at just the right time.
But it will happen...mark my words...

I am holding onto this vision, perhaps you might care to as well: Me showing up at your doorstep for a visit one day with a child (or two) strapped to my back, deliriously happy, with a well-founded sense of grace and gratitude and the knowledge that in the end, everything worked out exactly the way that it was supposed to.

hugs and blessings to you all,
ps-Huge shout outs and lots of love to little baby Elias who was born to my dear friends Francis and Jeremy a week ago in London. I'm so, so happy for you guys!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Feeling devastated and so sad...

Not pregnant... After so much heartache and having three babies die inside of my body...After how auspicious the FET went... After the three amazing omens that happened that day... After feeling like I might really be pregnant...

I have no words...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trippin' hard...

Am feeling super lousy right about now...Tripping on whether I'm pregnant or not...
Lot's of irritation and sadness from this estrogen overload...Hating how intense my moods are...The doctor said that this is very normal and that hormone overload makes women feel nuts...Great, but how do I handle it?? Perhaps I'm just really, really scared that this amazing FET will lead to nothing: 4 dead embryos...Wow, am definitely feeling like I've crossed over to the dark side. I'm just really scared.

A quote (one that I need right about now): "Just when the catipillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly."

Thanx for listening for anyone who's out there.

Notes from a California FET...

So, not sure why I neglected to post here after my FET as like that's what this whole blogging thing is all about but here is a blow by blow description of my glorious FET:

The transfer was absolutely amazing: sacred, silly, sublime, & just plain beautiful!!...Althought an FET takes all of 10 minutes, we were there for well over an hour because as much as I drank early that morning, my bladder wouldn't get full (which is needed for the procedure to be successful) so we had a lot of time to settle in...Sadly, one little guy didn't make the thaw and died...I was sad for a little bit as I'd counted on my nine snowflake little ones since they were frozen in 07', but welcome to the world of impermanance. The doctor put in 4 awesome looking ones which we got to see pictures of (and make bets on!).
On this day three cool omens happened in succession: 1) My youngest and newest sister friend sent a heatwarming text at a divine moment: I had forgotten to turn off my phone (really?!) and the little chime letting me know that I'd gotten a text happened in the midst of a bit of high tension as we'd finally been able to get the procedure going yet I was experiencing some intense pain as it progressed (totally normal, I discovered). When my phone went off I started to apologize. The doctor cut me off and said, "It's OK...That sound marked the exact moment I released your embryos into your womb." We were all like "WOW, Cool!" and took a collective breath in and out. 2) Right after the procedure, one of my friends was glancing at the sheet of paper that had the embryo pictures on it and other infomation about them. She pointed out that the day that these little miracles were made was 5/6/07. "That's exactly four years, to the day, ago!" she exclaimed. Once again, we were all like, "Wow, cool!" 3) While driving away from the clinic, something hard and loud fell on my friend's car hood. All of us exclaimed, "What was that?!" Suddenly a very large, round seed attached to a long green stem made it's way down the front windshield. We were parked at a light and my friend got out and grabbed the seed. It's sitting right next to the pictures of my embryos on the mantle above my bed and is still green! (wild, huh??)
So for the actual FET: We were in a tiny, intimate room with the lights down low...My hands were lovingly held by all my sisters...One girlfriend did a sweet and powerful guided meditation...Another, a Baroque singer, softly sang an improvised aria as the transfer took place...Right afterwards we all spontaneously started Om-ing...The doctor, not my regular one, but a compassionate and sweet man whom I'd just met that day, seemed very moved...He left the room telling us that he had goosebumps! More amazing friends & creative offerings flowed in throughout the afternoon & evening, culminating in a delicious impromptu Hindu ritual...
Honestly, the day was just epic and even if this doesn't result in a pregnancy, I'm beyond grateful for the experience and feel very loved up... 
If I do get pregnant (yes please!!!), these little guys have had quite a powerful introduction into this world.

Totally groovy, huh? 

Monday, May 2, 2011

BiG NeWs!!!!!

Hey everybody!
It's been, like, forever since I posted...Sorry 'bout that...
As often happens, life got in the way...
Anyway, I have a super long post which takes off where my last post ended...That post will come out in a day or two...
In the meantime, what I wanted to put out there into the ether is that I have my first FET (frozen embryo transfer) this Friday, May 9th at 11am!!!!!!  We're transferring 4 embryos in at that time. Send me lots of BabyDust if you will at that time. I'd really appreciate it.
I'm excited, anxious, overjoyed, terrified, hopeful and fearful all at the same time...Trying to stay grounded and present...
I'm also on a boatload of estrogen (happy times ~ said oh so sarcastically) and about to be on progesterone in the next 12 hours...The hormones are making feel me kinda funky, but unlike my last trip down this path, I'm able to handle my -isms...In fact, one of my closest friends, just the other day, said that I was remarkably calm (she also believes in the Easter Bunny & the Tooth Fairy, but hey, what are ya gonna do, ya find your friends where ya can you know?!)--Just joking, she's a total sweetheart and damn well knows the difference between fact and fantasy...
Now where was I? Oh yeah....
So I'm gonna try to get some rest this eve and will get the long-awaited post ready for publishing...Don't want to let ya'll down around the next chapter of my fertility journey as it is quite a story.
Quote time: "Be courageous, It is one of the only places left uncrowded" ~Anna Roddick
Big hugs all around,