April 2006

Just saw a poignant play tonight called The Mark. A three person, interwoven three act piece that moved me to tears in the final act. One of the characters had breast cancer and it was a little too close to home,down to the same breast and the same arm pit with it attacking the lymph nodes. I could only shudder and am unwilling to consider,to put into words, make out loud thoughts, that what happened to the character could happen to someone I love. It’s too soon.Too real. Too painful.

since I’ve written in here.

For many distracting reasons I suppose but the main one being in March I tried for a second time to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization. Which means in the last two years I’ve been pregnant twice…in a petri dish….not quite what I had envisioned for myself as a mom but when the elusive maternal drive beckons one answers the call as best as one can.

However, satiating it’s seemingly unquenchable thirst is more difficult than I had imagined or considered. I knew at 45 my chances were slim at best,miraculous at most, but I wanted to believe that I was in the 3 per cent of the population that succeeds in this endeveour. After all haven’t we been taught that in this day and age as women we can have it all and then some! Don’t the tabloids scream out with success stories of improbable births!
It’s a very hard pill to swallow to discover that indeed you are NOT part of the three percent. In fact I’m in the zero percent zone. According to my doctor there are no real stats for some one my age trying to get pregnant using her own eggs.Who knows how accurate any statistic is anyway. Whether it’s old eggs or old sperm it’s hard to know. IVF is such a crap shoot when it comes to the probabilities of success even for folks much younger than I am. However science would seem to be working against me this time.

I took a cleaner,more holistic approach while embarking at the same time, on the better living through chemistry route. I ate well,didn’t drink alcohol,exercised every day. I went to see an acupuncturist on a regular basis throughout the process.
For over a year I have been seeing a wonderful cranial sacral practitioner Deigna (although Marie is my all time fav), and it felt like my body was in as good a place as it could be to receive any embryo’s that might come my way.

My friend Carrie reminded me every time I called her to give her an update, that I didn’t want things to be exactly like the first time. A sage piece of advice when I was fretting about one thing or another. I really wanted to be excited about this attempt, but was also wary because of last time’s disappointment.

It was doubly tough because Joe was not inclined to try again, although a testament of his love for me to see through this strong desire, was to allow it to go through rather than call the clinic and tell them to destroy the remaining vial of sperm. Which he admitted,in moments of despair, he considered doing.
Thankfully he saw through those moments.

However as luck and timing would have it, Joe was travelling the week of harvesting the eggs and transferring the embryo’s back into me.
I was lucky though to have my friend Margie ferry me back and forth to the clinic each time, and extremely grateful to have my friend Jennifer around to play housemate with me. She made sure Jera got walked,made meals,got me hot water bottles to ease my cramping abdomen,and generally provided much needed company for the three days,post transfer,of clinic imposed bed rest.

This time they harvested 17 eggs(last time it was 21) only 8 of those were mature enough to be injected with sperm(19 last time).
By day two 4 embryo’s were doing well,stage 4 and 5 blastocytes,(compared to 11 last time).Because there were fewer this time, both the Doctor and Embryologist recommended I transfer those four sooner than later. They felt the zygote’s would do better inside the womb than outside in a petri dish.

Last time because there were so many fertilized embryo’s at day 3(11 of them) we waited till day 5, so that we were down to a manageable 6 embryo’s to choose from. After much deliberation we went for all of them.
This time there was no question of whether or not we would put all 4 back in, so going ahead early made sense. Plus following Carrie’s logic of not wanting it to be the same experience as last time reinforced the notion to go ahead.

But like I said earlier it’s a tough pill to swallow when you discover you might be denied the chance for your own progeny. At our follow up visit with the doctor he admitted it was unheard of a woman my age attempting to get pregnant a third time with her own eggs.
That leaves me with three choices, adoption,donor eggs,or relinquishing the notion of being a mom. I know where Joe is on this,however I am still working my way through the grieving process. Some days it feels unfair,while other days I recognize all the good things I have in my life and feel blessed.

I watched someone give birth the other night in a movie and it made me cry knowing that might not be my experience. I realized too I am sad not only for myself but for my mom too. Call me traditional but it seems a natural course of events when there is a daughter, and when it is possible, for her to have children. And while mom has never expressed that her eight grandchildren from my brothers were anything but terrific I always felt she might like one from one of her daughters. My stuff, my projection not hers,but a real feeling for me.
And while I know my feelings are not to be down played,they take a backseat when you hear about a fine young mother of two children under the age of five who is diagnosed with stage II breast cancer and requires a radical double mastectomy in less than a week of her diagnosis. Kind of knocks the wind out of your sails.

Makes you realize even more how important it is to cherish life with all it’s various machinations. It also makes me realize how important it is to find a calling that will be satisfying, fulfilling, productive and needed in the wider world.
So in the last two years I’ve been pregnant twice in a petri dish….not quite what I had envisioned for myself as a mom but I guess now the search is on to find new,different, but ultimately satisfying ways to create and be creative. It is spring, the garden beckons loudly, it’s a good place to start…to muse things over….

This email came in from my step-niece Sarah today. Some of you might have met Annie in Muskoka last summer and will remember her as a bright, laughing,sparkling individual with a zest for life and a deep love of her family. Please send them lots of healing energy.


Dearest Friends-
I am writing to ask for your help. I received the shocking news last night that my sister-in-law, Anne was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer on Monday and is going to under go a radical double mastectomy this Thursday, April 13. She is the mother of 2 darling kids, Oliver 4 and Ruby 2. She is a spunky tenacious gal but anyone in this situation needs as much extra help as they can get. Please keep her and my brother, Dan and their kids in your thoughts and prayers in the next days and weeks as they will need any positive energy you can send in their direction.

As always, I am so greatful for your love and support!

Sarah BH