Saturday, December 27, 2008

Show & Tell: Gastronomic Olympics

Ravioli pin with homemade Christmas ravioli

Christmas to me is synonymous with homemade Italian cooking. Our tradition growing up was either to have homemade lasagna or homemade ravioli on Christmas day. My Grandma Cookie's lasagna recipe is to die for. As with all Italian cooking, every recipe is very specific to the town and family that makes it. My grandmother Guiseppina's lasagna takes two days at a minimum to make, with three days being more comfortable, hence the reason it is only made at Christmas. I have made it several times on my own, and everyone who has had it has never had anything as wonderful like it.

When I made the decision two years ago to go completely gluten-free and dairy-free for the sake of my health and fertility, I though my Italian traditions were dead. Last year, there was no Italian homemade lasagna or ravioli for Christmas. My SIL made Christmas dinner, but I brought lavish homemade appetizers as I missed my Christmas tradition of spending two days in the kitchen cooking. We stuffed ourselves so much with appetizers that we could have skipped the Christmas meal entirely!

A couple of months ago, my supervisor told me about a book signing her neighbor was having for her new book, The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook. I went to the author's house and got a demonstration on how to make gluten-free pasta. I think I had three helpings of homemade gluten-free fettucini, it was so good! Mary, her sister and I swapped stories of our families and their recipes, and they were remarkably similar. The pictures in Mary's cookbook of her Italian relatives cooking looked just like my relatives! I felt like I was at home.

Visiting my parents a couple of weeks ago was the perfect opportunity to try out these recipes. I packed all my odd arrangement of flours in my suitcase, hoping they wouldn't be confiscated by airport security. My Mom watched and told stories while my Dad and I played with the unfamiliar gluten-free dough. Surprisingly, my Dad had never made ravioli before, so he was learning as I was. We sat down to a dinner of our beginner's ravioli, and my Mom and Dad gave their "pretty-good" seal of approval, proving the experiment as a success! The menu for Christmas dinner was set.

As for dairy, the only cheese I allow myself to eat now is from sheep's milk. I discovered that sheep cheese is the oldest type of cheese in Italy and probably what my genetics are adapted to digesting the best. I grew up with big jars full of grated pecorino romano to season our Italian meals, so it works out pretty good for my traditional Italian recipes. I carted home 3 pounds of pecorino romano in my suitcase from Florida because it was so cheap there compared to here. The things I will do in the name of Italian cooking!

Christmas Eve morning found me searching for ravioli recipes on the internet. I wasn't quite satisfied with the recipe my Dad had given me and I needed an additional vegetable ravioli filling for the less carnivorous of our guests. I found a reference to this book, The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken, which isn't so much of a cookbook as a quest to find the authentic family ravioli recipe. By noon, I had a copy of the book and a newly bought ravioli pin in hand, which is shown in the picture above. The first roll of the ravioli pin and it's perfectly pressed squares of ravioli brought shouts of, "that's so cool!" from me, my stepson who was the designated pasta machine cranker, and Magic. To watch Laura Schenone, author of The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken, use a ravioli pin to make ravioli, click here to watch her YouTube video. I'm more partial to the gigantic round ravioli that fills you up after eating about four of them, but you eat double that because they are so good.

In my last post, my friend at Geeks in Rome suggested I order gluten-free pizza and skip the two day cooking extravaganza that is required of the traditional homemade Italian Christmas dinner. Christmas without Italian just isn't quite right to me, and no, store bought pizza will not do. Spending two days or more in the kitchen to make Christmas dinner for me is akin to salmon swimming upstream to spawn and geese flying south for the winter. It's a behavior that is deeply imprinted in my genes. I knew waking up Christmas day that I wasn't going to have time to change into my holiday attire, let alone put on makeup, but no one seemed to care. Once I started rolling out the steaming ravioli to the dinner table, it was all about the food. I also made the best meatballs and braciole in my life. Everyone had fun saying their new Italian word braciole, pronounced bra-zjole (like hole, but with a z as in Zsa Zsa Gabor), which is basically a meat roll stewed to perfect tenderness in the tomato sauce for two days.

The tradition of Italian holiday home cooking yanked me out of my holiday funk. During my two days of gastronomic olympics, I listened and sang to the Messiah so many times that I'm happy if I don't sing another Hallelujah chorus for another year! My back was so sore the day after Christmas from all the cleaning, cooking, rolling of dough, and cleaning dishes that I truly felt like I had been through some kind of athletic event! Many of my relatives have given up this tradition because it's too time consuming. Would I do it again? Heck yeah, it was worth it (but not for another year)!

And what Jewish-Italian-Christmas would not be complete without the traditional Hanukkah bush?



Mel's Show & Tell

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Something in Me Has Died

I think this is otherwise know as trauma. I was feeling all great and hopeful after our clairvoyant reading, until I talked with my SIL. I told her how we were going to try again, and she says, what if X happens again. I couldn't believe how insensitive she was. I spent the rest of the weekend crying and depressed. I didn't even want to go to the Messiah Sing-a-long, which I do every year around this time. I didn't feel like singing anything, let along Hallefuckinglujah.

In fact, I just feel like a part of me has died. I feel no joy in my heart. I didn't even do anything for Winter Solstice, one of my favorite holidays because there is no hype about it. I just didn't feel like celebrating the coming of light. I got in a fight with my stepson about him smoking pot in our backyard, which we have told him numerous times is not cool. I'm grumpy all around. I hate all the commercialism of Christmas. I hate all the buying and I hate how my stepsons are materialistic monsters. Magic and I agreed not to buy each other gifts this year. I am so grateful to cut down on the amount shopping this year. I hate what infertility treatments have done to me.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which means the two-day Italian Christmas cooking extravaganza begins. I somehow roped myself into cooking for 10 for Christmas. It's homemade ravioli this year, and yes, I'm doing it all gluten-free for all my Jewish friends and relatives! Now I just need to get to Whole Paycheck for their 36 hour Christmas Eve shopping spree. I can shop at 3am there if I want. Just what I wanted for Christmas. Bah humbug!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Reading

This is a private post. If you have access, please click here to read.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just FAT

I heard from a co-worker that one of my employees was worried about my car accident because she thought I was pregnant. This is not the only "fat" reminder I have gotten over the past couple of months. Another co-worker did flat out ask me if I was pregnant about a month ago. Even my chiropractor asked me last week if I had gained weight. Note to self - lose weight I gained after pregnancy loss. I gained about 8-10 pounds, which really shows on my thin frame. I was planning on starting a running program, but that all got nixed with the car accident. I have to get my back and neck healed first. It's amazing how much my body is holding on to this weight. At least I am not gaining anymore. Just please stop assuming I'm pregnant! I'm just fat.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Full Moon Madness

Magic and I had our reading today with the spirit baby clairvoyant. He told us all kinds of wild stuff, but our direction was made clear. I will share the reading on my private blog in a future post.

Shortly after the reading, I got into a car accident. I think I'll be ok. My car is not. Luckily, my acupuncturist, who I now call "the Emerald Mountain", or Em for short because she has an amazing capacity for compassion, was able to get me in for a treatment.

I'm off to visit my folks, so I probably won't be checking in before I get back. Au voir!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Enlightenment Training 101

This past weekend was very uplifting. After my self-indulgent wallowing last post, I thought I might return to more self-pity, but it was quite the contrary.

First, let me take a moment to glow in step-motherhood. Yes, you heard it right. I am so amazingly proud of my stepson who completed his first enlightenment training this weekend. He started meditating recently on his own. I wanted to encourage him, so I told him I would accompany him and a friend on a weekend enlightenment 101 training. These courageous seventeen year-olds braved their minds and sat on their butts all weekend. I felt the gap in our ages shorten greatly after this weekend.

Having done this training before, I qualified to staff the weekend, being a kind of enlightenment training gopher. Part of my gopher activities was to escort participants to interviews with a meditation instructor. I could not help but overhear comments of some of the interviews. I thought one woman said she was pregnant, and I thought "oh, no, pregnant-woman-magnet returns". However, I would later put my proverbial foot-in-mouth. Later in a discussion group, I looked at this woman and thought, "but she doesn't look pregnant". Shortly after I had that thought, she talked about how she had had an ideal pregnancy and had lost her daughter two days after her due date. One day she had a heartbeat, and the next day none. Her daughter's cord was wrapped around her neck. I felt so heartbroken for this woman, but she talked about it with such grace and acceptance. It had only been a few months. This weekend was helping her and her husband deal with their loss. She was so cheerful about it, embodying the teachings of the weekend. There is a lot to be cheerful about, even though there is loss, depression, and despair. I think it's part of our basic nature, cheerfulness, if we let it shine. Perhaps that is what I have been experiencing lately, that cheerfulness in spite of a devastating loss. I think I have been mistaken again. I thought it was because I was happy not having children. Maybe it's just because I am.

Typical, my mind is always trying to find an answer - like picking at a daisy - she wants children, she doesn't want children, she wants children... Again, I just have to resist letting my mind take over like a wild horse.

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I have told myself that I will not make anymore decisions until tomorrow. I have come to the conclusion that I will never come to a decision from my mind. I have been trying to engage my heart, but it's so much harder for me to listen to her wisdom. I have a hard time discerning what she is trying to tell me anymore. There is too much residual trauma for me to know what are my true feelings and what is a trauma reaction. I hope that tomorrow will bring some clarity and resolution. But maybe it will just bring more questions?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Who Am I Kidding?

ICLW kicked my ass. I wasn't quite prepared for all the pregnancy announcements and joyous postings about babies. Nevertheless, I made some new friends who I will be stalking from now on, so I guess it was worth it!

In the meanwhile, I took my baby holding adventure on T-day and kid playing the rest of the weekend as good news. My niece even called me a "child magnet". Apparently I am the "pregnant woman magnet" as well. One of the formerly pregnant women came back to work this week, and I avoided all the hallway twitter. Yet the newest female co-worker who announced her pregnancy at a division staff meeting chose to sit next to me. I didn't even say boo about her announcement, so I'm not sure why she chose to sit next to the least chummy person in the room. I just go into avoidance mode/deer-in-the-headlights-mode/not-going-there-mode. As much as I appreciate my life as it is right now sans bebe, I still get that gut wrenching heartache when someone announces their pregnancy or gushes about their children. I'm all Zen one moment and devastated the next. Seriously, who am I kidding?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Up Side the Head

It all started last weekend. A friend of mine invited me to his annual pre-Thanksgiving potluck. Since Magic and I aren't invited to many parties, I figured we better go! Turns out I knew most of the people there, and their kids. It was great seeing everyone, but I was not prepared for the effect of seeing the little ones on me. It brought up another wave of grief which surprised me in a way. I thought I'd moved beyond that, or at least, wanted to believe so.

As the actual day of Thanksgiving neared, I dreaded it. I knew there would be more small children and I didn't want to go through the same thing I did last weekend. I worked late Wednesday so I could spend less time with Magic's relatives, and avoided the kids that night. I was dreading going to my SIL's all day yesterday. When I had arrived, I saw two baby carriers. No one had warned me that my SIL's friend with the twin infants would be there. I braced for an internal meltdown.

Instead, I leaned into it. I asked to hold both of the twins at one point. I successfully held one of the girls for about five minutes or so, to the amazement of both parents, as this girl apparently doesn't like to be held by anyone but her mom and dad. They made having twins look easy.

One of the things that has to happen before I transfer my frozen embryos is that I need to be ok with twins. When I first saw those twin baby carriers yesterday, I thought the Universe was being cruel, but upon reflection later, maybe I was being pushed in a direction I wouldn't have chosen to take otherwise. I call these "spiritual 2 by 4s", as in, getting whacked upside the head by one. I think if I had known that there would be twin infants at Thanksgiving, I would have stayed home. I'm glad I didn't know. I actually think I needed a whack to get me out of the funk I'd been in the last day.

One other observation, the panic attacks are lessening. The trauma therapy seems to be helping me. My session on Monday is what really tipped off that wave of grief. I did not specifically work so much on my loss, but this awful feeling I have gotten since a child in a recurring nightmare. I don't have the recurring nightmare anymore, but I get the same feeling from the nightmare in conscious life now. I have never figured it out. We just worked on regulating my nervous system in the session, and not the content. The content isn't the point in trauma therapy. It's all about the nervous system, or as my therapist would say, nervous system calisthenics. I'm learning how to move back and forth between focusing on a happy memory, which makes me physically feel relaxed and calm, to touching into the trauma or unhappy memories. It helps me not get stuck in the trauma or negative feelings. I can't say I regulated very well yesterday, though I did recognize that I was stuck. I was obsessing on the negative.

I'm not ungrateful. I actually am more grateful now since my tragedy than before. I have regrets and a lot of grief still. I've been able to make some progress with forgiving myself, but it can be hard on days like yesterday. I was sick and in a completely different place back then. I can't change what happened, but I can learn from it and hopefully move on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Unidentified Uterine Object

A lot has gone on in the last week. I've had my share of poking and prodding and it actually went ok, minus one mini meltdown. I'd pretty much had my fill of injections, detections, inspections, and neglections after the last IVF, so I wasn't in a big rush to have my body messed with for awhile. When I finally got around to getting my teeth cleaned by my sadistic super-anal dental hygienist, I was chastised for not having gone for 10 months. Needless to say, I did not elaborate on the infertility massacre with the four part harmony and the twenty seven three-by-four glossy ultrasound pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one. But I didn't come here to write about my dental health today.

I went to the big-shot fertility clinic yesterday to get more inspections, detections, and neglections. I got the ultrasound, the 3-D ultrasound, the uterine artery blood flow check, and the antral follicle count. I hadn't had three out of four of these last things for my last cycle at the "clinic-across-the-tracks", and it didn't seem to matter as neither my uterus nor my eggs were the problem. I passed the uterine-artery-blood-flow-whosiecallsit, failed the antral follicle count, though they were nice enough not to say it in those terms, and found a mystery blob in my uterus, though it's "so far away that it won't be a problem for pregnancy". So somewhere out there in the universe of my uterus is an Unidentified Uterine Object. The baby-faced Dr. G, who looks like he just graduated from college, couldn't tell me for sure if it was a fibroid or what. At least he gave me the same answer as Dr. W did two months ago and yesterday's ultrasound tech, who I think was also in the Class of 2008 along with Dr. G. It hasn't gotten any bigger in the last two months, so I guess I'll keep doing what I've been doing.

In defense of my ovaries, I'd like to clarify that I personally don't think I failed the antral follicle count. I'm 42, and I think seven is a very respectable resting follicle count for my age, thank you very much. Oh, they would want me to do a clomid-challenge-test for them, to which I'll probably reply something eloquent like, "up yours," or calmly point out that I think we have enough information about my ovaries after one clomid challange test, one IUI cycle with clomid, and two IVF cycles with different protocols. Besides, clomid makes me crazy, and you don't want to see me crazy do you??!! That's already caused enough problems.

Anyways, let's not put the cart before the horse, shall we? I still have frozen embryos that I need to decide what to do with. I won't be making any decisions before December 12th. That's the date I find out if the buyer for my house gets their loan, and the same date I have the reading with the baby psychic. Do not attempt to adjust your computer screen. You read that right. I'll be having a phone reading with Walter Maki.chen author of the book "Spirit Babies". I need specific information and I believe he can give it to me.

Turkey Talk-back

Feeling cynical this Thanksgiving? Go over to No Regrets to add to the Snarky Thanksgiving list. You're sure to get a snarf or two out of that one!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Show & Tell: Fluffernutter Sandwich

To make a Fluffernutter sandwich, first you need a Fluffernutter. Fluffernutter is my long haired, seal point Himalayan, slightly neurotic, 19 year old cat. For the first, oh, 12 years of her life, Fluffernutter was a scaredy cat who would run away when you tried to pet her. Once I came into Magic's life, we changed her diet, and she had a personality change for the better. She still only occasionally slept with us. In the last couple of months, she has had yet another personality change that has coincided with her cessation of nocturnal yowling. We do not know what instigated this, but we've been enjoying Fluffernutter sandwiches ever since. For this Show & Tell, you have to visualize this one as I can't take pictures of it. Click here to see pictures from the last Show & Tell of Fluffernutter.

First, Fluffernutter will get in position when it gets close to bed time. She will stalk the end of the bed or levitate on top of it in anticipation of the Fluffernutter sandwich. Once Magic and I get in bed, Fluff will make her move under the sheets between us. Magic and I used to spoon together, snuggled up, but Fluffernutter has decided she wants a piece of the action. Once we have turned Fluff around so her butt is not in my face, Magic and I will squeeze Fluffernutter between us and make the Fluffernutter sandwich. She seems to love this, being squished between us as Magic and I cuddle together.

Magic is kinda miffed that Fluff has interrupted our sacred snuggling time, but I don't mind. I keep saying to him that she won't live forever and we should enjoy it while we can. After Fluff was peeing all over the house recently, we discovered that her kidney values have doubled, which means that her kidneys are getting worse. We already knew they were bad. We were giving her subcutaneous fluids every other day, but now we have to give her fluids everyday. Giving a cat subcutaneous fluids is nothing like giving yourself a subcutaneous shot. We use a 22 gauge needle that we put under her skin by piercing it, and then inject 100 ml of an electrolyte solution.


<- Fluff (patiently getting fluids) and fluids ->.


Fluff won't die tomorrow, but her days are more numbered than usual.

Join the rest of the class at this week's Mel's Show & Tell.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Maybe This Wasn't Such a Good Idea

"Can you let yourself take a break from this for awhile?" said my trauma therapist last night. She was referring to my planning on trying again and the emotion it has been bringing up for me. When I think about being pregnant again, the panic attacks start coming up and I worry that I'm going to have a repeat of my past experience.

I thought maybe it would be a good idea. Maybe I should take a break from blogging and think about getting pregnant. As I checked my e-mail today, I went into automatic comment moderation when one comment showed up. Next automatic blogging action is to check on all my blogs. I noticed that I reacted to the entries I read, and thought again, yeah, maybe it would be a good idea to take a break.

Another comment showed up in the meanwhile, and I wondered why all the sudden I started getting comments today after not having a blog entry since Sunday. The commenter's signature reminded me, "from ICLW". Oh yeah, I signed up for the monthy Comment-o-thon. Nice timing.

I wondered if my trauma therapist thought that my reliving my trauma from my pregnancy was too much for me. I am making progress. I uncovered some really old baggage last night. I need to go there. I have to do this if I'm going to get through another pregnancy. The only way is through it.

If you are new to reading my blog, you are going to notice here that I don't tell my "story". I've learned that it is better for me not to retell my story because it re-traumatizes me. This is the first time I have been aware of being traumatized in my life, though I am sure it has happened before, and now I understand what it means to experience Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. My latest mantra is, "I'm not going there," meaning I'm not going to succumb to the nervous system overload that trauma causes.

I can tell you some parts of my story on my babymaking journey. Fibroids, IUI, IVF, prenatal depression & anxiety, multiples, and loss. I prefer to think of my blog more as Eat, Pray, Love, some of my most favorite topics to talk about.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Show & Tell: Fall Sunsets from the "Backyard"

We took these pictures today with Magic's i.Phone after a hike in our "backyard", a lovely trail just down the road from my house.



Doesn't it look like the sky is on fire? This is one of the things I am truly thankful for in my life, to be living so close to nature.

Don't forget to visit the cross-pollination post from earlier this evening below!!

Cross-Pollination: Dreams

A guest blog entry, bought to you by the Great Blog Cross-Pollination! Ok, this was supposed to happen on November 9th, but my first attempt at cross-pollinating didn't work out so well. Let's just say I'm a late bloomer, which I'm still hoping to be the case IRL!! Let me not hog the stage any longer...

I am thinking about dreams today. Specifically, I'm thinking about the things that we all expect, the ways in which we expect our lives will proceed.

I think you know what I am talking about. We expect that we will have a great job, a stable home, perhaps marriage (didn't you play to be a bride, with a tea towel for a veil?)

I am thinking of a friend of mine, who for whatever reason, has not gotten married. And I am thinking of the friend I saw tonight, who got married, but late in life, and her children, they are step children, almost completely grown.

When we talk about infertility, we talk about the pain of missed dreams. We talk about how we expected our lives to be, and how they actually are, and the pain, well, the pain is in the difference. When we look at, hold up in our minds, and turn it about, and what we expected for our lives, the ways in which we thought our lives would proceed, it is different than things really are.

We talk about infertility being isolating, and it is. We talk about it being a deep seated pain, and it is. But it does not seem that it should be that way. You see, dreams, I am learning, they are universal things. And the ways in which life takes our dreams away from us, it seems that this is universal too. Why is it that we can't see past the dreams that we have, the dreams that are not fulfilled, the dreams that we don't see come true, to the dreams of others? Why is it that when a dream dies, it is so isolating? I can, on some level, comprehend. The struggle with deep emotional pain is that it does not admit others - the long lasting, unfathomable pain we are in, it does not allow us to see past it.

But if it did, I wonder if infertiles could lead the charge in supporting others as their dreams were crushed, and the world did not answer their dreams? I wonder if this community, who is so supportive, this community that has brought solace and succor to my soul, could lead the way in helping others cope.

I wonder if we could find the words to say that we understand the fall out when dreams don't come true, we understand hoping and longing and weeping and sorrow, and while your dream might not have been mine, the pain and the sadness at not having your dreams come true, I can speak that language, and I will abide with you, as we wait for that place where all our dreams come true?

Now it's your turn to try to guess our guest blogger's identity in the comments (no cheating).

You can read my cross-pollination post here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Disturbing Hospital Screw-ups

The front page of the paper ran a story about another major screw up at our local hospital. This one was about a nurse stealing Fen_tanyl and replacing it with saline. Fen_tanyl is a drug they use to kill pain during surgery. I winced as I read a story about a man who woke up in the recovery room in agony after knee surgery. He apparently got the saline instead of the real stuff.

The reason I was riveted by this story is that Magic had the same experience four months ago when he had his hip resurfaced. The nurse that was pinching the drugs was hired in June, and Magic's surgery was in July, but the dates he was being implicated for were September through October. I wondered if maybe he could have been stealing before that and they just didn't have the evidence for it. Apparently, this person wasn't too smart because you have to enter an electronic code to access this controlled drug. They just tracked the tampered vials back to this nurse.

Magic told me that he woke up in the recovery room in a lot of pain. I couldn't see him in the recovery room, so there was nothing I could do for him. However, once he got to his room, I was prepared for such an emergency. You see, Magic was already on quite a bit of pain medication for his back, from a surgery that didn't go too well a few years ago, and his hip that was grinding bone against bone for way too long. He knew he would need extra pain medication during surgery, but thought he didn't get enough when he woke up in lot of pain after surgery. I brought some extra medication from home and slipped it to him throughout the night to get him through. Now we are wondering if he was one of the first victims of the slippery fingered nurse.

The whole thing with Magic's pain management was a disaster during his surgery. The doctor who usually managed his pain was out of town when Magic had his surgery, after he told her when it would be. She spaced it out, so Michael didn't have his normal pain doc around after he got out of surgery. Because I had to give him extra meds and because the hospital dispensed Magic's own prescription at a higher than normal rate while he was in the hospital, he needed to refill his prescriptions sooner than normal. This tipped off a whole freak out from pharmacists to the insurance company to the original pain doctor. They were basically accusing Magic of being a drug addict. Personally, I think this was set off by Heath Led.ger's death since he had illegal prescriptions of some of the same pain meds that Magic was on. Magic made his case though, and pointed out how he had a legitimate prescription from his pain doctor for everything, and that he needed extra pain medication during and after his surgery. Everyone eventually chilled out, and the good news is that because Magic's hip healed fabulously, he has significantly reduced his pain medications. He still has to take some because of his back problems (i.e. missing parts of a disc).

In fact, Magic is doing so well, he is hiking circles around me now. Whereas before, I had to wait for him and he would have to turn around in agony after hiking a mile, limping all the way, now he is hiking up and down the trail like a puppy dog while he is waiting for me to catch up with him. I'm glad that we can now hike together, but this is ridiculous!

I told Magic that he should pursue with the hospital about the pain med mix up, but I'm sure the hospital is going to be in enough hot water and law suits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For the Record

It was a panic attack.

The meeting with Dr. G set off a whole string of reactions. I recovered fairly quickly, after two days, but still, there it was.

The worst part of it was hearing that I would be at a greater risk of having a repeat of what happened before. Still a small risk, but not as small as you would think, up to 10%. I'm just not ready to deal with that yet. I get nervous just thinking about it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Anatomy of a Panic Attack

Or was it?

I woke up at 4:00am this morning, which is pretty typical for me. I checked in with my body. Usually, if I eat something and stretch a little, I can get back to sleep. So I got up, had a snack, popped a 5-H.T.P, just to cover all my bases, and listened to a relaxation tape to get back to sleep. I had a lot of thoughts going through my head about yesterday's events. I decided that I was going to meditate while listening to the relaxing sounds of waves, but my heart had other ideas. It was pounding. I felt like I was having the physical effects of a panic attack, without the mental freakout. I wondered if it was really a panic attack after all?

Stress
I decided to consult my book on adrenal fatigue to try to get some answers. First, I did not eat breakfast yesterday. Bad news if your adrenals are maxed out. I figure I pretty much live in a state of adrenal stress, and it will remain that way until I retire. I rarely miss breakfast, but I was rushed for my early morning appointment with Dr. G.

Second, this was my first appointment with an RE in seven months. Any trip to a fertility clinic is stressful. It didn't help that we were interrupted by a frantic knock on the door and a call for Dr. G to help a woman. I had no idea what was going on, though I made up some good, but terrifying, fantasies about it. Apparently, a woman had passed out after her bloodwork. Maybe she skipped breakfast too.

I did a pretty good job of not completely melting into a puddle of tears during my visit with Dr. G, though there were a few tear-jerking, pull-out-the-tissues moments while I was giving my background. I couldn't totally avoid my whole story. The information I was given by Dr. G was not comforting, though it was helpful. More difficult decisions will have to be made if I decide to go forward with FET or another fresh cycle. The stress from this one visit reminded me of all the anxiety I've sucked up for every RE visit, ultrasound, or bloodwork.

*insert your favorite expletive here*

Shortly after the RE visit, I had a meeting in which chocolate was available o-plenty. I had recently weaned myself of chocolate but went off the wagon as a cure for Wednesday's hangover. I decided this morning that the chocolate wasn't a good idea either for my stress.

Immediately after the choco-fest meeting, I'm faced with my co-worker's newborn. I made myself stay there, instead of doing the usual scurrying- away-before-she-sees-me tactic. It was too late to do that anyways. I also asked to hold her baby, because I wanted to see how I would react. Perhaps the timing wasn't stellar just after my RE meeting, but the Universe has an uncanny way of putting things in my face when I least expect it.

*more, but tamer, expletives*

That all added up to a lot of stress that I have not dissipated yet. I'm having lots of reminiscing about unpleasant pregnancy memories today, what ifs, and just general gloom-and-doominess. This is not a good path that I should be traveling down.

To DHEA, or not to DHEA
I was pleased that I did not get any DE lectures yesterday, but the "do you take DHEA" question came up. I told Dr. G that I was on 5 mg of DHEA. He was curious why I didn't take more, as REs kinda tow the line of taking quite a bit more than that to improve egg quality. I responded that I have high testosterone with only 5 mg. I've got a Lauren Bacall type of voice, but there is only just so much more I want my voice to get deeper anyways. As it is, I get mixed up with Magic when I answer the phone (and vice versa!). My testosterone is on the high side anyways without DHEA, and I certainly don't want any more facial hair than I already have. I went back on DHEA 12 days ago when I had another craptacular cycle, this time my second shortest at 14 days. The record breaker was three cycles before that at 13 days. It seems that I get all geared up to ovulate, and then I get my period instead. I'm completely befuddled by this, and of course did not utter word of it to Dr. G lest he throw me out of his office right then and there. I'm assuming it's due to poor egg quality and the DHEA would help. However, DHEA has an annoying side effect. I was curious if my heart pounding had anything to do with the DHEA. Dr. Google confirmed my suspicions. I also read that DHEA can cause abnormal menses. I decided I would stick with pregnenolone supplementation, which is another hormone precursor, but safer than DHEA. Pregnenolone is a precursor to progesterone as well as other important hormones, including the ones that DHEA is a precursor to.

I'm left wondering if I am experiencing some trauma reaction to yesterday's events, the side effects of DHEA, or a little of both. It's clear that I need to be more vigilant about stress in my life. Stress is the fertility killer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Testing the Waters

I began my speech with, "I don't know how much of my story I can tell because I might start crying".

After I had made some progress with my last trauma therapy session, I decided I was ready to try again. My first plan of action was to make an appointment with the big time fertility clinic in my area. Everybody knows which one it is because, I will give you a hint, it's number one in the nation. It's only a 15 minute drive to their office branch near my house. You might wonder why I did not do my IVF cycles there before. I had consulted with one of their REs previously, but I did not have a good experience with her. They have a relatively new RE who I have heard good reviews about. I couldn't believe how quickly I got an appointment with him, which could have been the next day, but I stretched it to the day after that. It's a good thing, because I had a hangover yesterday morning. My main reason for going to the appointment was to get an update on my uterus in terms of any fibroids that might be lurking there, and to check out this new RE, Dr. G, in case I decide to switch clinics.

Most of the details of my first appointment with Dr. G can be read about on my private blog. If you have access to my private blog, you can click here to read more.

I'll go back in about two weeks for another ultrasound to see what the status of my fibroids are. Dr. G did say that the size and location of what appears to be a fibroid that Dr. Wonderful saw two months ago would not be a problem for future pregnancy at this point.

As it usually seems to go with doctor's appointments at fertility clinics, the information I got from Dr. G did not clarify my decisions. If anything, it seemed to make them that much more complicated.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

YES!!

I am truly inspired by the night's election results. I helped a friend of mine who was canvassing tonight at the last minute drag a voter to the polls 20 minutes before voting closed. The nightmare of the last eight year is over! And Amendment 48 went down in flames too! I won't have to be Sarah Palin for Halloween again (for at least for another four years)!

This is an historic election. I kept saying to my friends, "I'm so happy!!" I have hope again for our country and for the world. Our new president to be said it so well, "Yes we can!"

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Show & Tell: Palin vs. Phoebe

I really enjoyed the laughs at work I got out of my Halloween costume this year. The scary thing was that I didn't have to tell anyone who I was. I made one co-worker ill. I even wore female torture devices, called pumps, all day and night, something I never do and hope I won't be crippled permanently in the name of a little fun. I recouped some of my costume costs by winning a $25 gift certificate to REI for the "most transformed", though others wanted to nominate me for the "scariest" category.


Move over Sarah. I'm going to be the next hottie in the White House!

Join the rest of the class at Mel's Show & Tell.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Honey, I ate my doctor!

I ripped the flesh off his arms. My tiger jaws crushed his head and his brains squirted out like a popped zit. I felt good. Then, something shifted.

It was my second trauma therapy session with the new therapist. First, we went through all kinds of "resourcing", where you think of the support you had in your life, or something else positive in your life. For me, one of the big supports in my life was my little ol' Italian grandmother, who my friend Eurydice at Geeks in Rome duly nicknamed "Grandma Cookie". As the name infers, she was a wonderful cook, and she was always making Eurydice and I cookies as kids. At the time of my session, I wasn't sure this was going to be a good resource for me, because all I could think of was how depressed I was that she was no longer around.

At some point in the session, we focused in on the feeling in my body. I was angry, but frustrated that I could do nothing about what happened. I was told to focus in on the energy of that, and guided to tune into my animal instincts. I wanted to rip my doctor to shreds. My therapist handed me a scarf and told me to go for it, to bite into the scarf like I would my doctor. If I hadn't already read some of Peter Levine's book "Waking the Tiger", a pivotal book on trauma therapy, I would have thought she was nuttier than a fruitcake. Levine writes about how animals are not traumatized like human beings are. They learn to shake it off. Humans have the same animal brain, as well as our "human" part, the neo-cortex. Levine says that we get traumatized when the energy that a traumatic event evokes gets stuck. This might be an event where one could not escape harm, like surgery or a car accident. Levine's therapy, called Somatic Experiencing, works, I think, by touching into those same animal instinctual responses. When I read about it in his book, I wondered, "how is this going to work for me and my particular situation?" I couldn't really see the connection.

Now I know, it is an experiential thing. I declined the scarf, but took my jacket to bite into, figuring it would be more polite to slobber on my own clothes than someone else's. My therapist told me to get into the biting. I bit and shook my jacket, envisioning my RE's lifeless body being crushed in my powerful jaws. I did not feel like the powerless patient with no control any longer. I felt powerful and strong. I went home feeling quite good.

This was in contrast to the previous week's Traumarama, in which I spent about 24 hours being pretty wound up after my first trauma therapy session. My therapist told me that a day to a day and a half of being tweaked out after a session is good and showing I am integrating the material we are working on. Huh? Ok, I was a little more than tweaked out, I was borderline suicidal, and even took a Well.butrin to get through the day, though I've been completely free of it since early September. I didn't get it, but if my therapist was saying it was progress, then I'll take it!

I can tell things are shifting. I feel like working out again. I actually feel ready to try again, though I am daunted by the long list of things that need to be taken care of first, one of which is getting Magic on board again. He does not want to see me all freaked out again, for good reason!

Tomorrow is my six month anniversary of the loss. I had a feeling it would take at least six months to heal from this. I wonder how I will feel about this unhappy milestone? Right now, I feel there is no need to wallow in what happened, but to focus on the present healing and work towards the future. One change I have noted is a genuine feeling of my internal support, something that I was so lacking back when I was depressed and anxious. I hope this feeling will continue to grow and carry me through the difficult times I'm sure that have yet to come.

And now I can think of Grandma Cookie with a smile and all that she did for me when I was a kid.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Show & Tell: Puttin' Up Pesto

Two weeks ago, I was questioning my decision earlier in the summer to plant more basil plants. Cold weather was moving in and frost was imminent. I had a daunting amount of basil to put up, so I played hookie from work on a Friday to beat the frost. I had already spent four hours the week before putting up two and a half large basil plants. I had seven and a half plants left to go. I thought maybe I had over done basil-mania this year. Luckily, some of the plants hadn't grown to bush size. Still, it took me another seven hours to put up all my basil. I was so sick of basil after that, I didn't think I would want to eat it for months, but I am appreciating it now.

I freeze all my basil. Dried basil just does not do justice to it's wonderful flavor. Either I make pesto or I grind up basil in just olive oil. I like to do the latter in ice cube trays, so if a recipe calls for basil, I pop a cube in from the freezer and get the same wonderful fresh summer basil taste in the middle of winter.

To do this is pretty easy. Fill a food processor with fresh basil leaves that do not have any moisture on them. Grind them up. Then add olive oil and finish blending. Sometimes I will add salt and garlic to the basil cubes.

Basil in ice cube trays prior to freezing

After the basil cubes have frozen, I like to add a little more olive oil on the top to seal the basil in. After the top layer of olive oil has frozen, take the ice cube trays out, run a little bit of hot water on the bottom to release the cubes, taking care not to get water on your basil cubes, and pop them out. If you wait for them to thaw, they do not come out of the ice cube trays as neatly, so use the hot water method while everything is frozen. Bag them up quickly to put back in the freezer, as the olive oil melts fast.

Final result. Note yellow on top of cubes is frozen olive oil.

I made a total of four ice cube trays worth of basil and pesto, plus three pint sized containers of pesto. Last year, I ran out of basil in January. I'm hoping to go a little longer this year.

If you want some instruction on how to cook pasta to go with that pesto, the Italian way, my buddy over at Geeks in Rome will give you the low-down in her post "You can call me Al...Dente". Look for future posts from me on homemade gluten-free pasta!

Join the rest of the class at Mel's Show & Tell

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cabin in the Hills

Here I sit on the porch of the small cabin I spent the weekend in solitary retreat. Small is the operative word here. Join me on a tour of my 250 square footish cabin. The name of the cabin is fitting for me. Can you read it?

This is where I spent most of my day meditating. I also had a wonderful private circular path for walking meditation in the pinyon juniper forest surrounding my cabin. You'll see the table on the right in the next picture. Again, think small.

My bed overlooked the meditation room. You can see the wood stove to the left of the bed in the kitchen area.



The kitchen had a propane stove. There was no running water, but a pump with delicious spring water was just outside the cabin. I did have a sink that went nowhere. A five gallon bucket is underneath the sink, that I periodically had to manually dump out. It was a bit annoying having to deal with that detail. I've spared you pictures of the outhouse. The cabin had solar lighting for the evenings, which was a really nice feature.

For not being able to watch TV, talk to others, or pet my cat, I was really quite busy the whole time. The practice and prayer I had been given to do for nine hours one of the days was challenging. I can't say I did it perfectly, but that wasn't really the point. It's amazing how busy your mind can be when your life is really simple. The gift of simplicity is appreciated more now that I am back to the craziness of work. As challenging as the simplicity was, I miss it.

I did take the opportunity to do some meditating on a future child. I followed the meditations out of the book "Spirit Babies", by Walter Makichen. That is the book I refer to in a previous post. I had some interesting revelations from those meditations. I was not ready to meditate on a future child until I dealt with the ones who had passed. I thought I had already done that, but I discovered there was some unfinished business to take care of first.

Forgiveness is a theme that came up over the weekend. I have a hard time forgiving myself. That could mean a lot of things. For one, I distract myself from my true spirit a lot. As painful as that is, I really like doing it. I got in touch with the simplicity of my true self this past weekend. My ego had a revolt at the same time, saying, what a waste of time, but I didn't listen to her. My true self knew better. I think I'll be doing a solitary retreat again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Retreating

At our last enlightenment training, we were given an assignment: 24 hour solitary retreat with nothing but fruits and nuts to eat. Actually, cheese, milk, and yogurt were on the menu too, but since I can't eat that stuff, lest it feed my potential fibroids, I invested in jerky. When we first were given the assignment, I was excited. I felt like we had graduated from enlightenment training grade school to college. Now, I'm just wondering how the heck I'm going to do it, especially since my daily meditation practice is more hypothetical than actual.

I reserved our meditation cabins in the boonies within a couple of days of being given our assignment. The other piece of the assignment is no reading, no iPod, no pets, no partners, no people, no phone, no journaling (certainly no bloggin'), no Magic, no nuthin' for 24 hours. I knew there was no way Magic or I could pull this off without retreating to a cabin where there is nothing to do, but meditate. The cabins, which have no electricity or running water, have a three night minimum, so we will be there longer than we need to, but what the heck. I could use more mental roto-rooter to clear out all the backed up crap I accumulated in the last six months!

I'm kinda looking forward to introspection and getting in touch with my life force again. It's so easy to lose my ground in our crazy, stressed out world. We'll be back on Monday, if we don't implode in the process.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

RESOLVE's Resolve on Amendment 48

If y'all don't live in Colorado, then you might not be aware of this potentially historic making amendment that Colorado voters will have to grapple with, along with a long list of other issues to mull over. Amendment 48 would define "personhood" at the point of fertilization. This is one scary piece of legislation that has only one agenda, to outlaw abortion. In that process, it would likely take away fertility treatments and IVF.

That fact that I have to vote on this crap makes me sick. It leaves a lot of gray room for what is legal and what isn't. We had another well intentioned but vaguely worded amendment pass in Colorado a couple of years ago. Amendment 41 prohibits government workers and their beneficiaries from accepting gifts. This amendment was intended on preventing lobbyist from giving gifts to lawmakers. However, when it first was passed, it was unclear if a child of a government employee could accept a college scholarship. As a government employee myself, it was even unclear if I could accept gifts of value over $50 from my husband!! It took two years for an independent ethics committee to deem that this was ok. That's the mess that can be caused by vague and broadly worded amendments.

I asked Magic if we would have to get social security numbers for our frozen embryos, and he said yes. We would probably also have to get birth certificates for them. This makes my brain go *tilt*. What a mind game it plays with all infertility patients. If all of our fertilized eggs instantly became children, then we could all breath a lot easier, eh? When one of our embryos doesn't take, do we have to get a death certificate too?! In short, this amendment would be a nightmare if passed.

RESOLVE put out their statement on the amendment a couple of months ago. It's worth reading, because the same type of legislation may be coming to a state near you soon! One statement in particular got my attention:

"Would women with fibroids or other uterine abnormalities be forbidden to try to have babies because the problems with their uteruses reduce the chances that an embryo will successfully implant after IVF or an insemination?"

Seriously?

And other gotcha:

"If a Colorado woman travels to another state for IVF, would her eggs still be defined by Colorado law such that doctors in no other states would offer her treatment? Would she be forbidden to move any currently frozen embryos to another state to continue her treatment?"

This one got me worried. I never thought that Amendment 48 might prevent me from transferring my frozen embryos.

Amendment 48 was initiated by a 21 year old woman Kristi Burton who was homeschooled. She isn't old enough to know if she even has fertility issues. I'm sure she isn't aware of all the other sticky issues that this amendment would create. For example, what if a woman has an etopic pregnancy? Who do you save then?

All those of you who think CCRM, the #1 fertility clinic in the US, is your last chance for success with IVF, forget it with this amendment. So, if you are thinking of cycling at CCRM in the near future, you better call all your friends and relatives in Colorado and tell them to vote No on this one.

As much as I think this one is a no-brainer, you never know in Colorado how people are going to vote. After all, it got 130,000 signatures to get on the ballot. In the case that it does pass, it might push the issue of when I do my FET. I think I would have until January 1 before the law went into effect. I couldn't wait for the years it's going to take to untangle the legal mess this amendment will create to get pregnant. I hope I'm not pushed to make that decision!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The Traumarama continues. Yesterday was my first trauma therapy session with a second therapist. I'm taking the shotgun approach. I felt good after the session, which I took as a positive sign. However, I had my usual agitation in the evening before going to bed. After listening to my Brainspotting CDs for 45 minutes, I finally got calm enough to sleep. Unfortunately, Magic wasn't sleeping well either, and he ended up waking me up about three hours after I fell asleep. I've been up ever since.

While I feel I made some progress in my session, I'm back stuck in my reactive state again. I swear, sometimes I feel like the Universe is after me. I walked out of my session feeling pretty good, and there is a dead squirrel right outside the driveway that wasn't there when I went in. I try not to let things like that bother me, but then I got upset when one of my favorite characters in the TV show "Heroes" got killed last night. The littlest things just build into a giant mushroom cloud.

Sometimes I feel like I'll never get beyond this, that I'm too damaged. I feel completely hopeless. I feel that this trauma will keep me from ever being a mother, and of course, there is the piece related back to my mother, so it feels like a vicious cycle. When I get like this, I feel that I'm to blame for everything, which of course isn't true. There is no reasoning in a state like this. You just wait for it to pass. You just hope that it will eventually pass, sooner rather than later. The blame takes the place of the not knowing. I want to know that everything that happened was ok and that everything will be ok. I either come up with answers I can not feel settled with or no answers at all. I'm not sure which is worse.

All I wanted was to get pregnant, be happy, and have a family. It was the story book ending that wasn't. Kinda like my childhood. I thought I was ready to be over it, but apparently I opened the Pandora's box without even knowing I was doing so.

I've always wanted to be a mom, and even after all that's happened, that hasn't gone away. I'm just a bit more wary of what I ask for.

If I didn't have so much to do at work, I would have taken another sick day and tried to get some sleep. I'm sure the sleep deprivation isn't helping either.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Progress

I hope I don't sound too "woe is me" on some of my ramblings about depression and trauma. The intent here is to educate, while some of you may possibly be here for the entertainment factor. I actually view crisises such as depression and trauma as catalysts for change, usually big change. I think such was the case last week. The Traumarama caused me to go out and get a book I've been thinking about for some time. I'll do a review of that book later. After reading that book, I think something shifted, if ever so slightly, in my consciousness. It's not what happened over the weekend, it's what didn't happen that delighted me.

Did anyone see the birth announcement of Lisa Marie Presley's twins? I typically see these tidbits of earth shattering news when I log into my ya.hoo account. The amazing part about it was that (pause for emphasis)...I was not fazed at all!! No reaction what so ever.

Ok, when you don't have a reaction, there's really not much to say about it.

I think I've made some progress here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Show & Tell: We Are The Ones

Why?

Because I like it.
Because I want change.
Because I'm insired.

Because I don't want to be Sarah Palin for Halloween for the next four years. Yes, I'm plannin' on being Sarah Palin this year for Halloween. I'm practicing droppin' my Gs at the end of words, gosh darn it.

Zoe Kravit sings on this video, "We Are The Ones"



Mel's Show & Tell

Friday, October 10, 2008

Trigger Un-Happy

It was an exciting week in Trauma land this week. I had not one but TWO trauma triggers.

The week started off with more enlightenment training landmines. We do this thing in my enlightenment training that's kinda like group therapy. I was working on some particularly lovely issue about my mother, when in the middle of being all vulnerable and open, one of my group member's phone beeped. That's not what bothered me. What bothered me was that he said; "sorry about that, my wife is in labor". All eyes turned to him, with a couple of female group members making ooh-aah eyes at him. It didn't help that I had already been obsessing that I was supposed to be delivering about this time. As I felt my whole nervous system beginning to go haywire, I managed to hold it together enough to say, "I'm done". I thought I had dodged a bullet, but the trauma reaction came around and got me the next morning with a full blown panic attack upon waking, much like the ones I experienced when I was pregnant. I called in work sick and moped around much of the day.

I recovered from that when just two days later, I get a phone call from the local multiples group I joined back in April calling to see how I was doing. Apparently this woman didn't talk with the women I broke the news to in July. I said something like, "I don't think you got the message..." Then, the uncomfortable reply of, "well that doesn't mean you can't be part of our club. We have people that work on that kind of thing." My jaw dropped, as in a Katie-Couric-interviewing-Sarah-Palin type of jaw dropping.

"...if you don't want to talk about it, I totally understand..."

"I don't want to talk about it."

Talk about ruining your day.

Before, I used to talk about how I was traumatized. Now, I get to experience what trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder means. Trauma is something that happens in the lower brain center, the limbic brain, and your nervous system. Trauma is also experienced physiologically, such as in panic attacks or dissociation. Triggers are anything that remind you of the trauma and set you off emotionally. In my enlightenment training, you are encouraged to feel your feelings. During an enlightenment training exercise a few weeks ago, a woman in a group of three next to my group of three decides to let out an ear-piercing scream. My group was exploring the openness of love when this scream happened. I was immediately reminded of my mother being crazy and screaming. All my good feelings vanished, my nervous system started going haywire, and I started shutting down. This is an example of what a trigger can do to you if you have not worked out all your trauma.

In hindsight, I realize the trauma began last year. I think each loss the fertility treatments brought was a new trauma. Then, my pregnancy opened up memories of trauma that were deeply hidden. One of them, I think, was my birth trauma. I'm not sure about this, seeing as I didn't have language back then to remember the trauma, but I had this recurring nightmare as a kid about being suffocated. The dream was so confusing because it had very abstract images, but with a crippling sensation of being crushed. The feeling of being suffocated come up again when I was pregnant. I think it might have something to do with being born breech with the umbilicord wrapped around my neck and being blue when I was born.

Next week, I will start back up with the trauma therapy, so I'm hoping that will help.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Beautiful Mind


"Michi's on the front page of the Sunday paper," declared Magic the other day.

"You're kidding." I say. She's been dead for two years, I'm thinking.

Michi was a brilliant colleague of Magic's who tragically committed suicide two years ago, almost to the day. However, her suicide was no ordinary one. She committed suicide while on 24 suicide watch in a hospital. Never leave a brilliant suicidal person alone in a room with her glasses. Michi really wanted to die, so she found a way to do it. She broke her glasses and cut herself to use her blood to leave a message to her loved ones. She figured out when she was being watched, which was about every 15 minutes. When she wasn't being watched, she set up something to make it look like she had her head down on the desk in the room that was in view of the camera. Then, she used the broken glass to shred her gown and hang herself off-view of the camera. I normally wouldn't talk about something so personal to someone else's life, but all of this was in the newspaper article. Michi made the news because her parents are suing the hospital that majorly screwed up. The hospital is going to lose this one, but who wins?

I remember being upset by Michi's suicide. We all knew Michi, Magic the kids and I. We liked her, but we knew she was a troubled soul. I'm always impacted when someone I know commits suicide. I know that it could have been me. I hate seeing how suicide affects those who are left behind as they grapple with the questions of "why?", the anger, and the grief. I've been on the receiving end of the fallout as a good friend of mine from high school committed suicide at age 20. I take it upon myself to tell the spouses, parents, sisters, and friends left behind how mental illness took their life, not the person they loved. I can say this as someone who has been to the edge of the abyss, but backed away. I don't enjoy being able to speak from experience, but I think it does help those left behind to know that it was mental illness. When you feel that depressed, you are not aware of the love others have for you. It's like being in the hell of a black hole that you can't get out of. So you might as well be dead.

Michi's boss, a prominent professor at our local university said in the newspaper article that he did not notice any outward signs of depression. Michi apparently hid it pretty well. I also know how this works. I wondered while I was pregnant if I fooled people by appearing functional, when in reality, I was falling apart inside. I have a long list of health care practitioners who dropped the ball on me while I was pregnant. All of them either didn't notice that I was depressed, or didn't care. Their apathy took the form of assuming someone else was taking care of me, or assuming I would "be alright". One doctor boldly wrote me off in her notes of my visit with her. I was so angry about that. It's not like I didn't tell them, I did. I don't know if they just didn't take me seriously because they were so used to seeing me be so competent and functional, or they didn't have the time to deal with me. I asked Magic if he thought I was fooling people, and he said, no, I was not in my right mind when I was pregnant.

No wonder I had no trust of doctors to help me when I was pregnant and depressed. The system had failed Michi. People are so clueless about mental illness, even health care professionals. It wasn't only doctors who failed me. It was doulas and acupuncturists as well. I'm glad her parents are suing. If it saves another life in the future, I guess it's worth it.

The photo at the top is a picture of Michi's art that she won an award for. Michi had a flair for photographing liquid crystals under a microscope. Don't they look like colorful snowflakes?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The One that Got Away

And Various Political Commentary...

Within a 24 hour period, I had a contract on my house, and then I lost it. The prospective buyer couldn't get a loan. I was not surprised, but I did have fantasies of getting rid of this black cloud and actually being able to afford trauma therapy and maybe an FET. The lame economy is affecting regular people like me. I bought my house in the beginning of the Bush administration when the housing market was still high. Six months after I bought my house, 911 happened. Now I'm trying to sell my house at the end of the Bush administration when the economy and real estate market is at an all time low. I dropped the price on my house to lower than what I bought it for seven years ago so I could sell it. If lending wasn't so tight, I'd be selling my house in two weeks. I'm not in favor of a 700 billion federal bail out that does not get to the people that need it, like me, and increasing our national debt even more, but something needs to change.

Yes, I need to get rid of my house and all the emotional baggage that is attached with it, even if it means losing thousands of dollars in equity. I am not freaking out. I lived in the house two years before I moved in with Magic, and I've been renting it for five years. I did have a Rent-to-Own buyer, but they bailed on their commitment and trashed my house in the meanwhile. I really don't want to rent longer, dealing with who knows what kind of renters I will get, and have to fix up my house again to put it on the market.

Did anyone see the Saturday Night Live skit with Tina Fey as a dead ringer for Sarah (aw-shucks) Palin being interviewed by "Katie Couric"? I love the part where Palin says, "I'd like to use a life line," and Couric saying, "you don't have life lines". Do we really expect this bailout to be a life line? I don't know, but if you want to have a chuckle, The Muser has set up the SNL clip next to the actual Palin/Couric interview. I also like the video she has included on her post "Time for Some Campaignin'!", which I have included below. I hope this cheers you up from your economic gloom and doom. I'm voting for the unicorn that shoots rainbows out it's ass!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Show & Tell: Everything's Peachy

These are not ordinary peaches. These are Colorado peaches. I never liked peaches until I'd had these. Peaches growing up were from the supermarket, hard or mealy and flavorless. Colorado peaches are sweet and dribble down your chin juicy.

This year, the peach season is still going strong at the end of September. I've never seen the peach season go this late. This 20 pound box of peaches lasted our family of four two weeks. I was eating two to four peaches a day. Magic bought another 20 pound box of imperfect peaches today (is it really September 27?!), and they are AMAZING! Normally by now, the peaches are long gone at the Farmer's Market. You have not lived until you have had a Colorado peach!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Don't Pass No Plastic"

This was the advise given to me by my eccentric red-haired Calculus professor as I was going out into the world after graduating from college, "don't pass no plastic". His intention was "don't be fake", but I'm passing a lot of plastic these days. Looks like credit cards are going to temporarily bail me out of my financial crisis for now. Which means any FET is on hold until January at the earliest. This makes me nervous, because if that doesn't work, I'll be doing another fresh cycle at 42. I think my eggs are up for it, but I don't know if I am. I pumped myself full of A LOT of drugs last time, to the amazement of Magic. I don't even like taking ibuprofen, let alone doing four shots a day. I'm not excited about being a science experiment again.

First and foremost, I need to heal from the trauma. I was unexpectedly triggered again yesterday during my recent enlightenment training. Afterwards, I got out my iPod and listened to my Brainspotting recordings. I got some dirty looks from people in the enlightenment training, but I needed to calm down my nervous system. When I get a moment, I'll write more about Brainspotting and how it's used for trauma therapy (or you can click on the link). It's one of those weeks that I need about two more days in this week that I'm not going to get.

Thank you all for your supportive comments after my last freaked out post. It meant a lot to me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Broke, In More Ways Than One

I'm not really one to count these kinds of anniversaries, but the anniversary of IVF (failed) #1 is coming up, or is it here? I just know because the credit card I charged my IVF to for one year of interest free payments is coming up. I thought I would have paid it off right now as I had planned on selling my rental house, that I used to live in, before I shacked up with Magic. The housing market hit an all time low last week, which does not bode well for the selling of my house. There are something like 80 foreclosures in the same zip code as my house. Whereas I could have gotten a home equity loan last year to finance my IVF, I decided to put it off by getting these interest free credit cards for a year. Now, I can't get a home equity loan because lending has gotten that much tighter in the past year and the value of my house has decreased. Crap. I'm feeling stressed and tired. I can't even think about a frozen embryo transfer now that a loan is out of the cards. The Feds bailout of the mortgage crisis seems iffy too.

I remember having an attitude with IVF of going-for-broke, and I guess I am. It was all such a big gamble that all went so terribly foul. I wish I could point fingers for blame at my doctor, myself, or god, but there is no use. What happened happened. I really don't think I could have changed anything, not in the state of mind I was in. I can't even afford trauma therapy now. It's all just so depressing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Drama Called Trauma

It happened one day in July. One of those moments when the Universe was nudging me, and I was just awake enough to notice. I'd been talking about how I had been traumatized during my pregnancy experience and the outfall, but I hadn't been recognizing how the trauma was affecting me. I thought depression was the only symptom of trauma.

I was attending my first weekend enlightenment training after an eight month hiatus. In the hallway, there was a postcard advertising this book:

I thought, "I need to get this book. This is what I've been experiencing."

I went to Buns and Noodle to try to find the book. Instead, I found this book:

I read how trauma is an instinctual response to being overwhelmed, and how the energy can get stuck in our bodies if we don't have a way to discharge it, basically causing the trauma to replay over and over in our lives. I now had a doorway to understanding my seemingly irrational behavior during my pregnancy.

It is any coincidence that both these authors live in my groovy western town? It appears that not only do I live in alternative medicine mecca, but I apparently live in trauma therapy central. Who knew? I wish I knew back then.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brain Damage

In memory of Rick Wright who founded Pink Floyd and passed away today. I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd in my teenage angst years (read depressed), probably way more than I should have. I loved the sick and twisted lyrics, and the music is awesome. Remember the scene in "School of Rock" when Jack Black's character gives homework to an aspiring teen singer to listen to the vocals in Great Gig in the Sky? I did see David Gilmour in concert when I was a teenager in 1984 at SPAC. I've always loved Dark Side of the Moon more than any other Pink Floyd album they put out.

The lyrics from the song Brain Damage speaks to me a lot, especially as I reminisce/try to make sense of my craziness while I was pregnant.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The first part of this video will give anyone who did IVF or hates hospitals the chills. Apparently, Pink Floyd had a thing for showing politicians in their concerts, like they do in this video.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Show and Tell: Tomatoes Comin' On!


It's my favorite time of the year, fall. The nights are getting cooler, the hummingbirds are getting sparser, and the bounty in the garden and farmer's market is plentiful.

Where I live, the nights get too cool, even in the summer, to get an abundant tomato harvest. I've planted tomatoes in other places I have lived in the state, but I've never bothered here since we get a lot of cool nights in the summer. Warm nights are crucial to tomato fruiting. But what the heck, I gave it a go this summer, and I did actually get some tomatoes.

I planted two San Marzano tomato plants. Normally, I'd go for the Romas for plum tomatoes, but the Master Gardener at the plant sale convinced me I'd like these more than the Roma variety. The other tomato variety I planted, the Thessalonika, was excellent in flavor, but I got a disappointing harvest. I'm getting a decent harvest on the San Marzanos, but I don't think I am going to have enough to can. So what's a gardener to do?

It's a cool, rainy morning today, so it's a perfect morning to make a leisurely breakfast that includes San Marzano tomatoes! I'd like to share one of my favorite recipes with you, courtesy of Suzanne Somers. Yeah, the girl can cook! If you are bored of cooking eggs the same old way, this is a refreshing new way to start your day.

Eggs in Tomatoes and Red Peppers


1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-size red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
about 10 fresh San Marzano plum tomatoes from the garden, or one 28-oz can of plum tomatoes, drained and chopped (this is what the recipe actually calls for, but I usually put in one 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Heat a 10-inch saute pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil and the red onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. If using fresh plum tomatoes, you can remove the skins first, if you like. To do that, boil a pot of water. Put the plum tomatoes in the boiling water. Remove them with a slotted spoon when the skins split. Cool a little, and pull off the skins.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Prepare for the next step by breaking each egg into a separate custard cup or small bowl. This is important so that you can put all the eggs in the pan at the same time for even cooking. You will be basically poaching the eggs in the tomato mixture you just created. Increase the heat to medium-low before cooking the eggs. Make four small wells in the tomato mixture (see picture above). Pour each egg into a well. Cover with the lid and cook until the whites have set but yolks are still runny. I've timed it to exactly 3 minutes. If the tops are still runny, you can put the pan under a broiler for 1 minute, but you need to have it ready ahead of time. Timing the eggs is crucial if you like runny yolks, like I do. Remove the eggs from the pan immediately after cooking to prevent the yolks from cooking anymore.

Since I don't eat dairy, I skip the feta cheese part, but you can sprinkle the feta over everything and serve immediately. Yum!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Playback

"I'm watching something really cool about 9/11," my stepson called from the family room. "Ah, this is so cool!" I had to see what he was watching. It was a documentary of 9/11 from the average person's video camera. The second part of the documentary was the people on the street who were behind the camera describing their experience. I was glued to the screen, like a deer in headlights.

One guy was filming this man who was listening to a radio on the hood of a car, and looking at the World Trade Center Buildings with one of them burning. All of the sudden, you see the second plane crash dead center into the second World Trade Center Building. "Aaarrgh," we all scream in the living room, like it was happening that day. Except that my stepson was seven then. I met him about a week later after 9/11.

The same guy describes the footage of these firemen we saw earlier in the documentary. They are heading off to the World Trade Centers with a hose and a fire extinguisher, with expressions on their faces like, "what are we supposed to do with these?" He explains how none of those firemen made it that day. More groans from our audience.

My husband and I are now too depressed to eat dinner. My stepson recounts how he was too young to really understand it then.

It reminds me of when I was pregnant. I felt like I was having similar playbacks of my childhood. When I was growing up into young adulthood, I always thought I had a great childhood. I never really made a connection between the periods of depression and suicidal thoughts I had as a teenager and my childhood. After having a series of bad relationships in my 20s, I finally decided I needed to take a look at myself rather than blaming others for my problems.

When I was pregnant, having these childhood memories traumatized me as much as watching this 9/11 documentary tonight did. Only back then, my nervous system was so easily triggered that I couldn't deal with all these traumas piling up on one another. It was a train wreck waiting to happen...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Show & Tell: My Garden

This is my sanctuary, my garden. The kale you see on the far right, lower part of the garden was planted while I was pregnant. This is the best garden I've had since moving in with Magic five years ago. The first year, I completely dug up the garden that had been neglected since Magic's divorce five years earlier. My stepson, who was eight at the time, helped me remove a gigantic rock that probably weighed close to 100 pounds out of the garden. Two of those years, I didn't have a garden. One year was because of how busy I was with planning my wedding and the next year I didn't have a garden because of my fibroid surgery. I have an interesting story to tell about my garden and my fibroids.

My babyquest started in earnest after I was married in the summer of 2005. The first RE visit was the revelation of my "huge" fibroids and my (failed) attempts at getting rid of them naturally. Although I ended up having surgery, I learned a lot in the process. Shortly after my first devastating RE visit, I was fortunate to be able to attend a workshop in my home town by Rosita Arvigo to learn about Maya abdominal massage. The workshop really wasn't so much about Maya abdominal massage, as it was a fascinating anatomy lesson about the uterus and all the ligaments that hold it in place, and it's health. All the women in the workshop were midwives except for myself and another woman who had been dealing with infertility for five years. I asked Rosita about why she thought fibroids formed. She answered that fibroids are basically confused creative energy manifesting in the uterus. The uterus is an organ of creation, and not just for babies. One of her examples was of a gardener who doesn't garden. This hit home for me as I did not have a garden that year because of all my wedding and other summer activity planning, and my exhaustion afterwards. At some point during the workshop, I came home for lunch, and I saw my patronus sitting in my backyard. That was the first time I'd ever seen that happen. I knew that it was a good sign and I was on the right track. Unfortunately, the next year I was not able to work on my garden either because of my surgery to remove my fibroids and the complications I had afterwards. Ever since then, I have tried to express my creative energy, the garden being one of them.

I've always had some flowers in the vegetable garden. Usually, it's been marigolds, but I got bored with them this year and these flowers were on sale. I bought the "Lady in Red" salvia and the Black and Blue salvia for the hummingbirds, and they do love them! I was working in the garden yesterday, and had a hummingbird about two feet from my face, hovering above these flowers and checking me out. I look out my window in the morning to watch the hummingbirds feed on these flowers and chase each other. I love going out to my garden everyday to see what's new. There is always an interesting variety of insects visiting my plants.

What's growing in your garden?