Thursday, July 31, 2008

Big Apple, defined

Bubbles and I arrived in NYC about 10am and were able to check into the hotel. We did and immediately headed out to the Park. We had a walking tour map that I had printed off the internet and also got one from a cute little old man in a Central Park Conservatory booth. Neither were very helpful as they didn't seem to scale, no paths were marked, either on the map or in real life.

We wandered in what seemed like the right direction for our first stop -- Strawberry Fields. We walked up, over and around it, and finally found it. From there, we have a point of reference and the map reading was much, much easier. We saw the Alice in Wonderland statue, the Hans Christian Anderson statue, the Belvedere Fountain, and lots of amazing views of the city, including the rocks that Charlotte and harry sat on for their engagement pictures (Sex and the City reference).

It was hot and sunny, and even though I was sweating like a stuck pig, it was amazing. We headed back to the hotel for quick showers before headed to the Bronx.

Out trip to Yankee Stadium started out so cool, because we had to pick up our tickets from the will call window that was labeled "visiting team player tickets." We felt like rock stars! There was a bit of a delay and finally we got called to the end window. Apparently Bubbles' credit card number got written down wrong and it didn't go through so they had to release our original tickets. "But not to worry, we have tickets for you."

We made our way inside, were bummed that Monument Park was already closed, and then headed back to home plate to find our seats. I was a little nervous that the face value was $75 (I had seen the price of tickets for this season.) I worried over nothing. We were directly behind home plate. About 30 rows back....and directly behind home plate.

It was amazing. And with a view like that, I had no problem paying $9.50 per beer. I sent texts taunting my friends. "3rd inning, 3rd beer."

The game wasn't the greatest. But Bubbles was having so much fun singing "Orioles Magic," spelling O-R-I-O-L-E-S, and singing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" during the 7th inning stretch that I didn't mind terribly that the Yankees got pounded.

After the game, we met out with one of the Yankees players who used to be with the Orioles. (Who knew that fan mail saying "hi remember me, we used to know each other when I worked at the Museum in Baltimore, want to meet out for drinks?" would work?!)

We met him after the game, and he looked so hot. So all previous convictions I had ("he's not hitting this") went right out the window when he walked into the bar and hugged me. Who was I kidding? None of my friends believed me, anyway -- they just humored me.

We did shots, we drank beer, we talked dirty. At one point Bubbles and I did a little smooching for him (why are guys so easy with that little trick?). And then poor Bubbles got sick. She was hugging the toilet and finally, we got into a cab, and my Yankee was about 20 minutes behind us.

At the hotel, she made herself a little bed of towels on the bathroom floor when my Yankee showed up. God bless her -- what a good friend. I'm not going into details, ya'll can draw your own pictures, but if he wins in his next start, I'm taking credit.

And the question everyone keeps asking -- "could you be pregnant?" With my little dried up eggs, I doubt it. But I'll keep you posted next month.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back from the Big Apple

Things I learned:

1. I'm too old to drink like I used to, especially after not drinking more than one beer at any given time, and maybe that happened once or twice in the past baby-attempt year.

2. I'm too old to do shots, especially when tequila is involved.

3. Jagermeister after tequila is never a good idea.

And for the life list:

Professional baseball player, check!

More details after a nap.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I'm headed to Baltimore on Saturday morning, spending the afternoon with my opinionated friend Tim, more to see his daughters than him. We'll see if he behaves with his comments or even innocent queries. Either way, the party line will be "nothing new to report."

Then I'm spending the night with my dear friend Wanda. I'm excited to see her kids, too. Danny turned one in January, so it will be fun to see him on the go. And Miranda, at four, is always entertaining to Auntie Ellie.

Sunday, my brother, sister-in-law and niece are coming up from Richmond for the day. This was too short of a trip for me to swing through VA, so they'll come to me. And we'll probably sit at Champps, grazing and watching baseball. Then I head over to Bubbles' place and we'll get ready for our big adventure.

The Big Apple! We're taking a train on Monday morning, spending the night in the theater district, right near Carnegie Hall and have a whole host of sights to see in our two days -- Central Park (our hotel is two blocks away), the New Public Library, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Mickey Mantle's, and of course, no trip to Manhattan would be complete without Tiffany's.

Monday night, we'll go to Yankee Stadium for the Oriole game, and after have drinks with Sidney Ponson, who I knew from his playing days in Baltimore. He was always my go-to guy when I needed an athlete at an event.

I'll be back in Ithaca on Wednesday, and then will jump back into the baby-making process, hopefully knowing when I can talk to the fertility guru.

Happy weekend. Go Yankees!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HIV, CBC, Hep B, et al

I went to the doctor yesterday (my doctor in Horseheads) and signed and signed and signed. Consent forms for the HIV test, release of my files to the Fertility Guru, forms that said I not only consented but was aware. And on and on.

We talked about next steps, and it was kind of sad. I started this journey with Jan and Jodi a little over a year ago. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't get pregnant with them. And now...

I won't be saying goodbye to them entirely. I can still use their office (slightly closer to home than Syracuse) for the ultrasounds and blood work. But they won't be running the show, merely following the orders of the guru.

I went for my blood work this morning -- it will complete my file and then it can be sent to Syracuse. All of these tests were done more than a year ago, so they have to be done again. Five vials of blood this morning! But it felt good to have what I need to do done.

I will still have a conversation with FG, but from the detailed explanation that Jodi gave me yesterday, even if he could harvest some of my eggs, their viability would be in question. And there would be a significant increase of chromosomal birth defects, even more than the chances of me just as a 38-year-old.

And so I will talk to him, but I'm at peace with my decision to use an egg donor. I've had two offers from people I know to be my donor. I asked the guru's office to send me information about what the donor goes through. I want both women to read this and have this information in mind before they give me a firm offer. I want them to know the inconveniences they (and their bodies) will go through during this two-month process.

I will never be able to thank these women enough, and not just for being the donor, but for offering. For understanding the ultimate goal, for seeing the bigger picture, and for being so unselfish and full of love and support for me. There will be lots of decisions in the coming weeks, and not just by me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Blast from the Past

I received the following email via LinkedIn this morning when I got to work:

Hi hon....nice to your big beautiful smile. How are you? xoxo T

I have to admit, I giggled like a school girl when I read it. T was the most beautiful specimen of a man in college. He was from Antigua, so he had an accent to die for; the most beautiful milk chocolate skin, dimples and a soccer player's body.

I've never been a big fan of these social networking sites, mostly because I thought I was too old for them, or too something, I'm not sure what. But recently I've reconnected with a bunch of people from high school -- and once I get over the fact that I think I am the only one from Corcoran High, Class of '88 not married or in a committed relationship, it's been really fun to see how and where people ended up.

So back to T. I was young and naive, and had no clue about relationships. And the minute he paid attention to me, I was completely smitten, head over heels. I spent many a night crying over him mostly because I built up a relationship where it was nothing more than flirtation, had expected so much from him and had grandiose ideas of what it meant to go to college and have your first college boyfriend. And of course none of those ideas and dreams came to fruition quite the way I expected it to. Lesson learned the hard way.

If I knew then what I know now....T and I could have really had some fun.

Back to present day, I responded, asked him if he was married, kids, and gave him the 25-word version of my life since I graduated from Fisher in '93. And so, just like my high school friends on Facebook, I am having fun learning about the paths that people's lives have taken, people I once cared about, people who I didn't stop caring about because of something sinister or malicious, but just because people grow up and move on.

So where I once looked down upon the whole social networking thing, saw it as something I needed to know about for work, because that's where prospective students are, I've learned to not be so judgmental.

Maybe you can teach this old dog a new trick.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So apparently he has to have the last word...

I wasn't entirely surprised to get this email back from Tim this morning:

I don't care what the Catholic church says. I am glad that you are good with God, that is the only thing that counts. Its the relationship between you and Him and if you have this desire, then it is coming from Him. Go forward young woman. As far as the scripture- it just happened to be something that I read that day to give you hope and support for.

Cling to Him... not preaching about your situation. He'll give you comfort through the pain and the unknowing til things are what they will be. And I did voice concern a year ago- but I didn't beat it over your head. Nor will I. I always have concern that you are all right and doing ok. That's what close friends and people who care for one another do. And I support you and will help you if you need it. ANYTIME kiddo.

And there you have it. I won't be responding. They are going on vacation this weekend, and I will be in Baltimore the next weekend and will stop by the house to see the girls. It'll be water under the bridge at that point. Hopefully.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I talked to my sister-in-law on Saturday. She had been on vacation for the past 10 days -- and while I could have called her cell, I didn't want to bother her -- so she knew nothing of what has been going on with me lately.

I brought her up to speed, crying along the way, and she told me that I'm driving myself crazy needlessly. "Wait until you see the guru, wait until he tells you he can't use your eggs. He's a specialist in this field for a reason -- what regular doctors think of as impossible, he sees as possible. Don't make any decision right now, because you don't need to."

And she's right. I've been so focused on what will I do, I wasn't even looking at all the options, because I don't know them. I'm going on what my blood work says to my OB/GYN, not what my blood work says to a fertility doctor.

And so, for the first time since July 3, my headache went away, though not without one last moment of drama.

I spoke with my friend Tim and his wife on Friday night. They live in Baltimore and I was really good friends with him first, before becoming part of their family (their daughter is my god daughter). I talked to both of them, told them where I was with everything, etc.

Three hours later, Tim starts sending me a string of text messages on my cell phone about how I shouldn't overlook adoption as an option, that if I'm open to a non-biological child why would I go through pregnancy when there are so many children in the world needing a good home, that God has a plan for me, and then quoted some scriptures at me. It made my head hurt worse, and since it was almost 11pm, I chose to ignore him best I could.

Saturday morning, I texted him back and said that all options are still on the table, but I'm not ready to give up on being pregnant yet. Which he took as some need I have to to fulfill my identity as a woman. This went on -- still via text -- for an hour. I finally wrote to: "You are really pissing me off. I need support not a fucking debate."

To which, he replied that he wasn't debating me, but did I think about.... I finally threw the phone down and went for a walk, which didn't really help. I could actually feel in my speed and the length of my strides that I was feeling utterly defeated. What right did he have to be spouting scripture at me and making moral judgements?

When I got back from my walk, I met a friend at Cornell's art museum, and then finally talked to my sister-in-law. So all things were making me feel better and I knew that I would just ignore any calls or texts from him for a while, and just not get into it.

I didn't think about e-mail. Sunday morning, I woke up to this in my in-box:

Hi Red, Cell phones and texting are great - has made the world a lot smaller. But it has also made the world a little more impersonal. Message can be easily delivered, but also misconstrued too.

Ellie, I am not one to give a lot of advice - not the way I have lived my life. And I am not here either. I am also not making any moral comments or judgements.
You got mad at me yesterday cause of some comments I made. I am sorry for that. Never my intention. I know you are going through a rough time. I know you have been through a lot and some things are happening that are out of your control. I also know you are planning the next steps. I know you probably have to, but I was only saying until you have to, let all options stay open.

You yourself told me there is still a chance cause you haven't even talked to the other doctor yet. God has a way of making things happen. That's all. I was not advocating adopting over fertilization or saying one was more moral than the other or anything like that. I know you will do what is best for you and your situation.

My only concern is for you. You are a strong, self reliant person- on the outside. On the inside you are a woman who wants to love and be loved. And for whatever reason, your path in life has led to this. When you first talked about this, I voiced some reservations cause how hard it was going to be a single parent. But you knew what you were getting into. The way you talked, I felt that this was a course to help fulfill your identity- not help to discover what your identity was. I was hoping for the best.

But if you are thinking this pregnancy and motherhood is a way to find your identity, be very careful. As someone who did not know who he was til the last 8-10 mos- makes interesting telling sometime if you want to hear- I know what it is like to not know who you are. Just be careful kiddo, cause if something happens again that is not pleasant or planned, where does that leave you?? And YOU are the person I care for and worry now. That's all. Just leave options open and see what presents itself. Be open to things.

Ellie, we haven't talked much about God. Maybe you have not so crazy thoughts on the subject. I hope that's not the case. I know He changed me. But if your heart and head agree on something that is not sin based, that is God talking ya. Just be open to it. You have a lot of friends and family who love ya and will support you on whatever course you take. Count me as one of those.

I did the same thing I did the day before. I went for a walk, I cleared my head, and I responded once I was calm.

I'm just going to chalk this conversation up to mis-communications due to technology. If you had reservations or concerns or questions, the time to ask them was when we were on the phone, not via text three hours later.

As for my relationship with God, I'm good. And I'm glad you're good. And it did sound like preaching in the texts, how could it not when you were quoting scripture at me. I know that the Catholic church is against what I'm doing, but I can live with that. I've accepted that. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

And I did get mad at you yesterday, though I understood that your comments were mostly coming from concern, but it felt like your agenda went back to our conversation a year ago when I told you I was finally going through with this.

I have thought this through for the past decade. I've put it off this long because I wanted to make sure I was financially secure -- and that decision may have cost me the chance at a having a baby the way I thought I would.

You can't understand. Grow a uterus, have your body betray you, and then we can talk.

I'm not mad any longer, but I also don't think we should talk about this any more. It's only going to lead to more hurt feelings and anger.

Have a good rest of the weekend, and I'll talk to you soon. love, Red

PS....all this talk about God from the man who texted me four days earlier, while he was in NYC with his buddies, out drinking undoubtedly, about a drunken night six years ago in Baltimore when we had a moment of indiscretion and did some smooching. "Thinking about a certain night in your apartment right on my face and a certain member is standing at attention :) :) :)"

Changed man my ass.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pros and Cons

I learned a little more information today about the egg donor program at the fertility guru's office today, and I am now completely over-whelmed and confused. And to make sure I had the complete picture, I also talked to the insurance company.

The egg donor program will cost me about $12,000 out of pocket. Insurance will cover very little of it. For that $12K, the donor gets her compensation (about $4000), her doctor visits, and retrieval of her eggs. I get my doctor visits, transfer of embryos, freezing of embryos, first-year storage of embryos, and frozen embryo transfer for up to one year.

So basically, all the eggs we can gt out of her and fertilize and a year to get me pregnant. So now comes the dilemma. Do I pay this money, which is a lot but also an amount that I could cover almost all of, for a really good chance of getting pregnant and getting a baby, knowing that there is also a chance that none of it could work? Or do I take out a loan for three times that for the guarantee that I will get a baby through adoption?

I cried all afternoon, sobbed even. I'm all cried out now, but still confused. In one moment, one option seems so clear. A minute later, the other option begins to filter in and then becomes the obvious choice.

And without having a partner with equal say in the matter, this choice becomes all mine. I can certainly listen to different view points, I welcome other opinions...but when it comes down to it, I have to do this knowing that this is probably going to be the hardest and most important decision I've ever made, my first parental verdict.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Plan B

I talked to the doctor's office today. My FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) has almost doubled since last summer when I had my initial blood work done. And that's not a good thing. It definitely means that my ovarian reserve is dwindling and any eggs I have left are a crap-shoot as to whether they are viable.

Not unexpected news, but it still hurt to hear. I have to keep reminding myself that I still have options. I can still get pregnant.

The next step is for me to have some more blood work, including an HIV test, before all of my files and my case are transferred to the fertility guru in Syracuse. The ridiculous part of it is that I have to have "counseling" before they will test me for HIV, so I couldn't get an appointment for that until July 22.

I've contacted the donor coordinator at the guru's office for more information. I'm hoping to hear back from her in the next few days. I'm curious as to exactly how this will all work, the time line, and especially the costs. While my insurance has fertility coverage, and while my ovarian reserve issue is definitely medical, the insurance will not cover any part of egg donation. (But insurance covers viagra -- unbelievable!)

I've also been doing my own sort informal surveys with the people I know who have gone through IVF, how many procedures, how many embryos were implanted and how many babies came out. It's looking like most had a failed first implantation, and three out of the four that resulted in pregnancies resulted in multiples, including a set of triplets. That's scary.

But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. Which is what I do. I'm a planner and I'm impatient. So, I guess there's no helping getting ahead of myself.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I'm Not feeling Hope Today

As teenagers and young women, we’re taught all about the responsibility of not getting pregnant. Don’t have sex, you’ll pregnant. Make sure you use birth control, you don’t want to get pregnant. (For the sake of this conversation, we’re going to assume that all bases of STD’s are covered.)

I can remember two instances – both wedding hook-ups incidentally – when I was late. And I freaked. Did I want to be pregnant? Pretty much since I was 16, I knew I was meant to be a mom. But at that moment in time, after my college roommate’s wedding, in my little apartment above my landlord’s mother, making $23,000 a year, did I really want to be pregnant? No. I wished and prayed with all my might that I was just late.

And I was.

It happened again in 2002. I was living in Baltimore but was back in NY for a wedding. I made an instant connection with the guy and ended up having the most amazing non-sex of my life. However, parts touched and I’m sure things leaked – and the Dear Abby column that terrified me when I was about 14 about how you can get pregnant without actual intercourse (slight as the chance might be) came rushing back.

I remember vividly, being at an after-work function behind the museum. I opted out of the baseball game and slightly tipsy, drove to Target for a pregnancy test. The test was negative and stayed on my bathroom sink counter for three hours. I checked it every 10 or 15minutes to make sure it didn’t change.

But again, would it have been so awful if I got pregnant? Not really. It wouldn’t have been the way I would have planned it, the way I imagined it, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

And so now, fast forward to 2008. Still not the way I imagined it, still not the way I would have planned it, but by far, not the end of the world. Except now, I can’t get pregnant. Even with medical intervention, with the most careful planning of my cycles, the most optimum conditions of my ovaries and uterus, and nothing.

I wonder why I bothered to be so responsible, why I bothered to be so careful. I could have not worried about birth control and just had fun and gotten the baby I wanted. The first night that Chris and I hooked up, I wouldn’t have sex with him. He didn’t have a condom and at that point, I wasn’t on the pill. He practically begged and I said no.

As drunk as I was, the message that was instilled into my head at such a young age, and repeated over and over again through media and pop culture and peers, was stronger than my urge to have sex, my wish to be a mom.

If I had said yes, would I have a beautiful four-year-old right now? Who knows for sure? All I know is that I wasted hundreds and hundreds of eggs because I’m the good girl, I’m the responsible one.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Wedding

So it's been a week since the wedding, and I'm still trying to get my head around it all. I guess the easiest way to report is in bullet points:

* My parents were miserable, didn't really speak to anyone at the reception, left after dinner without telling anyone or saying good-bye, and got out without doing any grandparent pictures with the bride and groom.
* I left the controversy at the door and had fun with my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and felt guilty the entire day for having fun when my brother and his family weren't invited.
* I talked to my sister-in-law that night and she said it bothered her more than she expected. She and my niece cried that day, and I found out the next day from my brother that she had cried herself to sleep.
* My brother is beyond hurt and has moved onto anger. He blames the bride but also her mother for not telling her to do the right thing, and that as far as he's concerned she is nothing more than a step-sister, a distant relative.

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time crying since the wedding. And as much as I want to try to fix it, everyone tells me that it's not my problem to fix, that I can't take on that responsibility.

It's hard, because that's not my personality. My whole thing is to take care of other people, to fix things, to make sure that all is right in the world.

Unfortunately, I think this might beyond my talent for fixing. Maybe time will heal the wounds, but I doubt it. The wounds are running too deep.

PS....last call for entries in my pay-it-forward and send fabulous gifts. So if you want in, comment on a story and let me know. I'll pull a name at the end of the week and get fun Finger Lakes presents in the mail next weekend.

Dried-Up Eggs

I thought I would be able to post today about my first self-injection of hormones last night, but alas, once again my body is not cooperating in my fertility attempts. I had blood work yesterday morning and what needed to be under 100 was actually at 134. So the doctor had the lab run another test on that blood and she is anticipating that it will be an indication that my ovarian reserve is failing.

I took a deep breath when she told me that I couldn't do the hormone therapy this month and then cried. About an hour later I called her back and asked about donor eggs. She said that we should really wait to see what the FSH numbers come back as, but yes, that's probably a good idea to start thinking that way.

I told her I don't want to waste any more time or money -- I'm not getting any younger, especially if we have to keep putting months off and each sperm donation is almost $800. The goal was for me to have a baby, ideally through my own pregnancy. I could care less is the eggs aren't mine. I just want to be a mom, I want a baby. And if this is the way it has to go, then this is the way to do it.

I thought too late yesterday to call the insurance company to inquire about my infertility coverage and whether it actually covers the cost of donor eggs, since this in fact (unlike my need to purchase sperm) a medical shortfall within my body. And if it's not, then it's still considerably less expensive than adoption, though I know that at some point, I may need to resign myself to that.

But not today. Today there is still hope for maternity clothes and feeling the baby kick. Today there is still hope for a little redhead baby growing inside me. Today there's hope. I just have to remember that when I feel like giving up, when I feel like feeling sorry for myself, and when I feel like it will never happen.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bird by Bird

After an emotionally draining weekend and tiring weekend -- the family wedding, complete with drama (will write more when I can tell all stories without tears) and my great-nephew's first birthday party -- I was greeted by a box from Oklahoma. My present from Woodrow -- a book about writing.

And as promised, I am now paying it forward. I know I get regular readers from my site meter, but not a lot of comments. Now it's time. Comment that you want in on this giveaway, I'll draw three names at random and send you a fabulous present from the Finger Lakes.