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The Nine Circles of Hell

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
Abandon all hope,  ye who enter here.

-Dante’s Inferno

Dante was led by Virgil through the nine circles of Hell, just  as I was led through my own circles of Hell by my own personal guide, hope.

And such as with Dante and his journey through Hell, once I embarked upon my journey through infertility, there was no turning back. The moment I entered that first circle of Hell, I had no choice but to continue all the way through.

It has been over three years since I passed under the inscription over the gates of Hell, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”. I walked right through those gates without really even realizing it.

Circle One, trying naturally. I spent about a year in my first circle of Hell. I hoped, I timed, I charted, I temped. To no avail.

On into the Second Circle, diagnostic testing.  I am thirty. Pain. machines. Dye. Speculums. Bad news. More bad news.

In the Third Circle is where I had to come to terms with the fact that we were infertile. We have a 3% chance of achieving pregnancy on our own.

The Fourth Circle is where we made our decisions. Adopt. IUI. IVF. ICSI. Painful, difficult, expensive decisions that shouldn’t have to be made. We decide to adopt. We sign up with the County Social Services. We go through the classes. Time drags on and on. It feels like we will never finish. A year after starting the process and still not being finished, we decide to try IVF.

I floated  into the Fifth Circle in a cloud of hormones. Cycle one. Bravelle. Ganirelex. Menopur. Two shots a day, then three. Acupuncture and vitamins. Asprin and folic acid. Transfer. Morning sickness. Pregnancy. Heartbeat. We’re sorry, the heartbeat is gone. D&C. I cry and cry on the operating table as the anesthesia washes over me. The Fifth Circle was so very dark.

The Sixth Circle is where it all begins to twist. I walk out of Circle Five, damaged, heartbroken. I crawl into Circle Six. Mom has cancer. There is an operation. Two weeks are spent in the hospital. I am in the midst of preparing for a Frozen Embryo Transfer. I do not cancel it because life  must go on.

In the Seventh Circle I am pregnant. Sick and pregnant. I am sick and pregnant until I am told that I am not really pregnant. That is, in the sense that there is no actual fetus. There is only an empty sack. The Seventh Circle is a blighted ovum.  A second D&C in five months time. I wake up from the procedure and lay with my face under the warm blankets and cry. I am able to make it through the Seventh Circle much more quickly than the previous two. But I do not come out unscarred. There are scars, and they are deep. Wounds that may never fully heal.

It is in this Eighth Circle of Hell where  my relationship is tested. We can not agree. I am depressed. He hates it. I hate that he is not more damaged. I want him to be as damaged as I am. I am angry at him and at the world and at God and at Cancer and at chemo.  We must figure out how to meet back in the middle. It is not easy.

We try and try and we enter the Ninth Circle together. Do we keep trying or do we move on? In the Ninth Circle we are faced with the most difficult of decisions to make. Keep going? Give up our dream? Can we fully recover if we never try again? Can we fully recover if we do try again? We played our hand with IVF. The odds were good, but good odds just weren’t enough.

Through the Nine Circles of Hell and out the other side, Dante enters purgatory. Purgatory is now where I sit. Waiting. Going nowhere. In a stalled state. Reassessing. Trying to find peace. Climbing every day. Higher and higher, climbing toward happiness. Toward Paradise.

The Duggar Family II and What Do I Do About Tomorrow Night?

Last night I posted a quick blurb about the Duggar Family’s memorial Pictures of baby Jubilee. I got 1 response, and I thought it was very thoughtful, heartfelt and loving. Here is what I responded with:

“I agree with you 100%. It was a life that was lost. The pictures were heartbreaking. They made me sick with sadness. As someone who has suffered a miscarriage, albiet an early one, I completely understand the loss of life. The loss of what was to be. I know the pain first hand. I think what bothered me about those pictures the most was that I could see them. Me. Not a family member. Not a close friend. Just someone messing around on the internet, looking at hollywood gossip. The death of a fetus is just not Hollywood gossip material. That memorial service was for the family to be able to grieve and to hopefully find closure. NOT for TMZ to post on their website. The Duggar family is considered a freak-show by many. Let’s face it. If they weren’t they wouldnt be garnering as much media attention as they do. That baby’s death should NOT be a part of that. I feel sorry for them in that respect and I do wish them peace. Thank your for your beautiful and touching response”.

When I first saw the pictures on TMZ I DID get sick. I DID want to throw up. I didn’t know what to feel. Seeing the images of that tiny fetus was heartwrenching. How can you not grieve right along with the family when those images tug at your heart? However, I was also angry that I was even seeing those images. Yes, I think they would be amazingly effective for an anti-abortion campaign, rather than the horrifying images that are often used. But this wasn’t an anti-abortion campaign. These were pictures from a private and personal memorial service taken by a grieving mother and father.  I am not afraid to admit that I was disgusted, seeing them on TMZ “Headline News”. Where do we draw the line? When do we just let a family be? When does a family have the right to greive and heal in peace? Maybe they did want to share those pictures. Maybe they do want the world to know that Jubilee was a part of it, if only for a very  short time. But I’m sure that even if that is the case, they can’t be happy that in putting Jubilee out to the world, they have been once again made to look like media attention whores. They have once again been put out there as that “freak family with 19  kids”. Once again, they have been opened up to all the mean and awful people of the world. The people who say that they are glad that she miscarried. That she didn’t deserve another child. Exactly who are we to decide that it was a good thing that Jubilee didnt make it into this world? Who are we to decide that Michelle Dugger didn’t deserve to have that child?

Yes, I have been shocked by the Duggars countless times, just as many others have been. I have wondered why this woman has been blessed by God so many times when I there is nothing I haven’t done to have a baby. I have wondered, if she is in fact correct on the whole blessing by God thing, what have I done that I am not blessed?  And yes, I have made fun of her hair, and guess what? I will continue to make fun of her hair until she gets a new do. But NONE of that makes me feel that she deserved to miscarry. None of that makes me glad that she did not carry that baby to term.

Anyway, enough about that. Back to a more exciting topic. Me! Haha.

Well I got great news today which is that after weeks and weeks of running around, driving to San Diego 3 times, and filling out and faxing countless forms, my mother officially has medi-cal. The oncologist that she will be seeing on Monday takes medi-cal on a special case by case basis and he agreed to follow her when she was in the hospital. Now at least we really do have the coverage when we go in to see him on Monday. I was stressing about telling her that the visit was going to cost $250.00 if it hadn’t gone through. I admit that I was going to wait until the last minute so that she couldn’t get pissed and back out. That is something she would do. She is difficult enough that she would fight it and potentially ruin the relationship with this doctor who has agreed to treat her. She can be a pain. But I love her.

I am doing well. Well in the sense that I am nauseous 100% of the time and peeing at least once if not twice a night. (Yes, I still have a nocturnal pee obsession).I am veiny and last night I sat down to change my pants and woke up an hour later…with no pants.  I know that it worked. In all honesty, it’s just a matter of how well it worked.  Unfortunately all of us know that there is such a thing as being a little bit pregnant. I have to wait and see, and hopefully I will turn out to be a lot pregnant. I will find out tomorrow. And then will begin the wait for Beta #2. And if that goes up, the wait for the ultrasound. And even then, if there is a little guy (or two!) I still won’t be satisfied, because I will have to wait for ultrasound #2, and ultrasound #2 was when it all went to shit last time. I am not sure that I will be satisfied until there is a baby, living and breathing, in my arms. Once upon a time, eight years ago, I got pregnant and there was hardly a doubt in my mind. I was having a baby. My gosh I wish I could return to that type of innocence and just be elated and enjoy…

OH! One last thing. We aren’t telling anyone until we are three months this time. Just in case. But here is the deal. It’s going to be HARD over the holidays. How do I get through without people knowing or guessing?

Example: Tomorrow night we are supposed to do a neighborhood “cocktail crawl”. Several neighbors, a stop at each house for one hour for an appetizer and a holiday drink. Ok. How in the HECK am I supposed to pull off a cocktail crawl? It’s easy to order a glass of wine I already know I hate and then pretend to just be disappointed with it. A cocktail crawl is a whole other story. Ok, If my test is negative or my beta is like 10 tomorrow, the cocktail crawl will be the best thing that ever happened to me. If it is over 100, well I’m going to have to get a flu or something right? Here’s the problem. My one neighbor is a very close friend and we actually planned this night together several months ago. She was incredibly helpful when I went through my fresh cycle. BUT, she also told EVERYONE I was pregnant. Neighbors were stopping me on the street to congratulate me. These same neighbors were also stopping me on the street to tell me how sorry they were a month later. All of these same neighbors will be participating tomorrow night.  We are not close with all of these neighbors, only a few. But we always all come together for things like this. Just to have some fun and keep up the whole goodwill amongst neighbors thing. Some of these neighbors are heavy drinkers. Not only are they heavy drinkers, but they are the “have a drink, why aren’t you having a drink, drink this, what’s wrong with you, why aren’t you drinking?” types. Sadly, I must admit, some of them are also the I can’t stand to be near them when they are drinking if I haven’t had a glass of wine” type of neighbors. You know, the kind that drive you to drink. I am happy, however, that our neighbors with the dogs that I want to kill are going to be at our house. Meaning that their dogs will be in the back yard and they won’t be at home. I am PRAYING that the dogs do their bat-shit crazy barking thing that they do when they aren’t home so that they can finally understand my pain. Maybe I’ll go make them sit in my son’s room so that they know what its like to try and go to sleep with their idiot dogs barking all night.

Ok. So. Any ideas guys? What do I do tomorrow night? How do I pull it off? Many of you I’m sure have hid the fact that you are trying or the fact that you may be pregnant. Ideas? Help? Save me? Please?

Clinical Trials?

Anyone with inside scoop on clinical trials for cancer PLEASE let me know!

Today Part II

I feel fat. I wore my fattest fat pants today. I’m so bloated. And all i wanted to do today is eat. I think
That’s a depression thing. The doc told me I could stay on the anti-depressant. That makes me happy. I know it’s a touchy subject but with everything going on I think I’d tailspin big time without it. It was a huge relief. For now. The only real difference today from last time was the “if it works” not the ” when it works” statements. Crap. They were good little guys though i think. Well excellent and good. Thats ok right? I think I’ll continue to try and ignore. I hope I can. 9 days to go.

Morning Rant: I’m not Normal

Ya I’m behaving In a totally sane and rational manner. That is if sitting in your car on a freeway offramp bawling hysterically is normal. I feel like some of you may actually say, “Oh you’re cool, I do that all the time”. Maybe it’s a parking lot or a subway platform or a bus bench, but I can’t be the only one who has these types of breakdowns. And they always come in the car. That’s how I know when things are bad. When I can’t drive a distance without loosing my shit. When I’m in the car I think. I can’t listen to music anymore. I started to again for a while and then all this shit happened with my mom. Now I’m back off of it. I listen to CNN or Stars.
Now for the rant of today. My mom fucked up royally. Being paid under the table, no insurance, etc. It has been HELL trying to fix this mess. My beef is currently with the state of California (beside with her and her poorer than poor choices). Yes there are many people such as my mom who NEED public assistance. And it is SO HARD to get. What’s with all these drug addict, repeat offenders and baby mamas with no jobs that we are paying for with our taxes? How did they get medi-cal? I highly doubt many have the patience and determination to go through what they are making me go through. And what of Obama’s universal healthcare plan? Insurance for every American citizen my ass. Don’t get me wrong I KNOW she fucked up by not having it and I’m pissed about that. I just know that we can’t live In the past and need to make the best of the future.So, I NEVER want to get political, but this is an EMOTIONAL rant. So excuse me when I say FUCK YOU state of California and FUCK you Obama for your useless (in my case) insurance agenda.

It’s Friday, It’s Friday

I’m sorry I’ve been such a downer as of late. My blog was supposed to be a depressing catalog of infertility ramblings, rather than a depressing site dedicated to my feelings about cancer. I apologize if I have thrown you off subject.

You’ll be happy to know that Day 1 “DPO” (haha with an FET you can almost pretend you are doing this the normal way because you are following somewhat of  a cycle), and I have no progesterone symptoms yet. Oh, don’t think I’m that naive, I know that they are coming. I said YET. By this time next week I can assure you that I will be a raving lunatic all hopped up on hormones.

One of the things about cancer is that it affects all people differently. Hearing about it for the first time, many people offer condolences. Many just shake thier head quietly and look away. Some are emboldended to ask the tough questions, but mostly those are the people who really have no business asking at all. They are emotionally removed but want the gory details. Then there are the people who have loved ones who have fought the disease and lost.  There is a chance that my mother could be a survivor, but there is a chance that she could not. There is a chance that sometime in the future I may be one of these people who’s faces plainly reveal a familiarity with the pain that is cancer, as soon as the word is uttered. They have been where I am  now standing. They know the long journey that I am about to embark upon. It is something that only those who have been with someone who has fought cancer can know. They know that words can not prepare me. That there is no book or no doctor given explaination that can prepare me for the horror of watching someone you love endure chemotherapy. Endure being sick. Endure being unable to eat or drink. Endure frightening physical deterioration. I know that they feel sorry for me, but in many cases I know that my admission that the disease has settled itself upon my family opens old wounds for them. Wounds that have quite possibly never healed. My story may dredge up old sadnesses or anger long repressed. There is anger. Cancer is a very maddening disease. It is not selective of who it crawls into, stealing away their strength and taking over cells. It does not care if you have children or a husband or a wife or grand kids or future plans. It only cares that you have blood and tissue and cells to feed on. It is a hungry disease and it will eat you away, giving no thought to the massive destruction that it leaves behind. And the guilt. There is such guilt. About not spending enough time, about not feeling the right way,  about feeling angry at the disease. Maybe even at the person for being sick. We feel guilty for not knowing sooner.  We knew she wasn’t feeling well, why didn’t we make her get checked out sooner? How could we not have known? How did we let it get this far without intervening? We should have known that the cancer was there.   There are people that know these feelings. That have been through them. Have been to hell with a loved one but come back alone. That is what cancer does. It leaves you alone.

Black Friday Winnings and Other Stuff

I am so excited for this blog award thing going around because I love being introduced to new people! Once things settle down I have some serious reading to do!

I am sitting at the hospital with my sister in the waiting room. The last half hour before mom’s next dose of pain meds is rough and she just wants to be alone. A bit selfishly, I would like to head home. However, I will stay for my sister so that she has a bit more time to visit.
What I’d really like to be doing is going on a run and working on these ginormous thighs that two weeks of sitting and cafeteria food have given me. I feel disgusting physically and my pants are becoming a tad too snug. I can not diet, but I need to do something before I actually grow out of them. I have gained far too much weight since I started this ART process way back when.

In completely unrelated news, husband won $500 from a scratcher at Sports Authority on black Friday. FREE TRAMPOLINE!!! I couldn’t believe his luck. We are the people that never win anything. So the kids “big” gift is taken care of and not a dime spent. LOVE IT!

On the fertility front I’m up to 4mg estrace a day and can’t remember if I took my folic acid and aspirin this morning. Do I re-dose just in case or skip it?! Same ole boring symptoms, cervical mucous and acne mostly. Breasts starting to become a bit sore.

Hope all is well out there with all of you! Thank you all for your kind words and support!