Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Celebratory Society

Celebratory Soceity

When I was interviewed by The Globe and Mail two years ago for a piece about blogging and infertility, I was asked why a blog? Why did I feel the need to 'let it all hang out' so to speak? And my answer then was the same as it is today: I started this blog for me. I needed a place to record my thoughts and feelings, our process, the tests, medications, tears, pain, etc. that we all deal with when we first venture into the vast land of infertility. I said it then and I'll say it again, "If I get readers, great! If not, well, that's okay too. I just need to do this for me."

Little did I know that so many others were out there who could relate to me. Who wanted to read about our journey. Who could possibly learn something from what we were going through. And who might discover that infertility isn't as taboo as our society seems to try to make it.

Little did I know that so many of you would follow along and cry with us at our failures and cheer with us when Petite was born last August.

Little did I know that so many of you would also touch my soul.

Case in point, Max and Vee. I have become very close with Vee over the last couple of years. And Max's death is still so raw, so heart wrenching. I am still coming to terms with it myself and the tears still flow freely. For these two people and their love have touched me greatly and I count them among my friends, even though they live so far away.

So it is in the spirit of Festschrift that I open the floor to you. Mel, our dear Stirrup Queen has proposed The Celebratory Society to all of us as a way to celebrate the people in the blogosphere who have touched us in one way or another. As Mel says, she has no qualms about admitting how self-indulgent this is. And I have to agree! But there you have it. The floor is yours. Think of this as the most interesting delurking project you'll ever participate in. Tell me what my blog or actions mean to you. And then do the same on your own blog, add it to the master list and give me the chance to tell YOU what you have meant to me.

Contacting Vee
For those of you who got lost in the shuffle when Vee went password-protected, please e-mail me your own e-mail address and blog link. I will pass them all on to Vee and ensure that she is aware that you are thinking of her. Max's memorial will be on Friday morning in their hometown in Australia and as mentioned, donations in his memory should be made to the Rainbows for Kate Foundation. We love you Max, and we miss you more than words can say.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alex's Passing (with addendum)

Today, my heart aches. For today, Alex (aka Max) has passed.

I "met" Alex years ago, when I started looking around on the Internet for information about trying to conceive when you have no sperm to work with! There were very few blogs then, and even fewer written from the male point of view, but somehow, I found Max's blog, Dynamo Dad (currently inactive). He talked about having Azoospermia and wanting to have a child with his wife, Vee. And in his words, I found comfort. I read about his journey for awhile before I started reading Vee's blog, The Sweet Life (currently password protected). And then, after more time had passed, I began writing this blog. And I got to know Alex and Vee, and came to share in their story.

Vee and Alex had begun TTC in November 2005 with their first IUI. And as we all know, the journey goes on and on. But for Vee and Alex, there was a helluva bump in the road; Alex was diagnosed with cancer in February 2008. He was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, Leiomyosarcoma. It did not respond to treatment... at least, not well enough. And so they wondered if they ought to continue their journey to build a family.

The decision was made to do so, and as luck would have it, Vee and I cycled at the same time in November/December 2008. We both got VERY lucky and got BFPs. Our due date was the same, August 25, 2009. Vee and I took comfort that there was someone going through exactly what the other was going through at the exact same time. We have gone through our pregnancies together. We sent each other gifts and cards. We e-mailed each other for support and with questions. I sent them a "hope" care package at one point, simply because I was thinking of them and praying for them. We kept up to date with each other's birth story for the babies when that happened last August, and since then, we have watched our children hit milestones together. Their little boy Doudou is so beautiful; there's too much cuteness to behold! I get to see the wonderful photos that Vee uploads to Facebook and I get to smile at the family that they have built together.

And yet, all along, the cancer continued to ravage Alex's body.

There was doubt that Alex would be alive to greet their baby. And when he was able to be there, I rejoiced for them.

They wondered if Alex would be able to share the baby's first Christmas. And when he was able to be there, we rejoiced.

They hoped Alex would be there to celebrate the new year and the changing of the seasons. And he has been there. And we rejoiced.

They wished for Alex to be there to celebrate their first Easter, and when he was, we rejoiced.

And all along the cancer continued to wreak havoc on Alex's fragile body.

Over the last few months, Vee and Alex discussed Alex's final wishes. A little while ago, they had to modify their home to accommodate Alex's needs. Vee reached out to her friends to help her at home, for Alex could no longer be left alone. And Vee wept with grief, knowing that there was no coming out of this. And we all wept alongside her for the downturn was evident.

And yesterday, Alex took a turn for the worse and Vee watched him gasp for every breath. And we cried alongside them. Vee asked that he not be afraid. And my heart broke for her and their family and for their little boy.

Today, I have just learned that Alex has passed. The tears roll down my cheeks for I wish their little boy could grow up knowing his daddy. I wish Vee didn't have to say goodbye to her husband. As she says, they were meant to grow old together. I cannot fathom the grief they feel today. I wish things were different. I wish for so much... and yet, none of it will come true.

So instead, I wish for peace. I know that Alex feels no more pain. I know that one day, he will see Vee and their little boy again. I wish Vee comfort, in knowing that we all share her grief and we support her. I wish them love. I hope that the memories of her beautiful Alex will live on. I know that their baby boy will hear about how very much his daddy loved him.

And still I shed tears, for life has not dealt them a fair hand. They deserved more than this. We all do.

Grief marks us today, but it will not mark us forever. We shall move on and rejoice in the fact that we knew Alex at all. And one day, when Petite gets to meet their little boy, and I get to hug Vee in person (I will make that happen), I will raise a glass with her in Alex's name. For he is a wonderful man, a strong man, a beautiful person, a doting father and loving husband.

Alex, may you rest in peace and may God hold you in the palm of his hand until one day, your family is with you again. Watch over them and keep them close, just as we pray for your safekeeping and peace. We love you Alex. God bless and Godspeed.

Before his passing, Max asked Vee to convey that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Rainbows For Kate Foundation in his memory. I will certainly be doing that myself, as obviously being in Canada, I cannot attend the memorial in Australia on Friday morning. But you can be certain that is exactly where my thoughts and my spirit will be...

Friday, May 07, 2010

Post By Topic

Follow the Headers to see what I'm blathering about this week...

What IF?
Many of you have heard of Resolve's current project, in conjunction with Mel's blog. "What IF" is something I'd like to touch on, but I'm going to do so during the upcoming Canadian Infertility Awareness Week (May 16-22). In the meantime, I did read the "What IF" list on Mel's blog. I took about an hour to get through it and by the time I was done, I was in tears. It's emotionally raw and so many of those What IFs touch on my own experiences with infertility. Go. Read. You will be glad that you did. My "What IF" post will be coming in the next week or so.

Pam sent me the link to this article earlier this week. It discusses the surreptitious ways that Canadians are using to create families, because of the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act. As a result, Fertility Law Leaves Us in Limbo, say doctors at infertility clinics. Until there is some sort of direction from government, you'll find a variety of procedures, protocols and responses from all of Canada's infertility clinics and each does things differently. Buyer beware, right?

Additionally, Red Flag Raised at Fertility Agency discusses the issues faced by the members of the Agency and the fact that their hands seem to be tied when it comes to legislation and seeming inability to move forward. Those who have left the Agency are under a gag order and cannot discuss particulars. There's something fishy about it all... More to come, I'm sure.

This weekend it arrives. It's the first time I will mark the day in these shoes... as a mom of a little girl. To tell the absolute truth, I am apprehensive about it. I have spent so many years trying to push it out of my mind and wondering where I fit in, as a woman of child-bearing age, as a stepmom, as an "Aunt" to many of my friends' children, but yet, as an infertile. I love celebrating Mother's Day with my own mom (as I did last year) so I usually move the focus to her, and deservedly so. She's been a mom for almost 40 years now (more on that in a moment) and God knows, I'm thankful for her and for doing a helluva job raising me and my sister. But me? A MOM?? I still find it hard to believe most days. It's still sinking in. It may always be that way.

I find it hard to watch Mother's Day commercials, to see ads in the newspaper, to peruse the inevitable catalogues from jewelery stores that tout "Moms" and the baubles that they deserve. Are moms all that more deserving? I don't know about that. Yes, it's wonderful to be sitting on this side of the fence, and you, my longtime readers know just how grateful and blessed I am. But as a person, I'm no different than I was before I had Petite. Who is to say that because you have a child, you are thus admitted to "the club" and get the rights and privileges therein? I look at it through the eyes of an infertile, and I think I always will.

All women are deserving. Women who have had a child, women who have lost a child, women who have had a miscarriage, women who have been trying for a child, women who are sisters, daughters, aunts, friends, single... all of us. ALL OF US ARE DESERVING. So if you know a woman who isn't a mom per se (in the 'traditional' sense of the word), please make sure you consider her this Sunday. For she, like you and me, still deserves recognition, just for being the loving, caring soul that she is.

My Birthday / Mother's Day
My birthday falls about three weeks after Mother's Day. This year, I will be the dreaded 4-0. I'm really not looking forward to that. My head and my heart are stuck back in the 80s! I'm much younger than that, aren't I? Seriously?! At least, I feel like I'm in the 80s. When I look at the date on my calendar, it's a bit surreal! In any case, I have chosen to commemorate my first Mother's Day and my birthday by ordering a ring for myself. I chose a peridot ring with diamond accents. Peridot is Petite's birthstone and diamond is my husband's birthstone. I hope it's as nice as it looks online. If so, I'll take a pic and show you. It should be here in about two weeks.

Stupid 'Friends'
Okay, you've been warned. There's a rant incoming...

Sometimes I wonder about my so-called 'friends.' Honestly. The asinine statements (or lack of any statement altogether) is just astounding. A dim-witted friend blurted out her pregnancy to me the other day, after a few months of TTC for #2. She has done nothing but focus on her all-day sickness ever since. I could thwap her upside the head. Can I 'unfriend' her on Facebook? Might be a thought.

Actually, there are a few folks I probably ought to 'unfriend.' Like the friend who made sure I was invited to a shower, but not to any milestone events her child has had since. Or the friend who "promised(!)" that she'd come visit and meet Petite during her own year-long maternity leave... and I haven't heard from her since October. Or the friend who moved to a new home in the summer of last year, and hasn't called, e-mailed, or seen me since, despite protests that I "had to see her new place!" The friend who had a birthday in the fall, and whom I invited out for dinner... and who never responded to me first nor last. The friend who lived with us for ages, who was living in our home during the IF protocol, who moved to her own place and who hasn't yet made any effort whatsoever to meet our daughter. The friend who was very close to me for a few years, and who decided to stop communicating with me only to recommence communicating, yet didn't bother to even ask about my recent surgery or see if I was doing okay and with whom I've had minimal contact during the last month or so. Some friend huh? And many of these people don't even bother to send a freakin' Christmas card? Seriously, where the f*ck do I find them? Cripes. I dunno. Is it me? I've half a mind to tell them all where to get off! Can I do that and still call myself a decent person? Sometimes I wonder.

Upcoming Visits
My sister is coming to visit me later this month. She hasn't seen Petite since the baby was one month old! There's been a lot of changes since then! She'll see quite a difference, I'm sure. And my mom is coming back while my sis is here. It's cheaper for them to meet here than for either of them to visit the other. So I get the benefit of seeing them both. I look forward to it.

Baby... what now?!
Oh yes, before I forget... I'm so thrilled to report on the progress by a local IF friend. She went to McGill last year (on my recommendation re: cost) and while IVM didn't work for her, IVF has. She found out a couple of weeks ago that she was pregnant with twins! And moreso, last week at her 10w ultrasound, they saw a third heartbeat! Baby C was hiding behind Baby A, so they're hoping to welcome triplets. Having tried for seven years to have a child, they're hoping not to have to entertain the idea of reduction, but they're well aware of the problems carrying triplets can cause. So Journey, my thoughts and love are with you and E as you get through one day at a time. Hang in there honey! You CAN do this!

Petite's Development
She's found the cat toys. She can crawl to them in the blink of an eye. She's mastered sippy cups (when she wants to!) and she is a social butterfly, just like her great-grandmother. She's a wonderful eater and has discovered blueberry dessert! She hates to go to sleep and usually wakes up in full throttle scream, be it day or night, in my arms or in her crib, cool or warm weather, whatever. God knows why, but I wish that would change. And still not a tooth in her head!

And we have found a caregiver for her for the fall. A most wonderful woman who comes highly recommended and who even takes the time to fill out a daily report for the younger children re: what they do, what they eat, how long they sleep, etc. during the day. I will be taking Petite there during the summer now and then to let her get to know the caregiver, and vice versa. Hopefully that will minimize stress and separation anxiety in the fall. It's going to be a busy summer.

Love to you all in blogland! Until next time!