Sunday, July 30, 2006

La-la-la-la-la, I'm not listening!

I've decided that the best way to deal with this diagnosis of premature menopause is to stick my head in the sand and pretend it's not true. Not a very logical approach, I know, but one that oddly gives me some peace of mind. The way I look at it, two things can happen: 1) The diagnosis is correct and I will be barren for the rest of my days. 2) My FSH will self-correct, my periods will return and my fertility will be restored somewhere down the line. Even if the latter turns out to be the case, given my age and history with Lydia, it may be rather difficult for me to achieve and maintain a pregnancy. So, I can either spend every waking minute worrying about my FSH, LH and PDQ levls, tracking my temperature, cervical fluid and eyeball mucus, while engaging in military death march coitus every 1.64 days... or I can go about my life and try to solve some of the bigger questions, like why I can't go to the market without buying at least 8 rolls of toilet tissue "just in case". Seriously, if my system magically rights itself and I am blessed with another healthy pregnancy (and I can manage to deliver a live baby), then wonderful. If, however, in a couple of years my cycles are still MIA and there hasn't been a miracle conception, then we can explore alternatives, like adoption. There are plenty of existing children who need loving families and I know first-hand that the bond between adoptive parents and their children isn't any less than that with biological families. So, I may never have the experience of breast feeding, but I still may be able to experience motherhood.

And speaking of motherhood, no matter what happens I will always be Lydia's mother. I felt her grow inside of me, I got to hold her and kiss her when she was born. Some women (my own mother included) never even get that, so I am very lucky in a lot of ways. Lydia will always be in my heart and I will never let any diagnosis regarding my fertility interfere with my love for her. Even if she is the only biological child that I will ever have, I won't feel cheated.

All that being said, all of this has made me think a lot about my future and what I want to do; what I need to be as happy and fulfilled as I can be. I need to make more of a contribution to the world and to do that I need to be somewhere where there is some action going on. So, I've decided that I really do want to move to London, at least for a few years. I may come back to Montreal once I have all of the "big-city" stuff out of my system, so I'm not going to burn my bridges here. The hubster and I are in negotiations about possible move scenarios (yes, we're staying together -- I will write more about that on a future date). I'd like to be there before Christmas, ideally settling in sometime in October. But we shall see...

Right, lots to do today, so I'd best get on with it. I'm on pins and needles waiting for Milo's big entrance. Good luck Laura and Justin!!!

À bientôt, mes chères...
:: posted by Ann Howell, 10:19 AM | link | 6 comments |

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm running away and joining the circus!

As I came into consciousness this morning, I started remembering a dream I'd just had about being part of a bunch of traveling social commentators (hey, I have no idea -- it was a dream!). This group was an odd mixture of lovable misfits and geeks, and as their newest member I had no trouble fitting in. They would go around giving conferences and workshops about topical issues and hold public debates. There was a certain amount of spectacle involved, as they had a little routine worked out. Anyway, the dream seemed to segue quite rapidly from my arrival into the troupe (I had been an audience member who'd asked so many insightful questions that they asked me to join them -- it's nice to feel wanted, if only in a dream!) to having been with them long enough for it to feel like a family. There weren't many other women in the troupe, but one of them was played by Laura Dern (right before bed last night, my husband and I had been casting a ficticious movie and I think her name had come up). Laura and I were best friends, as close as twin sisters, so when she announced to everyone that she was five months pregnant, I wasn't anything but thrilled for her. I remember saying that now I understand what dads must feel when their wives were expecting. (Not that she and I were lovers, but I think the idea was that the entire troupe was going to raise the child, so we'd all be a part of the experience.) Anyway, she said that she could empathize with any mixed feelings that I might have, as she herself had lost a child 10 years ago and she'd been told that she'd never be able to have another baby. This did comfort me, somehow. Shortly after this scene, the troupe traveled to Lebanon to do a show on conflict resolution (hah!). Lebanon looked strangely like my hometown in Southeastern Massachusetts, go figure. Anyway, one night we realized that one of our troupe was missing, so we formed a search party and started looking for him. We were all supposed to stay together as we were searching, but at one point I thought I heard something, so I strayed away from my group to go check it out. As I walked toward the sound, I stepped on a land mine and was blown up into the air. I landed in some tall grass with a thud and couldn't move. I had taken the hit directly between my legs, and even though I wasn't bloody, I knew there was serious internal damage. I couldn't scream, but my friends came running after they heard the blast and started to attend to me. As soon as they came near I passed out from the pain and woke up.

Besides dreaming about having my hoo-hah blown up, I have been relatively okay lately. There must be something to Nietzsche's old adage about "that which does not kill you...", as the more I get hit with, the more resilient I seem to get. Until I get the final diagnosis, I'm doing my best not to think about it. This is not an entirely successful undertaking, but it's kept me from spending my days curled up into a fetal ball sobbing my guts out. I had the second blood draw yesterday, so I should be able to commence with the intense grieving any day now...

Other than that, my insurance claim has gone through already, which is a relief. Between the robbery and last week's news, the month of June has been more or less a complete write-off, work-wise. The insurance money will at least keep the wolves at bay next month. I wish I were more duplicitous because I really could have beefed up the claim. But I am so afraid of invoking any more bad karma, that the best I could do was to up the number of DVDs that were taken by a few digits. And seeing as how we're only getting $10 per, we come out just about even...

Anyway, I'm hanging in there despite everything. I'm sure there will be another round of hell to deal with once I get these latest blood test results, but until then I'm going to do everything I can to distract myself. Joining a troupe of traveling entertainers sounds like just the ticket, in fact...
:: posted by Ann Howell, 7:23 AM | link | 3 comments |

Friday, July 21, 2006

Nothin' left to lose

Well, what a 100th post that was... Thank you all for kind words. It means so much to have your support. A lot of you mentioned a second opinion, and, yes, I will be having these numbers double-checked. But in all honesty, unless there was a major screw-up at the lab, it really doesn't look good. My periods never became regular after Lydia, and I have had none at all since December. On top of that, I have been getting hot flashes and a lot of secondary symptoms that can be attributed to ovarian failure (frequent migraines, joint pain, etc.). That's the official term for it, by the way, "Premature Ovarian Failure". And with an FSH as high as mine it really does mean that fertility has most likely ended for me. (Fuck, fuck, fuck, I just can't believe I'm typing these words!)

I really can't begin to process this. I have felt completely numb for the past couple of days. All my hopes and dreams for the future have been ripped away from me in one fell swoop. I'm sure I will have lots to say about this soon, but right now I am at a complete loss for words. The only thing that gives me some odd solace is to now have a potential reason for Lydia's death. This process (menopause/ovarian failure) takes years and it could very well be that my prematurely aging system couldn't hold onto her. She was my womb's last gasp.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 7:21 AM | link | 10 comments |

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

That's it -- no babies for me

I can't fucking stand it -- I'm going through menopause. Blood tests came back normal for everything but FSH, which is at *60* (normal high is around 30 at midcycle, apparently)! What the fuck did I do to deserve all of this?!!!!!!!!! I can't even begin to process all of this. I just can't believe that I'll never have a living baby. There are no words to describe how devastated I am. Stunned, kicked in the gut, yet again. Except this time there's no hope of a happy ending...
:: posted by Ann Howell, 3:54 PM | link | 15 comments |

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to the RE I go

I've got the follow-up with the RE today (gosh, it seems like just two months ago that I was going for that first extremely useless appointment, how time flies!), and I am really hoping that he has some info for me. He'll have the results from my blood tests, so with any luck he'll be able to tell me why I haven't had a period in seven months. I'm going back and forth about bringing my husband along. I'm leaning toward not, jus because this is really all about me and my cycle at this point. I just don't want it to be one of those 1950s situations where the doctor talks to my husband about what's going on with my body. On the other hand, if the doctor has some bad news for me, I may want some moral support. The appointment's at 1:30 (and my husband's office is on the way), so I have time if I change my mind.

Anyway, other than that, I'm going to be spending the day cleaning up for the insurance adjuster who's coming tomorrow. She doesn't really need to know that we're basically a couple of slobs! Actually, our slobbery kept the robbers out of a couple of storage rooms (too much crap to bother with), so it's a lifestyle that has its uses!
:: posted by Ann Howell, 7:56 AM | link | 2 comments |

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sanity restored

Just wanted to let you all know that after scraping the bottom mood-wise, I have since managed to pull myself together a tad. (Of course, if you've already sent the emergency brownies and margarita mix, I wouldn't turn them away!) I had a nice long online chat with an overseas friend of mine, which helped to distract me and also get me thinking about some new creative outlets into which I can funnel all of my frustrations. I also had a nice long bath and gave myself a facial. If I were more of a girl (and had more than $2.49 in my purse), I would have taken myself into the salon for "the works". It would have been a good day to be introduced to the mysterious world of waxing. I tried giving myself a home wax once (I only tried it on my shins, thank god) and it didn't work at all. I'm guessing the salon has special spa wax or something that actually removes hair, as opposed to just the skin between one's hair follicles, as was my experience.

Anyway, after waking up in a near-suicidal fog, I'm feeling much better now. Maybe there is something to positive internet vibes... I wish I could take your collective advice and take a little getaway, but our budget is tighter than Oprah's underpants right now, so unfortunately that is out of the question. But maybe dinner out (there's a great cheap Indian resto nearby) or something. I've been a bit loathe to leave the house for any length of time since the break-in, but fuck it. There's nothing left to take! And I've proven that they can't even take my piece of mind. I'm keeping it safe and sound in my jar of leg wax.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 5:45 PM | link | 5 comments |

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I can't bloody stand it!!!!

I've really had it. I was trying to put a brave face on after the home invasion, but it really feels like the last straw. Everything just seems completely pointless; my child is dead, my marriage is shaky at best, my career is going nowhere, we're up to our eyeballs in debt and now I don't even feel safe in my own home... What, exactly, is the point of it all??!!!! After spending three days cleaning up after the burglars and getting an exact inventory of what they took, I looked around and just thought, "Fuck it." I want to get off this bloody ride.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 7:26 PM | link | 4 comments |

Friday, July 14, 2006

Now that the dust has settled...

Well, I'm recovering from this recent disaster. Yesterday pretty much sucked. I spent the day cleaning up the mess that the intruders made, getting madder with every item that I put back. Frustration, helplessness and anger welled up so viscerally at one point that I spazzed out for a mintute and started throwing pillows around (the same ones that I had just picked up off the floor and put back neatly on the sofa). And even after I pulled myself together following that little episode, I was an emotional wreck most of the day. I'd be in the middle of a completely mundane task, like emptying the dishwasher or taking out the trash, and tears would well up in my eyes for no apparent reason. I did find myself thinking about Lydia a lot, probably because of the shock of finding her memory box spilled out all over the place (and then going through everything in it, just to make sure none of it was damaged). Having our home invaded and our valuables stolen also just made me think about how unimportant the "stuff" was. It didn't matter that they got my laptop and some jewelry and my husband's ID -- we were both unharmed. Besides a small (virtually worthless) coin collection of now defunct currencies and my husband's passport with the stamps from all of his world travels, they didn't take anything of sentimental value. They were just things, which will, with any luck, be covered by insurance.

It has really made me think about what's important. I talked to my husband about it last night and I told him that I want to go ahead with the procreation plan. I know he and I still have a lot to work out, but given that it'll probably be well over a year before we have a living child to deal with, we've got plenty of time to heal while I'm being poked and prodded. And who knows, baby-making nookie might turn out to be very healing in its own right.

Anyway, I am not going to let this burglary turn me into a paranoid freak who's scared of her own shadow. I'll probably double-check that I've locked the door from now on, but I am not going to give into extreme feelings of vulnerability, just because we suffered an unlucky hit. I'm convinced it was random. This is prime time for thieves, with a lot of people being away on vacation, and our driveway was empty. It's just too bad that we didn't have better bars on the basement windows (that's how they got in, they ripped out the bars). Anyway, we will replace those and possibly put up a fence to block off the back of the house (which we had been thinking of doing anyway, for privacy reasons), but otherwise life will go on as usual. Besides the uzi-toting ex-Navy Seal we've got standing guard, of course. He makes a nice addition to any home...
:: posted by Ann Howell, 3:21 PM | link | 4 comments |

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The universe is having a laugh: I've been burgled!

Apparently I haven't suffered enough in the past two years, because I came home this afternoon from a meeting with a client to find that my house had been broken into. Stuff thrown everywhere, every box and drawer opened. They got my laptop (again! This was the replacement for the one that I had stolen from my car not quite 18 months ago), some jewelry, cameras, my husbands good watch... The most disturbing part was finding Lydia's memory box (with her pictures, ultrasound, the hat and blanket from the hospital, etc.) strewn all over the sofa. I hope they felt like complete bastards when they saw that stuff. But they were probably more upset that the box wasn't full of hundred dollar bills. When it comes down to it, they had a pretty pitiful loot. We don't have a lot of big ticket items and the street value of what they took couldn't top a few hundred bucks. But as for me, I have another big chink in the innocence armor. I can't even feel safe in my own home!
:: posted by Ann Howell, 10:20 PM | link | 9 comments |

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Screw that noise (or: Part II, in spite of myself)

I am sick of hearing myself talk about the mechanations of my wounded marriage, even if it's mostly interior monologue (it's really hard to make your inner voice shut up). This post was supposed to be Part II in a series of why my husband acted like a deviant bastard for so long and what it means for the future of our relationship, but I just can't hash this over any more. The gist of it is this: I really don't know. The only mindset that is giving me any peace right now is to think of him like a recovering crack addict, and try to help him help himself. As near as I can tell, he'd been living in a depressive fog for longer than I'd known him and the polyamorous lifestyle was a way of quieting his own inner demons. So, now that the rug has been pulled out from under him, he has time and space to come to terms with whatever it was that he was running away from. On his part, perhaps there was a subconscious wish for me to find out so that I'd leave him, thereby proving to himself that either he was unlovable and/or women can't be trusted to give unconditional love. Given his relationship with his mother growning up, the latter wouldn't surprise me. (Okay, I guess I am going to talk about this, after all!)

As an odd by-product of all of this, we are being more honest with each other than we'd ever been before. I've never been good at intimacy. I think I was so self-conscious about myself, that as soon as I detected a safe comfort level with someone, I just started taking things for granted, skipping over any scary sharing of intimate thoughts and desires. I've always thought of myself as independent, so I learned not to rely on others for my needs. So, if my partner didn't ever cook me dinner or hold my hand in public or send me flowers, it was *okay*. I could cook for the both of us and I didn't need the other stuff. And on a certain level, I still feel that way. I don't think it's fair or necessary to go into a relationship with a list of non-negotiable terms and expect your partner to reprogram his personality just to placate you. On the other hand, partners should want to make each other happy, and it's not unreasonable to ask for things that you'd like. This is elementary stuff for most normal people, but I'm a slow learner when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

So, for the time being as far as the marriage goes we're taking it one day at a time. Nothing is written in stone, yet, but we're being as kind, considerate and loving toward each other as we can, and that is honestly making the atmosphere around here very pleasant.
:: posted by Ann Howell, 10:02 AM | link | 5 comments |

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The back story, Part I

First, thank you all for your unconditional support regarding my last post. It was indeed a very difficult subject to write about, which is why it took me until now to do so. On one level it’s more than a little humiliating to find out that one’s husband has been a serial philanderer for longer than you’ve been together, but I take some odd consolation in the fact that I was conned by a professional-grade lout with years of experience.

Okay, that was more bitter than I intended. But in vino veritas. I'm enjoying a nice after-lunch glass of sangria, and not because I'm distraught, but because I'm feeling *good*. It's a beautiful day, I finished a satisfying web project and for the first time in a while I'm feeling a sense of purpose. The reason for the newfound direction will have to wait, however, as first I must deal with my feeling around the state of my marriage. So, here we go...

When I first met my husband I was at the tail end of an unhappy first marriage -- we both were. K. and I worked together and both of us seemed to find something in each other that was hopeful and good. Not that we ever had much time alone -- the odd cigarette break or waiting for others to arrive at the local watering hole. But there was an undeniable connection. This went on for the duration of my short tenure at this particular job. When my then marriage finally kicked the bucket, I had been working at another place for a few months and it didn't take long for K. and I to get together. It was very rocky from the start. In the two years before he moved in we had operatic break-ups on a number of occasions. At the heart of the matter was my desire to "move forward" and his being understandably gun-shy about getting into another committed relationship.

All this to say that this relationship was never smooth sailing. That being said, I had always felt that K. and I had great potential. I felt more passionately about him than anyone else with whom I'd had an adult relationship and in a blindly romantic fashion I always believed that our love would win out. But just as ill-equipped as he was to live up to this potential, I took too much for granted and let pride get into the way of expressing how much I loved and appreciated him. I don't mean to say that I was a cold-hearted cow, but I gave him a long lead in the name independence. In trying to give him (and me) "space", I helped created a chasm between us that allowed for any number of... I was going to say indescretions, but I'm really not going to go down the route of blaming myself for his infidelity. All I mean to say is that I tacitally agreed to a certain amount of separateness in our lives and it was within this gap that he was able to form (or keep, as the case applies) inappropriate relationships with other people.

Once he moved in I took this as the big green light that our relationship was for keeps. I started introducing him to my friends and I brought him home to meet my family. But none of this could be reciprocated on his end. He had no local friends (the only friends he had were back in England) and he had cut all ties with his family. And this last point is very significant. You see, I came from a very stable (though somewhat unconventional) family. My parents had been high school sweethearts, were still married and I was close to them. I had two brothers and a sister, and although my sister had fucked off years ago, I was still relatively close to my brothers. So, I had a reference for what love and family could be. K. had no such reference. He had an extremely unstable family -- a mentally ill mother, an absent father and an abusive step-father. He left home when he was 15 and never looked back. So the idea that he could happlily reconcile himself to domestic bliss was really never in the cards. He had never been able to trust anyone in his life and things weren't going to magically change just because he started hanging his shirts in my closet.

more in Part II
:: posted by Ann Howell, 2:30 PM | link | 2 comments |