Return from India


I haven’t posted anything in my blog for almost 8 months. I just couldn’t. There were too many arrangements to be made, too many efforts that failed; there has been too much emotion and heartache to work through on a personal level, so the idea of writing about it and then sharing it felt like a burden on top of a burden.

And as I’ve written before, even Atlas shrugged.

At one point, maybe it was after the frozen embryos didn’t thaw well while I was in India or when the first, second, and third surrogate didn’t get pregnant in India, my husband told me he didn’t want anyone to know. He didn’t want us to have to live our disappointment out loud anymore.

While I have taken on a vocal stance about our struggles with fertility, not just so others don’t feel so alone but also so that I don’t feel so alone, and while this blog has created a community that has brought us incredible support, and even offers from one woman to be our surrogate and another to donate her own eggs, I needed to take a reprieve from sharing here.

Further, while writing can sometimes be cathartic, other times it is too painful.

And finally, I need to publish this story as a book eventually, so have to divide what I do write between being on here and being in another form and forum.

But for now, I would like to return to that week of when I returned from India…..

Ironically, my father was dying exactly where I had been hospitalized with my incompetent cervix in 2009.  He was in the same hospital where I had given birth, exactly.  He was in the same hospital where there had been that NICU, dimly lit from the peripheral vision of my right, as I was led (first time on a gurney and second and final time in a wheel chair) to the NICU Room, that had brighter lights than at a Pink Floyd show, where I held my infant son for the first and only time – 4 years earlier.

The same fucking hospital. And on the anniversaries of my son’s birth and death.

Sure, I was now in the cancer ward instead of maternity wing. (Interesting that the words that seemed natural for me to use were ‘ward’ – which has a sense of doom to it – and ‘wing’ – which denotes a light and airy feeling.)

I had been wheeled in and out of that exact same hospital from a different entrance than the one where I was now walking in and out of every day, including the day I got back from traveling from India; that Thanksgiving, when I took a cab home after over 30 hours of travel time, grabbed a 5 minute shower, and then raced to the hospital.

The same hospital. Directly across the street from my OBGYN who had brought my baby into the world, who every time I drove to for my annual Pap Smear for the 3 years since Finley’s death I swore I would change doctors, as the entire surroundings of where I would park or where that deli was or where the door was to where I was wheeled in and 2 weeks later out were landmines of traumatic memories.

I was in the same hospital where I was carted out from the maternity ward on a rainy Monday, empty handed, save for some sympathy orchids that some best friends had sent me and some miscellaneous stuff that Craig had brought to the hospital to make what turned into my 2-week stay comfortable (comfortable being a loose term, obviously), and the precious keepsake book that had Finley’s picture, foot prints, and some literature about what bereaved parents like us should do.

Those days – the 3rd and 4th of December, were sacred days, meant for me to feel the emotional tumult that inevitably poured out every year.  But this year I went to the hospital both days, what I know now was a true privilege, making sure the doctors never left the room before we had every answer they could give us; making sure my dad’s lips were not too crinkly from dehydration; playing him music; reciting him poems he’d written; holding his hands; praying.

The Friday after I got back from India my mom and sister and I were there, all 3 of us, together.  As the two of them left, my dad motioned for me to stay, even though there were nurses in the room, waiting to check his pulses and change his pillows.  This was unlike him; before this time, he would always interrupt any one of us in his family to learn what the staff needed to do; he seemed to respect their time, but something had shifted for him: perhaps he realized he had so little time left, and that it was indeed his to do with what he wanted.

“Do you have a name for your baby?” he asked me.  His blue eyes that I’d inherited as bright as they’d ever been.  “Yes,” I answered without a moment’s notice, “and one of them will start with an H.”  (In the Jewish religion, babies are not named after the deceased, but usually the first letter of someone’s name is used as a tribute, so to speak. Finley, in fact, was named for my grandfather Felix. My dad’s name was Herbert.)

He smiled, as it was the exact answer he’d wanted.  I told him our daughter’s name.  And then I told him our son’s name.  Those blue eyes and welled up and he smiled at me, with a gaze so strong I can visualize it now.  He nodded. “That’s beautiful.”

I couldn’t bear to tell him that we weren’t pregnant yet.  And further, that we hadn’t even been able to do the embryo transfer because our 2 embryos had thawed badly.

Two days later, that Sunday, now December 1st, he was having a rough day. They had wheeled him out of the hospital at the crack of dawn to go to Westwood UCLA, and then not been able to perform the procedure that they had planned to do, thus leaving the severe pain in his throat without any chance of relief.

He could no longer swallow and wasn’t allowed any fluids. He asked me that day to help him die.  He looked at me with the intensity you’d find in some old detective movie, where people plot and plan in closed quarters; wearing hats; smoking cigarettes.  “We’re smart. We can do this.  We’ve got to get me out of here.”  He remarked that in Oregon they have physician assisted dying.  “But we’re not in Oregon,” I remarked sadly – feeling defeated that I couldn’t help him; crushed that the conversation had turned so drastic; so inevitable.

There were some pictures of my nieces, his granddaughters, next to his phone, that my sister had brought.  “Do you want me to get some tape and put up these pictures?” I asked.  “NO.  NO, I don’t want to see their pictures. I don’t want to hear about India. I don’t want to hear about your baby.”  Then he stopped himself from this rant and turned to me, with tears in his eyes, “but I want you to know that baby is so important to me.  That baby is so important.  Your baby is going to be so important to everyone.”

FUCK.  Even as I type this I think of the look on his face, and how totally fucking awful it was to realize how much my dad already loved my future babies, his grandchildren, who he would never hold.

“Well you’re going to meet Finley when you go, you know.” I said.  “I don’t believe in that,” he responded.  “It doesn’t matter, Dad, because I know it to be true.”

We left it at that.

And then I returned December 2nd, and he was still lucid and he made funny jokes. That is the day they put him into hospice, the medical world’s way of throwing up their hands and saying there is nothing more to be done, but to make this man as “comfortable” as possible, as he dies.

So I was there that day. And the next, and the following.  To make sure that he was comfortable. To bring treats or a thank you to the staff.  To negotiate with the fucking idiotic hospice administrative lady who treated my father as if he was a file number in a fucking warehouse.

My eldest sister and I would trade shifts, often overlapping, always making sure we repeated every thing we’d heard to each other – perhaps thinking that in doing so we would solve this problem of our father dying – then to my mom, with one of us trying to keep our other sister in the loop.

All this without time to recover from jetlag, to honor Finley’s birthday and the anniversary of his death, and all of this with the devastating knowledge that I had no embryos left.

My father died, Friday, December 6th, 2013 – 4 years and 2 days after my own son had died, in the very same hospital.

I like to imagine that Finley’s soul returned to those same corridors, and led my father to peace.

And while it is now late July of the following year, and I have undergone 8 months of fertility related plotting, planning and failures, to get to the next step in our mission (which is imminent and gives me great hope), it seems like a good time to go back in time, so to speak, and pick up on December 3rd, 2009, the day that everything changed.

To be continued…

Chasing Butterflies with Finley in India Part 1: journal entry2


I’ve been back from India since Thanksgiving, but with everything that has happened, have been unable to complete this posting until now.  If the tenses change, forgive me, as much of it was written while there and then the rest once I got home….

Meeting the surrogate was surreal. I didn’t know what to expect, even though we’d already seen her picture. She was little, maybe 5″3’.  She was pretty, mostly because of her deep, wise, brown eyes.  She looked timid, like a deer caught in headlights, and sort of stared at me, the American woman gushing niceties to her, as she awaited the translation.

I wished her well and let her know we’d be praying for a pregnancy, and hoped that she felt well.

As she walked out of the room, at the polite dismissal of one of the many administrators at the Center, tears welled up in my eyes. The caring but not emotionally invested woman said, “It’s OK.  Lots of people cry.”  Little does she know I sometimes cry multiple times a day.  I explained that it wasn’t ‘just’ meeting the surrogate, whose name hadn’t etched into my memory, but the idea that this is the next step in my husband’s and my journey.

You see, it is one thing to apply for the process, prepare the paperwork, pay the fees at different stages in the process via wire transfer in a country that has what is called ‘slow pay’.

It took me sending 4 FedEx packages to the consulate in San Francisco because the paperwork confused me – even though I oversee million dollar estimates and contracts on a daily basis professionally.  I had 3 different sets of passport-size photos taken before I understood that I could not wear glasses and had to have my ear placed behind my ears.

I concocted a chart early on in the process to keep things organized, so that when I awoke (insomnia sure can come in handy) to return correspondence from the Center in India between 12 AM and 4 AM for many nights over many weeks – since they vary between 12.5 and 13.5 hours ahead of Los Angeles – I would be able to cross reference where we were in the process of our paperwork which entailed dozens of agreements to be approved; for the releasing and shipping embryos; for the surrogacy contract draft to be agreed upon; for recommendations on hotels; for 2 separate designated parties to agree to take care of the eventual baby/babies, in case something happened to us, and the list goes on and on and on.

It takes things to an entirely new level when being there, in India, and seeing the facilities and all of the women lining the halls on the benches who want to be surrogates or who are mid cycle and the Australian couple who without a beat’s hesitation got ‘it’ and the butterfly on the doctor’s desk, and EVERYthing…

And so the tears were earned, and I had nobody to comfort me.  While it was smart for Craig to stay in LA while I took this trip on my own, the intensity of all of this felt exponentially heightened because there I was, processing all of this, all by myself.

After this, all I wanted to do is crawl into a ball and cry, but of course food became the priority.  Even finding a place that I wanted to eat in this loud, over crowded, horn honking, poverty stricken but highly fascinating city was difficult, but my driver took me to an area called M Block – a nice semi-upscale area – and I searched and eventually found a restaurant who very fortunately understood the concept “to go”.

That night back at the hotel, only my second night in the city, I once again was comforted with Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs, Skype calls with Craig (who had food poisoning or a touch of the flu) and Maybelline – and then eventually periods of sleep for about an hour at a time.

Tuesday was to be a huge sight seeing day, and now that I had accelerated my schedule with plans to leave at 3 AM Thursday instead of Friday, I intended to really maximize my time!

I had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.  It took some arranging and waiting, but I washed that down with a luke warm Diet Coke.

Fueled by caffeine and lack of sleep and raw emotions that made me feel like naked, I headed off to the Red Fort, which is an architectural complex that was built hundreds of years ago.  My driver parked and in stilted English explained that I should have a rickshaw bicycle driver take me into this area of Old Delhi.

We chose one of many guys who approached the fan, who gave me a quote of 400 rupees, and so off we went.  He took me to the outside of the fort and we agreed to meet back there in a bit.  I entered on foot and was stared at by throngs of people. The uniformed school children seemed absolutely fascinated with me – and little boys would come up to me and say “HELLO!” while their friends would watch curiously. I would respond with a smile, “Hello.”  Girls looked at me and then whispered and then looked back and would whisper some more.

After walking through the Fort, which was the residence of a Mughal emporer, I returned to my rickshaw bicycle driver – thank G-d he shouted out to me through the crowds – and we continued on a journey. We went through the streets of Chanki Chowk, an area that is so congested that cars can’t drive here.  I giggled nervously as the bicyclist strongly pedaled and maneuvered, always keeping my left foot firmly placed as was suggested.

We went on to India’s largest mosque.  There were stairs to climb, at which point several people accosted me with what I must do to enter: Remove shoes and pay price for slippers.  Pay cost to enter.  Wear a praying ‘wrap’ or dress (even though I was pretty well covered already), of course for a cost.  I confirmed there was no separate cost to take pictures with my phone, though if I understood correctly, had I brought an actual camera, there would be a nominal fee.

Hard to feel spiritual after that sort of finagling, which kind of reminded me with the fees and merchandise in Vatican City, in retrospect, and on a way smaller scale, but I made my way into the mosque and watched how others were praying.  Many were kneeling in front of the walls, and others were touching the walls with their heads bowed in prayer.  Not much for kneeling, having been brought up half Jewish and told by my father early on not to, I opted to graze my hand upon the cool stone of the walls until I found a place to pray.  And quickly enough, I was connected to the moment, to myself, and stood in prayer at this wall, where hundreds of thousands of Indians and others (probably more) have prayed over the years.  I prayed for our babies to come.  I prayed for Finley’s well being. I prayed for my father’s health.

Then I took some pictures, got my tennis shoes back from the person (and then of course had to tip him even though I’d already paid his friend for the slippers), returned to my rickshaw, who brought me back to my driver – and off we went to continue our sight seeing.

Next we went to the zoo.  I paid for my driver to join me, and we found a little cart that likely could have fit 12 people – and negotiated that it would only be the driver of the cart, my driver and me – so that we could stop where we want and take the tour I had imagined.  We saw a lion, a giraffe, and some beautiful birds. I could not help but think of the tape I had watched with my father in his office days before I left, of his own trip to India several years ago, and the wild life journey he had taken on an elephant’s back into the jungle and the white tiger he had been so proud of seeing.

I had thought the zoo was a conservatory, which I suppose it was in some terms, but about half way through the 1-hour private tour, I saw an elephant that was bound with chains to his area.  Of course I understand that animals can’t run wild, but I guess I thought I was going to more of a ‘living desert’ type zoo, where the animals are all in their natural surroundings. I cut the tour short, and off we went to the Museum of Modern Art.

At the museum, there were no pictures allowed, and none of the paintings grabbed me as much as the saying on this one:
How can one perceive light without the shadow?
- painting by M Mamtani “Centrovision” 1980

I thought of all of the things I had experienced in order to get to this exact moment, in India, having met my surrogate the day before. I thought of the fact that the embryo transfer would be the next day.  How much pain and disappointment Craig and I had experienced on this journey, and how incredible the joy will eventually feel.  The painting spoke to me, as only art can, and showed me I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

And as exhausted as I was and as filthy as I felt from a day of down & dirty sight seeing, I told the driver that the final stop for the day would be the Baha’i Temple, The Lotus Temple, as that was recommended as a sunset visit.

We parked with seemingly hundreds of other people who were trying to get there on foot, via car, rickshaw, or who were coming out of the dozens of tour buses.  We walked for a while and then entered the gate, single-file, at which point I saw a plaque that described the religion of this temple. Here is the first half of what is on the plaque:

The Baha’i Faith recognizes the unity of God and of his prophets, upholds the principle of an unfettered search after truth, condemns all forms of superstition and prejudice, teaches that the fundamental purpose of religion is to promote concord and harmony, that it must go hand in hand with science, and that it constitutes the sole and ultimate basis of a peaceful, an ordered and progressive society.

I didn’t really know at that moment how exactly I believe in exactly that, but obviously my faith is combined with my reverence for science, and so I was very much, once again, exactly where I was supposed to be.

We took the long walk towards the lotus shaped temple.  There were so many people.  The driver dropped off our shoes – and nobody asked for a tip of any kind.  We continued on barefoot.  We made it up the stairs and I was mesmerized by the architecture.  A beautiful pond surrounded the bottom, but we kept our focus on getting into the temple, where everyone seemed to be heading.

Once outside first in Indian and then in English we were told to turn phones off, to not take any photos, and to not speak at all once inside.  A group exited, and we entered.

I looked up and all around and I don’t remember anything of the architecture or art, but I remember the feeling exactly.  It was calm.  Peaceful.  I felt a warm energy gush over me at the perfect temperature.  My driver sat in an aisle.  I sat in the aisle in front of him – took a deep breath, put my hands on the back of the aisle in front of me, looked up and closed my eyes.

I didn’t know at the time whether I had done this for 20 seconds or 10 minutes, before the most vivid image came to me.  It was me, standing with Craig, with our Finley, with our two little children (who we’ve yet to meet), and with our doctors, with our surrogate, our families, our friends, you, and what started as a small circle of just me, my husband, our son and our future babies, kept growing in a circular fashion. We were at the core, but this community of people from all over the world surrounded us, holding hands, keeping us safe; enveloped us.

I awoke or came to or completed the meditation or prayer or whatever it was, and there were tears streaming, no – gushing, down my face.   I rose and walked to the exit, at which point a young Indian man looked at me and said, “You’re crying!”  Not sad at all, I confirmed that yes, I was.

My driver joined me a few moments later and smiled at me, I suspect surprised at my wet face and likely radiant spirit.  It was an intoxicating experience, and I knew that out of everything I had seen so far, this was the one place I must return to when Craig and I returned next year.

Finally back at my hotel, I ordered their chicken curry.  It was surprisingly delicious – considering I thought I didn’t like curry.  I plotted out my next day, watched more Curb episodes, and waited to Skype with Craig.  I emailed my eldest sister reminding her to give me an update after that day’s chemo appointment.  It would be my father’s 2nd session and I had sent a list of questions for the doctor – who my Dad would be seeing prior to the chemo.

In the middle of the night – again, because of the 13.5 hour time difference, I connected with my sister, who explained that my father would not be able to have the chemo.  He was dehydrated, had lost more weight, and so they were hospitalizing him for a ‘re-charge’.  Nervous more than words can explain, and feeling so powerless as it was the first important appointment that I had not been at with him in these last seven weeks of appointments, I asked to speak with my Dad. He sounded weak and the conversation was short.  I did not sleep that night at all, in between giving Craig the news, checking in with my mother once she got home, and thinking about how scared my Dad must be.

The next morning sucked.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep and my emotions ran high, but I was committed to more sight seeing before I boarded another set of planes for 24+ hours of travel.  The driver picked me up and we went to Lodhi Gardens.  I walked around, enjoying the ancient architecture that appeared pretty randomly in this park, where there was a the lovely pond and lots of morning people doing their exercise.  I searched for the butterfly conservatory that I believed was there – but it turned out that the Internet posting about this conservatory, where butterflies were bred and caged, was years old.  I saw way too many stray and mangy looking dogs, and I made the mistake of using my ‘Maybelline voice’ on a group of dogs as I walked by, and one of them came towards me – as if he was going to attack.  How incredibly sad that the dogs there are not used to being acknowledged or treated with love by any humans that their first instinct is to attack.  It’s heart breaking.

After another round of chicken curry, a pretend nap at the hotel, and finishing up packing, the driver and I headed out to get me a henna tattoo, and then off to the Surrogacy Center to get my copy of the signed paperwork, which I would need to bring home, have Craig sign, and then immediately return to the Center.

I ran into my Australian couple friends at the Center, and wished them well.  I was told the doctor wanted to see me.  I assumed she would simply tell me how the donor’s lining was, and anticipated she might tell me that the 2nd embryo, the one that was Grade B, slightly deteriorated, may not have thawed well. I absolutely did not expect her and the embryologist to meet me, and tell me the following.

Neither of the embryos made the thawing process.  It was impossible to say what exactly had gone wrong, but there was no embryo to transfer.  No embryo to transfer into the surrogate meant no chances of pregnancy.  No embryo to transfer meant that I had to fly all the way back to Los Angeles with this info in mind.  No embryo to transfer and no husband to hold while crying.  No embryo to transfer which would mean that Finley’s birthday and anniversary of his death would come, and we would not be expecting good news, any news.  No embryo to transfer. Unfuckingbelievable.

And from there I had the driver take me to a park where I smoked a half clove half cigarette. It wasn’t strong enough to hurt my throat and distract me from the emotional pain.  And from there I had the driver take me to this stupid mall, as that was on my list of things to see / do.  It could not have been a more Americanized upscale mall. What the hell did I need to buy at Nike in India that I could not get 3 miles from home?  I saw a tattoo shop, and decided to get a real tattoo.  I had anticipated getting a tattoo while there (in fact had gotten a Hep B shot when I was getting the normal vaccinations just in case), but wasn’t sure until I saw this shop that I was going to do this, and what the image would be. Distraught, confused, exhausted, but committed to the memory of that visual meditation I had at the temple the day before, I had the artist create that image.  It hurt physically, which was a nice relief from the emotional pain and shock that I was experiencing.

I had the driver take me to the airport hours ahead of my 3 AM departure, as I wanted to get on Skype if possible and couldn’t fathom the thought of any more sight seeing. I sat there for about 6 hours, with my left wrist in crazy pain, as I wrote, listened to music, cried unabashedly, and waited for my flight.  I experienced Thanksgiving in 3 time zones, made it to Los Angeles, took a cab home, hugged Maybelline, took a shower, and drove to see my father in the hospital.

My nightmare was continuing, and it was escalating beyond my belief.

Chasing Butterflies with Finley in India Part 1: journal entry1


I am choosing to write the next couple of entries in a journal-like form….

After tearful goodbyes between Maybelline and myself, and a strong, great hug from my better (well maybe not better, but really, really good other) half Craig, I was left at the airport around 3:30 PM on Friday.

The moment after I entered the terminal, Craig called me to tell me that George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” came on right as he pulled away.  For reasons I won’t explain now, it felt like a sign to both of us.

Security was easy.  Then there I was, attached to the outlet so that I could juice up my phone as much as possible, tracking a possible project lead, which turned into me referring other possible producer candidates, since I deemed I wasn’t the right fit for the job.

I spoke with Craig at least 4 times before my flight was to leave and texted a few times as well.

Once I was on the plane, and we were having our last call, I started crying into the phone to him.  A bad traveler anyway – coupled with the idea of missing my husband and doggie so much – layered with the desperate show of love that inspired this trip – heightened with my very ill father really, really put me over the edge.  ”You are doing this for us, for our family,” Craig reminded me.  ”And I’m doing this for our parents and all of our families and friends,” I added, stoic and determined to complete the mission that we have been unquestionably tasked with by the universe.

I watched “The Big Chill”, cause I am a glutton for sadness.  I took Valium and Melatonin to sleep, which brought me less than 3-hours worth.  I picked at some airplane food, ate a chocolate croissant, and then about 10-hours later de-boarded in London.

Tired, I mistakenly took the terminal bus to the wrong next terminal.  Then I got on a new bus, with an American kid who had also taken the wrong first bus.  He was apparently attempting to fly to De Gaulle.

Doctor visit - butterfly sign

– the only decorative item on the Indian doctor’s desk; a sign

Through customs I went, before I had hours in Heathrow’s Airport.  I Skyped with Craig a few times, which was great.  I read. I listened to music.  I mentally calculated what Duty Free Shops I may visit on my return.  And then after 6 hours, boarded the next flight.

British Airways has nicer airplanes than American’s.  A British guy sat next to me, and almost immediately we started chatting.  The thing is, I HATE chatting on airplanes, so after 30 minutes or so I really wanted to stop talking.  Somehow my very American transparent-like personality did not come through, because the chatting went on way longer than 30 minutes.  Sometimes I was at fault, like when I made what I deemed as a closing the conversation comment – which somehow was heard as a question requiring 10 more minutes of explanation from my new friend, Paul, plus the guy next to him, who had eves-dropped on the first half of the conversation before he joined on in.

Eventually we all  slept (perhaps I slept for 2 hours on this flight – in intermittent snippets), and then we landed, and there I was, in New Delhi, India.

It was 9:45 AM, 13.5 hours ahead of my home in Los Angeles.

First I went through customs.  I prayed that the Medical Visa that had been quite complicated to request and eventually receive – would be correctly received.  It was.

I exchanged $100 for Indian Rupees.  Did you know that the Indian government does not allow their currency to be sold in the US, at all?

Then I went to find my bag.  I hoped with desperation that my bag didn’t get lost, as wearing this particular black sweat outfit for any longer was not a good option.  And my bag arrived.

I found my way through the airport.  I saw a million young men holding signs for their fares.  A young man shook the cardboard that said LORRAINE KRAUS, and I smiled and waved like a lunatic.

He drove me to the hotel, and I looked around at the world around me.  Nobody drove in their lane.  I don’t even know if lanes are marked here.  People use horns 100 times more than they use them in a crowded place like Times Square, New York.  Maybe more.  The sides of the roads were littered with poor people in all ages.  At stop lights, young children selling junk would approach our window and tap vehemently 4, 5, 6 times before they acknowledged that I had waved my hand and said, “No.”

We arrived at the hotel, and I was shell shocked.  It was not as I’d imagined.  The foyer smelled of smoke.  The security guy was watching me so closely that he scared me more than anyone else there.  The all night cafe felt like it was straight out of a scene in that film Wes Anderson made about India.  And upon noting that, for a moment, I was comforted.

I went into my room to unpack and shower, and decide how much I could stay awake and what tourist sites I might see that late afternoon.  The WiFi was fast enough for me to quickly look up an alternate hotel, as I thought that might be more Westernized and more comfortable.  I debated whether I should unpack, as the smell of smoke in the hallway lingered in my nostrils and repulsed me.  (Ironically I have stated I would smoke a clove cigarette on this trip, for fun, even though I haven’t smoked in almost 7-years and the smell makes me gag.)  The shower was warm for 1 out of the 4 minutes, but I managed to scrub the travel grit away.

I knew I was going to change my flight to go home early within 3 hours of being at the hotel.  It wasn’t just the hotel, but the missing of those who hold my heart so dearly, and my mounting concern over my Dad, and also of course knowing that I’ll be back here sometime in 2014, to pick up our baby, so any attraction I don’t get to now I can get to, then.

I watched Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs in bed and ate snacks I had brought.  Craig Skyped me at one point, and because of my settings, he was able to see me sleeping and say my name a couple of times before I awoke to seeing him.  He had just come home from Pearl Jam concert. I imagine I spoke in jet lagged jibberish, before telling him I needed to sleep more because the driver was coming back to get me in a few hours.

So while Craig went to sleep, I prepared for my first excursion in New Delhi, the same Sunday evening that I arrived.

I went to Raj Ghat.  All of the observers and those praying were required to have bare feet.  As the sun set and the incense burned, people gently chanted and prayed by the site where Gandhi’s ashes are kept.  I was the only person – upon going to the counter to retrieve the shoes I had voluntarily ( as required) dropped off before entering the sacred area who was asked for a fee for the service of entering.  Confused, and mildly annoyed, I gave them 30 Rupees, which is like .50 cents.  Everyone I walked by looked at me.  Little boys came up to me to ask me if I wanted my photo taken with their camera or my own.  I couldn’t help but think of the film “Slumdog Millionaire”, so I said, “No thank you!” to all and clutched my purse even tighter.

Then I went off to see the Gate of India, a central location that is a commemoration to those Indian soldiers who fought in World War 1. Beautiful flowers had been planted in the shape of India’s National Bird, the Peacock, which stands for happiness, in honor of an imminent anniversary. Throngs of people were there, celebrating the last moments of their Sunday, eating street food, cotton candy, looking at me, trying to sell me artwork or a henna tattoo.

On our (the driver’s and my) way back to the car we saw a Snake Charmer – who flicked his snake and kept motioning for me to get closer.  The photo I captured got me plenty close.  It felt like a gag and there was no fantastic sitar music playing, but it felt as the India I’d imagined.

I was driven to a Westernized market, where I bought water and cookies for the room, and was given some candy I didn’t want in lieu of them having the right, correct change.  Another American woman was in the store, who was buying a box-worth of necessities.  I wondered what she was doing there.  As I was being driven back to the hotel, I saw her lugging that box.  She is a different type of American than I, I thought, as the driver drove me to the front door of the hotel.

I had a night of intermittent sleep pleasantly interrupted with Skype chats, one with both husband and puppy – which warmed my heart.  I was very grateful for the Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs I brought with me, as Larry David can make me laugh and also lull me to sleep.

Somewhere along the hours of the night or morning I called American Airlines and moved my flight up 1-full day, so that I will return on Thanksgiving.  This made me happy, so happy that I had bought that higher priced and changeable ticket.

I ordered America Breakfast on Monday for room service.  It came with orange juice (which upon looking at I chose not to drink as I feared they had added orange flavor to the undrinkable India water), scrambled eggs (which I ate with some suspicion), tea – which they forgot to send me, odd cornflake looking cereal with warm milk (which wasn’t quite the porridge I had thought I had ordered and so was left untouched), toast that came with jam, which I devoured without butter – for fear it didn’t have proper refrigeration.

I had another shower.  The water was piping hot.  I was warming up to this place.

After reading some more pages from the type of book in which a girl can escape without any great concentration (written by a friend from high school), and drinking a medium warm Diet Coke (I didn’t dare use the iced cubes), my driver came and we went off to explore the day.

We went to exchange money at Western Union, where conveniently they ‘forgot’ to give me 50 rupees (which is like .75 cents).  No matter; I caught the mistake and awaited those rupees.

Then I went to the Garden of 5 Senses.  There were a bunch of cows just sitting around in the parking lot. There were stray dogs everywhere I looked, some in heat, others obviously just having given birth to a litter; when I looked close enough, I saw sad eyes.  Perhaps it was my eyes mirrored in theirs?

The Garden of 5 Senses had a lily garden and fantastic trees and plants everywhere I looked and a random camel in the middle of the park and young lovers lurking in every corner.  I wasn’t permitted to take pictures inside, or I would have photographed this incredible art exhibit (so to speak) or dozens of baby boy figurines with their hands in prayer.  It was because my eyes followed a butterfly’s movement that I happened across this strange and surreal exhibit, an obvious sign from above, from the sweet spirit of Finley.

And now it was time to have my first meeting at The Surrogacy Center.  I had looked at the photos and taken the virtual tour, but nothing really prepared me for what I would next experience.

The Doctor was warm and welcoming and asked me to take a seat. She excused herself and I scanned the room, and saw one decorative item on her desk: a paper weight featuring a couple of beautiful butterflies.  Once again, Finley showing me his dedication to Craig’s and my purpose, and what a darling sense of humor he has.

The Doctor returned and took me with great detail through the process, both medically and administratively, including how the surrogates are chosen and cared for and what considerations are taken before the embryos are first thawed and then transferred. She gave me a tour and introduced me to the team of people with whom I’ve been communicating these past several weeks, in preparation for this incredible next step of using a surrogate, renting a womb, so to speak.

There were throngs of young women (not too young) lining the halls waiting to be screened or to get their pregnancy tests or check ups or have embryo transfers performed.

The Doctor and I spoke at length about the surrogates, and what motivates them to be the best vessels they can.  I questioned whether a 31-year old surrogate, which is the age of ours, is ideal, and she with great certainty explained how most Indian women get pregnant and have their two babies by the time they are 25.  Because my surrogate has already had her two children, and they are now 8 and 6 respectively, they can take care of themselves; she needn’t worry that they are not being perfectly cared for – by the family member who is watching over them (as they live with her and her husband) – during the G-D WILLING imminent pregnancy.

The requirements to be a surrogate include being married, having given birth vaginally successfully before, of course being tested for any diseases, and having a family member who can care for her child or children during her time as surrogate.

Our surrogate last gave birth 1-year ago, on behalf of a very lucky couple.

The Doctor said that when a surrogate does not get pregnant, she comes to the office and demands answers from the doctor as to what went wrong.  She wants to be pregnant with our baby as much as we want her to be pregnant with our baby.  The care she will be given is top class, but the money she is being paid will change the entire trajectory of her life. And looking around at the poverty and seeing some children have the privilege to go to school and most not, I see now what an incredible opportunity this is for a surrogate and her family, and that gives me peace and joy like nothing else.  (This peace and joy will obviously be exceeded when our child/children get here :)

The appointment over, it was time to do some shopping, so my driver took me to a fantastic store where I bought myself jewelry, art, and gathered some wonderful holiday gifts for those family members on our list. They were thrilled to have me there, and would push me with their sales tactics from the scarves area to the jewelry area to the art and beyond, in this one stop brilliant India special souvenir shop.

Then it was time to return to The Center again, this time to meet with the lawyer and the surrogate.

In the conference area, I resumed looking at the many thank you notes and pictures of babies that decorated the walls.  There were parents from America to Australia who bestowed their emotional gratitude to the Doctor and her staff, for bringing their baby or babies to them.  This, of course, made me happy.

An Australian couple entered the conference room, and immediately our conversation became intimate.  We talked about eggs and sperm and what they had gone through to get here, to India.  This is their second trip; they had to come to bring more supplies (which means eggs or sperm, in fertility speak).  They talked about the challenges in Australia for infertile couples, and told me they have been on this journey for 10-years.

As cathartic as it has been for me to be writing this blog for almost 1-year, the 15 minutes I spent with them talking about medical visas and pain and costs and hopes and dreams gave me the feeling of wearing comfortable pajamas and socks and being in front of the fireplace next to my husband with my puppy and a blanket in my lap.  By speaking to them, I knew I was home.

I met with the lawyer and signed the appropriate documents, and then it was time for me to meet our surrogate.

More on this, and other experiences in New Delhi, to follow…..

Chasing Butterflies with Finley in India, part 1


Today I am flying to London, where I will arrive during their Saturday, at which time I will get on another flight, that will take me to New Delhi, India, where I shall arrive Sunday morning.

A driver will await me. Having been warned by my mother that in order to anticipate India, I should imagine the most crowded place I’ve ever been, and then multiply it exponentially, and being that I’ve opted not to have my cell phone on while there, because Jesus Christ do I need to unplug right now and my phone carrier doesn’t service India – anyway, I told the person who arranged the driver to look for an overweight American woman, wearing all black sweat outfit, looking incredibly happy to be there.

I am not happy at this moment, as I am scared to leave home.  I hate leaving Craig.  We’ve always been super codependent, but after losing Finley, time and again the idea of being apart makes me have to remind myself to breathe.

And leaving Maybelline is going to be hideous, because having her in my life is the first joy and happiness I have felt since I was pregnant with Finley.  She is not just my puppy.  She is my best friend.  My little daughter.  My heart.  My baby.  My Maybe. (And so I am bringing a stuffed animal to hug at night instead of her.  Yes, seriously.)

I am also scared that my father will not be alive when I get back.  I have had the privilege of the most beautiful and important conversations with him these past several months, and while the doctor has given us no warning that things could happen that quickly, I am with him regularly, and just plain scared of the unthinkable.

But when I get to India, darn it, I will be the person I described for the driver to find. I will be happy, because we have our surrogate. We saw a picture of her just this morning.  She and several other women vied for the position of being our surrogate, but as of this morning, her uterine lining looked perfect for her to start her Progesterone medication, to prepare for the Transfer of our two beautiful, glorious, loved and wanted embryos – next Wednesday.  One is Grade A, the other one is Grade B, slightly deteriorated.  They were shipped from Encino to New Delhi, and will be thawed the morning of the transfer.  I pray that they thaw well!

I didn’t have some warm and fuzzy feeling when I saw our surrogate’s photo, but I know that once I am at the Surrogacy Center in India and I’ve met with the doctor and all of her associates with whom I’ve been emailing and speaking these past several weeks, and once I meet with the lawyer, and once I am surrounded by people whose business it is to make OTHER people parents, I imagine I will feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

I will also be conflicted. Not because I have not come to terms with this need; I am a producer for a living, and live in a solutions based world.  A goal has been set, and since directions A, B and C (1 through 13) didn’t work, it is time to move on to direction D, so to speak.

I had the intimate experience of knowing Finley while he was growing inside of me, and it almost makes him EVEN more special that he will have been the only son to whom I gave birth, before his life was ripped from our clutching hands.

I will be conflicted because the same day that I will be meeting the doctor and the associates and touring the clinic and (likely) meeting my surrogate, is the same day 4-years ago that I was hospitalized ‘to term’.  I was 23.5 weeks pregnant, with clothes on my bed at home strewn and waiting to be packed away for our next day’s trip to Florida for Thanksgiving to visit Craig’s Dad and Stepmom, and within the simple sentence uttered by my Israeli gynecologist, “You’re not going anywhere”, mine and my husband’s entire lives shifted.

And the days prior to that, including today, 4 years ago exactly (the Friday before Thanksgiving that is), when I was keeled over with what I thought were Braxton Hicks cramps (which they weren’t), preparing menu ideas for the celebration dinner for my best friend who was in remission for cancer (who died 15 months later), have actual sound design to them:  Tick.  Tock. Tick.  Tock.  My heart beats in tune with the sadness that comes over me when I think about what was about to happen, and how that all felt.

But it is 4-years later.  I’ve accepted Finley’s death.  I’ve no fault in the death of our infant son.  I did everything I could then, and have honored him since, by talking about him, and by acknowledging the hurt that I have experienced.

I see people on Facebook comment on the lack of quiet time they get because of their children.  Others post articles about how their social lives have changed.  Or that they don’t get to sleep more than 2-hours at a time.

And it is not envy I feel, but a conclusive feeling that they will never, ever get how lucky they are.  They will never understand what it is like to have aching arms, a hole in their hearts, and be climbing uphill on a marathon for every single day, for almost 4 years.

Are they lucky?  Well, yeah, of course, but I have to believe that the journey that I am on with the best husband I could imagine and the most loving community I could hope for is going to bring us the riches we deserve.

I have finished packing.  The framed photo of Finley is safely tucked away, so that I can light up his beautiful face every night with the candles I have brought.  I am wearing 4 pieces of jewelry only, including the necklace that states Finley.

And now I am off, with my husband’s support and blessings, to go chase butterflies with Finley, in India.


Thank you for wishing us well.



I’ve been monitoring my period every single month since the middle of 2008 – save for my shortened pregnancy with the tragic outcome, which was so complicated and riddled with issues that I feared it coming pretty regularly – which makes it coming early this month and me having no next steps that rely on my body make me feel very powerless.

I mean, I’ve always been powerless over trying to get pregnant; that much I’ve learned by now:  Reading spiritual meditations daily didn’t effect the outcome.  Taking my extraordinarily strong and expensive medications perfectly and always arriving at my doctor’s office on time didn’t do it. My constant dialogue, prayers, pleading with G-d hasn’t brought our next child here.  Becoming as educated on my body’s reproductive system as a fertility specialist or the herbs or the acupuncture or the healing sessions or the special combination of vitamins with the fancy and special pre natal vitamins and the rituals and the food cleanses or the multiple uterine scrapings or the hysteroscopy, or the entire combination of the above, has not introduced us physically to our next child or children.

And yet I know our daughter and / or son is coming.

And my daily schedule that monitors which day of my cycle it is no longer dictates my next appointment, but it still brings us one day closer to becoming parents again.

Sometimes I think people must think I’m crazy to be as confident and determined as I am to keep going.  I know so many people that gave up along the way, or switched gears, and after 13 IVFs, roughly 13 embryo transfers, innumerable IUIs, and trying naturally multiple times at the right time every month since 2008 – again, save for my pregnancy, I have stopped pretending that my body can carry a pregnancy.

For the roughly 11-days that I wait in between an embryo transfer and a pregnancy test, I can barely breathe.  I am scared that putting a spoon in the dishwasher or picking up my puppy Maybelline’s toys or leaning over to put on shoes will result in miscarrying the pretend pregnancy, the pregnancy that will fulfill mine and my husband’s dreams and what I perceive as our purpose; of being parents to Finley’s brother or sister (or both).

So after the last failure, which was confirmed on September 30th, and subsequent to the last conversation with my doctor, October 3rd, and after my last blog post, I went into producing mode – and we now have a solution as to how our baby or babies will get to us.  I know it will work; will it be the first transfer into a SURROGATE late this month?  Will it be a 2nd or 3rd embryo transfer next year?  No matter: I have released the burden, the huge, painful, disappointing, and serious burden of carrying a pregnancy – from myself.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t actually have a choice as to whether I’d carry a pregnancy.  I haven’t gotten pregnant since my miscarriage (the chemical pregnancy) in late 2010.  But what I realize is that the waiting period of those 11 days that I hope and pray without pause that this time it works is an indication of how stressful the pregnancy, had it happened, would have been: I already know that I would file for disability around week 10 and get a handicap placard so I didn’t have to walk far, that I would get a Cervical cerclage and have the best high risk specialist in town sew that incompetent cervix of mine up around week 12, after we’d confirmed that the baby or babies were genetically healthy, that I would not be able to do my job – my highly stressful mentally, emotionally, and often even physically exerting job that sometimes includes travel or chasing people down at any given location – and that my pregnancy would be high risk, therefore putting me on some form of bed rest early on.

I already know how hard it is for me not to put the wash into the dryer during that 11-day waiting period, because I am compulsive and always like stuff done the way I want when I want.

So it has come as a huge relief to ACCEPT that I can not get pregnant again, that my body is not to be the vessel that brings our baby into the world, AND that there is a less expensive (though still more tens of thousands of dollars) option that really embraces some perfect qualities – even more so than an American surrogate.

(I’ll update you with that information soon.)

And with all that written, the truth is, I am mourning the fact that I will not be pregnant again. That I will not develop a relationship with my next child the way I did with Finley – since I knew him so well as he grew from a being the size of a bean to a very small baby, who loved John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels”; craved bagels and cream cheese; typically rested low, at the bottom of my uterus; was a tremendous kicker (as evidenced by the movie taken at my first amniocentesis); whose spirit was so incredibly strong that our relationship has grown significantly, even though he is dead.

I am mourning the fact that I will never breast feed; that I will never be pregnant, surrounded by loving friends and family at a baby shower where our baby is celebrated.  (Separately, praying that my friends plan a baby shower for after we bring our baby back, G-d willing, in 2014!).

I am left feeling barren. Which I am.  And it is a feeling that disconnects me from G-d.  I trust the universe, and feel nature propelling me forward, but I won’t read any of the morning meditations I used to read; I won’t praise G-d – not because I don’t believe in him anymore, because I still do actually pray to him – but because he’s a total jerk for having my husband and me tackle another significant hurdle before giving us the blessing we know is coming.

On my daily calendar on my phone, I used to have every single day of my cycle.  It would state:  Day — (– day cycle)

And every day after I would complete taking all of my pills – the 6 Pre Natal pills which had to be refrigerated and taken 2 at a time, at meals – plus the CoQ10, the 2 DHEA, the Folic Acid, the Calcium, the Baby Aspirin – that I had arranged in a bag that I would dig into every morning and evening – before I would change the number of the ‘day’ and move this ‘appointment’ on my calendar onto the next day.

This appointment, so to speak, would remind me if I should be starting my ovulation tests, or if I should prepare for my period, if it was time to start thinking of taking a pregnancy test, when to schedule my next doctor’s appointment, etc.

Now I have it listed just so I know when my period is coming, since I I can’t bear to remove this entirely from my schedule – though I have removed it as a daily appointment, since I can’t bear to think about what this has meant to me since we began trying and I began monitoring my cycle, in the middle of 2008.

I have an extra $100 bottle of Pre Natal pills in our cupboard. I will keep them there – you know, in case….

That time of year is upon me, where I begin the countdown to the day I was hospitalized, before everything changed, before I went into labor December 3rd, 2009.  The air, the color of the leaves, the long sleeves I wear, and my heart tell me this; I don’t even need a calendar.

And my father is sick, very, very sick, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility to help him through this time, because it is a privilege to help someone.

But it is an emotional teeter totter I am on: On one side I know that I owe Finley, you, and myself the part of the story that happened on and after December 3rd, 2009 – how I reacted, what it was like, who held me up and who let me down.  I must prepare for December 3rd and 4th, and decide how I will honor him this year, the year that marks the 4th anniversary of his birth and subsequent death.

Close to that highly emotional side, I am my father’s medical advocate, the one person he relies on to be the voice and his mind during his many doctor’s appointments – which is time consuming and very exhausting.  But I am the only one who is capable of that, and so I must continue.

And on the other side, I have cause for real celebration: my husband and I have a solution to the fact that I can not get pregnant, and we are very fortunate that we can afford this solution – of me traveling to another country (!) to hire a surrogate whose generosity of her time and body will help the trajectory of our lives, and whose compensation will help the trajectory of hers.

I cannot remember being this emotionally conflicted, ever, and yet I am calm, because I know that there is nothing more to do than what I can do, which is put one foot in front of the other, and stay the course.

I can’t wait to tell you where our embryos already are and where I am going to meet my surrogate… over Thanksgiving!  Clue: it is a spiritual mecca and was on my bucket list!  Next post – coming soon.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read, for your prayers, and for your continued support!



I did a 3 day cleanse prior to transfer to release any toxins from any chocolate or soda or processed food.

I saw my spiritual healer on the morning of the transfer, following days of curating medical appointments and conversations and emails for my 83-year old father, who is sick – so that I could release stress and responsibility for others who were relying on me so heavily and focus only on myself.

I entered the frozen embryo transfer appointment at roughly 11 am, already having taken the 2 ibuprofen to counteract cramping and the 1.5 valium to relax all muscles, to meet with Dr. V – and find out that the grade A blastocyst (perfect when frozen at day 5) had thawed at 90%, which is great (the highest they’ll ever give for thawing is 95%), and that the 2nd, previously a very early blastocyst, had actually upon thawing immediately grown into a blastocyst quality A – with a 95% survival.  Craig and I were joyful, and full of hope.

Dr V. expertly placed both embryos past the curve of my uterus, and away from the Adenomyosis – the muscle that as of now, wasn’t flexing.  He recited his prayer in Hebrew as he held my hand and I held Craig’s.

I was only told to stay on bedrest for 1 day, since it was already a 5-day transfer, but I stayed in bed an extra day and cancelled plans with my girlfriends for Mastro’s.

I ate pineapple, which is supposed to help embryos stick.

I prayed.  Endlessly.  I have literally created a meditation that centers on me connecting with G-d and our future babies, or talking to Finley and repeatedly releasing that grief to the universe, since I understand now that he could not stay; that he was only meant to come for that short time – which has taught me a lifetime of love and lessons.

I listened to positive music – like Barbra Streisand or George Harrison.

I did not pick up Maybelline once, per doctor’s instructions even though holding her is one of my favorite things to do and is one of the very few ways I feel actually happy.

I ate healthy, making morning smoothies and juices with beets or a day’s worth of greens every day.

I took my estradiol, methylprednisolone, baby aspirin, folic acid, calcium, CoQ10, and pre natals as instructed.

Every night Craig would find a new place to shoot me with 2 CCs of oil based progesterone in my butt – which turned lumpy because of the oil and bruised because of the puncturing of the needles.

I worked very few non-stressful hours on a light project I am doing.  I kept my family at arm’s length, being there for them, visiting my father multiple times, but making sure to protect myself with deep breaths and an invisible shield I imagined that would protect me from over extending myself.

Every night I drank a wellness pregnancy tea, and did not over eat Lindt chocolate or graham crackers, or anything else.

I did not wear perfume starting from the morning of my transfer, as scented lotions and perfumes are thought to be bad for the embryos.

I didn’t sleep well at night, nothing new really, but always but was able to make up for that with daytime movie or TV naps with Maybelline.

And still, on Sunday morning at 2 AM when I awoke – I took the Home Pregnant Test and it read: Not Pregnant.  It might as well have been in all caps, with a shrill sound attached that screamed YOU ARE A FAILURE.

I awoke Craig teary eyed, but we both agreed that I could have taken it too early, and I should take one again a bit later in the day.  By the time the real morning had struck, he and I agreed to wait to test again until Monday morning, which was the day I was to have my blood drawn which would offer a conclusive answer.

In the meantime, I scoured the internet for sites with strings of women who had transferred this quality embryo and succeeded, even when after they’d received negative results on the pee stick.  Inevitably I came across internet threads of other women who had received negative results on the stick, followed by negative blood.

I awoke Monday and took a test.  Once again, NOT PREGNANT appeared on that fucking digital stick.

Instead of commuting almost 2 hours to Tarzana to simply have my blood drawn, I had pre arranged having it done nearby.  Some guy in the lab was screaming at a technician, and I sat there, un-phased; numb; listless – I suppose – as I already instinctually knew that the blood test would confirm what the Home Test had indicated.

I called the doctor’s office around 4 to find out the status of the test, and was told that a nurse would call me back within 30 minutes.  I liked the idea of that, because every single time I had received a negative result, a doctor had called me.

Unfortunately, the receptionist had simply miscommunicated, because a bit after 5 PM, Dr. K called me – with the same exact cadence in his voice as I had heard too many times.  “Lorraine….”  And it doesn’t matter what else he said, because he should have simply been speechless, as I was.

It’s nearly impossible to explain how it feels, to fail at something that is based upon such a pure desire.  My husband and I want a child to love.  We don’t want a bigger home.  We don’t care about fancy cars.  We just want a child on whom to lavish the love that lives in our hearts, in our souls, for which our beings actually yearn.

So I am left to wonder:  Did leaning over and cleaning up after Maybelline stop the embryos from sticking?  Are the baby or babies not ready to come?  Am I being punished for something from a different lifetime?  Are there more lessons to learn?  Should I have slept on a different side? Stayed in bed even longer after the transfer?  Did any of the stress I have tried so hard not to own from my father’s illness seep into my protective lair and cause this?  Did G-d not want us to have children? Does G-d even exist?

I have 2 embryos left.  One is grade A.  One is grade B, with slight deterioration.  We spoke with Dr. V today, and talked about doing another hysteroscopy inside my uterus, and about adding a couple of different medications for the next round – not because they are needed, per se, but out of a pure form of desperation.  Dr. V will waive the costs for the next transfer, which is a very gracious courtesy.  (Of course there will still be lab and medication costs, plus out of pocket surgery costs.)

And we said that if that doesn’t work, that I have to think of a surrogate.  Do you know how much a surrogate costs?  Somewhere in the $80k range.  And we’ve already spent $45k this year.  The thing is, if we get a surrogate, then an enormous amount of stress is removed from me, and I would be able to work throughout that time. Because as of now, once I do (or at this point, IF I ever do) get a positive pregnancy result, the pregnancy will be so incredibly high risk, because of my cervix and now because of my increasing age.  So I am not against a surrogate.  (I would welcome suggestions, as a matter of fact, if you know anyone who would be a great candidate for me.)

I am already mourning and dreading the holidays that are now coming upon us, starting with Thanksgiving, that holiday during which I was hospitalized with Finley in 2009.

I am wondering if by not having written completely about what exactly happened on and after the morning I went into labor if I have not released my grief entirely, yet.  I will rectify that, when I can stomach the pain I must endure to recount those excruciating details.

I made an appointment with a Korean doctor on Saturday. I don’t even know his name, but while I wait to have a hysteroscopy sometime next week, I may as well see if any new herbs can do anything.  A $50 appointment is certainly easier to stomach than an $80k surrogacy.

A lot of you have reached out to me personally, on Facebook, through my blog, and I want you to know that I am beyond touched with the generosity of your spirit and prayers.

I remain in purgatory now, but will just keep walking in the right direction, until I find hope again.

My Mission, continued


I’ve just re-read the last post from over 3 months ago, for the first time in 3 months, and now I’m writing through tears.

I get in this Lorraine-mode after a failure – or a set-back – or a “no, not now” note from the universe, in which I have complete tunnel vision. I will do right what is in front of me for as long as necessary, before I then release my shoulders, circle my head, breathe in deeply, and become centered in the fact that this next time it will work.

When I saw the two doctors back in June, they concurred that there MAY be Adenomysis, a condition characterized by the presence of ectopic glandular tissue found in muscle.  Maybe this “muscle” is somehow connected by a thin thread to my Cesarean scar, that could cause a pulling – which then may expel any embryos, thereby negating the chance of pregnancy.

It’s possible that this has nothing to do with the failures.  But maybe this is the reason – and in order to combat this, I was prescribed 1-shot of Lupron in a 3-month dosage to my butt – that cost $1,000 – to be taken immediately.  I was to come back and see them in 2-months, to see if this possible muscle tissue had gotten smaller.

The goal of this $1,000 magical shot was to force me into early menopause, so likely my period would not come for months.

This Adenomysis is found together with endometriosis – which it is confirmed I do have a severe case of outside of my uterus – thus making natural pregnancy like an impossible pinball game for any sperm trying to reach my ovulated egg – in 10% of cases.

I’ve always tried to be in the top 10%, but not when it comes to road blocks on the way to my dream, which I have re-phrased as my mission.

But there I was, with that $1,000 shot, hoping to G-d that Craig and I had mixed it up properly, as he was ready to shoot me in the ass with it.  I didn’t even bother closing the French doors that look out on our patio and onto the shared courtyard of our town house building.

Real life is not for the weak, and I will not be bothered with anyone’s prudish or naïve denial that every now and then, a girl needs a shot in the ass.

I had 2 months and 1 day before my next scheduled visit, and it would be a few weeks after that (ostensibly) before we could put our beautiful embryos in, so I chose to use my time wisely:

I was offered a gig to produce a handful of cute TV spots for an agency for which I hadn’t worked. I was thrilled to embark on a light comedy campaign that was so much less stress than my other projects, as it has gotten to the point that if I’m not working on the most famous brand with one of the most famous celebrities, a project looks easy to me.  Of course I was wrong, it wasn’t easy – but it was well within my wheel house to then take another meeting at a separate agency – where they asked me to help out on a couple of TV spots for them.  The 2nd agency’s work was a different set of demanding; sure there were celebrities – and I’m used to that, but this project introduced a new set of dysfunction, somewhat reminiscent of other projects, that felt familiar and like a challenge and something that I could really sink my teeth into – as I collected 2 day rates each day that I worked on both projects for sometimes 20 hours a day – and contributed towards the nest egg that gives me the comfort that Craig and I can stay on our mission.

I planned it perfectly, so that while my work was done on 1, the other was in final stages.  I met some new people who are smart and that I respect a lot.  I met a couple of other people who should be better at their jobs, or much less confident.  So, nothing new on the work front – and on August 19th, which happens to be my husband’s birthday – I headed 15 miles over the hill to Tarzana, to consult with Dr. V and Dr. K, and see if this muscle had deteriorated at all.

It was hard to say for sure, but perhaps the uterine lining was more clear, and my period still had not come – it had been 67 days since the first day of my last cycle, which made me confident that the drug WAS working! – so I was prescribed birth control for 2 weeks, to invite my period to come, at which point we would prepare my lovely, accepting, nurturing, perfect uterus – my future baby or babies home – for their arrival.

In this time period my middle sister got married, an event which had been on the schedule for half a year, and one that I was confident I would not be able to attend, as it was out of town, and of course I was supposed to be pregnant by early September.  It was a devastating realization that I was not going to be pregnant by then – I mean, I had already passed my birthday in August and nothing screams louder than that ticking clock than the passing of a calendar year of my life – but once I accepted it, I made plans to go.

I spent quality time with my family.  I was able to be of service to both of my parents, both of whom are struggling with different health issues, and be a great daughter.  But fucking A, when I dropped my parents off that evening – after a round of brilliant (insert sarcasm font here) back seat driving from my father for the 36th hour – before parking the car further down, in an area which would have been too hard for mother to walk from – I lost it.

I cried for the fact that my father and I had spent time on the Puget Sound that morning, just him and me, talking about life and his health.  I cried for the fact that I missed my little Maybelline, as she even without arms gives the best hugs I know, and this was the longest I’d been without her.  I cried because one of my family members picked a fight with me with the wedding, due to her incredible insensitivity  – really ignorance – to the hurt of my struggle with fertility.

Did you ever see that movie “Clerks”, when a guy covers a shift for his friend at a convenience store and someone dies and there is a crime and just one bad thing after the other happens, and the guy who is covering the shift keeps saying “I’m not supposed to even be here!”

I cried because I was NOT supposed to be at this wedding; in my parallel universe I believed I was holding my baby and making sure he or she got what she needed.  In reality, I was at an airport hotel in Seattle, Washington, not pregnant, on my last day of birth control, waiting for my period now to come; looking forward to flying home the next morning to my Craig and Maybelline; I cried because I was longing for my ship to come in.

I get emotionally tricked every time I return home, into thinking that my baby Finley will meet me there. It is something that happens whether I am gone for 2 days or 3 weeks, when I am without Craig, and that was enough to have tears gushing down my face during that 2+ hour flight back to LA, where Maybelline and Craig picked me up from the airport.

My period came later that week, exactly on schedule; it had been 82 days since I received my period, and I was thrilled to have it.  I made the appointment to see Dr. V, and we began all of the appropriate medications to make sure that my uterus had thick, gorgeous lining, and that my body was ready to accept the embryos.

I did a 3-day cleanse prior to the procedure; I am not stupid enough to think that I can lose the weight of 3.5 years of fertility medication and grief or stress eating in 3-days, but I want to make sure that any soda or chocolate toxins are out of my system, so that my blood is flowing beautifully to my uterus.

I opted not to have my acupuncturist the days before the transfer or even on the transfer; the idea of seeing him again and repeating that part of the same action brings more trauma to me than it does relax me; it is an association that I have with writing the check, having the same conversation that THIS is it, carving time out in my day to relax, breathe – that in fact makes me un-relaxed – that made me decide not to work with him this time.  I asked my doctor if he was OK with it, and he said the last thing we need is to increase my stress – so if I don’t want to do acupuncture, I should not.  (Statistically, embryo transfers have shown success rates with acupuncture, but since mine have not, I will stick to my instincts.)

I have my morning perfectly planned out:  After I fall asleep again (it now being 3:30 AM), I shall awake and play with, feed, and walk our puppy.  I shall see my spiritual healer at 8:45 AM – a woman who moved things around in her schedule to allow that I see her, and be as relaxed and at peace as possible before the procedure.

I will get a green smoothie, meet Craig at home, drop Maybelline off at daycare, and head to our appointment.  I will take the ibuprofen as prescribed, and a little higher dosage of the valium so as to increase my body’s relaxed mode – and I will meet Dr. V at Assisted Reproductive Technologies – where my husband, my uterus and I will meet our beautiful 2 embryos.

We have names for our twins already.  We speak to them regularly. I know the girl very well, the boy I am getting to know better.  They are already loved and incredibly wanted.  Really makes you think about when life begins, right?

I think this is transfer number 12 – but as I live in my world of purgatory of 14 IVFs, innumerable AI attempts, some cancelled IVF cycles, and trying to get pregnant again after the loss of my infant in December 2009 – every single month since that fateful day, I can’t be sure.  (Well I could go through my copious notes and calendars, but being that I haven’t written a blog posting for a couple of months, figured it best to do a little free form thoughts on this next procedure and everything building up to it.)

To you incredible people who have followed along, shared your stories with me, been my cheerleaders and friends, offered your prayers and sent your positive energy – keep up the good work.

My mission is to become a mother again, to a child that I can raise with my husband, with love as the foundation – guided by dance parties and sing-alongs and exposure to art and teaching them right from wrong and hugs & kisses smothering sessions and an introduction to nature and travel and compassion for humanity.  And this mission is my reason for existing, and so I shall take another step towards it, right now.

Bad News: IVF #14


– best embryo quality possible after 5 days in the lab

It’s gotten to the point that when I get bad news I tell myself to wake up.  Even though I am beyond accustomed to seeing the words “Not Pregnant” on those cruel and annoying urine tests, I am so confident and steadfast that Craig and I are to be parents again, that it shocks me and I need to shake my head to see if I can snap out of this recurring nightmare.

We had a 70% chance of our latest efforts working. All signs pointed to success along the way.

We had placed 2 of the best embryos ever inside my uterus (picture shown of one of them), both of which had made it to day 5, the magical day by which many embryos have died, deteriorated, or shown fragmentation.

Statistics were on our side.

A psychic who read my Tarot cards at a work party said she was 90% sure that I would become pregnant in June.

My spiritual healer said she felt a strong female presence.

I had pinching sensations in my uterus, an indicator that an embryo is attaching.  (I chose to ignore the fact that this same feeling could mean early miscarriage or signs of my period coming.)

I felt calm and peaceful and confident in our success.

But then on Sunday I took the test, and it said Not Pregnant. I had just chugged a huge amount of water, so I simply decided that the results were not accurate.  I was sad not to be elated with good news, the emotion I’ve been anticipating for.ever. But I was not defeated.

I didn’t feel any responsibility; like, I didn’t question whether I had done everything that was in my control right.  I knew I had done everything I could that was within my control, again, right.  I was confused and startled and deeply, deeply sad.

I drove to the doctor’s office with my little puppy Maybelline riding shotgun.  Maybelline, a puppy that has created so much joy in Craig’s and my life that I can’t even put it into words.  Thank G-d for Maybelline, as without her sitting next to me, with her turquoise little harness, on her green car blanket, with her beautifully deep and brown little eyes and her mushy forehead with the most beautiful Beagle-like brown and beige and black lines you’ve ever seen, it would have been a total deja vu.  Without her, I would have once again been driving on 3 freeways in rush hour Los Angeles traffic to have my skin punctured, my blood drawn, only to have the bad news from that pee stick confirmed.

With her, it didn’t exactly repeat everything I’ve experienced in the past; with her; I have proven what a wonderful mommy I am to her and will be to my next living child; with her and because of her, Craig and I have both been able to give and receive love that we have been aching to give to another for so very long.

It ain’t the same, but it helps.

Lily, the receptionist, took me back and started giving me instructions to go to the bathroom to provide a urine sample. I looked at her with Maybelline in my arms and even through my sunglasses she could see my eyes brimming up with tears.  I shook my head, “No, just need blood taken.”  We made our way to the nurses’ station, where both nurses looked at me, and I shook my head, sad, defeated, forlorn, confused; defeated.

I asked Giselle how often she has seen negative urine tests and positive blood. “Not often, but it can happen. Some women never register in their urine.  Maybe 20%?”  I liked that statistic, and remembered that my friend Lisa had gotten negative urine test and yet been pregnant with twins, only proven by her blood test.  As she took my blood, I went through other facts, knowing both times I’ve been pregnant, the urine test registered the day before.

The female doctor poked her head in, hearing me cry, and the words I spoke to Giselle.  She shook her head sadly; she was speechless.

Maybelline and I headed out, and the woman at the front desk said she needed to collect the $20, the fee for the blood being drawn.  I shook my head definitively, “No, the doctor has waived those costs.

I called my mother on the way home.  She, who is going through her own health issues right now, heard the fear or sadness in my voice immediately; I’m stoic when I have to be, which is more often than I’d prefer, being that I’ve had to go from appointments to procedures to bad news to work way more often than is fair or reasonable; when given the opportunity to just be, well, me, I take it.  I told her the probability of bad news, and I could hear the sadness in her voice.  “I just don’t understand it,” she said.  “You were so confident this time. I know how much you want a baby, and I just want what you want.”

Hearing those words was as good as a hug, and so I held on tight.

I still hadn’t gotten the blood test results that afternoon by 4, so I called the office.  The lab test results were running behind, I was told, so I hung up the phone, prepared to take a valium any minute, and waited.

Dr. K called about 30 minutes later.  I recognized his voice immediately.  “Oh Lorraine, I’m sorry to let you know that the blood results confirmed your urine results.”  Tears welled, and I began sobbing.  “Why?” was the theme behind the barrage of questions I asked.  There were no real answers.  He told me that I’d earned a couple of glasses of wine.  Unfortunately, a recovering alcoholic, that was not a real option

So I popped a valium (non habit forming or mind altering).  And then another half of a valium. And then took a shower in which I cried as I clutched the wall of the shower.  I tried to wake myself up from the nightmare.  No luck.

I climbed back into bed and brought Maybelline up there with me.  It was only the second time she’d been allowed into our bed, the first time being the night before, after I’d gotten those results.  (I maintain that it is important that she is allowed on the bed not because she was crying, but because I was.)

I wrote on Facebook that God and the Universe should get a fucking hearing aid.  I didn’t need to write anymore than that, for a dozen people to send loving messages my way.  I was at the point when I need only allude to bad news for people to know exactly what had happened.

I got a note from a woman I know who had also struggled with fertility, who now has a son who is more than one-year old, who asked me if I’d ever had the NK assay test. I told her I couldn’t remember. She told me I’d likely remember, since it was such an expensive test.  I told her that wasn’t necessarily the reason I’d remember; I’d been poked and prodded and pricked so many times, and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by this point, that a test that she intonated was expensive was just another blip on the map of my living purgatory.

I called Giselle and I asked her if I’d had that test. She confirmed that yes, I had; it was the killer blood test, that assured us that once embryos were implanted I had no killer blood cells that were attacking the embryos thereby reducing their chance at survival.

I told Giselle the following:  I want you to tell Dr. V to scour my records.  All of them.  And then he should call me and let me know if there is anything else we should do, anything we’ve missed; whether we should go ahead and transfer the next 2 immediately, or if there is something else we should try first.

(We currently have 4 cryopreserved (frozen) embryos in the state of the art laboratory in Tarzana.  There are 2 A quality embryos, and 2 a little less than A but still great quality embryos.)

I expected Dr. V to call me on Thursday and tell me that I was just unlucky, again; that I had merely fallen in the 30% and that we should go ahead.  He called; I could hear the devastation in his voice.  He told me that he and his two associates, Dr. K and the female Dr. W, had sat in his office for over an hour and scoured my files.  My file, by the way, is without question among the thickest there is in the world of fertility struggles.  A forest of paper comprises the details of the now 14 IVFs and the innumerable Artificial Inseminations that have all followed the death of my beloved little spirit son, Finley.

He started talking about the shape of my uterus, something we had taken for granted was sort of unusually shaped, he thought, because of the C-section I had in ’09; because Finley was so scared after my water had broken, he climbed up the top part of my uterus; since the moment I could really feel him inside me, he was hanging out and living down low, by my cervix, but on that day – on December 3rd, 2009, he climbed up and tried to latch on to me as tightly as he could, as the water left the sac, thereby making him unsafe.  So when they did the C-section, they had to cut up higher than they do in traditional C-sections that happen at term.  This had caused a scar, which of course all C-sections cause, which in turn Dr. V had thought had made the shape of my uterus different.

But now he was uttering a different thought; was it possible that below my uterus there was a fibroid or some endometriosis that was protruding up, causing this shift in shape, and prohibiting the embryos from attaching?

I almost threw up, nauseous and disgusted and frightened at the idea that we have had all of these failed IVFs because of something that could maybe be dealt with via a surgery or a few months of medication.

“So you don’t think I’m just unlucky, again?”

“Maybe. But I’m not in the practice of presuming anything, and each time we try, we learn more about you, and we have to explore this before we go again.”

He told me that he and Dr. K needed to both be present for my next ultra sound, which should fall on the tail end of my next period.  He suspected my period would come that day, Thursday, or the next.

I now have an appointment to see them on Tuesday together. I respect, no, revere, the fact that my doctor took his associates into his office with him to review my folder.  “He owes us that,” Craig said.  He is right.

I appreciate the fact that when I cried, “This isn’t over,” to my doctor, he confirmed, “No, it is not over. We will get you pregnant.  And this is waaaay beyond doctor / patient relationship; you are family.  We will get through this.”

I am mad at G-d right now, and am not able to pray.

But I have my period now, which means my body is working, and for that I am grateful.

And even though this is technically my 14th failed IVF, since we tried something so different this time (again, something so personal that I don’t want to get into it now), it is really only the 1st failed one.

And we’ve got those 4 beauties frozen in Tarzana.  And I have my loving husband and my fantastic puppy.  And today, I dragged myself out of bed, though I would have liked to stay there curled up for days, and drove to my favorite hike in Malibu, where I walked amongst butterflies and had a dolphin sighting.

And I remembered that all I can do is take one step at a time; and trust in the universe.

Thank you all for your continued support.


Hospitalized to Term



At one point later that Tuesday, my Israeli OBGYN Dr. B returned to me with an update: He had consulted with a high risk specialist, Dr. K. T. (the very same doctor both friends had recommended), who had indicated that because of how dilated I was, I should not have a cerclage; there was a risk that the suture would puncture the amniotic sac because of how low it was, thereby putting my baby in absolute harm’s way.

My eyes grew wide.  I was confused.  The frightening solution that I had grown to accept over the past day was now being presented as dangerous?!  Dr. B indicated that my only course of action was that I was to stay in the hospital in that position on bed-rest for the rest of my term.

It was November 24th, 2009, and I was 2 days shy of being 24 weeks pregnant.

I emailed everyone with an update.  I don’t know if I cried.  I may have been too scared to cry; after all, every bodily movement I had seemed to have some consequence on the actual life of my child.

I stayed in my control mode and may have wondered about getting credit on the American Airline tickets we hadn’t used, about disability that we would need to get filed on my behalf, and what other things I needed Craig to bring me in the hospital.

So long as I could think of things I could do, I would fool myself into believing I was in control of the situation.

When multiple members of the staff from the N.I.C.U. unit walked in that day, they calmly indicated they were there to inform me of my options, should my baby be born prematurely.  I don’t know if they had literature under their arms, but they looked like a bunch of fucking used car or door-to-door salesmen to me and I rejected their presence, as it was preparing for something that I couldn’t bear to have happen.  I told them to get out of my room immediately.  I was loud, assertive, and know that when they left, I was short of breath, and as I typed these words now, tears came to my eyes and a sadness rushed over me causing me to need a valium ~ at the memory of me shouting to them that my baby was not going to be born early, that I didn’t need to be informed of their (fucking) statistics.

Later my doctor would come in and tell me that he’d heard I yelled at them; he didn’t do it to reprimand me; he knew I was tough, and I guess wanted to communicate that is how I’d come across.  Perhaps it was motivation for me to be even tougher than usual.

My parents came that day or the next, or maybe both.  My mother said that instead of she and my father going to my sister’s, that they would order food in and eat there with Craig and I for Thanksgiving.  I guess I said OK, but when I repeated the plan to Craig, he said otherwise.  “It’s too small in this room and would be too crowded and I don’t need you around any stress.”  His voice was firm and his statement matter of fact; in the past, he would sort of tiptoe around the craziness of my family, namely my mother, whose behavior you’ll recall from earlier postings, but in this case, I almost saw his posture change.  I called my parents and conveyed the final decision.

On Thanksgiving Day Craig picked up pretty hefty turkey dinners for us from Izzy’s Deli, which was a couple blocks away.  We marveled at how much food they were able to fit into the container.  Moreover, we celebrated the fact that this was our son Finley’s 24th gestational week, and just this morning I had received 1 of 2 shots I would receive to accelerate his lung capacity.

I had learned so much about Finley on a physical level in those incredibly long 96-odd hours since being hospitalized: he was fully formed except for his lungs wouldn’t come along until around week 30, so we had to do everything we could to prepare him for life should he come early.  “I am a very strict mother and I told him he’s got to stay put,” I joked with whomever it was who had given me the steroid injection that morning in my butt.  There was no need to laugh at my joke, which I said with Craig at my side, squeezing or stroking my right hand had become his number one job; I just needed to keep repeating the fact that Finley wasn’t going to come out early, and however I was able to convey that to others, to myself, to my fully formed son inside me except for his lungs but including his little ears – his beautiful, very little, yet fully formed ears – I would take the opportunity.

In addition to learning about his gestational development, my son and I became very close. I suspect most pregnant moms don’t bond as much with their babies at this stage, because they are not so violently forced into the condition of his absolutely survival depending upon how she lies down, how little movement she should make; most women aren’t forced into a physical position with constant reminders that your baby’s very safety is at risk; most mothers don’t have nurses coming in twice a day specifically to check on their babies, with a visit from their doctor

Obviously any great mother has already been eating healthy foods and avoiding that which would put baby at danger, but this forced condition both caused and allowed me to spend a lot of time with him, speaking to him – I would tell him to stay in, how much we loved him; I rubbed his little body in my lower belly a lot – as that is where he was living, and we played music for him regularly.

In the Jewish religion (or is it just amongst my friends?), it is bad luck to tell people the name of the baby before he’s born.  Craig had been the first to tell his family our son would be named Finley, and I followed by telling my sister and nieces (who told my parents – which is such a bullshit move, by the way; the lesson is don’t tell a 5 and 8 year old a secret!), and of course Dee.

Now, whenever a new nurse entered the room, one for the day shift, and one for the night, he / she would ask if we had a name, while gently searching for his heart beat with a sonogram device over my belly.

I never for one second considered not telling them.  The more I spoke of him by name, the more certain I was he would know how much he was loved; how clear it was that he existed; people would refer to him by name.  It was as if I was re-writing the Descartes quote of “I think therefore I am” to be “I have a name and therefore I am or will be”.  If I could leave the room and go to a mountaintop, I would have screamed, “Finley” for the world to hear.  But as it was, not only could I not leave my room, I couldn’t even leave my bed.

In addition to me being confined to the bed in the Trendelenburg position, with my feet 15 – 30 degrees higher than my head, I had to wear medical stockings to keep the blood flowing in my legs.  They were AWFUL!  They were itchy and cumbersome. They were placed on me by nurses, and then latched to the bottom of the bed, and hooked up to some device that had them massaging my calves so that they wouldn’t go into a state of atrophy.  Oh the nightmare of getting those off before I slid over to that makeshift toilet, directly adjacent to my bed.

The nurses were always different those first several days; perhaps because it was the week of Thanksgiving, there was a trade off of time shifts or something.  Accordingly, I had to instruct every morning nurse the same instructions I’d uttered the day before.  After they opened the blinds, unless Craig was sleeping there, as he did on the Thanksgiving weekend a couple of nights, I would ask them to rip off the day on the calendar.  In the right hand corner, to the right of the bathroom that I had not even entered as it was considered too far away from my bed for me to use, there was a sizeable daily calendar, and every new day brought me the satisfaction of knowing he had grown a little bit more, that he was bigger and stronger than the day before, that the steroid shot we had given him for his lungs was surely working and accelerating the growth of those vital organs.

Then after they would do those tasks it was time to take some pills, my Emergen C, for me to go to the bathroom, and then clean up a little before I would change dressing gowns and then the nurse would return to change my sheets.

By this time I had a huge pink plastic container that held my toiletries.  My mother had contributed quite a few, and of course Craig had brought what I needed from home.  I would brush my teeth and use mouthwash, while sitting on the edge of my hospital bed upright.  I would soak my washcloth into the soapy (Dove) water container the nurse would have prepared, and clean under arms and privates.  I would apply deodorant, maybe a little perfume so that I could feel civilized, and my Aveeno lotion.  This not being able to shave every day was wreaking havoc on my Excema, an annoying skin condition that was heightened by my nerves, so it was important that I at least used this lotion.  I would spray this weird hospital dry shampoo into my hair, and then brush it out.  I would fool myself into thinking that I felt clean, as I buzzed for the nurse so she could come change my bedding, and then put on a new dressing gown; I had been told that it was fine if I wore my own clothes, but the dressing gown just seemed so easy and as my mother had said, in this case, the hospital would do my laundry for me.

Craig had brought my green down comforter as well as a pillow, but during the day I didn’t want the comforter, so I had to instruct that day’s nurse to fold it and put it in the corner by my window.  Also by my window was my purse, which I didn’t have a lot of need for, several books, DVDs, and whatever bananas and apples Craig had brought that didn’t fit above the small frig that was below the TV, just to the left of the bathroom door of that bathroom that alluded me.

In addition to the 2 types of stool softener that I would take daily, as constipation is common for pregnant women and my lack of ability to move could interfere with my previously regular movement, I was eating a lot of fruit, per my doctor’s suggestions. Craig had just gone to Ralphs and gotten a fruit tray, since I complained that the hospital fruit tray tasted a little too frozen.

Directly to the right of my bed was a 3-drawer bureau.  On top was the hospital phone, whatever I was reading, my cell phone that was plugged into my phone charger, and my glasses, when I wasn’t wearing them.  In the top drawer was my computer, typically plugged into the outlet.  Leaning to the right of the computer was a lap desk so that when I used my computer, it wouldn’t harm the precious baby inside my uterus.  In the second drawer I had a fancy lotion my mother had brought by L’Occitane and some other toiletries that I didn’t need regularly, like my make-up, tweezers, nail polish / file / polish remover.  And in the bottom was my junk drawer, which was filling up nicely from the visitors I’d had.  There was a bunch of candy and some cookies and I tried to limit the amount I’d eat daily by moving what I’d allocated to the top of the drawer, but without fail, during the evening, I’d decide I was allowed to have one more fill-in-the-blank.  I liked candy and cookies before I got pregnant, but being pregnant had increased my habit, and then being hospitalized seemed to give me a pass to eat however much candy I wanted.


Over that first week or so, lots of people visited.  I had my hands full scheduling them so that they didn’t arrive at the same time, and also was trying to spread them out as I knew I would be there for awhile.

Claire and Poodle came with some flowers.  I had been friends with Poodle – a nickname for Jon – for years; I had even been out drinking with him and Dee the night I met Craig.  His wife Claire was British and the two had come from getting their nails done to visit me. They brought me flowers.

Our good friends Leila and Pete brought me a bunch of magazines, and I remember telling Leila not to kiss me hello or goodbye as she smelled and looked so pretty and clean and showered, and I, a woman who prided herself on smelling good – just felt stale and itchy and not clean!

Jodi, a best friend since high school, came and brought me two Black & White cookies from Izzy’s, per my request.  I remember she was wearing a blue headband.

Kristie – who had been rooting for us to become pregnant and was over the moon once she learned we were – came and brought me M&M’s.  She was in early pregnancy, and had both made and taken the time – already with 2 little ones at home – to visit me after her doctor’s appointment on the Westside, having traveled all the way from Palos Verdes.  I remember that she told me that her husband had said to her, “Wow, she’s going to be in there for awhile,” to which she responded, “YES, let’s hope so!”

My parents visited together and also visited separately.  My dad brought me a box of See’s lollypops with all different flavors (even though I’d specifically requested chocolate).  My mother returned the next time with chocolate only.  She also came once dressed up after a holiday luncheon and looking and smelling very glamorous, like a movie star, with a holiday plant, a white Poinsettia.

My eldest sister had come with her mother in law Lynne, the nurse, the day after I was hospitalized, and the next time she came, she was there to pick up the birthday gift I got for youngest niece that Sunday before I was hospitalized (which Craig had brought from home).  I remember thinking it was stupid and insensitive of her to say that she couldn’t stay long because of how busy she was.  I mean really.

Our friend Jerry, Craig’s friend who he was with the night we’d met, came and visited, too.  He and Craig left my side to go have some beers at a local sports club. I was happy he was able to vent, as even Atlas can shrug under too much weight.

Dee, who I had considered my best friend, the one for whom we held a celebratory dinner party because we thought she was in remission the day before I was hospitalized, told me she was coming and asked what I wanted her to bring me. I ordered a bagel sandwich from her, and looked forward to seeing her on the appointed day.  That morning, I called her to find out her timing, and she told me she couldn’t come. I was disappointed, as of course these visits were the highlight of my days, but understood; things happen.  We re-scheduled, and I told her to get me that same bagel sandwich.  She flaked again.  I was sad and really mad that she hadn’t made me a priority, when I had prioritized her sickness by driving to the valley for breakfast or renting a car to go and babysit her youngest or throwing her a dinner party, etc. – for all of the months prior to my hospitalization.

And she wasn’t the only one to disappoint me; I really learned a lot about people’s character in this short time period; people who are the busiest always seem to make the time to fit another commitment in, and others – even a friend who was single with no children, worked only 40 hours a week, and lived only 20 minutes away from the hospital – didn’t make the effort to visit me.  But I didn’t have time or energy to focus on people who I now shelved or dismissed as petty and incapable friends; my number one focus was my son, and I relied on the love of the people who were besides me to help me stay calm and resolute.

That Monday in November, 2009


I haven’t written in awhile, not because I’ve been too busy – necessarily – but more because I haven’t been ready to re-visit the horrors I began to live starting next, that fateful Monday in November, 2009.  I haven’t wanted to feel this sad; I haven’t been prepared to write and therefore re-live what it was like to change forever, really three times, within that eleven night period.  But since we’re super immersed in our next current fertility steps, and I’m all shot up with extra estrogen, taking two tablets a day and even having an extra patch on my right ovary that is literally feeding estrogen into my blood stream, I am extra emotional right now, and awoke with a little insomnia at 3 AM and decided it was time to rip off the band-aid.  Here I go…..


I spent the morning laying out items that we’d be packing for our trip the next day to visit Craig’s dad and stepmother in the Florida Keys on our bed.  I checked in online and printed out our American Airlines tickets.  Then, in accordance with the bus schedule, since we were still a one-car household, I headed out to take the 2-bus ride to my doctor’s office.  While I waited at the transfer bus stop at Venice and Windward Circle, I got a phone call from a sales rep.  He wanted to know what I was up to in work and life.  I told him I didn’t have any current projects, other than the fact that I was pregnant.  He said whatever niceties people say when they learn someone is pregnant, at the level at which we knew each other, and we chatted a bit more, before the call ended, and I resumed reading whatever book I was reading.  (I wish I remembered what book it was!)  I boarded the second bus and walked the 1.5 or so blocks to my doctor’s office, checked in, and waited.  I don’t remember my blood pressure being taken and being weighed, but I’m sure I was before I was sent to room number-whatever, where I removed my pants without being reminded, and placed the paper, large-napkin-sized blanket that doctors use – over my privates.

Dr. B entered the room and as I sat there with my legs spread out in their respective holsters, he started the ultra sound. When he asked how I was, I told him of the pains I’d been feeling, which I was sure were Braxton Hicks.  He looked up at me, him with his white hair and glasses, when I described the amount of pain, where it had been, and when it occurred.  He resumed prodding inside me, and I nervously began my small talk, telling him how we were going to go to Florida the next day to see Craig’s family for Thanksgiving.  And then I heard my doctor, the fantastic doctor with the very thick usually un-discernable Israeli accent, utter the terrifying sentence with absolute clarity, “You’re not going anywhere.”

The next hour was startling, shocking, and beyond scary.  I couldn’t understand exactly what he was saying as he was saying it, but I soon became to gather that the baby was poking through my amniotic sac, and that I needed to be hospitalized immediately.  The pretty nurse, the one who typically really annoyed me, kindly helped me into a wheelchair, and carted me through my doctor’s office, and as she awaited the written instructions from the doctor to accompany me to the hospital, I started crying.  There was a waiting room full of women, some with their men, some visibly pregnant, others not, who I could almost see through my hysteria.  I was crying so hard that snot poured out of my nose, I was hiccupping, and I couldn’t actually breathe.

The pretty nurse wheeled me out of the office, to the elevator, downstairs, across the street, and up a ramp to the UCLA Hospital in Santa Monica.  Somebody had obviously called just moments ahead and so after she maneuvered me through the maze of hallways that I will never forget but don’t really remember, we arrived at the ward where nurses were there to greet me and to transfer me from the wheelchair to the bed.

I had called Craig in hysterics before they’d even put me in the wheelchair to repeat what my doctor had said, and I called him again as I was being hooked up to all sorts of machinery, telling him where to go once he’d arrived.  By this time, he had already left his office in Hollywood and was on his way to me.


My pulse was taken, the baby’s heart rate was checked; the tubes were connected to the monitors that allowed the staff to monitor both from their station and by my bedside.  Dr. B came in the room, and asked the staff if the Trendelenburg bed could be tilted any further.

In the Trendelenburg position the body is laid flat on the back (supine position) with the feet higher than the head by 15-30 degrees. This is a standard position used in abdominal and gynecological surgery. It allows better access to the pelvic organs as gravity pulls the intestines away from the pelvis. It was named after the German surgeon Friedrich Trendelenburg.  (Wikipedia)

He explained to me that we needed gravity to force the baby back into my uterus, that I had what’s called an Incompetent Cervix.

Incompetent Cervix is a medical condition in which a pregnant woman’s cervix begins to dilate (widen) and efface (thin) before her pregnancy has reached term. Internal  opening more than 1 cm is abnormal and cervical length less than 2 cm is considered diagnostic. Cervical incompetence may cause miscarriage or preterm birth during the second and third trimesters.  In a woman with cervical incompetence, dilation and effacement of the cervix may occur without pain or uterine contractions. In a normal pregnancy, dilation and effacement occurs in response to uterine contractions. Cervical incompetence occurs because of weakness of the cervix, which is made to open by the growing pressure in the uterus as pregnancy progresses. If the responses are not halted, rupture of the membranes and birth of a premature baby can result.  According to statistics provided by the Mayo Clinic, cervical incompetence is relatively rare in the United States, occurring in only 1—2% of all pregnancies, but it is thought to cause as many as 20—25% of miscarriages in the second trimester.  (Wikipedia)

He went on to say that we could sew my weakened cervix up, in a procedure called a Cervical cerclage.  The treatment consists of a strong suture being inserted into and around the cervix.  (Wikipedia)

By the time my doctor had verbalized this plan, Craig had arrived, and we were now under the informed assumption that the cerclage would be performed the next day, with a couple of days to follow in the hospital.

Craig held my hand and looked me firmly in the eyes and told me it would be OK.  Then we got into business mode.  He had a flight to cancel, to inform his father that we weren’t flying to Florida, and to retrieve some key things for me at home.

I reluctantly let go of my firm grip of Craig’s hand to allow him to leave and do these things, and got into my survival mode, this space where I just keep doing stuff so that I don’t have to think too hard about the circumstances.  I called my parents and told them what was happening.  I called my eldest sister and explained things to her.  She happened to have been with her mother-in-law ~ a nurse, on speaker phone from her car, and it was comforting and calming to get such an informed reaction from her, as to the commonality of a cerclage.  I called or left messages for other close friends Dee and Jodi.

Craig came back that evening with some things for me, like my reading glasses, phone charger, and some basic toiletries – even though I was confined to the bed and wasn’t allowed to shower.  Actually, I wasn’t even allowed to get up and walk the 10 feet to my hospital room bathroom.  They brought in a mobile toilet and placed it only inches away from the bottom of the bed, with a roll of toilet paper nearby, and I was instructed to go there and then return immediately to bed – and call on the nurse to empty the toilet for me.  It was pretty severe a sentence, I thought, but I did as instructed.

I was paralyzed by shock and fear to question that directive, or any of the others.

Dr. B returned and spouted orders to the staff about the angle of the bed.  “Can it be more of an angle?  I want her head 45 degrees from her feet.”  “This is as far as the bed will go back,” the nurse responded.  “Can we get bricks or something to put her feet up higher?” he asked.  I think the nurse thought he was kidding, but I don’t believe he was.  No bricks arrived, but his reactions made it very clear to me how much I needed to rely on gravity to keep my son safe.

I can’t remember if Craig stayed there that night, but the next day, since he had previously gotten Tuesday off as we had been scheduled to fly that day to Florida, he opted to consider it a work day, and so sat next to me while I watched TV from my angled bed, with his computer in his lap.  I distinctly remember that was the day that he got a Request For Proposal from a major ad agency for the one of the biggest accounts there is. We took it as a lucky omen that he was on the ground – meaning not flying, as otherwise there would have been an automated response re-directing that request to another co-worker, and with so much potential for commission on such a size-able account, we took it as the cup being half full that he’d gotten the email.

My sister and her mother-in-law visited me that day.  I don’t remember where Craig had gone, but they sat in my room and Lynne supported what the doctor had told me, that the cerclage scheduled now for Wednesday was a great idea, that it was a simple procedure, and would alleviate the problem of my incompetent / weakened / shortened cervix.

Over the next hours, I wracked my brain with wondering who else I knew that had experienced this.

I remembered that Robin – who I had seen only 2 days before at her son’s first birthday party, had been hospitalized late in her first pregnancy with her daughter for a similar thing.  I spoke to her and it turns out it was the exact same thing.  She asked me for some vitals, like where I was and who my doctor was.  She was happy that I was at that UCLA SM hospital, as she claimed it had the best N.I.C.U. unit in the state.  She gave me the name of her high-risk doctor, who performed her surgery.  I held tightly to her strong recommendation in the hospital, and sort of shelved the information she gave me about the N.I.C.U. – which stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, as I had confidence in the cerclage that would be done thereby allowing me to leave this hospital in a few days, eventually delivering at St. John’s, as we had planned.

I emailed my friend Kathy and asked her for her older sister’s phone number, recalling that she was on bed-rest for most of her pregnancy. I spoke to her, who explained that she had been on bed-rest from around week 8 all the way through week 29, only in the actual (and same) hospital around week 23 until she delivered early.  She hadn’t had the same diagnosis or circumstance, and had given birth to a very premature son, but she also reported great things about the hospital, their N.I.C.U. unit, and the same high-risk specialist that Robin had mentioned.

I had been taught by my father that intelligence is strength, and felt comfortable being in full producer mode, doing my research, gathering information, and arming myself with intelligence so that when the doctor spouted next steps at us, Craig and I would be informed and thus prepared.

If only….

Two Surgeries & Some medication, 2009 part 1



In January of ’09 Craig and I were told to get to the hospital in Santa Monica at around 5 am; it was cold and dark; Dr. B was to perform a surgery in which he went in through my belly button to remove the cyst, since the birth control hadn’t made it go away this last time.

I remember the doctor came into the tiny hospital room and that he was dressed impeccably well for that early in the morning, and that he smelled good.  Yes, I am the type of woman who forms a (harmless) crush on her OBGYN.

He asked whether the nurse had marked me for the surgery yet, and when I answered no, a little confusedly since I didn’t understand the question, with no ceremony at all he lifted up my gown – under which of course I was naked – and with a black felt pen circled the area on my skin over the right ovary.  I mean, I know he’d seen my vagina before, and that within an hour he would have me under drugs with only a napkin sized paper blanket over ‘it’ – to give the illusion of privacy, but at this stage I was still very guarded when it came to my privacy and sexuality.

Funny, I think if I were writing this before everything I’ve gone through, which would of course be impossible, I’d have written ‘my privates’ instead of vagina.

The next time I remember seeing him (I guess the anesthesia worked its wonders), he went over the notes of the procedure, to let me know that the cyst had been successfully removed, and to alert me that I had what’s called Endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue that behaves like the cells lining the uterus (endometrium) grows in other regions of the body, causing pain, irregular bleeding, and possible infertility.

Infertility, a word so very vulgar, it might as well be 4-letters to a person who wants to be a parent.

He also mentioned something that he’d seen in my uterus, of which he’d taken a biopsy, which later came back negative.  However, at that time, he did not see either of these findings as deterrents, and so we moved forward with another AI.

By this time I had spoken to enough people about fertility efforts.  I had many friends who had babies, and one friend in particular who had struggled severely with fertility, but was by now mom to 3 little boys, and with 1-surgery behind me, I decided to take their collective recommendations and seek Acupuncture with an LA-based specialist.  On the consultation he checked my body fat and pulse and recommended that I stay away from sugar as much as possible (harder for me to actually do than to quit serious drugs, it turns out), drink special teas that I would have to boil daily in a special clay pot, and come in for weekly treatment.  I was willing to do anything, and even though I had lost my well-paid position at the end of 2008 – due to the collapsed economy, I increased the fertility budget and did as he suggested.

My first consultation with the Dr. including the teas was $337, plus the clay pot at $30.  Between appointments with the head doctor ($162), the plan was for me to see a member of his staff (for $107), and also buy more tea ($32).

And once again, after AI, natural sex, coupled with herbs and acupuncture, I got my period that March.

I sat crying in Dr. B’s office very confused and upset as to why I wasn’t pregnant yet.  He suggested I see a different doctor, who called me that evening and introduced himself simply as David, and I made an appointment for us see him.

The very next morning, Craig and I went for a consultation with Dr. T at his West LA clinic.  Instead of what I considered the standard protocol in which a nurse comes to get the patients and guide them into the fancy doctor’s office, I recall he came out to the waiting room to meet us wearing scrubs and invited us in.  I was surprised when he sat down opposite us at his big oak desk, as I had presumed he was the nurse (as had Craig).  I immediately liked him.

He gave us a kind of 101 course on how a woman gets pregnant.  He flipped through images on a computer to demonstrate the different stages, while a screensaver behind him flipped through images from his own life, including pictures of his child.  He asked us at one point if we were of Ashkenazi descent, and I told him my Jewish father was from Vienna, Austria, and that Craig was Catholic.

Craig didn’t understand the term and with furrowed brows asked him to repeat the question, which made me laugh.  Actually, the only reason I immediately understand was because I had a friend whose pregnancy tragically had to be terminated around 20 weeks because she and her husband both carried the gene that comes from Ashkenazi Jews that causes a disease called Tay Sachs.  (Later, she and her then husband would adopt three children from two different countries.)

Then we discussed next steps, which included an ultra sound on day 3 of my next period.  “I’ll see you on day 3,” has become the most uttered phrase during this process.  Apparently on day 3 the ultra sound shows necessary details of the uterine lining and allows clearer visibility of the ovaries where the follicles are developing.  In addition, the blood levels of Estrogen and woman’s Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH) are best tested on day 3.

The consultation with Dr. T was $315.

I returned on day 3 for a saline induced ultra sound with him, and he immediately saw something that he said was possibly obstructing my ability to get pregnant.  He suspected it was a fibroid in my uterus, but wouldn’t know for sure until he removed it.  He introduced the situation as this: He could either go in vaginally and try to remove it, a process which would require a few hours in a nearby hospital and several days of recovery, or he could cut me open to ensure that he could definitely get to the suspected fibroid, which would necessitate about a month of physical recovery before we could even try again. We agreed that doing the lesser invasive procedure would be the smartest.  I imagine I took a deep breath and then scheduled the procedure for late April.

In the meantime, I returned to the Acupuncturist to get more tea and a treatment and told the doctor that there was a possible fibroid in my uterus, and then he proceeded to practice what I perceived as a sort of voodoo over that area of my body.  And it really bugged me; that I told him such basic info before he acted as if he knew exactly where it was and exactly how to treat it.  He said he would ‘loosen it up so that it would come out easily during surgery’, and then and there, I became incensed about this particular guy’s approach to acupuncture.  I was embarking on a scientific journey and wanted pictures and graphs and statistics to guide the way, not a hunch that somebody had. I purchased the tea that early April and took it as prescribed that next week, but never returned to his office for another treatment or more tea.

On the day of the Hysteroscopy (the inspection of the uterine cavity by endoscopy through cervix, not to be confused with the Hysterosalpingogram x ray test in ’08) it was time for another IV, my 2nd that year, and I remember the nurse fumbled around to find my vein.  I showed her where the nurse found my vein during my January surgery, but still – there was painful poking and prodding and she had to send another nurse in.  I think it was a guy; I don’t remember, as I was too involved in the socks that they had provided with those treads on them; what a great invention these little hospital booties are.  Do you know the ones?  I have quite a collection of them now….

(As I looked up the exact definition of Hysteroscopy, it struck me when it said ‘through cervix’, that this surgery could have been the reason that my cervix was later weakened, deemed ‘incompetent’, the scientific reason for my baby’s premature birth and death. And upon telling this to my husband just now, 3 years after the fact, he said, “What do you want to do, sue him?”  He was serious.  Not knowing whether we’d have a case, I think, if only that would change anything….)

I don’t remember going under but I do remember waking up to Dr. T telling me that he had removed a HUGE fibroid from my uterus during the surgery, that he couldn’t believe he had successfully done it vaginally, and that IT was the reason I hadn’t gotten pregnant thus far.  I was certainly enjoying the left over drug effect; as a sober woman at this time for over 3-years, I had grown pretty excited when I knew I was going under again and looked forward to taking the pain pills – as prescribed of course.

But the words he uttered broke through loud and clear: the obstacle getting in the way of me being pregnant had been removed!!!

I called Craig and let him know; he was thrilled! And then my friend Claire picked me up from the Santa Monica Surgical Center, after which she took me to fill my prescriptions – since Craig was at work – and then drop me off at home.  I was lucky to have a friend who could help us by picking me up; my medical appointments had turned into a full time job, and we needed Craig to keep his as we continued our efforts.

I began to look forward to my next period with great excitement and anticipation, as on Day 1 I would make arrangements to visit Dr. T on Day 3 and have him check me out, meaning have him do an ultra sound and look carefully at my ovaries and uterus and take blood to make sure my levels were where they were supposed to be, before we took our next steps.  In late May I saw Dr. T, who confirmed my uterus was clean and ready for next steps.

He said that he was going to put me on Follistim, a highly aggressive follicle stimulant, much more advanced and aggressive than the earlier used Clomid, with the purpose of creating more possible eggs that would then be fertilized by Craig’s sperm.

That medication alone cost $1,249.71!  It was only sold at special fertility pharmacies, and me, with Craig at work across town in our shared car, had to figure out a way to get the medication. In addition, the medication had to be kept refrigerated or it would go bad.  Fortunately, as mentioned, I was a producer and quickly formed a solution as to which two buses I needed to take from West LA to Westwood, and then home, with my medication being kept safe and cold in a medical, portable cooler-type bag.

The medication was to be taken every day for around a week, with periodic visits scheduled to monitor the growth of these follicles, before we would do the trigger shot to release the ovaries.

To be continued…

Two Surgeries & Some medication 2009, part 2


Stepping into real time for a moment:  Wednesday morning, on the twelfth day of the twelfth month of 2012, I am going in for my twelfth egg retrieval.  That’s got to be good luck, right?  Here’s to creating some beautiful embryos and then freezing them; all previous IVFs we have put what are called ‘freshies’ back in. They’ve always been grade A, and yet the embryos either didn’t attach to my uterus or I had a chemical pregnancy.  I suspect that this is because of the altered state my body is in directly after the stimulation, no surprise considering what my body and I go through. Freezing is something we haven’t tried yet, and I suspect THAT will be the trick.  Here’s to lucky number twelve!

And now for Two Surgeries & Some Medication 2009, part 2

I often think of the movie “Requiem for a Dream” when I think of the ritual of taking of drugs, and the actual reaction of my body to drugs. As already mentioned, I am sober for many years, as somewhere along the way I developed an allergic reaction, to put it mildly, to what started out as recreational drug taking. And so it’s a highly sensitive thing for me, to put drugs in my body that I know are going to change me.

But let me give this some perspective:  a pre menopausal woman who is healthy ovulates an egg every month.  When going through fertility efforts, the goal is to force exponentially more follicles into growing into eggs before forcing them to ovulate. Force is likely a violent word, and while I’ve begun to look at the drugs as my friends, I am highly cognizant that I am forcing my body to do something unnatural.

I was warned of the side effects of Follistim, which include weight gain, irritability, night sweats, and insomnia.

The ritual of taking these drugs carries qualities that if someone isn’t already OCD, she may become addicted because of the repetitive qualities of the actual act:

Open the Follistim Pen, put in the cartridge, consult the ledger to be reminded which side of the belly the drug went into yesterday, deduct prescribed amount from the size of the cartridge (which comes in 300, 600, 900 plus some undetermined amount of overflow).

Disinfect my abdomen on either right or left side, depending which side it went into yesterday, making sure to have disinfected the top of the cartridge upon putting into the pen-like device.

Twist knob to control how much the dose is; for AI it vacillates between 150 and 225 (I would later learn that the dosage goes up as the prescription increases for IVF efforts).

Apply needle, and then first twist off big needle cap then remove the smaller one.

Squeeze fat of abdomen slightly and put the needle in.

Press on the dosage amount, which releases the fluid into the body. Keep fat of body squeezed and once the inserting is done, keep needle in for around 5 seconds.

I of course keep it in for 10, because the drugs are so intense that everything seems to me like it’s in fast forward and keeping the needle in for 10 seconds will counteract the fear that I’m counting way too fast.

Once dosage is in, I carefully would remove the pen and needle, and now take large needle cap and twist on before pulling off the actual needle.  Put into the disposal needle kit.

If you’re lazy and have beautifully manicured nails that could get chipped by opening the disposable container that the pharmacy has provided, perhaps you throw the needles in the trash – like I, on occasion, did and do.

Then it’s time to calculate today’s dosage in the calendar, and make note of which side ‘took’ the shot.  Then back to the produce section of the refrigerator the Follistim cartridge and medicine and case goes, as it a perishable medication.

The actual FEELING the drug gives is pretty gnarly.  On one occasion, I described the feeling moments later as if I could hear a dog barking 3 miles away; my shoulders tense up and raise immediately.  I feel the medicine rushing through me, and course through my blood stream.  I have to actually remind myself to breathe.

I was already an insomniac, I theorized some residual effect of my earlier drugs years, and now I experienced increased restless sleeping.  I would sweat profusely after only minimal exertion.  My already overweight body would get extremely bloated.  And yet I was highly optimistic, and incredibly determined.

Once Dr. T believed the follicles were ready, I had two; he prescribed an HCG shot ($52.94), which triggers the follicles-now-turned-into-eggs into ovulation.  I had done this on previous AIs as well so was somewhat familiar.  The shot had to be given to me by Craig in my butt, at an exact time determined by Dr. T.  The reason for the exact time is that within 36 – 41 hours this medication will force the eggs to drop, and the doctor had to make sure the sperm could get to those eggs before that window closes; the procedures would be scheduled accordingly.

I would have to remove the exact portion of saline water from its bottle, drop it into the vial with the powder, and then swirl around gently until everything was mixed.  Instructions were very specific that this medication could not be shaken, so of course I was hyper paranoid that any wrong activity would stop the medication from working and thereby disrupt the mission I was on.  Once all of it was mixed, I would pull all of the medication out into the 3cc syringe, switch that needle with the 25.5 needle, pull my pajamas down, and tell Craig exactly where to shoot it: at a 90 degree angle – after he had disinfected the area with an alcohol swab.  (I had gone into the doctor for the previous HCG injections.)

He was so nervous the first time, which I thought was funny, as by this time I had undergone 2 surgeries in that year alone and for that past week daily shots; my belly had bruises all over it; for me, it was just another necessary step, and I didn’t have time to flinch.   Even when blood came out after he removed the needle and swabbed the area, I pulled up my PJs nonchalantly, with a sense of real accomplishment at having done the next step, as prescribed.

This cycle’s AI #1 and AI #2 followed, with Craig producing his specimen at home, and then him rushing from our home in Venice to the doctor’s office in West LA, where he would drop me off with the sperm in a brown paper bag that also held any necessary consent forms, before he would then proceed to work in our shared vehicle. I would turn the specimen in at the pre-designated appointment time, usually around 7:30 AM so that Craig wouldn’t miss any work, which meant I was typically the first patient and on a few occasions arrived before any of the staff.

I would wait for 1-hour for the sperm to be cleaned to get the best swimmers, and then be guided into the doctor’s office at which point the doctor would ~ like in all other AI appointments I’d had by this time ~ confirm that the sperm was Craig’s therefore mine by checking name and birthdate, and then insert it into my vagina with a catheter.  Once complete, I would wait 20 minutes often with my knees to my chest to invite those beautiful little sperm to find my egg, before I checked out at the front desk (approximately $560 for the sperm cleaning and the Artificial Insemination at this office), and then walk over 3 long blocks to the bus stop which included walking under a freeway overpass, which was always pretty gross, and then take 2 buses home.

And the day of my 2nd AI, we would have sex, too, and then that night, begin inserting a medication called Progesterone into me vaginally, that was meant to decrease chance of miscarriage.

20 days later, unfortunately my period arrived.  I was sad and of course highly disappointed, but simply picked up the phone and made an appointment with Dr. T for Day 3, once again.  We went straight into another cycle, which meant approximately another $1,000 in medication, since I had some left over, plus of course the costs for the doctor visits, the sperm cleaning, and the bus fare.

A complete week of Follistim at 150 a day, followed by 2 AIs and sex on both days, and I started the Progesterone again, this time one day early.

It had been 20 days since the last day of my last period, and I had a little blood spotting when I wiped.  I guess I thought it might be my period, but it didn’t actually come that day.

Or the next day.

So on July 9th, 2009, I took a pregnancy test that came up positive.

Over the moon.  Through the roof.  Elated.  Happy.  Grateful.  Thrilled.  I was beside myself with happiness, and scheduled an official blood test with Dr. T’s office the next morning.  And low and behold, a total of 12 AIs, at least 10 tries of sex timed to ovulation, 2 surgeries, countless ultra sounds and doctor visits, and almost $15,000 later, I was pregnant.

And we could not have been happier.

When does life or love begin?


My last post left off in July, 2009, but I felt like switching gears for this posting….

I am a liberally minded woman.  I vote democratic, and I guess that’s relevant because of all of the right winged tea party nuts that hijacked that Grand Old Party, many of which have since uttered and tried to impose their archaic opinions about a problem that was already solved.

I am pro choice.  I have never had an abortion, but should I have needed to have one for any thoughtful reason, I likely would have.  I support any woman’s right to choose, although I do tend to judge a woman I know who professes to be a devout Catholic and has had two abortions. I mean, how can she support that church so completely and still abort?  Talk about making a choice.  Anyway….

I am struck by the question as to when life begins, something some politicians have recently tried to weigh in on, because as I type this, now 2 days after my 12th retrieval, I have 3 embryos that have 4 cells, the exact right amount.  By Monday, I will know how many blastocysts we have to freeze.  (Blastocysts refer to the level of cells and growth that an embryo should be by day 5 of its existence.)

There is a lot of discussion in the fertility world as to when the best time is to put embryos in, but I’ve heard 3 top doctors indicate if they don’t survive outside in the lab until day 5, then they’re not going to survive inside the woman’s uterus, and with these doctors’ guidance, I made the decision that we should grow them to day 5 before freezing, so we know what we’re legitimately working with come late January.  If they don’t all make it to day 5, then we will freeze less than 3.

(Saturday I was supposed to get an update on the embryos, hopefully the news that they had now reached 8 cells, but either someone at the lab or my least favorite nurse at the doctor’s office dropped the administrative ball, and missed the window of getting the embryologists to send an update.  I got this voice-mail from the nurse, who I’ve had words with before, during which I had to remind her as to the sensitivity of her job, I mean, really, anyone who is in a fertility office is under duress and she should act accordingly – that I would have to wait until Monday for a report, and my shoulders immediately raised, as if I was ready for a fight.  Fortunately, I had gone to the spiritual healer that morning and was able to remind myself to breathe, that how these embryos were growing would in no way be altered by my knowledge; that I’d already done everything I could.)

(As mentioned in the last post, we opted to freeze because I have had grade A embryos in the past that haven’t attached, and we suspect that my body needs a break from the magical poison Follistim before the embryos will attach. Plus, I am on a highly demanding project right now, and have to create the right mental & physical space to be ready to accept these embryos.)

Anyway, what I want to express is how much I already love these embryos, and they don’t even have a heartbeat yet.  While their actual DNA doesn’t really take over until week 3, they were made with the DNA of my husband and me, and they are Finley’s brother or sister. They were made out of love, out of want, out of a desire to be parents so strong that we have done more than what over 99% of parents out there do, just in order to get them to be 4 cells.  But I already love them, speak to them, and we even have names picked out for our next children.

(Well – actually – we’re settled on the girl’s name; Craig has issues with the boy’s name that I love so much, but I know that I will eventually win the battle on this one or we will agree on an even better name.  Clearly, with these embryos still in a lab in Tarzana, there is no need for us to rush the baby naming.)

Even when I am doing the stimulation, when I am shooting myself up with 2 – 4 shots a night, I will rub low on my belly where my ovaries are, and speak to my ovaries with care. I will tell my ovaries that they’re doing a great job. I will encourage my follicles to grow.  I will close my eyes and wait for the pink or blue energy waves that sometimes come over me to visit so I know that my spirit babies are on their way.

Most people would suggest 4-cell embryos are not alive. And they’re right; it’s only the beginning of life, and without hearing a heartbeat (something we can hear with the most advanced technology at week 5), they’re not really even chemically alive.  More-over, they don’t have a chance at life until they’re inside a woman’s body, mine, in this case, at which point little by little they grow into babies, before they are born, and legitimately – alive.

In olden times, before people understood biology and human beginnings, people believed that babies just started out as miniature humans, and that they just they grew bigger and bigger over time. These were called homunculus.

Now we know of course that there are developmental stages. I, for instance, learned the hard way with my son Finley that the lungs don’t develop until after the 30th week.

I write all of this for two reasons.

First, it was on my mind.  I’ve thought about it and joked about it with people a lot.  If you’re trying to get pregnant, and you’re trying to get pregnant to the degree that I am, then you know every step of the way what is happening inside of you (or in the lab). And you end up loving the IDEA of the baby every step of the way, even before they are 4 cells.

Secondly, I had already known Friday morning that I was going to write this for my next post, and then a tragedy occurred in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.   A man walked into a school and killed 20 6 and 7 year old children, and 6 of the courageous adults who tried to protect the children.

I have wept multiple times thinking of those sweet little children, their voices small and their eyes big and their lives only just beginning, murdered.  It is brutal and makes me question my faith in humanity.

I also think of the parents.

Parents who filled those children’s lunch boxes that morning.

Parents who had Christmas and Hanukah gifts already wrapped; parents who were looking forward to watching Jessica or Jack or Olivia or Noah open up their train or doll or coloring book or football.

Parents who might have made their child go to school that morning, even if the child might have had the sniffles.

Parents who rushed to work that morning and didn’t wake up their child to hug him goodbye.

Those parents, whose arms will now ache for their children.  Who will wake up from their sleeping pill induced sleep wondering if it was a nightmare, before realizing that it really did happen.

And I ask, as a parent to a son I didn’t get to know very long, but who I knew so completely and loved so deeply, will these parents miss their children more than I miss Finley because they knew their children longer, and therefore loved them more?

Is it reasonable that I, a bereaved parent, sense that I know what they’re feeling?

Dreams are crushed, period.

But while dreams are equally crushed, there are more ‘things’ that these parents fell in love with:

The sleepy look in their son’s eyes when he tried to stay awake

The sound of her giggling

Their little voices as they sang the Happy Birthday song

And all of those unique, endearing, beloved qualities that made these children who they were; their DNA

I wonder this question aloud because I have on so many occasions battled with others who tried to compare their losses to mine, something I’ll get into in more detail, later, but to summarize – I used to believe that the person who miscarries at 8 weeks does not have the same sadness that I have at having met my son and held his hand, before he died.

But what if that mother struggled with fertility, too, and therefore fell in love with the idea of her baby even before she heard the heartbeat?  Does her pain hurt as much when she didn’t have as long to know her fetus?  Can I judge when I’m already in love with the likely now more than 8 cell organisms that are growing in petri dishes in Tarzana? Would a parent of one of those precious little children in Connecticut take issue with me relating to them as a fellow bereaved parent, when I never got to see my child’s eyes or hear my child’s laugh or watch him walk?  Are they luckier than me because they did get to experience all of those firsts, before losing them?

I think it is human nature to compare our-selves to others.  And even in the movie “The Rabbit Hole” – a movie about parents whose 6 year old son dies, and the aftermath of what this does to them as individuals and as a couple, Nicole Kidman’s character takes issue with her mother, who lost her son / Kidman’s character’s brother at about 30, due to a drug overdose, relating to her pain.

Is it fair that Dianne Wiest’s character tries to relate to her daughter, the bereaved mother of a 6-year old, as she herself is a bereaved mother of a 30-year old?

At this link below is a scene during which Kidman’s character talks to her mother, played by Wiest, about the pain of being a bereaved parent.

When life begins is one question. When love begins is another. Still – these are questions that can only be answered by the individuals faced with loss and painful decisions in which no politicians should play any part.

And as far as the parents in Connecticut whose hearts are broken, whose arms ache, and whose dreams are crushed, my wish is that eventually they might find a way to continue their relationships with their children on a spiritual level, whether with dolphins or butterflies or deer; that even though the most heinous act was inflicted on those poor and innocent children, that they might one day find a way to ‘crawl out from under (their pain) and carry (it) like a brick in (their) pocket’.

Magical Moment


It’s 12.21.12.   The Mayans predicted it would be the end of the world.  That idea didn’t scare me, maybe because I am more and more spiritually centered in that which I can’t control; maybe because I believe in reincarnation; maybe because if the world was over my hurt and struggle in this life would be gone.

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Outwardly, I am not full of sadness and dread.  I’d say I am a pretty upbeat person. I think I’m affable, and I likely give most people the perception that I’m happy.  At a holiday party recently an associate said she thought I was always in a good mood.  A different associate at this gathering quickly corrected this, somewhat jokingly, saying that the 1st woman must not know me very well, and of course she was right (though the 2nd woman was simply referring to the level of drama with which she sees me at work, since she sits closer to me), but I think likely most people who don’t know me, the real me, the one who is writing this, the one who cries sometimes to and from work or in the shower, without any control – since grief does, as Joan Didion has written, come over me often like a rollercoaster – with so much abrupt force that it can make me keel over and need to catch my breath, think I am a happy person.

I am that person who smiles at strangers on the street.  Or returns a resounding “Good morning!” to the person on the hiking trail.  I will make small talk in line at the bank.  I have even become friends with the women at the dry cleaners.

But underneath all of that optimism is truly a void so big and a longing so deep that I am, as a matter of fact, a sad woman, and so the end of the world wouldn’t have been so bad.

That is not to say that I would opt out on my own.  Hell, no.  First off, having lost close friends way too early, I do not take being alive for granted.  Like my dad would say, “You know who wants to be 82?  An 81 year old.”  I look forward to a new day or in this case, next year, because I hope for promise.  Promise of a dream I know is meant to come true.

(Of course it’s worth noting that having to keep up this level of hope, the decision that I make to be optimistic every day, is exhausting.  I’ve never done a marathon, but I am positive that these fertility efforts are harder than climbing Mount Everest; 12 egg retrievals later, I am as strong mentally as a triathaloner is physically.  I have stamina.)

And along with the fact that I am a sad person who has a tremendous amount of hope for the new year, I have to say, I hate the holidays, specifically Christmas.

I hate that parents get to celebrate for the 1st, 2nd or 3rd time with their child, and that I don’t.

I hate that parents dragged their child to see Santa Clause at the local mall, and that I can’t.

I hate that they send me their stupid fucking holiday cards, with their beautiful children posed for a picture.

I hate that they take it for granted.

I am sad that we don’t get to do any of those things.  Again.  This year.

And it’s not just me as a bereaved mother or as a woman struggling with fertility that feels the pressure of Christmas, like a loaded gun being pointed at my back.

Holidays are rough for SO many people, and I think most people are blissfully unaware of that.  Some people are newly widowed.  Some people, at 10 or at 50 years old, are orphans this year for their first time.  Some people are starting chemotherapy.  Others found out that their chemotherapy didn’t work.  Some people just lost their jobs, and can’t buy any presents for their children this year.  I could go on. And on.

Almost 3 years ago I was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and I shared that I had lost my son.  I had shared at this meeting countless times over the years – sometimes commenting on what that morning’s speaker had said and sometimes about something that I had been feeling, but what was different about this meeting is that nobody responded as I had wanted, no, needed them to, to my heartfelt and incredibly personal share.  The people who shared after me talked about financial struggles or relapsing or fights with their families, things I had related to so many times, but by now found so incredibly small and insignificant compared to what I was experiencing.

So I decided to leave the meeting early, and as I traipsed across the sand on the beach from where this meeting was held, a man named Sandy came after me.  Sandy was a gruff man.  He often spoke in his shares about what it felt like to be free after having been incarcerated.  He sometimes read poems he’d written.  Always smoked Marlboro reds.  And I had never related to him on any level.  But there he was, calling after me on the sands of Venice Beach that Saturday morning in January of 2010.  “Miss?  Miss?” – I heard, and I turned around.  He came up to me, took his sunglasses off and grabbed my hand with both of his hands, and said, “I’m really sorry about your son.”   At the time, I didn’t think there was anything profound about the moment, though I did appreciate the effort.

This morning I was driving to work.  The world hadn’t ended, so I had a huge day ahead of me.  Christmas is in 4 days.  We have a stack of holiday cards at home that I have tossed aside like a true scrooge.  I have a great deal of resentment that another holiday is coming up without a child to love and protect; being the mother to an angel is just not the same.  And I was tired and cranky as my insomnia is alive and well.

And I saw Sandy, the man from that AA meeting – one I haven’t returned to since that time – crossing the street.  He looked the same; rough around the edges.  He was limping; I don’t remember him limping before.  And I realized that my hand went to cover my heart.  I did not do this consciously; seeing him brought back such a strong memory so quickly that my reflex was to hold my heart, almost as if to hug it from the pain that had immediately swelled up at that emotion, as quickly as a dip on a roller coaster ride, at having seen him.

The light turned green and I drove on to my coffee place, remembering the humanity of that moment differently than I had first experienced it, that Saturday in January, almost 3 years ago.

About 5 minutes later, after I got my coffee, I saw him walking again.  It struck me that he had walked pretty quickly from Marine to Pico, and also that when I’d first noticed him he was walking in the opposite direction of where he was at this moment.  Odd.

And I debated what to do; this is what I consider a G-d shot moment – a moment in which I think that there is a divine reason why I am seeing this person twice in one morning.  And why had he switched directions on his walk?  I debated and debated and then quickly pulled over on the side of the road and rushed out and yelled, “Sandy!”  He turned around and came towards me and I said something like…

“I used to go that Saturday morning meeting on the beach…. And 3 years ago I lost my son and when I went to that meeting and shared that, you came after me as I was leaving to tell me how sorry you were to hear this… I didn’t know you then, I don’t know you now, but I want you to know that I saw you a few minutes ago and simply seeing you reminded me on a deeply emotional level of how much that moment meant to me, you coming up to me on the beach; it made me put my hand to my heart…. So when I saw you again just now, I realized I had to pull over and say thank you. Thank you for being a generous human.  For being so kind.  I want you to know that your words did make a difference…”

I took off my glasses now, instinctually, so that we could really connect.

He was moved to tears.  He thanked me for thanking him.  I extended my hand.  He pulled in for a hug, and kissed me.  I thanked him again.  He thanked me again. I got back in my car, waved through the window, and went on to work.  I debated offering him money but then stopped myself, because our connection was beyond anything physical, so much bigger than everything commercial, and I did not want to pollute that with a monetary contribution to a man that I outwardly judged as perhaps needing financial help.

It was a Magical Moment.  One of those that makes me feel lucky, grateful to be alive, and happy that the world is not over.

THAT is what I will celebrate this Christmas.

Goals & Intentions & Dreams


~ morning walks on the Venice Canals are good exercise & great morning meditations

A new year is coming up, so it is a time to make resolutions.  While I am resolute every, single day, I am a fan of these, as I think re-setting expectations for the year to come is a good use of one’s energy.  It is a re-commitment to one’s dreams; a promise to one’s self; an opportunity for a start-over on a path that may not be working.

In fact, I choose to take a new calendar year, a new age, and the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah as opportunities to re-state my expectations, which means at minimum three times a year I set goals.  Heck, sometimes even after a bad morning, I re-commit the afternoon to being better. I strongly believe in do-overs and to looking forward, and so will embrace the opportunity to do that with a clean slate, starting next week on the new calendar year.

As we enter ’13, I have the cliché goals:  I would like to go to the gym more and I would like to reduce my love affair with sugar.  Read: I would like to lose weight.

Frankly, though, I fear that I am not being reasonable with my goals thereby increasing a chance of disappointment on myself, and dear G-d, I do not need to suffer any more self-criticism than I already experience every – single – day.  People who have experienced the pain I have endured know what I am referring to:  It is the natural order for a mother to protect her child from harm, and the natural order for a woman to get pregnant.   I already failed Finley, my first son, since I was not able to protect him. I know intellectually that there was nothing more to do than what I did, and have made significant progress emotionally with believing that.  But it doesn’t change the math: I had a baby and he died, and as his mother, that is a load of guilt that as someone born half Catholic and half Jewish – I represent way too well.  And as a woman who has suffered deep sadness and angst because of my desire to be a mother and my failure to produce that result – I feel an extraordinary amount of pressure every – single – day.

Every day that I see a mother holding a baby; every day that I go back to the doctor to repeat the same action (or a derivative approach), and hope for a different result; every day that I am not able to honor my son and bring his brother or sister into this world – YET – I criticize myself, and I will not impose any more possibility for disappointment onto myself. The burden is too big; I can only do so much; even Atlas would shrug.

Once I am pregnant, which ostensibly starts after my next embryo transfer, I will not be able to go to the gym – as I will be high risk.  High risk, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the phrase that refers to the level of danger of pregnancy for a woman over a certain age, and a woman who has already been diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, like me.  Likely I will go to a high risk specialist in Santa Monica at around 8 or 9 weeks of pregnancy, one who comes highly recommended by people I know, and he will put me on some sort of modified or strict bed-rest, provide a handicap placard so that my physical exertion is minimal, eventually place me on disability, and so forth.

Funny – someone reading this might think of this as a sentence of sorts, whereas I look forward with GREAT excitement at the prospect of being 8 or 9 weeks pregnant and having an occasion to see this notable doctor.

I am definitely not pregnant now, though we will try naturally this month as our little frozen embryos wait for the right time to be placed inside of my gorgeous and accepting and warm and nurturing uterus (I like to imagine it like Jeanie’s home in the bottle in “I Dream of Jeannie”, only designed for babies), but I am in pre production, so there literally is not enough time in the day to go to the gym and do everything I have to stay ahead of the insane chaos that is my job to manage.  (An exciting job, I might add, the compensation for which – combined with Craig’s – allows us to continue chasing our dream of becoming parents, with costs mounting high enough for me to equate them to a down payment on a home in Los Angeles, though we currently reside in a 1-bedroom rented apartment since we put that potential down payment towards our future child’s or children’s chance at conception.)

Normal people with normal jobs are used to working 8 – 9 hours, maybe commuting for 1 – 2, and then going to the gym or a class of some sorts. But I don’t have a normal job, so since I can’t go to the gym with a sense of commitment and regularity, I refine my goal to at least walk to the end of the Venice pier or around the Venice canals a few times a week (at least we rent in a beautiful neighborhood!), as any form of exercise is better than none, and to just go to the gym and my hikes when I can.

Sober for almost 7 years, having quit cigarettes almost 6 years ago, drinking caffeine only during spurts of time that I know I am not pregnant and that I am not preparing for pregnancy, and having quit drinking my beloved decaf, no sugar added, vanilla latte with soy milk last year, since my acupuncturist said it was like drinking a shake for breakfast, I have kicked all of my bad habits except for candy and fried foods.  The fried foods I am not too worried about; while I hate when the waitress asks that riddle, “hash browns or fruit” and “fries or salad”, I suspect I can make the right decision more often than I have, without ruining every meal. The love affair I have with sugar is a bit more complicated.

Sometimes after a very rough day, having a piece of chocolate and watching a sitcom is my escape.  Sometimes it feels like the only moment that nobody is asking for anything from me.  Sometimes it acts like a sedative.  Or a reward for doing all that I do.  Or it’s a consolation prize for not that but for WHO I don’t have.

But sometimes it’s more than ‘a piece of’ chocolate; sometimes it’s 1/3 of a Lindt candy bar.  But it is my only unhealthy vice, and I hold onto it like a warm hug from someone I love. I would be setting myself up for failure if I go into ’13 stating that I will quit sugar, so perhaps I can refine that goal to something that is progress, but not one of my ridiculous attempts at a perfection that I can not achieve. I shall eat less sugar.  I will put pressure on myself eventually to eat even less sugar than what I start out eating starting next week; maybe I’ll even work on breaking the love affair I have with it.

Even more important than goals going into a new year, I believe, are one’s intentions.  I, for instance, intend to be pregnant in ’13; I will be pregnant this year, as Craig and I have a plan in action that will bring us our dream.  But I will go about getting pregnant differently than I have in these past three years:  I will embrace the knowledge that our baby or babies will come when they are ready, and in order to accept that and to really allow for that, I have to give up all of my delusions of power.

I will still do everything that I can do: I will take the medication at the exact time and in the exact dosage.  I will pray to those two little frozen embryos about which I recently dreamt, that are sitting in a freezer in Tarzana.  I will maintain my schedule that anticipates when my next period will come, after I finish shooting a commercial in New York in January, to determine when the next doctor’s appointment will be, at which we’ll decide if we go straight into more stimulation to create more embryos or work with the ones that are already waiting for us.

I will continue to do all of these things. But I will release the outcome to the universe.  I will know that when I listen to the universe, the universe talks to me.  I will accept that after every thing that I do as prescribed, there is a bit of magical fairy dust that needs to wash over our lives.  I can commit to recognizing when my ability to control has reached its limit.  I shall commit to being still in the knowledge that our dreams will come true.

While I am metaphorically chasing my butterflies with every ounce of my very core, I recognize that sometimes when you sit with your arms outstretched and your palms wide open, butterflies will land.

To a great new year, and to dreams coming true.

Pregnancy ’09 – first trimester


Before I stepped into real time, to honor the holidays and share my thoughts on what they meant to me this year, I had left off in this story, this detailed account of my very personal experience, in July of 2009 when we found out I was pregnant.  Now, I shall continue with that.


The first week of knowing I was pregnant was really the 3rd week of pregnancy, because a pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period.  I started gathering literature from friends and via the Internet about what to expect, and it eventually became a weekly tradition for Craig and I to read about that week’s progress.

The 3rd week was full of sleeplessness and night sweats.  And I was in pre production on a commercial that would shoot in August in New York, and so would work from my apartment in Venice and sometimes steal time for afternoon naps.  I spotted that week, meaning there was a little blood on the toilet paper after I wiped, and I was concerned, but the next day’s scheduled blood test confirmed my levels were appropriately rising and I was fine!

Now into the 4th week I started bleeding; at first it was spotting, but then it turned into heavy bleeding and some clots.  And I was frightened and felt very helpless and sad.  I called the doctor’s office and spoke to a nurse who said the only thing to do was to take it easy; my first ultra sound appointment was scheduled for July 24th, and there would be nothing the doctor could see and therefore do until then.  Craig was leaving on a business trip that night, but the hysteria in my voice when I called him to tell him what was happening brought him home early from work to hug me a bit before he left.  I knew I was supposed to rest, but the idea of Craig getting on a plane and leaving me made me so anxious that I insisted it would be fine if I drove him to the airport.  So I did, and on the way back got a bunch of fried chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken drive thru, and proceeded to go home and pig out on it.  It was salty and delicious and replaced the hugs that Craig couldn’t give me on this scary evening.  I remember very vividly that once his plane touched down that he had to drive into a lightening storm, and I couldn’t reach him for way longer than I had anticipated, which made things worse for me.  But, I survived through that night, wearing a pad to catch the blood.

The same day that the bleeding had started I’d had plans with my niece to go bike riding.  When my eldest sister called me and I was obviously crying, she asked what was wrong, and I told her I was miscarrying.  She didn’t even know I was pregnant at this time; only Craig, my friend Dee – who seemed to psychically know to call me the night of the positive pregnancy test, and the doctors did, but I poured out all of the information to her and she listened and calmly said to just do what the nurse had said; that bleeding could sometimes happen and that it didn’t necessary mean I was miscarrying.

And then through the course of Craig being gone on his business trip with me laid up in bed resting as much as possible that week while working from home, but of course anxious and needing to talk about how scared I was with someone, I called my friend Cheryl to learn of her pregnancy stories and scares.  She was my oldest friend; I’d known her since I was two-years young, and with 3 children of her own, I knew she’d be a comfort.  I told her the theory that Craig and I had developed:  That I was pregnant with twins, and that one of them was miscarrying.  I had no way of really knowing this; the Follistim stimulation had resulted in 2 or 3 eggs that cycle – so there was a possibility of multiples (term for more than one baby), and this story I’d concocted saved me from thinking I was losing the ‘whole’ pregnancy, and kept me as sane as any woman who wanted a baby this badly could be for the rest of that week.

By Friday morning Craig had returned, and he dropped me off at Dr. T’s office, where in fact, we saw 2 fetuses and heard 1 heartbeat.  I couldn’t believe it.  Being told that you’re pregnant because of a blood or urine test is one thing, but hearing the heartbeat is BEYOND amazing.  It was exactly as strong as it was supposed to be.  And as far as the fact that there were 2 fetus sacks and only 1 heartbeat, Dr. T proposed that either the other would develop, or that I was, as I’d theorized, in the process of losing the 2nd one.

Craig was the first phone call I made.  Then my sister Cynthia. Then Cheryl.  I made these calls as I walked a creative way to the bus stop – meaning a way I hadn’t walked before; I had a sort of skip in my step even though I ended up walking a really long couple of blocks only to realize I needed to go a different route to get to Pico near Westgate.  When I got on the bus, I opened my backpack that held all of the things I was carrying around with me, including a couple of magazines for my reading pleasure during the bus ride.  I had carefully placed my sonogram picture safely within the pages, and took it out and peaked at it, sort of looking around to see if anyone knew what I was doing.  I felt cautious but proud and as I write this now struggle to find a better word to capture just how happy I was:

There was a sense of accomplishment along with a deep sense of understanding my body so well, considering that I had exactly predicted that I had two and was perhaps losing one.  I wasn’t happy about the idea of losing one of them, not even close.  But as I knew my body so well, as I was so aligned with myself, I was ethereal, floating a margin above where happy people dwell.

That Saturday we went out for our regular date night to a great seafood place in Santa Monica, and I felt myself bleeding during the meal, so I had to rush to the bathroom and put in one of the pads I had taken from Dr. T.’s office’s bathroom.  I was still concerned, but eventually the bleeding stopped and during next week’s 6-week check up, it was confirmed that one fetus was growing strong, but that the other had disappeared.

I would learn that what had happened is called Vanishing Twin Syndrome.  It means that one of the fetuses in a twin pregnancy spontaneously aborts, usually during the first trimester; in scientific terms: the fetal tissue is absorbed by the other twin; the placenta; or the mother; thus giving the appearance that the twin “vanished.”

The medical description aside, I was losing the possibility of a baby at this time. Since I am writing this after having lost my actual very beautiful and very real son, the fetus from July ‘09 whose heartbeat was growing stronger and stronger, it is very hard for me to sympathize with what it felt like to be me at that time. As previously mentioned, when I lost Finley, it changed who I am forever, so much so that I don’t remember who I was then.  But I think it’s important to state that I felt lucky that I had one growing, and definitely recognize how sad and difficult it is for people, specifically women, to have the loss of the dream of their baby categorized as simply as “Vanishing Twin Syndrome”.  This vanishing twin could have eventually been Henry or Harry or Sally or Adele, and the science of it all seems to underwhelm the emotional chord that exists, yes, even that early, between a parent and a growing fetus.

The next two weeks I was in pre production on what would be my most interesting production, to date.  I was working on a Public Service Announcement for an organization that our work would launch, with an Academy Award Winning Director and an Academy Award Nominated Actress.  The logistics of what we were filming and where we were filming were quite impressive, and I was happy to work hard from home, often peaking at the incredible and latest sonogram of our baby-to-be.

The next appointment would be at 8-weeks of pregnancy, just before I was to leave for my project that would take me to NYC for about 4-weeks.  I remember I was balancing way too many things that morning, such was my personality:

I took Craig to pick up a few of his friends at our friend Jerry’s house and then dropped them off at the airport; they were going to Colorado for our friends’ wedding.

I met with an attorney at a Starbucks to discuss a lawsuit I was filing against my former employer, who had breached my contract.

Then the plan was to go get the perfect travel sweat outfit, followed by an appointment with Dr. T, and then I would have to race to get my hair cut all the way in Silver Lake.

I was to travel to NY in a couple of days, and was in heavy pre production, so it was no surprise that I got a call while in the Doctor’s office that I needed to add a conference call to the morning’s activities.

All of these metaphorical balls balanced in the air, and still the moments after Dr. T confirmed the fetus was growing healthy, when Rishona told me the expected due date, stands still in time for me.

Rishona was one of my nurses, and she had a very soft voice; she tended to be a low-talker, meaning that I often had to strain to hear what she was saying.  Per my request she was putting together information onto a prescription, in the event that I needed to see a doctor when I was in NYC.  It was an unlikely need but a smart precaution to take, being that I would be 3,000 miles away from home.  On the form she was writing my birth-date, the doctor’s office’s information, and then the baby’s due date.  “Has anyone told you the due date yet?” she asked.  I shook my head.  “It’s March 18th,” she said.  “What?!” I asked, incredulous as well as uncertain as to whether I heard her correctly, since she did speak in a whisper.  “March 18th,” she repeated.

I started rambling, “That was one of my best friend’s birthdays and she died years ago and did you say March 18th?”  She nodded her head, and handed me the prescription, which clearly read the date that my dear friend Nicole would have been 40-years old, had she lived more than 3-days after her 20th birthday, so many years ago.

Everything changed for me then.  I called Craig to let him know, but he was on the plane to Colorado, so I couldn’t get a hold of him.  I had a million things on my mind, with a million things on my to do list over the next coming days, and yet the only thing that mattered to me was the enormous peace I had in knowing that my baby was to be born on Nicole’s birth-date.  I had been so nervous after experiencing the loss of the ‘invisible twin’ as to whether I would have any more problems.  But with this sign, with this obvious message and gift from my spiritual universe, I knew now that this baby was meant to be.  And I went on my way with this knowledge that seemed to propel me as if I was walking on air.

New York was amazing.  Being pregnant in New York, despite all of the madness and the August filth and heat, I felt unshakeable and unbreakable.  By this time, I had told my other sister, a couple of close friends, and a bunch of virtual strangers with whom I was working, as being in the midst of a huge and exciting production often accelerates a friendship.

We filmed at Grand Central.  There were over 100 extras and I was managing 3 shoots at once.  I went straight into post-production.  I could swear I was Super Woman.  I craved soups and bagels with cream cheese and lox, but stayed away from the lox, for obvious reasons.  First came 9 weeks, then I turned 10 weeks pregnant, while renting this amazing apartment in Chelsea and developing a routine of dry cleaning and take-out like a true New Yorker.  One day I walked all the way to the MOMA, and then from there got lost on my way through Central Park to get these cookies my sister, who at one point lived in NY, loves.  I visited with my dad’s sister and her family out in Long Island, and even embraced getting caught in the summer rain while walking to the train station.

Other than the cravings, on occasion the morning sickness was so overwhelming I’d have to grab the wall, the couch, a chair, whatever was near me, to stabilize myself while I regained my balance.  Also, I had become so accustomed to the regular doctor visits, something that is only for woman in assisted reproduction since most women don’t even know they are pregnant until sometimes 1 or 2 missed periods, that after I went to the bathroom and wiped myself, I would look at the toiler paper to make sure there was no blood.  I think I was less fearing a miscarriage, as after all, my baby would share the birth-date of my dear and dead friend Nicole’s thereby being a signal that the baby was going to be fine, than sometimes wondering if my period would come back.

Other times my imagination would make me wonder if the baby was even still inside me.

Craig would read me the weekly development of the fetus from our book over the phone to me from our apartment in Venice.  I missed him tremendously, and when we spoke felt calm and secure.

11 weeks along, and still in New York, I hadn’t told my parents I was pregnant.  For many that’s normal, as the first trimester is of course a highly vulnerable time, with 80% of miscarriages happening during this time. But that’s not why I hadn’t told them.  My parents, who I love dearly and respect a lot, weren’t normal parents ~ that’s why I hadn’t told them.  Was it their age difference?  Their cultural differences?  The fact that my mother didn’t have a father growing up?  Was it because they didn’t accept my relationship of 10-years with Craig because they liked to blame him for my eventual drug addiction – even though I started abusing drugs when I was only 15-years old living under their roof, long before I met him (and even though I’d been sober for years at this point)?

My mother had actually made a point of telling me I didn’t know how hard it was to be a parent.  Earlier that year, she had coerced me into a lunch with my sister and made efforts to sabotage my desire for motherhood.  She wasn’t clear at all why she didn’t want me to have a child.  She just ranted stuff at me.  She even made a point of having my Dad come over to my apartment and go on a walk with me, while he uttered the same thing.  Was it because I wasn’t married to Craig, that we didn’t have the legal paperwork that showed how committed we were to one another?

I didn’t know, and I really didn’t care if they thought I shouldn’t have a child, as I knew I was going to be a great mother.

Almost 12-weeks pregnant, I flew back to Los Angeles, cognizant of where the seatbelt rested on my pregnant belly in flight, and the fact that walking around the airplane was recommended to keep my blood flowing.  I hadn’t gained too much weight, but I was starting to celebrate my existing belly, which had absolutely nothing to do with the pregnancy; I didn’t care that the belly I wasn’t trying to hide wasn’t the result of being pregnant, as I was so happy with myself and my body over-all for being the vessel for my little growing baby.

Back in Los Angeles, since I’d missed Craig’s 40th birthday, I threw him a small surprise gathering that included Japanese noodles and Karaoke.

I saw my OBGYN, as now I was far enough along in the pregnancy to transfer over to him, and of course was thrilled to be entering my second trimester, when the percentage of medical issues or miscarriage decrease significantly.  Or so I thought.

Praying for a new promise


I am sitting on a plane back to LA from New York, where I’ve been working for almost two weeks. It was the first time I’ve done a job there since I was pregnant with Finley.  I was glad to stay away from the things that I think of when I think about that trip, that time in my life; I am so very separated now from who I was, where I was, and the promise of what lie ahead.

This time, I stayed in a hotel in Soho, not in an apartment in Chelsea.

This time, I didn’t breathe in the beauty of any museums. I sat in what we referred to as dungeon of a location in New Jersey, as a mega-star was being caught on film in the next room, and breathed in the mold from the walls because of the recent flood.

I ran to the 15-person passenger van with co-workers after a very long shoot day, as the cold January rain turned to sleet on my head.  Last time I got happily lost in Central park in the summer rain.

I wanted to write what happened next by now, but the work I’ve been preparing for – having started a new project on the anniversary of Finley’s death – and then being in New York City – has made me too busy to be emotionally present enough to step back into the experience of my second trimester, 2009.

And I am not ready to share it with you yet.  And I am scared to write it down, because I know how that story ends.

So I shall stay in the present, which is fine I suppose, as I am experiencing enough emotion here and now to merit this side bar.

Since losing Finley, I have separation anxiety when I leave Craig.  I experience it less if he goes away for a weekend with friends – though it is present, and then it actually causes me to connect more deeply, really more desperately with my son’s spirit – than I do when I am the one who goes away.  When I go away, I get very anxious not being near him.

When I am sad or anxious, when Craig hugs me or touches my arm or I touch his back or he rubs my feet – when we have any form of intimacy – I am calmed.  I am connected to him; our energy secures the circle of love we have for each other and for our son.

So when I am not with him, I am increasingly anxious.

I remember when I had my first work trip after Finley died.  It was less than 5 months after he had died.

I had just learned that my 1st IVF had failed, while I was working out of an ad agency in Irvine. I had been so confident it would work, and when my phone rang and I knew it was my doctor’s office, I ran to the bathroom, where I received the bad news.  Minutes later, literally, I was working with a client’s cost consultants, to make sure we were getting the best deal for a job in which we would ship a couple of cars across the world to Argentina to film a commercial. Add to that, I had to drive home from this office at the end of that workday – which was 55 miles on the infamous 405 freeway.

Tears flooded my face as I gasped and clutched the wheel for dear life. I really don’t know how I made it home that day.

I don’t know how I got on an airplane days later as I was so fragile. A career woman with a personality that outwardly demonstrates strength and confidence; in a job in which I have to be assertive every hour of the day – people with whom I worked had no idea what was really happening.  But I felt like if a person looked a little closer, he could see my insides, and I felt naked, exposed; I was the skeleton of who I had been.  I was a bereaved parent, who wanted desperately to have a child, and I had just learned that I was not pregnant.

I felt rejected.

And yet days later I was to get on a plane with co-workers to head to Buenos Aires, Argentina, the travel time of which is longer than my son lived.

The day before 2 co-workers and I were to leave, co-workers who didn’t know anything about my personal life, I was feeling very high strung. I was scared to leave Craig, the only person who knows truly what I go through, and I decided to open up to my co-workers.

I walked into a copywriter’s office and asked him to come over to the art director’s office with me.  We went into her office, and I sat down and looked at them and said that I had to tell them something about myself. I remember telling them in very simple terms that I had just lost my son, and that I would work my ass off as I had been already, but at the end of the day when they wanted to go out to dinners or dancing or drinking, that I wouldn’t join, that it was too much for me. I told them that I wasn’t telling them this for sympathy, but so that they could be prepared for possible vulnerabilities, moments when maybe my guard came down, so that they could understand why.

It’s not that I needed for them to do anything differently; I just needed them to know.  They were both kind and understanding, and it came as a huge relief to have said it, as it felt like I had been holding my breath.

Simplifying it, if people don’t know what happened to me, they don’t know anything about me.

I was leading, and I continue to lead, a double life.

Craig and I had gone to our favorite resort for a weekend get-away in Ojai before I had this work trip, and we had brought his picture, and continued there our ritual of lighting a candle by his image every night.

On this trip, I intended on doing the same. I shall elaborate on this time when I get there chronologically in the ‘story’, but I will share 3 things now:

We ended up staying in Argentina one week longer than we’d originally anticipated, as the cars we had shipped over did not make it in time for our shoot, and so my anxiety level was heightened significantly.

I was about 2 nights away from running out of the candles that completed the ritual that continues to be so important to me, and when I asked the hotel if they had any, they brought up a tray of several, and I was so grateful and relieved.

A producer ends up having meetings with co-workers in her room; on every production in which there is travel, I end up with 2 – 5 co-workers in my hotel room, hovering around a computer or a speakerphone to talk about next steps.  In this case, we had to talk about implications of our hero product, these cars, not being there in time for shooting.  But the thing is – when I had returned to my hotel room that evening, the cars were supposedly on their way; it was only after I’d removed that day’s clothes and lit my candle – about to head in the shower – that I got a call that the cars were not on their way, which required an impromptu and urgent meeting in my room.  I thought about whether to move Finley’s picture, so that my co-workers wouldn’t see him and ask questions, but at the same time, I am so proud of that photo, this possession or memory which I pride above ALL else, and I left his beautifully framed picture out, next to the candle.  The creative director Robert came down to my room first. He was not one of the 2 people I had told.  As I was scrambling, working on Instant Message with the head of production who was back in LA, responding to emails, taking phone calls on both my own and my international phone, he saw the picture of Finley.  He went over to it and picked up the photo, looked at Finley, and with the frame still in his hands asked, “Who is this?”  I ignored the beeping computer and the ringing phone, and said, “That is my son Finley, who only lived one day.”  He looked at me closer, almost trying to see behind my eyes, where I hide the sadness and the pain and the truth.  “Wow.  I’m so sorry,” he said.  Robert was a good man, he was one of those guys who will ask how you are and actually wants to hear.  But more co-workers walked in, he put down the frame, and the moment was gone.  I caught him looking one more time over at my picture, as if he was trying to learn more.

I was vulnerable and exposed, but it gave me strength to speak the truth, to merge my double lives into one. For a moment anyway.

On this trip, the one I am flying home from now, I lit my candle next to his photo every night except last night – because I didn’t get to go to sleep last night, and on one of my earlier nights found great comfort in stroking the scar from the infection where my C-section was, as the candle lit up the room and shined on his beautiful little face.

The C-section scar is slight, but the infection I had, one that lasted for a couple of weeks and was gross and had a fever and was a constant reminder of the total fucking insanity that I had given birth, but had no baby to hold, caused a scar that is circular and about the size of a penny, with a very smooth texture.  Gently touching the scar connects me to the truth, that my son did come, that he was here; that this is not all a dream – even though it is a nightmare.

During one of this trip’s meetings, I had to plug in my computer to a shared screen for all to see some video clips, and a co-worker joked with me later that he had noticed that I had Googled “spiritual quotes” that morning.  We all had a good laugh about it, and I felt a little closer to not leading a double life with a couple of co-workers, as I then told them that I am searching for comfort and meaning in this life, and why.

And like all other work trips, I ended up having meetings in my room, so I had to think about what to do with his photo, once I knew that the Chairman of the agency for whom I am freelancing, was going to be in my room.

I take small and very careful steps towards merging my lives and becoming truly whole, and in this case, I chose to put Finley’s picture away, as I did not want to expose myself.

I silently spoke to Finley and let him know how proud I was, asserting that the reason I was putting his picture away was not because of my shame in not being able to protect him from his death, or any shame in the fact that he had little red marks on his face in this photo, because he had been so sick, so very deathly ill – in fact no longer living – by the time this photo was taken.

I told him I just didn’t want everyone to know about him yet, that I needed to protect him and myself.

Most mothers take every opportunity to show pictures of their sons.  I was raped of that.

And finally, the shoot was over, and I got back to my hotel room at about 4 AM for the second night in a row this morning, but this time I had to pack and shower for my 9 AM flight home.  I wore my Finley necklace in the shower. Have I mentioned this yet? I have a gold necklace I wear every single day that has my son’s name on it, as a badge of pride and honor, which often catches a light source and allows for a magical and beautiful light dance.  It is one of the ways my son visits me and my husband – this light dance – often through this oval reflection of the shape of the necklace, and sometimes there are flickers and magical light dances even when there is no light hitting it, or if it is under my blouse.  More on that later…

So I was out of the shower.  Tired, looking forward to going home, still wearing the necklace, with the bathroom all fogged up with the steam from the hot shower, and all of a sudden the light started dancing in the fogged up mirror in front of me.  First it was mild, and then the light got stronger and stronger.  And if you’re reading this, you’re already a good person, who is emotionally sensitive and generous, I propose, so I don’t mind telling you that my son visited me in this moment.  I felt his presence, strong, blue, overwhelming, as the reflection in the mirror seemed to dance with me, even when I wasn’t moving.

I have had two full days off in the past 40-something days.   I did not have a lot of sleep obviously as our shoot days went way longer than we’d hoped.  I hadn’t felt the loving touch and amazing energy of my husband in 12 days.  And there I was, standing in the bathroom that felt like a steam-room, with the spirit of my son surrounding me, dancing with me, enveloping me.

And I began to cry.  Not tears that gently flow down my face, as they are in fact while I write this, but huge tears, so big that I almost could not see the magic that was happening in front of my eyes.  I stood in that room naked, emotionally and physically, and thanked my son for visiting me.  I told him how grateful I am that we have this relationship, not the relationship a mother dreams of having with her child, but a relationship nonetheless.

I told him I love him and I miss him.  And then I cried that it’s not enough.  And I pray to G-d that G-d was listening, and that those two little embryos on ice are warming up to the idea of coming to be my husband’s and my next child or children; I pray for a new promise.

Family Secrets


I’ve been contemplating how much to write about what happened next, when I returned to LA from NY at the end of my 1st trimester.

I think of times I’ve said something disparaging about a family member to a close friend, perhaps revealed a family secret, and how when that friend repeats back to me something in that exact same context, how infuriated it has made me, as I am loyal to and protective of my family.

And then I think about all of the reasons I am writing this blog, including trying to help someone else.  I think of how alone I felt after Finley died; how alone I continue to feel on random days when the roller coaster of grief hits me; on holidays which highlight the hyper reality of the fact that my husband and I are parents, without a child to love on a daily basis; how painfully exhausting it is to still be going through fertility efforts.  I think about how as I have searched for answers as to why things happen and how to get through this, I have continuously felt alone, and how every now and then I’ve come across a phrase in a book or a person who maybe has said the right things to me on any particular occasion, whether it was after Finley died, or if it was sending me a text on Mother’s Day just last year to say I’m being thought of; I think of a woman I didn’t know very well being brave and generous enough to tell me how her family had failed her after she had to have a 2nd term abortion.

And for those reasons I will now share the truth about how my parents reacted when I told them I was pregnant, summer of ’09.

It was great to be reunited with Craig that late August after being in NY for one month for work.  Our relationship was far from perfect, but he and I had such a strong connection and such deep love, that returning to a hug from him grounded me in a place of peace and love.  Even as I re-read this, I can close my eyes and take a breath and know that foundation is built to last.  I was home.

And on top of that, I could now go check on our little growing baby by going to see the doctor!  I had my end of first trimester screening with my Israeli OBGYN, who took blood to make sure my levels were good and showed me how much our little baby had grown.  I cherished that picture even more than the earlier ones, and stopped the irrational though perhaps common fear that the baby was no longer inside me.  I had proof!

I talked to my Dad and told him I had some news to tell him and my Mother; that I wanted to do so in person, and gave him a couple of dates that could work. In a normal family, I’ll theorize that when a daughter who has wanted to get pregnant for so long, who is healthy, committed for 10-years with a great man, and employed, that her parents are happy.  That they jump at the good fortune.  But I don’t come from what I perceive as a normal family (uncommon as normal likely is), so for me, the drive to my parents’ home that Sunday morning to tell them I was over 12-weeks pregnant was one full of dread.  I don’t think I had any actual shame that I was pregnant (I have definitely spent time contemplating this in retrospect), but I felt emotionally pulled into the dysfunction of my family by anticipating what they would say.  Knowing from my eldest sister that my mother had guessed the news, and having not received a congratulatory call was only one indication that this was not going to go to well.  Another clue was the fact that my eldest sister had offered to go with me, to sort of buffer the situation.

And still other clues existed in my history of memories throughout my life with how my Mother, specifically, responded to situations.

I am sharing what happened next with great trepidation.  I have a relationship with my mother now, a woman I have come to accept entirely; who I love very much.  I don’t want to be disrespectful and air the family secrets, and I will censor this a bit so as to respect them, but at the same time, I am writing this honest memoir of my experience with my struggle to get pregnant, my pregnancy, my loss, and my current fertility struggles to help another; to form a sense of camaraderie in a community of women / parents / people who have had similar struggles.  I hope the risks I am taking, the vulnerability I am showing, will help someone else out there, and so I have made a choice to tell this part of my truth.

Just to give you a sense of my Mother:  When I was around 8 she yanked me out of a school mid-year because she didn’t like my teacher.  This was done to protect me, but when properly analyzed, I realize that she didn’t think of the disruption that caused me at the time.  When I was 14, she told me that she was planning a trip to Tunisia or Egypt or some other far away place, before she communicated this news to my father, with a copy of her itinerary on his breakfast placemat, the very morning she was leaving.  She once wore a very bright colorful outfit to my close friend’s funeral, while the other mothers wore navy or black suits (which horrified me at the time, and later that I think my friend Nicole would have loved).  And that’s just a paragraph’s worth of memories; the rest may eventually fill a different book.

So I walked in to their home, where I’d grown up, having not seen them in many weeks, ready to show them the latest commercial I produced, an incredibly powerful Public Service Announcement touting the importance of breaking the stigmatism attached to mentally ill people, and ready to tell them news that made my heart soar with happiness.  And I was leading up to my big news (again, I don’t think there was shame at being pregnant, but I was in a lot of fear obviously, in that I didn’t lead with the great news).

I told them about shooting with an Academy Award winning director and an Academy Award nominated actress at Grand Central. We sat in their living room, the place where lavish gifts were stored at Christmas time for my mother to give out to her daughters, her 2 grandchildren, and any stranger that was in her life at the moment; my mother was notorious for buying people gifts, as that was the way she best knew how to communicate love.

My parents were sitting opposite each other, and so I had to volley back and forth to make the small talk.  I noticed my mother had a crazy look I’d seen on her face before: the one when I can see her tongue clicking at her dental bridge, nervous, upset, distracted.  And she asked if I was pregnant.  And I smiled, and answered, “Yes,” and her eyes seemed to squint, while I volleyed over to my father’s first response, “Are you clean?”  It’s certainly not the response I would have dreamed of, and anyone who knew me, actually knew anything about me, knew that I was off cocaine, alcohol, cigarettes, sodas, and even coffee, lox, and sushi nowadays.  But, it was a reasonable question from my father who had once driven me to drug rehab so I could get help, over 3 years before, so I didn’t get upset, and I assured him that yes, I was sober.

My mother said, “Don’t expect any money from us,” a truly outrageous sentence to utter, as I made good money, and hadn’t asked them for any money in years.  But that was her way of controlling things, and also her way of removing her love; she had grown up poor, and daily spent my father’s means; she had married a father figure 12-years her senior; she herself grew up without a father.  I didn’t think of all of this then; I felt really stunned, but for obvious reasons yearned so desperately for their approval and proceeded to tell them about the pregnancy.

In retrospect, of course I should have gotten up, walked out, and returned home to the family I was creating, the one centered in love.  But having been raised under such dysfunction, like a dog doing tricks for some sort of approval, I continued to tell them details, like that I had initially been pregnant with twins but that I’d miscarried one early on, and that the baby inside of me was growing along well….

“You’ll probably lose this one, too,” I heard from my mother.

My head turned and my mouth dropped and I’m sure I had tears in my eyes but they were angry tears; tears of dismay that any human being, specifically my own Mother, would utter that thought.  At one point in her campaign to stop me from having a baby, she had said that she prayed I wouldn’t get pregnant.  I should have stopped speaking to her then and there, but I didn’t have enough strength and knowledge to break away at the time.

But when she said those words, “You’ll probably lose this one, too,” I first threw my plastic bottle of water at her, and then my father, typically timid to her tyranny, stood up and called her names and told her to leave the room…. And there was much more nastiness and far more emotion and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how appalled and hurt I was by that 6 word sentence.

Today, years later, and on good terms with her, I think of that sentence and the power it had over me.

I know whether or not she prayed for me to get pregnant was irrelevant. But was it? Abraham Lincoln once wrote:  “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.  They have clung to me all my life.”  Did her prayers have any influence?

I know that her saying that sentence is not how or why my son eventually did die.  She was not G-d, but as William Makepeace Thackeray wrote: “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

On a side note, there are many things I take issue with in how poorly equipped we Americans are when it comes to grief, and the common phrase of a person has ‘lost’ someone she loves is one that is outrageous to me. I sometimes lose my keys.  I often lose my remote control.  But I most certainly did not lose my son; I denote loss with a sense of carelessness, and if you know me at all personally, or have been reading along, it is obvious that I am not a careless person.  I didn’t lose my son, he was stolen from me by an act beyond my control; perhaps his fate; perhaps a pure product of  him not being strong enough since he was so very little when he was born; whatever the case:

I had never heard a meaner sentence uttered.

My Dad tried to assuage the situation, and brought out a photo album of his side of the family. He is a nostalgic man, my father, and his nostalgia often feels like a history lesson. I was in shock but appreciated that he was trying to distract me emotionally from the vicious, insensitive, and insane reaction of my mother.

As the days wore on, through conversations with my Craig and close friends and my sisters, I made a decision not to accept her behavior and violently rejected her premonition.  This incident began to allow me to change personal boundaries, something I remain confident will only help me be a better mother.

There is more to it, but this is not a story about the family from which I come, it is a story about the family that Craig and I were building, as our own family was well under-way, me being at this time now over 12-weeks pregnant and out of the woods from all of the fears associated with the 1st trimester.

Again: or so I thought.

IVF #13


It’s almost the end of February, 2013, and I recently had my 13th egg retrieval.  I had gone in on day 3 of my period thinking that we would proceed and ready my body for the transfer of my two frozen embryos, who are still waiting for us patiently, on ice, in a state-of-the-art refrigerator in Tarzana – wrapped warm, I like to think, in the blanket of our love for them, but when the doctor saw that I had 6 follicles on day 3, we decided that we should stimulate my ovaries instead of transferring the embryos we already have.

The progress was fine along the way; there were the moments of concern that my estrogen was too low at first, and then it rose appropriately.  If the growth of the follicles wasn’t impressive, the estrogen comforted my doctor with the knowledge that yes, my follicles were growing appropriately. There were cysts, as there always were, but they weren’t growing that much, and so would not interfere by polluting my estrogen count with false hope.

- my belly after several days of medication

– my belly after several days of medication

I ended up on the medication for 11 days.  I think that is my new personal best.  By the end of the cycle, my belly was bloated to the max; it was bruised, terribly and grotesquely bruised from the daily shots of two to three medications.  My senses were heightened in the most uncomfortable way; the side effects always made me irritable or sweaty or increase my insomnia, but after 11 days, the anxiety I was feeling was irritating, and painful.  But I have gone through enough that I am able to separate normal anxiety from that which the medication causes.  I can feel the pain and anxiety, and close my eyes and remind myself how powerful the medication is, that this feeling will not last forever.

There was one round of a screaming match between Craig and me during the cycle.  This was not unusual; in fact, it was downright predictable.  My senses were heightened and I was feeling the pressure and he said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, and since I was feeling overwhelmed by the 3-times a week doctor visits to the valley in the middle of an insanely high pressured post-production and the invasion of my vagina and the drawing of the blood and the scrutiny that I fell under as a woman as I was measured and judged in terms of follicle size and estrogen amount, coupled of course with the deep and soulful longing to hold my child, I had a breakdown.

This time we fought about my weight, and the fact that the only thing, very truly, the only thing I haven’t done “perfectly” in regards to my efforts, was lose it.  Of course I have multiple excuses why I should not have to diet:

I have asked multiple specialists if being overweight could interfere at all with my fertility efforts. The answer was no.

I am sober for coming up on 7-years.  My remaining vice is food.

I have more pressure on me than any one person should have, between professional stresses and being responsible to help achieve my husband’s and my personal dreams.  Adding restrictions on food requires great intent, and that to me feels like another full time job.

Oh, and overweight women get pregnant all.the.time.

Still, he is right; that is the one health area that I have not perfected, and of course an area I am highly sensitive about, so I broke into tears and we screamed at each other for a bit.

And then the next day I had my egg retrieval, and they got out 3 eggs.  I was thrilled.  And then the next day only 1 of them had fertilized.  I was disappointed that more hadn’t fertilized, but happy nonetheless. And then the next day I learned that instead of being at 4 cells, my embryo was only 1 cell.  I was concerned; that was not good news.  On Thursday it was still at 1 cell, and so we knew that we would have nothing new to transfer.

11 days of medication.  About $10,000 in medical costs on this round alone.  And no egg to add to my basket, my lovely, frozen embryos basket of two.

Devastated, but not defeated, I made an appointment to chat with the doctor.  We spoke, and he was very clear that just because I had a bad cycle, didn’t mean that this was the sign of bad things to come; it was not as if I was going into pre menopause; I just had a bad cycle. Hell, only 2 months before I had produced eggs that upon meeting Craig’s sperm became strong enough to create 1 Blastocyst and 1 Morula that made it to the freezer.  (Blastocyst is an embryo at 5 days of development; a Morula is where the embryo should be at 4 days, which means that this one was either just a little behind, or would not make it once thawed.)

Dr. V, my Israeli fertility specialist, among the top 3 in Los Angeles – high praise indeed, whose expertise and knowledge I trust academically, and who is very committed to Craig and I emotionally, and I came up with the plan: wait for my period and prepare my body for the frozen embryo transfer (FET). We went over all of the details of how this time is different: I’ve never transferred embryos that have been frozen. I have always done transfers right after the magic poison courses through my body, which some scientists theorize is a reason that frozen embryo transfers are often more successful.  We did poor man’s genetic testing, in the sense that we let the embryos grow to day 5, as if they hadn’t made it, we would not have frozen them.  (Many doctors believe that if an embryo doesn’t last until 5 days in the laboratory, it won’t last in the woman’s uterus.)

We had a plan.

But still, the nagging thought came into my mind what Craig said: What if losing some weight could change things? What if my love for Lindt chocolate is interfering with the embryos attaching?  What if?

I contacted a peer who I knew had experience with cleanses, and was put in touch with a woman who would help me.

The task:  reduce the inflammation.  I couldn’t lose significant weight in two weeks, but at the very least, I could reduce the inflammation, which is the number one side effect of Follistim, that magical poison that has been stimulating my ovaries every other month for about 3-years.

The solution: have a woman prepare all of my meals for 4 days, done 2 days at a time so the organic ingredients remain fresh.

The cost: $360

My period came like clockwork, something I do not take for granted, and so I made my appointment to see the doctor on a Saturday morning.  I hiked first, which required me to wake up at 7ish on a Saturday to head to Malibu from Venice, before I drove from Malibu over Topanga Canyon to Tarzana for my 9:30 appointment.  The lovely female specialist at my doctor’s practice confirmed my uterine lining was exactly where it should be.  I let her know that it had to be perfect, absolutely, in order for us to proceed, and put me on estradiol, which I was prescribed to make sure that my estrogen would be regulated for the next several days; to encourage my uterine lining to develop.

I had never had issues with uterine lining development in the past, but needed the assurance that we were operating under optimal physical conditions to proceed. I’ve gone through too much, lost too much, to keep on taking such enormous risks, and I’m not even referring to the measurable risks.

My own hope has become a risk.

Once assured that everything was exactly as it should be, I proceeded to start the estradiol, twice a day.  Already an emotional woman, I was now taking tiny blue pills that made me even more emotional.

I did a 4-day food cleanse. The thing about me is that once I commit to something, I really commit, and so even while working in post production, with people seemingly dedicated to bringing me lattes or juices or sushi or cookies or anything I could dream of at multiple junctures of the day, while I am glued to my computer or to conference calls or to watching special effects done on the best television monitors imaginable (which often feels like watching paint dry), I stuck to the menu provided.  There were delicious smoothies, and there were juices that made me gag because there was too much of some healthy, weird ingredient that was unfamiliar to me and unfriendly to my taste buds.

On the 4th day of my cleanse, I returned to the doctor’s office, to see my specialist who I sometimes refer to as the wizard, to confirm that everything was developing exactly as it should. We talked about the perfect day to do the transfer, and I let him know that if at all possible – without risking an ounce of the probability of this working, I would prefer to do this on a weekend.  He thought about it for a moment, and then said yes, we could do it in a week, on Saturday, March 2nd.  “Seriously, if by doing it Saturday this decreases my chances like point 1 percent, we can’t do it.  I just don’t want to be stressed with work and want to create the best environment for myself.”  “The only issue is that now I have to work on Saturday,” my doctor responded.  “Do you mind, Dr. V?” I asked; “If we do it Friday and I have to take work emails and this doesn’t work I will wonder if that’s why….”  He interrupted, “I would not do it for anyone else, but I will do it for you.”

There are not a lot of benefits to being a repeat customer in the fertility realm, but him knowing me and being willing to change his personal schedule to accommodate me is definitely one of them.

I drove to the specialty pharmacy in Westwood to pick up about $350 in additional medication, progesterone oil, which helps keep pregnancies safe.

I kept thinking of the percentage of chance Dr. V had uttered to me in a previous conversation: A Grade A embryo like mine allowed a 35 – 40% chance of resulting in pregnancy.  But women get pregnant all of the time with less than Grade A, too.  I would just have to stay calm and outstretch my arms and pray.

I decided not to continue the cleanse officially, but to take that learning from those 4 days and apply it best I can, so I went to the market and bought some of the teas and a few other fresh ingredients, and have committed this week to keeping the chocolate down to 1 square a day, at the most, not eating pasta even if my husband is eating chicken parmesan right next to me; to just do the best I can to decrease the inflammation.  Shortly I’ll be having some sashimi and seaweed salad and having a green juice as my snack later, with salmon in the fridge for dinner, so I think I’m doing pretty well!

And more than all of the ‘actionable’ things that I am doing, I close my eyes, and invite those beautiful little spirits who I KNOW are out there waiting to be my child or children, yes, children, and take the biggest risk of all:  I hope.

Putting my eggs into one basket


My faith

My faith

Despite the famous saying not to do just this, this morning I am putting all of my eggs into one basket.

The basket is my beautiful, warm and cozy, nurturing, nourishing, capable, and quite competent uterus.

The eggs are my embryos, which are comprised of my beautiful eggs and my husband Craig’s winning sperm.  (Even as a writer who loves words, I don’t know how much I can romanticize sperm.)

I’ve done everything I could, things I’ve detailed in the past as far as taking my medication on time, incorporating the treks to the valley for doctor visits in the early morning hours of my work days or on weekends; I’ve prayed to God and I’ve prayed to my spirit babies; I’ve even – for out of 11 days – dieted strictly for 8, with 3 days still being highly conscientious about what I eat, though not as disciplined.

I had acupuncture first thing Thursday morning.  Am I his only patient who walks in while on the phone with a client and tells him to cut the session short so I can accommodate another one of this client’s last minute fire drill (pain in the ass) requests?  No matter; I have a trick that allows me to quiet myself when my mind is appropriately spinning for solutions and options while metaphorical balls of production hover up in the air:

I invite me, Lorraine Kraus, to enter my body. I know that sounds crazy (even as I write it, I am trying to think of a better way to explain it).  I have been guided (by my spiritual healer) that I have to enter my self:

So much of the time I am acting as the woman at the grocery store trying to act civilized even when the person behind me is an item counter and I’m in the 15-items or less line, with 16 items.  I am Craig’s wife at an engagement party of his friends, making small talk with relatives of people I don’t even know.  I am my parents’ daughter, or my nieces’ aunt.  Most of the time I play the role of a commercial producer on the latest in a series of impossible projects, with clients relying on me, vendors reporting to me, and me reporting to my associates. Much of the time I am the woman in the waiting room at the fertility office, judging all of the women that are there – sizing up who is there for her first time; what level of fertility efforts she and her husband are at; wondering how they are affording these exorbitant costs; sometimes annoyed that this other patient has brought her first child with her – often proof that the efforts work – but annoying to me nonetheless.

So I invite my true self to enter my body, with my eyes closed, often my arms at my side and my legs uncrossed so I can make sure to unburden my spirit of any physical roadblocks, and I take deep breaths and wait for my self to come back in. Sometimes I see energy shifting behind my closed eyes; the colors change throughout this meditation, and there are often shapes that go with the colors; I often see a lot of blue and a lot of dark pink.  Sometimes, on rare and my favorite occasions, I have seen a light baby blue color, which I am confident is Finley. It’s a blue so pretty that you’ve never actually seen it; I have looked in art and nature, and I have never seen the exact hue, but when my eyes are closed and I am inviting the true essence of me to enter, my son’s spirit sometimes visits.

Whether or not that beautiful soul comes to visit, often during these meditations I am almost jarred out of the calm as I sense the physicality of the experience through happy tears or a smile forming around my mouth.  It is almost like when I am truly in my self, centered in what is real in the universe, as opposed to my living realities of going to the market or parties or work or to the doctor; living in this state of purgatory, I have a confidence that I am on the right path, which brings true serenity.

Anyway, I was able to do that for short stints of the 30-minute session with my acupuncturist on Thursday, and it definitely helped.

Friday, March 1st, I awoke very happy despite March being a dreaded month for me; March has contained emotional land mines for me since 1990, when my friend Nicole died.

Nicole had turned 20 on March 18th.  On March 21, while she was driving back from Spring Break in LA where we all lived to Tucson, where we went to school, she got in a car accident. While her best friends were picking up a cake and getting ready for her birthday party, reservations with a party of around 12 girls for later that evening, Nicole died.  And every year since, until December 2009 that is, her death and that loss was the worst pain I had experienced.

And Finley’s due date was March 18th.  When I had first heard that was his due date, as you may recall from an earlier posting, I was confident that Finley was my son; that nothing would get in the way of him making it to me; that he was, as they say, meant to be.  While G-d re-wrote that storyline, I created an alternate truth that perhaps he was a gift to her in heaven.  Early on I would ask her in my prayers to make sure he’s OK, that he’s warm, has enough to eat, that he is happy.  Regardless of how it all works “up there”, I know they are together.  When March 18th came in 2010, the day that he was supposed to be born, it was one of pain and dread.  But over time, over these 3+ years since he was actually born and then died, the date has lost most of its pain to me, though I still am very aware of it (and of course aware of how it must feel for Nicole’s dad this time of year, with whom I’ve sadly lost touch over the years, since I as a fellow bereaved parent relate to him more than I ever wanted).

Also in March is my sobriety date: March 5th I will have been sober 7-years, no small feat indeed. (I mentioned in my last posting, when I commit to something, I really commit J)  And while that is a happy anniversary of which I am truly proud, I remember the days leading up to the decision to let my Dad drive me to drug rehab – something my family and friends had been begging for me to do for months by this time.  My laundry was dirty; my car was filthy and I had driven to their house with my gas tank on red; I was a lost soul slowly killing myself in an effort to kill the pain (I was soul sick, something that I will describe in another book, one day perhaps).  So I can’t help but think of where I was 7 years ago now, with my laser sharp memory remembering details about those days immediately prior to me admitting that I had hit, when I had fallen flat on my ass; reached my bottom.

And then most recently adding to the reasons why March is hard for me is the fact that 2-years ago tomorrow, the original, the special, the hilarious, the complicated, and the absolutely fantastic soul of one of my best friends – Dee – left her body, after her long and painful balls out (pardon me) fight with cancer.  I found out just after 8 in the morning March 3rd 2011 as I was in my taxman’s office. Can you imagine?  Insult to injury to the ninth.  Our friendship that spanned 20-years is part of my DNA, and I miss her.

So I started my March madness on the morning of March 1st very cognizant of the landmines that are in this month.  I took a walk to the Venice Pier. I chatted with Dee’s husband to hear how he is and how he and the boys will honor our beloved Dee this weekend.  I saw a dolphin. I breathed in the air.  I sat in my secret garden and hoped for a butterfly sighting; I didn’t see one, but as I was sitting there I played the Kenny Loggin’s song “This is It” over and over, to remind the universe that THIS is my time.  Do you know the one?

“You say that maybe it’s over.  Not if you don’t want it to be.  For once in your life, here’s your miracle.  Stand up and fight.  This is it.”

Yes, I shall admit it: I love that song.

It is scary to write as my hope has become a liability, but I must embrace my hope with open arms:  Next March I want to look back on this March as the month I learned I was pregnant again.

I am currently the insomniac doing some writing, with only the glow of the computer (and some electronics) lighting up my office area, with now less than 2 hours to go before I am lying on a table with acupuncture guiding my blood flow, on a valium to relax my body and ibuprofen to guard against the pain, with a full bladder so that shortly Dr. V can see the outline of my uterus as clearly as possible before he sticks a catheter in me to test the plan of where he is going to place the embryos, just before the Asian female embryologist, who I don’t speak much to, but I like a lot, comes in the room where my legs will be wide open and placed into stirrups, with my husband at my side holding my hand and praying with me, and asks me my name, to confirm that those embryos, those beautiful embryos who I so desperately want to turn into my child or children, are mine, before Dr. V does the real procedure, by slowly placing the catheter, now with the embryos in it, back into my vagina, where he finds the perfect resting point – not near a scar that I have in my uterus which is likely from having a pre term C-section; when he puts all of my eggs into my basket.

Thanks for your love and support.

The Waiting


I can’t help but think of the lyrics from the Tom Petty song “The Waiting is the hardest part.”

I mean it is not the hardest: holding my infant son as he took his last breath was the hardest.

Seeing the words “Not Pregnant” on the pregnancy tests I’ve taken almost every month for the past 3-years has been debilitating.

But the waiting in between embryo transfer and the day that I will know if I am pregnant is – while not the hardest thing I’ve endured – very, very hard.

As always, I read signs into every single feeling in my body. I have a friend who constantly tells me how in touch she is with her body, and I understand that to an uncomfortable and hyper degree.

I feel my blood going through my veins.  I imagine my arteries all around and leading into my uterus as a freeway with no traffic; like those pictures people would post on Facebook as the first cars to be driving on the infamous 405 after it was closed for construction on what we Los Angeleans referred to in that witty play off words as Carmegeddon.

When I have a successful bowel movement (pardon my graphicness), I practically congratulate my body for doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing.

I have felt sensations in my uterus; I haven’t felt the latching of the embryos like a pinch – but the last time I felt that pinch, I didn’t get pregnant; I didn’t feel it the two times that I was officially pregnant, so perhaps that pinching sensation I remember was the embryo detaching, because it wasn’t chromosomally normal? – which means that not having felt that pinching is a good thing.

I have other symptoms that could mean I’m pregnant, but since I am on Estrogen, Medrol, and Progesterone at this point, which are all supplements which are meant to help keep the pregnancy, it is impossible to know if the symptoms of fatigue or occasional awareness of my uterus or being highly emotional are because I am pregnant, because I am about to get my period, or actually caused by the medication.

I like to use a trick my friend Lisa taught me.  (Lisa also struggled with fertility and now has a full house of three little boys (one set of twins) – and she also used Dr. V and referred me to both my acupuncturist and my special $100/month pre natal pills.)

Lisa says, “I would tell myself I am pregnant, until I knew I wasn’t.”

So for all intents and purposes: making sure to eat well, to not carry anything heavy (10 pounds is the maximum I will carry right now, no small feat since I lug around a computer every day and am in the process of preparing to move to a new home), and trying to rest (even though it was 3 AM as I typed this, with less than 4 hours of consecutive sleep) – are highest on my list of priorities right now.

I take breathing breaks during the day, per the advice of both my therapist and acupuncturist.  Sometimes it means a 10-minute walk around the block; sometimes that means stepping outside for 3 minutes; sometimes it is as little as taking a little longer while in the bathroom to breathe in – to invite oxygen to flow through my body and make its way to the beautiful embryos who will have attached by now – 5 nights after the transfer.

Since we transferred 5 day embryos, who thawed at 95% capacity, which is the highest mark that Dr. V’s embryologist will ever give to thawed embryos, science theorized that the embryos could have latched onto to my uterus immediately, or within up to 48 hours of the procedure.

I was mandated to be on bed-rest directly after the transfer, which was a fantastic reason to be lying in bed and having a date with my DVR.  I had work to do that day, but taking valium as prescribed both before my transfer and as I lay in bed calmed my body down so that I did not get anxious or tense or do anything that would possibly expel what I hope will turn into a child.

I saw my spiritual healer the day after the transfer, for one of my favorite sessions with her ever.  I won’t use her name, and I will explain at another time how this woman has come to be in my life, serendipitous indeed, but I will say that she is definitely a beautiful angel who is gifted and able to shift energy fields and rely on her relationship with G-d and my own faith and guardian angels to invite my true spirit to enter my being.

Very immediately, upon her gently touching her hands to the bottoms of my feet, as I lay on what is equivalent to a massage table at her house, I felt energy rising up from my feet to my uterus.  There was warmth and tingling in particular areas, and in her very calm, gentle, loving voice, with a hint of true joy, she said, “There are both with you, just hanging out.  It is very strong.” She was referring to the spirits of the embryos.

My understanding is that the spirits hover over and make sure that they are ready and that their parents are ready, and sometimes they know you from a past life, and sometimes it is a spiritual contract, and that at this stage, they know who you are, or in this case, who me and my husband are, and that once they are born and brought into the physical world, they have no outward recognition of who that spirit is, unless of course they are enlightened individuals, which can certainly be the case.

She told me that she sensed a boy, and that he felt holy. She told me that the boy spirit said to tell me that used to be good friends with Craig and he couldn’t wait to see him again.

Me, with my head resting on the other end of the table and my spiritual healer at my feet, lifted my head quickly, “Perhaps it is his friend Tom who died almost two years ago?”

“Maybe, but more likely it is someone he knew in a past life.”

Now if you don’t subscribe to this sort of thing, you don’t subscribe to this sort of thing.  But like many people whose faith has increased due to things going wrong (why do you think there are chapels in hospitals?), I entirely accept that my healing experiences with this woman are real.  

I lay my head back down and cinched my eyes closed so that I could see the energy shifting through my body.  I felt blood flowing, I felt peace, and most importantly and uniquely, at the thought that she felt this presence of my spirit baby this strongly, I experienced joy.

She shifted positions after awhile, and came over to my right side where she put one hand underneath my chest and her other hand above my heart.  In her quiet whisper, she said, “Now I am working on healing the pain you felt when you were an embryo at the same stage.”  (She was referring to when I was an embryo in my mother, very early on – as early on as the embyros that are hopefully forming into my baby or babies as I type.)

I responded not intellectually or even emotionally, but sort of as if I was in an altered state, since during these healing sessions I am conscious yet not in a linear way.  “My mother didn’t know what she was doing.  She was overwhelmed by the idea of having three kids.”

Now I don’t know this to be true from my mother directly, though I need only think of everything I know about my family and how she was a young mother caring for three little children while my father was busy working very hard in his career to support us, but when I responded that way, it was almost as if I was responding from a place of forgiveness for what I must have felt spiritually, when I was in vitro.

There are many studies that indicate that when babies are forming in the womb they sense what their mother is feeling.  In my case, a baby forming inside me would feel love, be reminded constantly that he or she is wanted, and be told daily that any stress I feel has nothing to do with them; that they must not take on any of the stress my body and mental state has from my work, from fertility efforts, from marriage; from anything in my life. I am constantly telling them that their only job is to grow strong, and stay.

In many cases with women who are not in touch with them selves, these embryos at an early stage could begin to inherit the DNA of the stress the mother feels while they are in the womb.


In my mother’s case, according to this healing session, when I entered her womb at this early stage, because my mother was not connected to her self, because she was perhaps so overwhelmed with motherhood; with her life, I was not comforted, I was not reminded that her stress was not to be mine, and thus, I felt abandonment and inherited that into my DNA.

(Interestingly, I have inherited much of my father’s emotional DNA as well over the years, as a young child and way into adulthood.  And of vital importance, neither of these theories is being communicated with any sense of blame on them.)

At the end of my session, I opened my eyes, and as always, I could see her hands raised over my body doing the last of the cleansing for the morning.  We locked eyes, “I’ll be right back,” she said.

Always when these sessions are over, she leaves the room for a couple of minutes, to let me re-group.

Immediately and always after these sessions, I stretch and get up and walk over to the mirror to look at my self.  My eyes are never more clear and my spirit never more obvious and my face never more beautiful than when I am done with these sessions.  I have a very nervous energy on any given day, and yet the moments after these sessions, I feel serenity, and inklings of joy.

My healer returned to the room to have what I think of as our ‘spiritual debrief’.  “Tell me everything,” I said.

She told me that the last part we worked on was some pain of abandonment that I felt early on in the womb; that typically this is work that she does with a person much earlier on (we had been working together for over 13 months by now), but that we had to clear out other paths and issues from early childhood before we could get to this.

She said that she watched my angels wrap me in a cocoon to protect me, which was made of gossamer – which usually means something light and delicate. She noted that she thought it was particularly sweet of them to wrap me in a cocoon, because of my affinity for and relationship with butterflies.

I later looked gossamer up, to learn that Lycaenidae are the second largest family of butterflies in the world, whose members are called gossamer-winged butterflies.  I have confirmed with my healer that she didn’t know this association.  Magical.

I asked her more about the spirits of the embryos. She said there was a boy who was very strong, and that later a girl came.  She said that she didn’t know if she was supposed to tell me about the boy knowing Craig from a past life, but that the spirit prodded, “Tell her!”

We hugged and I thanked her and we locked eyes and I asked her the question that only G-d and time can answer:  “Is this going to take?”  She said right now they are very strong, but anything can happen, but she is hoping this is it, too.

That was last Sunday, one full week ago now, and the day after the transfer.

This morning I saw her again, anxious and full of fear and palatable nervousness about the pregnancy test I will be taking soon.  The session went great.  She did more work on the healing that I needed help on from when I was an embryo, and when we had our spiritual debrief, she told me she felt a little girl snuggling into the left side of my uterus. The left side of my uterus, I must tell you, throughout this hour long session, was tingling and heated and very active.

I don’t know what will happen when I take this test. I do know that no matter what, Craig and I will be fine; we will be parents to our next child or children soon – it is just a matter of when.

To be continued.



I wish I were the type of person who could get angry instead of depressed.  Depression aches like a sharp dagger pointing at my heart.  It makes it hard to breathe.  It is impossible to get the tears to stop.

The confidence that we will be parents again is there.  That is unwavering.

But the disappointment that this is not our time, AGAIN, that this frozen embryo transfer did not work, despite all of the love and the prayers and the positive energy that each of you sent to me, to us, is baffling, overwhelming, and just plain painful.

I had to save this document right now under the title of this blog posting, and without a moment’s hesitation, I decided to name it, “Failure”.  That is really the best way to put it, isn’t it?

The problem is, when something fails, someone is accountable, and I refuse to be held accountable for this.  My husband and I did every fucking thing that is medically and spiritually possible to allow for this pregnancy.

We prayed, and we held hands, and we created the best energy possible to allow for the baby.

I have bruises and welts on my butt from the progesterone oil shots that Craig stuck me with every night.

I gained weight, I suffered insomnia, I had night sweats, and yet I still woke up every day and did my job so that we as a dual income house-hold could stay the course and deal with the incredible costs.

We have paid over $12,000 in fertility bills in ‘13.

We paid $58,390.89 in ’12.

(And I don’t feel like going through the other years at this moment.)

That sort of dedication SHOULD be rewarded. That sort of commitment to the idea of loving, protecting, nurturing, dancing with, playing with, tickling, and hugging a child SHOULD be achievable.  It’s not like I’m praying for a new car.

And it will be rewarded. I know that. Craig knows that. But for fuck’s sake, when?

We move into a new home this Friday. It is 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. We have been gathering our items to move, which includes all of Finley’s baby items, from the area in the closet that I typically refuse to acknowledge.  We have plenty of clothes and carriages and cute toys for Finley’s brother or sister, just waiting.  (Well if we have a girl, actually, I imagine we’ll have to get lots of different clothes.)

I have had to hold pre production meetings with corporate car clients while having a high fever and sweating the whole time. I have been on commercial film shoots with severe colds.  I have had conference calls during which I ran to the bathroom to throw up because of a crazy flu that made me hallucinate.  – You know the saying: The show must go on.

But today, the pain is so great, the depression so overwhelming, that I have to work from home. I had no choice, really: My typically blue eyes are blood shot.  My noise is swollen and red.  My complexion is puffy.  And my sadness is palpable; I imagine if anyone besides Craig saw me, they would not be able to focus on what I might be saying, because they would be sidetracked by the incredible depression I am both showing, and feeling.

We will be OK.  The baby will come.  There is more than one way to become a parent.  But for today, I am sad, and because you have all become a support group to me, and let me know that I am not alone, I wanted to share this.

To be continued.

Punishing My Self


First off, thank you for the notes you have written, the positive energy you have sent, the prayers you have uttered; I have begun to sense in a very tangible way that my husband’s and my mission is surrounded by a circle of loving people, who expend their energy and time to wish us well. I even know one person who is putting in a prayer at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem this week, the very thought of which moves me to tears.

I haven’t been able to write anything since my “Failure” posting, just because I could not put pen to paper (for lack of a better phrase).  I have begun composing thoughts and we are diving into next steps, but it’s been important and valuable for me to sit with my thoughts, as opposed to immediately sharing them.

A few days ago I took a walk around our new neighborhood.  I just needed to breathe some fresh air and find my self in a space reserved for just me; that time of the day when the rings and buzzes and dings from all of my devices are not in hyper mode, and I invite nature in to soothe me.

I missed living a stone’s throw (if you have a great arm) from the sand of Venice Beach. We’ve moved only 2 miles inland, and it is definitely a move up, and I am in LOVE with the energy and space of our new home, but I am not able to immediately step into nature as my back yard, as I had with our previous home. (I can easily change that by hopping on my bike instead of going on foot, and that way I’ll be at the breakwaters of the Marina within minutes so that I can connect to nature, which allows me to just feel more, well, me.  We got a bike pump this weekend, so I will try that next time.)

More importantly, I saw something that both bothered me and resonated with me during this walk:  We now live near a hospital, and I saw someone’s hospital bracelet ID crumpled up next to a crushed pack of empty cigarettes with a few cigarette butts on the side, littering the grass less than a block away from the hospital – a few blocks away from our home.

I intuit this to mean that someone got discharged, and then immediately polluted his / her body with cigarettes, when it is possible that the reason they were hospitalized in the first place was related to their cigarette smoking.

I haven’t taken up smoking again (or any of my other previous unhealthy vices, which would come in awfully handy right now if I was my old self), since learning over two weeks ago that the Frozen Embryo Transfer didn’t work, even though in these past weeks I have had to work more than 80 hours per week, move into a new home, talk to my doctor about next steps, keep social obligations, and experience the deep sadness that this latest disappointing news (an understatement, obviously) has brought.

But I do notice a trend that I treat myself differently after a loss of the dream, after the crushing of the hope, after the vicious words “Not Pregnant” appear on the expensive digital pregnancy tests.  I almost punish myself: I ate McDonald’s, twice.  I haven’t taken my pre natal pills every day.  I allow myself to get stressed about work (a bit hard to avoid on this current project, anyway).

What I should be doing is wrapping myself up emotionally in my equivalent of a warm blanket or scarf and Ugg boots, those things that I equate with comfort.

I should be drinking soup and taking the vitamins which replenish my body.

Do you notice how I say my body, as opposed to me?  This is something that we really explored in my therapy sessions in ’11, the fact that I can not actually separate my self from my body, that I am one and the same, but that when I get the bad news, and I know full well that it is nothing that I did or didn’t do perfectly, I tend to want to blame someone.

Blaming G-d is no good for me; I can be mad at him or the universe or whatever my faith is, but that does not make me feel better, so that’s not really an option.

I can’t blame the doctor, as he is doing the very best any doctor could.

So I have a tendency to blame my body, which in turn means I try to punish my body.  And so I don’t eat very well and I don’t take all of those great vitamins to prepare for our next efforts, and somehow that little bit of withholding of love, as it were, gives me the control I need back.

I have had no control over the outcome of all of these fertility efforts –obviously – so punishing myself has become a habit, a very bad habit.  I am aware when I am doing it; I knew that I was running out of those pre natal pills, and yet I waited for days to re-order.  I know that getting stressed about work instead of relying on the meditation and spiritual calm is not good for me mentally or physically.

But this punishing of my self is a mechanism that is familiar; I am sure it is deeply rooted in my childhood and times when I felt like I was being punished.

(When I used to cry as a baby, around 2-years old, my parents would put me in the laundry room in my high chair and shut the door, so that I did not disturb them, their dinner; the family. I don’t know why I was crying so hard, but I can tell you with certainty that when my child has fits like that, I will pick him or her up and hold him or her; I will not put my baby in a small room, alone, and punish him/her for crying.  I was 2; I did not have the ability to communicate with words yet, and crying was my only way of telling them something was wrong.)

Of course this behavior of punishing myself for feelings I had, for inadequacies I suffered, for failure, has spanned my entire life; I was a drug addict for years, starting as a teenager and into my 30s; I took drugs, actual poison when taken to the level that I did, to make the feelings go away, because I had been taught by observation that having feelings was wrong or bad.

So it’s not surprising that I wanted to punish myself for learning that I was not pregnant, again, or still.  But I can tell you that I recovered from this behavior more quickly than last time, and the last time, more quickly than the time before.  That is due to lots of work in therapy, an unwavering faith, and a plan.

Yes, A PLAN.  We know what we’re doing next, efforts are underway, and there is a great comfort in knowing that.  We had made a long term plan last October, and now that we are where we are, we are at the point where the plan goes into effect.

While my goal in writing this blog is for others who are struggling to feel less alone, and get the love and positive energy and validation that so many of you have been generous to provide along the way, I am going to shelve what exactly we’re doing next, for the moment.  What could be so personal that I wouldn’t share with you now? – you must wonder, considering how much I have opened up thus far.  Well, you will understand better later.  But for now, I shall get back to work, and continue earning the money that allows us the luxury to chase our dreams.

My next posting will be returning back to the Fall of ’09, when I was in my second trimester, so that you can learn more about love affair I developed for my sweet Finley while he was in vitro, and how he metamorphosed into Craig’s and my own beautiful butterfly.

Until next time.

Second trimester 2009: nesting & amnios


WEEKS 13 – 17

My best friend Dee had been diagnosed with cancer earlier that year in March, 2009. She was in fact the first person I had told I was pregnant (after Craig of course).  I like to think she had been my lucky charm in getting pregnant, as while we were waiting those 2 weeks post insemination, she had left her youngest son’s baby pillow at our apartment because she believe that it would bring me good luck.

For the next few weeks I spent time visiting Dee either at her home or meeting at a deli in the Valley or occasionally she and her family would come to Venice, and other times I’d have to visit her in the hospital.  She, despite having a serious cancer with a 50/50 chance, two sons, and being the earner of the house-hold, found time to help me nest.  We went through her baby’s clothing and blankets and sorted through what I would need.  She explained to me why she had the little baby gloves; she explained about how nails would grow and I’d have to clip them regularly so the baby wouldn’t hurt herself.

Yes, herself: I was convinced I was having a girl, and Craig and I were sort of agreed on naming her Scarlett, though it wasn’t officially official.  We didn’t refer to her by that name, though; Craig often asked how Ziggy was, the nickname he’d created from the term zygote, which simply refers to an embryo in early pregnancy.

I was feverish on nesting, and began gathering items not only from Dee but from Jodi, mother of two, and Lisa, mother of 3.  Nesting was a great time, a very special time, made particularly enjoyable for me since I had so many friends who were happy to hand things down to me, and since I am the personality type who just loves to prepare and anticipate (read: slight case of O.C.D.).

My mother called a couple of times and I hung up on her.  I didn’t have time for any negativity in my life, and was still in shock from her behavior from when I told her I was pregnant, and so I rejected her; she was too dangerous to my fragile condition, and I was protecting my family by keeping her away.


At around week 17, I underwent my 2nd trimester blood work, in which the plan was to gauge any possible genetic issues. The test results uttered to me by my Israeli gynecologist came back with a recommendation to seek genetic counseling, interestingly enough I found, paid for by the state of California.

I was very nervous, and gathered all of the information and experiences I could from the Internet and other couples.  Different people had approached it different ways.  I recalled a story of my college friend who for her 2nd pregnancy received the same type of blood work news, had an amniocentesis, complications from which ended the life of her unborn child, mid 2nd trimester in-vitro.

While we were still a single car household, I had rented a car that week (though I forget why) so was able to meet Craig at the doctor’s office during his lunch hour. He ate the lunch I had brought for him in the lobby, and then we met with a genetic counselor.  This woman, this genetic counselor, sat across from us outlining and educating us on the possibility of issues with the baby based upon my blood test.  The chances weren’t huge that we would have a baby with down or any other syndrome or issues, but they definitely existed, in part she presumed because of my age – I had conceived at 38 and was now 39 – and in part because of other statistics.

Neither she nor the State of California were able to recommend an amnio for me, but me, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to rest for the duration of the pregnancy without knowing the health of this baby, needed to do the test.

The woman left the room to let Craig and I discuss it, but I had already made the decision, and Craig supported it.

An Amniocentesis is a procedure in which a long needle is stuck into the woman’s body, all the way into the uterus, from which a sample of the amniotic fluid is taken and then tested, to determine any chromosomal abnormalities.  Not only are there risks associated with puncturing the sac, meant to protect your baby from all of the germs and elements that your adult body carries, but there is also always risk that the puncture turns into a hole – which most certainly would cause a baby to die.

It felt very invasive; not to me personally, because by this time I was used to doctors poking inside of me, but I felt uncomfortable subjecting my little baby to this intrusion; a mother’s instinct happens very early on and mine was in full effect as I rubbed my belly and silently comforted my child.

Craig had to leave to go back to a meeting, as the consultation had taken way longer than we’d anticipated, and once he left, I was left alone in this room with an incredible 3D monitor with the doctor and the technician.

It was time I would find out my baby’s gender.

I was confident that I was carrying a girl.  I’d had a dream that I was holding my really beautiful baby, and in the dream knew she was my daughter.

And then there they were, telling me SHOWING ME I was carrying Craig’s son.

I don’t meant to be sexist, but it actually seemed too good to be true.  I felt a pride rush through me that I’d never before experienced.  Our first-born was to be a boy.  I was going to have a son.  I felt almost virile and alive and began racking my brain for our baby boy’s name.

I called Craig.  He may have almost crashed out of pure shock.  He was elated.  I had never heard Craig so happy.  Still in the doctor’s office, I then turned my attention to the amazing screen that was showing movies of my baby.  He was jumping up and down.  Literally jumping as if he was in one of those bouncies they have at little kids’ birthday parties.

There he was, bouncing away in my uterus, incredibly active, and at one point – and this is no exaggeration and I have the DVD to prove it – he looked at me and gave me a thumb’s up.

And I became less interested or worried about the results of the amnio, because now on top of the silent connection we had built, I had physical evidence of my relationship with my unborn child, my son, and I couldn’t be brought to imagine that anything would go wrong.  I had plenty of friends who’d had amnios and there had been no issues. My blood work wasn’t that alarming that an issue seemed highly likely, so I chose to be elated.

I would sit in bed for the next couple of days and tell my friends that I, who had been so confident that I was carrying a girl, now felt like a superior human being because I was carrying a boy.  I don’t mean superior like I thought I was better than anyone else, but rather, superior because I had this little baby boy inside of me and he was growing and would carry on Craig’s name and I never felt happier.  All of these emotions as I laid on bed-rest, following the doctor’s instructions exactly so as to reduce any and all issues post this high- risk procedure.

I went over our meeting with the genetic counselor in my head multiple times, in which she described different percentages of risks for chromosomal abnormalities in our baby.  She had been warm and sensitive in an ‘I-work-for-the-state-of-California’ sort of a way; while she was sensitive to decisions we may have to make, she was in no way actually warm and fuzzy and sensitive.

After we’d told her that we were going to proceed and opt for the amnio, she had defined the waiting period for the results and next steps.  “If when I call and I get your voice-mail and the news is good, I will say exactly that in the message.  If we need to speak, I will leave my phone number and ask you to call me back.”

Like any human being, I became increasingly nervous while I was awaiting the results of that invasive procedure.  10 days later, I missed her call, only to receive a dreaded voice-mail message from her asking me to call her back.  I panicked, and then called her, at which time this genetics counselor advised me, “The baby does not have down syndrome.  We took 32 colonies of cells, and out of the 32, 31 are normal, meaning that each has chromosomes of 46.  What this means is that either the baby is going to be fine, or he has an incredibly rare disease called Trisomy 18.”

I nearly had a heart attack.

She said that it was possible these findings were just an artifact from the culture, as it is a culture’s job to ‘expedite’ the growth of the cells, so instead of dividing and multiplying normally, there could have been a glitch there – in the lab, which would be a reflection of the test tube experiment, and not what’s actually in my body.

She said a lot of things, and I didn’t understand most of them, as how could my brain actually function when I had seemingly stopped breathing?

I spoke to every professional I could find. I asked whether typically a baby with Trisomy 18 might abort on its own, and nobody had any answers, as there weren’t enough case studies.

I asked if this chromosomal count was perhaps leftover from the invisible twin who we’d lost so early on, and the answer was no.

I talked to my mother-in-law.  I cried to Craig, to my friends Jodi and Tammi, to my eldest sister – to anyone who would listen.  I made a decision to have a 2nd amnio, because, as I explained to Craig through a combination of dread and tears – still without taking a breath since I had that conversation with the counselor, I wouldn’t be able to rest for the remaining 21-odd weeks until I knew about the baby’s health.

Either way.

So on October 29th I had my 2nd Amnio.  Their intention was to test 85 colonies instead of 32 as originally tested.  And in the meantime, I had asked multiple doctors to research the disease further; lest our baby, my son, did have the disease, we had to make an informed decision as to what to do.

But I don’t know if terminating was a real option. We were so desperately in love with the baby, with the knowledge we were having a son, with our son, and while the stress and emotional weight was overwhelming, I didn’t give myself too much time to explore: What if??

So I went back in, and Craig took me home, and I don’t remember exactly how I felt, other than stressed and scared and at the point when I had to remind myself to actually breathe, since it wasn’t happening naturally.

Craig and I increased our prayer patterns to praying together several times a week.  I don’t know that either of us could have increased our personal prayers, because we each already had a very strong relationship with G-d.  By this point, I was in constant dialogue with him.

A little less than 10-days later, as they had expedited the results, I got the call that baby was fine.

I called Craig and Craig’s mom and my eldest sister, and broke down, sobbing hysterically. I couldn’t believe the amount of stress I had been holding, that was now physically manifesting itself in my tears and gasps and general being.

My Jewish father had taught me many years earlier that we shouldn’t get on our knees to pray at any of my mother’s Christian family’s weddings or funerals, as Jews don’t kneel.  But on this Friday afternoon, on this occasion, I went to my bedroom, got on my knees with my hands clenched in prayer on our bed, and thanked God from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to carry my healthy son.

Everything Else Before Everything Changed, forever


Picking up after having received the good news after my 2nd amnio…


Everything began to look, taste, and even sound better.  The idea of researching a new bed with Craig on our Saturday, a mundane task by my previous definition, was truly exciting, as with the news that our little baby was fine after all that we’d been through in the past year to get pregnant and now being 20 weeks pregnant, I was overwhelmed by a sense of relief.

Craig was getting ready to go as I sat at my computer and played John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels” for my son from my music library.  I rubbed my growing belly and sang along, and certainly smiled as I imagined myself at those Mommy & Me classes where I would sing with my baby; as I thought about how beautiful and powerful I felt as a woman, navigating through all of these obstacles to protect my child.  I updated my Facebook status with a couple of the lyrics, an effort to let people know how happy I was; I hadn’t posted that I was pregnant; typically a transparent person even before the advent of social media, we had gone through so many unknowns during this pregnancy that I had never felt safe enough to share with the digital landscape, and even at this point – out of the danger zone, I wanted to hold the pregnancy very close and safe, I suppose.

We went to to test out mattresses.  When climbing on certain ones I was careful as my belly was becoming more of an encumbrance and so it made it a bit harder for me to test all of the beds as quickly as Craig could.  The woman helping us asked if I was pregnant.  I could sense her trepidation, as I was an overweight pregnant woman, and so it was harder to be sure that underneath my stomach weight was my pregnant belly.  But it was, and I was, so I happily answered yes!  She said, “You never know if you should ask,” and I agreed, but was very happy that she had.

We went across the street to sit on more mattresses, our search acting as a metaphor for the home we were building together, for the commitment we had to each other, for the union we shared.

And then we went to an amazing Los Angeles local place called “Apple Pan” and I ate an amazing burger and fries without a single thought of ‘I ate fattening food’ guilt.

After that we went to my friend Robin’s and gathered lots of toys and clothes.  Her daughter was probably around 3, and she had a son who was almost 1-year, and she and her husband were generously giving us some really great hand-me-downs.

Our son had not been born, but that Saturday was by every definition a family day, and it was great.


By now I had his clothes for the 1st 9 months of his life, with promises of more hand me downs once the sons of Lisa, Dee, Jodi, Robin and Claire grew.  I had an infant car seat, multiple types of strollers, a bassinet, darling outfits and ones-ies and even some diapers.  My full time mission had turned into arranging to pick up these things, and then disinfecting or washing.  I went to buy the special detergent used on infant’s clothing, and so now our apartment smelled delicious like one where a newborn lived.  I went to Target and bought plastic containers and marked them clearly 0 – 3 months, 3 – 6 months, and so on.  I folded and separated and calculated what I should put on my registry, for the baby shower that my eldest sister, and my friends Dee, Jodi and Tammi were generously planning for me, to be held on January 30th, 2010.  I went to Babies R Us and took advantage of the “pregnant mother” parking spot closest to the entrance.  My sister met me there, and we went through aisle after aisle with the store gun that digitally captured the items I wanted and needed.  Toe-nail clippers, bedding, baby cups and more.  We looked at cribs, and I decided to come back with Craig to pick out the best one; we were hoping his Dad would get us the crib.


My eldest sister’s birthday was coming up, and she called me with the details, but I told her that of course I wasn’t going because I wasn’t speaking to my mother.  I guess she must have asked if I would re-consider if I got an apology, and I must have answered yes, as my mother called again.  I was now 21 weeks pregnant and she’d only called 2 other times during my pregnancy, after she uttered those hateful and unforgivable words.  This time, 9 weeks later, I did not hang up on her.  She stumbled through her apology, and asked me to remind her why I wasn’t speaking to her.

While it’s a pretty appalling thing to realize that my own mother was minimizing my feelings and shirking her responsibility of being a good mother, again, I had worked on this project regarding mental health, and I believed that she didn’t remember or realize what she had said.  I realize that she had blacked out when she had said what she had said.  I remember the look on her face that day, and she was feeling ignored because I got pregnant even though she hadn’t wanted that for me, so had turned into her other ‘self’ – a monster I’d seen appear many times throughout my life, someone who hadn’t developed good coping or communication skills; like a child who screams “I hate you” to her parents if they don’t let her eat another cookie, my own mother had limitations, and so I repeated to her what she had said.  “Really?” she responded.  “I don’t even remember saying that, and I didn’t mean it.  I’m really sorry.”  I justifiably ranted at her how hurtful it was, how disappointing it was that my own mother hadn’t even congratulated me on my pregnancy, how hard it had been without her approval….

And once I got through that, she said it was Cynthia’s birthday coming up, would Craig and I please join, as she’d like to see me.

I wanted my mother in my life, and so agreed to meet everyone that Saturday night to a Chinese restaurant in Santa Monica.  I wore a black maternity super casual dress with leggings and a jean jacket and a scarf, and Ugg boots.  I parked in the lot close to the restaurant and was the first to arrive, with my mother being the second – as my father dropped her off there before he went in search of a parking space.  She leaned in to hug me and I let her, and she handed me a card that congratulated Craig and I are on our pregnancy.  She asked how I was.  I was reserved and aloof, but I would be lying if I didn’t state that I was glad to see her.

My eldest sister arrived with her husband and beautiful little daughters, and I remember that my Dad came back – having parked his car illegally – stressed that he was going to get a ticket so after we all ordered our food, I walked out with him and got in his car to re-direct him into the parking lot that he had missed finding, in part because of his age and the stress of being in Santa Monica near the promenade with the traffic reflecting the approaching holidays approaching (it was just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving), and in part because the sign of the structure was hard to see.

We returned to the table, me sitting as far away from my mother as possible.  When I got up to go to the bathroom, my 2 little nieces hurried behind me, asking me questions like “What is going to happen when you need to change him?  He’s going to be a boy in the girls’ bathroom?”  There were lots of giggles, and I was glad I had come out for this family dinner.


On the morning of Friday November 20th I got a weird cramp on the right side of my belly.  It made me catch my breath and later that day, when Craig returned home from work in the early afternoon, the pain returned, and Craig walked in to see me holding onto the new bedpost trying to ride out the pain.  He asked if I’d called the doctor, and I said no, I was seeing the doctor on Monday anyway, and theorized it could wait.  Craig encouraged me to call, and so I paged the on-call doctor.  Dr. C, my previous OBGYN with the fabulous Irish accent, called me back pretty quickly and asked me to describe what I was feeling.  I told her, and also said that maybe it was Braxton Hicks, something I had found on my Google search that day, which referred to contractions many women have way before they go into actual labor.  Dr. C assured me that what I was experiencing was fine and normal, to keep a log if it re-occurred, and to page her again if it continued.

I don’t recall if it happened again that night or at all on Saturday.

Sunday morning came, November 22nd and it was a busy day, you know the kind when you don’t think it’s humanly possible to fit in everything you have planned?

First I went to Target and purchased birthday presents for my niece Eliza and for Robin’s son, as well as some maternity tank tops, t-shirts and sarongs for our imminent trip to Florida – where we were going for Thanksgiving to visit Craig’s father and stepmom.  In the parking lot, I wrapped Robin’s son’s gift, before I headed over to his first birthday party.

I was a little uncomfortable at the party, as it was mostly family, neighbors, along with just one other high school friend who was there with her husband and child.  It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable meeting new people, but I did spend some time wondering why I had made such an effort to be there when I had so many other things to do that day, and Robin and I weren’t close as we used to be.  Still, it was nice to sit outside and watch a few children play and to tell people that Craig and I were expecting.

When I went into get food, I put a tiny piece of lox on my plate, and Robin reminded me that I should be careful how much I eat of that, being pregnant and all.  I had the tiniest sliver of that smoked Nova Scotia Salmon on my toasted bagel with cream cheese, and it was delicious.

When I left Robin and her husband’s home, I had to go to pick up a few ingredients that we’d missed at the market, some more water, and the dry cleaning.  And when I returned to Venice, I was happy to have found parking on the street in front of our walk-street, so that I could keep the space open for Dee and her family, who were coming over for a celebratory dinner party.

She’d been told earlier that week that her cancer was in remission, pending another scan that would review her progress in January, and we were all of course thrilled with that news.  Craig was busy preparing the ingredients for the meal, so I lugged the 2.5 Gallon Sparklett’s water bottle, the dry cleaning, and a few light bags from Target down the walk-street and into our home – and as I was doing so, Dee called to say they were moments away, so I rushed downstairs to guide them into our reserved underground parking space.

As is common with any family with 2 little boys, and as expected with Dee and how she lugged every toy imaginable with her to our beach home when she visited, we had to hold the elevator and fill it up with all of their stuff and their children, all the while Dee and David – her husband – and I chattering away.  I remember that we had either asparagus or broccoli there specifically per Dee’s request, as those greens are known to battle cancer.  I remember that I had purchased a Diet Coke for her, but had hidden it in the refrigerator, hoping she wouldn’t ask for it.  She love love loved her Diet Coke, and had been sneaking them despite cola being horribly unhealthy.  She said she was going to walk to the store to get one, with that defiant twinkle in her eyes, and David shook his head, and I shrugged, and let her know that she could find one in the fridge.

After dinner, the cramps / contracts / pain occurred while I had been sitting at my desk doing something.  I sort of crawled to the floor, and tried to explain to Dee what I was feeling – in between the sharp jabs I was feeling on my lower right abdomen. With her being hard of hearing, I was trying to speak loudly, but it was a little hard to speak loudly as I was experiencing this pain.  David heard what I was saying, and asked when I was seeing the doctor. I told him my appointment was the next day, and he asked me to call him after, to let him know what the doctor said.

Dee and I continued to sit on the floor, with her youngest son, not yet 1, crawling around between us, and asked me if we had a name yet.  We had, and quite frankly, I don’t even remember if I’d ever heard it before outside of the name of the musician Finley Quaye, but both Craig and I just loved it.  The first letter was F, a partial tribute to my grandfather on my father’s side, Felix.  She had trouble understanding what I’d said, again, because she was hard of hearing, so I wrote it down for her.  “Finley?” she asked with her nose sort of scrunched up.  “Yes,” I responded with absolute certainty, “we love it.”

As we exchanged goodbyes and Craig helped them out with all of their things, David reminded me to call him after I’d seen the doctor.

I relaxed for the first time that day, and wondered if it was possible that the cramps had re-occurred at other times during the weekend and I hadn’t even noticed them as I’d been so busy.

The Domino Effect


The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on, in a linear sequence.  The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes (according to Wikipedia.)

I started writing this blog for multiple reasons.

First and foremost, after my son Finley died, after only being alive for 13 short hours, a chapter I still need to write in the context of this blog, I could not find any help, anywhere.  I read every book I could find in the spiritual or self help section of the bookstore or on-line, and every book that generous and thoughtful people, sometimes friends but mostly acquaintances, had sent my way.  I talked to others who had suffered loss.  I joined a chat room for fellow bereaved mothers.  I looked in nature, in my heart, and at the beautiful photo I have of that little boy who looked so much like his Dad.  And still, nowhere could I find the answer as to why things had happened; how that little person had come into our life and then we had been robbed, nay, raped of the opportunity to care for him.

And then after he died, and as my journey to become a parent to a living child became a march, a militant focus for which there would be no distractions, even though I knew others who had suffered from fertility challenges who had ended up on ‘the other side’, as I say, I still couldn’t find answers as to why some people had been blessed with children to parent, and that we had not.

I wanted to share my experiences so that any one else who had ever felt so alone, so deserted, upon finding my blog, might feel a little less sad, a little less alone, perhaps no longer suicidal or even homicidal.  (I do not suffer from either of those very serious emotional states currently, but without question I have been filled with so much hate and longing and pain that I suspect if I did not have a good husband, some very key supportive people in my life, the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and therapy, that if I were a different person, this could have been a solution for me during an earlier time; my darkest days.)

The second reason I wrote this is to write a love letter to my son.  His spirit is with me, and I know he knows how much I love and miss him, but being a parent to an angel, with my only tangible proof being an urn of ashes, one photograph, and a picture of the size of his little feet, I needed to do something more tangible so that others know that he was here. When people die, they are said to have left their legacy.  For most people, those who have not created memorable works of art or been parts of revolutions or done something important in medicine, that legacy is their children.  And I am not ready to die any time soon, but g-d damnit, Finley is my legacy, and while I am alive, it is my job as his mother to make sure that people speak his name, that they know how much he was loved and wanted by his parents.

The third reason I began this blog is to see if I could help my self at all; find my way; sift through the ashes of my emotional tumult and pain, to see if I could find answers as to why he came and left so quickly.  Moreover, perhaps I could find the answer as to why our next child has not come yet.

And in doing so, in writing this blog, in putting myself in such a raw state with no make-up, no fancy purse, no beautiful jewelry, no small talk, and no barriers, I have created a community of love and support around me that I could not have imagined.

The other day, at a work lunch, an associate sat next to me and started telling me about some pain that she’d been having in her uterus.  She bylined the small talk that is so common in my industry, and started talking about something important; her health, her wellbeing, and she did so because she knew that she could trust me with her truth.  I don’t know what the pain she was experiencing is associated to yet; she told me she is going to see another doctor to research this further, but I feel confident that she knows that I am here for her, if there is anything she wants to tell me.

Also the other day I took a work call from an associate, a woman I’ve known for just over 2-years, who I am convinced I knew from a past life.  She rattled off the work questions and then said, “Lorraine, I was thinking, after reading your last blog and since I know what your next steps are, that if I were a few years younger, if this were a few years ago, I would offer to be your surrogate.”

This is a woman who I sat across from at a holiday work party; I remember we were engrossed in talking about her grandmother and what a strong woman she was, and then I saw a twinkle in her eyes, and no, it was not from the eggnog.

This twinkle was likely something that nobody else would have noticed, but what I saw was a flash of her spirit that came through when she was speaking with love about her grandmother.  I remember freaking out a little bit, and telling her that I had just recognized her soul, and I could not continue chatting with her any more because it was just too intense for a holiday work party!

When she said those words to me, offering to be my surrogate if it were a few years earlier, I was stunned and speechless.

Our next steps don’t, in fact, include the need for a surrogate, but the fact that she would even utter that thought, that her heart had opened up so completely that she could even go there, is without question the most generous thing anyone has ever said to me.

These are two examples that immediately come to my mind of this domino effect that has had.  There are so many others, really – countless, but these personal experiences, these loving notes, these spiritual connections I have had with people are a tremendous benefit of wearing my heart on my sleeve, and sharing my loneliness, my desperation, my love letter, with you all.

And I am supremely grateful for this, and yet I am stunned and helpless right now as to how to help two other mothers I know who are suffering:

Someone in my industry just lost her child.  He was less than a year old, and had been diagnosed in January (I believe) of what was apparently a fatal disease. I saw a picture of him on Facebook, and the image is now engrained in my heart; I don’t actually know the woman, but since I learned her little boy died I have had a gulp in my throat that won’t go down; I can’t seem to swallow the fact that another set of parents is suffering the unspeakable pain right now, as I type, of the fact that their son is dead.  Makes me want to throw up, actually.  Eventually I will write her a note and tell her about all of the books that I read that did nothing for me; I’ll share my website info with her; I’ll tell her that her pain is my pain, but the fact is that these parents are without question inconsolable.

When I told Craig about this yesterday, he said “I can’t imagine…” and then stopped himself and said, “well I can, but I just can’t….” I think what he meant to communicate is that he can’t imagine being in that state again; in the early stages of shock and grief that your son, your flesh and blood, has died.

Even to those who have experienced the exact loss, the thought of losing their child is unimaginable.  That is how intense it is.

The other mother who is suffering is a woman I know who could not get pregnant (she does not ovulate regularly and had a failed IVF / surrogate effort), and so she and her husband moved forward with adoption. About 1.5 months ago I saw a picture on Facebook of their son, who had just been born, and they were fostering with the intent to move the foster parent relationship into adoption.  Every day for over a month there was a new photo up, showing her and her husband loving and caring for their son; showing me that dreams DO come true.

And then 2 weeks ago I learned that someone in the bureaucracy made a mistake, a serious mistake, in over-looking that this little boy actually had a grandmother who was now ready to take him into her care, her custody, permanently.  This couple I know fell in love with this little boy immediately (likely had fallen in love with him long before they met him), only to have him taken from them after 33 days in their care.

I cried when I learned this; it makes me question my faith, quite frankly, as how could and why would G-d and the universe be so cruel?  These parents who have waited so patiently, and been so diligent, nay, militant with their intent, now robbed of the opportunity to love this child, a little boy who they immediately took in as their own son.

And I wrote her a note, because that’s all I can do that is tangible.  But I was thinking that maybe we could put into effect that domino effect here:  Will you who have been so gracious with your prayers and positive energy for me now extend your prayers and strength to those parents, please?  I don’t know what else we can give them, but I know that your prayers and good energy has kept me warm and loved and I want to do anything we can for these others who are hurting.

Craig and I are in the midst of next steps. I am a mother to my next child already, it is written in the stars – I know – but the journey continues as to how that dream is fulfilled.

It is amazing, truly fascinating, the range of emotions I am feeling. I am still not going to share what it is in writing; I am not sharing yet because I am still processing the enormity of this decision.

But to put it in context: A few days ago I texted to my husband that I was in the process of writing the checks for our next steps.  I used an explanation point and he responded, “Okay!”.

Then, as I wrote in the subject line of that exact check that which had moments before brought me such joy and resolution and hope, I burst into tears.

It is surreal being me; living this life, or this nightmare, in this state of purgatory; not knowing from one minute to the next how I might feel.  But I am strong; my husband and I are resolute, and we are led by faith and surrounded by loving thoughts and energy from each of you wonderful people who take the time to go on this journey with me.

To be continued…