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.

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.

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.