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.

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.

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’.

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.

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…

Third Anniversary of Finley’s Death

Yahrzeit candle next to the back of our son’s urn with a beautiful fertility stone from the Chumash (Native Americans) tribe; lit on eve of anniversary of Finley’s death, ’12

Before I continue with where I left off with those first efforts, I want to step into *almost* real time to honor now.

Tonight is Sunday, November 18th, 2012.  3 years ago tonight, my friend Dee was alive, and she was at our apartment for a celebration dinner that Craig made for her family; it was a celebration since we believed she was in remission.  I had been having sporadic pains in my right abdomen since Friday, which I had self-diagnosed as ‘Braxton hicks contractions’.  She and I sat on the floor of my apartment in the dining-room-turned-into-office-now-full-of-baby-items-space, while her little 6-month old hovered next to us.  She asked me what we were naming our baby.  I told her, but I was tired, since I had over exerted myself too much that day and in days prior, and she was hard of hearing, so I had to write down his name. “Finley?”, she asked, kind of crinkling up her noise.   I was annoyed with her crinkle but still, too tired to argue or defend.  “Yes, we love it!” I had responded.

Now I sit at my desk in that same space, the baby items long since moved to the side of the hall closet where I can not look, for fear of painful memories flooding me, or in our $92 / month storage – a low cost but the bills of which are haunting reminders on a monthly basis of stolen dreams, with swollen eyes and tear stained cheeks, having had my first in a series of what I’m sure will be a few weeks of breakdowns, since 3-years tomorrow, by the Thanksgiving calendar that is, I went to the doctor for a 23.5 week check up, and was minutes later transported into a wheelchair and carted with an urgency to the hospital across the street.

I’ve had a fever since Friday; sometimes when I wrap a production, or in this case a series of back-to-back productions, my body knows it’s allowed to shut down. When you’re a producer in the middle of production, you really don’t get to call in sick.  Even on days when I’ve been violently ill – like early January of this year, when I was on a conference call during which our car shoot production in Canada was cancelled due to minimal snowfall, it was in between throwing up.

My body knows I have to keep it together and when I finish, or as we say, wrap the job; my immune system somehow releases itself, the stresses, the responsibility of keeping it together, and I end up sick. So I’ve had this fever – and done nothing but keep a family dinner obligation this weekend, and when I called for Craig to tuck me into bed and blow the candle out, the candle next to Finley’s picture and urn that we light every, single night, he kissed his hand and placed it gently on our son’s photo.  I’ve seen him do this many times, but tonight it was too much to take, so I broke down in tears.

I am so lucky that my husband knows when to be in the moment with me.  When I am crying and need to be left alone versus when I am crying and need him to touch my arm and say all of the right things. He reminded me that Finley is still with us.  That I am a great mother, and did everything I could, that it wasn’t my fault.  He reminded me that we have lots of angels, from Finley to our friend Dee, who it turns out was not in remission from her cruel and aggressive cancer when we had that celebratory dinner party 3 years ago tonight, to Craig’s friend Tom, who I never met, but pray to sometimes nonetheless, to my dear college friend Nicole – whose birthday was Finley’s due date, to my Aunt Heidi, my dad’s older and only sister.

We’re currently over a week out from the next pregnancy test to see if the latest efforts worked.  They weren’t our most aggressive efforts scientifically, since my doctor and I made the decision to convert the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycle into an IUI (In Uterine Insemination) – a far less invasive, less costly scientific effort that has significantly less chances of success with my severe case of endometriosis.  Nonetheless, it was the right thing to do, as the $5,000 in medication that I took for several days wasn’t stimulating enough follicles for me to have my 15th surgical procedure in 4 years.

And we coupled this IUI with our natural efforts, and as disappointed as I was that we didn’t have more to work with this time, I knew not having a surgery was the right thing to do, and had been reminding myself that I was right where I was supposed to be, and that our babies would come when they were ready to come.

I had been feeling something in my uterus. Was it expanding?  Was the embryo trying to attach?  Was the embryo chromosomally OK, since I am over 40, and quality of embryos decreases significantly after 35?  I was trying not to obsess too much about it, as my desire to “produce” a pregnancy since Finley’s death had fallen short every fucking time.  And there was Craig, stroking my arm, lying with me in our bedroom, my safe place – my cave as he sometimes calls it, saying, “Tell your body to accept the pregnancy.  You are ready. We are ready. There’s nothing but love waiting for them,” to which I responded, SCREAMING, “I’ve done that every time.  I can’t tell my body what to do. I can’t do anything different than what I’ve done.  The baby has to be ready to come.”

Craig, of course, hadn’t done anything wrong.  But I just needed to assert that I didn’t have any control over this, if not to him, to myself.  There was nothing more I could do than what I did, every, single day.

After the hysterics had ceased, I asked Craig to pass me the picture of Finley.  I am struck STILL by how beautiful he is.  I mean, I know every parent says or thinks that, but our little baby was truly beautiful.  Even at only 1.5 pounds, superficially, he was a fully formed little boy, with beautiful features that resembled his father’s.  Tiny but sweet and perfect hands are folded over his chest.  His lips are pink and lush and sweet.  His arms are little, too small for the size of his head, I suppose, on which there is a yellow and white knit beanie hat.

I will never, ever be able to express enough gratitude for the nurses in the Santa Monica N.I.C.U. – (Neonatal intensive care unit) who put the hat on him, laid him on that little blanket, and wrapped him in another, before taking this picture, the only photograph we have of our son.

In the photo, his eyes are closed; if I had ever seen my son’s eyes open, would that make it easier or harder?  Could it be any harder than this?  I think not.

I’ve always found great comfort in kissing the frame before holding it to my heart.  With every beat, I miss him, so it only makes sense that I hold one of the few physical reminders I have of him to my heart, to prove that he lives on inside me, that I ache for him, that my heart is broken, forever.

Part of the reason I’m writing this blog now is that my therapist and I agree that once I get to the ‘other side’, meaning after the fertility treatments / prayers / acupuncture / apple beet carrot juice I drink regularly – after the combination of efforts made every. single. day. work – and I am holding Finley’s brother or sister, or both, as Craig likes to repeat, I will not remember the pain as vividly. Is that true?

When I am pregnant or hopefully holding a child next year at this same time, will that change the hurt that I tread over carefully at this time of year, these landmines on my soul?

Monday November 19th:  This is my first weekday not working since early March.  This timed out perfectly as 3-years ago today, the Monday before Thanksgiving, I went in to see my doctor for a check up and then got wheeled out to the hospital, where I would stay until my baby was born, after my baby died, and once they released me with an infected C-Section.

Other women left that maternity ward with balloons tied to their wheelchairs and babies in their arms.  I left with condolence orchids; an infected incision where the c-section had been done, which had formed a pulsing fever; lactating breasts; arms that ached, physically ached, for my dead son.

Today I woke up and my fever was down; actually, I did not take my temperature as I felt well enough to get up and take a walk.  Living in Venice Beach, I have lots of choices as to where to go; I chose to put on my headphones, listen to a combination of Joan Osborne and Joseph Arthur, and walk.  Emotional but present is how I felt as I passed others walking babies in strollers, taking bike rides, jogging in Venice.  A guy who looked like he could be the photo on an advertisement for Muscle Beach ran in front of me, shadow boxing and hitting parts of his hard body, that was gleaming with sweat.  I laughed aloud with a fellow Venetian with whom I locked eyes as we crossed a street.

I saw a tree that had a full top, and then on the side had a sort of tree-like-flower growing out of it.  I compared it to myself, wondering if that’s what happened to me. Did I grow as much as I could in one direction, and then when I lost my child did I stop growing in that direction, and out of a sense of survival form a new self?  I maintain that I do not remember who I was 3-years ago yesterday.

I kept walking West on Washington and ended up on a place I truly love, the Venice Pier.  I walked to the end, wondering if I would have a dolphin sighting.  I reminded myself that I didn’t need to see a dolphin to know Finley is with me, but as always would have been thrilled to see one of those beautiful little creatures.

I can stare out at the Pacific Ocean and know deep in my heart that even if I don’t see a dolphin, there are dolphins there.  That is my form of faith.

I used to like dolphins the normal amount, like as much as anyone who appreciates that they are beautiful, playful, and highly intelligent creatures.  I only grew to love dolphins after I dreamed about them many times after Finley died.  I would talk about the dolphin dreams in therapy, and would keep mentioning fins – before my therapist reminded me that I often referred to Finley as Fin.

My therapist, Dr. Sharon I’ll call her – believed that was my way of processing my thoughts about him.

I believed that was his way of visiting me, and so since had become obsessed with dolphins.  Not as obsessed as I am with butterflies, which I’ll get into later, but nonetheless entranced by those beautiful creatures, that I know is one of the ways my angel Finley visits me – whether in dreams or in the ocean in my backyard.

I think of Craig and the hurt he goes through.  It is different for a man. They are just built differently and communicate differently.  A week after Finley died Craig and I went to pick out our wedding rings, yes, totally fucking crazy – I know; I remember us clinging to one  another as we navigated through the holiday insanity that December at the Westside Pavillion, and him being in discomfort.  He complained of acid reflux, but it got progressively worse, bad enough, in fact, that we went to Urgent Care after getting our rings to do some tests and see if he was OK.  I saw all of the wires on his naked chest, and it reminded me of the wires and tubes that Finley spent most of his life wearing.  I silently believed he might be having a heart attack; I was in between oxycodone doses and knew I would need one soon.

So as the countdown was underway for the day Finley would have been 3 immediately followed by the 3rd anniversary of his death, (which is today), he subtly mentioned that he was having trouble breathing, and that maybe it’s just something that will happen to him every year around this time as a result of the anxiety we experience, exponentially worse than other times of year, now.

Fascinating, really, when anxiety turns itself from emotional into physical.

Breaks my heart to think that Craig’s turmoil has manifested itself like this.

I let myself listen to Finley’s and my song as I was walking down the pier. If I close my eyes, I remember the first time I listened to it with him, when he was safe, in my belly.  I listen closely, to see if there are messages in the lyrics that maybe I haven’t caught before.

As I sit here writing this, today at the Venice Library so I don’t get distracted at home, listening to songs that transport me into emotional and spiritual presence, I have Finley’s picture next to me.  I took it out so that I could write that description.  I didn’t want to miss any details, and it’s far too soon to share that photo with you, whomever may be reading this.  I can’t trust that you will see the beauty as I do; I will not jeopardize my son being judged.

This photo is in our bedroom at home, next to his urn.  Both my husband and I also carry wallet-sized versions. We have it framed and on the mantle over our fireplace as well, surrounded by great photos of our grandparents – a metaphor for our belief that they are taking care of him in heaven.  Over those framed pictures we’ve hung a piece of butterfly art, that recently caught Craig’s eye on a visit we’d made to Ojai, and that matches the tattoo I got on the first anniversary of Fin’s death on my arm.

Amazing that I thought I looked at everything in that store, but that I didn’t even notice an entire wall dedicated to butterfly art or these beautiful little stones made by the Chumash, a tribe, until my husband pointed them out.

In addition, I have a framed copy of the photo in my toiletry travel bag, as every trip I take – whether it’s for an overnight stay or 3 weeks abroad on production – I need to light a candle by his photo.  A healer I once went to said I should not travel with his photo anymore.  That was about 9 months after he died. She turned out to be a bit crazy; I think she was an evil woman, the exact opposite of the spiritual healer I work with now, and I no longer seek permission or approval from anyone for the fact that it makes me feel sane (sane as I possibly can be with all that I go through anyway) to have the ritual of the candle next to the photo, every, single night.

In Jewish tradition the candle flame is often thought to symbolically represent the human soul, and lighting candles is an important part of many Jewish religious occasions from Shabbat to Passover Seders. The connection between candle flames and souls derives originally from the Book of Proverbs (chapter 20 verse 27): “The soul of man is the candle of G-d.” Like a human soul, flames must breathe, change, grow, strive against the darkness and, ultimately, fade away. Thus, the flickering flame of the Yahrzeit candle helps to remind us of the departed soul of our loved one and of the precious fragility of our life and the lives of our loved ones, life that must be embraced and cherished at all times.

The picture at the top of the post was taken on the evening of December 3rd, the eve of Finley’s death, as my husband and I held hands, and spoke to our angel son, while we lit the candle, as has been our tradition every year.

Sometimes if I look at his picture long enough while it’s next a burning candle, I can almost bring him to life.  Today, for this moment, anyway, I know I cannot bring him back to life, but that he lives on inside of my husband and me.

Where do I start?


I went to the doctor on Monday, November 23, 2009, thinking it was going to be a pretty normal 23.5 pregnancy week checkup, and while I was telling Dr. B about the trip we were taking to Florida to visit with Craig’s Dad and Step-mom for Thanksgiving – with plans to leave the next day, as clothes lay on our bed at home, waiting to be placed into our luggage, and our seats already claimed on the American Airlines flight – in his very thick, usually un-discernable Israeli accent, my OBGYN very clearly stated, “You are not going anywhere,” and checked me immediately into the hospital.

Over that next couple of days, I learned I had an incompetent cervix, which meant that the weight of the baby on my weakened or short cervix threatened early delivery; that I would be in the hospital for the rest of the term.  I learned of specific landmarks that I wanted to get to that would ensure the health of my still unborn son, who we had named Finley:

Once I got to week 24, I would get a steroid shot that would expedite the maturity of his not yet formed lungs.

Once I got to week 25, Finley’s chances of survival would rise from 15% to over 50%.

When I met week 28, the percentage that my baby would have Cerebral Palsy and other diseases would decrease significantly.

And so on.

We had a calendar placed in the room, and every day, right after a nurse opened my blinds as I lay in the bed with my head at the bottom of a 45 degree angle – in the Trendelenburg position, which was meant to encourage gravity to keep the baby inside, I would ask that day’s nurse to rip yesterday’s date off the calendar.  I had a sense of commitment regarding my task / mission / responsibility to keep Finley safe, and every day brought me a little closer.

For 11 days and 10 nights I stayed in that hospital with my legs practically in the air so that gravity could do its job and keep Finley in.  Friends and family brought black & white cookies from my favorite deli or my favorite lollipops, flowers, and celebrity tabloid magazines.  Pictures my nieces had painted for Finley were taped to the wall.  My husband, Craig slept there a few nights, and we’d hold hands or he would bring his computer and do work stuff there or we’d watch sitcoms and movies on that horribly small hospital TV, and he would rest his hand on my belly and talk to our baby.

I was permitted 1 shower during this entire time, and had to go to the bathroom in a toilet placed in the bedroom directly next to my bed, as part of the prescription to minimize my physical movement, even though the real bathroom was only 10 feet away.  I grew to hate the period of time that I had to wait for the nurse to come and empty this toilet of my body’s movements.

Every day, multiple times a day, the nurses would check my blood pressure and his heartbeat.  It felt like a new nurse each day, and each one would ask me his name.  “Finley,” I would respond, proudly.  I would show them where he was lying in my belly so that they could find his heartbeat easily; he tended to be in the same, low place.

I was prescribed two different kinds of stool softener so that my body didn’t have to strain too much.  I wasn’t on any special diet other than the usual pregnant woman diet, but I was guided to eat a lot of fruit so as to keep my body regular.

On the morning of December 3rd, 2009, a Thursday, while having a bowel movement, my water broke.  While nothing had prepared me for this, I knew that this was what had happened immediately, as I felt a release in pressure and then saw a strange clear ‘cap’ in the bottom of the makeshift toilet.  I immediately rang for the nurse.  She swiped some cotton swab on my inner thigh, a litmus test of sorts, which confirmed immediately that yes, my water had broken.  It was 9:35 in the morning.

And the panic set in, and who I was before that moment flushed away, as what happened next has entirely changed who I am.  What happened next broke my heart.  What happened next has dictated how I get through every minute, of every day.  It has defined my relationships with myself, with my husband, with my friends, my family and God.  It has changed my very beliefs about life and what my purpose is.  And for you to even try to understand that, I will now tell you a bit about the search for my son Finley.


I guess I first started thinking about him in late 2007, and then Craig and I started seriously chatting about him in early 2008.  So, I was over 2-years sober when we first began our efforts to get pregnant, in May 2008.

I didn’t know that I wanted a boy, and I certainly didn’t have his name in mind.  I just knew that I wanted to have a child with Craig.

Craig and I met in June, 1998.  I was 27.  He was 28.  I let him pick up on me at a great dive bar in Venice Beach called Hinano Cafe, where they serve burgers and beer, have a great jukebox and accept cash only.  It’s not the kind of place I expected to find the love of my life, so we embarked on what I presumed was a summer fling.  Over time, our lust turned into love.  And, despite the years I had spent spiraling into drug addiction – a story for another time, we formed what I like to believe was an enviable relationship.

I don’t remember the details of our first monthly efforts, but Craig and I had been together by this time for almost 10-years, and the romance in our lives had changed dramatically in that decade.  So, from the very first time we tried for our baby, there was a sense of pressure.

In June, we were heading to France for a work conference in Cannes, with plans to visit our favorite spots on the Italian coast afterwards, and as producing commercials was my profession, creating schedules came naturally.  I immediately put together a calendar of my important “woman days”.  I included when I got my period, how long it lasted, how long it had been since the previous one, and made guesstimates based upon the fine reading in those ovulation kits on when we should try.  While I’ll suppose my peers packing for Cannes that year were getting waxed and choosing their favorite bikinis, I was busy calculating how many tampons and ovulation tests I would need on the trip.

The day came on the calendar for us to try, when we were in Bordeghera, Italy, truly the most beautiful place we’d ever been. If this was in the first few years of our relationship, this would have been the perfect place to make love and conceive, but I was all about procreating, and was very, very sick with a bit of exhaustion and some sun stroke, and in between gulps of EmergenC with that oval shaped window in our room overlooking that boardwalk and sea, Craig and I had sex.

For many months in my life I was particularly grateful when I got my period, but the next time it came, I was sad and disappointed, and I decided to be more proactive in our efforts.  I was going to produce this pregnancy!  I went to my gynecologist and asked her what we should do.  She said the first thing was to test Craig’s sperm.  The tests came back that he had a lot of sperm, but there was some discussion about perhaps decreasing any baths or Jacuzzis, and it was suggested that we consider doing Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), also referred to as AI or Artificial Insemination, a process in which his sperm gets cleaned and then put inside me during ovulation – so that we have the best swimmers at work.

We tried again naturally with the guidance of the ovulation kit that August, and still, my period came.  So, we decided to move forward and try AI.

The thing about AI or any fertility effort is that it takes serious coordinating.  One can’t schedule meetings or social plans or vacations or anything having to do with life in advance, as the woman’s bodily functions dictate the plans.

First I would have to monitor how many days it had been since my period, then I would start using the over-the-counter (ovulation kit $35 – $41 depending upon if it was on sale), then I would make appointments with the sperm lab and my doctor to perform the procedure.  It would take 1-hour and $180 to clean Craig’s sperm at the Lab in West Los Angeles.  We would grab breakfast during that hour, after which Craig would return to the lab to retrieve the sperm, and we would rush to the doctor in Santa Monica (since sperm is only ‘good’ a limited time both outside and inside the body) with the sperm kept warm (the tube tucked safely in my bra), with the insemination charges at my doctor coming in at $140.  Then we would repeat all of those exact actions (and costs) the very next day.

And, to compliment those 2 medical efforts thereby truly maximizing our chances, Craig and I would also ‘get romantic’ after the 2nd AI.  I was busy producing all of the planning and definitely didn’t appreciate the stress it put Craig under to perform so exactly; there were windows of time and rules as to when the last ejaculation could be – and I dictated the information in a way that was by no means ‘romantic’.  When we’d finish, there wasn’t a lot of cuddling, but me telling him that he’d done a good job – like he had finished first in a track meet or something – as I immediately held my knees to my chest and asked for a pillow to be placed under me to elevate me at my hips, a physical position that invited his sperm to swim their way to my eggs.

All the while, I was working at a production company as the executive producer, which means I was bidding jobs, chasing leads for possible jobs, going to shoots, helping the directors with their creative treatments, traveling, and overseeing the sales staff and company’s personnel.  Adding this baby production into my daily schedule came naturally to me, but the amount of coordination and the lack of ability to EXACTLY plan stuff kept me busier than even usual.

When I didn’t get pregnant that time, my doctor said we should check my body to see how it was working.  She indicated that the first thing we should test were my fallopian tubes.

I’d been forewarned a bit about the procedure, which is called a Hysterosalpingogram, that it’s uncomfortable and there is cramping and so on, but nothing really prepared me for the very cold blue dye being rushed through my Fallopian tubes and on into my uterus via a tube, with my legs spread open, as they photographed and documented where the fluid is going, if it is moving, whether it is stopping, the shape of my uterine cavity – and so on.

I recall there being some discussion then and there, under the bright lights of the lab in which all flaws are pronounced, by the specialist – who suggested that there may be some sort of bend or intrusion or something on my uterus, but in good form for litigious and medical reasons, the technician wanted to wait to discuss with my doctor.

I was uncomfortable for a bit after the procedure, but had no choice but to switch gears and race to a music video shoot that one of my directors was shooting in Malibu, for a pop star you’ve definitely heard of named Lady so&so.

I started living a dual existence, which reminded me of my years as a drug addict, in that I had to segregate and balance two huge areas in my life; nobody in my professional life would have guessed that only an hour before I was having dye shot up my tubes with a suggestion to take it easy afterwards.

For my next visit, I switched over to a new OBGYN, who was my previous doctor’s business partner in the same practice; Dr. C, my wonderful female doctor with a fabulous Irish accent, thought Dr. B would advance my efforts in my need to find Finley.

Dr B had a very thick Israeli accent and his bedside manner wasn’t as comforting as my previous doctor.  But he would utter short phrases like “I like what I see” and “Perfect, perfect” with his hand pressed against my belly as he moved my ovaries to a place where he could see things better.  He was happy to find how my uterus looked and confirmed my tubes were operating fine, but he saw a cyst that he said needed to go away before we continued our efforts, so he put me on birth control pills for a month.  When I returned the next month, on day 3 of my period, he said the cyst was gone and we could try again, and recommended that I up the ante a bit and try a fertility drug named Clomid.  The Clomid cost was $40, and was meant to stimulate the follicles – which eventually turn into eggs that can be fertilized.  And I also was prescribed HCG, a medication that’s a ‘trigger’ shot, which induces the ovulation at an exact time that then makes the AI efforts even more timely.

On Thanksgiving morning 2008, I was on a conference call with Russia about an upcoming commercial that one of my directors was slated to direct concurrent to racing to see the on-call Irish doctor at their office in Santa Monica, to have her put the trigger shot in my ass.

Thanksgiving.  On a conference call.  Rushing to see the doctor.

And still, a couple of weeks later, my period returned, and the cyst had, too.

So after 7 months of trying in 2008, we had done 3 rounds of Artificial Insemination and still no progress.  And because attaching a monetary value to the efforts helps put into perspective the commitment needed, I will continue to outline the costs throughout this story.

Going into 2009, we’d spent over $3,000.