Devon and I made a deal. I will be domestic, and she will be the labourer.
It came about because I expressed my unhappiness with the constant state of chaos that these house renovations are putting us in. Our house is almost not-livable. I hate this town. I want to move back to the city. We have a great condo, but we're never home, and when we are, we're working on it... I have had enough.
But I can't be done with it, because it's not done.
Devon suggested that I take care of the cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry and all things typically domestic. In "return," she is doing the majority of the renovations. I have no problem with the work - I'm capable of painting and tiling and changing light fixtures and all that good stuff... it's just that I absolutely need my weekends to rest up, and when we're putting in work on the house after eight hours of work and three hours commuting, it's exhausting.
But here's what I've noticed: Since taking on the domestic duties, I'm bloody exhausted. I don't know if it is because I am still doing what I can for the house (I painted the bathroom in the dark for Earth Day) or because I'm not actually this used to doing so much to "keep" the house, or a combination of the two.
I realize that Devon and I make so many excuses for ourselves. I can't count the amount of times we've said, "We deserve a break so bad... we owe it to ourselves to rest tonight" and then end up zoning out playing Angry Birds in stereo on our iPhones. Which, I know is sometimes needed - just not every night.
I also realize - more importantly - how much I rely on Devon to take care of things so that I can take care of myself. This whole concept can be dangerous, as we have spent many a lustless hour trying to talk our way out of the "caregiver" and "child/patient/needy" roles. When you're essentially taking care of someone beyond the normal, equal duties, there is nothing sexy about a lover. Really. And considering the way I feel about sex, I do everything I can to move away from these roles. I like sex waaaaaay too much.
Historically, we've done everything together. We go grocery shopping together every Sunday. We spend the day cleaning. We cook together. We do renovations together. We both go out for simple tasks like picking up a meal or getting gas. Some might think it's great to have someone to share these mundane tasks with, and sometimes it is... and sometimes it's a bit telling for the dynamics of a relationship.
I'm so glad I married my best friend, I really am. But we both deserve autonomy and a life outside of each other. We deserve our own friends and our own hobbies (which is hard because we met through a major mutual hobby in our lives and were brought together by mutual friends). We deserve to live our own lives AND celebrate our life together.
It becomes layered because we have one car and we both work in the city and so when a friend calls up and asks me to come over for a visit after work, I basically have to ask Devon if it is okay and to ask her to find her own way home, which isn't a big deal except that the last commuter train home is at 5:45 and if you don't catch it, you're screwed.
I honestly wouldn't change it for the world though. I feel as though I have someone who supports my every breath, and I think I give back just as much.
And I am lucky that I have someone who wants to climb up a ladder to patch the ceiling when she gets home from work, while dealing with a wife who is trying not to burn everything I try to make in the kitchen.
I am such a bad cook and the food has been terrible. But I am trying. I actually miss having someone to grocery shop with, to cook with, to fold laundry with... not because I am needy of Devon to be with me for every little thing I do, but because it actually helps with the workload!
With Easter come and gone, this year more than ever, religion has been on my mind. I wrote a story about my crazy religious past and how it has affected my adulthood... and how it may affect the way I bring up my child. Religion is such a great issue, and on The Next Family site, you'll see many many people who are in similar boats when it comes to the topic of religion. Great reads all around.
We spent Easter with my parents, one of my brothers, and his wife and four kids. There was no Jesus, just the Easter bunny. Visiting my parents is always a bit difficult for me, as I have a tendency to collapse into myself when my mother is around (I'll save our relationship for another post!) but I really did keep true to myself this weekend, and didn't back down around her, which I was both surprised about and grateful for. I am practicing for when it is time to tell my parents about Devon and I trying to have a baby.
I imagine the conversation will go something like this:
Me: Mum, we're going to have a baby.
Mum: No, you will not! Are you crazy?!
Me: Yeah, you're right. Okay, okay... we won't.
But a little help on how to break the news?? This is still a big one for me, and I've yet to figure out the words. We had such a hard time five years ago when we told them we were getting married. And that was "just" marriage. This is a baby. A baby that I hope my mum will be game to have be a part of her life.
They came around with the wedding. I hope that they will do the same for a grandchild.
I got a call from the office of reproductive psychiatrist that my shrink put a referral in for. I was on a cancellation list and a date came up this Thursday, which I took. She called back three minutes later saying she made a mistake - that she didn't realize the referral was for a specific doctor in the clinic - and I guess she felt bad, so booked me into the first spot this doc is available. May 6th. Less than 2 weeks.
This is my appointment for my "pre-pregancy medication consult". This is the date where I will really get to dig into the details of what specific medication means what during pregnancy. What can I come off, what else is not worth it to my health and the future baby's? This is the big question - is it even possible to do? Will there need to be major changes in my medication before we even start trying, or do we make changes as it all happens? So many questions...
I'm excited for numerous reasons, not the least because things have felt a little stagnant lately. Devon is focused on other things and we're trying to get the renos done to sell the apartment and baby-talk would probably just throw her (us?) over the edge. I get it. I don't like it, but I get it.
Another thing I did today, which is big for us, is actually make an appointment with a financial adviser/planner, also for May. Our financial priorities are so vastly different in this relationship and have always been, and it as been getting to me more and more lately. With Devon potentially going back to school next year (yay) and us potentially going through with TTC this year (another yay), we have some serious figuring to do. Hopefully this meeting will help us make money less of a horrific topic to talk about.
So, again, things are moving. Slowly, but I have faith this is the launch of all things active. I will also be doing my HSG test early May, so that will be another thing on the list. We still don't have a time line, and I would love a concrete plan, but I'll take this. Today, I'll take this.
Regardless of the fact that I have experienced quite a bit of turmoil in my short little life and am quite knowledgeable about mental illness, I still haven't a clue what to say when people tell me they are sick.
This week, I was introduced via email to a friend of a friend, who was recently put on anti-psychotics and wants to come off. My friend put us in touch so that this woman would get a chance to speak with someone who has gone through a similar experience. She's in the U.K. so there is an email in my inbox when I wake up and I try to email her back so that she wakes up to the same. The last line of her email was "I'm scared that this apathy will never end". I don't even know what to tell her, except that it will. In time. In fact, I promised her just that.
But I also know how hard it is when you're in a situation like that and people tell you to "hang in there" and that this will "all be over soon". I'll tell you right now, hearing those words when you're depressed just makes you more angry. But what else is there to say?
I get a lot of requests to council other people through tough times. I do some public speaking about the stigma of mental illness and the importance of getting help, and there is always someone waiting for me when I get off stage and they have a range of questions, but stripped down, everyone asks, "When will this go away, am I really going to be okay, and how the fuck am I supposed to get through this?"
What do I say? "I know." Just "I know." It sounds demeaning and I don't mean it to be, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I figure it is less of a slap-in-the-face than some of the alternatives. I do say more - in time. And if you sit down with me, I can walk you through a lot. People usually tell me afterward how great it is to have my support, but really, there aren't words I can say, and I feel completely helpless. Sometimes I just share the same space with them, so they don't feel as alone.
It is horrible, not fair, and extremely scary. It's debilitating and feels never-ending. It's lonely and dark.
Calling in sick to work is not something I do very easily; it is always a big tug on the old guilt noose. I was that perfectionist girl who worked extra hard until minutes before she ended up in the psych ward on suicide watch. It's just a part of who I am.
I didn't realize I was as so burnt out until Tuesday night, when I was at a family dinner trying to refrain from killing my mother, and almost lost it on her stoic, Scottish self (my 5-year-old niece had just been at the hospital that day for major stomach pain and my mother was telling her to stop faking it and to stop crying so the adults could relax. I had flashbacks to my childhood). I did not want to go home at the end of the night because I didn't want to get up in the morning. A bit telling...
Devon is away in Miami for work, and I have been alone this week, which I actually enjoy on the most part. There is a lot of work to do around the house, and it's not like I've had much of an opportunity to relax, but there is something to be said for sitting on the couch in your underwear eating chocolate and staying up too late watching porn bad TV. It took everything in me to call in sick yesterday. I had to remind myself that I do not save lives and that the world would go on okay without me at my desk. So, I finally realized how bad I needed the day off, and probably for the first time in my working career, called in sick when I wasn't *that* sick (physically). I just feel like I'm losing my head, a bit.
There is good news about work though. I am covering a one-year maternity leave, which is coming to an end in August. There was some talk of creating a new position for me, which has gone through about seven different levels of management and I have not been able to get an answer for months, but just found out that the position has been approved. I do still have to go through an application process, but I'm hopeful that if I do apply (which I will), the position will be mine. Would just like to sign on the dotted line though.
The best part about a job in this company? The fertility clinic is in the building next door. I can leave at lunch and get inseminated and be back at my desk well within the hour. How convenient. Honestly, that is part of my motivation to stay, as effed-up as it sounds...
I went back to work this morning and actually got more done in half a day than I have in the last week. There has been a lot of staring-through-the-screen-thinking-of-nothing time over the past few weeks, so I feel a wee bit rejuventated.
Two weeks in Maui would be nice about now. It frikkin' snowed here today. And I know I live in Canada [in an igloo, with my dogsled], but I can't remember the last time it snowed this late in the year.
Thank you for all of your comments on my Canadian sperm bank post ~ definitely more things to look into. We are close(ish) to the States, so it is a possibility to cross the border and have a day of sperm bank debauchery. We laughed at the possibility of heading down, renting a motel off the side of the highway, having sperm delivered there, inseminating in the motel room, wait for a bit and drive home... sounds dirty. And plausible, actually. I can't imagine going through the border with a mobile freezer full of swimmers. Would give those border guards something to talk about, at least. Failing that, we pay the extra money to import. (Thanks Allison for the cost breakdown).
As for choosing a donor, we're a bit stuck. Obviously, the child would have 50% of my genes (really? Wow Lex, thanks for enlightening us ;) It's funny though - Devon and are are extremely similar in our character traits: we're both extremely musical, pretty artsy, similar sense of humours, we're both creative and use the right sides of our brains far more than the left. I am (or was) very athletic earlier in my life - like playing sports at a national level. Devon wasn't sporty, but was more into theatre and music. I had a really rounded interest in music, creative arts and such. Basically, aside from my old sporty self, we're art nerds.
So, with both sides being very similar, it's funny what goes through our heads. Do we pick a donor that is more interested in sciences and math so the kid rounds out? Or do we pick a donor that really is artsy and hope our kid ends up able to do long division (not that kids do long division anymore, really)? My first priority is to find someone who is as close to Devon as possible, so my gut says go with the artsy donor. And really... who says the kid is going to end up getting the creative genes anyway - it will probably grow up to love calculus and astrophysics just to spite us. Friends of ours had a baby last year - the bio mom is white and the "other" mom is native. They went with a native/african american donor and the kid ends up with blond hair and blue eyes. Figures...
I do want to find a donor who is similar in look to Devon. A few posts ago, I did talk about finding someone with her heritage (Eastern European), but in all honesty, she doesn't have an Eastern European look. We talked about it this week, and she said she was happy to go with someone with a different background. It's Canada... there are so many different looking people here.
It's a bit frustrating because I want a bit of Devon in that kid, and that's not going to happen. A long time ago, we talked about using her brother's sperm, but it just didn't sit right - there are just too many layers to that. So I think we'll probably use the facial matching that some banks offer. Although there isn't a male version of Dev out there, I want to come as close as possible. I want to look into my baby's eyes and see my wife... somehow. I know Devon will love that kid regardless of how it looks, but I want to do everything I can to make it so that she does add the other 50% - through avenues outside of biology - to our future child.
I went to my witch doctor today. My chronic pain is bad again, but she thinks it has everything to do with withdrawal from anxiety meds. That, along with the dizziness, shaking, night sweats, headaches, bladder and digestive issues... just a few of the lovely things I am dealing with coming off this damn medication. I hope to God that if I do have to come off any more of my meds, it won't be this hard.
That said, I have had no anxiety symptoms is over two weeks. AND, I have slept. I actually feel somewhat normal again (despite the dizziness, shaking, night sweats, etc.) Devon and I are still sleeping apart, which sucks and I miss her. She's going away for work soon and when she comes home, I just really really want us to share the same space throughout the night. Part of me feels like we're living as roommates right now, because we're so busy working all day and then we just part ways and head to our separate bedrooms at night. Not really a great intimacy builder.
I think the worst of the withdrawal is over, and I still can't believe it's taken this long. Over six weeks since my last .25 mg and this shit still isn't out of my system. Powerful stuff. I really do hope that if my reproductive psychiatrist tells me to come off more of my meds, it won't be this hard. I just can't imagine actively TTCing through this - and I could take a few years to come down off some of my meds if I did them one at a time.
I'm on a wait list to see the new repro shrink. She's apparently a good personality match for me, which will be nice. I'm anxious to hear what she thinks about the cocktail I'm on and I hope she dives right in and gives me a plan that will make the most sense for the health of a baby and my health combined.
But really, a lot of it has to be a wild guess. I can't imagine there are many patients - especially going through one office - who are on the exact cocktail of meds and are going through with a pregnancy. I imagine the docs base it on expertise to a certain degree, but it's not like there is study after study of women before me. It's just not that cut and dry. If I was on your average dose of Prozac once a day, it would be one thing. But I'm not. Nothing about my illness is average.
So I dive into this a little blind and choose to trust, because that's all I can really do besides be as healthy as I can going in and controlling what I actually can control.
First I have to get that H.S.G test. Damn. Seriously, how bad does it hurt?
Just out of curiosity (because right now, we're not seriously looking), I went to the one itty-bitty sperm bank in Canada and opened their donor catalogue. There is ONE - count that: ONE - donor that kind of matches Devon's background. One donor in the whole of the Great White North, which apparently, we're supposed to stick to. Some may say that having a donor with the same ethnic make-up isn't that important, but Devon will not be the bio-mom and I want to do everything I can to make her be as much a part of this baby as possible.
A recent article from the Toronto Sun notes that about 4,633 Canadian donors would be willing and able to donate right now. However, the vigorous Health Canada screening process narrows that number of eligible donors down to 60. Yet patient demand for sperm is at 5,500. Wow.
I kept wanting to scroll down the page of the catalogue. But there is not even enough content to warrant scrolling down.
At least I found out that it is not illegal to buy sperm from the States. However, it's ridiculously expensive.
It's a little frustrating and we haven't even started. I guess we look to see whether the extra cost is worth ordering some Yankee samples. Or, we pick the one dude that hardly even fits us, who has already fathered 15 babies. Sheesh.
Yesterday was our first appointment at a fertility clinic. I was so flippin' nervous all day and the day before for that matter. We had to both fill out surveys to give medical history and menstrual cycle info - the usual, I assume. I could not get over the feeling that they would look down at my medical history, then look over at my medication list, then look at me and say, "Yeah, sorry. You can't have a kid. You're crazy."
I couldn't shake that feeling at all, and though it sounds ridiculous, it was in the back of my head the whole time.
We were virgins in the office and holy-oh, it is a busy place! And oddly oxymoronic... there were Anne Geddes pictures all over the place, like bunches of babies dressed as bunnies in flower pots (say that three times really fast), which was vastly opposite to the energy in the room, which was quite sad and dark, actually. There were three women without partners with them in the waiting room, an couple in their mid- to late-forties, a couple in their late-thirties, and us. Devon was desperately trying to make a deadline, so she was head down in paperwork. Everyone looked so frikkin' sad, it was awful. I was not sad, but I was incredibly nervous.
The nurse pulled me into this cramped little room to measure my height, weight, blood pressure and pulse. She got to my pulse last, and when she was measuring it, she told me not to worry, that the doctor was very nice. I smiled and tried to calm down. But my heart beat strong and loud. She actually giggled when she wrote the number down on the page. She told me again not to worry. Easier said than done in my world. My pulse was extremely fast - I shook it off as nerves...
We went into another cramped room and met the doctor, who had someone shadowing him. He was lovely - very sweet. His English wasn't fantastic, but he was very clear and took his time explaining himself. We went through my history, and when he got to my mental health, I just cringed. But he didn't. He asked me to be precise in the dates of when I was hospitalized, how long I've been on specific medications, and how my mood was now. I was honest. The conversation went deep into my history, and I found myself explaining my electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) history, as this lead to a seizure disorder. The two doctors were a little taken-aback with the extent of it all. (He was also taken aback when he read my pulse - enough so that he took it again... it was the same).
I was clear that I would be doing this under the guidance of a reproductive psychiatrist. The doc said that my illness is beyond his expertise, but that they would be certain to work extremely closely with my repro psych through this journey... yes, he did not dismiss me... I had to hear it again: they would be certain to work with... YAY!
I had already taken my fertility blood tests, so he was happy about that. But he has given me a referral to get a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The one thing I liked a lot was that he didn't tell me I had to. He explained that it was painful and that it was not vital until they expected something was wrong, and then he said that considering the costs of IUI, I might consider thinking about getting the test done sooner, just so we're not wasting time and money at the beginning... but ultimately, it was up to me, and he'd be happy either way. It may sound small, but I appreciated it. And I am going to get the HSG sometime in the next two weeks. Can someone tell me exactly HOW painful they are?? Reading about them was not so pleasant.
Now, here's the kicker. I asked him all of the questions that you suggested the other day (thank you!) and when I was asking about sperm banks and the differences between sperm sold for ICI vs IUI, he explained what good ol' Canada has in place:
Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent to the FDA) has made it illegal to pay males and females for the donation of sperm and eggs respectively. I knew about the eggs. I wrote about that a while ago. So, in order to comply with government laws, Canada has a centralized third-party "sperm base": there is one sperm bank in Canada, where all the provincial/territory donors' sperm ends up and this is the only place in Canada you can buy sperm from.
He started to go into the legalities (which are apparently changing - I don't know to what) and I followed him for a little bit before losing him in terminology. From what I understood, it is illegal to buy sperm from the States (or anywhere else, for that matter). I did not push him on it, because I want to do some research on my own, but I'm very curious to find out.
In my readings, I found out that due to this new law of taking away paying donors, there was a sperm shortage in Canada (really?), and I don't know if that's improved. I imagine people still buy sperm from outside of Canada, but I don't know if it's illegal. It just seems so odd. If you know where to ship it to, and you have the ability and technology to safely deal with shipping frozen sperm, than what's to stop people from buying it off the internet, shipping it through the border in hopes that they don't confiscate it/arrest or charge you, and basically bringing it into their homes? Not to say that's what we're planning on doing, but it makes you think.
So, I guess we'll be using a Canadian donor. Nothing wrong with Canadians... there is just not as many of us as there are in our Southern neighbour (sorry, neighbor to you). At least Canada is a huge multi-cultural melting pot, so hopefully we will get some variety - even within the caucasian population. The RE did say that East Indian and African American people looking for donors of the same ethnicity are pretty much shit out of luck here, which is really sad.
Have to do more research, but definitely something that I didn't expect!