2014: A year of endings

Today I submitted the final version of my dissertation.

My university no longer requires hard copies, so it was a relatively simple matter of uploading the PDF and filling out a few extra details. It was made a little more interesting by the fact I realized late on Sunday night that today was the very LAST day on which I could submit the dissertation without having to wait until January and register for another term (even though the university doesn’t shut for Christmas until the 24th). So that led to rather a lot of e-mails between myself, my supervisor and the chair of the examination committee, and then a lot more e-mails between myself and the graduate program assistant. But it all worked out in the end- the link came through this morning as promised and it took me less than ten minutes after I’d started the process (including a couple of minutes spent waiting for my computer to load the 398 page PDF so I could just double check it was the right version).

Anyway, I am, for all intents and purposes, done my PhD. Convocation still lies ahead, and I may well have to dress up in robes and prance across a stage (even though I would rather take the degree in absentia) because it would be good for my program to have tangible proof that PhDs are finishing. We’ll see. But the PhD was finished in 2014. That’s how it will be counted.

Two other things ended in 2014.

My second, and last, pregnancy.

And my hopes for a second child.

We had our follow up appointment with our fertility specialist last week. Q. was able to go as well because my sister was in town (not the one who lives in the same city- she was overseas- but the other one) and kindly agreed to look after E.

It was uninspiring.

I wasn’t surprised by this.

I had taken the time to type up all of the details of our two IVF cycles (culled from this blog): # eggs retrieved, # mature, # fertilized, maturation rate, attrition rate, etc. It made things much easier when it became obvious that he hadn’t reviewed our chart in any way before meeting with us.

He was 90 minutes late. This was apparently due to a crisis in the OR, but the man always runs 90 minutes late so I can’t see why they bothered to give us an explanation. It meant we had to endure a very long and awkward conversation with my favourite ultrasound tech who must now hold a managerial position in the clinic. She spent much of it trying to convince us to change our minds.

Both she and Dr. L. told us that it will be difficult when E. gets older and starts asking why everyone around him has a brother or sister. They told us that we won’t be around one day and it will be better for E. not to be alone.

This was, frankly, insulting. I can’t believe that anyone would come to that clinic having decided to end treatments and yet somehow have failed to consider the repercussions of such a decision.

Dr. L. really, really didn’t want to let us go. He started making suggestions: a short-protocol IVF. Putting back three embryos.

I don’t want to have to selectively reduce.

When I got home I did a bunch of Googling and discovered my gut feeling was right- short-protocol IVFs are NOT good protocol for PCOS patients. We need long and slow to get good eggs.

I think he just suggested it because it would be ‘easier’ on us- less time at the clinic. I don’t think he really thought about whether it would be the right thing for my particular set of issues.

He danced around the subject whenever Q. tried to ask him a question about success rates and numbers. I wish my sister could have come with us as she is better at hard questions and would probably have been able to better pin him down.

I came out of the appointment conflicted, but I wasn’t once the dust had settled and I had some time to think.

I just don’t trust my f/s enough to do another cycle. I’m tired of the chaos of my clinic. I’m tired of his perpetual lateness. IF we went back, I would ask to transfer to another doctor, who is always on time and who always remembers me when he sees me. But we’re not even likely to do that.

I know what we will not do, under any circumstances, in building our family.

We will not move to another clinic and start over again. That ship has sailed.

We will not adopt.

We will not use donor eggs.

We will not use a surrogate.

We would probably do another IVF cycle, with the other doctor, if E. were still two, or if our insurance covered procedures and not just medications, or if our province actually funded IVF like they have been suggesting they will, eventually.

There are circumstances under which I can see us trying again.

But those circumstances don’t reflect our lives as they exist today.

And so 2014 is likely to be embedded in my memory as the year in which things ended.

Some good.

Some bad.

But all of them over.

I hope it lets 2015 be a fresh start.


Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Grief, Life after the PhD, Lonely Onlies?, Loss, PhD, Second Thoughts, Siblings, Three's Company


Dr. Turia!

Very minor revisions (read: a handful of typos) and they want to nominate the dissertation for the university prize. Was praised to the skies for the clarity and elegance of my writing.

I may never have a job in my field.

I may never ‘use’ the PhD.

But no one can take it away from me.


Filed under Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Life after the PhD, PhD

Last Womb Standing

I keep a list in the back of my head.

It’s composed of the names of women, friends and acquaintances and colleagues, who have one child within a year or two of E. and no others.

One of them e-mailed me the other day.

The subject was “News”.

I didn’t even need to open it to know what it said.

She’s pregnant.

Due in April.

Finally able to get excited about it because she can tell people now.

She wanted to tell me in person, but did it over e-mail instead because the next time I’m going to see her is at our Christmas party and she didn’t want to surprise me.

It was a very kind and thoughtful gesture on her part, and I appreciated that I wasn’t going to get blindsided at my own party.

She was the second one that week.

Two years ago, I wasn’t even keeping that list.

A year ago it was still plenty long.

Now it’s almost empty.

I don’t begrudge these women their second children.

Far from it.

I am happy for them.

Many of them have struggled, even if they didn’t the first time around, like my friend who discovered her pregnancy was ectopic the same week I lost our baby, or my friend who lost a baby very late in the second trimester to a fatal genetic disorder, or my friend who had four chemical pregnancies before one stuck.

Of the two last week, one had been ready to add to her family for a long time, and the second was on her very last IUI before walking away from treatments forever with an only child.

E. is getting old enough now that if my friends were going to have had a second child easily, it would have either already happened or it would be on the way.

So an announcement these days is often a little victory.

It still hurts.

Every name I take off my list is a reminder of what we tried and failed to do.

I have never been more grateful for this community. Here, on my blog, I do not feel alone.

In my ‘real’ life, I’m so terribly lonely.


Filed under Baby Olympics, Friends, Grief, Loss, Three's Company

Christmas wishes

At least someone in this house has a Christmas wish that can be granted…

Letter to Santa

E's E

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. For the other participants this week, click here.




Filed under E.- the fourth year, Microblog Mondays

E., inventor.

Microblog_MondaysThe Sick has arrived at our house, right on schedule. I’ve been watching the other kids at nursery school disappearing and waiting for it to be E’s turn.

While still so sick that he wouldn’t actually consume anything I considered to be food (preferring instead to stick to the patented “Advil, ginger ale and ice cream” diet), E. still managed to identify a glaring omission in the world of toy manufacturing.

“Wouldn’t it be so lovely to have a battery-powered Elasmosaurus in the bath! It would have six batteries so it would be very flexible and able to swim all around the bath. And it would come with its own fish! The Elasmosaurus would swim around and eat up all the fish and then poop them out its bum.”

“So the Elasmosaurus would poop out the bits of the fish its body didn’t need for energy?”

“No, the Elasmosaurus eats the entire fish, even the head. But the fish are white in the bath and brown when they come out its bum.”

You read it here first.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. For the other participants this week, click here.


Filed under (Pre)School Days, E.- the fourth year, Microblog Mondays, The Sick

Wish lists

Microblog_MondaysMy sister asked me in an e-mail this week what I would like for Christmas.

I really only want two things.

I want a job that will challenge my brain that I can mostly do during school hours.

I want another baby.

I don’t think you can find those things at the mall.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. For the other participants, click here.


Filed under Grief, Life after the PhD, Lonely Onlies?, Loss, Microblog Mondays, Second Thoughts, Siblings

Waging an inner war

There is a pot of money sitting in our high-interest savings account.

On the spreadsheet where I keep track of things, it’s labelled as “short-term savings”.

It’s not our emergency fund.

It’s not the bit of money we were given by Q.’s mother earlier in the year (which is sitting in the HISA until we figure out what we are going to do with it).

It’s our miscellaneous money.

Here’s what we’ve been thinking of using it for:

  • top up our TFSA, RRSP and RESP savings to make up some of the shortfall we’re now building because I’m not working
  • put it towards a cottage vacation next year
  • finish the landscaping in the side/back yard so it will actually be a space we want to use
  • help offset the cost of demolishing our ridiculous shed and replacing it with a smaller option (a part of the side/back yard project that Q. thinks he can do himself)

All good things that would benefit the family we do have.

I will give you all one guess as to what I currently want to use it for.


I don’t know how to reconcile my heart and my head.

Logically I can appreciate that it makes no sense whatsoever to cycle again.

It would be, at the very least, financially irresponsible.

Q. and I are not financially irresponsible people.

But my inner voice just won’t let it go.

It argues that when it comes to long-protocol fresh IVF cycles where we transfer two blastocysts, we have a decent strike rate.

Four blasts transferred.

Three implanted.

Two turned into embryos.

Admittedly, we’re not doing so well with the final outcome as only one of the four ever became a baby that we brought home, but that’s not to say that the next cycle wouldn’t be successful.

Or so my inner voice argues.

I have no idea how to shut her up.


There is only one positive coming out of this entire experience.

For once in my life, I am not eating my feelings.

It’s like my body has finally realized that no amount of chocolate cake is going to make this better.


Filed under Anxiety Overload, Grief, Lonely Onlies?, Loss, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image), Money Matters, Second Thoughts