Monday, June 18, 2012

Repertoire of Emotion: To the Lightness, Next Stop: Graduate School

To say that I often find myself feeling agitated and down in the dumps might be an understatement. I need a lot of healing in my life. Healing sources. And I welcome them, I go to them, I give myself to them in the fullest as often as I am able. Life, for me, is a ride. A really long, crazy ride. At least I hope it's long (undecided about the crazy part)! Sometimes it feels like my one-of-a-kind Grandmother (call her Mel because that's what I call her) is in the front seat and I am just a powerless rosary-reciting underling in the back. At other times, I start to worry that I am both the underling AND the Grandma Mel-Toad taking my underling self for one wild ride. My restlessness, agitation, despair, dissatisfaction, anxiety and stress come when they come. Then they go when they go. I'll never be rid of them. Fortunately, I also have other qualities (I think they're somewhere in the car of me...). Like contentment, peacefulness, jubilation and pleasure.

The balance in the car has sometimes gone to the dark back-side of me, and at other times to the light. I'm either hurting or in healing. Hurting moments add to hurting, to the great continuum of hurt that it is possible for me to experience. Healing moments add to healing, to the great continuum of healing that is possible for me to experience. And thus you have it - my life of hurting and healing. The balance was tipping into the hurt this morning, BIG time, and I felt I was just barely hanging on. Then, around lunch time, I sat down by the computer and saw that I had an email message. It was from the director of graduate studies in English at WIU, and she wrote to let me know that I have been accepted into the program and that I am being offered a full teaching assistantship for the 2012-2013 year (this means: a monthly stipend of $1060.00 -for eight months- and a tuition waiver). I read both messages, the one about my acceptance and the one about the T.A., aloud. Then I jumped up and down slightly, in a demented fashion. One moment earlier I was twisted up with self-judgment and self-criticism, the next: total shock and -dare I say- happiness. My whole body, including my face, was kind of reminiscent of a person who is paralyzed throughout half of their body. When they smile, only half of their lips rise so that no matter how happy they are they always look sad at the same time.

So yes, I jumped up and down, pathetically (because I was tired out from all of my hurting and elated and relieved at the same time), and said, "Yay" three times. Slowly, with a distressed smile and wavering tone of voice. "YaaaAy." "YaaAaay." "YAaaay." I think my face looked sad but more than anything I was feeling relief and gratitude. The load was lifted, for a moment. Gratitude sent it to the ether. Gratitude is one source of healing - when I experience gratitude, I feel a lightness and ease come over my body. As for relief, that also feels like a heavy load has been lifted. I think those might be two of maybe four or five of the best feelings in my repertoire of emotion. After I jumped and awkwardly hugged Sandy, while saying my "yays" of relief, another wave of emotion came over me. I sat down at the table to read through the email, and I just cried. It was like the universe just threw me a bone. Something to spend my day chewing on. Something to live for. I know that sounds dark and overdramatic, but I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with life. When something I hope for actually comes through, it's overwhelming to me.

I guess part of me, maybe subconsciously, just assumed that this (Grad School), too, was just going to be another thing that would fall through...another rejection, another failure, another hope dashed. When it wasn't, all I could feel was relief and gratitude. I also have been placing a lot of hope into the grad school pot. Grad school is like a lifeline to me. There are a lot of things in my life that I wish could be different or that I wish I could do differently. There are a lot of things about myself that I regret, wish were different, feel guilty about, struggle with, etc. I am trying to do whatever I can now to make my life better, instead of just being swallowed up by my own helplessness and misery. Grad school is my opportunity, my ticket to something - to an unknown, to a change in direction. Also, I have been wanting to realize some more of my independence more than ever. Being a stay at home mom has affected my perspective on practically everything - gender roles, relationship roles, heteronormativity and its effects on homosexual couples, everything. I have been more aware than ever of how much my upbringing, being extremely dependent on others and also very privileged, has affected where I am and how I am today. I want to go beyond myself, beyond my status quo.

I want to go higher and live a better life. I KNOW, and you cannot convince me otherwise, that my daughters will benefit from me at least TRYING to make my life better. I realize how often they see me frustrated, stressed and miserable. It's okay for them to see me like that, that's a significant part of how I am at this juncture in time. I also want them to know that there is more to me than that. I want them to know other parts of me - confident, passionate, calm, happy and fulfilled parts of me. I know that going to graduate school is good for me, good for them, and good for those around me. I cannot change any decision I have made in the past, I can only do my best to make my life work from here. And so, when I read the news, I cried. I didn't sob, I just read silently and let the tears fall. Tears falling is so much more relieving than all of my self-protectors building inside - guilt, anger, frustration, and so on. I am on my way. To where I don't know. But to somewhere, to something. That's hope. Feeling a sense of possibility and flexibility for the future.

Logistically speaking, I have a lot to do now. I have the rest of June and July to get my act together. It's gonna get crazy in a flash, I predict. I am waiting to hear back about the egg donation thing. Apparently the couple isn't sure about proceeding because they did not realize I live so far way (read: in the middle of nowhere) and they aren't sure they want to pay the extra fees to have things done in a city near me (read: Springfield). I have been dealing with a complicated case of writer's block in regard to my book, and the plan was to finish it this summer. Not sure what will happen on that frontier. I am supposed to visit Buffalo in July for my ten-year high school reunion, which was planned to take place at Salvatore's (I know, talk about your stereotype fulfillment - but we have a class member whose father owns it), but now they are thinking of canceling it due to low enrollment. I wonder if I was the only one who enrolled. Just kidding. There were about twenty of us. I'd still be happy to see one or two familiar faces from my glory days...yeah. Oh well. Guess no one else had the great time I had. That aside, I need to start reading and planning to teach in the Fall. That's not mentioning the kid-related events and everyday kid-care going on. That's also not mentioning poetry. Though I would love it, I am not in a Creative Writing program. Western got rid of their CW program a short while back. That's that. I might have to abandon my poetic ship entirely for a while. This saddens me, but I always return to the ones I love. I'm not one to get lost at sea permanently, I'm always on alert for lit ports.

Do forgive me if I suddenly become distant and neglectful. I will be taking a crash course in August, and I'm positive I cannot prepare or be ready for it. My days will consist of taking graduate courses, teaching English 180: College Composition 1, holding office hours, working ten hours a week as a consultant in the writing center, visiting my kids at the campus preschool room whenever I can, spending three hours of quality time a day with my McFaddens (5-8), and completing reading and writing assignments for classes (8-?). I anticipate that when I am not in my graduate cubicle or teaching that I will be working my ass off at the library. No, this won't be like my first semester at Hampshire College, when I spent half of my time doing school work, a quarter of my time worrying and another quarter escaping in music. Nope, it's gonna be me using every second of the day possible to get work done. Procrastination is a thing of the past (dear God, I hope) because it has to be. I won't have time to think. Just do, do, do. And can I tell you how much I am looking forward to that? Thank Universe!

I will be teaching in a computer lab, so I guess I'll have to be creative about the personal component. I'm excited that I get to choose a theme for the material we read. Gender and sexuality, anyone? Oh you bet I am plotting right now...heh, heh, heh. I will teach those mortals how to write AND how to re-conceive some of their ideas about gender. I may not be able to immortalize them or transform them, but I -will- ruffle their feathers and dishevel them. I will have to ask, on my first day of training, if we are allowed to listen to Philip Glass during writing periods. Yes, brainwash them using hypnotism into forming positive associations with writing! The English Department shares Simpkins Hall with a theater, right? I don't think this should be too much of a problem. At least I won't have to worry about...projection...

Wish me well, wish me luck. Or, better yet, wish them well, wish them luck...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Starting the Egg Donation Process

This just in:

I was notified by my egg donor registry that a couple has "selected" me as a donor (i.e., they want me to give them my eggs so they can produce a little baby). I was SUPER excited about this, because I am getting up there in age - and agencies have limits on the ages of donors (I believe the limit is 29 with my agency). This will likely all happen between now and August, if it ends up happening, so we're in for a ride.

Now I am reading through and signing documents, and tomorrow I will send them in and wait to hear what happens next. It's very interesting. Go and check out what egg-donation is all about. We do have a couple of concerns - one, regarding health complications and, two, regarding the financial and legal ramifications of health complications that might arise. The documents I have right now suggest that the agency is not responsible legally for issues of pain and suffering. While serious complications are not likely to occur, I want to be sure that I will not be held financially responsible for any emergency or other medical procedures that I might have to undergo as a result of the donation.

Some potential complications: structural damage to organs, adnexal torsion, OHSS, or an allergic reaction.

Look 'em up if you're interested. I'm sure if I have any serious complications I will either be blogging about it or dead. Give me blogger or give me death!

In a very small nutshell, this is what essentially will happen: 1. I go through all the hoops (medical and psychological exams, blood tests, etc) and sign the documents to make this happen. 2. I take medications to synchronize my egg cycle with the recipient's cycle (undergoing ultrasound exams and blood tests). 3. While that is happening, I take birth control pills to regulate my cycle. That will be a first for me, since as a nearly purebred lesbian I have never had to take birth control. That will be interesting, I'm not looking forward to it. But I will blog and all will be well. 4. I begin injections of a drug called Lupron. I take Lupron for 2-6 weeks by subcutaneous injection. Now, I must say a word about Lupron, 'cause I'm a little scared. I just read about three interesting side-effects of Lupron: severe depression, acne breakouts, and -my favorite- the growth of facial hair. Ah, facial hair. I'll finally be able to grow a beard, and I might even commit suicide when it's fully grown! I'm all for trying something new. A beard. I think I'm up for that. I laughed for a full minute when I read the side-effects. Don't worry, I will post a bunch of photos of me and my facial hair if and when it happens - and I'll likely look severely depressed in all of the photos. Oh, and don't forget to watch out for the acne. This is good for me, right. I'm always talking about how the physical is transient and superficial and doesn't matter. Let me put my money where my mouth is. Yes, this will further put to the test all of my internalized beliefs about gender. I was struggling with the leg-shaving issue. A beard just blows that triviality right outta the water. WOW! I might chronicle the whole thing on You Tube. Don't be surprised if I do. I'll definitely do it if I grow facial hair.

Okay, 5., I begin taking stimulation medications, injectable gonadotropins, once or twice daily. They replace my FSH and stimulate my ovaries to produce more than one egg. I might have to inject myself. EEK! And all the while I have appointments involving ultrasounds to track the number and size of follicles (and blood work to determine my estrogen levels). I'm feeling a little like a meat-industry whore (aka, a cow) right now. Me, the piece of meat that no one wants to eat. I must be tough, 'cause if I was fatty and juicy someone, if only a crow, would peck at me. Ohhh well. 6. I stop taking the drugs and thirty six hours before the retrieval I will be injected with hCG. I also start taking additional medications to prepare my body for embryo transfer. Gee, I'm gonna be a human science experiment. I feel like an alien abducted by humans. Do I value my life? Well, marginally I suppose. Just as much as the next abducted alien. I'm gonna make some beautiful alien baby for someone! I think I actually have superhuman genes, and I'm delighted at the idea that someone other than me will raise the baby alien. Back to the actual procedure: I think I have to give myself the hCG intramuscular injection. OUCH! I'll do it on camera. I like to share my pain with you, The World ('cause "it's a small world, after all"). 6. After the final hCG injection, I will have my retrieval procedure. DA DA DAah. The moment you've been waiting for...7. I will undergo an oocyte (egg) aspiration. In other words, a needle will be passed from my upper vagina into each ovary in order to extract the eggs.  I will receive intravenous sedation for comfort. Whew, I was getting Faaaareaked out there. Sedation. Sounds good. The older I get, the less I value life. Isn't that backward? Sedation, yep. I'm out.

7. After a brief recovery, a companion takes me home where I must rest for a day and refrain from unprotected sexual intercourse for the remainder of my cycle. Hmmm. That shouldn't be too hard. I think I can manage. I think I decided I was done having kids anyway (ha, notice the deliberate "I think" - like it's still foggy in my mind...did I say that, or???).  8. I take a four-day course of antibiotics to preclude infection. That's pretty much all of it, for me. Oh, 9., I get paid. Somewhere around $5,500. What could I possibly do with SO much money. I would so be a prostitute if I didn't have to encounter men. I wouldn't touch a penis with a ten foot pole if you paid me a million bucks. HA! Did that sound like load of B.S. to you? I like that part of me. I don't like male-ness or man-ness (cover sex and gender!). However, I would touch a penis for money. I've got balls, I know how to clean a toilet with a toothbrush. I was made for low-paying and filth-infested labor. Plus, I have experience - three or four penile encounters for the purpose of pregnancy and, God love our donor for accepting my bare bones accounts of our enounter, he let me try to make it work. It worked, I got pregnant. The prostitute who acted the part, that's me. I don't orgasm easily, but I'm a five-star orgasmic performer. And I like easy money. My Grandma Mel started me out right by paying me for TRULY odd jobs. So, 5,500 buckaroos. Earned by my next sexperiment. Finally, the wardrobe of vests, scarves and tunics I've been waiting for. Or maybe a semester of graduate school instead. If they will...have me.

It's all still up the air -the donation, that is- but it won't be for long. I'll be scanning in my documents tomorrow morning. Let the journey begin. I did scare myself when I read a woman's story about donating at 19, and then hitting menopause at 28. Now she wants to have kids and cannot because she doesn't have any eggs. But that's just one story, and I don't have all the details. Maybe she went was with a bogus unscientific basement agency. Maybe she had her eggs extracted by a butcher.

Wouldn't it be funny if I hit menopause early because of this? That would be fitting and possess its own INCREDIBLY ironic humor, wouldn't it? I'm fine with menopause at thirty, except for the fact that I'd like to stay ridiculously horny for at least another fifteen to twenty years. Where do you think my poetry comes from. Yes, Poetry of the Loins, that should be my first book. At least I've had two children already, just in case I have to remove an ovary because of this.

The worst thing that could happen is that I'd lose my life, but any number of things might cause me to lose that... Wait, we don't "lose" our lives. It's not like we experience the loss of our own lives. It would be YOU who would lose my life. So I guess I'm willing to take that risk, since I've weighed the factors and considered the costs. Funny, to think about death as I am preparing to help create life. I always think about death anyway. Death and me, we go together like birds without feathers.

I don't know yet about how the couple (the ones who said: SHE IS THE CHOSEN ONE) feels about anonymity. I'm all for openness, but I'll do whatever -sideways, doggie style, hanging from the rafters- on that account. I think I'd rather have my last name withheld until the being turns eighteen, but I wouldn't mind having contact throughout with the parental unit or units. I just don't want them to get a load of my You Tube channel, if ya know what I mean. I don't think they want a word whore for a donor. Speaking of that, maybe I should go get rid of a few videos...incriminating ones, like the ones about Paxil. It looks like I'll be needing some Paxil just to get through this procedure (JO-king).

I've had babies break open my VAG. So, to all of this, I say, BRING IT ON!