I swear I’m not as much of a grumpy gus in real life as I am on my blog, but I sure do feel like I have plenty to be grumpy about these days. I thought I had left most of the bitterness of pregnancy loss and infertility behind me, but we’re now six months and one miscarriage into trying to conceive our second living child and I just today saw the second pregnancy announcement from a friend/acquaintance who is five months pregnant (which is how pregnant I would be right now if I hadn’t miscarried), and my dad’s memorial service was last Saturday, and we’re heading into midterm season which is no more fun as a professor than it was as a student, and I am GRUMPY about it all.
As part of the conversation with my OB about how to go forward with trying to conceive after my miscarriage in May, she offered to repeat my Day 3 labs, which I haven’t had done since before my daughter was conceived — I figured that if they were normal, I’d be more comfortable trying on our own a little longer, but if they indicated low reserve I’d want to head back to the RE sooner rather than later. The results came back this week, and my FSH and estradiol are both normal (8.8 and 49, respectively). My FSH was 8 before, so things don’t seem to have changed much there (although I do always worry about inter-cycle variability). My AMH was a bit on the high side — good for egg quantity/quality, but apparently a potential indicator of cysts or PCOS. Which makes total sense to me, because it seems like every time I get an ultrasound someone tells me I have a cyst and they’ll “keep an eye on it” and then they never do and then I mention it whenever they do another ultrasound and they’re like, “oh, huh, you do have a cyst… well, it looks normal, but we’ll keep an eye on it,” and then nothing happens. I also wonder if my borderline high AMH levels are related to the fact that I get wicked ovulation pain these days — I don’t even really need OPKs anymore, because I can tell 2-3 days before the OPK turns positive that I’m starting to ovulate, and by the time I get to ovulation day it hurts to sit down. Anyway, who knows? My OB mostly just brushed it off (I didn’t actually get to talk to her; she left a message and said to call if I had questions and I haven’t gotten around to it). But at least my eggs aren’t rotten, which was my main concern. So that leaves us in purgatory of trying and trying and wondering when to go back to the RE. I think I’ll probably wait it out until January — that would be seven cycles of trying post-miscarriage (since it took me >2 months to get my period back after the miscarriage), 10 months since we started trying after our son was born, and it would also be past the window of inconvenient due date timing (since I’m planning to submit my tenure materials next November). Seems like a good time to step up our efforts.
In the meantime, I held my dad’s memorial service last Saturday. It was so strange. I still don’t really believe that he’s dead. Most of the family got together, and it was nice to see everyone. In a way, it was one of the more pleasant family funerals since nobody was really all that sad, since nobody was really that close to my dad — sounds weird to say it that way, but it’s the silver lining of my dad’s depressing life during which he worked hard to alienate himself from pretty much everyone in the family. My uncle is a minister, and he planned most of the service. He did a nice job — told some stories about my dad that were funny but didn’t totally whitewash the seedier sides of his personality. It’s got to be disconcerting for my uncle that he’s now led funeral services for his parents and two of his three siblings, but you’d never know it from the way he was up there talking and laughing and playing Grateful Dead songs (which my dad definitely would have appreciated). My son, S, was the star of the show, if that’s a thing that one can be at a funeral. He was dancing along to the Grateful Dead songs, peeking over my shoulder at a family friend and saying “Boo!” during the service, and when I got up to give the eulogy he held out his arms yelling “Mama, mama, mama!” until I just picked him up and let him sit on my hip while I spoke and he tried to disassemble the microphone.
I had some really nice moments with my dad’s old friends who told me stories about the good old days when my dad was actually a functional human being and did some really important welfare reform work — like, welfare reform that influenced policy decisions across many states and also the platform for one presidential campaign that my dad worked on. It was all before I was 5 years old, so I don’t really have any memories of those days, but it was nice to hear about how he used to be really driven and dedicated to helping other people. I don’t know what happened — part of it was being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, although that’s clearly not all of it. As I mentioned before, there were drugs and alcohol and abuse involved, and I’m pretty sure there were some undiagnosed mental health issues too. Not depression/anxiety so much as narcissistic personality disorder with perhaps a touch of sociopath, if I may armchair-diagnose my deceased father. Anyway, it was good to hear his friends remember how he used to be, and to hear stories about him that I hadn’t heard before. Since he died a lot of my sadness has been related to the empty life he led, particularly towards the end (I won’t elaborate on some of the things I found while cleaning out his apartment, but they were incredibly depressing) and so it was nice to hear that there were other parts of his life that were more fulfilling than the parts that I had the front row seats for.
So, that’s where we are now. Making arrangements for the funeral and my dad’s affairs has been eating up my life since he died ~3 weeks ago, and with traveling back home on the weekends and my phone ringing off the hook I’ve been very behind on work and it’s been very stressful. I’ve still got a stack of grading to be done, but I’m keeping up on the essentials, and now I finally feel like I might have a tiny hope of catching up — not that any academic is ever truly caught up, but at least I hopefully won’t feel that I’m constantly dropping balls and letting people down.
One sort of interesting thing that happened this week is that on Monday I was apologizing to one of my masters students for not answering an email that he had sent on Friday — I said that I didn’t want to play the sad card, but I did want to explain that my father’s funeral was Saturday so I just didn’t look at my email all weekend. He said, “Wait, your father’s funeral?!” and I realized I hadn’t actually told him that my father had died, even though it had come up with all the other members of my group at one point or another. But after that student found out, nice things started happening all week — the grad students in our department all signed a sympathy card for me and chipped in on a gift certificate to a local restaurant, and then “the students” brought surprise baked goods to our research group meeting today. When I walked in and said, “Well, this is nice! What’s the occasion?” they said, “We just wanted to do something nice since you do so much for us,” and it just about collapsed me into a weeping puddle of goo right then and there! I have strong suspicions that this masters student who found out late goaded the other students into action — it fits his personality, and he’s a non-traditional older student, already married, so he’s significantly more mature than the other students in our program. But it is clear that all the other students eagerly piled on once someone initiated, and I am grateful to all the students in our program — and my research group — for their kindness this week. Even though it’s a little awkward, it’s nice to be treated like a human with feelings and shown a bit of appreciation occasionally (not that that’s why I do what I do, but it’s still nice when it happens!), and at a time like this it means even more than it otherwise would. Our tiny department has all the pros and cons of small town living, but the way people support each other is one of the biggest pros there is.