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Monday, March 6, 2017

On Angel's Wings

And so  in mid October 2012 I got my ducks in a row and went back to the fertility center that I had used to have Dovi to get another cycle started. Immediately we hit a lot of little snags with insurance issues and scheduling and whatnot. But I gritted my teeth and soldiered on. Medications. Patches. Ultrasounds. Bloodwork. Early morning rushes to the city. It all went relatively smoothly aside from some typical bumps in the road. Somewhere in the middle, I decided to start this little blog. On Friday, October 27, I was all set to start Phase 2 of the cycle which meant switching over to a different medication. Suddenly I got a phone call from the Respite House that they had a cancellation and had room for Dovi for Shabbos. I was a little torn, because he had just been there 2 weeks earlier, but we figured, another Shabbos off never hurts. Good thing I took them up on their offer, because after that Shabbos it would take another NINE weeks until they would have another opening, and a lot of not-so-good stuff happened in those nine weeks. But I digress...

Anyway, so there I was sitting in the car on the way to drop Dovi off to the Respite House, when the phone rang. It was the doctor in charge at the fertility center that day. What she said next made my stomach drop.

“This is Dr. K. Have you been following the news? Did you hear about the big hurricane?”

“Um… no! I have no idea what you’re talking about…”

“Well, there’s a massive hurricane coming to New York, and it’s very likely that our office will be closed next week. Do not switch medications tonight.  If we can’t reopen by Wednesday and you’ve started Medication X, your cycle will have to be canceled. Continue on the Medication Y, and next week once the hurricane ends and our office reopens, come in for monitoring and we’ll take it from there.”

What hurricane? I had no clue what she was talking about.

I would soon find out…

I was terribly disappointed; the cycle was precisely calculated. I had spent months poring over calendars trying to calculate for the cycle to work out exactly so that Dovi would be in sleepaway camp while I gave birth and was recuperating from the birth, and this hurricane I knew nothing about was throwing it all off kilter. Nu, what can you do? A mensch tracht un G-t lacht…(Man Plans, and G-d laughs)...

As you will later find out, HaShem had planned it out so precisely amazingly, in a way that I, a mere mortal, could have never planned it out myself.

I hoped that the hurricane would blow over quickly and the doctor’s office would reopen uneventfully by Tuesday or Wednesday, and I would be able to go in for monitoring.

Little did I know…

By Monday afternoon, Sandy made landfall. It was pouring outside and the winds were whipping mercilessly. I started getting worried that this was no ordinary hurricane. On Tuesday the worst was over and much of New York emerged from hiding shell-shocked to inspect their damaged homes and salvage their earthly possessions. My area was completely unaffected, with work and school basically back to normal. But there was no electricity in Lower Manhattan, and that included the Fertility Center.

On the home front, I was not coping with Hurricane Dovi. He was all over the place. Finally, when the Center resumed regular hours, I called the Fertility Clinic anxiously to find out when I should come in for further monitoring. I was unable to reach anyone. Their web site, too, was down. I didn't know if it was safe to continue on Medication Y indefinitely. But on Thursday, I was finally contacted by a nurse, via cell phone.

“Come in tomorrow morning between 7 and 9 for monitoring. There is no electricity, so you’ll have to walk up five flights of stairs. Bring a flashlight. Our bathrooms also work with electricity, so make sure to go to the bathroom before you come.”

Woohoo! We were back in business! I was so relieved. This was great! I wasn’t entirely off scot-free; they made no promises about my ability to continue this cycle - it all depended on the results of the monitoring. But finally, at least I was in contact with the center!

It all seemed so surreal, like out of a novel. I pictured myself marching up the darkened flights of stairs with my flashlight, like a thief in the night. Or a detective looking for clues. I thought to myself, This will make a great story to tell the kids one day - if this ends up positive! It added a whole lot of drama to the cycle…

Normally I take the trains to the center, but this time I would have to take a cab, as all of the train passages into the city were flooded, or were not operational because of the electric outage. What I had not counted on, thought, was the Great Post-Hurricane Gasoline Shortage. By Thursday night I heard distant rumors of cars lining up around gas stations and waiting for hours. But surely I would find a taxi service to take me to Manhattan in the morning! I was positive about it.

Boy would I be proven wrong…

I got up bright and early on Friday morning, knowing that I had a long commute ahead of me. I called car service after car service, but no one was operating - there was simply no gasoline. (This was all in the pre-Uber era; can you imagine how much longer the gas lines would be today???) My only other option was a shuttle bus into Manhattan. When I reached the street where the shuttles were leaving from, my jaw dropped to the ground. The lines for the bus were four people wide, and stretched for four long blocks!

At this rate, I would be at the center next week…

I began to panic. It was 7:45. How on earth would I get to the center by 9:00? Even if I walked all the way to Manhattan I wouldn’t get there in time.

I recalled reading a news story the day before of people who had hitchhiked over the bridge to the city. I took a deep breath and walked over to the bridge. Then I raised my eyes heavenward and said,  “Master of the Universe, You put me into this mess, therefor I beg You, Please figure out a way to get me out of it! Even if I have to sprout wings to fly over the bridge - so be it!”

I had barely finished my heartfelt prayer when someone ran over to me. “Excuse me, are you looking for a ride into the city? They are only allowing cars with at least 3 people to cross bridge and I’m in the need of another passenger. Are you interested?”


My jaw hit the floor again.

I was speechless.

Yeshuas HaShem Kiheref Ayin. Salvation had come in the blink of an eye.

I had indeed sprouted my wings.

We flew over the bridge as if on air. It was empty. My generous benefactor had only half a tank of gas, and he had to get to work. His father was the third occupant in the car. We entered Manhattan; it was eerie. It was like a ghost town; dark and deserted. The city that never sleep was indeed fast asleep. Unbelievable.

I couldn’t believe that just a scant few minutes earlier I was filled with despair, trapped on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, and now I was getting door-to-door service! What an amazing act of kindness!

The Fertility Clinic was indeed enshrouded in darkness. I donned my headlamp and began the laborious climb up the five flights. When I reached the fifth floor I was in tears, but they were tears of happiness. I MADE IT!!! I looked around the makeshift monitoring station and was amazed by the dedication of the staff and the patients alike. Nothing can stop a determined cycler - not even a hurricane!

It was just incredible. The nurses were drawing blood near the window in one of the doctors’ offices, using just daylight. A generator was powering a single ultrasound machine in one of the exam rooms. Everyone was working in near-dark. It was a surreal scene, and it was oddly thrilling to be part of it.

(I was able to get home from the center far more easily; there was virtually no line for the shuttle buses going back to Brooklyn. It was truly strange to cross over the invisible demarcation line on 40th street into bustling ‘civilization’ with light and machinery. I felt like I had exited a time warp back onto the electrical grid!)

In the end the doctors made me stay on Medication Y another full week, which pushed off my due date even further. But it was all in HaShem's hands.

In the midst of it all, drama was continuing in my house, of course. I was starting to really butt heads with Dovi's home health aide, Leticia. (More on that in a future post.) The Center started toilet training him, which meant I had to follow up in the afternoon, and it was not going well. Between running to the Fertility Clinic for more appointments and trying to keep the house afloat with Dovi's destructive presence I was depleted. We had a very coveted appointment with a top child psychiatrist in the city, after a long, nine-month wait. We had taken Dovi off the Clonidine 9 months before that because it was making him very depressed and sleepy. This new doctor decided to start Dovi on Ritalin. I was skeptical, because I knew that children with sensory processing disorder AND autism do not do well on stimulants. They start feeling their senses tingling a lot more and it doesn't help calm their hyperactivity. I knew what it felt like; being on Adderall I knew that heady, buzzy feeling one gets when on a stimulant and I couldn't imagine how horrid Dovi would feel on it. But Dr. Cartwright stood his ground.

It was a long, rough appointment. My mother came with me, and it remained her 'tradition' ever since. Aside from once or twice when I took the home health aide with me instead, she always came along with me. It was her twice-yearly opportunity to bond with Dovi aside from the brief appearances he made at her house during the year.

When I arrived home from the appointment, I was exhausted. I had slowly tapered off the Adderall for a few weeks in preparation for possibly being pregnant. The withdrawal was making me cranky, and I was feeling tired, fuzzy-headed, and overwhelmed the way I used to feel before I started taking it. I was scheduled to do a blood test the next morning to check if the cycle had worked. I had a superstition against taking home pregnancy tests; I opted to take blood tests and wait and pray all morning for the results. But now that I already had two children I decided spontaneously that nothing would happen if I would take a home test instead of putting myself through torture until the following morning and still wait for results. I had bought a double pack in preparation - thank goodness, because my hands were shaking so badly I botched the first test. I had to wait a little bit, drink some more water, and do a second test. I was hoping so desperately that it would be positive. The journey just to get to this day was crazy - oral meds, hormone patches, hormone injections and hormone suppositories daily! Somehow, keeping in mind the miracle I experienced to get over the bridge on that morning a month before, I just knew that something out of the ordinary was about to occur.

I could barely breathe as I picked up the pregnancy test - the newfangled digital kind, squinted my eyes closed, and slowly opened it....


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To be continued....

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