Thursday, December 18, 2008

Contemplations and Things

I really haven't disappeared.

Things I've Contemplated Since I Last Posted:

1. Where are we going to be with this by this time next year?

2. Why is it that I have the most beautiful, flowing cervical mucous at just the right time and still can't get pregnant? I just don't get it.

3. Why can't I get excited about the Holidays?

4. Is this seriously Cycle #26???

5. When will I start Lupron again?

6. Where are we going to be with this by this time next year?

Hoping against hope that this is the Golden-Ticket-Hail-Mary-Month.

So, how many more days until Jan. 2?

Postscript: Thanks for the tags - I just haven't had the energy to respond. I know if there's anyone in the universe who totally gets that, it's you all. Thank you for that.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fighting Scrooge

As the Advent Calendar whizzes past, I am wrestling with Scrooge this Holiday Season, and in most instances, he's winning. I just can't quite get into the Spirit, the music, the lights, the presents and am patiently awaiting January 2.

So, in an effort to move past the Bah-Humbug, I've been pondering what my Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future would like like:

The Ghost of Christmas Past: Zuzu Bailey

As I get older, I realize just how idyllic my Christmases Past were. My whole family, snug in our home, opening Christmas cards, laughing, giving and receiving gifts. The best part was being surrounded by all of my siblings with my parents. The Christmases of my childhood were full of love, affection and an excitement I can't quite explain. These Holidays filled me with a sense of optimism about living, hope for the Season and for the upcoming year.

The Ghost of Christmas Present: Charlie Bucket

Christmas Present is a surreal experience, kind of like wandering through the Chocolate Factory for the first time. There are moments in my life right now when I really feel complete joy and happiness: watching Christmas movies with L., making Christmas plans with L. and generally knowing that I am experiencing IF with the most wonderful person on Earth. Christmas Present is also a time of unknowns, hormonal potions and moments of disbelief that we are here, wandering through IF.

Christmas Present is a time of tremendous ambiguity: feeling blessed and loved while struggling with anxiety and fear of what's ahead.

The Ghost of Christmas Future: The Man Behind the Curtain

The Ghost of Christmas Future is the Wizard, standing behind a curtain, deviously deciding what is going to happen to us next. Frankly, this is the first Holiday Season in which I'm wondering if the Wizard is ever going to decide to give us a baby. This feeling is probably where Scrooge lives - I want to feel more hopeful, and for some reason I can't.

This experience is arduous and draining, and for the first time in my life I'm starting to wonder, really wonder, if the Man Behind the Curtain is ever going to give us what we so desperately want.


I suppose Zuzu (and George Bailey, for that matter) would say that the Ghost of Christmas Future should look like this:

I'm working on it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Drug Holiday

I spoke to my nurses today, and they assured me (as have many of you) that starting your period while on progesterone (especially suppositories) is something that can happen, and is no real reason for alarm.

They offered to let me start meds in late December, and after considering the possibility of Lupron under the Christmas tree, I politely declined.

I've decided that I am in desperate need of a Drug Holiday, and I'll worry about Lupron and stims in 2009. Thus, the remainder of 2008 will be spent doing the following:

1. Taking a HOT, HOT bath every single night.

2. Drinking Pinot Grigio whenever I damn well feel like it.

3. Exercising (i.e. running) whenever I damn well feel like it.

4. Drinking loads and loads of caffeine in the form of peppermint mochas and lattes whenever I damn well feel like it.

So, the plan is that we will reinitiate our attempt at IVF #1 in January, probably between the 15th and 20th.

Nightie Night. I'm off to take a plunge in a boiling, hot bathtub.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Vacation is Officially OVER

Well, after 8 weeks of a beach vacation, AF is mad as Hell about returning to work.

Sunday: Day 14 post ovulation = pregnancy test = NEGATIVE. After testing, I forced myself to leave the house to buy a Starbucks peppermint mocha and promptly returned to bed to drink it while watching cheesy Christmas movies.

Today: Started spotting, which amazes me given that I'm still taking progesterone as instructed (they said to keep taking it through until Day 17 - post ovulation). AF has definitely broken through - the cramps are already starting.

(Incidentally, have any of you ever heard of starting your period while ON progesterone? I'm starting to wonder if we've stumbled onto some sort of explanation...)

It's going to be a rough one.

26 cycles down.


Wondering if this is ever going to end.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Progesterone is a Jedi Mind Trick

The last words of Suzie Angel Nurse keep ringing in my ears throughout this blasted two week wait (By the way, I'm convinced this woman was part of a Divine Intervention the day of our IUI. She was so perfect, I'm not sure she's actually human):

"Now, don't get too excited if you start having pregnancy symptoms this month. Progesterone is what the body produces when you're pregnant, so you might start feeling some things that make you think you might be, and I don't want for you to be disappointed..."

So, while AF is on hiatus, probably laying on a beach somewhere laughing her evil laugh, relishing the thought of resurfacing in our lives in a couple of weeks, the Jedi Mind Trick is here in full force.

Now, let me reitterate, I have NO idea what it would "feel like" to be pregnant. After all, the closest I've been to being pregnant in my 34 years was when I lost my virginity and spent the next 5 weeks obsessing that my period wasn't going to start.

However, this stuff is a crazy-making drug. I can convince myself (more easily than usual) that I'm feeling things I've never felt before, and that maybe, just maybe, this is it.

But, let's get real. AF is rolling over to get some sun on her ass about now, and she'll be ready to swoop in as soon as I throw in the towel with these suppositories.

On a completely unrelated note, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. One of the things I am most thankful for this year is all of you who take a moment to read my rants.

I don't know how I dealt with this beast of a disease before I discovered the blog world.

You all rock.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Coffee & Getting Lapped

I'm going to coffee (decaf of course) this evening with my friend who has been avoiding me lately.

I think that she's getting ready to break the news that we've been "lapped". She has a beautiful daughter who will be 2 in February, and I know they've been working on Number 2. Given that the first child was conceived after 3 sexual encounters in one month, I am sure that Number 2 is right around the corner.

I'm feeling sad about the friendships in my life that have been tested by infertility. I know that she's dreading telling me news that should be so joyous and wonderful for her to share, and I hate the way I feel about it.

L. & I moved here over three years ago, and I encountered several girls who I became very close to in a relatively short period of time. My struggle with IF has threatened those relationships in ways they would have never been tested if only we had conceived along with everyone else, when we first started trying.

And, now here we are over 2 years later, still trying, still struggling. Again, it feels like everyone is moving along ahead of us, and I can't help but feel angry about the fact that their relationships with each other were never tested the way mine has been with them - simply because I've been dealing with an issue that they cannot understand. And, really, they can't understand.

I suppose it is simply easier for them to be friends with someone who connects with them as "new moms".

On the other hand, and more important, I am grateful for the way IF has cemented so many other relationships in my life. I have a renewed appreciation for my mom, for my old friends and for my entire family. Struggling through this with the people who stick with you gives the relationship a whole new layer of history.

That's a better perspective, isn't it?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Seriously? Part II

In another "Seriously?" moment, today I'm wondering what kind of world are we living in when a "man" can get pregnant TWICE in less time than it takes for me to see even a faint glimmer of two pink lines?

I consider myself a pretty liberal thinker, but I can't believe I'm actually jealous of a man who is with child.

IF is making me crazy...or maybe it's all the progesterone.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

IUI #3

Another two-week wait is officially underway.

IUI #3 went well on Sunday. We had an amazing RN. She spent the first 10 minutes post-IUI reviewing all of the things we should feel good about (i.e. thickness of my uterine lining, follicles, sperm count, etc.).

She then went through a visualization exercise about what we hope is going to be happening over the next few days (i.e. that sperm and egg are actually going to meet up down there, start dividing and find a safe spot they like in the uterine lining). And, yes, I posted the pictures she gave us on our bathroom wall.

Currently, I'm enjoying a week of no ultrasounds, no anxiously jumping out of my seat during meetings to take "the call from the clinic", no post-phone-call-breakdowns with L. and Mom and, last but not least, progesterone suppositories.

And, it just doesn't get any better than progesterone suppositories...twice a day no less.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Curveballs and Searching for Opal

After a couple of days to reflect, pray and nestle into the cocoon of supportive blogger and in-real-life friends and family, I'm ready to get back on the saddle.

Thank you to everyone who followed my blog, text messaged, called, and emailed. I can't tell you what it meant to feel surrounded by so much love during this time of great disappointment.

On Wednesday I felt like someone had snatched tickets to the World Series out of my hand and replaced them with admittance to a minor league baseball game. I was deeply moved this week by an e-mail message from a good friend of mine: Even curveballs produce homeruns, you know.

So today, we head two hours north for an IUI tomorrow morning.

Final numbers:
3 (measurable) follicles (20, 20, 16.5)
Trigger shot last night.

Praying for the best and a little Opal Optimism in lieu of my good friend Debbie D.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Hate to Be a Debbie Downer, But...

...I am.

E2 = 278
Follicles with hope of maturing = 3

We're screwed for this cycle. We're going to do one more ultrasound, and then they're recommending IUI on Sunday with plans to reconfigure my meds "if we don't conceive".

Please. The jig's up, let's face it.

This is probably related to my long stint on Lupron thanks to my beautiful cyst. At least, that's what I'm hoping. The Debbie-Downer part of me is wondering if this is some sort of sign that there are some other horrible things at play here. My RN doesn't seem to think so, and neither does L., but frankly, I think I have a right to be Debbie-Downer today given that I'm dealing with this news with massive amounts of hormones floating around in my body...needlessly, I might add.

Not much else to say except that life really sucks today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jumping Hurdles on Hormones Really Bites

Okay, so this is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

Frankly, this IVF hurdle thing is my own little personal version of hell. Just when you think that you've accomplished something, another hurdle appears in front of the one that just zapped all your energy. And, I'm living through all of this under the influence of drugs that make me weepy about absolutely everything. (Clomid might be evil, but these hormones are enough to make me wonder how I'm going to get through my next work meeting without tears streaming down my cheeks because my pen ran out of ink.)

So, ultrasound #1 is history. Since my clinic is two hours away, my OB-GYN offered to do my monitoring. While I was grateful to not have to return to the fertility clinic here in town (a place which I detest passionately), undergoing ultrasounds amongst the pregnant may not have been the best choice while these hormones are swimming around my body. Also, it took my doctor's office way too long to send results to the Clinic we're using, which really almost pushed me over the edge today. Obviously, I'm going to have to discuss that with someone there tomorrow to keep it from being an issue on Wednesday.

Nonetheless, results from the world's most thorough ultrasound tech (I've never had a longer ultrasound):

-14 follicles total - 4 are currently measurable (10, 10, 10 1/2 and 12).
-Estradiol = 90 (A little low, according to my RN. I'm wondering if this could be attributed to my extended time on Lupron and will be consulting with Hannah the acupuncturist about this tonight.)

And, of course, I am now obsessed with estradiol and have googled it at least 10 times in the last 2 hours. And, with that, my next hurdle was born: PLEASE INCREASE!!!!

On a positive note, as I was awaiting my ultrasound this morning, a pregnant woman sat down beside me and overheard my conversation with my RN I had to call from my cell phone. When I hung up, she asked if I was doing IVF with the Clinic. I said yes, and she said that she did as well. In fact, while her first fresh cycle was not successful, both of her children were the results of Frozen Embryo Transfers from her original cycle. In a word where I literally feel surrounded by the easy-breezy pregnant, it was nice to hear that this morning.

So, that's today's story. I have a completely renewed appreciation, respect and deep admiration for all of you who have gone through this IVF thing and lived to tell the story. I thought about each of you many times as I sloshed through this day.

Acupuncture tonight, more shots tonight, and tomorrow night. Next ultrasound Wednesday.

On to the next hurdle...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Let the Stims Begin!

After a visit with Hannah the acupuncturist, tonight was Stim Night #1.

The Good News: It wasn't that bad. And, fortunate for everyone around me, I'm sure it will take awhile for the evil side effects to kick in.

The Bad News: We realized we're probably going to have to buy more medicine. We hadn't really looked at what they sent versus the dosage. And, well, last night we did.

However, today I am focusing my energy on healthy follicle development.

Mental Note to Self: Every ounce of nervous energy is energy that needs to be rerouted to the healthy, beautiful follicles.

Not easy for me, but I'm working on it.

First ultrasound is Monday.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hurdles and Shrinking Cysts

When we first decided to "do IVF", I mistakenly (and naively) thought that we would go through the process and quickly reach D-Day when we would receive a call from a nurse telling us whether or not it worked.

I was so wrong. I look back on that presumption now and realize how ridiculous it was.

I am quickly learning that IVF is a succession of hurdles, and making it to Transfer Day is a huge accomplishment by itself, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the whole thing.

Yesterday, Dr. A. granted us access to our next hurdle. The Incredible Shrinking Cyst (which by itself has added roughly $1000 to the pricetag of this whole thing) is now half its original size, so we can proceed onward.

Great news.

However, despite receiving news worthy of celebrating, L. actually had to stop me in the parking garage of the Clinic to remind me to take joy in this. It took my mind literally less than five minutes to frantically move on to the next worry.

This weekend I am concentrating on taking a moment to enjoy that we actually received good news yesterday. IF can be a journey of crushed hopes, friends who disappoint, slamming doors, mean nurses and quirky doctors, and it is so very important that Oct. 31, 2008 be recorded in our story as a good day.

Halloween 2008 was the day L. smiled as he looked at my "healthy ovaries" on the ultrasound, the day we were met with a warm, genuine nurse (we love our new Clinic), the day we were told that the Incredible Cyst was indeed shrinking, and the day that we learned we have "lots of nice looking antral follicles" to stimulate.

Ultimately, it was the day we jumped another hurdle together.

Stims begin next week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween 2008: Trick or Treat?

Halloween 2007 Flashback: L. & I passed out sweets to 50-75 Batmans, Princesses and Witches in our neighborhood. And, each and every time we threw a piece of chocolate into a child's orange, plastic jack-o-lantern, we happily thought that next year we would be pregnant or that we might have a little tiny baby of our own.

Flashforward to Halloween 2008: We will be traveling to the Clinic for yet another ultrasound in hopes that "the cyst" has disappeared into infinity. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the ultimate Halloween "Treat" would be permission from Dr. A. to start shooting up with the hundreds-of-dollars-worth-of hormones sitting in our fridge instead of just looking at them every time I pull out the purified water.

Amazing where a year can take you. I would have never in a million years thought that 2008 would bring us a real, live, fresh IVF cycle. Hell, I'm still not convinced it's going to bring us a real, live, fresh IVF cycle.

But, here's to hoping and praying.....please send us your positive vibes and prayers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Lesson in Self Preservation

I'm going to send my IVF friend a letter explaining my absence as she officially enters the mommyhood. The act of sending this really does go along with the old adage, "This hurts me more than it hurts you." (Ahha! this must be what self-preservation feels like).

After a lot of mental anguish, I've decided that being around her negative outlook is not good for me right now, but perhaps with time, we'll be able to be friends again on some other level (i.e. when my life doesn't revolve around Lupron, stims, and IVF cycles).

Maybe. (Needless to say, L. has his doubts about that.)

Here's my letter:

Dear M.,

I hope this finds you all well and very happy.

I'm writing to you because I want to express to you why I can't be more present right now. It is my hope that as my friend, this will all make sense to you and that you will somehow be able to understand my position.

L. & I are experiencing some difficulty with our IVF process, and things aren't going as smoothly as we had hoped. Thus, I've been very down about things and have really been struggling emotionally. All of these things have transpired simultaneously with this joyous event in your life, and it is simply too painful for me right now to be a more present friend.

I know that you might find it difficult to empathize with me, and that you would probably approach things differently. My pain is very real to me, however, and it is my hope that you can stretch your understanding to somehow make sense of this. I hope that you will also recall the times I have been more available and supportive and that this will mean something in the longevity of our relationship.

We pray for you daily,


Many of us seem to struggle with self preservation, and I often think that much of the reason IF is happening to me is that I need to learn how to prioritize myself. (After all, there must be a reason for IF that goes beyond an unfortunate biological coincidence!) IF is definitely the most difficult chapter of my life so far, and I am realizing that I have a right to care for myself in the middle of it. We all do.

I suppose the letter will either catalyze the next chapter in this relationship or it will end it.

We'll see.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Green Tea, Moving Mountains and Stuff

My week in rewind:

Monday: Discover staff I supervise is 8 weeks pregnant. This info is through the grapevine, and I'm glad to have it so that when "the announcement" arrives, I can twist my facial expression into one of joy and bliss.

Tuesday: Send flowers to my "IVF friend" who had her bundle of joy 3 weeks early. L. called to give our congratulations, and after much consternation, I have decided to remain on the downlow for the time being. I have written a letter of explanation to her, which I plan to send sometime next week. It's been a difficult decision, but I am hereby avoiding situations which make me anxious and upset. The babyshower was enough.

Wednesday: I celebrated two weeks of no caffeinated lattes with the same thing I've been drinking for the last two weeks: green tea. I still haven't developed a taste for it but am determined to keep trying. My acupuncturist swears by it, and well, you know how I feel about my acupuncturist.

Thursday: I have dinner with friends who are not pregnant, have no children and seem to have no aspirations of getting pregnant. Refreshing.

Friday: I develop horrible cramps on my left side, which I am desperately hoping can be attributed to a cyst which has popped. I arrive at my appointment with Hannah the acupuncturist, and she tells me that if the pain doesn't subside, I may have to call my doctor. However, she proceeds to do some sort of magical treatment which has completely wiped away the cramps. I left there shaking my head, thinking that this woman is some sort of supernatural goddess who would certainly be able to move a mountain. And, even more miraculous, I think she's making my very scientific, modern-science-oriented husband think twice about Eastern medicine.

All in all, the week was long, arduous and grueling...I'm glad it's over. I do want to thank everyone for the ongoing flow of emails, cards, calls, texts and comments. It's amazing how uplifting each demonstration of support can be through this process.

Still waiting for Halloween - hoping to ditch the Lupron and move onto the good stuff (well, relatively speaking, of course).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Filling the Glass: An Honest Attempt at Optimism

After a weekend of irrational, negative thoughts, I am trying to turn a corner. Thus, I've compiled a list of reasons our glass is fuller than I was willing to admit on Friday. I'm focusing on the fact that all is not lost, and we're still some direction, anyway.
  • Because I have L: L. has been a rock through this. He took the reins on Thursday, called the clinic and arranged for another ultrasound. Given that all I could do was cry and wonder how I was going to make it through my next work meeting, I felt so blessed to have his backup. I am so glad that we are in this together.

  • Because I have so much support: Thank you all so much for your support through this hurdle. I am really grateful for it. Every phone call, voicemail, e-mail, text message and blog comment mean the absolute world to me. It's amazing how much better we can make each other feel through just a small demonstration of support and encouragement.

  • Because I have an amazing mother: My mother has the patience of Job. She has been there for me any time I have needed her since this whole I.F. thing began. She faithfully (and tirelessly) listens and reassures me through my ongoing stream of irrational thoughts.

  • Because we still have the hope of a successful cycle. This little hiccup doesn't mean that the jig is up (Thank you, Penny, for your comment on Friday which reminded me of that). There still might be two pink lines (or in our case a very nice telephone call from Debbie the Nurse) at the end of this whole thing.

  • Because God doesn't give you anything you can't handle. I admit, I struggle with this especially at times like this, and I feel like screaming out that I literally can't take anything else. However, the gentle reminder on Nity's post (Thursday, Oct. 16) really affected me (positively). I'm working on getting over my "human-ness" and trying to find that faith again.

  • Because of the dedication of my British acupuncturist: She spent 45 minutes on the phone with me prior to our appointment on Friday evening processing this whole thing. She changed her treatment, and recommended brown rice, adzuki beans and minimal animal proteins. I think she is wonderful and would consider jumping off a bridge if she told me to - I currently have a large bag of long grain brown rice and several cans of beans on our kitchen counter.

So, there it is. These are the thoughts I'm trying to live by right now.

Here's to hoping for a glass that's brimming over with fertility for us all...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Today My Glass is Half-Empty

The last 48 hours have been a true test of my strength, faith and frustration.

You know, I've had this bad feeling about my baseline ultrasound for weeks. I've been worried that it was going to reveal that I had the ovaries of a 65 year-old woman, that I had one antral follicle on each ovary or that there would be some other devastating news that would delay or hault this process.

Well, it wasn't just my natural cynicism that evoked that gut feeling.

I was right - I just didn't know the specifics.

Even with that said, I was more than a little alarmed on Thursday morning when the tech pointed out some sort of issue on the monitor.

Thus, our next IF hurdle reared its ugly head.

The next thing I know, L. and I are getting up at 5:30 this morning to drive two hours for another ultrasound at the clinic. Our doctor explained that I have a cyst that has not ruptured from my last cycle. While she said that she would proceed if we wished, she recommended that we wait it out to see what it does over the next couple of weeks.

We are not gamblers (in other words, we don't want to overstimulate). So, I am now on Lupron until the end of the month, and will go back for another ultrasound on the 31st to see what's going on in there.

So, while the antral follicle count doesn't appear to be an issue (i.e. I have numerous "follicle beginnings"), a leftover cyst on my left ovary is keeping us from moving forward.

I have a lot of anger about this because it's taken me so very long to work up to doing this whole IVF thing. There are still moments when I look at those needles and that bottle of Lupron and feel like I'm acting out some sort of surreal science fiction nightmare.

And, we've planned everything (including L's very complicated work schedule) around the timing of this thing, and here we are once again: roadblocked.

I am once again shaking my head and wondering what I've done to deserve this. I've worked so diligently to be as optimistic as possible, which isn't easy for me. Hell, I'm not making it a secret that I'm not exactly a "glass-is-half-full" kind of girl (and let's face it, the IF experience certainly hasn't done much to remedy that).

And, even after all of that, here we are: stuck on the periphery once again. For two more weeks.

I am very frustrated and angry. I don't understand why something that comes so easily for so many people is so difficult for us.

Still shaking my head...dismayed.

Tomorrow, I'll work on the optimism thing again.

But, today, I just feel half-empty.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Update

Newsflash: A.F. swooshed in on her broomstick! (And let me tell you, she barrelled in this time. A.F. on hormones is not a pleasant experience.)

Spoke to the Clinic and my OB-GYN who will be doing my monitoring. First ultrasound scheduled for Thursday a.m.

The Plan: Hoping the ultrasound will reveal plenty of antral follicles (For those of you who live outside I.F.-ville, these are the small beginnings of eggs) and quiet ovaries ("Quiet" is not the word I would use to describe the side effects of this Lupron, but hopefully that means it's doing its job).

Next step: With approval from Dr. A., let the "Egg Growing Drugs" begin!!!

Bring on the hormones!

Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated (for me and L. - ha ha).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bring on the Broomstick!

My morning internet perusal of how to bring on A.F. evoked the following results:

  1. Ginger
  2. Aspirin
  3. Black Cohosh (sounds a little frightening)
  4. Green Tea
  5. Sex
  6. Yoga
  7. No caffeine
  8. Bubble baths for destressing
  9. Sacrifice a newborn lamb (This little gemstone of chatboard advice is exactly why I typically stick to blogger-world for feedback.)

In my experience over the last 24 months, these are the things that seem to bring on the broomstick at lightening speed:

  1. Wearing your most sexy, white Victoria's Secret panties
  2. Leaving for a weekend getaway with the husband
  3. When she's approximately 3-4 days overdue, and you're convinced that this is the month.

Well, with that said, I'm off to put on some great panties (white, of course) and convince L. that we need to fly to somewhere really fabulous and romantic this weekend.

Friday, October 10, 2008

She's Back!!! (Well, Sort Of)

Well, she's at it again. My good friend A.F. is torturing me and delaying the next phase in this process. And, fortunately, I can depend on any of you out there wrestling with IF to refrain from those knowing, smiling looks that suggest, "Are you sure you're not pregnant?"

Please. Trust me, there is no way I'm with child, and after 24 months of this I think I would know. And, yes, we celebrated our second year of trying to conceive this week with 7 needles and a couple of bruises on my belly. Ahh, the memories we are creating!

Frankly, this is the first time in 24 months I hope I'm not pregnant. Of all months to be pregnant, that would be far from ideal after the drugs I've been pumping into my body for the last 10 days or so.

I've seen more needles in the past 10 days that I have in my entire life. Between Lupron injections and acupuncture twice a week, I'm actually starting to get used to this. (By the way, I totally recommend the acupuncture-needles-in-the-ear treatment. I actually beg my acupuncturist for it! Amazing how looped it makes me feel - and without the benefit of drugs - who knew?)

So, I'm just waiting....I guess I should be pretty good at that by now: waiting for the next cycle, waiting for the next injection, waiting for the first ultrasound, waiting for permission to start stimming....

And, A.F. is flying around somewhere on her broomstick cackling at me. Damn her.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Made It (And I'm So Grateful It's Over!)...

Well, I survived.

It was a day of numerous unpleasantries - a room of stay-at-home moms who don't give a damn about a woman with a career, a 7 week old infant of one of those "I-got-pregnant-after-one-night-of-sex-types", another mom-to-be wearing a dress so tight you could see her navel (bloody show-off!) and, of course, my lovely "IVF friend" in all her glory.

Lesson learned: I am amazed at my strength (and self restraint).

I took the advice of several of you and stayed as busy as possible throughout "the event" and made damn sure that I didn't have to be a part of any of those ridiculous games. I also stuck to the two people in the room who don't have children and found this to be of tremendous help.

And, I made it.

Afterward, I chatted with my "IVF friend", and I made it through listening to baby name deliberations, nursery decor and birth weight anxieties. I also had the privilege of listening to her birth date hopes -"I just don't want a baby born on Halloween - anything but that!"

And, for the millionth time I was struck by this woman's insensitivity - hell, I'm presuming I'm not alone in saying that I'd give anything to have a baby born on any day of the week, month or year. And, I would think that someone who's been through IVF wouldn't be picky. Guess not.

She tried to get me to talk about our IVF cycle (three times), and I redirected each attempt because I'm officially done with this aspect of our relationship. I don't trust that she won't hurt me in some way with an insensitive, uninformed comment about the general population's infertility issues, and I'm setting this limit so that L. & I can have as positive of an experience as possible.

And, I'm not going to explain this or justify it to myself anymore. It is what it is, and I have to take care of myself. Quite simply, this relationship is toxic to me right now.

I'm glad I experienced yesterday and faced my fear because I know that if I can emotionally make it through that, I can make it through this IVF cycle, one way or the other.

Thank you for your thoughts, support and prayers yesterday. Along with many prayers of my own and divine intervention on many levels, they're what got me through the day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Dreaded Baby Shower

Well, it's here: the dreaded baby shower. I haven't mentioned much about it because I've been very busy this week trying to figure out how to shoot myself up with Lupron.

L. is out of town, so after a one evening tutorial, I've been on my own with the needles and that tiny bottle of a very expensive potion (I can't believe it's supposed to last through this cycle!).

So far the shots are going well, and I feel kind of good about actually doing something so concrete toward our goal.

However, tomorrow is a day that I am ready to live through and say goodbye to - I've been dreading it since February when my "IVF Friend" first revealed to me that she was pregnant.

I think I'll try to figure out some way to leave my body, so that at least it looks like I'm sitting there laughing and agreeing with all the "mommy advice" people love to give at showers: "Oh, that toy was simply a God-send for Johnny!" or "I used this cream on my nipples when I had such difficulty breastfeeding - I absolutely couldn't live without it!"

I hope no one asks me "the question" tomorrow. It's been awhile since I've seen most of these women (aka the Stepford Wives), and I really hope I don't have to look someone in the face after they've asked me when L. and I are going to be celebrating our little one.

I may just proclaim (very loudly) that I'm in the middle of an IVF cycle and I'll have to get back to them on that one.

I plan to park in a very strategic location that makes for an easy exit - just in case.

Pray for me tomorrow.

Postscript: Sorry I haven't been commenting much this week on blogs - I plan to catch up with all my blog reading on Sunday, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jumping Off the High Dive

Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.
-Pema Chodron

A good friend of mine likened the anxiety I've been feeling over the last few days to pausing at the edge of the high dive, looking down at the water and preparing to jump. This was a perfect analogy because mentally it was time to begin this process days ago.

Tonight, we begin Lupron shots. I'm a little excited, a lot nervous - I know we are moving a step closer to the conclusion of this process which is so very frightening.

I'll admit, I have a tendency to overanalyze a little (not surprising to those of you who know me well). While this is sometimes a great quality, it makes this process a little more challenging. IVF was a decision we arrived at with much thought and even consternation. It wasn't a simple choice for us by any means, so actually getting started evokes some fear along with the excitement of forging ahead.

Today, I'm trying to relax as I look down at some pretty choppy, wavy water. I'm not sure what's ahead for us, and it's natural to feel some anxiety about that.

So, here goes.

Thank you so much for your prayers - as I get loaded up on hormones over these next few weeks, L. and anyone else who spends significant amounts of time with me might need a little spiritual support (and guidance) as well.

Postscript: Another friend of mine loaned me a book from which I took the above quote. It's called When Things Fall Apart. While the title might sound a little ominous to you, it really is a great account of looking fear in the face through meditation and a realistic perspective with a sense of hope. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bravery, Chemistry Sets and Things

This week I told a good friend of mine that L. & I are going through IVF. I don't know why I've kept it from her for this long, but I did. When I told her, some of the first words out of her mouth were, "Wow, I am so impressed with how strong you are. You are so brave."

I hadn't thought of it like that, and I tried to remember that today when I went to get my shiny, new chemistry set (aka IVF meds) from the local Fed Ex. I can't believe how many needles they can stuff into one carton. Trust me, they used every inch of that box - it's overflowing with liquids and potions (I half expected a little smoke to billow out when I finally got it open).

So, I'm focusing on my bravery as my good friend expressed to me this week. I am so grateful for her and her wonderful, warm understanding.

Meanwhile, I'm resisting the temptation to write a post on how I feel like the guest star in a science fiction flick about hormonal potions, vitrifcation, and embryos.

On with the journey...(I'm also going to resist the Wizard of Oz references today).

Off to acupuncture!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Ultimate Reframe

Today I am psyching myself up for the big box of medications that will arrive on Thursday. You see, I've been dreading the arrival of this box for many months - every time I pondered the prospect of IVF I thought about that damned box and everything it represents to me: over $1000 of medicines and needles to remedy what my body is apparently not doing for some reason.

My two-timer IVF "friend" showed me her box of IVF meds once. I made myself look at it while cooing positive affirmations because I knew it was so difficult for her. Of course, all the while I was thinking, "Surely that won't happen to us...we'll never come to that point."

And, now here we are. We have officially arrived at that unthinkable stop on the yellow brick IF road.

So, today I'm trying to think of that box as the ultimate Christmas gift - the present we are giving ourselves that could dramatically change everything in our lives forever.

Let's hope so anyway.

Monday, September 22, 2008

IVF Questions Answered: Our First Joint Post!

Nity (you can find her at I Believe in Miracles) & I decided to do a "joint post" (see her blog) to answer all the questions we asked last week in our IVF teachings. We both attended IVF classes last week, and thought this might be helpful in answering many of the questions we all have about IVF. My answers are in red, and Nity's are in blue. Hopefully, this will help someone out there - it was certainly educational to compare notes, and I'm learning a lot about this crazy process. It's interesting to note the differences between treatment protocols.

Thanks for your help with this, Nity!

  1. ICSI vs. natural fertilization. When is this decision made? Do we have to make it ahead of time or can we wait to see how things are going naturally before opting for ICSI?
    L: Our nurse said that it is most advisable to make your decision about this before egg retrieval day. If you give the green light, the embryologist will do whatever she has to do to ensure fertilization (i.e. ICSI or assisted hatching). Apparently, it is advisable to make this decision before hand so that you're not trying to do this after a very important window of time has passed (i.e. no eggs are fertilizing naturally – what should we do now?).
    N: Since we're approved for ICSI, we're definately going to have the option of doing it on the table. However, they said the # to try and not try would be based on how the eggs/sperm were mixing. They do not want to do it unless necessary because it is a lengthy, extensive process. They mentioned the decision is usually whether or not you can have the option to do it and like L, it will be made the day of egg retrieval. With assisted hatching, they said this might occur if the woman is over 38, but I shouldn't have to worry abou it at this point. I didn't even have a consent form to sign.

  2. Recommended time off after egg retrieval and transfer.
    L: Our clinic is pretty liberal with this. It is most advised to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. They do not recommend anything other than "having a relaxing day" after transfer – if this means laying in bed, fine. If it means shopping, also fine – just no strenuous exercise. But, after paying 15K for a procedure that gives us a chance to get pregnant, you will find me in bed or on the couch for at least 2 days post transfer (and maybe 3 if I'm having a really good time).
    N: They recommended is to take the day after (at least) for the egg retreival; and one or two after the transfer. Essentially "no working or flying." They did not say 'strict bed rest' but did imply that taking it easy, so resting, lying low, not doing much. I plan on taking time off, and hanging out on the couch.
  3. 3 vs. 5 day transfer - is the lab able to recommend/handle a 5 day transfer (I've heard that some aren't equipped to do this).
    L: This is determined based on how the embryos are developing. The lab will call to give us progress on a daily basis. The five day transfer is sometimes recommended in instances of numerous embryos as the doctor wants to wait and see which embryos are strongest for transfer. Pregnancies obviously result from both.
    N: They no longer do 5 day transfers at my clinic.

  4. Do meds have to remain refrigerated throughout the cycle -can you travel with them?
    L: Meds have to be refrigerated prior to opening them.. They need to be at room temperature of course (not baking in your car trunk), but the refrigeration is what keeps them viable for lengthy periods of time. Not all that sure about this one – I plan to research this a little more when I actually have the meds in my possession.
    N: I have a wedding to go to after I start the lupron, so I asked about traveling with the meds. They said it was fine; we could get a small cooler and the nurse would write me a note to take on the plane. Different medications have different max temps. I think a lot of whether or not to refrigerate depends a lot on how warm/cool your house is and what you feel comfortable with.
  5. Traveling home after transfer.
    L: Again, it's whatever we feel comfortable with. There is no research that says that traveling in a car will lead to negative results, but you want to look back on this process and know that you gave it everything you had to make it work. We plan to stay put for 24 hours post-transfer.
    N: This doesn't apply to me too much since our clinic is about 30 minutes away. They did talk about your partner or friend needing to pick you up afterwards (i.e. they would not put you home in a cab) because you'd still be under the influence of anesthesia.

  6. How is the pain of the egg retrieval handled - I've never been under an anesthetic so I'm curious how this works.
    L: According to my husband (who is in the medical profession) and the nurse, the med they're going to give for this will make me pretty much out of it during the ER. After it, however, I will probably feel discomfort (and from what I've read in the blogging world, I pretty much expect that this isn't going to be a pleasant moment in the process)..
    N: They discussed not haivng anything to eat or drink 8 hours prior to the procedure (not even water), otherwise you would need a spinal, which did not sound like fun because it would require 4-6 hours of recovery time on a bed floor! They demonstrated how they go in under u/s and get all the follicles. Even though some might not fully be developed yet... As you recover there are different amounts of nice drugs to help with the pain (hence the not go to work afterwards or next day) and it would be uncomfortable. I'm assuming this could be as bad as bad cramps or but not as bad as labor. Just need to put it in perspective.

  7. What kind of stim will be used -Gonal F is what we used during IUI - I'm hoping they'll stick with that since I responded well and since I'm familiar with the pen.
    L: My clinic usually uses Follistim, but since I've responded well to Gonal-F historically, that's what we're going with.
    N: Each of us have individual plans. I think on a whole our clinic uses Gonal-F. I will have both Gonal-F and Repronex. Apparently they want to give me an extra boost.

  8. General timeline questions: how will things progress in terms of the timeline?
    L: I start Lupron Oct. 1 with plans for ER and Transfer Halloween week. Hmmm…a little frightening and somehow very appropriate.
    N: So L we are on almost the EXACT same timeline. I start Lupron Oct 2... with everything finished probably before the end of October. This is great. I can go to the weddings without a problem. :o)

  9. What sort of monitoring will be done throughout the timeline? (this sort of falls under travel, but my clinic mentioned once I start, I need to be fully committed and be there).
    N: I have to go in for baseline U/S Oct 11 and blood test on cd 2-3; then start Gonal-F, Repronex and lower Lupron. cd7-15 will be close monitoring (i.e. be around daily) and then ET and transfer. Start antibiotics with ET and progesterone.. Go in for a scheduled beta 15 days after the transfer, because pregnancy tests can be deceiving. If pregnant, keep doing progesterone for 10-12 weeks of pregnancy, vaginally.

  10. Number of eggs they are aiming to retrieve? I've seen a lot about quality vs. quantity.
    N: They never gave me an exact #. They said they would go in and get all the follicles, but nothing on the # they like to see or not go above. That's part of the daily monitoring.

  11. How many eggs planned for the transfer? Statistic, probability, expectations - when will I hear about what your prognosis is during our timeline?
    N: Embryos for transfer will be discussed the day of transfer in the pre-op. A lot of this relates to the quality of embryos, age, etc. Our hospital is really worried about multiples and they are trying lower their numbers of twins. Max they put in 5, min 1. Although the doctor will go off of what you say... they will give you their medical input. Regarding the timeline, you will hear the # that are retrieved and then the # fertilized. The specifics will be given the morning of the transfer.
  12. Heard about possible bed rest for 2 days after transfer... is that suggested?
    N: Suggested to "take time off", but not specific on # of days.

  13. Have you had a mock transfer?
    N: Yes.

  14. Acupuncture after egg retreival/transfer?
    N: Was told: Acupuncture is fabulous. It could only improve the situation. It has definately helped older couples.

  15. What is the protocol/process regarding embryo freezing? Is that covered under insurance?
    N: Generally you can freeze; but it is a decision that you need to make with your partner. Some people do not want to fertilize anymore than they want to transfer, other people do. Our clinic does not do embryo adoption, so our options are to freeze, discard, or give to science (i.e. for practice of ICSI in lab). I still need to look into what is and isn't covered by insurance.

  16. Can we order our meds from Europe? Does insurance cover them?
    N: Insurance covers our meds, not need to worry about this. Mine should be ready to pick up on Monday...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Question for the IVF Experts Out There

Well, the IVF meds are officially ordered and should arrive Thursday. Stay tuned for the obligatory photo of my great big box of meds which will be posted for your viewing pleasure sometime next weekend.

I have a call in to the RNs at my clinic, but I wanted some input from some of you who've been through this. I am wondering about the difference between the painful PIO shots versus progesterone suppositories. Was one better than the other for you? Recommendations?

It's going to be an exciting week - pre-IVF acupuncture begins tomorrow evening! Hopefully that will get me ready to begin playing with needles as well as my very own, personal sharps container!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Tiny Bit of Sunshine

Some days on the IF road are actually hopeful, filled with a sunshiny sense of optimism and the belief that all of this might come to a grand conclusion. Today was one of those days.

Our IVF teaching couldn't have gone better. Our IVF RN answered every question we had and was more than willing to explore any fear that we have about the process. She explained every detail of what is to come, and she was reassuring throughout our meeting.

She said that, although it's often frustrating as hell, our unexplained diagnosis is actually a positive in terms of ultimately getting pregnant. She was very encouraging about the results of my Clomid Challenge test, so I guess my ovaries really are doing their job down there.

So, today I feel a tiny bit excited about what we're getting ready to do. In some small way, I actually feel blessed to be going through this. How many people can actually say they've gone to this extent to have a child?

No matter what happens, watching all of this unfold will be one of the most memorable, amazing experiences of our lives.

I suppose it's days like today that make the IF road worth traveling.

Nity - let us know how your IVF class goes. Maybe we could get together and do a post later this week re: the answers to all of our questions! I got most of them answered today! Hope your class goes very well tomorrow! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Great Big Spotted Elephant & The Plague

Today I'm struggling with the sickening irony that I'm preparing to throw a baby shower for my friend three days after I start shooting myself up with Lupron. And if that's not ironic enough, consider the fact that we'll be in the 2ww when she gives birth.

This is my friend who absolutely doesn't get it. For those girls out there who procreate like rabbits - I don't expect much understanding (and am pleasantly surprised when I get it). However, perhaps I expect a little more of her given that she's been through IVF twice.

To the contrary, her understanding of what I'm going through reminds me of a spoiled girl who expects you to be her primary wedding planner while you're amidst the nastiest divorce.

Many months ago, in an effort to salvage the relationship, I encouraged her to process this whole situation with me. This wasn't easy as she prefers to ignore the growing, fat, spotted elephant in the living room. Ultimately, however, she expressed that she wished it had been me who got pregnant first because she would have handled it "so much better" than I did.

If you can't tell, I'm still having a hard time with that one. I guess I wasn't aware that there is a "right" or a "wrong" way of handling this situation. I certainly don't remember expressing anything like that to her while she was going through it. How soon she has forgotten that now that IF is in her backyard instead of her front!!

Frankly, I feel the need to protect myself through this process from her and people like her who always have a healthy dose of negativity to heap on me. I guess the old adage applies here - if you don't have anything nice to say, just don't say anything at all.

And if you insist on continuing to talk, I'm not just going to sit back and listen.

I'm going to avoid you like the plague - after I help with your baby shower, of course.

That's what "supportive" friends do for each other, isn't it?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

She's Here!!!

So, this is how I feel today:

Less than 45 minutes after my post last night, AF made her official appearance. I guess she finally accepted that I wasn't going to be toyed with this month.

Please, God, let the Good Witch's magic wand make us pregnant very, very soon.

IVF Teaching (which was rescheduled from its original date) is next week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

AF is the Ultimate Witch from Hell

Well, the ultimate "Hail Mary" cycle* is about to conclude, but not without a little tease from my dear friend Aunt Flo. AF & I have become very tight over the last 23 months - I know her every trick, twinge, and cramp. Of course, this month in my heart I can't help but think how wonderful it would be to have a story that begins with this:

"L & I were on the verge of doing IVF, and right before we signed on the dotted line to purchase our fresh and frozen cycles, there they were - two pink lines!!!!"

This is not our story, of course, and AF is determined to play a few Jedi Mind Tricks before we submerge ourselves into a sea of needles and hormones. She begins with the smallest amount of spotting and then adds a few minor cramps. When I refuse to acknowledge her attempts to drive me mad (as well as everyone else around me), she decides to play with my mind for at least 3 to 4 days.

She is satisfied only when she manages to coerce me into a full blown, obsessive google search for "implantation bleeding" and "implantation cramps". Trust me, you can always find a woman out there somewhere in cyberspace who has experienced the exact same "premenstural" symptoms as you before realizing she was knocked up. I've read it over and over: "It felt just like my period was getting ready to start..."

So, enough, already AF! I get it, damn it, and I know exactly what you're doing! Let's just get this thing going so we can officially start the IVF countdown/kickoff!!

Hell, haven't you tortured us enough over the last 23 months???!!!

*Note: I want to attribute the term "Hail Mary Cycle" to my blogger friend Nancy. I picked up this expression on your blog, and I absolutely love it!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Standing (Stationary) in the Emergency Lane

So, today was a little downhill for me.

I attended my work's "Family Fun Day", an event for all the Agency staff, families, kids, etc. Calling it a "Fun" day is a bit of a stretch, because it didn't feel too damned fun to me.

First of all, why is it that everywhere I go, someone is compelled to share their pregnancy story, their daughter's pregnancy story or, hell, even their cat's pregnancy story? It's as if I have something written on my forehead that says, "Tell me about how easy it was for you (and/or anyone you know) to procreate."

Secondly, I feel so left out. I'm either surrounded by early 20-somethings who haven't even begun thinking about pregnancy (and the daunting prospect of IF isn't even a blip on their radar screens - how I miss those days!) or 30-somethings who have children who look old enough to enter high school. I swear, I look at some of these kids and feel so behind. I find myself wondering if I missed something the hell did I get here again?

I guess that "family" can mean many different things, and right now, my family is L. I do feel fortunate for that, as well as the many other blessings in my life. But you know, sometimes it just feels like the whole world is forging ahead, and I'm standing on the side of the road looking at everyone whizzing past.

Another lovely day in IF world. Here's to a better day tomorrow...I'll let you know about that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An Epiphany

Today, as I forced myself to do my 30 minute power walk, I was overcome with love and adoration for my husband. Typically, during these walks I am wrestling with "poor me" thoughts and the nagging question: "Why us?" However, today, the answers flowed into my consciousness in a way that let me know for certain that God was with me. Suddenly, I was overcome with epiphany afer epiphany about this whole infertility experience. The resounding thought in my brain was that this whole thing has given me the opportunity to demonstrate love for my husband in a way that most people never really get. I mean, really, how much commitment does it really take to hop into bed a couple of times, have great sex and end up with two pink lines?

Because of this IF challenge, I have to face a tremendous fear and demonstrate an insane amount of dedication. Sometimes I have to remind myself why I'm doing this:

The reason I'm preparing to shoot myself up with a hormone cocktail is because I love this man and want to have a baby with him more than anything in the world. And going through what we're going through truly is a demonstration that it is something we both want more than anything in the world. Damn, I'm blessed to even experience this much love for another human being without being a mom myself.

I hope this doesn't sound too corny - sometimes I'm overwhelmed with emotion these days as I never quite envisioned that my life path would be winding through Lupron and Gonal-F injections. But, sometimes, just for a fleeting moment, all of this craziness really does make sense.

Okay, I'm signing off for now. Somebody remind me of this post next month when my belly and butt are bruised from injections. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Responding to "The Question"

So, today I encountered a couple of old work friends I haven't seen in a year or so. We were happily chatting, talking about work, work politics, etc. After about 10 minutes, one of these friends shot the inadvertent dagger, the knife in the heart, the question all of us love to hate:
"So...when are we going to see you pregnant
with your first little one?
I just can't wait to see you with a belly!"
My mind began racing, my heart beating too fast, as I scrambled to formulate the perfect answer. I ultimately stammered out something about L.'s work schedule and the fact that he's just working so much, we haven't had a chance to get around to all of that "kid stuff" yet. However, at that moment (and all afternoon long) I fantasized about what I would have liked to have said:

Looking them both straight in the eye:

1. "Well, actually, I'm going to be shooting myself in the ass with massive needles starting next month. Wanna help?"

2. "Actually, we've been trying to have a child but have just learned that I have no female parts - I'm actually a man." (Okay, this one is actually compliments of a very good friend of mine who suggested that perhaps I should have just told them I'm a hermaphrodite. Thanks, Cheese - I'm still laughing!)

3. "As a matter of fact, we've decided it would be much more fun to watch our baby be conceived in a petrie dish than just plain old sex in the privacy of our own home, so we're starting IVF next month. I'm particularly looking forward to being inspected by my fertility specialist as she tries to figure out how the hell to get me knocked up!"

Of course, I didn't give any of these responses, but I was left wondering why it is that this question is always so difficult to answer. In some ways, I see it as my golden opportunity to educate someone on how painful it is to be asked such an invasive question, but for some reason, I am not remotely confrontive. Honestly, I actually feel a sense of embarrassment that I'm not pregnant yet. I mean, let's get real, I'm 34 years old and have been happily married for 2 years. People are probably thinking that we need to get on with it if we're going to do this.

I'm still working on formulating the perfect response for these sorts of questions from people we don't plan to tell about our IVF experience. However, I'm once again pondering the prospect of putting it out there, just saying - this is what we're doing. Deal with it.

I mean after all, why should I hide the fact that I'm being treated for a medical issue? And, frankly, the fertile people of the world need to take a look at the fact that asking a woman in her 30's when she's going to have a "big belly" is outrageously insensitive. Yes, I realize people think this is a natural subject of small talk, particularly when they have no experience with IF.

But that doesn't mean I have to accept it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Verdict Is In, Another Sleepless Night & The Joys of Pregnant Friends

The GREAT news is that most of my test results are in, and the verdict is good. I am a "clean girl" (in other words, I'm STD-free).

Also, my Clomid Challenge test results were, in the words of the IVF nurse, "beautiful - exactly what we hope to see."

While I am genuinely thrilled with this news, I remain perplexed because I am consumed with questions about why all of this is happening. I keep thinking that if everything looks this good, why have I not been able to get knocked up for 22 months (and counting..)? Also, I am more overcome with fear about everything that's ahead of us. Thoughts of enlarged ovaries and daily shots are looking a little more reality based, and that's catalyzing gut-wrenching, anxiety-in-the-middle-of-the-night-kind-of-fear. In fact, I'm currently having a Infertility/Clomid-sponsored sleepless night, which has given me the opportunity to write this post.

Tomorrow, I am hanging out with a couple of my friends who I've been avoiding like the plague. One is pregnant (per her second IVF cycle) and the other one is trying for her second child (in essence she'll be with child by next month). I'm dreading both of these encounters because I don't feel comfortable being honest about my feelings with either one of them. You will probably be hearing more about them in upcoming posts because we're starting baby shower preparations for the one who is pregnant.

You would think that my friend who's been through two rounds of IVF would be a great support to have right now, but frankly many of my childless friends have been more understanding than she has. I don't know how many times I've heard her say in response to my IVF quandries, "IVF scared me mainly because I knew it was the last resort...if it didn't work, I knew I would have to face the fact that I just couldn't have a baby."

If that one doesn't do it for you, consider this one: "You just have to remember that IVF doesn't always happen on the first time...but maybe it'll work by the second go-around." an IVF inductee, I have to tell you, these were comforting words to curl up with at night.

I don't know why I feel compelled to continue with these relationships. I'm really questioning that right now. Perhaps it's because they've historically been good friends (when babies were not part of the equation). Or maybe it's because it seems like the "right thing to do", like I should push myself to help with this baby shower as a demonstration of faith in God that it's going to happen for me someday.

Still deliberating about this one.

Another trip to the Clinic scheduled for Tuesday for IVF teaching.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tomorrow's Poking & Prodding

Well, I've managed to successfully get through Days 5-9 of Clomid with few major altercations. L. would probably disagree and has taken to calling me "Clomie" in an effort to add humor to my ongoing hormonal turmoil.

Tomorrow is a lot of testing at the Clinic, and I'm so pleased that my friend Jill is going with me. She is such a great friend to come and support me, and I really appreciate her! Sometimes this situation really helps you see all the great people in your life. :) L. has to work unfortunately, and we're trying to conserve sick days/vacation time in preparation of what's to come.

I'm a little less anxious tonight after a couple of glasses of wine, thanks to L.

Here's to poking, prodding and healthy reproductive organs!

Friday, August 15, 2008

IVF Warranty? What Will They Think of Next?

Today my beloved husband called me at work to relay details of a telephone conversation with the Clinic's finance department. During this discussion, I experienced a moment of utter disbelief that this whole thing is really happening. I shook my head as L. rattled off IVF finance options, specifically several "package deals" that sounded like all-inclusive vacation resorts.

He exclaimed, "We can either get one fresh and one frozen, two chances at a fresh and one frozen, or even three chances and two frozen!"

What??!! Are we talking about fish sticks or roulette?

He went on to say that we can purchase a 70% money-back guarantee from this company in the instance that we are unsuccessful. Of course, they won't disclose how much this "guarantee" will cost until they have my ovarian reserve results in their greedy little paws. So, in essence, I suppose the insurance company is playing the odds themselves - I guess the better my eggs look, the cheaper this little policy will be.

In other words, there is actually someone out there who's willing to roll the dice on this (as long as I have eggs that look they might actually convert into a kid).

So...I'm still shaking my head in disbelief and wondering how we got here. It's the end of Day 1 on the evil pill and I'm already having hot flashes.

(Postscript: For any of you who don't know Fresh/Frozen terminology, see the IF Terms/Acronyms You Never Wanted to Know to the right for a quick explanation. If you stick with me, you'll soon know more than you ever bargained for!).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Clomid Challenge: Me Versus Clomid

The "Clomid Challenge" test must be named for the challenge I have with functioning while on that crazy pill, along with the consternation of everyone I come in contact with as it takes over my body. Warning: I begin taking it at it at my personal "lethal dose" (100 mg.) on Friday for the purposes of measuring my ovarian reserve. If you haven't been around me while on this drug, you will soon learn that taking two of these evil tablets transforms me into a sweating, bipolar-esque, angry, tearful wench. It pushes me over the edge for days - and I feel like it's never going to leave my body once it enters.

I'm ready. I'm up for the Challenge.

So, here's to evil pills, nasty side effects and hoping I'll commit no evil acts over the next few days. My advice to the Stepford Wives: Steer clear of me and my raging hormones!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Message for the Stepford Wives of My Life

Many of the wives of my husband's work colleagues are part of a "group" which is supposedly for support purposes. To be an active, viable member on the "A-List" of this so-called "support group" (and I use this term loosely), you must have the following Stepford Wife-esque characteristics:

  • You must have children ("My husband and I had sex one time and suddenly we were pregnant with little Jenny!!")

  • You must be a stay-at-home mom.

  • You must have minimal or no career aspirations. As a woman in your late 20's/early 30's, you tell everyone that "career days" are over - now your focus is your children. Perhaps you'll do the world a favor and "volunteer" someday.

  • You absolutely do not believe in day care of any kind as it is a destructive influence to children and research says as much!
So, this week I received a group e-mail from one of them (I guess someone forgot to remove my career-driven, infertile ass from the mailing list). Here's a summation:

"We have many babies on the way, and we want to start planning meal delivery to each of our new moms! Would you believe we have 3 babies due in October and 5 in November?! It's a baby boom! Please let me know when you'll be available to deliver meals to each of our new families!"

Today, this e-mail entered my mind, and I became enraged when I thought about how all these women care about is a traditional, perfect world in which fertility treatment is not necessary and if it were, it would be spoken about in hushed whispers. If a woman actually trusted these people enough to divulge that kind of information (which would be amazing in and of itself), she would be pitied and discussed behind her back.

So, I started fantasizing about a "Reply To All" response. It would go something like this:

"Dear Mary (and the rest of you fertile people),

Thank you so much for your e-mail, but I think you left me off your meal delivery list. I, too, will be in need of prepared meals as I undergo IVF over October/November. My doctor has told me to prepare for discomfort and bloating as my ovaries work over-time to produce massive numbers of follicles, and something tells me that the last thing I'm going to feel like doing is cooking for my man. Also, so you'll know my "timeline" (or "due date" in language you ladies comprehend), I expect the egg retrieval will be sometime in early November, and this will also be an uncomfortable time. I will also need meals post embryo transfer as I'm supposed to remain on my back for 48-72 hours or so. However, after all we're going through to get to that point, it's going to take a forklift to pull me out of bed as I'll be so worried about our embryo(s) detaching from my uterus as a result of me returning to work (I'm sure you would advise me I should quit working if I'm that serious about getting knocked up!).

Hopefully this timeline will give you all plenty of opportunities to bring meals to L. & I since this is after all, supposedly a "support" group. Many thanks in advance. Yours, L.L.

Perhaps this all sounds a little bitter, and maybe it is. It's not that I see anything wrong with staying at home with your child - hell, after everything we're doing to get to that point, I can actually see that happening in our family. It's just the fact that these women never stop to consider that there are other times in a woman's life when support is needed outside of childbirth, playdates and first birthday parties. This lack of comprehension is simply because infertility (and other issues that affect a lot of women) is so outside their realm of experience.

Needless to say, I have little to do with these women anymore. And after re-reading my post today, I think it's time for me to request that my name be removed from their mailing list!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hooray!! No More Infertility Robots!!!

I absolutely hate going to my OB these days. I dread it for days beforehand. I hate seeing all those big bellies on women who are sitting there smugly reading the waiting room's "Parenting" magazines and hearing expectant couples leaving the office saying, "Oh, honey, you did great in there today.." UGH!!

But, my visit last week was good.

My doctor was genuinely pleased that we're pursuing IVF. She said she thinks it's time, and that we need to just go for it without overthinking it. She said that we happen to be "one of the 10%" of couples whose infertility issues are just unexplained. I figure if we can be one of the 10%, we could also be one of the 60% this IVF thing is supposed to knock up.

The absolute ICING ON THE CAKE of this appointment was that she offered to do all my monitoring since the clinic we've chosen is two hours out of town. I thought I was going to have use our local infertility clinic for that, and I was really dreading it because the staff there are infertility robots - you're responsible for pushing all the right buttons (or asking the right questions) to get the information you need. I am so thrilled that I'm not going to have to back there!!

Meanwhile, I have started spotting today, and it's the first time I've ever been glad about it. Bring on the Clomid Challenge!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


We had a really great break from things over the last few days. It was so nice to spend quality time with L., and it was a good feeling to detach from the drama in our lives and reconnect with each other.

We saw Coldplay on Sunday evening, which was the main reason for our trip. I was able to handle the numerous pregnant women who seemed to flock to Chris Martin - sometimes I think they're following me! I was able to focus on L. and where we are with each other. It was one of the best nights we've had together in a long time.

So, I'm uplifted, and I hope I can hold onto this feeling as I finish out my last week at work (before starting my new job) and the going away parties in front of me. At least I'll be able to enjoy a few spirits in the process!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Holiday From What's To Come...

I won't be posting for the next few days because L & I are taking a road trip. We're driving to Washington D.C. to hang out, have a few drinks and pretend we're that couple we used to know who actually enjoyed the freedom of a childless lifestyle.

I'm soooo excited about getting away for a few days and thinking about nothing relevant at all. I'm taking a holiday from the impending needles, evil Clomid and BCP (I cannot believe I'm going to be taking the pill again in a few weeks - one of IF's bitter ironies!).

Thank you all so much for your feedback about our "to tell or not to tell" dilemma. Still on the fence, but praying for resolution. We'll figure it out, but the important thing is that I feel so supported right now. It's amazing what that does for my mood state! I feel so blessed.

Clomid Challenge Update: Waiting for Day 1: AF should grace us with her presence in approximately one week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It Feels Like Pulling My Pants Down In Public, But...

The thought of "announcing" our IVF plans feels a little like pulling my pants down in front of everyone I know. However, now that we have officially decided to go forward with IVF, this is our dilemma: Do we just put what we're doing out there into the cosmos and hope for the best?

We have already shared with our parents. At this point, I'm suggesting being even more open with our infertility diagnosis and just treating it as a medical issue for which we need (and deserve) support from everyone in our lives.

I really want input re: this because it's something I'm very conflicted about. On one hand, we think it would decrease the stress we feel about heading into something so taxing and that it might normalize it to some degree. For example, we recently started making plans with several of our college friends to attend football homecoming at our alma mater, only to realize after meeting with our RE that we will most likely be in the middle of egg retrieval when that date rolls around. Part of me just wants to e-mail our college friends (90% of whom have at least one child already) and just say, "Look, we're infertile and we're going for the big guns - we probably won't be able to make it. Deal with it."

That would be so freeing. And, it would allow people the opportunity to pray for us and to be more sensitive about asking about our plans to start a family.

However, allowing people the opportunity to be more sensitive doesn't exactly mean that's what we'll get...which is why I liken this openness to pulling one's pants down in an arena full of wide-eyed faces. I think about my sister-in-law, for example. For those of you who don't know her (and trust me, I complain about her to anyone who will listen), she has to be one of the most insensitive people I've ever encountered. The things that fly out of her mouth are often head turning and nothing short of incredible. I find my head spinning as I think....Did she really just make excuses in front of our mother-in-law for a woman who cheated on her husband????

My point is that telling allows people to be even more insensitive to my growing vulnerability. And, trust me, I've never felt more vulnerable about anything in my life as I am about this infertility thing. I also don't want people's pity - as the days go by, I feel more accepting that this is what God has put in front of us, and I feel so fortunate to be going through it with the absolute best man for me. Also, in some strange way, I feel blessed to have this experience with L. because it's taken our relationship to a level I don't think it could have otherwise reached. I think that going through infertility changes your relationship forever, and you learn things about each other you would have never otherwise known.

So, this is my quandry, and I'm particularly interested in what those of you out there in the IF world think. Did you tell or did you not and what was the outcome?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brangelina - Seriously?

I just have to comment on how ridiculous all this hullabaloo is about The Beautiful Ones. I admit, I am sometimes mesmerized by the gossip rags in the grocery check-out aisle, although this week I've sworn them off for good (I actually had a mini-breakdown Wednesday evening after running to the grocery and becoming overwhelmed by the glossy covers and beautiful faces proclaiming Hollywood's fertility).

And, now this! Brad & Angelina used IVF "because they didn't want to wait" for another child. Are you kidding me?

I mean, if indeed The Beautiful Ones suffered with secondary infertility, I empathize and wish they would just say so! This could actually be an OPPORTUNITY to advocate for those of us struggling with infertility!

I don't know, perhaps it's all just gossip, in which case, I have nothing more to say.

However, if it is true, I think those two really missed the boat. It's amazing to me that someone would willingly put themselves through enlarged ovaries, countless needles and ass bruising just because they can.

Give me a break!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Sign

I've experienced a sign that we're headed in the right direction with our IF decisions. I've wanted to write about this for a couple of weeks or so, but I just had to let it all sink in first because it has been so very moving to me.

About a month ago, my CEO explained to me that he was reassigning me to a new position, developing a new program 45 miles north of where I'm working. I protested and finally explained to him that L & I were considering IVF. I explained that I didn't want or need this stress in my life right now.

He didn't care. He kept saying that this is where he wanted me to go, where I belonged.

I prayed and prayed, and I ultimately accepted that this guy was going to send me where he wanted, and I was just going to have to deal with it. I decided that it certainly wasn't the time to be out job-searching, especially while we're figuring out how to finance this whole IVF thing.

And, then my phone rang. An old boss of mine asked me to come to her Agency and manage branch of a program I'm already running. She offered me more money, and she was really encouraging and supportive when I told her about IVF.

In my heart and mind, I know this was all clearly Divine Intervention.

So, I'm starting my new job mid-August, and for the first time in a long time, I'm actually feeling excited about my work.

Most importantly, I find myself very reassured for the first time in a long time. We're walking in the right direction.

Friday, July 18, 2008

We Are Going to Proceed...

I would have updated much sooner than this re: our appointment on Thursday, but as it turns out, I had to literally force myself to go due to a raging virus I woke up with early on Thursday morning. I'll spare you the details (you really don't want to know), but suffice to say that today is the first time I've been able to hold anything down since then. It was horrible, but I refused to cancel the appointment because I didn't know when L. & I would be able to coordinate schedules again.

Essentially, we met with a nice, matter-of-fact doctor who presented us with both sides of IVF. She explained why it is controversial in some respects, and she encouraged us to consider it from all sides before we proceed. I liked this about her, along with the fact that she took the time to draw us a diagram of the process we're talking about undergoing. She also expressed that there were several tests we would undergo next month, so we won't be able to begin the process officially until September. Ultimately, she said that we have good odds since I'm under 35, and that IVF is a reasonable "next step" in our situation.

So, we're going to do this. We need to call and get some testing scheduled next week, but we've decided that this is the best "next step" for us.

L. made a poignant comment on our way home from the appointment as we were discussing the pros/cons of IVF. He said that, often, children are brought into more stable family environments when they're born to people in their thirties. He thinks that perhaps God gave the world IVF to help those of us who are having a little difficulty doing so.

If this experience has taught me anything so far, it's that I am absolutely, positively married to an incredible man.

And, we are going to proceed together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Anxiety and Stuff

Well, tomorrow is our appointment with the RE and the clinic where we think we're going to do IVF. I'm a little nervous this evening for some reason..not sure why. I'm starting to realize, slowly, that this is really happening, and that we're really going to go through with this IVF thing.

L. keeps pointing out that we're in this together, which is such a comforting thought. I think I'll hang onto that one this morning at 3 a.m. when I feel like I'm going to crawl out of my skin with anxiety. :)

I am more at peace with this. I haven't had a single case of the "why me's" in a couple of weeks. I have accepted this path in our journey, but I'm still scared.

Stay tuned.