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!