Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Surprise... a new post!

Well, hello there!

Anybody still checking in on me?

I'm back, but only briefly. Consider this a cameo appearance. I just have a couple of very important things to say!

1. Everything is going well. 18 weeks tomorrow! Still don't know if it is a girl or boy. Thank you all so much for your continued support.

2. I'm reading your blogs! Trust me, I'm reading. I'm only commenting infrequently (okay, rarely), but if you see your blog listed over there to the right (or in the comments of my last post)... I AM reading (sometimes obsessively). And hoping. And sending my love and positive thoughts out into the universe for you.

3. If you haven't already discovered her yourself, please get yourselves on over to meet hopeful to hateful in 28 days. She's my friend, and she rocks. And you rock. So you should rock together.

4. Finally, please go over to see Jenderbender at Land of the Infertile. She is experiencing some absolutely terrible heartache. Please go give her all the love and support you carry in your huge hearts. Thank you.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Accelerated and Photogenic

Well now see, I told you there was nothing to worry about.

The baby is there, heart beating away, and seems to be doing just fine. We could see his little arms flailing about. My husband the martial arts expert swears he is making a knifehand strike.

I am 9 weeks and 5 days, and the baby is measuring 10 weeks. So he is accelerated already.

And photogenic. The nurse practitioner even said so. (I'm sorry I can't include pics... we don't have the necessary equipment, and I don't have the necessary tech savvy.)

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So I think I will be taking a break from blogging. I realize this may make me the record holder of "Shortest-Lived Infertility Blog Ever", but I have good reasons:

1. I am hoping that things will be terribly boring from here on out. I hope there is not much to write about. If I were an artist (and I am SO not), I think I would be one of those artists whose inspiration only emerges when they are feeling tortured and depressed. I'm afraid that now all my posts would be full of exclamation points and words like "cute" and "awesome". I wouldn't want to put you through that.

2. Blogging has served it's purpose. Just writing and venting was incredibly therapeutic for me, and got me through some really difficult moments. I was able to keep my friends and family informed on all the medical updates as well as let them in on some of the thoughts and feelings that can be hard for me to express in person. But, the best part of all, and the most unexpected part, was the sisterhood and friendship that's been cultivated with all my fellow infertility bloggers. I just can't thank you enough for your support, encouragement, and empathy. You would really read the posts, and read them carefully, not just for context but for meaning and feeling, like you were searching to know and understand me. I know this from your comments and your blogs. For example, I can't tell you how much it meant to me to come home to find that Melissa left a comment on my last post saying that she can't wait to hear how things went today. She remembered that my ultrasound was today. And THAT, my friends, is "awesome!". And I see that kind of thoughtfulness happening everywhere, all the time, in the infertility blogging world.

Which brings me to number 3...

3. I feel so incredibly lucky. And I know that many of my sisters are still in the trenches still waiting for their luck to change. I'd like to spend my "computer time" reading blogs and commenting and trying to continue to offer support to all of them. I hope that it will be okay for me to do that even if I don't have my own blog.

If you are on my blogroll, I will continue to check in on you frequently. If you are not on my blogroll (perhaps you commented and my lazy self never got around to putting you on or maybe you've been lurking but never commented), please feel free to comment on this post so I will know to stop by your post and keep up on how you are doing.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my mind and return to blogging at any time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fear Shmear

Okay, is anybody else sick of this "fear" theme yet? Because I am. It's time for me to move on. Enough is enough.

I allowed myself one final concession to the fear today. I called my new OB to see if they could see me earlier than Monday. But I was very rational. And level-headed. No fake emergencies. You would have been very proud.

The secretary kindly explained that patients rarely cancelled appointments, and Monday was absolutely the earliest time they could get me in.

But then she asked, "Are you having any problems?"

There it was. My "in". The open door leading directly to the coveted ultrasound. (In my head I pictured the ultrasound machine at the end of a dark tunnel with a ray of light shining down upon it, while in the background a churchy sounding chorus sings "aaaaahhhhh" in that way that happens in movies when something elusive is finally illuminated.) It would have been so easy to say, "Why, yes, actually I am", and fabricate some bogus concern. But I couldn't do it. I just couldn't bring myself to falsely claim some frightening symptom or experience that actually could be happening to me and that tragically does happen to many women. It just felt wrong.

So I told her the truth. "Well, I'm feeling kind of panicky."

She didn't laugh, which was really quite kind. She even said I could check back in with her to see if anything happens to open up. She is a good person, this secretary. I must remember to smile at her when I go to my appointment. We like her.

So, anyway. That was it. My last acquiescence to the fear. From now on I will be positive. Hopeful. Rosy. Upbeat, even.

Stop laughing, people, I'm trying here.

And stop taking bets on how long this will last.



Can I put fifty bucks on forty-eight hours?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Feeling Sick (...With Worry)

For the past couple of days, the fear has been winning.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night completely panicked that I am somehow no longer pregnant. That the heartbeat has stopped.

I know, I know, this is normal. ALL pregnant women, infertile or not, experience this fear.

Yeah, well, it still sucks.

My next ultrasound is on the 26th. That is 11 days away.

When I called last week to make the appointment with the OB, and they told me the next available time was on the 26th, I felt the panic set in immediately. My heart pounded and I felt sweat begin to bead on my forehead as I squeaked, "Isn't that a long time from now?" The nurse or secretary or whomever I was speaking with laughed and said, "Honey we never see anybody before the 8th- 10th week."

I tried to sound breezy and casual. "Oh. All right then."

But see, I'm NOT anybody. I am not your average pregnant person. I don't believe that any woman who has struggled with infertility is, regardless of how "normally" their pregnancy progresses. You see, physically speaking, I have felt two things for an entire year:

1. Completely and totally out of control of what my body decides to do. No matter how involved and informed in my treatment I chose to be, what happened inside of me was the result of my doctor's protocol and the whimsy of my reproductive system. I had no say over how many follicles developed, what size they were, the level of estrogen and progesterone in my system, etc. etc.

2. Although I couldn't control what was happening in my body, I damn sure KNEW about what was going on. I was monitored thoroughly, almost obsessively, so that my doctors and I knew what my body was doing. How many follicles, what size, estrogen level... you name it, I could recite the exact numbers.

So now, well, now I've still got number 1. But number 2 is no longer there. And, oh, how I miss it. It's hard to go from daily appointments to one every couple of weeks. I thought they would be more gradual in their weening. It was doctors who made me needy and dependent, and now they are just throwing me out into the street, expecting me to quit them almost cold turkey. It's cruel, really.

How am I supposed to wait another 11 days for another glimpse at what is going on inside of me? It feels like torture.

It's so bad that I'm considering concocting a fake emergency so that I can get in sooner. What do you think? Falling down the steps? Spotting? Skin turning bright green? Surely "obsessive irrational worries" just won't cut it?

Without medical monitoring, I'm forced to rely upon Dr. Google and my own subjective interpretation of my symptoms. Which goes a little like this:

(kneading my breasts vigorously) Well, the right one is a little sore over here. But, was it more sore yesterday? Yes, it was, I'm sure it was! And I think I only had to pee 6 times today. Surely that isn't enough. Or maybe it was 7. But I did drink lots of water, so maybe I'm just peeing because of additional water intake, not because my uterus is expanding. I think I felt queasy today, but was I really sick, or was it my imagination? Am I really craving those olives, or have I just convinced myself that I want to crave olives?!

11 more days of this? I wonder who I will drive insane first, myself or my husband.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Secret, My Ass

Have you all seen The Secret? It's been on Oprah, CBS news, and I'm guessing any other talk show/ magazine/ article/ website/ the oily little "Secret brigade" can get weasel their way into. It's a book, it's a movie ... it's complete and utter bullshit.

Maybe it's just me. But I don't get it. Does this not appear to anyone else as a bunch of money-grubbing, fame-hungry salespeople attempting to re-package and market the age-old idea of the power of positive thinking? A bunch of smarmy "experts" (of what, I have no clue) spouting useless, obnoxious, and even insulting cliches?

Or maybe I'm just being negative.

Take, for example, this cheesy and offensive bit of propaganda about how to become rich. Watch this first. Then, imagine in your own head what the Secret folks might suggest that we infertiles visualize. Perhaps it would go a little something like this:

I am a baby-making machine.

I am full of ripe eggs right now and at every second.

I have more children than Michelle Duggar.

I will find a baby on my door step.

We have more than enough correctly- shaped, forwardly- mobile sperm to make all the babies we'll ever want.

A lack of fallopian tubes/ ovaries/ progesterone/ ovulation/viable eggs/moving sperm will not get in the way of a natural pregnancy.

An unexpected pregnancy is on the way; it could happen at any moment.

I will have my dream baby.

I know that no matter what I ask, no matter what it is, if I believe it, a large muscle-bound genie will slink out of this Diet Coke bottle I am compulsively rubbing, and say "Your wish is my command."

So, there we are girls. We have The Secret. Our infertility woes are over. All those people who told us to just relax and to think positively, well, they were right all along! All that money and time we are putting into visiting those silly RE's? ...Completely unnecessary! The shots?... Gratuitous! The operations?... Absolutely optional!

All this time, all we needed was "The Secret".

Don't we just feel like fools?

Well, since I'm already pregnant (the HARD way, damnit!) I'll have to use The Secret to improve my life in other ways. Perhaps I'll use it to pay off our excessive student loans, get that Audi SUV my husband covets, buy a big house, heal any sickness that my friends and family may encounter, lose 25 pounds, and, if I'm not too tired from all this positive thinking and goodness-attracting, I guess I'll end the war and stop the genocide in Darfur.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Elizabeth was wrong

There is one. One sac, one fetus, one wonderful little heartbeat.

I am relieved, mostly. The idea of twins was frightening, and three... well, three just scared the crap out of me. A very very small part of me is sad, though. I guess because I know that, if only just for a minute, they were there-- even if they were just empty sacs--and now they aren't there. I suppose it is normal that I feel some sense of grief and loss.

But, back to the relief. I'm relieved to know that The One is doing well, and its tiny little heartbeat is going strong. I'm relieved to know what I am in for. I can picture-- as much as is ever possible-- what life will be like with one. One crib. One carseat. One breast at a time.

So, I'm done with the RE and moving on to a regular OBGYN or midwife. Again with the mixture of relief and grief... On the one hand I am thrilled to know that I never have to go back there. On the other hand, there was an undercurrent of sadness as we said good-bye to everyone today. I feel like I'm being pushed out of my safe little self-contained special ed classroom with the one to four teacher to student ratio and thrown into the overcrowded regular ed classroom with all the average and advanced learners. Will I get the kind of attention I need? Will I be able to keep up? Will I fit in?

All in all, very very happy news today.

Oh, and my sister-in-law told Elizabeth that "SuSu is having ONE baby."

Her response?

"Well, when is the next one coming?"

Saturday, March 3, 2007

At Least He's Cute

My husband: Have you been taking vitamins?

Me: Yes, of course, I take a pre-natal every day. For like, a year now.

My husband: Shouldn't you switch from a pre-natal to a natal now that you are pregnant?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

3... It's A Magic Number

Is it?

IS IT?!

Or is it the scariest fucking number you've ever heard uttered by an RE with a wand up your hoo hoo?







Oooohhh, you want more detail? I'm sorry, okay then. I'll try to keep it short, as my brain is buzzing and my body is being hijacked by gestational sacs.

I had an ultrasound today. I had a tiny bit of spotting and wanted reassurance that all was well.

And, well...

There are 3 sacs. Three. 2+1. 1+1+1.

One looks really good. Could see the heartbeat flickering and everything (totally AMAZING, but more on that later... this post is all about freaking out). The other two are small and there doesn't seem to be much going on. But they are there. Three of them. Three. Did I say that yet?!

When I got home from work today, my husband greeted me by saying, "Hi everyone. Glad you are all home." This is why I love my husband... he always makes me laugh just when I think there is nothing to laugh about.

Because, really I'm scared. I'm excited, but I. AM. SCARED.

I might be in the minority among IF women, but I have never longed for a twin pregnancy. And I never even let myself think about triplets. I once came across a woman on an IVF message board who wrote that she wanted triplets so she could just get on with her life. I remember thinking that she was a fool. Is this karma for thinking bad thoughts about that woman?

But the reality is this....I'm so very thrilled to be pregnant. And to know that one is doing well. And the doctor says that it is "most likely" going to result in a singleton birth. A twin pregnancy is "possible." Three is "doubtful."

"Three is doubtful." This is my mantra. This is being replayed over and over in my head. In between choruses of the "3 Is A Magic Number" song of course because, damn, it is a catchy tune.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tummy Talk

My husband is talking to my belly.

I know what you're thinking...

Oh, how sweet! Isn't that adorable?

Well, yes, it should be sweet and adorable except that he is saying things like, "Okay little sac, there will be no crying between the hours of midnight and 10am, and we'll be good friends. You can cry on the inside."

Sick-O.

----------------------------------------

Meanwhile, I have no pregnancy symptoms except for sore breasts. And apparently, my breasts think it unjust that I should be spared the nausea, cramping, and urgent need to pee, and so are trying to make up for the lack of all other symptoms by hurting like hell and growing at an alarming rate. I swear I can watch them grow in real time. I read somewhere that they are likely to grow three cup sizes during pregnancy. Dear god, I don't even know what size that would be?!?!

It's as if every ounce of pregnancy hormone inside of me is focusing all of its attention in this one area. I really wouldn't mind if it spread itself out a bit. A teeny bit of nausea, a smidgen of cramping, and the occasional dash to the bathroom would be better than dealing with these two giant balls of pain hanging off the front of me. Right, Nicole?

And there is another reason I wouldn't mind having a few more symptoms show up. I'd like some evidence that I am really pregnant. The sore breasts just aren't cutting it, as I know that can be a side effect of the progesterone suppositories. I'm actually hoping to feel sick. I'm longing for the odd craving of pickle- topped ice cream. I covet the need to pee.

I'm just not comfortable. I'm just not convinced. I feel like it's all a big sick joke, and the joke is on me.

Ultrasound is in 6 days. 6 LOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG days.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The REAL Princess Smartypants

I spent the weekend in PA with my family. We celebrated my niece's fourth birthday.

My niece, Elizabeth, is undeniably both a princess and a smartypants.

She is a PRINCESS because A.) she is gorgeous with her butter blond ringlets, teeny nose, pink cheeks and bright blue eyes. She could be an American Girl doll. And B.) she has us all running around like servants trying to cater to her every whim and desire ("No, I want Pappy to do it." "I want the piece with the flower on it.") because, well, she's so damn cute. C.) She has recently acquired a love for all things pink and girly. And finally, D.) we treat her like royalty.

Don't judge. If you knew her for just one second, you would spoil her to pieces, too.

She is a SMARTYPANTS because, to put it simply, the girl knows things. She knows things that a four year old isn't supposed to know. Like what the word "sarcastic" means. She can do math that gives many second graders a run for their money. She is intuitive about other people's intentions and emotions and body language. Her sense of humor is more developed than many adults I know. And she craves knowledge about things she has yet to understand. She asked, "Daddy, is heaven floating on a cloud in the sky?" (To which my brother lamely answered, "Uh, OK. Sounds good.")

We told her that I was pregnant. First she pouted and said angrily, "No you are not!" apparently feeling betrayed by our conspiracy to trick her. When we finally convinced her that it is true, she lifted my shirt, inspected my belly button and said, "Well, I can't see it." We explained that the baby is teeny tiny right now, and no one can see it. She held her thumb and pointer finger closely together, scrunched up her eyes to peer between the space and asked, "Is it this big?"

A while later she asked the question that I knew would be coming. "But, SuSu, how did the baby get in your belly?"

Weeeelllll, since you asked MEEEEEE..... First I inject myself with high dosages of medication until my ovaries produce a whole bunch of eggs. Then...

What I really said was, "Go ask your Daddy." But when she asked him the question, she re-phrased it as "How do babies exist?" (told ya she's smart!). So he took it to mean how do babies stay alive while in utero? He gave her another lame answer about how the food that the mommy eats also nourishes the baby. Elizabeth let him off the hook and said, "Oooohhhhh, OK." as though she thought that perhaps her Daddy didn't quite know where babies came from either, but didn't want to embarrass him by calling him out on his ignorance.

And when I say that she knows things, I mean she KNOWS (said in a whisper with eyebrows raised, eyes open wide, leaning in toward you) things. About a week before we found out that I was pregnant, Elizabeth said to my mom, "You know, SuSu is going to have a baby." As a matter of fact-ly as if she had said, "You know, dogs have four legs."

Here's where it gets scary. At least for me. After we told her that I was pregnant, her mom asked her, "Do you think it will be a boy or a girl?"

Without a moment's hesitation she replied, "Two girls."

Oh. My. God.

She also suggested that I name one of them Elizabeth.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Evolution of an Infertile

The Behavioral Stages of the Infertile (or a case study of Ms. Smartypants)

Stage 1: The Pre-Infertility Infertile, also known as the Blissfully Ignorant Infertile (BII)

The BII is not yet aware that she will struggle with infertility. Her belief system includes the following:
  • I must take birth control pills to prevent pregnancy.
  • If I stop taking birth control pills, I will immediately become pregnant.
  • I can plan my pregnancy ahead of time so that the baby will be born at the most convenient time, i.e., during summer vacation, just before the holidays, on my birthday because that would be so cute.
  • Infertility happens to other people, or in movies, like on Lifetime Television for Women.
  • Sex is for enjoyment.

The BII is able to enjoy her friends' and relatives' pregnancies and birth announcements, as she is certain it will be her turn soon.

Stage 2: The Trying BII

The Trying BII has now gone off the pill and is actively trying to get pregnant. She has counted nine months ahead and decided that yes, getting pregnant right now would ensure that the birth does not disrupt any planned vacations or big work projects.

Infertility is still something that happens to other people, and now sex is for enjoyment and procreation.

Stage 3: The Curious Infertile (CI)

It has been perhaps, 4 or 5 months, and no pregnancy. She has heard, of course, that "it could take 3 months!", and so she is beginning to wonder what is going on. She isn't worried yet, so much as curious. She buys her copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility(TCOYF) and reads it cover to cover, believing with all her heart, that she is in charge of her reproductive efforts, and all she needs is a little knowledge and empowerment. The CI has become an expert in discerning the subtle color and texture changes in her cervical mucous and makes the stretch-it-between-two-fingers-technique as natural a part of her bathroom protocol as wiping. The alarm clock on her bedside table has been pushed to one side to accommodate the body temperature charts and thermometer.

Sex is now less about enjoyment and more about timing.

Stage 4: The Getting-Worried-and-Seriously-Annoyed Infertile (GWASAI)

A few more months have passed, and the GWASAI has realized that TCOYF is a crock of shit. She has given up on the charting and mucous-inspecting and has bought a bulk supply of ovulation predictor kits.

She no longer cares about a conveniently timed birth, she just wants to be pregnant.

She is starting to worry that maybe, just maybe, those Lifetime movies were based on true stories.

She is finding it hard to remember a time when sex was for fun.

When the OPKs have proven useless, the GWASAI either goes to her regular obgyn who refers her to a specialist, or she visits the nearest RE directly. A number of invasive tests are performed including one particularly pleasant procedure that involves the clamping of, and inserting dye into, the uterus. The GWASAI's husband may also be forced to endure the humiliating task of wanking off into a cup to have his sperm put to the test.

Based on the outcome of these tests, a diagnosis is made.

Stage 5: The Newly Diagnosed Infertile (NDI)

The NDI is dealing with a range of emotions including intense rage, debilitating sadness, and overwhelming frustration. She is mad at herself, her husband, the world.

Eventually, though, the NDI musters up a little hope. There is a diagnosis now, which means there is understanding. And with understanding (and science and medicine and a gang of white-coated professionals), there may be resolution. After hours on the Internet researching the diagnosis (even if the diagnosis is "unexplained infertility"), the NDI and her husband begin to discuss their options. It is time to become proactive. It is time to do something.

She thinks sadly to herself, "My life could BE a Lifetime movie."

She now wants a baby more than anything, and finds it difficult to think about anything else.

Sex? What is sex?

Stage 6: The Newbie-in-Treatment Infertile (NTI)

The NTI is experiencing a renewed sense of hope and excitement. She believes that there are ways around this infertility. The NTI believes that surely, medical intervention will work for her! In fact, maybe they'll be one of those couples who, as soon as they start treatment, poof! gets pregnant all on their own! So many of her friends are telling her these stories, it must be pretty common, right?

She joins various on-line support groups where the women have usernames like justgottabelieve or wanttriplets or baby4me. The women there shower each other with baby dust and words of encouragement. They are all also NTIs and so they all believe that ART (along with lots of positive thoughts and perhaps a little prayer- for the Christian Infertiles) will bring them the baby (or 3!) they long for. They eagerly compare treatment plans and protocols.

The NTI just can't wait to get started. If she is doing IUIs, she swallows her clomid happily, thinking maybe this is the pill that will get me my baby. If she is doing IVF, she anxiously awaits her stimulation, inserting each needle slowly and carefully, while her husband stands by rooting her on.

The NTI has told very few, if any, people about her infertility. She believes there is no reason to as it will all be over very soon.

Sex is back. (is that what JT is singing about?!)

Stage 7: The Veteran Infertile (VI)

The VI has now been through numerous failed infertility treatments. She has long abandoned her perky on-line friends for other vets who are bitter and angry like herself. There is no baby dust there. In fact, if someone so much as mentions baby dust, they should be prepared to have it shoved so far up their ass it comes out their nose when they sneeze. The VI and her friends post on message boards and blog about the horrendous-ness that is infertility. For many VIs, this on-line misery-loves-company support is the only thing that keeps their heads above water. It connects them with someone who actually knows how they feel.

The VI has to sit on her hands to keep from smacking anyone who tells her to think positively because "I had a cousin who..." or because "I know just how you feel, it took us 3 months!" (though it has been noted that some don't bother sitting on their hands...)

The Vet inserts her needles while simultaneously talking on the phone, eating dinner, and knitting a sweater.

Many people know about the infertility. You can't miss that much work and not expect people to ask questions. The VI has by now given up many of the hobbies and activities she used to participate in because treatment takes up too much time, too much money, or just too much energy.

She avoids events and activities that she knows a pregnant woman or new mom will be attending. So, she avoids A LOT.

She begins to believe that she may never become pregnant.

Stage 8: The Newly Pregnant Infertile (NPI)

The NPI can be recognized by the appearance of 4 distinct qualities:

1. Absolute Elation. The NPI is ecstatic to have achieved pregnancy after such struggle.

2. Utter Disbelief. She can often be caught pinching herself.

3. Persistant Fear. She is constantly worried that this pregnancy won't make it.

4. Confusion about where she belongs. She is aware that she is no longer in the trenches with so many of her on-line infertile friends. (But her heart is still there with them.) And yet, she also doesn't feel comfortable among the fertiles, either, as she most certainly is not one of them.

Editor's note: I'm still working on figuring out this stage. Hopefully I'll be able to add one more: The Parenting After Infertility Infertile (PAII)...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It Just Isn't Fair

In my work as an elementary school counselor, children often say things that make me laugh, things that make me feel inspired, things that make me want to weep, and especially lately, things that make me want to bring them home with me. (Really, my husband is completely prepared to come home to a houseful of school-aged children on any given day).

And every now and then a child will say something that rips my heart right out of my chest. Today, a child-- currently living with her step-father but is legally in the custody of Social Services-- looked me straight in the eyes and said this:

You know, it just isn't fair that my mom doesn't come to see me. I see other kids hug their mommies and it makes me so mad. You know what I think? I think that if you are going to lay down with someone and have 1, 2, 3 (she counted off on her fingers) kids, you ought to at least take care of them.

This statement is a perfect example of why I both LOVE and HATE my job.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Joy and Fear

When I awoke this morning and the realization that I am pregnant came to me all over again, I wept. I am pregnant. I AM PREGNANT. I feared for so very long that I would never be able to say that.

I am pregnant.

I am overjoyed.

I can watch tv without changing the channel every time a commercial with a baby comes on. I can plan my best friend's bridal shower without wondering if I'll be able to enjoy it. I can google "baby names" until my fingers fall off. My husband is insisting on referring to me as his 'baby mama', and I like it. Hell, I'm even inserting the progesterone suppository without an ounce of resentment.

But.

The fear is not gone. Something that lived inside of me every day for so long can not be evicted so easily.

It is very unsettling to be feeling such different emotions so strongly at the same time. Joy and fear. It seems that if I let myself revel in the joy for too long, the fear creeps up behind me and whispers, "Uh, hey now, not so fast. You know it is early. You know bad things can still happen. You know you are not out of the woods yet."

And just when the fear has nestled back in, the joy comes to me and shouts, "What the hell is wrong with you?! Can't you just be happy? Finally, finally, this has happened for you, and you are going to let fear get in the way?"

So, they are battling it out inside of me, this joy and this fear. I'm rooting for the joy, I really am. It's the underdog around here, and it's about time it wins.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A brief excerpt from the soundtrack playing in my head today...

"...Holy shit. Holy shit. Oh my god. Tomorrow. It's tomorrow. Oh god. Holy fuck. Shit. Oh my god. Tomorrow. Oh. my. god. Good god. Oh. Shit. Tomorrow..."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Favor

***Now with updates***

Well, thanks girls, now I feel like a lazy slob. When faced with a difficult wait, you pass the time by reading classic novels and building decks while I fondle my own breasts and eat everything but my cat.

But seriously, thank you for the worthy suggestions. I haven't actually tried any of them yet, but you may be pleased to know that I have at least resumed brushing my teeth and showering. And my husband has returned from his mother's house.

It has since occurred to me that perhaps my husband's prolonged absence was not, in fact, due to my mood swings but was, rather, the result of my disregard for personal hygiene combined with the inevitable consequences of consuming large quantities of bean-filled spicy chili. But I bet you guys had already figured that out and were just too nice to say anything, huh?

So, 3 days to go. And to pee or not to pee, that is the question that is plaguing me today. Tomorrow will be 11dp3dt, which means there is a good chance the result will be reliable.

Reasons to go ahead and test tomorrow: 11 is my lucky number. And it is Valentine's Day. It is also quite likely to be a snow day. All good omens, right?

Reasons not to test tomorrow: if it is negative, why would I want to know that two days sooner? Not knowing is allowing me to feel that little spark of hope that has kept me afloat since we started this cycle. A negative would poke a hole right in that hope sending me sinking into the deep and murky waters of pain and loss. I've spent way too much time there this past year, and I am in no hurry to go back.

Whenever I decide to get the results, I have a favor to ask. At the risk of sounding a bit selfish and bossy (me? never!), I'd like to make some requests about how you handle the result. I am doing this because I know that you genuinely want to support me in ways that are helpful and comforting to me. And it can be so difficult to know what to do or say. So, I'll make it a bit easier for you (see, I'm not really selfish, this is all for YOU!)

If it is positive: Well, this one is easy. For my bloggy friends, comment your asses off! For my IRL friends and family... anything goes really. Please celebrate with me, call me, send cards, hug me, take me out for non-alcoholic drinks, or just offer a simple congratulations. Whatever works for you is cool with me. We will do this cautiously and quietly, however, as we all know there are many more hurdles to jump.

If it is negative (and dear god dear god dear god please don't be negative): Here's where it gets complicated. For my friends from the blogosphere, again, comments that express your sympathy would be welcomed and appreciated. I can read them in my own time, when I am ready, without having to give anything back right away. For my IRL friends, commenting on my blog and/ or sending emails is the perfect way to help me stay connected to you even when I am not feeling like talking or seeing anyone. After my last cycle failed, two of my good friends sent me flowers, which also was perfect. It didn't ask anything of me, but it gave me a gentle reminder that people loved me and were thinking of me. I have learned this about myself: when I am sad or angry, I need space and time alone. I need to sit with the sadness, let it wash over me completely, and feel it deeply. Sometimes this makes other people uncomfortable. Or worried. And then I feel burdened by their worry. Please know that I just need to feel my feelings in order to make it through the darkness of the grief and come out the other side into the light again. Please be waiting there for me. And know that any absence or lapse in communication is not because I don't need you or trust you or value your friendship... I'm holding you in my heart the whole time, and I ask that you hold me in yours.

And now, let's all send lots of positive thoughts out into the universe in hopes that we will never have to think again about anything in that last paragraph.

***It's Wednesday morning and I didn't pee. Well I peed, of course, but not on a HPT. I'm holding out until Friday. It's not strength, as Tinker so kindly suggested, it is plain old fear. Sorry, that news isn't as exciting as the asterisks and red print might lead you to expect, but I felt I should let you know! Thank you, thank you, everyone, for your positive thoughts... I can feel them coming my way.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Counting Down and Cracking Up

6 days until beta.
Things I've been trying NOT to do during the painfully long wait:
  • Pee on a stick waaaay before the trigger HCG could possibly be out of my system, just so I can see what one of those damn things looks like with TWO lines.
  • Google "early pregnancy signs" for the 800th time.
  • Grab my breasts every ten minutes to check for soreness. Especially in public. (They ARE sore, but it's that effing progesterone I'm sure).
  • Force my husband to seek refuge from my mood swings by moving in with his mother.
  • Google "baby names" and cry.
  • Eat everything in the house in one sitting.

So far I have been moderately successful.

But I can only hold out for so long. Just today I have consumed an entire box of crackers, eight Dove dark chocolates, half a pot of chili, and a left over spinach quesadilla (not in that order). And my husband has been incredibly busy (and conspicuously absent) for a Saturday. In fact, at this very moment he is AT HIS MOTHER'S. My breasts are well- fondled. (But not by my husband, much to his dismay... they are so sore I go running if he so much as leans in for a hug.) And, truthfully, the only reason I haven't run out to buy a HPT is because I haven't showered or brushed my teeth today.

I'm cracking under the pressure. Help. Tell me how you make it through times when you have to play "the waiting game" (infertility related or otherwise).

I thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter.

Friday, February 9, 2007

My God, I Hate Progesterone

I knew it would be bad right from the beginning. Nothing good can come from something that starts with a nurse saying, "You have two options. You can either take it as an intramuscular injection or a vaginal suppository."

Well, gee. How does a girl choose? Both sound utterly delightful.

But just for fun, let's examine our options, shall we?

Option A: Intramuscular Injection. Translation: Big Ol' Shot in the Ass. With a BIG needle, not one of those pansy-ass sub-cutaneous things. Every day.

As flexible as I may be, and as big as my ass is getting*, that would be a seriously tricky maneuver to pull off by myself.

Which means my husband would have to do it.

And I shudder to think what he would do with that kind of power.

So, it was a "NO" on Option A. Because really, IVF is a figurative pain in the ass already, why go and make it literal, too?

So I was left with Option B: Vaginal Suppositories. I thought, So I have to shove a small(ish) capsule up my vajay-jay twice a day? Big deal. This sounded like a cake walk after all the other torturous aspects of IVF.

The nurse handed them over and said, "Keep them refrigerated."

I didn't think to question this. I've had to keep other medications refrigerated before and I always just figured it was for the same reason you refrigerate food--- so it doesn't spoil.

Well, there is another, very specific reason the suppositories must be kept cold.

THEY MELT.

(and just in case you haven't gotten there on your own already, I'll continue...)

So, guess what happens when they are nestled into a warm cozy vagina? Yes, very good, class. They MELT. Or perhaps LEAK would be a better term at this point. SLOWLY. THROUGHOUT THE DAY. ALL DAY.

Yes.

And if the leaky vagina isn't enough for you, here is a list of other side effects**.

headache
breast tenderness or pain
upset stomach
vomiting
diarrhea
constipation
tiredness
muscle, joint, or bone pain
mood swings
irritability
excessive worrying
vaginal discharge
problems urinating

Diarrhea AND constipation? How exactly does that work? And the vaginal discharge? Well, how would you even know...

But my personal favorite is the "excessive worrying". As if I needed an extra push in that direction.

But, the VERY BEST part of all this?

The side effects of progesterone are almost exactly the same as the symptoms one might experience in early pregnancy. So allow me to add one more side effect to the list:

FUCKING WITH YOUR MIND!


*Admit it, you thought that would be a link to a picture of my ass didn't you? You know you did.

**Mom: I've tried to tell the doctors that both you and I are very sensitive to medication and could I please just insert HALF of the suppository? They said no.

Edited comment: My husband just finished reading this, and all he has to say is, "Can't they give you some kind of plug?"

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Some people can find a creative use for anything. When Martha Stewart looks at a potato, she doesn't just see a tuberous root or a high carb side dish. She sees decorative stamps for personalized gift cards and tags with a painterly quality reminiscent of impressionist art.

And have you ever wondered what to do with all that leftover dryer lint? Of course you have... haven't we all? Well, some guy with way too much time on his hands a rare artistic genius has found a way to turn it into a work of art.

And how many times have you asked yourself, Now what am I going to do with all these used needles? Tonight, as I look at my sharps container filled to the brim with used syringes and needles, I have to wonder, what would Martha do (WWMD)?

And so, I have compiled a list:

1. Scare the neighbor children by creating a snowman ala Hellraiser in your front yard.

2. Paste a picture of Ann Coulter/ Rush Limbaugh/ Bill O'Reilly onto some corkboard, mount it on the wall, and enjoy a friendly game of needle darts with your friends.

3. Why waste money on an expensive new meat injector?

4. Dump them all in to your purse and watch the fun and excitement as you try to get through airport security.

5. Fill them with cool-aid and market them to candy companies with the tagline of "a little like a push pop and a little like a juice box."

6. Take them back to the pharmacy and ask if you can get 5 cents a piece for recycling.

7. While on family vacation at the beach, scatter them all along the crowded shoreline. Watch the tourists go running while you enjoy miles of empty beach all to yourself.

8. Pull out the plungers, stick the open ends of the syringes onto your fingers, and be Edward Needlehands for Halloween (many thanks to Mr. Smartypants this idea).

Anyone want to add on?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I'm Too Sexy For This Infertility

Okay, in honor of Watson, who made me laugh with her MC Hammer reference, but also in honor of my husband who sings "We Built This City" (as in, "on rock and roll" by Jefferson Starship, or Starship, or Ship or whatever they call themselves now) in soft, lullabye-like tones while gazing lovingly into my eyes, here is my infertility journey as told through top billboard hits of the 80s- the present.

My husband and I would Bang A Gong each month, right on time. I mean, we were really Knockin' Da Boots, Time After Time. And nothing. So, we went to the doctor and he said it would be Against All Odds that we would conceive a child on our own. I couldn't stand the thought of not having a baby. I said, I Can't Go For That, No Can Do. So, I went to a doctor and he gave me some Bad Medicine. I said I Want A New Drug! These meds turned me into a Maniac and forced me to keep asking, "Is it Hot In Herre or is it just me?" And My Hips Don't Lie, I was gaining weight. I mean, I am Bootylicious now.
When our first IVF try failed, I thought Another One Bites the Dust. But we were Too Legit To Quit. There was Always Something There To Remind Me how much I wanted a baby. Fertile people kept offering me ass-vice like, "Don't Worry Be Happy" and "just drink some Red Red Wine, it worked for us!" and "You gotta have Faith." But we knew those things weren't going to work for us.
So much for the old fashioned way of making babies. What's Love Got to do With It? For us, it meant I had to Lean Back and let the doctors root around Down Under. And as for my husband, he had to get it Straight Up and Beat It while looking at pictures of Dirty Diana in the sperm sample room.
Next came the Bills, Bills, Bills. Now we just have to Hold On and wait. Hopefully this cycle will work for us or maybe we'll get lucky with our frozen embryos and have an Ice Ice Baby.

Oh, goodness. I hope you all can forgive this. It's the two week wait and I'm just trying to occupy myself.

(And, someone please, please read the lyrics for We Built This City, and tell me what the hell they are talking about.)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Bad Patient

First of all, a heartfelt thanks to all my friends (from real life and from the blogosphere) for your sweet support and encouragement. I am feeling significantly less despondent today. Perhaps I will make it through an entire post without swearing.

We transferred three embryos. One was of average quality, and the other two were quite pitiful.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Okay, so, I'm not always the model patient. Sometimes, when I feel I am not being understood or treated with respect, or given complete and full information about my treatment I tend to react emotionally. I cry, I raise my voice, I respond sarcastically. I have, at times I am sure, at best annoyed and at worst angered, various members of the reproductive medicine staff. For example, there was the time I yelled at the RE (you know, the one who flaunts pictures of his children) and, well, all but accused him of betrayal. And the time I hinted to the lab director that he was knowingly and maliciously withholding information about our embryos. And various other snide remarks that despite my husbands protests (shhh, they can HEAR you!), I'm sure are just out of earshot.

As I sit in the waiting room, I picture them all huddled together playing rock paper scissors to see who gets stuck with me. You take her. No you take her, I had her last time. If you take her, I'll remove and wash all the stained bedsheets for a week...

My husband plays the "good patient" to my "bad patient". As much as they dislike me, they adore him. And he loves playing this part. I catch him looking over my shoulder at the nurses and doctors, smiling apologetically with a look on his face that says, "Oh, I'm so sorry. You know the hormones and all. You should see what I get at home."

Well, today for our transfer, I decided to try a little role- reversal. I was going to be the delightful sweetheart, and my husband would be the demanding hardass. I was hoping the Valium I had to take would help mold me into my role. To help my husband play his part, I gave him a script. Basically, it had a list of very specific questions to ask as well as a list of unacceptable answers. For example, any response that began with "We've seen pregnancies occur..." was unacceptable. So was the sentence "There is reason to be optimistic." I wanted cold hard facts, numbers, science. I am sick of being placated.

So, to recap. Me= endearing angel, Husband= obnoxious heel. This was the plan.

So tell me how I ended up threatening to hit the lab tech.

Well, obviously neither my husband nor the Valium were doing their jobs.

I couldn't help it. She crossed the line. She told me to think positively, that unfeeling bitch. (So much for not swearing.) I told her that if one more person told me to think positively I was going to hit them. She promised not to say it ever again, and advised my husband to do the same (believe me, he has already learned that lesson the hard way). She tried to tell me that emotion has a lot to do with whether or not a pregnancy is achieved. Bullshit! (Gosh, I'm really failing at the no swearing thing.) What I wish I had said... "So if we get a negative the incapacitating grief will come with a heaping side of self-loathing and guilt because maybe I killed my embryos because I didn't nourish them with happy thoughts. " What I really said-- "Yeah, whatEVER."

So, once again, before we left, I got a look of disapproval. My husband got a hug.

Friday, February 2, 2007

(Shitty) Embryos Abound

The good news: We still have 15 embryos.
The bad news: They all look like shit.

I am feeling hopeless. And pissed off. And scared to death.

If there is anything decent left, we are going to transfer tomorrow.

Fuck.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Embryos Abound

They pulled two dozen eggs from my swollen ovaries.

They injected 17 of them with (hopefully perfectly shaped and genetically sound) sperm.

15 fertilized.

I'm thinking of finding a bunch of surrogates and settling into a life of homeschooling and TLC reality tv specials. Look out Arndt family, here we come. I don't think we could beat you in a softball game, but I'd bet an all-you-can-eat dinner for the whole family we'd kick your asses in a martial arts tournament.

I joke about this, but really, 15 embryos is no guarantee. Not even close. The truth is, I am overwhelmed with the fear that not even 2 of these will continue to grow normally. And even then, there is the huge hurdle of implantation... And then, the threat of miscarriage...

I'm taking a deep breath. I'm telling myself to take it one day at a time. I am thinking positively. I am going to go do something else. See how I good I am at employing coping skills?

So, who is going to say "yes" on Grey's Anatomy tonight?

Monday, January 29, 2007

My Egg Basket is Full

Well, it's official.

I am at risk of developing OHSS.

I have about 25 follicles in my right ovary. My left ovary is slightly less motivated, offering up a measly 14.

That's a lot of freaking follicles.

Sitting down hurts. Walking hurts. Pretty much everything I do hurts.

And, the best part? My RE says that only a few of these will contain eggs that are any good.

Trigger shot tonight. Egg retrieval (dear god, please get them out of me!) Wednesday.

In the meantime, I am using my condition to my advantage by telling my husband things like this:
"Whoever has the most follicles gets the remote."
"The doctor said doing dishes will raise my estradial levels."
"How about if one of us takes out the trash, and the other does an injection of 5,000 units of HcG... Which one do you want?"

Sunday, January 28, 2007

You Can't Teach an Old Ovary New Tricks

"I feel so old," said my husband as we left the Chili Peppers concert Friday night. I knew exactly what he meant. We were surrounded by high-schoolers and college students who knew only the songs from the newest album (as evidenced by the enthusiastic high fives they insisted on giving each other whenever they recognized a song) and who quite obviously were more interested in smoking pot and making out than watching the show. As we walked to the car, we found ourselves using phrases that started with "Kids these days" and "Back when I was their age".

Oh, by the way, my husband is 6 years younger than me. During this conversation I teetered between being thankful that we could commiserate and wanting to smack him upside the head for having the nerve to feel old.

(Okay, 6 and a half years.)

So, yes, I feel old. I suppose working in an elementary school doesn't help either. It's been years now since the first child replied, "You're older than my mom!" upon hearing my age. On my most recent birthday, I told my age to a group of fourth- graders with whom I was having lunch. One by one, they compared my age to that of their own mothers. Each comment was like a blow to the head.

"My mama is six years younger than you." Whack!
"My mom is still in her twenties." Bam!
And the final blow...
"Why don't you have any kids yet?" Thud.

I used to say, "How old do you think I am?" when children would ask my age. Boy, have I learned not to do that anymore.

But what is really making me feel old? Yep, you guessed it. Infertility. That bitch.

Women in general are bombarded with unobtainable standards of youth and beauty. We all know about all of this... the anti-aging beauty industry, the plastic surgery, the teenage models, etc. This topic deserves a post all its own... I'll make a note.

But, if you are a woman struggling with infertility, the fear of aging is greatly intensified. We are constantly reminded that our egg supply is diminishing, and what few are there may be too old to be worth anything. We have "biological clocks" whose ticking grows louder as we get nearer to the end of our reproductive years. And, if you are infertile, the alarm is already buzzing, and buzzing LOUDLY. I'm hitting the snooze button here, but the clock is still ticking, and it's hard not to feel like time is running out.

Plus, how can you not feel old when stupid scientist fools write articles like this one? For those of you who don't want to skim the abstract for the point, let me tell you... the elderly women to which they refer in the title? Women age 40 and older.

40 may be the new 30 in Hollywood, but over here in Infertility Town, 40 is the new 75.

Plus, I have this irrational fear that IVF ages you. I mean LITERALLY ages you. A woman is supposed to produce and release ONE mature egg per month, right? So, if I am producing, say 25 eggs in one month, does that mean I lose 25 months from my life? Warped, I know, absolutely warped. This is the kind of thing I think about during my hours of lupron-induced insomnia.

I guess I can always take comfort in the words of my dear third- grade friend, Sade. When I told her that I was 32, she didn't respond right away. So I said, "I know, I'm old, huh?" She replied, "Nah, you not old, Ms. P." I was just about to thank her when she added, "You gettin' old, but you not old just yet."

-------------------------------------------------

Oh, and by the way, my parents were here for a lovely visit this weekend.

Yes, Mom and Dad, that's all I'm writing about it. I'm letting you off easy. It was lovely. And you gave us money.

Friday, January 26, 2007

So I'm Weird.

I considered not posting today. According to my husband, "People think you're weird if you post too much."

Hey, if this is the thing that wins me the label of "weird", then people just aren't following along.

Besides, there are changes every day. I have a follicle bonanza going on in my ovaries. Follipalooza, if you will. This is good, we just have to hope they all keep growing at about the same rate. Teamwork, girls! Don't any of you try to steal the spotlight. My E2 levels are up to 929. This is high, yes, but not dangerously high. I'm dropping to 100 units of Follistim and cutting out the low dose hcg shot altogether (thank goodness, that one stings like a beeyatch).

I see the trigger shot at the end of the tunnel. But, let's hope it doesn't come too soon. My eggs aren't quite cooked yet.

In other news, I'm going to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers tonight. Sure hope I won't need an extra ticket for all my follicles.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Day in the Life

I awoke this morning to discover an army of tiny invisible men thrusting very small, but very sharp, knives into the back of my throat.

My first thought:

God, this hurts.

My next thought:

What does this mean for my IVF cycle?

And finally:

Oh, god, I can't miss work because ... say it with me IVF vets... I need to save all my sick days for egg retrievals and embryo transfers.

But, eventually the invisible army men won, and I called in sick. I suppose someone else will have to coax little Jimmy out from under his desk today.

I did, however, drag my sick pathetic self to my early morning RE appointment. (Some people say they can't start their day without a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Me? Well, I'm just not myself without my morning blood draw and internal ultrasound.)

This morning, as I was getting dressed, I seriously considered just not putting on my pants. You know, save myself a step. I'd carry them in my purse and put them on after the exam.

Hey, it's not that crazy. I have a long coat.

So, where was I? Oh, yes. So, there I am in the RE office (with pants), begging my doc for a prescription for antibiotics the way an addict would desperately try to get a freebie from their dealer. Just one hit, man, that's all I need...

He smiled condescendingly and said, "You'll have to see your primary care provider about that." Damn, I knew he was going to say that. But, the good news is that he didn't even mention the possibility of a cancelled cycle due to infection/ illness, etc. which was my big (and possibly irrational) fear. I proceeded to the lab where the woman who draws my blood (and does nothing but collect people's blood all day long and so I affectionately call her "Vampira"... no, not to her face...), decides today would be a good day to tell me about all the horror stories of blood collection while she is sticking the needle into me: "...And this one guy, well, the plastic needle broke and was stuck under his skin for the rest of his life... And, another person told me that once a nurse put the tourniquet on so tight that it dug into his skin and left a mark like an armband forever..."

Oh, and how could I forget, Ms. Financial Manager caught me just as I was leaving to say she didn't know we were doing ICSI, and well, it's gonna be an extra $3000.

By this time I just couldn't bring myself to go to the PCP, so I went home. I tried to take my temperature only to discover that the battery in my digital thermometer is dying (unless my temperature really is 87.2). This is most likely a result of the long-ago days of blissful ignorance when I thought charting my temperature and analyzing my cervical mucous would help me achieve pregnancy. This brought about my first (albeit sarcastic) smile of the day.

I spent most of the day on the couch watching mind-numbing daytime television. By the way, do you have any idea how many commercials that run from 10AM- 5PM feature babies? It's remarkable, really.

The nurse called around 2 to say that my E2 levels are at 525. So, I'll be dialling down the Follistim again. This time to 125. She said that this level is OK and that "certainly things are more under control than last time." I suppose that is comforting?

Then I watched Oprah, who was doing a show about women in their 30's. One of the segments featured a 31 year old teacher struggling with infertility. I held my breath as I watched this, just waiting for Oprah to piss me off. And she did, but only a little and only at the end of the interview when she tried to pull the "just make peace with it and then maybe it will happen for you" card. Thankfully, the woman was articulate and handled Oprah's questions beautifully. I guess I'll have to save up my anger for when Dr. Phil does his show about infertility.

So, now it is 5:12pm, and here is what I will be doing for the rest of the evening: eating dinner, shooting up, and watching Grey's Anatomy.

Good grief this was a long post. Is anyone actually still reading?

... hello?

To My Friends From Work,

I am so glad that you are reading my blog. I know that you really want things to work out for me, and the fact that you are willing to come along for the ride means the world to me.

I do want to ask (and I know this really goes without saying) that you don't share it with other people with whom we work. Now, if you have a cousin in New Mexico that might enjoy it, by all means, send her the link. Although I am sooooo over trying to keep this infertility thing on the DL, I'm not quite sure I want everyone at school reading about my coochie, if ya know what I mean? If someone else shows the kind of genuine concern and interest that you have, then I may choose to let them know about it. But, in the meantime, you are the chosen few. Don't you feel so lucky? I know I do.

My coochie and I thank you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ovary-achieving

So, while my newly found blog friend, Watson, is dealing with her uncooperative, defiant ovaries, I am trying to manage some seriously stressed out over-achievers.

After 2 days of a relatively low dose of Follistim (225 units, for anyone who might know what this means), my estradiol level is a whopping three-hundred-and-sixty-eight. And, as nonchalant as the nurse forced herself to sound, I know what this means. My dear friend and IVF expert, Google, tells me this is not normal.

On some site, somewhere , they define a "fast responder" as someone whose E2 level has reached >300 by day 5.

Day 5, people.

What does that make me? The Dale Earnhardt (or some other more current racer person) of ovarian stimulation?

On the bright side, this is a marked improvement (or should I say depreciation) over last cycle's record-breaking nine-hundred-and-something on day 3. I tried Googling that, and couldn't find a single site that mentions E2 levels that high that early (I mean, seriously, what can't you find on Google? You can type in the keywords how to get an elephant drunk and get all kinds of useful links, for god's sake).

The very kind nurses try to convince me that "this is a good problem to have", but really, if it is a problem, how can it be good to have? A problem is a problem if you ask me.

I mean, c'mon ovaries (and pituitary gland and whichever of your other little friends might be involved in this), what are you trying to do, here? Haven't you ever heard of The Tortoise and the Hare? Slow down, will ya?

My ovaries remind me of the children who see me for counseling because they worry and stress and work so hard to do everything perfectly, to be the best, to be first. Their anxiety sabotages the very success for which they are striving. (Usually this is because of a pushy parent.... Oh great, so now it's my fault.)

At any rate, my ovaries, and their smartass friends, need to start employing some stress management techniques before they over- achieve us right into a cancelled cycle or OHSS. Maybe I'll put some Enya on my iPod and place the ear pieces over my abdomen (R on the right ovary, L on the left). Or maybe I'll just tell the well- meaning fertiles who tell me to 'just relax' to direct their comments to my mid- section.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In My Dreams...

Last night I dreamed that my ex- fiance, his wife, and their NEWBORN BABY moved in next door.

Things in this dream that are true:
1. I have an ex-fiance.
2. He looked like he does in real life.

Things in this dream that could be true:
1. They could have a newborn. I haven't seen him in 5 years, so I wouldn't know.
2. His wife could have big frizzy blond '80's hair. I've never met her, so I wouldn't know.
3. They could, I suppose, move in next door. We do live in the same town. (But I don't think the universe hates me that much.)

Things in this dream that definitely are not, and could not, be true:
1. We live in a big white plantation-style mansion.
2. I was gardening (and wearing plastic shoes).
3. Their baby responded to my cooing by reciting college level trigonometry problems and solutions.
4. My ex was not stoned.

Okay, Dr. Freud, have fun!

I don't know about Sigmund, but here's what I took away from it:

#1. I want a baby.
(and that's all I'll say about that because, well, duh...)

#2. I want my husband. (he would say here, with a smirk, "Who doesn't?")
Some of you may be thinking, well duh, to this one too. Allow me to explain...

I doubt (and I could be wrong, it has happened before) that there has ever been a person diagnosed with infertility who hasn't said to their partner, in one way or another, "Are you sure you want to be with me?" And, if I am really, hatefully honest, I would bet that the other person gives that question some consideration. Am I sure I want to be with this person? Even if it means that my life will be nothing like I imagined it to be?

These are the deep, dark, dreadful questions that all couples dealing with infertility must face. Here's what I've learned. From experience. It is OK to ask yourself and your partner these questions. I would even go so far as to say that, to make it work, you MUST ask these questions. Out loud. To each other.

Any question is OK, it's the answer that matters.

When I woke up from my dream, I asked myself,
If I knew 5 years ago what I know now, would I still have broken up with my ex and started dating my husband?

Abso-fucking-lutely.

If I had known that my ex and I could have had a child together, would I have stayed with him?

Not for a million dollars.

If, before I married my husband, I could have somehow known, would I have changed a thing?

Hell, no.

Which brings us to
#3. I want my husband's baby.

Again, this is not as stupid of a statement as it may seem. For an infertile couple who has had to make a whole lot of difficult decisions about things they never would have believed they would need to think about, this statement does not come so easily.

We considered donor sperm. It would likely (and I say likely because I've learned not to take ANYTHING for granted anymore) be tremendously faster, cheaper, and easier than IVF.

(I say "rock on" to the women who refuse to ignore their biological and emotional drive to have a child simply because they are not in a relationship. I applaud the lesbian couples who use this option to expand their families and their love. And, I admire the wives who desire the experience of pregnancy and their husbands whose children may not be biologically their own, but they are their own. )

And yes, everyone, we have considered adoption.

These are good choices, and we are grateful to have them. And if we find that we must use them, I'm sure we will believe with all our hearts, that it has turned out to be the right thing for us. But, we will only use these options when we have exhausted our bank accounts and our bodies in our attempts to have a baby with my eggs and his sperm.

Again, a tough question... does it really matter where the baby comes from? Well, no, not really, in the end. Of course we will love our baby no matter what. But if I am painfully honest, I would have to say... yes, if it is at all possible, I want my baby to come from my husband.

I want my baby to have big brown eyes, wavy hair, and yes, even the big ears. Especially the big ears. I want him to crave knowledge and to always be reading 8 books at once (but none of them cover to cover). I want her to create a spreadsheet every time she has a problem to figure out. I want him to dream big, to believe in himself, and to want to change the world. I want her to be fiercely loyal, unwaveringly kind, and supremely generous.

Okay, so I don't want him to leave his dirty socks lying about, but I can live with that.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ode to my Dad

I know there are a lot of great dads out there, but mine is the best. Nyah nyah.

I'm afraid that in a previous post I gave the impression that he hasn't been 100% understanding and supportive through this whole infertility business (and, uh, everything else over the past 32 years... except maybe that time he didn't let me wear the Bon Jovi style ripped jeans out of the house... but I digress...)

Since infertility has made me this bitter woman, my first interpretation of EVERYTHING someone says to me re: infertility is negative. Some examples...
"Just relax."
You just relax, jerk.
"Have you tried oriental medicine?"
I could qi gong it til the cows come home, and it won't make my husband's sperm the right shape, asswipe.
"I had a friend, who had a friend, who was told she'd never get pregnant naturally... (insert the ending to the story you know about someone who ended up with 8 biological children...)"
Hmm, I'll mention that to my RE whose 35 years of research, training, and experience say that ain't gonna happen for us. But, thanks for rubbing it in.

But, I'm learning to flip the switch in my brain to the "but they mean well" translator...
"Just relax" really means take care of yourself during this difficult time.
"Have you tried oriental medicine?" really means I want to help, and this is all I know to offer.
The I- had -a- friend stories really mean I want this to happen for you so I'm trying to give you hope.

And, as for my dad, well there is no one who means well-er. When he said, "We wish you would tell us what is wrong", he did NOT mean "What the heck is wrong with you? We don't understand why you are so upset all the time." He meant, and I know this in core of my heart, "When you hurt, we hurt. We know how awful this is for you, because it is just that awful for us. We want to help. We are here if you want to talk."

My parents deserve some kind of award for simply dealing with me and all my drama, let alone loving and supporting me absolutely unconditionally.
I always thought I had the best parents ever, but this past year has proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I love you.

Snow, Stims, and Snoop

A note about the Snoop Dogg post, for anyone who may be confused (aka Mom):

No, that rapper fellow did not write a song about IVF. Thankfully. Here's how it works... you know, of course, that when you use the Google search engine, and type in a keyword, you will get a list of all websites about/ containing that keyword. If you use Gizoogle, and type in that same keyword, you will get the same list, but the websites will be translated into Snoop Dogg language. Doggy-style, if you will. You can use any keywords. I suggest president bush speech, or perhaps bible verse. And if you don't mind a joke of the once-funny-but-now-over-used-and-quite-annoying variety (think "Don't go there!", "Oh no you didn't!", and "Been there, done that."), well, then you just might enjoy this.

Now you gots the 411 Moms. Word to my mother.

In other news, today is the first snow day of the school year, and the first stimulation day of this IVF cycle.

I'm going to make celebratory pancakes.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Me, Myself, and I(nfertility)

After a year of inconvenient RE visits, painful medical procedures, crushing disappointments, and nearly incapacitating depression, Infertility has changed me. It is a part of who I am, part of my identity... whether I like it or not.

I think this became glaringly apparent to me when we received the worst of all the horrible news (that the IVF had failed) right before the holidays. If you knew me Before Infertility, you know that I love the holidays. Otherwise a pretty cynical person, I become a gleeful, wide-eyed child around Christmas, revelling in all things holiday from the first airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas to the seasonal Starbucks peppermint mocha latte. I admit, Linus would not be proud, as I certainly help to perpetuate the commercialization of Christmas. But, I think I also have a good idea of what the "true meaning" of Christmas is, at least for me. It sounds like the moral of a Lifetime TV Christmas special, but I love spending holidays with my family. Always have. I find comfort in the routine, the tradition of it all. All of those "things"... the decorations, the gifts, the tv specials, the lattes... are physical representations of that feeling for me.

But, oh, this year. This was the year Infertility came to live with us, and It changed everything. I didn't get to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. I didn't get out of bed for Thanksgiving. As Christmas approached, I slowly crawled out of my hole, but there was surely no celebrating. The holiday sights and sounds that used to make me so happy now seemed to make the pain in my heart even stronger, and the hole in my soul even bigger. It was as though Infertility was following me around, whispering, "See that happy family? See that one? You'll never get to have that. I'll make sure Christmas is never happy for you again." I did make it to my parents' for Christmas, but, to put it tritely, "things just weren't the same". Infertility would leave me alone for moments at a time, and I would forget that It was there, but before long, It was whispering in my ear and nudging me out of my bliss.

A few days after I was back home, during a phone conversation, my dad said, "We wish you would tell us what's wrong"*, referring to my occasional bouts of silence and general moroseness. This statement seemed so absurd to me that I didn't know how to respond. It seemed more appropriate that someone should say to me, "There were moments when you DIDN'T seem upset. How did you manage that?"

Last night, we went to a party for a friend's 50th birthday. As we approached the door, I noticed a couple standing inside the foyer. They had a baby. My first inclination was to turn around and go home. I honestly wanted to go home. But I swallowed the lump in my throat, averted my eyes, and went through the door.

I spent the entire evening avoiding that baby. And thinking about that baby. I tried to join in on conversations, but I couldn't think of anything to say. I could only think about that baby.

That's my life right now... I'm trying to join in, but all I can think about is that baby. My baby.

*see clarification in new post...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

IVF Fo' Yo' Bitch Ass

IVF just isn't cool, even when explained by Snoop Dogg. *

*See explanation if necessary



Presto! You're (not) Pregnant!

I've lurked around the infertility message boards long enough to know that a lot of infertile women are bothered, nay, pissed off, when patients bring their young children to the RE office. As a fellow infertile, I get this.

Look, we know it's inescapable. Pregnant women, babies, and toddlers (oh my!) are everywhere. But what you've got to understand is that EVERY TIME we see them we have to choke down a feeling of pain/longing/desperation/jealousy/inadequacy until it burns holes in our stomachs.

And, as much as I'd like to, I can't go asking the management at say, the Kroger I prefer, to ban children from the grocery store.

It's especially difficult for me since I work in an elementary school. Excuse me, ma'am, could you please stop bringing your child to my place of work? And sir, what are you trying to do to me, dropping off an entire BUS LOAD of children every morning? Are you trying to rub it in?

But, the RE office is supposed to be a safe haven for us infertiles. A place where everything is designed for us, where infertility is not only the norm, but the requirement.

A woman who brings her children to her RE appointment is like a skinny woman showing up at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. And eating KFC.

On the other hand, I understand babysitters are not always easy to find/ afford. Perhaps some women bring their children because they have no other alternative.

My husband would be proud that I've made such a charitable interpretation.

But here's a phenomenon that I, charitable as I may be, can just not understand: People who WORK in the RE office having pictures of their children in the office. Pointing out. Toward the patient. At eye level.

If I had the guts to say these things In Real Life, this is what I would tell them:

Look, Ms. Financial Manager, I KNOW you have children. Remember, I saw you at the coffee shop sharing a scone with your three year old son? But, I really don't need little Aidan to witness the signing of a $20,000 check. In my head his picture comes alive and he taps his fingertips together saying, "Bwahahaha... Any university I choose!"

And, to you, Mr. RE doctor man, your children are adorable really, but don't you understand how much it hurts to have little Emma grinning at me while you tell me I'll need expensive, invasive medical intervention to MAYBE conceive a child? If you don't understand, who the hell does?

Keep your pictures, please, just have enough empathy to turn them around.

And, by the way, Mr. RE guy, there is something I've been meaning to mention to you. That article in the parenting magazine that quotes you? The one called PRESTO! YOU'RE PREGNANT! with tips on how to get pregnant quickly and naturally? It's very good. You must be quite proud. So proud, in fact, that you highlighted, framed, and mounted it directly above the stirrups in the exam room. Now, being an-RE-so-good-you-are-quoted-in-magazines, you realize of course, that the women in those stirrups, your target audience, are not PRESTO! pregnant. It might, perhaps, be a bit distressing to the woman with her feet in the air and the probe up her coochie to see that title looming over her.

Especially on her 52nd visit.

Now, don't worry, I'm sure no one would be so bothered by it as to rip it down from the wall, smash it over the ultrasound machine and deposit the bits into the medical waste bin, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Super Embryo

My embryologist says that only about 50% of frozen embryos survive the thaw.

This one survives the thaw, the implantation, the 36 weeks in utero, AND one of the world's most devastating natural disasters.

Goddamn showoff.

All is Quiet on the Ovarian Front...

I had my baseline ultrasound and bloodwork today.

For those unversed in IVF- speak, that means the doc checked my ovaries for cysts and measured my blood for estrogen levels. After 10 days of Lupron, my body is virtually estrogen- free, and no cysts in sight. In fact, it was hard to even find my ovaries on the ultrasound screen today. I worried for a moment that they had shrunk right down to nothing. But they were just playing hide and seek behind my uterus while the nurse, who was "It" apparently, tried to catch them with the ultrasound wand.

This is all good news. I am a blank slate, ready to respond to the ovarian hyperstimulation meds that I will start on Monday. Hopefully, in about two weeks, my ovaries will be so full of ripe follicles we'll see them before the wand even gets to my vagina.

Tickle Me Fatso

There are just so many wonderful things about the IVF process that I can only consider this obscene weight gain to be the icing on the infertility cake.

I knew it would happen. They warned me. And what does one expect really, with the exercise ban, the hormone injections, and, well... the stress-triggered binges on saltines and Nestle semi- sweet chocolate morsels?

I had made my peace with the idea of jiggly thighs, expanding ass, and dangling breasts. When I could no longer coax my favorite jeans over my hips, I shrugged, smiled, and went shopping. When I found I had to buy 3 sizes larger than my wedding day size (a mere 1 1/2 years ago), I sighed and moved on to checkout.

But, yesterday something happened that made my weight gain hit me like a fat- fingered slap in the face.

One of my husband's favorite past- times is bending my appendages in directions they are not designed to go, and asking, "Does this hurt?" He also enjoys pressing his index finger into the hollow of my throat until I cough like my cat with a hairball.

(I assure you, this is not abuse, but simply the slightly sadistic, very warped, sense of humor of a man whose formative years were spent learning martial arts and tormenting his little sister)

Anyway, he also gets a rise out of pressing his fingers into my sides, just above my hips and below my waist. This is fun for him as it generally results in me pleading for him to stop between peals of unsupressible laughter.

Yesterday, he tried this last little trick, and I braced myself for the pain/ tickles.

Nothing.

He pressed harder. Still nothing, except that his fingers sank deeper into my pillowy flesh.

I'm too fat for tickling.

Maybe it will dull the pain of the injection needles too?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Princess Smartypants Begins...

Today my friend (hi Reva!) introduced me to a wonderfully bizarre children's book, "Princess Smartypants Rules".

Princess Smartypants decides she wants a baby. She makes a phone call and orders some "Ready-Mix Baby". A little measuring, a little mixing, and POOF!

Baby.

Oh, if only.