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


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?


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.


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!


Oh, if only.