Monday, December 10, 2007

Angel in Alabama

Sometime last week, just a few short days after pouring out my heartache on this blog, I arrived home to find a package on my doorstep. It turned out to be an unexpected gift from Kellie, my angel in Alabama.

She sent me a beautiful little figurine, as well as the most inspiring and tear-jerking card you've ever read. Kellie's main message was this: I understand your pain, I'm sorry you're hurting, and there is reason to hope.

This unbelievably kind gesture from a woman 1,000 miles away who I've never even met - it lifted me up indescribably. It also brought on yet another freshet of tears - but not the same desperate kind of the past few weeks. These were tears to acknowledge that Kellie's words might? will? definitely will? come true: "K, you WILL be a mom."

This beautiful little figurine, with its little arms and hands outstretched, and its small face turned up to God - it's the last thing I look at before I go to bed each night. It is a heartwarming and much appreciated reminder to keep Hope alive.

Thank you Kellie, your gift means more to me than you will ever know!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I wish I could say I've thrown off the pall of sadness that was cloaking me the last time I posted (just before Thanksgiving.) Unfortunately, if anything, it's gotten worse. I feel so.......vulnerable, I guess. Kind of fragile - like any little thing could send me into a crying, pity-partying meltdown.

I feel anxious all the time, and more than that, I've become aware that I seem to be constantly bracing myself for hurtful news of some kind.

I look at our little dog Murphy lately and all I can think is how wrenchingly sad it will be when he eventually dies. He's only 9 years old, and I'm not expecting him to go any time soon. But for some reason I cry every night when I cuddle up with him, and wonder how I will be able to get out of bed and go on with my life when he dies.

Every time we see friends I find I'm bracing to hear that they are pregnant (again.) Or when the phone rings my brain kind of winces, wondering if there will be horrible or sad news, or some other hurtful knowledge on the other end of it.

I feel needy and dependent. The slightest mood change in R has me spiraling into thoughts that he's going to leave me...if not now, someday. I've lost my faith in happy endings. I feel cynical. Empty, except for the tears that seem to be always right behind my eyes.

I hate myself for being this pathetic person. I'm so weak. I have SO much to be thankful for, and I have to really FORCE myself to recognize that on a constant basis. I would much rather sit around feeling ridiculously sorry for myself. All the time.

I'm also an ingrate. R took me out to a fabulous, expensive, special and romantic dinner for my birthday a week and half ago. All his idea. Instead of enjoying spending a special evening with him, and savoring time spent together (which is really the most important thing), and appreciating the substantive price tag of the bottle of wine and filet mignon, I cried in the night like a 5 year old because he didn't give me an actual gift to open. AAACCKK! I'm so not this person.

My God, I just read over this and it's so freaking melodramatic. Blech!!!! But, it's what I'm really feeling. Ugh. I don't know how to snap out of this.

I'm simultaneously looking forward to this Saturday, and dreading it with my entire being. I'm forcing myself to attend an adoption 'convention' in DC, where I'll attend seminars to get educated on the facets of international vs. domestic adoption, open vs. closed, costs, timeframes, etc.

I want to go, and learn, and understand our options. I'm also weighed down by the idea of it - overcome with sadness. I keep picturing myself wandering all over this huge convention surrounded by pictures of babies and children who need someone to love them. It should feel empowering to educate myself about our options. Instead it makes me feel like sobbing until I can't stand up straight.


I just had to dash off the bathroom. R just sent me an email that yet another couple, who got married right around the same time that we did, are now expecting their first child. They think it's a boy.

By this point I think we infertiles understand each other. You know that of course I'm happy for them - thrilled they don't have the same problems that we do. They must be so happy! How perfect to announce their pregnancy right around the holidays. That's what I've always dreamed of! These two are such a wonderful couple and will make fantastic, smart, compassionate, responsible parents. I bet their child will be gorgeous! And, OF COURSE I'm glad they are pregnant. I wouldn't wish infertility on my worst enemy.

But the truth is, when I first read the email I instantly starting crying. My first thoughts were: Poor me! Why not us? That should BE us! Oh God, please help us, our hearts are breaking! I don't know what to do anymore.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, I don't feel at all worthy of this, but my dear Jenna has suggested that I belong on her list of Distinguished Blogger Flame of Fortitude honorees. Although I humbly appreciate her tag - I've been feeling so un-thankful and un-thanksgiving-ish this week that it feels counterfeit to even post about this. Ugh.

I've been feeling so sad this week - I can't seem to get into any kind of holiday spirit. Usually by this time I'm feeling warm and fuzzy and spiritual and reflective and all of that. But this year I feel like I'm digging waaaaay down and the warm fuzzies just aren't coming. I'm going to try VERY hard tomorrow to dredge up some thankful-ness and put on a happy face and appreciate time with my family. But it won't be as natural as it normally is. I keep breaking into tears for inappropriate reasons and at inconvenient times. I had to race off to the bathroom several times at work this week before any one saw me having a "moment". I really, really hate feeling this pitiful.

I hope to post something much more cheerful, or at least productive, after we get back from Thanksgiving. Hope all of y'all in the US have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow with your families and friends!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hello again!

I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted anything here - I'm sorry I've been such a silent blogger! I have, however, been diligently keeping up with all of you. There's been happy news out there, as well as deeply, deeply sad. I've been rejoicing and grieving right along with all of you.

So firstly, Congratulations to Faith! I've been reading along with her since before her successful IVF cycle. It's hard to believe it's been 9 months, and then some! Go and see her beautiful new boys, here.

And if you haven't already been over to visit Cam or Ann during this soul-crushingly sad time, please do - and if you're behind in your reading, like I was last month, go and give some love to ISOMorning Sickness, too. They all need our support now more than ever.

So, you may have guessed that since I haven't been fervently blogging and posting loads of detailed accounts of treatments lately, that we're taking a break. Oh the consternation that is bound up in that phrase: taking a break. Usually in our case all breaks have been physician-mandated ones - wait for a cyst to go away, wait for my lining to thin out, take another cycle of BCP's, etc. This time however, we mandated the break.

We were supposed to start IVF#2 when we came back from our annual Outer Banks beach vacation the first week of September. The several thousand dollar water-pipe repair emergency the second week of September put the kibosh on that month.

So then we were supposed to start in October.....but in the beginning of the month I suddenly realized the origin of the feelings of dread that I had been unconsciously carrying around for several weeks: I was dreading starting a new cycle. I had fallen into a comfort zone, pretending the problem didn't exist, or I was at least relieved not to be consumed by dates and calendars and shots and worries of impending doom for a while. I just blithely ignored the irony of taking my birth control pills each and every night, having been given license to do so by the perpetually pending cycle that was going to start any-minute-now. More than anything I realized how effing tired I am - bored, I would even say - with the whole being-infertile thing. I'm tired of being sad, I'm tired of agonizing over every cycle, I'm tired of worrying about where the money will come from to pay for treatments, I'm tired of structuring and scheduling every other part of lives around the unknown and un-plan-ahead-able requirements of treatments. I'm tired of saying to myself on every holiday or otherwise momentous occasion: I wonder if I'll be pregnant by this time next year? I'm tired of answering the question "Do you have kids?" with an answer like "Not yet!" I'm so, so, so tired of being the person that everyone feels sorry for. I'm even more sick and tired of feeling sorry for myself. I'm tired of thinking about fertility all the time, every day, every week, every month. I'm tired of feeling a sharp pang to the heart when I hear that someone else I know is pregnant, with their first, second, third child. I'm tired of waiting for my life with children to begin. I'm tired of hanging out with other people's children and wistfully thinking of the ones we don't have yet. I'm tired of thinking "someday." I want someday to be soon, now, today. I'm tired, dare I say it - of even talking about this! None of what we have been through in 3 years has made one iota of a difference to the bottom line - Nothing has changed in 3 years: I'm still not pregnant and we still don't have a child.

R and I had several long discussions in October about what we should do - or, I guess more accurately, when we should do it. We decided that it would be very difficult to face the emotional, financial, and physical stress of doing a cycle so close to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was picturing myself fighting the throngs of people in the malls with bags of gifts and having to duck into messy public restrooms to stick myself with needles. Or being at Thanksgiving dinner all hopped up on hormones and bursting into tears for no outwardly apparent reason. Or receiving the crushing, blackening news of a failed cycle - malfunctioning body, money down the drain, yet another disappointing setback - just before Christmas.

I just didn't think I - we - could handle it. So we've decided to wait until January to embark upon IVF#2. It wasn't an easily reached decision however. At least, not for me. I'm all wound up about the fact that three days from now I'll turn 37. Only 3 years left until I'm 40. I can vividly remember when my mother turned 40, and I thought she was ancient. I don't feel ancient yet, certainly. But when I let myself contemplate the full weight of being thirty-seven years old.....I feel a sense of panic, like there's a rising tide that is swelling up faster and faster, and my legs are buried in the sand. I feel an overwhelming sense of urgency to do something, anything, just do it quick because time is running out! But yet, there's nothing else I can do. Is there?

Well, that actually brings up an issue for another post - I went to an adoption fair yesterday at work. I'll devote an entire post to that emotional event, next.

In other news, I've decided that during this non-cycling down time I should concentrate on eating healthier and losing some weight - getting more fruits and vegetables into my diet, and cutting out bad fats and bad sugars, etc. I decided to try Weight Watchers, for the first time in my life.

I've struggled with my weight my whole life. I went on my first diet when I was 9. I've had a lifelong love-hate relationship with my bathroom scale, let me tell you.

Anyway, one of the reasons I've always been turned off by Weight Watchers was the thought of those gruesome in-person Weight Watchers meetings where all the middle-aged ladies in their elastic waist pants congregate in the fellowship hall of the local baptist church and celebrate losing 1/8 of a pound every week and swap recipes for lightened up versions of tuna casserole. Blech!!!

So, maybe the fact that I finally decided to try this has something to do with the fact that I'm finally accepting my OWN middle-agedness? Or maybe it's because a co-worker told me she hates the idea of going to meetings too and that you can join 'anonymously' online. Who knows? But for better or worse I joined in October, and I've lost 16 pounds and one pants-size so far. Not bad. It hasn't really been that hard to adhere to - that really surprised me. The thing I really like about Weight Watchers is that you can eat anything - anything at all - and it doesn't cause a collapse of your whole diet/system/plan so as to send you into a tailspin and cause you to immediately throw in the towel and begin planning for when you'll RE-START at some point in the future. That is usually my downfall with diets - especially when I was doing Atkins years ago. One slice of bread and you were completely ruined! Knocked out of fat-burning ketosis by one bite of mashed potatoes! It would be days before you could get your bodily chemicals back into the precise balance required to burn the fat and lose weight! There's simply not enough wiggle room in a diet plan like that - at least not for me. It leads to the pound-packing mentality of - "Oh well, I've already gone off the plan today by eating that Snicker's mini from the Halloween candy bowl. It's all downhill from here. Might as well 86 that salad I was planning to eat for lunch and have a grilled cheese instead." But Weight Watchers is much more forgiving. If you eat the Snickers mini, it is not the end of the world, or even of your day. Just means you must adjust your food intake for the rest of the day to compensate. It makes for faaaar less guilt than I'm used to shouldering when it comes to food. This is sad to admit, but I've become accustomed to feeling guilty every time I eat something - no matter what it is. I think Weight Watchers helps people like me to let go of at least a little of that food-guilt, and for that reason I think it's been good for me so far.

But the season that is by far my biggest downfall during this time of year, the thing that strikes fear in my dieting, salad-munching, saturated-fat-avoiding heart, is well upon us. Thanksgiving, you ask? Christmas? Hanukkah? Kwanzaa? Nay, nay - even worse, and MUCH more insidious and long and draaaaawn out: Football Season. Aaaaaaggggjhhhhhhh!!!!

Every Sunday whilst watching the Redskins (lose) I'm assaulted by chicken wings, beer, chips, cheese dip, brownies, beer, chips, pizza, beer, chips....did I mention beer and chips? I'm a sucker for beer and chips. I think I could subsist on beer and chips alone, if the case arose on a deserted isle.... And the worst part is that all this food is usually at my OWN HOUSE! We tend to entertain very frequently during football season. So, invariably, if I'm tempted to go 'off-plan' as the Weight Watchers say, it's on Sundays.

So instead of serving the good stuff for all of our friends, and then forcing myself to either abstain or cry into my celery and carrot sticks all afternoon, I've endeavored to find some recipes for less fat-laden, but still football worthy things to serve on Sunday afternoons.

To wit, the delicious and road-tested recipes cut-and-pasted below (from the Weight Watcher's website.) Everyone at our house has enjoyed these, hope y'all will too. Enjoy!

(For anyone else who happens to be counting Weight Watchers Flex Points, the chicken wings recipe makes 4 servings at 4 points per serving, and the chili recipe makes 10 servings at only 1 point per serving, not including the baked tortilla chips you'll include for dipping.)

Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip

1 sprays olive oil cooking spray, or enough to coat sheet
12 oz uncooked skinless chicken wing(s)
1 1/4 oz Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix, or similar product
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
2 Tbsp blue cheese, or gorgonzola, crumbled
2 Tbsp fat-free skim milk
4 medium stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place chicken wings in a zip-close plastic bag, add taco seasoning, seal bag and shake to coat. Transfer wings to prepared baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to prepare dip, whisk together sour cream, cheese and milk.

Serve wings with dip and celery on the side. Yields about 3 wings, 3 tablespoons of dip and 1 celery stalk per serving.

Chili Party Dip

15 oz canned turkey chili without beans
8 oz fat-free cream cheese
4 oz canned jalapeno peppers
1 small onion(s), finely chopped
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Yields about 1/4 cup per serving.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Did y'all see the Oprah show yesterday (Tuesday) about infertility???? I tivo'd it and watched it last night. I was prepared to get riled up, based on what happened when our friend Jenna, bless her heart, was on last time.

But geeeeez, what a train wreck!! I found both segments to be TOTALLY infuriating. What an unbelievable dearth of detailed information!

The first segment was about a couple who went to India to hire a surrogate. The issue the show concentrated on was whether this cottage industry of surrogate Indian women having babies for white American women constitutes exploitation. The facts: cost of hiring a surrogate in the US: upwards of $80K; cost of hiring a surrogate in India: ~$12K (presumably not including travel expenses); amount of money received by Indian surrogate mother (which is purportedly more than most women earn over their lifetime): ~$6-$7K. Oprah stated that in her opinion this was not exploitation but rather women helping other women across the world - the American woman gets what she most desperately desires and otherwise could not afford to pay for in the US, a biological baby. The Indian woman receives what amounts to nothing short of a transformative amount of money - enough to drastically improve her family's living conditions, quality of life, and to ensure a bright future for her children by providing them with higher education. Personally, I agree with Oprah on this one, but can nevertheless understand the controversy.

However, there was absolutely NO background given about the American couple and exactly what their specific infertility diagnosis was. They merely stated that they had been "trying" for 3 years, and had spent a total of ~$30K so far. This is troubling because I believe it's a common misconception (no pun intended) that surrogacy is a widespread solution to general infertility. However, this is the exception rather than the rule.

As I was watching, I longed for the couple to share more about their personal experience - what was their diagnosis? Why did their doctor believe that surrogacy would be a viable option for them? What treatments had they tried and failed previously? There were no details given about this. I was trying to imagine that I was still a smug, ignorant, not-yet-trying-to-get-pregnant-and-so-have-no-clue-of-what-could-go-wrong woman. What might I take away from the segment? That even if I eventually discovered I was having trouble getting pregnant, that there was no need to worry, bc I could always get a cheap surrogate in India. Not to be too crass, but that might very well have been the main take-away from that whole piece for some people!

So, as if that part of the show wasn't bad enough, the next segment was an interview with Alexis Stewart, daughter of Martha. Now, I'm not a fan of Alexis' anyway, just based on listening to her awful radio show on her mother's Sirius channel. At least from her radio persona, she comes across as a spoiled, foul-mouthed, ill-mannered brat of grown woman. Not completely surprising, given who she is, imho.

However, I'll start with the positive: Alexis did make a good point in the top of the segment as to the illusion that celebrities create by having children late in life, and that this creates this false sense of security for women, as in, "Hey, Halle Barry can have a baby in her 40's, so I don't even need to start worrying about my own 'biological clock' until my late 30's at the earliest! If celebrities can do it, anyone can! Great!" I totally agree with Alexis on that point, and also that it is really frustrating that celebrities won't own up to the fact that they are using some type of assisted reproductive technology in order to have these child bearing successes so much later in their lives. No one ever admits to using donor eggs, which perpetuates the myth that one's own fertility can and will remain viable into the 40's and even 50's. This lack of acknowledgement on the part of those in the public eye is only continuing to contribute to the shame and pain of the infertility struggle that affects so many of us today. So, Alexis hit the nail on the head with that, as far as I'm concerned.

BUT, what struck me about the rest of her interview was how very misinformed she herself is - even after having undergone a year of infertility treatment. How is this even possible? I myself feel like I could sign up at the nearest med school and teach a fucking class on reproductive endocrinology. After the first year of this shit, I was intimately familiar with the menstrual cycle - the terms used to describe the process, what they meant, the length of each part of the cycle, all the hormones involved, the possible drugs that could assist and what effect they had on the cycle, not to mention all the terminology used to describe my husband's part of the deal, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

So when Alexis picked up a Lupron needle and said, "So, you take this for the first 2 or 3 days of the month, and it's very painless, and you take this drug to prevent endometriosis.", I wanted to jump through the TV screen. Are you kidding me???!! But my first issue with her comments are that she also didn't share any details of what particular infertility diagnosis she was struggling with. She didn't even say that she was undergoing IVF. Rather, she said that she spends $28K per month on her infertility treatments. As anyone who has ever undergone any type of ART knows, it's physically impossible to complete one IVF cycle EVERY SINGLE MONTH. So all I can think is that her doctor is robbing her blind because she's the daughter of a very, very rich woman. Whatever.

That doesn't bother me nearly as much as the misinformation she was spouting. How about this one: "Yes, so at my age, you tend not to grow very many eggs, so you have to take these drugs in order to stimulate egg production.", or this one, "Over the course of this year I've had around 5 or 6 eggs implanted in me, but none of them have stuck.", or even this: "Well, at a certain point if all of this doesn't work, I guess I'll have to look into egg surrogacy."

I know that all of these miscues when taken alone might not seem like a big deal, but it REALLY, REALLY bothered me that she didn't seem to even care that she wasn't being accurate. I think that there is such a lack of real information out there in the spotlight on infertility, and I really feel like Alexis Stewart should have felt more of a responsibility to educate the millions of viewers of the Oprah show with real and accurate information on her struggle. I think Oprah (her producers) bear a part of that obligation as well. I feel like everyone involved with that show fell woefully short of their obligation and responsibility.

I for one, would much rather hear (see) an interview with a well-informed, prepared-with-details non-celebrity regular old person struggling with this problem - like you or me - than a celebrity who was either unprepared and ill-informed, or perhaps not even willing to share the critical details that define this experience.

To be candid, the whole show just made me angry. It barely, barely even scratched the surface of this complex and seemingly epidemic struggle that impacts more and more women and couples across the world every day. I'm really disappointed.

But, what did y'all think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Three Years

Happy 3rd Anniversary, baby! My dearest darling, my big strong handsome man, my strength and solace. Three whole years we've been married, and I still wake up every morning excited to spend the rest of my life by your side. I love you more than all the stars in the skies and more than all the fishes in the sea. Here's hoping that this will prove to be "our" year, and we'll finally make our dreams come true, together. I love you!

****Our actual anniversary was yesterday, but for some reason I couldn't get this post to go through yesterday.....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back to Reality

We're back from our beach escape! One week in the Outer Banks is never, ever enough. Every year I ask myself if there's any humanly possible way that we could manage to stay for 2 weeks the next time we go. I've never taken 2 weeks off in a row - seems impossible but I know that there are some who swear by 2-week vacations.

The week before we left the mean weatherman was predicting rain for 6 of the 7 days we were to be there, and I was freaking out. However, beach weather is always fickle, and wouldn't you know we managed to somehow luck into perfect weather every single day! Never rained so much as a drop until Saturday morning as we were packing up the car to come home. Just how I like it!

We ate and drank sinfully, luxuriated in the sun, swam in ocean, pool, and hot tub, romped in the surf with our dog, played golf, went kayaking (Ok actually only R played golf or went kayaking, I concentrated on the luxuriating in the sun part), and drank many, many, many cocktails on a daily and nightly basis.

We also went on a lighthouse sightseeing mission one day towards the end of the week: we decided to drive the 130 miles from the northern most part of North Carolina's Outer Banks, where we were staying, all the way down south and across the ferry to Ocracoke Island. It took us all day, but we saw all four lighthouses most often associated with the Outer Banks: Currituck Light, Bodie Island Light, Cape Hatteras Light, and Ocracoke Light. It was quite an adventure!

Anyway, now that we're home, all I can do is pine away and wish we had never left the beach!!! Siiiiigghhh.....

Compounding my lack of enthusiasm for returning to reality, we came home to a leaking water pipe in our front yard. Actually, on the second day of our vacation, our neighbors called R's cell phone to report that they had seen a "small lake forming in our front yard" and they wondered if we'd like them to call the water authority to have our water turned off until we came home? Um, yeaaaah, that seems like a wise course of action! I began to fret over this lovely piece of information until R reminded me that there was absolutely NOTHING we could do about from North Carolina, and as such, we shouldn't ruin our entire week's vacation worrying pointlessly over it. He was right, and I tried to put it out of my mind for the rest of the week. (yeah right)

But, now we're REALLY back to reality, and the repair people are coming tomorrow morning to excavate the old pipe (all the way from the edge of our property at the street, through the yard, through R's perfectly manicured grass, through our borders with impatiens, otto luyken cherry laurels, hosta, etc.) and then install the new one.

Isn't it fun to spend $4,000 the weekend after you get back from your annual vacation? Especially when it's 2 weeks before you were supposed to spend $10,000 on your upcoming IVF cycle??

Given this state of affairs, R and I made the somewhat difficult decision last night to postpone our IVF cycle for at least a month. We'll need at least that long to determine how to scrounge up the necessary sack of money to proceed. It's really the only thing we can do. Having running water in the house is not exactly a luxury.

Sooooo, instead of starting the Lupron injections this Sunday, as I had been planning, I probably won't be starting them until sometime around Halloween. But golly gee, in the grand scheme of things, what's another month? We've already been at this for 35 months. Hell, might as well make it an even 3 years.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Just checking in....

Well, I have absolutely nothing of interest to report, but was feeling delinquent for not having posted anything lately!

We're just killing time until our vacation to the Outer Banks in NC next week. Woooo-hoooooo! So, hum drum, ho hum, bring on the beach vacation and accompanying cocktails! I'm soooooo ready for a vacation, I can't even tell you.

Did I tell you that my master plan of manipulating the birth control pills to time perfectly with the end of our vacation was foiled? Curses!! Dr. G said that I couldn't stay on the BCPs for 5 consecutive weeks, because the risk of over-suppression was too great - especially for a long-responder like me.

So, I have to take 2 whole months of pills. Boo hiss. Luckily the first pack ended last week, so I'm getting my blasted period out of the way this week. The good news is that I won't have to contend with a period whilst swimming in ocean, pool, or hot tub next week, nor will it cramp our opportunities for vacation er, romance. Thank God!

Bad news though, is that instead of being able to start stims IMMEDIATELY upon returning home from vaca, I'll have to wait an additional 3 weeks. You know that doesn't set well with my immediate gratification driven psyche, but what can I do?

I guess that does give us a stay of execution in terms of writing the enormous check to pay for this next round. So that's good.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I'm still here, and still keeping tabs on each of your blogs. Wishing all the best for each one of you!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Now what?

R and I have been going around and around the mulberry bush, as they say, on what action to take next in trying to start our family. After many days of soul searching and lots of knock-down, drag-out tearful conversations, I think we have finally have a mutually agreeable plan, at least for the very near future.

The crux of our difference in perspectives is this: R is tired of watching his wife go through endless days and nights of shots and doctor's visits and emotional highs and lows. He is worried about the emotional (and physical) toll that 6 future cycles of IVF (if we sign up for Shared Risk) might have on my emotional well-being, on my very personality. He's ready for us to be parents, now. He is interested in pursuing something that offers certainty and security in terms of an outcome. He is frustrated by the unpredictability of IVF. When considering the prospect of spending over $20 thousand dollars, I think he feels much better about signing up for something that has a 100% chance of putting a baby in our arms at the end of it.

I, on the other hand, am clinging desperately to the idea of having another chance at a biological child, and pursuing that opportunity as quickly as possible. It's the only thought that keeps me from being well and truly 'depressed', as a matter of fact. I'm just not ready to let that dream go. I feel really desperate and out of control; I'm not sure how to change or channel these feelings.

Our endless and frustratingly circular conversations over the last week stemmed from the fact that I'm scared out of my wits that we are heading down a path that will breed resentment in the future. If R feels we should abandon treatment and pursue adoption, and I go along with that, will I wake up 10 years from now resenting that I didn't "try harder" or insist on further opportunities to try for a biological child? If I want to sink a huge amount of our money and our time into 6 further IVF cycles, to the tune of $22K, will R resent me when monthly financial decisions are impacted as a result of this expenditure? Or, if all 6 cycles fail, and the money has been refunded to us, will R resent the fact that we've then "wasted" potentially 18 - 24 months and we're at the starting gate to adoption at ages 39 and 41, respectively?

Bless R, for he is unbelievably supportive and open minded and kept reiterating that in spite of his opinion about being ready to move on to adoption, he respects the fact that it's my body, and will support whatever I want to do next - more treatment or otherwise. Ack! Why didn't I rejoice in this response? Because I want to come up with a plan that makes both of us happy and leaves no room for questioning or second-guessing or resentment at any point in the future. And that is IMPOSSIBLE. There is NO GOOD ANSWER to this dilemma.

From a financial standpoint, we've decided that we simply cannot afford to shell out the full amount required for Shared Risk right now. In the spring when we both receive our annual work bonuses, we could conceivably fund a $20K payment - either for a Shared Risk IVF treatment plan, or for adoption. But not until then.

However, we have almost $4,000 worth of insurance coverage left. If we did one more cycle in the pay-as-you-go format, after adding in all the "extra" treatment options Dr. G recommended (ICSI, Assisted Hatching, etc.) we'd need to come up with about $7K (not including the drugs, of course.)

I almost come out of my skin contemplating the idea of waiting for almost 9 months to try again. 9 months is a lot of time to "waste" when you are trying to get pregnant, especially when you are about to turn 37.

Ultimately we've decided to come up with $7K and try again as soon as we get back from our beach vacation. I'm on BCPs now, so if all goes as planned, I'll likely be starting stims around the middle of September.

I don't know what we'll do if this cycle fails. Wait until spring to try to find $22K (in addition to the $7K we just blew)? Abandon treatment and begin pursuing adoption? I don't know. But I've accepted that I can't make decisions right now based on what may or may not happen in the future. We can only make one decision at a time, based on the current situation and circumstances. At this moment, doing another pay-as-we-go cycle seems like the next right step. Maybe I will second guess this decision. Maybe not.

I'm scared to death that it won't work, again. I'm terrified to think that this could be our last attempt at a biological child. Right now I'm trying very hard to "relax" (yeah right), and am hoping to enjoy our vacation in a few weeks.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Syringes and needles and vials, oh my!

Late last week I decided that I was tired of paying for the little miniature Sharps containers the pharmacy keeps sending me, so I decided that in order to reuse them, I would empty all the full ones I have (yeah, I'm stockpiling full Sharps containers, and I know I have a problem) and put the contents into a recently emptied extra-giant sized laundry detergent container.

So, I dragged all of my bursting-at-the-seams Sharps containers into my kitchen and dumped everything out onto my kitchen counter. (Yes, I know that seems sort of unsanitary, but I reasoned that I could bleach the kitchen counter afterwards...) Anyway, the more I dumped, the more morbidly fascinated I became. I felt a perverse sense of accomplishment looking at all of those spent vials of medication and used needles. (Yes, I know I'm cracked.)

Soon I found myself carefully sorting through the contents, almost feverishly piling syringes on one side, needles on another....

This, I thought, is what hundreds of needle pokes looks like. This is what ONE IUI and ONE IVF looks like. This is what thousands of dollars worth of drugs looks like.

And above, you can see for yourself what it looked like.

For the as yet uninitiated, clockwise from the top left: Empty vials of Menopur, progesterone in oil, and hCG; empty Follistim Pen cartridges; used Lupron needles; used needles; used Follistim Pen needle caps; and used syringes.

Planning for next time

So I managed to get in to see Dr. G this past Friday. He called me on Tuesday evening, the day I got the beta results. He said that he was very sorry that this cycle didn't work, and suggested that we get together as soon as possible to talk about what we could do differently the next time. He suggested meeting on Friday at 2pm, and of course I readily accepted. What a saint.

He recommended several changes for next time: he thinks we should try to shorten my stim as much as we can, bearing in mind that I'm prone to hyperstimulation. Apparently the vast majority of patients have stim somewhere between 9 and 14 days long. Mine was 20. He wants to see if we can shorten it down to around 10-12. He believes that the long stim MAY have resulted in some of my eggs being post-mature. He thinks that may have contributed to our poor fertilization rate. The plan for next time will be to start me off right away with the highest dose of Follistim that I was on last time - 225ius. He'll watch my E2 level closely, and if it takes off immediately and looks like we're headed for hyperstimulation, then we'll immediately back down the dose. But if all goes well, we'll hit the old ovaries with the higher doses right away and see if we can get them to perform in a shorter time period. The hope is also to get more eggs this time around. Dr. G said 14 was great, but 20 would be better.

All 14 eggs they retrieved this time were mature. He said that was great, and was a sign of good egg quality. Of those 14, only 11 fertilized, and 6 of them fertilized abnormally. I'm sure I learned this in some long forgotten biology class, but when the sperm fertilizes the egg, the newly formed embryo is supposed to "kick out" the extra set of chromosomes. In 6 of our embryos, that didn't happen, and so they had 3 pairs of pro nuclei present. Dr. G explained that this could EITHER be caused by more than one sperm entering the egg, OR it could be an egg quality issue. He thinks it was the latter, in this cycle, but he thinks the quality issue can be attributed to the post-mature state of some of my eggs due to the long stim - NOT an overall age-related egg quality issue. So, his second suggestion, to eliminate any possibility of having more than one sperm enter each egg next time, is to do ICSI (for anyone not familiar, Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection).

His third suggestion is to perform Assisted Hatching on our embryos next time around. He explained that this COULD be the reason that our gorgeous, 8-celled, compacting embryo didn't implant this time around. Perhaps it had a little trouble hatching in time to implant?Interestingly, Dr. G explained that although studies have shown no measurable benefit of performing Assisted Hatching on embryos of couples undergoing their first IVF cycle, the data does show that it helps in subsequent cycles. So, I guess his theory is that we might as well give them as much help as we can, and apparently with their embryologist's sophisticated and practiced techniques, there is little danger of harming the embryos when they "chip" away part of the "shell" or zona pelucida before the transfer.

I think it is really mind blowing - all of these procedures they can perform (ICSI, Assisted Hatching, etc.) on these tiny few-celled embryos. I can't imagine being the embryologist responsible for inserting a single sperm into a single egg cell?!?!?! It's almost like science fiction.

What's even more remarkable, in my opinion, is that "natural" conception and subsequent birth ever happens at all!! Every star and planet has to be aligned and every cell in your body and your partner's has to do EXACTLY what it is supposed to do at exactly the right time in exactly the right way......when you think of all the things that can go wrong, it makes you wonder how we managed not to go extinct before the advent of medical intervention! The deeper my knowledge of fertility issues, the more I'm convinced that every child is indeed a true miracle.

So, anyhoo, now the big freakin' question is how the frick we're going to pay to continue with this shit. We only have about $3,000 worth of insurance coverage left. If you add in all the costs of the "extras" Dr. G recommends next time around, we'd have to cough up about $10K to pay for a single cycle. (Plus, we'd have to pay $2,500 for a subsequent frozen cycle, should we be so lucky as to end up with embryos to freeze, of course.) By contrast, $22K would buy us 6 further attempts and/or a guarantee of our money back. We've been talking about it, and we're leaning toward Shared Risk as the logical choice. But $22K is a significant amount of money - do we finance it with a personal loan? Should we borrow from our 401K plans? Should we borrow against the equity in our home? Honestly?...We don't really want to do any of those things, but at some point we're going to have to make a decision and move forward.....

As luck would have it, Friday when I met with Dr. G also happened to be the day that my period showed up. So, he told me I could go ahead and start the BCPs if I wanted to. No pressure though - he said we could "manipulate" the pills in order to start the Lupron whenever I wanted to. We're going to the beach the second week of September, and there's no way in hell I want to be dealing with either a period or Lupron shots while I'm on vacation. I intend to be blind drunk the entire time. So, at this point I'm thinking we may be ready to start the Lupron around the 3rd week of September. We'll see. I guess it depends on how long it takes us to figure out the financial part of the equation.

Sooooo, I'm still obviously very disappointed that we're not currently pregnant. But, thanks to the upbringing of my two wonderful parents I'm a fairly resilient person. I think I'm over the bulk of rage and bitterness that swept over me for most of last week. It's not the end of the world, for pete's sake. It's just another failed cycle. It sucks, but we'll try again, that's all. The way I figure - if no one is dying, then it's a pretty good goddamn day. Losing a parent to cancer has a way of helping to put life's trials into perspective. This is hard. Really hard. But R and I are still here, still putting one foot in front of the other, still loving and laughing and enjoying each other and dreaming of the future. I keep trying to focus on my innumerable blessings, and that really seems to help.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


As expected. Still didn't make the news any easier to hear.

I feel like an empty shell. Metaphorically, emotionally, physically.....My heart feels permanently broken. But I know it isn't.

And in spite of being just SO fucking sick and tired of all of this shit, all I really want to focus on is trying again. I don't want to hear - oh you should just take some time and grieve and think and reflect, blah, blah, blah. No, I'm all out of patience. I'm all done with taking breaks and wasting precious time. I'll be 37 in 3 months. I want to start another cycle now. Today. This very instant! That's the only thing that would make me feel any better. Plowing ahead.

So you can imagine how I wanted to leap through the phone and strangle the receptionist when she told me in a semi-snotty tone that the earliest I could get in to see Dr. G to talk about what went wrong and what we can do next is August 31. There's no WAY I'm waiting an entire month. I emailed my nurse and begged her to cram me into Dr. G's schedule anywhere she could. I would meet him in the parking lot, call him on his cell phone while he's sitting in beltway traffic, meet him at 6am,9pm, the middle of the flippin' night, whatever it takes, just get me an appointment sooner than a month away!

I thought I had prepared myself and all I would feel today is more anger, more bitterness. Interestingly, I mostly feel sad and sorry for myself right now. Not angry, so much. More pitifully disappointed. I bet more of the lovely rage I've been experiencing will be back tomorrow though.

I also don't feel like "talking this out" with any of my best friends like I usually do. The only person I want to talk to is R, and he won't be home from work for another couple of hours.

What is there to say anyway? This sucks. That about sums it up.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Hope's on her way out

Well, it's 13 days past my 3 day transfer, which translates to 16dpo, and nary a second line has been spotted. I think it's safe to say at this point that it's all over but the cryin'. It's been more than enough time to have seen a positive result from an HPT, but of course I'll go for the official blood pregnancy test on Tuesday.

My rage has sort of ebbed and flowed this week. I have good moments and bad. Today I had a pitiful trip to the grocery store - is it me or are there more pregnant bellies and mother-child parades per square foot at the grocery store than any other place on earth? Except for maybe, Disney World??? I was overcome and swiping tears off of my face in the frozen food aisle. I'm sure the other shoppers thought I was a wackjob.

But, I'm still glad I've handled things the way that I have - testing everyday so that there was a gradual and incremental grieving period happening each day. I still maintain that I couldn't have handled letting hope blossom and grow stronger and stronger for two whole weeks, having more and more fantasies about being pregnant, and then have it all crushed with one phone call. It's too much suspense, too much build-up, too much riding on that one call that I'd surely hyperventilate or pass out or scream or all of the above. As it is, knowing full well that Tuesday's news will be negative - I STILL don't think I can bring myself to answer the phone when the nurse calls. I decided a long time ago that I was going to let it go to voicemail, so I wouldn't have to make any conversation or say anything at all to the nurse.

I'm sure that Tuesday will still be very difficult, but I think, I hope, I've already processed a lot of my anger and sorrow over the loss of this cycle - which, I feel compelled to iterate, is just a nicer way of saying that our two embryos, our two maybe-babies have died. So, maybe I'm fooling myself, but I don't think I'll completely lose it when I get the news. I could be wrong I guess.

One small glimmer of an idea that is helping me to move on already, is that I just figured out that we may not have to make the big Shared Risk $20+ K payment immediately in order to continue treatment after this. I remembered that we should have at least a few thousand left of insurance coverage, since we didn't need to use anything towards freezing any embryos this cycle. So, I'm pretty sure that to do another cycle we would only need to come up with $4K or so, which is much less daunting than coming up with $20K. So that gives me hope that we can IMMEDIATELY start a new cycle and try again.

After 3 years of this, that's the only thing that makes me feel any better, is the idea that we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try again immediately. I think part of the dread I was feeling about possibly failing this time around had to do with the knowledge that we'd likely have to wait for 6 months while we tried to scrounge up the money for shared risk.

I have to say though, I'm just really fucking tired of being patient. I've been patient for 3 years now. I'm sooooooooooo tired of this! What an understatement! It makes me want to jump out a window. The fact that we want this with every fiber of our very beings and there is not ONE thing I can do to exert any control over when it will happen. And in the meantime, I just have to roll with every punch, and keep waiting. Patiently. What choice do we have?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Pissed off to pitiful in 6 hours


No more spotting since that one little incident on Monday. However, every day when I test, and see that white blank spot staring back at me where a second line should be, it makes me more and more....angry. Good and goddamn well pissed off, is how I felt at 4:30am today when I woke up - having been dreaming as usual of being pregnant - and peed on a stick. Nothing, nada, zilch.

I climbed back into bed, and laid awake until R got up around 6am, feeling progressively more and more full of RAGE. It really scared me, how strongly that emotion washed over me. I was absolutely completely and totally sure that this has all been a giant waste of time, money, and emotions. And why? WHY??!!! Why couldn't this work out for us? IVF works the first time for lots and lots of people. Why not us, goddamn it?

I wanted to throw something against the wall and watch it smash into bits. I wanted to jump out of bed and have a screaming wailing fist-beating tantrum. I wanted hit something, someone, inflict some pain, make something or someone else hurt like I hurt inside all the time. I felt like I was going to fly into bits. I laid there with my heart pounding and pounding and with the blood ringing in my ears and I thought - what will happen to me when I get the final news after Tuesday's beta that this didn't work? And I was terrified.

And now, 6 hours later, I've talked myself down from the ledge, yet again. I've convinced myself that I still have a chance. That 9dp3dt could still be considered a little early for a positive HPT. That some people don't get positive HPTs at ALL, ever, and the blood test still comes back positive. (although the beastly voice in the back of my head says that this is the stuff of false hope and urban infertility legend, and not to believe it, because my blood test is a full 15 days past the 3 day transfer, which equals 18 days past ovulation, and there's only an infinitesimal chance that one wouldn't have HCG showing up in one's urine after all THAT time.) That I should hang onto hope, that there's no reason to think negatively, and that there's every reason to believe it worked, and that we have fallen on the joyous side of the 50% success rate that Dr. G quoted me.

And so, the rage having run it's full course this morning, now I'm feeling plaintive and desperate and pitiful:

Please stay, little embryos, little maybe babies. We love you so much already. You are already here, so just please stay.

We're in awe and spellbound over you already, and we'll be more so with every sonogram, every milestone.

We'll cry in joy and wonder at your birth, your birthdays, your graduations, your accomplishments.

We promise we'll give you our whole hearts, and everything you could ever want or need to the best of our every ability.

We have a room in our house for you already, it's here and waiting for you. We have a giant crazy wonderful extended family who's waiting to love you, too. And a dog who will lick your face and make you laugh. Grandparents who will dote on you and shower you with so much love you won't believe it.

We're all waiting for you, and we have been for so long.

We want you so much. We love you, already. Please, please, please - stay.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Spotting - UPDATED

I'm spotting, just a tiny, tiny bit.

This is exactly the same thing that happened in my last IUI. I convinced myself for 2 whole days that it was implantation spotting, and then, my period arrived in full glory.

It's far too late for implantation spotting at 7dp3dt, isn't it? Yes, I know, it is. I think this might be it for this cycle. Just like last time, my body won't even do me the courtesy of making it to beta...

I can't believe this.


OK, first of all, thank you, thank you, thank you to Jeanie and Samantha and others for your reassuring comments. I have managed to talk myself out of the defeatist attitude from earlier today. I'm not CONVINCED that it's all over, but I'm still skeptical.

The spotting only happened that one time, in the bathroom at work this afternoon. It was gone when I went back the next time. It was pink and brown, not red. But still....


Found out over the weekend that none of our 'extra' embryos made it to the freezing stage. Dr. G tried to be reassuring about it - he told us before the transfer that we shouldn't be surprised if we didn't end up with frozen embryos, as less than half of the patients in our clinic don't either.

And then over the weekend he told us that there is absolutely no correlation between the success of the current cycle and whether or not there are embryos available to freeze. He encouraged us again about the quality of the 'compacting' embryo we transferred. And on the day of the transfer, the embryologist reassured us that they regularly see pregnancies from embryos like the "slower" one we also transferred.

In spite of all that, I still feel discouraged.

And I know I'm doing myself such a disservice by POAS every day. (I started on Friday morning, and am now unable to stop.) I'm doing better than last time though - last time I POAS twice, even three times a day! But that only lasted a week, as my period showed up early and put me out of my misery, as far as the suspense goes.

Ask me how many times I've googled these phrases: "earliest BFP after IVF", "earliest accurate HPT after embryo transfer" or "BFP at 4dp3dt, 5dp3dt, 6dp3dt, etc., etc.,) Anyway, I'm powerless against the siren call of the pee sticks in my bathroom.

I think I'm also depressed because for the past 3 nights I've had EXTREMELY vivid dreams of getting a positive pee stick result. I dream that I jump back into bed to tell R, that I grab the dog and dance around the room with him, that I call my mother crying with joy, etc. Then, when I wake up, it takes me a minute to figure out that it was just a dream, which creates the obvious crash back down to reality. GAWD it's awful.

And on top of it all, there's this undercurrent of feeling like I'm fooling myself into thinking this even has a snowball's chance in hell of working. I keep thinking of how idiotic I'll feel when I find out it didn't work, how stupid it was to waste my time imagining symptoms (do my boobs hurt? is it just the progesterone?). I kind of get this vision of myself looking like a total dope with a big stupid grin on my face, going thru all of these machinations for no reason: being all excited, R patting my stomach and referring to 'Frick and Frack' (his names for the 2 embryos), taking pains to avoid caffeine and alcohol, not lifting heavy items, asking R to bring the laundry basket up and down the stairs when I'm doing laundry, carefully timing every one of our evenings so that R gives me the progesterone shot precisely at 10pm every night. Ack! What a rube! What a moron! What a dumb ass!!!

And on top of THAT - I'm in the middle of the first fight I've had with my best friend in many, many years and consequently I feel like the universe has run right off of its goddamn tracks, AND, our beloved Westie - Murphy - nipped at R this morning for absolutely no reason when R was trying to kiss him goodbye.

When R was saying goodbye to us this morning, I was still in bed, and Murphy was laying at the foot of our bed. R's theory is that Murphy can somehow, through his extra doggie perceptiveness, sense that I'm preggo, and his reaction when R came into the room and got down into his face came from some instinct to protect the pregnant lady. I don't buy this for one minute, but I have to admit that I LOVED that R came up with this theory. I found it very touching...

Soooooo, one week down...... one week and one day until beta.....

Friday, July 27, 2007


Ugggghhhhh. How I hate this goddamn two week wait. I feel like every day lasts for at least 3. Every day the pendulum of my emotions swings in a giant arc: if I wake up feeling hopeful and certain that I'm pregnant, I go to bed terrified and in a cold sweat that I'm not.

I've started rationing the last Harry Potter book to myself. I'm a really fast reader, and could blaze through it in one sitting if I let myself. But I decided that a regular distraction each night would be good for me. Would keep me from obsessively reading back through all of you pregnant ladies' blog entries and taking mental note of your descriptions of your retrievals, transfers, embryo quality, early pregnancy symptoms, etc. Which I'm already doing every goddamn day and so anything that keeps me from doing it at night is a good thing.

So I'm allowing myself 30 minutes of Harry per night. It's working, so far. Although, I may cave in this weekend and just read the whole damn thing. I reason that if I chose, I COULD go back and re-read ALL SEVEN Potter books during this 2ww from hell! That would keep me busy!

Oh, I HATE suspense! I just can't take this! I really can't. I think it's inhumane. It's entirely too much build-up! It's a wonder we don't all work ourselves into such a frenzy that we just combust upon receiving the beta results from our clinics.

By my calculations, a week from now, at 11dp3dt, I should be able to get a fairly reliable result from an HPT. So, a week. Or, a more distant goal - 11 more days until beta. It might as well be a thousand.

I have no symptoms. I feel completely normal. Implantation should have happened already, I think, but I've had no spotting of any kind. Which might mean something. Or it might mean nothing. Bugger!

I have to say though, I'm so, so, so encouraged by the outbreak of knocked-up-edness around here!! If you haven't heard already, go read Baby Blues, Ann, and Les' fabulous news.....I hope the good results are contagious!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 3 Transfer

We're home from the transfer! I have to say that the embryo transfer was by far the worst part of this whole IVF cycle, from a physical standpoint. I was in sheer agony bc of having a full bladder! I kept telling R that I wasn't sure I could hold it any longer. When the doctor finally came in and was threading the catheter through my cervix, I told her that I was half convinced that I was going to pee on her at any moment. She clearly thought I was kidding. I wasn't.

I cried through the whole thing. Partly emotions, I'm sure, but also because the nurse was pressing down on my bladder AND my swollen ovaries the entire time. Aaaaaaarrrrgggghhhhhh!!! Man, that really hurt. Obviously, worth it in every way, but still - that was worse than sub Q shots, IM shots, and egg retrieval all rolled into one!!

So the good news is that we had one embryo that was "super-fantastic fabulous looking", but the bad news is that the rest of our embryos are slackers. The dr. said that they like to see embryos between 6 and 10 cells by Day 3. Only one of ours hit that mark this morning, at 8 cells, and the dr. said that it was already showing signs of compacting and dividing again, so it's definitely an overachiever. We transferred the super fantastic one, as well as the next best one, which was at 5 cells this morning. The doc said that they certainly see pregnancies all the time from "so-so" embryos that are still growing a little too slowly on Day 3. She didn't see any reason we should risk transferring more than 2, even with the slower progress of the second one. She then said, in reality, if we do get pregnant, we'll never know whether it was from the superstar embryo, or the C student embryo. Interesting to think about that...

Our other 3 embryos had only made it to 4 cells by the this morning, so they said they would continue watching them to see if they make it to blast and are able to be frozen. But, I'm not holding out too much hope for that.

Anyway, now I'm on bed rest, and R is waiting on me hand and foot, which I have to admit is very nice! I don't know how the hell I'm supposed to be able to stand waiting until AUGUST 7 for our beta test!! Lord knows I will have peed on many a stick by then, but I'll have to hide it from R. He thinks it is a ridiculous waste of money, and he doesn't like the fact that I get all worked up over it every single morning. I think he'd prefer to save all the tears and drama until the end. I'm just not built that way though.....there's no way I could last for 2 weeks without getting some preliminary results from a pee stick.

As soon as I'm up and about again on Wednesday, I'm going to lay in a supply of First Response tests.

And so the wait begins........

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Day 2 Fertilization Report

All 5 embryos are still thriving and dividing normally! Transfer will be Day 3, tomorrow, at 10:45am.


2 week wait begins tomorrow.....well, technically I guess it will be the 12 day wait. No matter, I will still be going out of my gourd the whole time. And against all sense of decorum and sanity, I'm planning to POAS at every opportunity, daily towards the end. I am not one for any sort of suspense, and I can't stand the thought of going in for a beta and getting a subsequent phone call without being able to prepare myself in advance for bad news.

More tomorrow!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Day 1 Fertilization Report

Well, I'm trying really hard not to feel completely deflated. We have 5 good embyros as of this morning.

Yesterday they told me that that they'd call btw 12 and 3 with the fertilization report, so when Dr. G called me at 9am, my heart leapt into my throat, and I just knew that he was calling to say that none of them fertilized, or that none of them made it thru the night.

Instead he said that all 14 of the eggs they retrieved were mature. He said that was great, since only mature eggs are able to be fertilized. But, he went on to say that although 9 of the 14 fertilized, only 5 began dividing normally. The other 4 either divided abnormally, or were fertilized with more than one sperm.

So, on Day 1, we only have 5. Dr. G. said that he could tell by the tone of my voice that I was crestfallen, but that this was actually good news. He reminded me that he has had many, many patients with similar fert reports who went on to get pregnant. I'm sure that's true.

I guess I just had this fantasy that R and I were going to turn out to be the superheros of the IVF world. That we'd have maybe 10 or 12 fabulous embryos on Day 1, that we'd end up with 5 or 6 superb looking blastocyts on Day 5, and that we'd have lots of embryos to freeze as an insurance policy or for future family building attempts. Doesn't look like that will be the case. I'm now just praying that we end up with at least two to transfer.

I asked Dr. G if today's report meant that we'd most likely have a Day 3 transfer, since we have so few already. He said that it's still too early to know the answer to that, but that 80% of the patients at this clinic have Day 3 transfers, so that was always a safe bet.

He'll call tomorrow to let us know how they fare overnight, and what we're left with.

I have to say, I'm very surprised at the depth of emotion I feel for the embryos - all 9 of them. I didn't expect for this to feel so real - for it to really hit home so quickly that these tiny little multi-celled living things have the potential to be children with R's beautiful brown skin and my eyes running around our house. I didn't expect to have any sort of grief feelings yet, for the embryos that didn't make it, but I do.

We are praying, praying, praying hard for our 5 little precious embryos up there in the lab. Please, please be strong! Just a few more days and you can be nestled snugly in your new home...

Friday, July 20, 2007


I'm home from the retrieval, very loopy and went very well. I'm relieved to report that this time, I was completely out and felt nothing during the procedure! Thank God!

They got 14 eggs, which I'm told is good!

More tomorrow when the fertilization report comes in!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is it in yet??

OMG, we just did the trigger shot, and here's an excerpt from the conversation btw me and R:

R: "OK sweetie, are you ready?"

K: "Um, yeah, I guess so." (voice shaking, palms sweating, on the verge of tears)

R: "Are you sure? Are you ready?"

K: "Yeah, yeah, I'm ready. I'M READY!" (at this point, I had the bathroom counter top in a death grip, and was panting in anticipation of the jolt of pain)

R: "OK baby, here we go..."

K: "Ok, ok, okokokokokokokokokokok..."

R: ......

K: (pant, pant, pant, grind fingernails into counter)

R: ........

K: "Is it in yet? IS IT IN THERE YET?????!!!!!!!!!!"

R: "OK, I'm going to press the plunger in now, ready?"

K: "You mean it's in already? You put it all the way in? Are you sure it's all the way in there???"

R: "Yeah, it's all the way in."

K: "Are you sure? Did you pull back on the plunger? Was there any blood? Did you check for blood? Are you SURE???!!!"

R: "Yes, yes, no blood. It's all over. I pushed the medicine all the way in, it's over."

K: "WHAT?? Are you SURE? I didn't feel it?? I didn't feel a thing - I mean, I didn't even feel at all! I can't believe it! I can't believe I didn't feel it AT ALL!!!"

R: "Oh shit."

K: "WHAT??!!!"

R: "I just pulled it out and you're bleeding everywhere - hand me something, quick!"

R & K: (after pasting a bandaid on my frozen ass) "We did it! We actually did it!"

K: (ever the voice of doom and gloom) "I didn't feel that AT ALL. I can't believe it!.....But, the progesterone in oil will be much harder, because it's so much thicker. I'm sure THAT will hurt...."

Immediately after R left the bathroom, I started crying. From relief. I had worked myself up into such a frenzy while mixing up the diluent with the hcg powder because those fucking needles are SO. FUCKING. HUGE. I was shaking when I handed the goddamn thing back to R. I just couldn't believe I was going to have to take that gigantic needle in my ass every night for God knows how long. It looked like it was about the size of steak knife for fuck's sake.

Oooooooooooooooh thank you thank you thank you thank you Lord for ice packs. Thank GOD I couldn't feel it! I am heaving such a huge sigh of relief right now, you have no idea. Well actually, most of you do have a very good idea. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww.

I can totally take it if the PIO hurts when the medicine goes into my muscle, I am fine and dandy with bruises and muscle pain and not being able to sit down the next day. But I don't know if I could take it if I had to feel that 6 foot long needle going in every time, I really don't. Thank you Lord!

Next hurdle, Friday morning's retrieval.


"Ding!" They're done!

Largest follicle at 23mm as of this morning, as well as several more at 20 thru 17mm.

So......trigger tonight! Retrieval on Friday!! Transfer on Monday or Wednesday, depending on how the embryos are doing!!!

I can't believe it.

I'm delighted, and thrilled, and grinning, and my heart hasn't stopped pounding since I left the RE's office this morning.

But, I'm very apprehensive about 2 things:

First, and most imminent, I'm reeeeealllly anxious about the intra-muscular injections. Since I'm not taking Ovidrel, and taking the generic 5,000iu hcg shot instead, it has to be taken IM instead of subQ. So, it all starts tonight! Ack! I also thought I needn't worry about the progesterone-in-oil injections until after the Transfer - but I found out today that I have to start those on Friday after the Retrieval! Waaaaaahh!!!

The nurse at my RE's office drew two big black circles on either side of my ass, so that R would have perfect targets. She recommended icing the area before hand, so that you don't feel the needle going in (which prevents flinching). She said I should put something warm on it immediately afterwards (a heating pad, a wet washcloth in a baggie microwaved for a minute, etc.) and massage it for awhile, and further, that I shouldn't do the shot just before going to bed. The idea is that I should be moving around enough afterwards for the oil to get worked into the muscle, instead of just sitting there in a lump all night.

I KNOW that I can and will do whatever it takes. I know that I can do this. But since I've never had an IM injection, I'm letting myself get all worked up over it. I'm really, really dreading it. Maybe it is the psychological aspects of giving up control to R, (which has nothing to do with trust - I trust him completely), as well as the shock of looking at such a huuuuuge needle. It elicits a visceral reaction. Ugh.

And the other thing that I'm anxious about is the retrieval process. So, if you remember, the faux retrieval I had last time, which we called a "Follicle Reduction", was incredibly painful. Under no circumstances do I want to feel all those needle punctures in my ovaries again! This morning I told the nurse about my experience, and she was totally horrified. She PROMISED that I would be TOTALLY out for the retrieval this time around, and that I wouldn't feel anything during the procedure. She said that she would put a note in my chart that I wanted to speak to the anesthesiologist beforehand in order to relate my past experience. I guess that makes me feel slightly reassured?? I'm still a ball of nerves over it though.

I'll post again after my first IM shot tonight, if I survive.....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 18 of Stims - Report

So, the follicles are growing, ever so slowly but surely! The largest one was up to 18mm this morning! Several others btw 17 and 14, and the rest are still under 12.

I was so impressed this weekend with Dr. G, I can't stop thinking/talking about it! So, on Sunday morning when I went in for monitoring, I only saw the nurse, not Dr. G. And for the first time I had at least one follicle at 17mm. Progress at last! As usual, later in the afternoon the nurse called me on my cell phone to give my my dosage instructions. She told me to stay on the same doses (225 of Follistim, 75 of Menopur, and 5 of Lupron in the morning.)

But then, around 6pm on Sunday evening, Dr. G. called me. He said that he was excited to hear that the wanding had shown some progress and growth, but that he had been thinking about it all afternoon, and that he had decided that he wanted to take my dose of Follistim down a little for that night, to 150ius. He said that he wanted to continue seeing me every single day so that he could watch things very, very carefully. He said he wanted to get in at least 2 or 3 more days of stimulation, because he thought we could get a good number of mature ones if we proceed in a very controlled manner. Since my E2 had jumped from 192 to 436 over the weekend, he was concerned that we not let it skyrocket until we have more than just one or two mature follicles. Slow and steady wins the race, in this case.

So - I'm just soooo impressed with this guy. Obviously he's going to look like a prince compared to what I was dealing with before. But even bearing in mind my point of reference, I think he has an incredibly sensitive and caring bedside manner. I mean, the man probably got 50 charts dumped on his "desk" (perhaps he gets info virtually, i don't know?) after monitoring hours were over, and then he calls me at home to say that he's been thinking about my status all afternoon????? Come on, in this day and age, that is a little surprising, and very impressive, in my opinion.

I feel very blessed to have moved on to this practice, and to this doctor, in particular. I have much hope in my heart for this cycle. So much so that I drug out one of my pregnancy books last night, "Pregnancy Over 30, Everything You Need to Know". Ugh, what a guilty pleasure it was, reading through some of those chapters. I confined myself to the most innocuous parts - the How to Conceive chapters mainly....then I indulged myself in the first chapter after the "Congratulations, You're Pregnant" header, which was all about how to eat right. That seemed safe enough.

Of course I'm not going to jinx myself by pulling out "What to Expect When You Are Expecting". I'm not that stupid. I haven't read that one since November 2004, the month after R and I returned from our honeymoon, and I decided to "get serious" about trying to conceive. A small part of me was actually indignant that we didn't get pregnant on our honeymoon, 2 weeks after I went off the pill. (insert bitter, jaded laughter here)

So, in November '04, I went to the bookstore one Saturday and bought a ton of pregnancy books. I couldn't WAIT to read "What to Expect". I had seen that book given as a shower gift several times, and to me, it represented entrance into the world of expectant mothers, parenting, the 'Mommy Club', being a 'real' family, etc. I pored over the photos of the developing child in utero, I loved the play-by-play accounts of what the mother should be feeling and seeing and experiencing. I think I read the whole book in two nights, I was that entranced and excited.

I remember thinking that if we got pregnant in November, that despite the 'rule' about not announcing it to the world until the end of the first trimester (when all the danger miraculously disappears, right?), that I wanted to tell our families when we were all together at Christmas. I got all choked up thinking about it. I could hardly wait! Oh Lord, it seems like a totally different woman, who had all of those naive thoughts. It's like remembering how you felt about something when you were a teenager, and looking back on your teen aged self and thinking "oh, girl, if you only KNEW!"

These are the things that make me so sad about infertility. I feel like I'll never get back that pure and hopeful perspective on things. I hate that I feel so jaded and bitter. I hate that I've become so good at being pessimistic as a means of protecting myself. If you expect the worst, you'll always be pleasantly surprised, right?

A year ago I just accepted that with all we were going through, it was normal to feel depressed, normal to feel frustrated, normal to feel bitter and angry, etc. I assumed that once I was holding a baby in my arms, all of the negativity would recede, and I'd go back to being my normally happy and optimistic self.

Lately I've begun to worry that this struggle, once behind us, won't ever really fully recede. That this experience has permanently changed my personality. That even after I'm rocking my child to sleep at night, I'll still be snarky, angry, jealous, quick to judge, and more self-centered than I've ever been....

I'm already worried about this. But if this first IVF cycle, the only one that is somewhat subsidized by my insurance, fails? Oh boy. Look out world. An even MORE unpleasant version of me will be unleashed. I'm absolutely terrified that we'll end this summer just as not-pregnant as when we started, and I just don't know what that's going to do to me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Quick report: 13th day of stims

This morning's ultrasound revealed very "plump" looking follicles which are starting to grow!! On Monday they were all under 10mm; today there were some at 11mm and some at 12mm!

I know that sounds like a paltry increase in size - but this represents real progress for me, people!! Last stim there were absolutely no signs of activity in there for 55 days!!

The office just called to tell me to up my dose of Follistim from 150ius to 225ius tonight (the highest dose I've ever taken), and to come back tomorrow morning. Dr. G isn't playing around!

I'm just happy to be making some progress, any progress. It helps me to maintain those ever elusive hopeful feelings......

Monday, July 9, 2007

Progress Report - Day 11 of stims - Updated!!!!

Actually, I'm really not sure whether this is a 'progress' report or a 'status quo' report??

So, according to the latest wanding session I have 14 follicles on my right ovary that are all under 10mm, and 16 follicles on my left ovary under 10mm. At my last two appointments Dr. G said that although they were all still small, they were showing signs of growing, and better still, that they were all growing at the same rate. Last week he said that although it was slow going with me, that so far this is exactly the response he would have hoped for.

My E2 (estrogen) levels had been rising pretty steadily, from 30-something, to 60-something, to 110-something on Thursday morning last week. But then, when I went in on Saturday over this past weekend, for some bizarre reason my E2 had dropped all the way back down to 30-something! Who knows why my broken body reacts the way it does, but it is just so frustrating.

So, over the weekend he upped my dose of Follistim from 112ius to 150ius. We kept the Menopur dose the same, at 37.5ius. I was hoping this would cause a commotion in there - because remember, on my last cycle, 200 was the dose at which things really got going.

But, ho-hum, this morning's wanding revealed that all my little follicles are still just that - little. All are still under 10mm. I saw Dr. B this morning instead of Dr. G, and Dr. B said not to get too discouraged, and that the blood work would be more revealing and more of a diagnostic tool than the wanding at this stage of the game. If my E2 comes back low again, she said they'd likely up the dose again. If not, I'll probably stick to the 150ius dose until the next wanding on Wednesday morning.

I'm so anxious to see some real activity! I'm soooooooo preoccupied with getting to the retrieval-transfer stage. In spite of my best efforts to remain numb, Hope has taken up residence in earnest. I have almost nightly dreams about babies - not that we're pregnant, but that we already have a baby that I'm feeding and carrying and rocking and kissing. Last night I even dreamed that we had twins! (In the dream, Pamela Andersen Lee was our nanny, and our neighbors called the police bc Tommy Lee kept showing up and shouting in our front yard, but I digress......)

Anyway, the point is that the possibility of success seems all too real to me - easily visualized. Even as horrifically dangerous as I know this is, this outlook is making me all the more anxious and full of nervous energy and ready for action!!!!

However, part of my bubble was definitely burst this morning in the RE's office. A woman came in as I was signing in at the receptionist's desk, and announced that she had come bearing gifts for the office. She brought forth a giant shopping bag, and as she hauled out sharp's containers, needles, syringes, leftover medication, etc., she told the nurses that she wanted to donate all of her unused items because she and her husband were "DONE."

She said, "...we've been at this for more than 3 years now, and as of today, we're either pregnant, or we're done. And I pee'ed on a stick last night and came up with squat, so I believe we're officially done." She went on to ask for a form to officially withdraw from shared risk.

When she sat down, I broke the cardinal rule of etiquette in RE waiting rooms across the nation(which dictates strict silence and lack of eye contact)and I said as empathetically as I could, "I hope the Goddamn stick was wrong!" She smiled and said, "Thanks, but after 3 years, seven thousand dollars worth of drugs for each cycle that our HMO won't cover, and the last 2 months of walking around looking like I'm already 2 months pregnant, I've just had it with this shit. I hope someone else can use my leftover drugs, and that they'll have a better outcome than we did."

What amazed me was how upbeat and straightforward she seemed to be about this resolute decision. I was thinking that were I in that position, I'd likely be overcome with the poor-me's, and would be swollen-faced and bleary-eyed, asking for tissues along with the shared risk withdrawal form.

For the rest of my wait, I had to battle the monster negative thoughts that came at me full force - "you seeee? there are no guarantees even with IVF! if it didn't work for her, why in blue blazes would you think it could possibly work for you? this first cycle is never going to work, never ever. and after that, even if you scrounge up the money to buy 6 chances in shared risk, none of THOSE are going to work either! that's going to be you 1 or 2 years from now, throwing up your hands, crying uncle, asking for your money back bc you'll be broke after paying for all of those drugs!!"

I think I've gotten those crappy thoughts back under control now, but caged as they are, they are still there, niggling at the back of my mind and threatening to overcome Hope's voice at any moment.

This afternoon's phone call with my E2 results could really help to banish those thoughts even further back, if my levels are indeed heading in the right direction......

UPDATE: E2 level is back up to 112! All doses to remain the same until I go back on Wednesday morning.....

Monday, July 2, 2007

God Bless Dr. G!

My estrogen came back low, so I started the stims on Friday. Yee-haaa!! Kind of like riding a bike, that nightly injection routine. I fell right back into my old rhythm and ritual like I hadn't ever stopped.

However, the other thing that started this weekend, in earnest, was the Lupron-induced headaches. Great googly moogly, the goddamn headaches! Speaking from the perspective of one who has suffered through probably 5 big migraine headaches in her life - truth be told, these little Lupron headaches are but a mere trifle by comparison. I mean, it's not like I must take to my bed or anything, BUT it is a miserable thing to have a persistent headache that just won't seem to go away. I was popping Advil like Pez candies all through the weekend, and in so doing, bought myself maybe an hour's worth of relief each time. And then, the blasted headache would come right back! Aaarrgh.

So, this morning I had my first wanding/monitoring session, and when Dr. G asked me how I was feeling, I was truthful. I told him that these Lupron headaches were cramping my style! The first thing he said was that I must stay away from Advil, Motrin, etc. Apparently ibuprofen could cause a "blood issue" when it comes time for retrieval. Not really sure what that means, but OK, he's the doctor, so I'll buy it.

Then he said that I really should be taking Tylenol instead. The nurse in the room sort of snorted when he said that, at which point Dr. G started laughing too, and admitted that Tylenol is really worthless for headache pain. He acknowledged that Tylenol did absolutely nothing for his own headache pain, and that he might as well swallow an M&M, as far as analgesic prowess was concerned.

Kind soul that he is, he offered to write me a prescription for Tylenol 3, should I so desire? I can't drive while taking that, or operate at full mental capacity for that matter - but at least, he reasoned, I could take a Tylenol 3 if a headache were to prevent me from sleeping. However, he continued on to say that actually, Tylenol 3 is hard on some folks stomach's, and in fact, why didn't he just go on and prescribe me some Vicodin? The fireworks on Wednesday would seem all the more effervescent after one of those babies! I, not being a complete FOOL, gladly accepted the scrip on my way out the door!

So, my presiding sentiment for today is one of thankfulness for the amazing bedside manner of my Dr. G. - a more caring and attentive doctor I haven't ever had the pleasure of meeting. It's interesting...the further I get into this experience at the new clinic, the more I notice the stark contrast between RE's. I would have had to grovel and beg at the previous clinic for any sort of sympathetic perspective, or even acknowledgment of discomfort - let alone a prescription! Please! The prevailing attitude at the previous clinic was kind of like - hey, you CHOSE to go through this treatment, and this is the reality of that treatment, so try not to be such a baby about it and suck it up.

Trying, trying not to think too far into the future as to the potential for success for this cycle. To allow myself to do so would invite emotional calamity, somehow. BUT, I have to say that Dr. G's manner is really causing me to have overall "good vibes" about our chances this time around. Plus, every time I talk to my Mom, she says she feels in her heart that this time will be 'it' for us. Oooohhhhh how I want to jump on that bandwagon with her!!

I report back on Thursday am for another wanding session. Until then, same dosage continues.....