Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
One of the curses of the infertile, and certainly anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss too, is the inability to trust or believe that a pregnancy will ultimately work out. I am living this curse right now. I am so happy to have had a successful IVF cycle, and I have more reason to be optimistic about this pregnancy than I ever have in the past. We have a known good quality embryo, my numbers look good, and I haven’t had any spotting (I hesitate to even type this for fear of speaking too soon). These are all encouraging signs. At the same time, I am a six-times-bitten individual and when you have had the proverbial rug yanked out from under you that many times it takes the hugest leap of faith to even entertain the thought that we may have a healthy, lasting pregnancy this time. I consider myself a faithful person. I know God is the captain of this ship and the outcome of this is definitely not in my control. I am praying that things work out for this little one. One of my favorite movie quotes is from Rudy: “praying is something we do in our time…the answers come in God’s time.” I hope this is THE time. I have been experiencing cramping off and on. It seems to be more noticeable the last day or so. I don’t know what to make of it. I think cramping can be normal in early pregnancy as things get situated in there. I have also known cramping to be the beginning of the end for a few of my pregnancies. The fear of it makes me want to rest and not move. Then I tell myself that if this pregnancy is healthy and destined to continue, a walk through the skyway (Minnesota winter) to grab lunch isn’t going to be its undoing. I am finally getting over an eye virus, which at first appeared to be pink eye but was re-diagnosed by my ophthalmologist when it didn’t respond to the drops provided by my family practice doctor. We are going to visit husband’s family this weekend in the Milwaukee, WI area. If we are lucky and things continue to progress, we won’t be sharing our news with anyone until a lot further down the road. Our families and friends have been through too much heartbreak with us to make them sweat things out yet again. It would be so amazing to announce an impending grandchild/niece or nephew when we can be reasonably confident that it will come to fruition. Plus, it is easier to not have to talk about things now if we don’t want to. So this weekend we will be mum. We are having the traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast early, as we won’t be with them on the day, and I hope no eyebrows are raised when I politely decline any wine. Knowing me and our issues as many years as they have, though, I don’t believe they will go there. In closing, I will do my absolute best to stay calm and think positively for the next few days. I so badly want to make it to the ultrasound on Tuesday with hope intact. It would be a huge milestone for us.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We finally got the results of our second beta. Today we are at 353. Relieved and thrilled are both understatements. We know there is a LONG road ahead but we are happy to be on the journey. They aren't having me come back on Friday, for which I am thankful. In past pregnancies we have never had good news from a third beta. I am not superstitious, but I think I will do better to just relax and trust that things can be different this time instead of fretting over phone calls and numbers. There is nothing I can do about it anyway so in and out I breathe. Our ultrasound will be on Tuesday afternoon. I know there won't be a chance of seeing much, but something, anything in my uterus would be cause for happiness. And a milestone we haven't before reached.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I just received the call from my RE. I am officially pregnant, with a beta hCG of 157. The sound you are probably hearing right now is me exhaling. Try as I might to remain calm today, I have been on pins and needles since the band-aid went on my arm. We repeat the beta on Wednesday, with an ultrasound to follow next week because of my history of ectopics. My estrogen was on the high side so I am to discontinue my patches. My progesterone was also high so I had the choice to cut back on the injection amount or switch to suppositories. I opted to stick with the shots because if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Thanks to everyone for their comments and support. I so appreciate it! Now I'm off to repeat my latest mantra: "just relax, your body can do this."
Saturday, December 8, 2007
...and a new pee stick. I am amazed to be reporting that this one appears positive. The faint line of yesterday that I whole-heartedly discounted may have been something after all. Today's showed up more quickly and is definitely darker...visible without squinting or turning the test toward the gamma ray producing mega wattage bathroom light fixture bulbs. I am stunned. When I told husband he hit me with the classic Dumb and Dumber line "so you're saying there's a chance." I guess we do have a chance after all. A very long way to go, yes, but a glimmer of hope nonetheless.
Friday, December 7, 2007
I prevailed in the HPT argument, which is to say that I talked husband into a compromise. We tramped through the snow and cold to CVS and bought a box of my preferred FRER, with the understanding that I would use one first thing this morning. I awoke at about 3:00AM with the urge to go so the deed was done. Like so many other times, no matter how long I gave it my best "please line show up" stare, nothing happened. It was negative. I am 6dp5dt or 11dpo today. I crawled back into bed and waited for my pulse to return to normal and my breathing to slow. I am a realist, but the tantalizing knowledge of a great quality blastocyst in my uterus had my hope receptors firing. I thought this time might be different/good/real. Husband didn't wake up and I finally reclaimed sleep after a lengthy conversation with my rational self about how we will have more chances, life will go on, and how I am thankful for so many things in our lives. When husband woke up I gave him the news. He dug the stick out of the garbage and declared that he saw a faint line. Faint is being awfully generous - it is definitely an evaporation "line." So I am at work today and though thoroughly disappointed and sad, I also feel at peace. As I said in my last post, I prefer knowing to not knowing. Now we will move forward again into more of the great unknown.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Yesterday husband had to talk me down. I was driving home from work and I casually mentioned that I was planning to make a stop at Target for some essentials...shampoo, deodorant, HPTs. He immediately and strenuously objected, much to my suprise. I am 5dp5dt today, or 10 dpo. If there was something to see, I think I could have seen it this morning. He was having none of it. He wants to wait until Saturday. Now I'm not a pee stick freak. I have had my fair share of run-ins with them, but in all the time that we have been trying and with our multiple losses, it has been inevitable. So here I sit, 3 1/2 days away from my beta (I would say 4 days but it is early on Monday morning ;)and I am itching to know. That is the type of person I am. Be it good news or bad, I like to be let off the hook. Husband admitted that he, on the other hand, prefers the ignorant "bliss" of not knowing for as long as possible. How or why he thinks this is pleasant I don't know. He is so NOT ready to know, in fact, that he volunteered to make my Target run for me. He even bought me the mascara I needed (with cell phone guidance provided by me, of course). I am currently bargaining with him that since I wanted to test today and he wants to test on Saturday, that tomorrow is a perfect compromise. He said we'll talk about it tonight. :) I have acupuncture after work so I will most likely be in a very zen and "come what may" mindset for at least a few hours. Then the battle of wills will likely be on again.
Monday, December 3, 2007
OHSS symptoms thankfully did not make an appearance and we were able to transfer on Saturday morning. One blastocyst was transferred and according to the RE who did the procedure, all went as planned. Having never done this before, we were in awe of the whole process. I am fairly convinced that my valium was a placebo as I swear I felt no different on it than I normally do. I may have been a TAD more relaxed but nothing notable. I admit I was sort of looking forward to a nice hazy calm settling over me during the procedure and for several hours after. No dice. We drove home in the first stage of a pretty big snowstorm. It was a good thing we got out of there when we did. As it was, we saw some cars in the ditch. I took up residence on the couch and let husband bring me food and beverages. My 48 hours of "bed rest" is officially up so I am catching up on a few things. I feel like I've been out of commission forever because I have been laying low since the retrieval. It feels nice to be up and around and at least visualizing being productive. As for frozen embryos, at the time of tranfer there were four other blastocysts that they were planning to freeze. They were going to look again on Sunday and freeze any additional blasts. We haven't heard the final number yet. I've been kind of crampy both yesterday and today which is most likely a side effect of the progesterone. The shots are going amazingly well for how unfamiliar with and nervous about the whole process husband was. So we wait. I still need to schedule my beta, which will be on 12/10. If I know me, I will probably sneak a HPT on Friday or Saturday. Until then, just feeling fortunate that we have made it this far.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Husband got the call today. The lab called my work number first but moved on to his cell phone when I wasn't there to answer. So things look like this: out of 23 eggs retrieved (one more than we thought) 16 were mature. Out of the mature eggs, 13 fertilized. We should get another update on Friday, along with a transfer time for Saturday provided that I have been able to fend off OHSS until then. They also mentioned transferring on Sunday depending on how things look. Husband and I don't know what to think. Part of that whole "hoping for quality not quantity" was about not having so many embryos...not more than we could ultimately use. Granted, with no idea as to what their quality would be or currently is, it is hard to say how things will look in another few days. Six previous losses means something is wrong but is it the embryos, my body, both? We realize that putting back a good embryo is no guarantee of a healthy pregnancy. So we will wait and see and I will continue to rest and not worry about what I can't control. Thanks to everyone for their well wishes and encouragement. They are greatly appreciated!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
When I last checked in, things were looking the way we wanted them to look. My body wasn't going crazy, we had follicles but a modest number, we were almost there and I was happy. Saturday brought another monitoring appointment. Follicles had increased to about 12 - 13 mature. I returned home and eagerly awaited the phone call that would give me my trigger shot and retrieval instructions. The phone rang, but instead it was my RE calling to explain that my E2 level had unexpectedly jumped from the day before and was now in an uncomfortable 4000+ range. Our options, he expained, were as follows.
1) To cancel the cycle completely - no trigger shot - and let my body simmer down. However, as we had been conservative and hadn't pushed too hard with stimulation he couldn't guarantee that the same thing wouldn't happen on a subsequent cycle.
2) Trigger as planned and retrieve the eggs, watch me closely for symptoms of OHSS and if they are mild or if none develop, transfer one embryo.
3) Same as option 2 but if symptoms are moderate or severe, freeze all embryos and do a frozen embryo transfer at a later date when I am back to normal.
After some careful thought we decided to go ahead and trigger, with the understanding that we would take all preventative measures possible to mitigate OHSS: rest, fluids, protein, and something in my IV during retrieval to start the protein/fluids situation moving in the right direction. Retrieval was yesterday at 8:30AM. Everything went well. I was, however, shocked to learned that they got 22 eggs. We don't yet know how many of them were mature...I'm guessing that several probably weren't but I also know that my guesses really mean nothing when it comes to this process. We will hear tomorrow from the emryology lab to see how things are going. I have been a good little patient and have camped out on the couch drinking protein shakes and "resting my pelvis." I was told the less friction the better. I'm not sure exactly what causes friction but I am limiting any and all movement just in case. It wasn't in my plan to take several days off of work after retrieval, but I am more than determined to stay feeling good if at all possible. Our RE has recommended a day 5 transfer from the beginning due to our recurrent losses and this is still the plan if we end up transferring at all. By Friday we will guage how I'm doing and make a decision. I guess we could call this a detour on our route but still with the hope that we will eventually reach our final destination.
Friday, November 23, 2007
“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm” -Unknown
Still moving forward and taking things one day at a time. My wish for this cycle was to be conservative and aim for quality over quantity. Since at least part of our problem has been ectopic pregnancies, we have no idea what to expect if we actually get a healthy embryo in the place where it belongs. That, coupled with my tendency to respond with gusto, has made my RE treat me with kid gloves. Thankfully it looks like we are getting results that we are both happy with. As of this morning's ultrasound it looks like I will do my evening meds tonight, my morning meds tomorrow, and trigger sometime tomorrow. Retrieval will be on Monday. This is pending today's E2 results, but as long as it hasn't taken a drastic jump we should stick to this schedule. I have another ultrasound appointment tomorrow morning, too. I feel like we can see the station up ahead...just a few more stops now. I keep reminding myself that ultimately this isn't in my control. I read Randine Lewis' "Letting Go" meditation last night before bed and it helped reaffirm my understanding that I have done all I can do by following my doctor's instructions and doing my injections faithfully. Beyond that what will be will be.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Live in the present. Do the things that need to be done. Do all the good you can each day. The future will unfold. -Peace Pilgrim
I thought the above quote was fitting for today. It is day 5 of stims and so far I think we are on track (trying to see just how far I can take this train metaphor. :) I had my first ultrasound to check follicles this morning. Don't remember the exact counts and sizes but I know I had six measurable ones on the right, with about 10 small ones. One of the measurables was pretty large and it will probably end up being the odd one out as we wait for the others to catch up. I think there were about three measurables on the left with about 15 small ones. My lining was at 7.3. I haven't been asking my E2 numbers because I think less knowledge is sometimes better with me. The less I know the less I can drive myself crazy analyzing. I do know that My E2 on Sunday was in the 300 range. My RE dropped my follistim dose to less than half of what it had been, which seems to have been his plan all along. I am waiting to hear from my clinic to find out the plan for my next u/s. As it stands now I would go in on Thursday/Thanksgiving. There was some hemming and hawing about this between the nurse and front desk staff so I will get the final word later today. It's possible they will have me come tomorrow and Friday instead, but ultimately it is my RE's call. So I'm chugging along...feeling pretty good and managing not to obsess about the details so far. Due to the aforementioned appointment schedule we will be spending a quiet holiday at home, just me, husband, and stepson. Much easier than traveling to any of our families' homes and trying to juggle schedules, injections, and excuses as nobody is aware of our current situation. We're keeping it simple. Wishing all of you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!
Today's estradiol is 853. Not really sure what that means but I guess they are happy with it.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
So at work I recently discovered Pandora, which is my new favorite way to add some enjoyment to my day. I have created a mellow work "radio" station for my listening enjoyment and lately it has been playing Peace Train by Cat Stevens about once a day. I love this song. The words and the rhythm make me smile. With tomorrow being my baseline ultrasound day for IVF #1, I've decided to adopt the concept of a Peace Train for this cycle. Heretofore the best theme I could come up with was the traditional "roller coaster." In the interest of a positive attitude I thought that Peace Train might have a better connotation. If all looks good tomorrow, then I will officially climb aboard and ask the conductor (mental image of my RE in a train conductor's cap) to punch my ticket. So far the lupron isn't making me too crazy. My moods have surprisingly remained mostly stable and no one in my immediate presence has suffered any undeserved bodily harm thus far. Of course this is subject to change. I have been fretting somewhat about my initial follistime dosage. My previous injectable/IUI cycles showed me to be a good bordering on ridiculous responder and from what I've read on other blogs my dosage seems on the high side. I talked to one of the nurses about this and she seemed surprised that I would question the dose. My closest-thing-to-a-lupron moment might have have been when I emphatically told her I DO NOT WANT TO HYPERSTIMULATE AND I DON'T FEEL THE NEED TO PRODUCE 30 EGGS! She assured me that the dose can be reduced if my levels rise too quickly. The bitchy, pessimistic side of me is already rehearsing my "I told you so" speech and in my weaker moments I have already envisioned my cycle being canceled because my ovaries are in danger of exploding. Clearly I have some pre-stim anxiety going on here. I realize I need to trust my doctor and the process, however, given that it is my body I am inclined to think that I know better. Time will tell. Must remember: "now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come and I believe it could be, something good has begun." Off to pack for my journey and planning to leave mental baggage behind.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Experience (mine and others’) tells me not to assume that this cycle will be the magic bullet. As with anything that is being tried for the first time there is that rose colored glasses feeling of “this will certainly do the trick.” I can’t go there. I am not betting against success but I am also not counting any chickens…or eggs, as suits the metaphor in my case. When I do let my mind wander to “what if this works” territory, I can’t help but feel a little frightened. Seven years have passed since we first felt the desire to become parents. During that time the wounds we have suffered have scarred over and self-protection mode has kicked in. I have never been that infertile woman who still coos at babies. In fact I have been known on more than one occasion to decline an invitation to hold a friend’s baby. At my house the Pottery Barn Kids catalog is thrown in the recycling bin without a glance. I haven’t attended a baby shower since one of my nephews was in-utero. He turned four last August. On a daily basis I have made it my practice to deny any motherly longing or instinct to save myself any extra pain. My biological clock became the enemy so I ripped out its moving parts and made them into jewelry. If by some miracle IVF worked for us, would I be able to find my mommy chip again? I have to believe I can. As deeply as it is buried, it must still be there somewhere.
Monday, October 22, 2007
I received discouraging news today from my friend who was to be cycling at the same time as us. Things did not work out for her to begin this cycle and it is up in the air as to whether she will be able to try IVF in the future. It is yet another case of scary inferility road blocks happening to good people. I got an update from another friend who recently had a failed, most likely final, IVF. They are taking a break to regroup and see what makes sense for them in the future. It is so not fair how this ugly beast can chew people up and spit them out over and over again. These are good, deserving, strong people and yet their dreams are still in limbo. I was once told that babies are not passed out according to merit. So very true.
Here is a link to a series of articles that is running in my local newspaper:
Today's piece is on whether or not insurance companies should pay for IVF. I just hate the misuse of the word "implant" in articles dealing with IVF. I actually emailed the authors of this one to correct them. It also pains me to see or hear people who know nothing of infertility on a personal level weigh in on things like insurance coverage. Unless you have walked in these shoes, you have no idea how you would feel or what kind of decisions you would make to build your family. I appreciate it when infertility issues are written about and given some time out of the closet, but I dislike how it provides a forum for others to judge situations they can't understand. I guess we can't be lucky enough to have one without the other.
Those are my random thoughts for today.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Yesterday was a beautiful fall day in my part of the world. As a lover of this all-to-fleeting season, I never miss a chance to enjoy some time outside. The leaves are almost at peak and I know that fair weather isn't likely to last much longer. Yesterday also happened to be homecoming at husband's and my alma mater. Football is another reason I love autumn so it was a no brainer that we would go enjoy the day with old college classmates and friends. Of course I can't leave home without my IF baggage, no matter how hard I try to unchain it from myself. Unfortunately this particular afternoon, as it turned out, the vultures were hungry. To set the scene, it was your basic family bonanza. As usual, everyone had loaded up their SUVs and minivans with their offspring dressed in cute little university t-shirts and onesies. Hell, just like we probably would if we had any kids to bring. Many of these people we now see rarely, so the questions are wincingly inevitable. Yesterday, however, there was an extra level of presumption in the air. Within minutes of each other I was asked both "where are your kids?" and "how many kids do you have?" Having mentally prepared myself for the equally invasive but slightly less jarring "do you have kids?" I was caught off guard by these brave inquiries. My answer to the first question was: "my WHAT?", accompanied by a look that practically knocked the asker back a foot. I realized we weren't in Kansas anymore and the vultures in question were used to an atmosphere in which procreation wasn't a question of IF, but HOW MANY. Shortly after my trip through the gauntlet, dear husband found himself one among a circle of old college buddies whose conversation had turned to vasectomy talk. When he shook his head and attempted to extract himself from the group, he was ribbed by the guys about how it was most certainly in his future, too. Apparently my reality is your reality as far as they are concerned. Never mind that we are clearly living in an alternate universe. The postlogue to all of this is that we somehow managed not to let all of it sour our day - or at least not as much as it would have a few months ago. Instead I somehow managed to sustain a feeling that I was somehow more enlightened than they were...like possibly I have reached some sort of plane where I look at other people and don't assume or presume that we are all walking the same path or living the same reality. I didn't mind that our stripes didn't match theirs. I just could have done without them trying to paint some on us.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
1. There are four girls in my family and all of our names begin with "K." My parents would tell you this wasn't really intentional. It provided entertainment when one of us was in trouble and my mom or dad had to struggle through all of our names before reaching that of the guilty party.
2. My husband is first generation Italian (OK this is more of an unusual fact about him but I am claiming it by marriage) and holds duel US/Italian citizenship. The majority of his relatives are still in Italy and we have been fortunate enough to go visit family there a few times.
3. When I come home from work I love having some quiet alone time to decompress. On nights when husband isn't home he likes to call and chat, usually about nothing in particular. I try to do my best to feign interest but really I like nothing more than to be left alone for a while. I think it stems from talking on the phone all day at work. I crave quiet when I get home.
4. I'm a bit of an entertainment news junkie. I think the mindlessness of entertainment news is more palatable to me than hard news. Also, in a strange way watching stories about the exploits of young, silly celebrities with too much money and not enough brain cells or moral fiber makes me feel better about myself.
5. I like being tall. While I'm not overly or ridiculously blessed in the height department, at 5'9" I am a fair amount taller than most of my friends. That being said, my "little" sister would take issue with my claiming to be tall as she is just a shade under 6'.
6. I HATE mayonnaise! This includes 'Miracle Whip' and any other mayonnaise-type product ever invented. I also detest sour cream and most other savory, white, creamy substances. When I was growing up I would gag if I had to wash a dish with mayonnaise on it.
7. Fall is my favorite time of year. I love everything about this season: fall leaves, apple orchards, Oktoberfest celebrations, football season, warm clothes, pumpkin patches. Even though a few of these are positively riddled with families withstrollers and babies being photographed by corn stalks, I still can't help myself. Where I live it comes and goes so quickly that I try to enjoy it while it lasts.
OK, that's about the best I can do. Now to tag a few others, I choose peesticksandstones and Kami of Are We There Yet . Hope everyone has a great weekend!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Attention Preggos: Fun Event Tomorrow!
Once again MOFAS is hosting their Pregnant Pause event. This is a fun, free event where pregnant women can win some great door prizes! The event includes a non-alcoholic drink making competition, where “mixologists” competed for prizes and the recognition of having made the best drink. Pregnant women will serve as judges and drawings will be held to award door prizes to the pregnant women attending the event.
I found this in the online version of my local paper. To be fair, it was part of a parenting blog which I read from time to time because they once had a guest blogger who was going through an IVF cycle. When my eyes landed on this announcement I felt like a lonely kid in a dorm who had just walked past a big party while on the way to the library on a Friday night. If someone who knew my situation asked me to sum up feelings toward the pregnant women of the world, I would simply refer them to this event. It says way more than I ever could about the “outside looking in” pangs I get far too often living as an infertile in a fertile world. We are having a party and you aren’t invited. To comfort myself I imagined a room full of us infertiles (who I picture as much more fun and interesting people) drinking real drinks and not complaining about swollen ankles and daycare costs. My defense mechanisms are predictable but they serve me well.
Now for a confession of sorts. If I’m completely honest, I also read the aforementioned parenting blog sometimes due to simple, morbid curiosity. The women who write this blog have made it to a place I long to go and I wonder what the scenery is like. They are mothers juggling children, work, friends, social lives, and marital relationships. As an infertile woman and a sufferer of recurrent pregnancy loss, sometimes I think I focus so much on attaining the pregnancy part that I forget about what would come after. Hypothetically speaking of course, I would have a real live baby and I would be a parent. How would I contend with this? What would it look like? Could I handle it? What is my capacity for multitasking while sleep deprived? Sometimes in the middle of this whole IF battle I think I forget that two lines on a pregnancy test sometimes mean that the arrival of a human being is imminent. Just because it has never meant that for me I think I discount it (and damn it who can blame me?!). If at the end of all the heartache, the spent money, the invasive procedures, and the wellsprings of pent-up angst I end up with “a baby in the basket” (as my RE puts it), what then? The answer, of course, is I have no idea. The only thing I do know is that it turns out I am a lot stronger than I thought I ever could be and I have the battle scars to prove it. If the day comes, I will do the best I can, just like I’m doing now. We all rise to the occasions put forth before us in our own way. Sometimes that might involve throwing imaginary darts at a room full of celebratory pregnant women judging non-alcoholic frou frou drinks. Sometimes it means knowing when you have enough on your plate to deal with right now and turning away from the “what ifs” of the future.
Friday, September 14, 2007
We heard back from our doctor's office and we have, after further consideration, been accepted for the shared risk IVF program. This came as a big relief to us but as with any hurdle in the IF world, once you clear it your mind is already on to the next one. We are extremely grateful that we have the opportunity for a monetary safety net. With no insurance coverage and still some debate as to exactly how we will shoulder this debt, any financial reassurance is a boost. We are now looking toward the next steps, which are complicated by the fact that an infection showed up on Husband's SPA test. This is the second time an analysis has revealed infection for him and the doctors don't know why it is happening. His side of the equation suffers from the presence of the infection so we need to wait until it is out of his system before we get down to the business of IVF (now with ICSI). This being said, timing becomes a bit of a puzzle with a few possible solutions. Do we start the BCPs and hope that we get the all clear from the urologist or do we wait 100% until we know he's good to go? We can't seem to reach an agreement on that. Of course I'm the one who is anxious to begin. For now we are cooling our heels and letting Cipro do its job (we hope).
Monday, September 10, 2007
As I write this, someone somewhere in an office probably far away is deciding my reproductive fate. Husband and I having recently completed the requisite tests for a shared risk IVF program, our clinic faxed in the paperwork and the waiting began. I got a call from our clinic coordinator this morning with what turned out to be an update. We were denied. They were scared off by our six early losses and wanted to shut the door. Our RE, however, has gone to bat for us and appealed to some higher authority within the shared risk company (which we are hoping involves a physician). Our losses have all been very early and two were ectopic. This means that we have never had a confirmed intrauterine pregnancy. Our RE feels this is a horse of different color (picturing the painted horse scene in The Wizard of Oz) and has told them as much. In recurrent pregnancy loss, as in real estate, location is everything. If given the chance to take up residence in the legal dwelling rather than in the air shafts of my proverbial home, it is possible that our microscopic offspring could thrive. That’s the idea anyway. Whether that would happen is anyone’s guess but we were/are hoping to be given the opportunity to try. We know that we can still attempt IVF on a pay per shot basis but none of this is covered by insurance (unless by some miracle husband’s new job has a spectacular benefits package) so we really wanted to have that financial net under us before descending into more debt. Perhaps it’s not too late to pull up stakes and move to Europe or at least one of the few states in this country where coverage is assured. I keep repeating my catch phrase/mantra/sanity saving sentence in my head: “control what you can and let the rest go.” We have done what we could do, our RE and our clinic are doing what they can do, and the rest is totally and completely outside of our control. All that is left to lament are the conditions which exist that have brought us to this point. Should we have somehow known to rein ourselves in after say, three losses and take a stab at IVF? Really not financially feasible at that time. Should we have been on birth control to prevent the spontaneous pregnancies that started occurring in the last two years? The way we saw it, each one was a very real chance at having a child. The only silver lining in the way they turned out was that they provided another clue to our situation – ectopic is now in our vocabulary. I know, I know, lamenting the past (or pointing out its irony or injustices) isn’t letting go. I guess I had to get a little of it off my chest before I can exhale and attempt to truly relinquish my inadequately human hold on this whole situation. Exercises in futility have always been my cardio of choice. I’m trying to be better about that.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Allow me a bit of a tangent on the aforementioned Christmas card for a moment since I doubt I'm the only one who cringes when these begin to pile up in the mailbox. Of course the worst offender of them all is the brag-o-rama Christmas letter. The dark side of me would love to write a "Christmas Letter from an Infertile" and send it to all of the smug parents in my address book. It would be equal parts honest depiction of pain and overly embellished descriptions of a glamorous child free life that I don't really live. Just a little something to make the recipient feel like we do when we read yet another encapsulation of a year's worth of little Riley or Ava's accomplishments and accolades. Thank goodness Santa was kind enough to bring me a high powered shredder last year.
Returning to my original train of thought, my road through infertility seems to be marked with more milestones than I care to deal with. Each is a reminder of how much more life has passed with a dream as yet unfulfilled. Turn a milestone on its side and it becomes a stumbling block. Some days I am strong enough to climb over and others I am the like the group of ants in the animated movie of the same name. I stare at them in dismay and can see no way to overcome them. Today is one of those days. Here's hoping tomorrow I find a ladder.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
There is this little game I sometimes like to play called "count the pregnant women at Target." I live in the Twin Cities, home of that great store with the bulls-eye logo where you can get anything from camping gear to tampons to cute clothes. Since there is one just down the road from me, and a Super Target no less, I find myself going there several times a week to grab whatever we happen to be out of. I'm guessing some of you out there can relate. When I go I never fail to notice (surprise, surprise) all of the women with child who are wandering about the place. Sometimes I wonder if there is a secret pg club membership where they get points for each trip they make...perhaps its part of the "Lullaby Club" gift registry package and its a way to earn baby loot. Maybe there is a vast conspiracy where they somehow know that I'm coming and mobilize with as great speed and agility as pregnant women can muster and arrive just in time to grab a cart in front of me. Whatever the case they are ALWAYS there. Today I made a typical post-work Target run for some dinner ingredients. I was there for all of 15 minutes - a speed trip I have perfected after years of practice - and I counted four of them. Four! OK, it could have been that the last one was just rather chubby round the midsection but the tie breaker always goes to pregnant in my book. Not that tally is anything out of the ordinary for my local Target, but damn! They were popping up out of the frozen foods section and wheeling through the aisles left and right. Certainly the universe had sent them there to torture me. That or maybe there was a giant baby stuff sale of which I was decidedly unaware. At any rate, as much as I'd like to boycott the place, there is no way I can give up Target. Maybe I'll just talk to the manager about a infertility friendly day where they don't let any pg women in. Don't I wish.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Please bear with my silliness today. For some reason the mood struck me to come up with the following, based on the song "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music (one of my favorite movies). Here's what I think Maria might have sung if she had known the curse of infertility - not that Nazis weren't trouble enough.
My Least Favorite Things
Band-Aids on arm veins and bruises on buttocks
Brightly lit exam rooms and feet in the stirrups
Jumping on test day when the telephone rings
These are a few of my least favorite things
Follicles and hormone levels checked every few days
Messy progesterone to bolster luteal phase
Hot flashes and mood swings and the angst that they bring
These are a few of my least favorite things
Uber-fertile relatives and ever procreating friends
Feeling a failure when yet another cycle ends
Watching the years pass with anxiety growing
These are a few of my least favorite things
If the planets align
And the day comes
When a baby is ours
I will look back on all my least favorite things
And then I won’t feel so scarred
Saturday, August 25, 2007
In the interest of not being labeled a hermit, tonight I attended a dinner in honor of a friend's birthday. Given the fact that this friend is part of a couple who have two small children, I knew I would be walking into a proverbial parenthood lion's den. I force myself to take part in these events from time to time (when I can stomach the prospect) because, after all, the picture I have in my mind is certainly worse that the real situation, right? I wish. To set the scene, the guests included myself, the aforementioned couple, another couple with one small child and one on the way - although she hasn't bothered to tell me she's pregnant and she is well aware of our situation, a friend of the bday girl who attended solo because her husband was home with their sick child, and another couple who know the bday girl and her husband solely because their children go to the same daycare. My only savior was my best friend who lives with her boyfriend and isn't (as far as I know) planning on procreating any time soon. In short, I spent tonight in the 5th circle of hell, better known as a restaurant in St. Paul. The conversation swirling around me went something like this: "blah blah blah baby blah blah daycare blah blah blah breastfeeding, blah blah pregnancy blah blah blah kids blah blah Dora the Explorer..." Apparently once a child enters your life it is the ONLY topic permitted to be discussed when in the presence of other adults. Husband was unable to come with me so I suffered the above with only one glass of wine to soothe the savage beast that was attempting to claw its way out of me all night. How I wish the Twin Cities had a better public transportation system! The whole time I kept thinking of the Sesame Street or Electric Company (I forget which and I am dating myself) song where "one of these kids is doing her own thing" and you have to guess which character isn't like the others and why. I might as well have worn a big blinky barren sign to dinner...it would have been less obvious than my blatant inability to return any of the conversational volleys bouncing past me as I sat in silence and studied my salad. Given my stress level when the bill finally came, I'm not sure it's worth it to subject myself to these "festivities" even as often as I do. After all, life as a hermit must have other benefits besides saving money and greatly limiting the urge to run screaming from restaurants. I promise I will read this post the next time an Evite shows up in my inbox.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Does it sound completely ridiculous to say I know how much I would love a child because of how much I love my dog? I have heard plenty of people talk about how your heart grows when you become a parent and when you first lay eyes on your child - whether it is at birth or during the adoption process, you experience a love of which you never knew you were capable. I confess that I marvel at the prospect of this. Since I don’t have a frame of reference, I can only compare the unconditional love I feel for the dog that has been a part of our family for the last seven years. I don’t consider myself a fanatical pet lover (one of those types who dresses up their pet and might stage a wedding ceremony after which the pet would be invited to eat off the owner’s plate) but I am a dedicated dog lover and appreciater (even though that’s not a word). Specifically, my dog has seen me through a lot of rough times and every time she looks at me with her adoring brown eyes I feel like I have a vague idea of what parents are talking about. Many would skewer me for putting animals and children in anywhere near the same category, but again, it’s all I have to go on right now. I wonder if there are any others in this boat who have a deep appreciation for their pets. I will admit that my dog has probably become my pseudo-child (poor thing!) and I relish her presence in my home and in my heart. If being a pet parent is this rewarding, I can only imagine what would be in store with an actual child *visualizing scene from the (original) Grinch movie where his heart grows until it shatters the magnifying glass*. I hope I get to find out.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Sometimes I (inexplicably) flog myself by going to the celebrity baby blog website. I am at once drawn to it and repulsed by it and on weaker days I give in. It's like looking into the windows of the most fabulous candy store because you don't have any money to spend. Today, however, I found something I could partake of:
This is a video to Kellie Coffey's song "I Would Die For That" which is about her struggle to become a mother. I may be discovering this a bit late as I think this has become a very popular YouTube video (which is wonderful!), but I had to mention what a nice feeling it gave me to see someone in the public eye make such an open, honest, and real declaration about her struggle to become a mother. I confess I watched the video with tears in my eyes. These lyrics especially left me choked up:
Sometimes it's hard to conceive,
With all that I've got,And all I've achieved,
What I want most Before my time is gone,
Is to hear the words"I love you, Mom."
She said it better than I ever could.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
What a wonderful idea! I've had similar thoughts in the past (as I'm sure plenty of us have) about a "secret handshake" of sorts to acknowledge fellow companions on the IF journey. Let's face it, too many of us know what this feels like and it is always comforting, validating, and liberating to talk to our infertility comrades. Cheers to stirrup queens and all those who took part in bringing this into being!
Thursday, August 16, 2007
"Obviously I'm in a race to have another, but I don't want to do it while on tour," the singer, 37, tells InStyle for its September issue (on sale Friday). "But I can't wait to get pregnant again. It's so fun and consuming and romantic." -Gwen Stefani
Do you ever have one of those days where a headline like this smacks you right between the eyes because it is so foreign to your reality? I suppose I could grudgingly admit a commonality with the word "consuming" but somehow I don't think my definition would match hers. Not that I would wish infertility on anyone but I also don't know how to stop making my skin crawl when I read or hear revelations such as these. Maybe it smarts even more because once upon a time I was in the same proverbial boat. Didn't most of us expect that once the goalie was pulled (so to speak) that baby making would be one wildly entertaining roll in the hay and that pregnancy would be imminent? I'm clearly not really angry at Ms. Gwen but really at my own lost innocence. How did I get here? I hear of women who time their procreation to coincide correctly with summer vacations or existing siblings' birth dates or perhaps so that they aren't huge and swollen during the hottest months of summer. I marvel at the strings they are able to pull to control the very essence of human life. They can create human beings at will, these people. Do they walk around drunk on their own power? More likely than not, they never give it a second thought...just like Gwen here. I'm sure we all have something that someone else wishes they could have too, like thick hair or beautiful skin or a perfect soprano voice (OK not me personally on any of these counts) but command of earthly existence surely ranks a bit more highly than the ability to carry a tune. I'm all for counting my blessings, and I frequently do, but life and experience tell me that women who fall into Gwen's category don't give it a moment's thought. Oh how I wish they did.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
See if there is a support group or (better yet) a Mind/Body group in your area. http://www.infertilitymindbody.com/foreword.htm
Talking to others who know how this feels can go a long way to keeping your emotional health intact as much as possible. I took a Mind/Body class this past spring and I can't say enough about what it did for me. I learned invaluable stress relieving and meditative techniques. I also connected with a strong, compassionate group of women who have become a well spring of inspiration and support. I think the most common quote given by our instructor to anyone who would listen is "there is no need to suffer alone." After many years of doing just that, I agree with her 100%. Our class has ended, but our group continues to get together and to email each other. We remain a positive presence in each ohers' lives and infertility journeys.
If you feel inclined, look beyond western medicine and check out acupuncture.
I have been doing acupuncture now for about four months and it has brought a new level of peace to my life. I feel better, have more energy, and have noticed positive changes in my cycles since beginning my kinder, gentler love affair with needles. In my sessions I have also learned how important emotional "movement" is to over all physical health and well being. Emote away! Obviously when a treatment cycle is involved, your doctor needs to know about an herbs, etc., you are taking to make sure nothing interferes.
Do what you need to do to keep yourself sane.
If, like me, you have stood by while family members and friends announce pregnancies and have children (in many cases, several) while you WAIT for your turn, you know how mentally taxing it can be. Do what you can and let the rest go. Take care of yourself first. For me that means avoiding situations that could potentially be uncomfortable or in some cases excruciating (baby showers, gatherings, celebrations). I am not a hermit but I have definitely downshifted.
That's about all I've got. We all know there is no magic potion, special diet, or miracle cure. We all just muddle through and lean on each other. I am lucky that Husband is an amazing partner in all of this. We still manage to laugh together. I guess that's the best I can hope for.
- Married at 25, husband was 26 and had a son from a previous relationship
- Started "trying" one year into marriage. Irregular cycles
- First pregnancy on Clomid, March 2002. M/C at about 5 weeks
- Began seeing RE in 2003
- Second pregnancy on Clomid with IUI July 2003. HCG levels never got off the ground
- Third pregnancy on injectables with IUI September 2003. Same as above
- Endo, possible PCOS...RE didn't seem overly concerned. Out of covered IUI cycles. On the bench
- Fourth pregnancy all on our own, September 2005. Ectopic. Surgery to remove pregnancy, tube OK
- Fifth pregnancy all on our own, June 2006. HCG levels never got off the ground
- Sixth pregnancy all on our own, April 2007. HCG levels indicate ectopic. Methotrexate
So, here we are. The "e" word seems to be our achilles heel as RE suspects most or all of these embryos have not made their way to the proper place. Given all this we are now *gulp* turning over the daunting and hairy IVF leaf. We are currently in prelimary testing to see if we qualify for the magic "shared risk" program that will provide some sense of a safety net. We'll see what happens.