Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The Year that Wasn't

I am sick of lists about 2007, just like I was sick of lists about 2006. There are so many 2007 lists out there that they are actually generating more news than probably happened in 2007. There are also the anti-list lists which are still lists. I choose to do something different to memorialize 2007. I'm going to do it by the numbers.

Number of times I laughed: thousands
Number of times I cried: hundreds
Number of plants I killed: less than 5
Number of new hobbies started: 2 (sewing and gardening)
Number of old hobbies rediscovered: at least 1 (reading poetry)
Number of pregnancies: 1 (yes, Virginia, you can get pregnant!)
Number of miscarriages: 1 (yes Virginia, life does suck)
Number of weeks our baby lived: 9
Number of weeks it took me to get over the miscarriage: 34 (and counting)
Number of condolences after miscarriage: at least 10
Number of people we told about the miscarriage who never said anything: at least 3
Number of vials of Menopur shot up: at least 30
Number of IUI cycles completed: 4
Number of episodes of Grey's Anatomy I watched: 71
Number of miles put on the car: maybe 3,000
Number of couples we are friends with who had babies: 3
Number of baby presents I made and sent: 2
Number of thank you notes received for those presents: 1
Number of new friends made: 3
Number of old friends lost: 1
Number of movies watched from Netflix: 29
Number of new countries visited: 3
Number of new cities in US visited: 2
Number of new Christmas ornaments bought: 2
Number of sewing projects completed: at least 8
Number of sewing projects still going: 2
Number of cross-stitch projects finished: 3
Number of cross-stitch projects still going: 2
Number of cross-stitch projects bought but not started: at least 4
Number of home improvements made: 2
Number of times I cursed: thousands
Number of cruises: 1
Number of plane flights: at least 10
Number of times I said that I hate my job: at least 20
Number of resumes sent out for new job: 0
Number of therapists seen: 1
Number of visits with Dr. Uterus: at least 30
Number of times I gave up alcohol and caffeine: at least 10
Number of prenatal vitamins taken: 365
Number of Prozac taken: 365
Number of times I shook my fist at the sky: 0
Number of times that I would have liked to: 5
Number of kitty bites: at least 15
Number of books read: at least 30
Number of pictures taken of the kitties: at least 250
Number of times I rearranged my office: at least once
Number of times I thought I was being a bitch: quite a few
Number of times other people told me I was being a bitch: 0
Number of times I wished the grass would be greener: too many to count

Sunday, December 30, 2007

16 and Pregnant or 31 and Infertile?

I absolutely loved Ricky Gervais' series on HBO called Extras. Ricky plays Andy Millman, an extra who is trying to break into show busines with his own show. He has an almost Seinfeld-ian prediliction for saying the absolute wrong thing at the absolute wrong time and watching the messes he manages to get himself in his truly sqirm-worthy. Another main character is his best friend and fellow extra Maggie (played by Ashley Jensen of Ugly Betty). Maggie is not particularly bright and seriously quirky which she demonstrates with her random questions for Andy such as would he rather have no legs or no arms, etc.

I've got one for Maggie- would you rather be 16 and knocked up like Jamie Lynn Spears or 31 and infertile like me? Personally, I'd pick 31 and infertile any day. I can only imagine the world of hurt that I would have encountered had I gotten knocked up at 16. Not to mention that I would have had to make a difficult decision about what to do with the pregnancy as I am certain my parents would have been against me keeping the baby (and I really wasn't very fond of them at that age). And, there is a lot more public humiliation and shame associated with being very young and pregnant than there is with infertility (my how things have changed).

Despite all of my grousing about our current situation, I wouldn't trade places with her in a million years.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Kitty Baby

We have two kitties, who are brothers although they look nothing alike. Their momma apparently got around with several different toms and thus they have at least two daddies. The Bad One earned this name many times over but is still much adored in the house because he loves snuggling with us. He also tolerates being held (and has since he was a kitten). I usually pick up him and hold him up against my shoulder and then shift him into my arms like a baby. I start cooing at him that he's my kitty baby (kit-ty bay-be) and that's his cue to begin squirming to be put down.

My parents were in town for Christmas and I was holding the Bad One like my kitty baby. My mom held out her arms in the universal sign for "can I hold him?" and I felt this instant sadness that all I could give her was a cat, not a real baby. I hope someday I can give her a real baby to hold in her arms.

A Promise

When I get pregnant, I promise I will not put a creepy spinning baby on the side of my blog showing the development or put a ticker at the top to show how far along I am. Part of this is because the spinning baby is just plain weird (it kind of looks like its on an inverted spit) and the ticker is a reminder that there is still so much time for something to go catastrophically wrong. The main reason, though, is because it is so difficult for other infertile women to see happy pregnant ladies, even if those ladies were fellow infertiles. To me, tickers and spinning babies on infertility blogs are inadvertently cruel because the girls who are still struggling with infertility who read these blogs are then reminded with every spin that they don't have a pregnancy to memorialize with a spinning baby or ticker. When I am pregnant (and come hell or high water, I will get knocked up) no tickers or spinning babies. Period.

The Waiting Room

I spend a lot of time these days in the Waiting Room - the physical waiting room and the metaphorical waiting room. The physical waiting room belongs to Dr. Uterus. It's tolerable as waiting rooms go (except when they had Christmas music going 24/7). I know which chair I like and that he has sucky literature (no People!) and that it is an ok place to catch up on increasing my score on BrickBreaker on my Crackberry. It is also the place for me to begin to worry about whatever is coming up because except when I was pregnant, going back is usually somewhat to highly nerve-wracking.

For as much time as I spend in Dr. Uterus' waiting room, I am always in the metaphorical Waiting Room. Waiting for a new cycle, waiting for a procedure, waiting for a pregnancy test. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I suppose everyone is waiting for something - the next weekend, the next holiday, lunch, dinner, a movie sequel. It just seems that waiting in infertility is much more agonizing and time consuming. While waiting for normal things, you can usually keep yourself nicely occupied while waiting - be it by doing work, sleeping, reading, etc.

But, waiting while you have infertility is difficult because you are reminded of your infertility just enough to make it seem like it is always there. It could be because you have to take a pill every night, you see a pregnant lady (or ladies), you get an email from a friend asking how the babymaking is going, you get Christmas cards with friends' toddlers smiling back at you. As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, "It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another."

How do you distract yourself from infertility when there is always something around to remind you either of what you are going through or what you don't have? Sometimes it seems like a herculean task to simply not think about it 0nce for 5, 10, or 20 minutes. Work hasn't been providing the level of distraction that it normally does simply because we are between holidays and it is pretty slow. And blogging about infertility (which is so helpful) also means that there is the urge to think of new topics and blog about them lest things get stale.

Maybe I'll start doing a little trick I heard about for OCD. When you find yourself having a thought, you smack your wrist with a rubberband. It never really worked with my OCD because the concern behind the thought didn't change. But, maybe it will work with this - much like I remind myself to stop grimacing when I'm thinking (it's my vain attempt to not make the furrows between my brows even more noticeable). I hope to be able to go at least an hour without thinking about infertility. This sounds like a modest goal, but considering how time and life consuming it all is, I think it's a fair goal.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Why Am I Doing this Again?

When Sweetie and I sat down with Dr. Uterus in November to chart out The Future, we were very excited at the prospect (and success rates) of IVF. It seemed like the one-stop shop that we were looking for, the new hope. The failure of our last IUI, though, really took a lot out of me - mainly hope. So, when I got the IVF protocol in the mail and saw how much was actually involved, I was really freaked out. I suppose its natural to be a little freaked out on your first IVF just given the sheer newness of it. I just really thought that I was an experienced IFer and there wouldn't be that much that was different this time. I feel like I'm back in newbie land, but with none of the illusions and hope.

I also realized that part of me is still deathly afraid of having another miscarriage. My heart never hurt so much as it did then. I don't know if I could go through that again. To this day, I still feel cheated and the scar from that let down is still fresh and raw. Now with our best prospect for pregnancy looming, I find myself pulling away and not getting invested to preserve that little bit of hope and courage that I do have left.

I shared with Dr. Uterus a few weeks ago how I was scared to get pregnant again. He said something very profound: "Are you scared of something that will probably not happen or something that probably will?" I answered that I was scared of something that probably will not happen. But, still. Do I have the courage to try to get pregnant again knowing that I could suffer another loss? Do I have the courage to hope that I will get pregnant and have a baby? I think about what it would feel like to hold our baby in my arms, to see both of us reflected back and I think I might.

Disapproving Cervix

I think my cervix has decided that it has had enough prodding for the year. It was very disapproving and disgruntled during my sonohysterogram today and is still making its displeasure known with spotting and some cramping. This year it saw lots of action - four IUIs, one HSG, one pap smear (which I swear didn't happen because I didn't feel a damn thing), and today's scream fest of an SHG. I'm sure if it could talk, it would say, really, enough, can I just have a break for a while to remember what it was like when I was a happy, unmolested cervix? It seems like a very long time since my cervix was seen once a year and then went on its merry way.

It's amazing how much agony one little body part can produce. I can't wait for childbirth.

Clear SHG But Still Seeing Red

I had my SHG today to confirm that my uterus is hospitable for growing human life - basically to confirm that I have no polyps, fibroids, etc. After all, what's the point in going down the IVF road if your uterus is already full with other stuff? It took Dr. Uterus two (!) attempts to get things just 'so' which meant two pokes of the catheter - I swear I almost fell off the table I was in such agony. It was by far the most painful procedure I've had so far in the infertility journey. It was 10 times worse than my first HSG when my tubes were blocked and the pressure from the dye on the blockage was quite painful. Even post-op of my D & C when I had to take the Satan drug Methergine was easier compared to this.

Dr. Uterus was very apologetic and also stated that I apparently was the first patient of his to have more pain with the SHG than with the HSG. I have always strived to be different but this was not what I was hoping for. I did do some googling and found several other ladies who had unbelievably painful SHGs, so I know that I'm not alone. The good news was that the scan was quite clear and there do not appear to be any problems uterus-wise.

The whole experience, though, threw me into a bit of a depression partly because it was so damn painful and partly because the whole process just took so freaking long. I waited for almost an hour before we got started and then it took another 20 minutes after the procedure to check-out. I was fairly despondent by the time I got home and had a good cry. I felt so alone, as if I was the only person having this terrible time today. Then I made lunch and felt better. Funny how that works.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Friend Dilemma

I've always had a hard time making really lasting friendships. Put me in a room and I can charm or get to know just about 95% of the inhabitants, but I may only be in interested in getting to know 1or 2%. And then it's a lot like dating. Awkward moments, guardedness about yourself, etc. I'm quite picky about the people I am friends with. They have to be a special mixture of snark and kindness with an adventurous streak thrown in. And now, at least, they have to not be knocked up, focused on getting knocked up or have very young children already. That's a pretty tall order for girls in my age group.

Given how hard it is for me to make friendships, you would think that I would work really hard to keep the ones that I have made. And I do, with one notable exception. I've written before about my dilemma with my best friend. I feel a small measure of guilt on a daily basis that I am not being more strong in dealing with the fact that she's knocked up and I'm not (and in fact I'm actually going on BCPs to suppress my ovaries in preparation for the most invasive method to get pregnant known to man). I feel as if I should be able to hear whatever she has to say and be an active participant and cheerleader through her pregnancy. I know that is what she would do for me. When I called her with the wonderful news that I was finally pregnant last spring, she screamed into the phone. I was so touched. When she told me that she was pregnant in November, I sincerely wish that I could have done the same for her. But I couldn't. I couldn't do it. I couldn't scream in excitement (although to my credit, I was very good. No crying, no pouting, no hanging up).

Since the initial flurry of emails in which I tried to tactfully and gently lay out what I can and cannot handle (ultrasounds - no way, baby pics after the blessed event - fine), I 've tried to keep a low profile. We have had patches of non-communication in the past just because of fate, so I can kind of get away with being the silent type. But, I know eventually, I'm going to get that email asking how I am and I will have to decide if I want to know how she is, which really means if I want to know how her pregnancy is progressing. If I can't, I hope that I can forgive myself and that she can forgive me for being - hopefully a temporary - selfish person.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Next Stop: Hyperventilation Land

So I got my tentative IVF protocol in the mail today and I actually almost started hyperventilating. Here it is:
I thought I was pretty experienced at the infertility thing after 6 IUIs, but I apparently don't know squat. I feel like I haven't gotten much information from Dr. Uterus' office about everything that is entailed, and as usual I will have to turn to Dr. Google to fill in the blanks. I do know that I have my BCPs and I'll start popping those tomorrow as Big Red showed up yesterday.

Apparently, I need to have a sonohysterogram (SHG) to make sure my uterus is polyp, fibroid and scar free. It makes perfect sense, but that wasn't exactly mentioned before. I have to schedule it for next week as Dr. Uterus is skipping town the first week in January (can you blame him? All of these rabid infertile women constantly hounding him to knock them up? The man must be exhausted). Since the SHG is best performed when the uterine lining is very low (all the better to see your uterus with my pretty), that will put it at the beginning of next week which as we all know is Christmas. And since the mail was delivered after Dr. Uterus' office closed today (they close at 12pm on Fridays) I have to wait to make the appointment until the 26th for the 27th or 28th. Grr and double grr. Why didn't the nurse mention this the freakin' two other times we've talked about the BCPs? I can already feel my OCD flaring up.

An abnormal SHG can temporarily put the kabosh on IVF so that will be the next hurdle. The good news is that they are going to continue using the medicine I use already (Menopur) which means the five or so vials I have left over will still be put to good use. There's nothing like shooting up with post-menopausal women's urine to make you feel good about yourself.

At the same time, though, I have to admit that a tiny part of me is beginning to get excited. This is a new adventure now matter how you look at it and we are starting to climb for the summit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pulling Me Out of the Depths

I was very depressed last night and this morning about our failed IUI. I ended up telling my mom how it all turned out - they didn't know that we were doing this cycle - and she was so supportive and understanding. She told my dad who sent me a wonderful e-mail this morning and I think he understood for the first time how incredibly hard this journey has been for us. He was also able to provide some much needed perspective that while we are in a hole, we keep trying to dig ourselves out and this should not be an all consuming problem.

I expressed to him that I couldn't see my worth without having a child. I see now what a dreadful place to be that was. I managed to trivialize all of my accomplishments up to now by creating a myth that I have to have a child to be a worthy person. My dad helped me see this by pointing out that there are many ways to be a worthy person - not just having a child (and frankly, there are many unworthy people who do have children). So, I suppose it is more about creating my own reality than the myth that I think I should have. My wise therapist has been saying this in various themes, but it is only now really sinking in.

Earlier this evening, I also spent some time randomly cruising other people's profiles who share similar musical tastes. I found so many women who are my age who are not mothers, but more importantly, are not obsessing about becoming mothers. It was so refreshing to see that there are people out there who aren't listening to their biological clocks and who are just living their lives, traveling, thinking, blogging, knitting, whatever. I remember now that there is a life outside of infertility. As you might guess, infertility induces tunnel vision, especially when you are 2.5 years into the hole and don't see much light.

In the past, I really just paid lip service to having other interests and friends, but frankly, everything I did was shrouded, influenced or colored by infertility. It's still impossible for me to make plans a few months out and not wonder if I will be pregnant. It's impossible for me to look at a woman with a large belly and not wonder if she's pregnant. I can't answer the phone from an old friend and not dread that there is going to be news of bundles of joy being expected on the other end of the line. It's a terrible way to live.

And, while I know that it is a terrible way to live, I also don't know how not to live that way right now. Conventional wisdom would have me take a few months off and collect myself. At the moment, I can't stand the thought of even more delay. Haven't we waited long enough? I also know, though, that I'm really tired of being depressed and touchy. My compromise? I have to do three weeks of BCP before I get going on IVF. Those three weeks are my vacation of sorts. It would be so wonderful to just be. me. Not infertile me. Not bitter me. Just me. The start of the journey is to recognize that no matter what happens with my reproductive organs, I am still a good person who deserves as much happiness as everyone else. And a dog. A nice furry, bark-y dog.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What's the Worst that Can Happen?

Inevitably, I approach test day as D-day. This despite numerous remonstrations from Sweetie not to do so. The thought of the Phone Call is a major anxiety inducer because the Ghosts of Phone Calls Past always come back - the low timbre to the voice on the other end, the straightness of the point, the wrapping up of a month of effort and money in four little words, "The result was .... " Those little words hold the key to overwhelming joy or overwhelming sadness.

I always try to think of new ways to lower my anxiety about the whole ordeal. I've tried having her leave voice mails with the information, which worked very well the first time since I was actually pregnant, but really sucked the last two times when it was negative. I've tried re-playing the "negative" answer in my head to get reacclimated to the feeling. I've twiddled with the idea of taking a test before hand, but since I use an HCG trigger, the last thing I wanted was a false positive from the trigger. I've tried to think of all of the wonderful things that I can do if I'm not pregnant starting with boozing and ending with clearing out the dead crap in the garden. None of it makes a damn bit of difference when that call comes and once again, I'm not pregnant.

I must be an eternal optimist or really stupid, because this time I'm again trying a different tact. I use it often with my raging OCD - I simply ask "what's the worst that could happen?" Here, the worst that could happen is that I'm not pregnant and we move on to IVF. I'm not going to die, I'm not going to lose my house, my kitties will be fine, my husband will still love me and nothing will have changed about who I am or my worth. By far, I get the most comfort out of this line of thinking than any of the others.

Update: the call came in at 2:40 and the answer was a disppointing "no". There were a few tears, but we also laid the groundwork for IVF. For the first time in almost three years, I will be back on birth control pills as a means of getting pregnant. The irony just keeps on coming.

Monday, December 17, 2007

All I Want for Christmas...

Here's my take on that seminal Christmas favorite:

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Pink Lines

All I want for Christmas is my two pink lines
My two pink lines, my two pink lines
Gee, if only I could have my two pink lines,
Then I could wish me a "Merry Christmas"

It seems so long since I could say
"Oh my god, I'm pregnant!"
Gosh, oh gee, how happy I'd be
If only that was what those two lines meant.

All I want for Christmas is my two pink lines,
My two pink lines, see my two pink lines
Gee, if I could only have my two pink lines,
Then I could wish me a "Merry Christmas".

Never say I didn't try to entertain with my infertility!

Prenatal Hazing

There’s a new show on HGTV called Deserving Design where some family that is disadvantaged in some way gets a room makeover from Vern Yip (formerly of Trading Spaces). I suppose it’s HGTV’s answer to Extreme Makeover – Home Edition, that sobfest of the highest order of schlock hosted by formerly cute-but-quirky-carpenter on Trading Spaces Ty Pennington. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in Vern for buying into the schlock-fest, but he still does beautiful work.

I have a new show, too, called Deserving Pregnancy. How deserving you are of getting pregnant depends entirely how long and how difficult it was for you to get pregnant. Whenever I hear that someone is newly pregnant, whether I know them or not, I automatically try to find out how long they’ve been trying and how many roadblocks they’ve had along the way. An accident? Completely and totally undeserving. A few months with no drama? You still don’t deserve it. You have no idea how awful it can be. A year, no ART but with a miscarriage? You’ve been through a nasty setback and managed to get back on the horse. Good for you, but I’m still not entirely in your corner. Five years, ART and no prior pregnancy? You deserve every single moment of joy! I’m so happy for you! I hope you have the most beautiful baby (or babies) on the planet.

Call it prenatal hazing but the farther down this road I’ve gone, the harder I have feeling joy with or for people who get pregnant with no problems or even while using birth control (getting pregnant on the Pill is one of my absolute favorites). The worse the road you’ve been down, the more likely I am to genuinely feel joy with you when you finally do reach that milestone. When you read about the mechanics of how pregnancy happens and works, it is truly astounding that so many people get pregnant with little to no difficulty. And yet when something or many somethings go wrong, it is heartbreaking how difficult it can be.

I’ve tried on many different theories about why we in particular have so much difficulty and others have so little. None so far have helped me feel ok about it. Other areas of life where you perceive that you’ve been shafted, you usually can find some reason and off-sets the shafting. You’re smart but not that attractive? Looks are skin deep and you can always survive on your brains. Smart and attractive? Either you are also super sweet or just a plain bitch (either one is an acceptable counterbalance to being both smart and attractive). So what is a counterbalance to not being able to get pregnant? You have a great shoe collection?

I recently read a post by a woman who suffered a devastating loss of her baby and yet was positive enough to see that even though this particular part of her life was sucking big time, she could still take comfort and joy in the parts of her life that were working: her job, her marriage, etc. Maybe it's not so much that there has to be a mathematical formula (you are allowed 67% maximum happiness and good karma at any given point) as it is about our focus. There are women who are pregnant who have no job and no husbands or significant others to help them. I think I can honestly say that I would much rather be not pregnant with a good job and a husband than the other way around. And, when all else fails, I just go to Cute Overload, and it's all better. Meow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I ♥ My Husband

I have shared my deep feelings of grief and frustration with my husband whenever a friend or relative calls with the news that they are expecting. I got the impression that he accepted my feelings but thought that they were wrong or just useless (you feeling bad about it isn't going to change it from happening). This weekend, we are heading back to the city where we used to live and where two couples who we knew pretty well have either very recently or within the last few years went from coupledom to familyhood.

I have avoided going back with him because I knew he would want to see them and I would have to go. And I would have to hide how awful I would feel and put on a good face for what would seem like way too long. Neither couple knows of our troubles (although I have dropped vague hints) and it's not exactly something you kind of bring up out of nowhere ("What a great color scheme in the living room, and oh, by the way, I had an artificial insemination with Sweetie's frozen sperm last week because we are having trouble conceiving like you did! Don't even get me started on my miscarriage! What kind of fabric is that?").

So, when it became inevitable that we would go back for a holiday party, I dreaded fielding the questions about whether or not we were going to see these couples. Today, I finally mentioned that we might go visit on Saturday, fully expecting that this was what was required of me. And Sweetie gave me the most wonderful gift: he said it was up to me if I wanted to see them because he knew how hard it was for me. Oh, what a wonderful feeling - what a weight lifted off my shoulders!

I've given it some thought and I think I would like to see one of the couples who had a baby in May. She's not likely to be pregnant again so soon and I can still get a baby fix rather than deal with a toddler. But, I'll make sure that I have a code word for Sweetie in case things get too difficult and we need to leave.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christina Aguilera is Mocking Me

Airports and grocery stores are one of those places where you often shuffle through doing the mundane things of life. You usually can't avoid them unless you hermit yourself into a house and never leave. The proprietors take advantage of the fact that they have a captive, although possibly unwilling audience, by trying to sell time-wasters in the form of magazines. You can read about how Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are on the verge (again) of splitting up or how Britney is supposedly trying to adopt twins from China to make up for the two children that she lost through her sheer stupidity all while you load your groceries onto the conveyor belt. Depending upon the line, you can even check out who has had plastic surgery and liposuction.

Airports are actually much worse. Every third store front is a magazine shop with all of the magazines that you only read at the dentist’s office. The best sellers or most attractive covers are sometimes repeated on the front of the kiosk. The new issue of Marie Claire with Christina Aguilera and her giant pregnant belly is one such cover. Everywhere I turn, there she is flaunting her pregnancy in my face saying, “I’m possibly underweight, I have tacky hair, a terrible bronzer habit and a questionable sense of style, but I can get pregnant, despite my lack of any body fat and whenever I want and you can’t! Ha!” What is the point of putting her on the cover with her naked pregnant belly other than to show it off which has the side effect of tormenting those of us with infertility?

Ironically, I thought the picture of Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair, back in the day when she was pregnant, was beautiful and not objectionable. It was done by Annie Liebowitz and seemed to be designed to celebrate the female form during pregnancy. Of course, when the Demi Moore picture came out, I was still in high school and avoided pregnant women like the plague in case pregnancy was a contagious disease.

How is that picture acceptable to me and not this one? I want to say that I think the Demi Moore picture is a work of art in its own right, regardless of the subject matter, and the other picture is just a semi-naked picture of Christina Aguilera which, frankly, you can find just about anywhere. I think I’ve seen her belly button more times than my own. Or maybe it’s that Demi Moore outclasses Christina (or X-ina as the press has started calling her – how declass) in just about every possible category known to man and thus any picture of Demi Moore (nude or otherwise) is automatically more appealing than a picture of Christina Aguilera. Or maybe I digress.

I’m still trying to decide how much of my reaction to this picture is just because I’m pissed that I’m having so much difficulty getting pregnant and how much of it is because I think the picture is just really tacky. I think it’s an even split. Although, really, there is no artistic value in it and it seems only to be designed to celebrate the worst-kept secret in 2007.

Or maybe it’s just that I think her music is shit. Either way, I’m sure as hell not buying Marie Claire anytime soon and definitely not that particular issue.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Yep. Still Bitter.

If you look up 'bitter' in the dictionary, you find the following definition:

bitter (bit´ər) adj. [OE biter, akin to bītan, to bite] 1 having a sharp, often unpleasant taste 2 causing or showing sorrow, pain, etc. 3 sharp and disagreeable; harsh (a bitter wind) 4 resentful; cynical 5 Mrs.X as she continually reflects on the fact that her best friend is pregnant while Mrs.X has 1 lap surgery, 2 HSGs, 5 IUI attempts, 1 miscarriage, multiple ovarian cysts, a mild case of OHSS, and lots of money out the door to show for her efforts after 2.5 years of trying.

So maybe entry No. 5 is not included in my Webster's New World dictionary, but it might as well be. I am a bitter woman because of infertility. I am bitter that we got dealt this hand and I am bitter that we are stuck with one oar in the water turning in a giant circle - start the stims, watch the eggs grow, insemination, 2ww, pregnancy test, start again (or is it more like the undulating curve of shifting expectations?) I am bitter that there are those who have such an easier time than we do and I am particularly bitter that one of them happens to be my best friend who unbeknownst to her was supposed to have difficulty so that I could have a friend who truly understood all of this.

And now not only am I bitter, I'm selfish to boot. Is there a 12-step program for bitter, selfish infertile women? (Step 1: invest in a very large punching bag upon which you can take out your obviously strong feelings (preferably not husband). Step 2: have a glass of wine (or 3) in attempt to dull feelings of bitterness. Step 3: Cut all fertile women out of your life so that are left with either childless, childfree or other bitter infertile women. Step 4: Avoid all public areas that may have pregnant ladies. Step 5: do not under any circumstances watch TLC from 2 - 4 pm. Step 6: provide in-service to family and friends on infertility and how it has changed you into a shrew. Step 7: learn how not to ask others if they have children to avoid the inevitable question back. Step 8: ignore Dr. Phil. Repeatedly. Step 9: admit that you are a bitter selfish infertile woman and recognize that you are not inherently a bad person. Step 10: do not tell everyone that you are starting a cycle to avoid having to tell them the news (either way). Step 11: recognize that you aren't the only one having these feelings (Hat Tip, So Close: Surviving Infertility) Step 12: repeat steps 1 -11 as needed)

I hate admitting that I'm a bitter selfish infertile woman because I always felt that bitter infertile women were weak and just couldn't control their emotions. The karmic bus has officially caught up with me on this one. I am officially one of the gang. Or, maybe, as with most things, I am a part-time bitter infertile woman. I'm also a part-time kitty mommy, sewer, reader, thinker, sleeper, lover, walker, comedienne, bad movie connossieur, worker bee, queen bee, wife, housekeeper, trash-putter-outer, friend, blogger, photographer, artist, laundress, light bulb replacer, gardener, writer, cook, nosy neighbor, dog sitter, interior decorator, dreamer, to name a few.

We are all part-time beings. We do not have one label all of the time. Labels are like hats - they are interchangeable and each one makes you feel a little different. And, I truly look forward to the day that I can retire my "bitter selfish infertile woman" hat, however that may come about, but I don't think I can put it away just yet.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Baby Don't Worry About a Thing

To me worrying is like breathing - it's autonomic. I worry, therefore I am. And, if worrying is your thing (like it is mine), infertility is a veritable smorgasbord of worry because there are so many things to worry about! Are my eggs good quality, does he make enough sperm, are my tubes open, will my uterus behave, will my eggs and his sperm play nicely? Like most things that we worry about, we either don't know the answer or can't change the outcome of the answer, which heightens the worry even more. It's enough to make you hyperventilate at the mere thought.

Fighting the urge to worry is like fighting the urge to breathe. But, while one thing is required for you to live (breathing, in case you thought otherwise), the other is not. And so, I am diligently weaning myself off the Worry. Giving up booze and caffeine have been a walk in the park compared to this. But, I'll tell you, earlier this week, I reached a milestone. I got bored with worrying. I realized (rightfully) that at this point, everything is out of my hands and in my uterus. Add whatever Doris Day line you wish here, but I know that the best thing I can do now is just not worry. I have also finally accepted that worrying, in fact, does no good.

I gave myself permission not to worry and it's been wonderful.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I Want the 29 Million That I Paid For!

Unlike all of our previous IUI attempts, Sweetie was not in town and thus could not provide a fresh specimen for use. I knew this ahead of time and so I had him make two deposits of troops in the Sperm Bank so that we wouldn't miss an entire cycle because of his work schedule. All told, he banked about 60 million sperm (Super Sweetie!). Only half usually survive the unfreezing, so the projected total for the insemination was 29 million. It was such a relief not to have to worry about how many he might produce on a given day, too, so it was worth the cost of freezing right there.

I arrived yesterday at Dr. Uterus' office at the appointed hour for The Procedure, but not after seeing Dr. Uterus drive into the garage while I was walking to his office - glad to know I wouldn't be keeping him waiting since I was running a little late myself. While I was being ushered into the ubiquitous exam room, his nurse told me that they had 11 million motile sperm unfrozen. I knew this meant that they had only unfrozen the one batch, not both. Rather than panic, though, I simply asked if it was possible to have the other one and told her that the plan all along was to use both. I refrained from demanding the 29 million sperm that I had paid for. There was no need to be rude, after all.

This turned out not to be a problem as it only takes 10 minutes to unthaw them (I'm still kind of fuzzy on how that actually happens - Sweetie swears they put it in the microwave). I was very glad to have that extra time to relax and do my version of meditation while listening to my favorite album by Matt Pond PA on my iPod. I was nicely relaxed and in a good place mentally when it was finally time.

I was nice and comfortable (well as comfortable as you can be on a table with a sheet while lying on paper) when Dr. Uterus came in as his usual bright self. I decided ahead of time that I wanted to have some time after he inserted the speculum to relax again since that particular part of the procedure is always uncomfortable and made me more tense. He had no problem with this and I was glad to have that extra time to get used to it. There was a little discomfort with the actual insemination, but that was similar to my prior ones.

In the end, we had 25.5 million motile after the unthawing which was pretty close to the anticipated number. I was perfectly happy with this outcome. And I was really proud of myself for being able to relax and be positive about the insemination, particularly in light of all of the hand-wringing-drama that it took to get there. Rather than assume that it was doomed because I was so worried, I recognized that I had a good chance and that chance was no where near being over.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Trigger Happy

I finally got the go-ahead to trigger today. On every other cycle I've done, I've had six days of stims and and the IUI on day 10. This time, I had eight days of stims and will have the IUI on day 12 (tomorrow). I've gotten tired of worrying about it though, it is what it is. I ran into Dr. Uterus on my way out this morning and expressed my growing panic over the time it was taking and the amount of drugs. His sage words were that it doesn't really matter how much it takes as long as you get the result. I got the result - one big Mongo-esqe 25mm follie on the left and two respectable 16 and 17 mm follies on the right. I sincerely hope this is the last time I have to do this for some time. Please, please, please let this be the last time I have to do this for a while.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mind Over Matter

I learned at an early age that our minds have a great effect on our bodies. I learned this because all of the anxiety and worry associated with school directly translated into discomfort in my GI tract. It wasn't until I read Conquering Infertility by Alice Domar, though, that I realized that the mind has a great effect on infertility as well. To be sure, nothing short of surgery was going to unblock my tubes, but my mind could certainly help with my response to stims and overall mental health while enduring the roller coaster that is infertility.

The first time I read the book, it was during my third IUI. I had a fantastic response to the stims and poof, I got pregnant. Coincidence? There were many other factors at work, but I can't help but think that my response was due to using my mind toward that goal. The successs of that third IUI continues to haunt me - not only because it ended in miscarriage - but because I have convinced myself that everything must be the exact same as it was that cycle for me to get pregnant again. After all, it worked and it hasn't worked any other time. My mind understands that this is pretty stupid, but there is also a part of it that is still holding on to this theory.

The result: I find myself trying extra hard to relax so that I can get the maximum effect from the stims. And of course, I'm trying too hard. Everytime I feel myself relaxing, I tense to remind myself to relax. Not helpful. And then I worry that I'm not relaxing enough. Even more unhelpful. And now I'm worried because it's taking even more medicine than before to produce some good eggs. This, too, makes it even harder to relax. It also doesn't help that I have been reading a lot of blogs recently where the women have very poor responses to stims. During the time I banned myself from blogs and IP boards, I was blissfully unaware of how difficult just stimming can be to get a maximum response. Not so anymore. This has added to my anxiety.

So, what was supposed to break a vicious cycle of stress has been manipulated into something that causes a vicious cycle of stress. The only thing now that "brings me down" is knowing that Dr. Uterus isn't concerned. That's about it. I think the best thing I can do right now is just not think about it. At all.

Watch Where You Stick That Thing!

It seems like this IUI cycle has been particularly tough. I've had to use lots more medicine, and the timing has worked out such that I've had not one by four (!) ultrasounds so far. Normally I get away with two. These are transvaginal ultrasounds with the transducer, or as I like to call it, the Condom Wand (mainly because it's a wand with a condom on it - pretty original, huh?) Normally, they are pretty much non-events, but these last two ones, I have been in serious discomfort. My ovaries are very unhappy about their weight gain due to all of the medicine and remind me at every opportunity, particularly during these ultrasounds. Oh my God. I wanted to scream when she just kept moving the Condom Wand around trying to find the follicle on my right ovary today. The only good news is that tomorrow's visit will likely be the last one with the IUI on Wednesday. I can only hope. My ovaries are groaning at the very thought.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Resistance

On my first medicated IUI cycle, I used relatively little medication to achieve the desired result. The next three IUIs, I was able to still use the same dosage. My last IUI, though, I had to do more stims to get the same result. This time, I've had to do even more. I momentarily worried that maybe I was going into premature ovarian failure because it was taking more medicine to achieve the desired result. But, my therapist reminded me of one simple truth: my ovaries are getting resistant. Just like you build your tolerance to alcohol, caffeine and other drugs, so too with stims. I choose to look at it this way, if we get pregnant, I won't have much medicine left over. If we don't get pregnant, I probably won't be using this particular medicine for IVF and so I won't have much left over. A win-win in my book.

Going it Alone

For the first time in our journey through ART land, I have decided not to tell my parents about our current cycle. I didn't tell them about my repeat HSG last week nor have I told them that I'm in the middle of doing my stims for our final IUI, which will probably be on Tuesday. Part of me is afraid that I'm punishing them for what I feel is a lack of support and understanding for what we have been through and are going through, by no longer giving them details. To be honest, though, they never seemed to be particularly comfortable with the details.

At the same time, I have to admit that I'm also kind of enjoying taking some steps on my own without keeping them updated. As I get into the two week wait, I may change my mind, but for now, I feel more supported by not telling them than I think I would if I did. Is this a sign of growing independence or growing alienation? I'd like to think its the former, but I will work very hard not to make it the later. I think that it's possible to have some secrets and still be very close to people.

My HSG, A Pas de Deux in Three Parts

If there was ever a need for a sign that infertility has really warped my sense of humor (which was pretty warped to begin with), it's that when I was on the table for my HSG and Dr. Uterus was getting ready to get started, all I could think was that we were about to perform a medical pas de deux. I mentioned this to Dr. Uterus and said that the only difference is that I wasn't wearing a tutu and he wasn't wearing tights. Much to my horror, he said, "how do you know I'm not?" I warned him not to make me laugh while he was putting delicate things in delicate places.

Having an HSG really is a delicate dance. I had to lie on a very flat, very uncomfortable table with no stirrups, but I still had to lay like I was in the stirrups. Dr. Uterus explained that he was going to insert the speculum and then the balloon catheter, while demonstrating the balloon. I really hate the speculum, and I think I've had more than my fair share of cold metal encounters with it. But, such is your lot in life with infertility. In went the speculum, and then the catheter (all of which is pretty much like a typical IUI). It got very uncomfortable with the balloon inflation, but that was just the beginning of the fun.

Once the balloon was inserted, he then pulled the speculum out half way and the radiology technician pulled me up the table while Dr. Uterus was still holding the catheter down below. They got me positioned and I saw the initial picture of the dye making its way through my uterus and the tubes. At this point, it was getting really uncomfortable with major cramping. The last HSG I had was also very uncomfortable because the tubes were completely blocked. This time, it wasn't as painful, but it was still unpleasant.

When he got all of the pictures that he wanted, he removed the nasty balloon catheter and the speculum. I was able to lie like a normal person again waiting for the cramping to go down. Dr. Uterus and I chatted for a while and eventually I was able to go to the bathroom. Much spotting ensued and I was finally on my way, a full hour after I was supposed to be finished.

The good news: the tubes are open and ready for business. Incoming!