Thursday, January 31, 2008
Knowing the genes that make them up, I am certain the two "B+" blasts are getting teased mercilessly by the 7 "A" blasts. We are very pleased so far, but we are still cautious about getting too excited.
Dr. Uterus and Dr. Freak Out are apparently in agreement that our best shot at a pregnancy is to transfer three blasts, rather than the two that Sweetie and I have discussed. I hadn't talked with Dr. Uterus yet about how many blasts I wanted to transfer, but I had mentioned to his nurse that we were looking for two since WE DON'T FREAKIN' WANT TRIPLETS. She mentioned this to him and he is still of the opinion that our best shot is with 3. This is consistent with the average number of blasts that he has transferred before in my age group according to the CDC reports.
Sweetie and I discussed it and are very hesitant not to follow their advice. The assumption has always been that if you transfer three, all three will implant and poof, we have triplets. The reality is that statistically, it's not a sure bet that even one will implant let alone three. So, we are willing to accept the risk of triplets in order to get a viable pregnancy.
I also need to stop turning to Dr. Google. Curiousity killed the cat and it sure as hell makes IVF a lot harder when you read all kinds of random studies about what does and does not make for a successful cycle.
For now, I'm going to focus on being really relaxed tomorrow since I read in an actual book (Dr. Silber's boringly-titled tome How to Get Pregnant) that women who were über-relaxed during the transfer had a much higher rate of pregnancy. Dr. Uterus also mentioned this, so it must be fact! Right?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I am doing the Old Lady Shuffle today. That is the hunched over, put one foot in front of the other shuffle due to extremely sensitive body parts and still (unfortunately) lingering 'airs'. I'm counting down the minutes for the work day to end so that I can pop a Vicodin and curl up on the couch. I have been putting the heating pad to good use, though, having it firmly strapped to my mid-section to dull the ache during the day. Thankfully my job does not require me to move around a lot, so I've been able to sit around and play on the computer (isn't that what I do every day?)
In better news, we got the Fert Report: 9 eggs out of 12 fertilized! 8 out of 9 fertilized using ICSI and 1 out of 3 fertilized au naturale (well as natural as you can get in a petri dish). I am really happy since it means 75% of the eggs fertilized. We'll get more info tomorrow on which ones are growing and we should have a tentative discussion on how many will get transferred. We're looking at a transfer on Friday. Hopefully I will be feeling much better by then.
I've also told everyone and their mother from Dr. Uterus to his nurse to the nurses at the IVF lab that I do not want the blastshots. Dr. Uterus declared that I was his first patient to make this request (that's me, always the trailblazer) but he will respect my wishes. I have no problem with them keeping them in the file but as I explained earlier, I would be too tempted to lob onto them as our future children and suffer the consequences should the cycle fail.
Otherwise, it is embarrassingly quiet on the Mrs. X front. Till tomorrow!
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
That's right, ladies, 12 beautiful eggs. I am very happy with the number and apparantly Dr. Freak Out could find nothing initially wrong with them. According to Dr. Uterus' nurse, if the eggs initially appear immature or otherwise 'oeuf', she makes "noises". There were no noises. That of course, doesn't mean that we are going to have 12 beautifully fertilized eggs, but it is a good start.
The retrieval itself was pretty uneventful for me. Although, tell me, Schatzi, how do you do this without pain medication!? Unfortunately, my recovery has been a little ... bumpier than I would have liked. Bumpy how? I have terrible, awful, horrible, excruciating ... gas. The kind of gas that doesn't come out unless you walk around. As Sweetie so eloquently put it, "You're just going to have to fart and belch your way out of this one." It's so bad that I have a hard time taking a deep breath. It totally sucks.
Tomorrow we get the fertilization report. Sweetie spoke with Dr. Freak Out while I was in la la land and she told him that they had decided to do 75% ICSI and 25% natural. So, 9 eggs will be fertilized with ICSI and 3 will be left to their own devices. I wonder if they will pipe in some Barry White, lower the lights, leave some wine to move things along?
It's going to be hard not to focus and fret about how many will fertilize, but I know that it won't help matters at all. It it is literally out of my hands, my body and my ovaries at this point.
Thanks also to Shinejil, Lori, Peesticks, Jellybelly, jill_986, and Schatzi for your wonderful words of encouragement!
(Lori- I reformated the post and managed to lose your comment. Sorry!)
Monday, January 28, 2008
Last night, Sweetie and I went through the multiple choice maze of options for any embryos that we manage to get to freeze in the event of an unpleasant contingency. What do we do with the embryos if I die? If he dies? If we both die? If we get divorced? If I have a hysterectomy? We had choices like disposal in an ethical manner (I don't even want to contemplate what that actually entails), continue to store, or donate to an infertile couple. It was a no-brainer if either one of us died (the other would get them). If we both died, we directed that they be donated to an infertile couple. But, if we got divorced, we elected to have them disposed of - I would have a very hard time knowing that my child could be out there without me (or their siblings) knowing it. The hysterectomy scenario would result in continue to freeze the embryos, on the assumption that we would want to use a gestational surrogate, assuming we didn't have the brood that we wanted.
I was just struck by how weird it is to be discussing the fate of your potential future embryos while you're making dinner. Most people will never even have to think of that scenario much less fill out of page of multiple choices as to what to do in various depressing situations. Another uniquely infertility experience.
Sweetie, apparently, was very freaked out by the consent forms for the egg retrieval and IVF because of all of the terrible things that could happen which were enumerated in exacting detail. He is apparently quite worried about genetic abnormalities and was still slightly convinced that Dr. Freak Out had it right that our prior miscarriage was his fault. I disabused him of that notion by explaining that Turner's is caused during the meiosis stage, or when the cells start to divide, not at the moment of conception and not in the wonky sperm.
We also talked about the statistics that show that IVF births have no substantial increase in genetic defects than the normal population. I reminded him that we could have a genetic problem even if we got pregnant without ART. And, we had already discussed with Dr. Uterus the issue of whether ICSI caused greater numbers of birth defects. Personally, I suspect that the higher numbers of genetic problems resulting from ICSI can be correlated to the fact that the procedure is used for men who have severe morphology problems and incredibly wonky sperm to begin with. Sweetie is not one of those men.
I did ask him if he didn't want to continue and he immediately responded "Nooooo! I want to continue!" I was glad that we talked about his concerns since it seems that a lot of time we discuss my concerns rather than his.
I also took my four antibiotics this evening and promptly felt like I was going to barf, hurl. ralph, and whatever other adjective you want to use for vomit (which I always thought was an ugly word). I think Zithromax should now have this label because it is exactly how I felt:
Mr. Yuck indeed. I am feeling much better now. Especially after I stopped watching Celebrity Rehab with B-, C- and D-listers barfing everywhere and generally moaning as they detox.
I don't know how coherent I will be tomorrow so all of you lovely ladies who still continue to read this saga may have to wait until Wednesday for an update. Till then, so long, farewell.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
We are scheduled for a retrieval on Tuesday. Now the only thing standing between me and mature eggs is the HCG injection:
I wasn't that worried about it until I saw the needle that I'm supposed to use (me: "is that the mixing needle?" Nurse: "no, that's the mixing needle. This is the needle you inject. All 1.5 inches") and when they told me the cautionary tale of the Woman Who Didn't Follow Instructions. This woman had 10 follicles, but 0 eggs retrieved. Why? Because she decided that the intramuscular needle was "too big" and used the subcutaneous needle instead. Since the HCG didn't get absorbed, it could not trigger the eggs to mature. Since the eggs didn't mature, none could be retrieved. Ouch.
I always follow their instructions (yay OCD), but I didn't realize until I heard this tale just how critical the HCG trigger is. I got so paranoid about it and where to inject that they ended up drawing a giant target on my ass for me to use when the time comes. I've also called my neighbor who is in the medical profession and has done multiple IVF cycles to see if she is willing to help since Sweetie just about passed out at the notion of sticking me with a needle (so I guess that would be a no on helping me with the progesterone injections, huh?).
I have resigned myself to the fact that my ass is a giant pincushion and this shot is going to H-U-R-T.
Update: the shot did indeed H-U-R-T and we had some trouble getting all of the medicine into the syringe, but I managed to take it only 5 minutes late. Hopefully that 5 minutes won't make much of a difference.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Concerned Citizens of the Blogosphere, you have asked (well, actually not) how my formerly sleepy ovaries are doing on the nuke 'em method of egg production. Good news from Dr. Uterus: he has declared my ovaries to be 'beautiful', 'gorgeous' and humming along on their journey of egg production. My estrogen is apparently doing quite well and was also called 'gorgeous'.
I would not be exaggerating to say that he has a thing for hyperbole.
For my part, I feel as if I have swallowed a balloon that has lodged itself in my midsection and moves everytime I try to sit comfortably. Instead of the pinging and twinging earlier this week, we have moved into dull ache territory. And, I learned the obvious lesson the other night that intercourse (as Dr. Uterus put it) is not advisable. Ouch and ouch. But, Sweetie is now on conservation measures in anticipation of providing a specimen early next week, so I don't feel too bad completely turning him away.
I go back in for another scan tomorrow, Sunday.
I finished Wuthering Heights and I have to say, I wasn't that impressed. Sorry, Emily dear, but I think Charlotte was the better writer. I haven't read Agnes Grey yet to see if Anne trumps either of you.
Sweetie now wants to get the Laurence Olivier version of the movie on DVD. I'm having trouble picturing him as a brooding Heathcliff.
Next on the reading list is Villette and The Boleyn Inheritance (I love trashy fiction!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I found the quilt pattern that I want to use for my friend's baby quilt. I sent a picture to her and she is thrilled. I'm going to use some wonderful vintage children's fabrics. Hopefully, it will turn out as beautifully as I am picturing seeing as how it is my first quilt and all.
She also absolved me of any guilt about not being able to handle details about her pregnancy. I am so grateful and happy that she is willing to forgive me this one thing. She is a truly wonderful friend.
I got a new iPod but I'm still trying to figure out how to switch the library from my work computer to my home computer. I am searching for the elusive "iPod control" folder and so far have been disappointed. Damn you search dog!
Sweetie and I are meeting friends for a movie date tonight. On the marquee: Rambo. I'm in it just to see if Sylvester Stallone is using a walker yet.
Well, as you can plainly see, Concerned Citizens of the Blogosphere, Mrs. X is doing pretty well. She has shown much economy in her prudence, wisdom in her interactions and bloating in her ovaries (not to mention snark in her general direction). Go about your business knowing that Mrs. X, for one, has things well in hand.
Good night and Dog Bless.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
This habit has followed me through my adult life and Sweetie practices it as well (as do many of my fellow IFers). Obviously, infertility treatments are a gold mine for people like me so that you can think up fabulous names for things that have otherwise very boring names. One particular item whose name has always bothered me is the transvaginal transducer that is used during follicle scans. Not only is it a mouthful, but frankly, it doesn't begin to give people an idea of what it really is.
Personally, I call it the 'Condom Wand' because, it is a wand and they put a little condom on it everytime. Kind of boring, but it stuck.
Ms. Heathen over at Reproductively Challenged gave it the deliciously wonderful name of 'Dildo Cam' which I swear makes me giggle everytime I hear it.
Yet another name, provided by Dr. Uterus gleaned from another patient, was the "Penis that Sees All".
I know that my girls who have had the unfortunate circumstance to become intimately acquainted with this particular piece of equipment have also given it wonderful, if somewhat irreverent names. So, what do you call it?
Bigmouth oh ho ho ho ah la/ Big mouth, oh ho la la/ Bigmouth strikes again/ And I've got no right to take my place/With the human race
What, you ask could she have said that would earn these lyrics in particular? This woman put me through the wringer.
We have lots of information about Sweetie's counts from our six IUIs with Dr. Uterus, but the embryologist, Dr. Freak Out, had to have her own to review. So, Sweetie went to her office and "produced" the specimen. (He also reported that her "collection room" wasn't as nice as that of Dr. Uterus, which I call the Spooge Closet, but he was happy to have some new, er, literature.)
She called me with the results and prefaced them with a question as to whether Sweetie has been sick recently. Apparently, his motility was down from his prior IUI counts and it was in her "poor" range. As we were talking, she became convinced that something must be up since his motility was down (although the volume and viability were both in the normal range) from his prior counts. She warmed to her topic of poor motility and began to talk about the troubles of low motility while throwing ICSI around (which we were going to do at 50% of the fertilizations with anyway) and then prefacing that it also depended upon how many eggs I produced. Essentially, she spouted gloom and doom.
She also asked about our previous history and I told her of the one pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage. We had a karyotype performed and determined that there was a chromosomal abnormality, specifically a monosomy or Turner's Syndrome. Dr. Uterus assured us that this was a random occurrence and it was just a luck of the draw. There was nothing that either Sweetie or I contributed that caused it. Dr. Freak Out, on the other hand, started musing as to how strange it was that the one sperm that managed to fertilize the egg was able to produce a monosomy.
As if that wasn't enough, then she starts going on about how she has seen a correlation in her experience between low motility and abnormalities in resulting babies. Finally, she reminded me that since I had tubal surgery (mind you over a year ago), my chance of an ectopic increased. Thanks. So, to recap: according to Dr. Freak Out, my husband has abnormal sperm, we are doomed if he gets me pregnant again and we might as well just turn to donor sperm. That's essentially what we got out of the conversation.
And now I know how Joan of Arc felt/Now I know how Joan of Arc felt/As the flames rose to her roman nose/And her walkman started to melt
Not surprisingly, I called Sweetie as soon as I hung up with Dr. Freak Out and he freaked out. We had a tense conversation about what it means and how to go forward. He even asked if I wanted to cancel the cycle, to which I said no. The second call I made was to Dr. Uterus' office to see if he knew what this crackpot was talking about. I didn't end up talking with Dr. Uterus until today and I learned some very important facts.
1) Dr. Freak Out is not a medical doctor. She has a PhD, hence the doctor but she is certainly not a doctor who can dispense advice and genetic counseling. She was way out of line.
2) Sweetie's sperm are very likely just fine and Turner's is not caused by a pre-existing chromosomal abnormality in the sperm. It happens when the cells start to divide.
3) His motility is also not something to worry about, even if it was lower than his prior numbers.
Dr. Uterus is going to have a chat with Dr. Freak Out and remind her that this is not the kind of thing that you discuss with IVF patients. But, the freak out did give Sweetie and I a chance to discuss what we are comfortable with in terms of donor gametes. At this point, I told him, I am still very invested in having my own pregnancy, so I would go for donor sperm before adoption. He was ok with that.
Luckily, it looks as if we don't have to have that conversation again. And, hopefully, Dr. Freak Out has learned a valuable lesson on filtering.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Dear John, Friend from Grad School:
I got your mass email yesterday announcing your new email and wanted to let you know that you are flirting dangerously with being on my Shit List. In case you have forgotten, I will outline your previous sins that have gotten you to this point:
1) You emailed me that your harpie wife was expecting on the exact day that I found out that my baby had died and I had been carrying a dead fetus around for a week. I responded with my congratulations and didn't mention any of my incredible sadness. You never responded.
2) You included me on the mass email with pictures of the new baby when the harpie wife delivered and again, I said the right things and congratulated you. You never responded.
3) You emailed me again to tell me of the new baby and sent more pictures because you couldn't remember if you had emailed me before. I guess you didn't remember that I congratulated you before. This time you deigned to ask how we were doing.
4) I responded again with congratulations (because that's what friends do) and agreed that your baby was the cutest thing on the planet. I also told you of our struggle with infertility and the miscarriage in April. You Never. Wrote. Back. Not one lousy word. A simple "I'm sorry" would have sufficed to let me know that you are at least interested after asking how we were.
5) Now you have sent me a new email address assuming that I want to keep in touch with you. I have no reason to keep in touch. You have obviously just left this one hanging and it will take a lot of groveling for you to get back into my good graces.
So, that's where we stand. Assuming you don't send any more emails blithley ignorning what I shared with you, you will not be banished to having your email blocked. One more "I have the cutest baby on the block" email without any acknowledgment that we had a loss and you will officially be out of my life.
ps- the addition of the information in the email that you are changing emails so that it will sync with your Blackberry landed you squarely in the tool column. Just thought you should know that.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I would have to explain the feeling of utter sadness that I feel everytime I think about how she is having a nice uneventful pregnancy after a relatively uneventful period of trying to conceive. I would have to discuss how difficult it is for me to think about how she's probably feeling movement now and I'm feeling the condom wand three times a week to see how my follicles are doing. I would have to explain how it still pains me that we lost our baby that we worked so hard to conceive.
I know what I would say to me if I heard that. "Suck it up and get over it." Were it that easy. The thing is that it's not something you just get over. It's actually easy when it's someone you don't know that well. Unless you see them often, you probably won't get many updates until the blessed event arrives. But with best friends, your obligations are a lot more involved. I feel incredibly guilty that I am asking to be let out of this particular obligation.
I sometimes think I should be stronger. And I feel guilty for not being strong. I feel guilty for being selfish and not sharing this with her. But I also know that right now, I would not be a very good friend, no matter how hard I would try. I would be the Debbie Downer in the room. And, I will tell myself that it is better not to be there than to be a Debbie Downer.
I just hope that I can forgive myself while simunltaneously giving myself permission not to feel guilty anymore that this is one thing I can't do and that's ok.
But the time that we are in treatment, that transitionary stage during which you endure the rigors of infertility is, as far as I am concerned, purgatory. In Roman Catholicism, purgatory is the third state, between heaven and hell in which souls that are not sufficiently free from sin are unable to enter heaven. They are also not sinful enough (is that like being the Diet Coke of Evil?") to warrant going to hell.
Purgatory is the state of purification for these souls to free them of sin, usually through pain and fire, so that they can ascend to heaven. (Back in the day, you could also buy indulgences to stave off some of the pain of purgatory. I think there is a good argument that infertility clinics are the new indulgences to buy our way out of the purgatory of infertility. They certainly charge enough. But where is our Martin Luther?)
It is always difficult, though, to see those that you came in with leave before you. Even though all of us dealing with infertility have infertility in common, we do not have outcomes in common. I browse through other people's blogrolls and see all of the new positives and discussions of ultrasounds in the first trimester for girls who have struggled for years. It is wonderful to see those who have struggled get to where they want to be, but it also illustrates how transitory this state is. One month could be the difference between being on the infertile side of the coin to being on the pregnant side of the coin. It is also difficult, though, because when you are still on the infertile side, you feel as if you are once again missing the boat. You're not invited to prom. In other words, you're still not pregnant.
I think Tertia put it very succinctly: "those who have succeeded ... know that there is a (happy) ending to their journey. Their journey is finite. Those still trying don't know. They don't know if they will ever succeed." In other words, we don't know when we will get to move on from purgatory to our next destination.
Anyone have some indulgences I can buy to move things along?
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
There is a large version of this in the exam rooms at Dr. Uterus' office and it cracks me up everytime I see it. There is no way you can make such an invasive, expensive and time-consuming process seem more benign and easy than this poster.
At the same time, it serves to remind me that IVF is in effect babymaking dumbed down. I don't mean that the people who turn to IVF are dumb - no, I mean that all guess work is taken out of the process of conception. The eggs are perfectly matured and harvested. The sperm is introduced at the exact right moment - and some are even inserted into the egg. The resulting blastocysts are incubated at the exact temperature and implanted at the perfect time. The beauty of IVF is that it does make something that is so mysterious and left up to chance as controlled as possible. If only the process were a little less ... everything.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
And you know what? They were.
They are happy sleeping ovaries that are about to woken up to the banging on the door with the fiercest round of Menopur they have ever seen. I can only imagine what kind of noise they are going to make. They make enough racket on two vials, Lord only knows what four starting out of the gate is going to do. I have a feeling that there will be enough twinging that I will feel like there is a pinball pinging around my mid-section. Oh, the joys of screwing with the reproductive cycle.
On a sad note, I also had my last glass of wine and bath this evening since I start on the Menopur tomorrow. I can live without the booze, but in the winter, there is nothing better than sinking into a tub of hot water with bubbles and good book. Like all things we give up for IF treatments, however, I will certainly live.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Mixed Message No. 1: don't wait too long to have babies! You never know when your eggs are going to go kaput! And, remember society begins to lose empathy with women who put off child bearing until their late 30s because - oh the horror - they wanted a career and end up having trouble getting pregnant. (Need to rent a uterus? You shouldn't have waited!)
Mixed Message No. 2: what do you mean you're 25 and trying to get pregnant?! You should get your career started or you'll be stuck at home with wailing babies and the entire workforce will pass you by! This mixed message was amply demonstrated in a Washington Post article yesterday about women who have careers but are having their children in their 20's. The girls were being villified by their friends and society in general.
In the end, the only message to listen to is your own. Women should start trying to have a baby when they are ready, not when society tells them that they should. And it is nothing more than Monday morning quarterbacking to say that someone should have done things differently.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Early this morning, I found myself in a waiting room other than that belonging to Dr. Uterus to get an X-ray of my elbow. It's been bothering me for the past month, although I didn't have any particular trauma, just poor elbow posture while cross-stitching and sewing. I finally got fed up and made an appointment at an orthopedist's office. I was directed to first go to the imaging center on the ground floor for x-rays and then up to their office with my x-rays. Sounds simple enough.
I'm constantly surprised when I am in waiting rooms other than for Dr. Uterus, that there are people other than us infertility girls. There was such a diverse cross-section of people. Old people, young people, really old people, people in wheelchairs, people with broken limbs. You just don't see that where I usually go. It's the same parade - well-dressed, well-coiffed, slightly self-concious and very obviously not pregnant. That's what I see at his office. And the occasional husband.
Unfortunately, there were quite a few people ahead of me at the imaging center, and even though I got there on the dot, I got to wait about 35 minutes. During that time, I was treated to not one but three forms of exquisite torture:
1) They had the TV tuned to some daytime talk show. No offense to those who find day time programming scintillating, but I wanted to gouge my eyes out, rupture my ear drums and turn into Helen Keller, it was that vapid, wasting, and truly godawful.
2) There was a woman whose phone constantly kept ringing with a ringtone that was set on nauseatingly loud and it sounded like an infant shrieking. She actually thought it was cute. I swear. And it ringed many, many times.
3) And then there was the real torture. One of the nurses who was calling people into the back was probably about 5 months pregnant. How did I know? Gee. Two things. First, she had the tell-tale bump, and two, she was wearing a t-shirt that declared "Oh Baby!" across the front, which as far as I'm concerned says, "I'm pregnant!" WTF?! Isn't this a doctor's office? Aren't you supposed to wear scrubs on top and bottom? I know that they have invented maternity scrubs. Could you just not find a pair? Are they as scarce as underwear at Britney's house?
More importantly, do you just have to announce to the entire freakin' world what is already obvious?! I really just wanted to say, "yes, we all know that you're pregnant, you don't need to announce it on your shirt as well. Go put on a nice drab olive green top and get back to work." It's one thing to have the obvious bump which makes it pretty clear. It's another to have it and then remind everyone (meaning those of us who are infertile) that you have it by wearing an announcement as well.
Luckily, she wasn't the one who called me back. Keeping my mouth shut would have been even more exquisite torture.
Soon, though, we may have new pictures. Assuming we make it to the embryo transfer, we will have pictures of our embryos. I know that many couples who go through IVF keep pictures of the embryos, perhaps as momentos to show their children. (I'm trying to imagine what I would feel looking at a picture of myself in the embryonic stage. It would probably be just as creepy to see myself at 5 weeks looking like a blob)
When we decided to go to IVF, I knew immediately that I couldn't keep the pictures of our embryos that are transferred. When I told Sweetie, he was completely behind me. We both know how tempting it would be to give those pictures life that they may not get and how much harder it would make it if things didn't work. It also takes a lot of pressure off during the 2WW. I like to practice visualization and I know I would be picturing those little blastocysts popping around looking for that perfect place to burrow. If they didn't implant, I know that I would feel even more devastated than with a plain negative pregnancy test.
So, we'll know how many embryos are being transferred and we'll know their quality, but that will be all that we want to know (or see).
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Unfortunately, I had to dust off my philosophy the other day to ponder the difference between realism and fatalism. I had to dust it off because Sweetie accused me of being fatalistic about our upcoming IVF cycle when I was expressing to him my concern that the more money we put into this, the harder the fall will be should the cycle fail. Note I said, "should" not "will". First a refresher:
re·al·ism (n): concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary;
fa·tal·ism (n): a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them; also: a belief in or attitude determined by this doctrine.
I've always felt that I approach our infertility and treatments with realism. I understand that treatments are not always successful and that it may take quite a few trys. And, despite the very optimistic odds that Dr. Uterus gave us for IVF, I don't expect that this cycle will fail, but I also don't expect that it will work. Is that fatalistic? I don't think so. I think it's realistic. We know the odds and even though they may be on our side, that doesn't really mean squat. We thought the odds were on our side when we heard that amazing strong heartbeat on the monitor and then four weeks later, it was gone. So, we ended up in the 10% who get a D & C and karyotype despite hearing a heartbeat instead of being in the 90% who hear a heartbeat and go on to have normal, healthy babies. If that is not getting the short end of the stick, I don't know what is.
I am also realistic as a means of fighting off the tyranny of hope. Hope is such a loaded concept in infertility. You hope that this cycle will be the one, or that next procedure will finally do it. I firmly believe that it is possible to get addicted to hope. At the same time, though, I also think that a small amount of hope is absolutely required if you go down this road otherwise, you are just kind of blowing in the breeze.
In the end, I just take it one day at a time because I can't do anything about what might happen in the future. I hope that I can be realistic, though, when things do happen.
Wilma, who is much, much wiser than I could ever hope to be, nominated me with the following statement: "~ her writings about her struggle with infertility make me pause in my carefree childfree world & think of the effect my careless words may have on others around me. She has kitties, too!" (For the record, the cat nip that I sent did not in any way influence my nomination for this honor. )
Fortunately, I don't have go the Susan Lucci route and be constantly nominated but not win until hell freezes over. All I have to do is:
1) write a post with links to 5 blogs that make me think.
2) Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3) Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).
And now, for my 5. Drumroll please.
1) Christina who is writing about her quest to live in a new way, meet new people and do new things. And she has gorgeous photos!
2) Pamela Jeanne who writes about Coming 2 Terms with her decision to remain childfree after infertility, but with grace, snark and humor.
3) Schatzi/Sassy who is a comrade in the fight and presents lessons on how to be infertile and still be happy everyday.
4) Seraphimcharm who is chronicling the life that is New York through four lines everyday. Quite a lot gets packed into those four little lines.
5) Heather who practices living thoughtfully and with reflection.
Whether you know it or not, each of you makes the days that much brighter with your humor, wit and thoughts. Onward and upward!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
But, realizing this is also freeing. It's freeing because I don't have to keep asking the same question and not getting an answer. I also don't have to be concerned with why other people seem to have no problems. Maybe I thought by asking these questions over and over, that somehow something would finally hit and I would understand.
The author of the article determined that her answer was that bad things happen to good people. I don't really like that answer because it implies that there is still some reason. The truth is there is no reason for why some people are hit with bad things and others aren't. Concluding this, believing this means that there is no actor involved in determining what happens to people. It's just life.
One thing I did like in the story, though, was when she met a woman with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. The worst of the worst. It is probably a death sentence. And yet, she said something amazing when asked "How do you do it? How do you live each day with cancer hanging over your head?”:
“I treat every day as an adventure, and I refuse to let anything make me sad, angry or worried,” she replied. “I live for the day, which is something I never did before. Believe it or not, I’m happier now than I was before I was diagnosed.” She wasn’t spending her time tracking down studies and agonizing over statistics. She wasn’t sitting with her head in her hands, asking why, why, why. No, she didn’t know why she got cancer, but she realized that nothing would be different even if she did.
Amen, sister. You are my new hero.
Friday, January 11, 2008
1. I HATE cold weather.
2. I'm always cold.
3. I have an irrational fear of anthropomorphic animals
4. I don't like going to zoos.
5. I have weak ankles.
6. I own a t-shirt that says "Go Fuck Yourself" but I don't wear it in public.
7. I have heckled a baseball team's mascot.
8. I enjoy spying on my neighbors.
9. I work from home which makes No. 8 much easier.
10. I do get completely dressed for work. I do not work in my PJs.
11. Peanut butter and jelly is one of my favorite foods.
12. I eat to live, not live to eat.
13. When I was a kid, I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live.
14. I can do a fabulous Church Lady impression.
15. I am very active in recycling. I would recycle everything if I could.
16. I buy most of my clothes at designer consignment stores.
17. I didn't learn how to do my laundry until I went away for school.
18. I had to take calculus in college (after 2 years in high school) and complained about the textbook to my professor, who it turns out was one of the authors.
19. I wrote a paper in high school on the book Of Human Bondage and started my presentation by saying that I thought the book was about actual bondage.
20. I have been on the cover of Time.
21. I played the flute for 5 years, including private lessons.
22. I have obsessive compulsive disorder (not like Monk)
23. I volunteered at a senior center reading bingo numbers and was heckled by the harpies playing.
24. I have one living grandparent left and she's a harpie.
25. I live 3.5 hours from her, but I've only visited her once.
26. I think I have known more sadness than my parents.
27. I do not feel as if I am home.
28. I floss six days a week. I get Fridays off.
29. I eat at Subway at least two times a week.
30. My weight has fluctuated only 15 pounds since I was in high school.
31. My top size is different than my bottom size.
32. I have a shoe fetish.
33. I have beginnings of bunions as a result of No. 32.
34. I'm branching out into accessories like scarves and necklaces.
35. I don't wear a watch. Ever.
36. I have no tattoos.
37. My only piercings are on my ear lobes.
38. I lost my wedding venue 5 weeks before the wedding.
39. I found a new venue within 3 days.
40. I did not have a traditional wedding cake and there was no DJ.
41. I love watching people's wedding videos and critiquing the fashion choices.
42. I have a Sno-Globe collection (how on earth did someone think it was a good idea to have a Sno-Globe of Gettysburg?)
43. I have Sno-Globes from four countries (including Tasmania!) and 13 cities/states.
44. I can trace my ancestry back to the Mayflower.
45. My parents told me that I was related to Ben Franklin (complete truth) when we were at a Burger King.
46. I can drive a manual transmission.
47. I have been mistaken for a Jehovah's Witness.
48. I ran indoor and outdoor track in high school.
49. I lost my arches in the process.
50. I have personalized license plates. They are not my first pair.
51. I actually enjoyed square dancing in elementary school.
52. I wore glasses from when I was in elementary school until 2004 when I had Lasik.
53. I met my husband on-line.
54. I asked him prior to us meeting if he was an axe murderer. He said no.
55. I know how to paint in watercolors and oils.
56. I got to draw from nude subjects in high school (I have never, ever seen a hairier man)
57. I refused to give in when my social studies teacher tried to blackmail me in return for a letter of recommendation for college applications.
58. I did not become a serious drinker until grad school.
59. I like O'Douls non-alcoholic beer.
60. I don't like the rind on soft cheese and cut it off before eating the cheese.
61. I had my first taste of champagne when I was several months old. I reportedly slept like the dead that night.
62. I have emotional and sentimental attachments to cars, but I do not name them.
63. I can't stand liquer in desserts.
64. I loosely follow Weight Watchers.
65. I have smoked approximately two packs of cigarettes in my entire life.
66. I have never smoked marijuana (and I certainly didn't inhale).
67. I judge Mexican restaurants by how many and what kind of flashy colors they use on the outside.
68. I have used an outhouse complete with a moon in the door. In West Virginia. Seriously.
69. I am not an outdoors-y type.
70. I don't do camping.
71. I know a little about a lot of things.
72. I have been called the Veritable Fount of Useless Knowledge.
73. I still can't beat my husband at Trivial Pursuit.
74. I used to be addicted to Tetris.
75. In my youth, I flashed.
76. I have mild hypoglycemia and have to have protein at lunch or else I will crash in the afternoon.
77. I don't drink coffee, but I love the smell.
78. I don't drink iced tea. I don't like the smell either.
79. I love Diet Coke with lime.
80. I have broken only one bone in my entire body.
81. I broke it when I was thrown from a horse.
82. I haven't done much horse-back riding since.
83. I'm much better with people who are older than I am than with people who are younger.
84. I didn't learn until I was in my 20s that you are supposed to shave the hair on your big toe.
85. I had my first eyebrow wax when I was in college.
86. I had my first pedicure when I was in grad school.
87. I think I'm getting a wart on my left foot.
88. When I was a kid, I had warts removed with liquid nitrogen. It was really cool.
89. I got my first job when I was 16. It was working in a craft store.
90. When I turned 10, I moaned that I was turning the big 1-oh.
91. When I turned 30, I moaned that I was turning the big 3-oh.
92. Even though I am Athiest, I love gospel music, but not Christian rock.
93. I live in a different time zone than my parents.
94. I have visited or lived on three different continents.
95. I have not crossed the international date line.
96. I have walked the Golden Gate Bridge (twice!).
97. As a wedding favor, we gave away tree saplings.
98. I used to like the song "88 Lines About 44 Women." Now it just sounds sexist.
99. I am all of these things and I am infertile.
100. I'm doing my absolute best to overcome No. 99.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
So, I am restricting my TV watching from now on. No Lifetime Movie Network, the Hallmark Channel, WE, Animal Planet, or anything else that might trigger teariness. No commercials for AT&T, Werther's Originals or Hallmark. From here on out, it's Die Hard and other testosterone-fueled non-weep fests.
I need to be able to keep my mascara on, people!
Further Strange Symptom: I have been unable to leave my kitties alone and have been snorgling them with abandon at every opportunity. More often than not, I am left with a) a squirming cat, b) a top covered in fur and c) fur stuck to my newly-Chapsticked lips. I am undaunted.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
So far, I haven't felt any different, but I'm practicing my howling just in case.
Update: I think I've had my first Lupron-fueled meltdown (how many more to go?) this afternoon. Dr. Uterus uses a different lab to do the actual IVF and they called this afternoon to get my insurance information. The lab has this way too perky woman working there who cheerfully informed me that I will probably have drop $1000 for her (including a $600 deductible - never heard of that before) which is in addition to the $1135 that I dropped at Dr. Uterus' office yesterday. We are using insurance, but it sure as hell doesn't seem like it right now. I called Sweetie to complain about this latest "oops" fee and once again bemoan the fact that we are paying for that which most people get to do for free. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't very helpful.
He kind of got on my case about letting this stuff bother me. I explained to him that each bill just ratchets up my anxiety and investment and my concern that I will fall really hard should the IVF not work (which seems perfectly reasonable to me). He opined that this was self-defeating (he's right) and that if I'm going to have that kind of attitude, we might as well just not do it and spend the money on travel or something. Not what I wanted to hear (but probably what I needed to hear). I just wanted to whine. Plain and simple. Instead, I get chastized.
Well, I'll just whine here: whine, whine, whine, whineeeeeeee, whine, whine, whhhhinnnnnne, whine, whine, whine! And, yes, I would like some cheese with that whine.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I found this particular quote wonderful:
"I imagine a lot of people would call our years of fertility treatment and our $20,000 in vitro fertilization bill, which we paid with a loan, nothing more than vanity anyway, or selfishness. But it’s not so simple. It’s not vanity to want a child with my husband’s laugh and spiky blond hair, or for him to want a long-legged girl with brown hair, freckles and gaps in her teeth. It’s love."
Bless her for reminding me that it not selfish and not vain to want this and to want it badly enough to pursue high-tech procedures. She has given us a wonderful gift. I hope I use it well.
Monday, January 7, 2008
It started off as I was reading the Sunday paper wedding and anniversary page. I love reading the anniversaries announcements because they sometimes have the "before" and "after" pictures (the wedding picture and the now picture). It's so interesting to see how people have aged and of course, what they were wearing at the wedding. I can't wait for the first round of 1960s weddings and the pictures that come from those.
For the very first time reading the paper, I saw faces I recognized. It was a couple that I knew in college - they were in graduate school and I was a bookish freshman in an upper level humanities course. The woman befriended me and easily taught me how to really do well in college. But, they were always a little weird. I remember receiving their Christmas letter one year and it was all about what books they were reading and what they were thinking. To me at the time, it was a little eccentric. Even back then I pegged them as childfree people because they were so absorbed in each other and their studies. And there, in their 20th wedding anniversary announcement, is the news that they had a child. Un-freakin-believable. Of course, I told myself, they could have adopted. They were already well on their way to middle age by the time I met them, so that is very possible. But really, of all the people to have a child and for me to see in the paper on a Sunday while I'm drinking my tea!
Then, I go to a completely different friend's Flickr page and see a picture of some of our friends (who I haven't seen in a while) with their toddler who they conceived shortly after we grandly announced that we were starting to try back in 2005. This kid is a perfect living timeline of my failure (and a tow-headed blondie to boot. Absolutely adorable). Again, totally unexpected.
Already my day looked like it was tanking fast, so I went to that one place that I find great solace: the fabric store. Looking at fabrics is quite therapeutic for me and normally does the trick, but not this time. Why? Because one of the sales clerks (they all know me, I need a lot of therapy) beckoned me to come and see the new fabrics they had in. And, of course, they're baby fabrics (really adorable). Ugh.
I made the mistake of mentioning that I needed to make a baby quilt soon and the very perky, young lady said, "oh are you expecting?" Double ugh. If there had been a wall available, I would have gladly hit my forehead on it. Repeatedly. "No", I said, lamely. "I need to make a quilt for a friend who's having a baby." After getting my fat quarters, I just slunk home and caught up reading my O magazines (yes, even I have bad magazine habits) hoping that maybe Oprah could cheer me up. She didn't.
Friday, January 4, 2008
I should first discuss the piece. Warner discusses (and takes great umbridge at) the idea of Western women renting wombs from poor and presumably downtrodden women in India. She is also very turned off by the woman featured in the original piece on Marketplace. Warner wrote:
"This was 'Julie,' an American thirtysomething who’d come to India to pay a poor village woman to bear her baby. She went on: 'You have no idea if your surrogate mother is smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs. You don’t know what she’s doing. You have a third-party agency as a mediator between the two of you, but there’s no one policing her in the sense that you don’t know what’s going on.'
Would you want this woman owning your womb?"
Wow. Just wow. My mother taught me that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Ms. Warner, like me, apparently doesn't follow that advice. I understand that columnists are paid to generate controversy, but this just seems like a low blow. Part of the reason is because she doesn't mention that Julie tried five times to have a baby and wasn't able to do it. Julie is infertile. Julie is not one of those women who don't want to get stretch marks so they use a surrogate. Ms. Warner, however, apparently thinks that Julie is one step from this by talking about how Julie "... [was] speaking in her awful, entitled tone." I can't tell if Ms. Warner feels this way about all infertile people or if Julie just particularly grated her. I'd like to think she has a tad more empathy than that.
Not surprisingly, the histrionics she employed set the stage for hysterical flagelations of commenters about the injustice of bourgeois women from the rich West using poor, third world human incubators to do the dirty work. I can see their point. While I think surrogacy in principle is a wonderful thing - the ability of one person to give someone something that they could not otherwise have, my nose begins to crinkle a little at the idea of paying someone in the developing world to carry my child because things are sticky here. While I don't know if I would do it, I'm certainly not going to tell someone else that they can't.
What really bothered me about the comments, though, were how many people felt that infertile couples should just "deal with it" or "find a new fixation". The assumption is that if they are to the point where they would go to India and essentially rent a uterus, they need to get a life. This frustrates me no end because I'm pretty certain that everyone who said those things has not dealt with infertility (and statistically, most of them will not have to).
Infertility calls into question your very essence and being. You feel betrayed by your body because it's having trouble achieving one of its primary functions. You feel inadequate because you cannot perform the most basic thing that a woman is supposed to do. It is all consuming and you have to fight not to make it your only life. To tell someone who is infertile or dealing with infertility that they should deal with it, to me, feels as if I had cancer and someone told me to just die gracefully. It is amazing the tyranny others can inflict with their opinions when in reality they don't know shit.
The fact is that people who have not dealt with infertility cannot judge the choices and actions of those who do. End of story.
And oh, what drugs there were. Boxes upon boxes of Menopur, the box of Lupron, the box with the HCG trigger (not my usual pre-filled Ovidrel), the icky progesterone shots, and antibiotics. And then there were the needles. There were so many that any professional baseball player would have swooned in envy. Bless the pharmacy, they were even tucked in the empty sharps container.
Why am I getting excited about drugs? Because otherwise I will cry like a baby at what I am about to put myself through to be able to produce a child.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Reason 1: I am a terrible gambler.
This is not based on my win/lose record, but because I am the cheapest gambler known to man. I went to Vegas and put exactly $4 in the slots (and I had difficulty parting with that much). I do better with lottery tickets if only because part of the money you spend is to really have a legitimate reason to fantasize about everything that you are going to buy when you (of course) win the big pot. But, I am just a cheap-ass gambler which means I don't gamble.
Square that with infertility, however, and you have what is known in fancy words as a paradox. Infertility treatments are the ultimate gamble. Every month you are gambling on hope, money, eggs, sperm, uteruses, and a whole host of other factors to achieve that jackpot of a smiling pregnancy test. It's one thing to gamble all of that with the cushion of knowing that some of it is being paid for with someone else's money. But now, we are gambling with our own money. Money that should be saved toward a college fund or donated to an animal shelter. I'm afraid that this is going to make it that much more difficult to accept if we have a bad outcome.
Reason 2: I have to pay for that which should be free.
I have a rather well-developed, and frankly probably over developed, sense of the unfair. For example, it is not fair that one person gets paid more than another person simply based upon their gender. That's a no-brainer. It's also not fair that animals are treated cruelly every day while others are pampered and given caviar. As for my situation, I think that it is unfair that I have to pay for the pleasure of medical intervention to get pregnant when most people can just do it in the back of a car for free (ok, maybe someone has to shell out money for dinner, but we're not talking the thousands of dollars that any given procedure might cost you).
The response that most people want to give to this particular complaint is "life is unfair" or "you got dealt a bad hand". I'm sorry - that's just not good enough for me. I think I, and all of the women dealing with infertility out there, deserve a better answer than that. Unfortunately, I know that a better answer doesn't exist. And that is totally unfair.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
However, as the years have flown and the major plan-able milestones have been reached, the new year doesn't bring as much anticipation. And with infertility, frankly the last thing you want is anticipation. It is so tempting to think, "this will be my year. I can feel it." For those infertiles who had this thought last year and start this year with still no baby, it can be incredibly disillusioning and depressing. I don't remember if I had this thought at the beginning of 2007. I really doubt it since I found out a few days in that I was benched for the first time due to cysts from my previous cycle.
Rather than make resolutions or pronouncements, I choose The Year of No Expectations. A friend of mine defined the life philosophy of no expectations as this: if you have no expectations, you can't be disappointed. When I first heard it, part of me kind of thought it was a cop out. After all, aren't we supposed to have goals and expectations of ourselves? By having no expectations, aren't we just living an unmeaningful existence? I came to realize that his philosophy applies to expectations that we have of things that are beyond our control, such as other people's behavior, and events that we cannot manipulate. Viewed this way, it becomes clear that it is a sophisticated method of self-preservation with a touch of freedom thrown in.
So, 2008 will be the year of no expectations. I won't expect to be expecting. I won't expect that my other friends won't suddenly get knocked up or worse, get knocked up with number 2. I won't expect that my parents will be more supportive. I won't expect that I will feel better about 2007. I hope I will be content with my life as it is and try to make it a little better - however that might come about. Otherwise, I suspect I'll go crazy by June.