Square One

Not sure really where to begin, but here goes…

In the fall I did my last IVF hurrah.  IVF#5.  I threw EVERYTHING into it and resolved to question every one of my doctor’s decisions.   I recorded every follicle measurement and hormone level.  A few hours before I was supposed to trigger, I called the RE in an impassioned state and asked her to make sure, like REALLY sure, that our timings were spot on– and she noticed THREE errors related to our trigger/retrieval protocol, which she corrected, thank heavens.

After all that, we got 8 eggs, and only 1 fertilized.  We decided not to risk traumatizing it by doing PGD so we transferred a really beautiful embryo, the most beautiful we have ever produced, really early on Day 3.

Alas, no baby.  We left no stone unturned, and there were no babies under any stones.

The RE said that my egg quality is so poor that, from now on, our results will just continue to get worse.  “You have the eggs of a 43-year-old,” she said off-handedly.

In some ways, I feel we’re back to Square One.  (Loved that TV show as a kid.  Mathnet rocked!)  Have 4+ years of TTC been wasted?  Maybe, maybe not.

And where ARE we now?  Gathering information.  Deciding whether to adopt or to choose an egg donor.  On the egg donation front, I’ve been browsing the profiles of egg donors on several different websites, feeling guilty for dismissing perfectly nice girls because their noses are too big, or because they have the wrong color eyes, or because they lack something else similarly superficial that suddenly becomes embarrassingly important.

On the adoption front, I called the state adoption office today and talked with a very nice, smart lady who explained the process of adoption from foster care.  I know we can adopt infants or international children too, but right now I feel a pull towards foster kids, probably because their photos/pictures/videos are posted online and I can actually see some of those kids fitting into our lives.  Kyle feels a pull toward international.

My feelings are definitely mixed about all this.  As I heard recently on a TED talk about making decisions, THERE IS NO PERFECT DECISION.  I look forward to getting past this scary decision-making part so that we can welcome a child, of any variety, into our family.

❤ -H




Expecting A Miracle (Barf!)

The mountains of clean laundry to be folded and stowed were beginning to suffocate me, so I flipped on the TV while I worked in the bedroom.

The first program that came up was a movie called Expecting A Miracle, starring Jason Priestly. The movie sucked me in before I realized it was about infertility. I changed the channel, pronto, but for some reason, the movie kept pulling me back.

The story: Rather than pay for yet another round of IVF, an infertile couple decides to use their remaining IVF savings for a needy little boy’s health care. A few weeks later, POOF, they’re pregnant. Cut to the closing credits.

See, they just relaxed, and it happened! Like magic. Because they DESERVED it for being selfless.

Well, Mr. Movie Producer, I would like to inform you that:

1. Whether or not a woman gets pregnant has NOTHING to do with how relaxed she is.
2. As much as I really, really wish it were so, Being A Good Person doesn’t help you, either.
3. Just because a previously infertile woman gets a positive result on an HPT does not mean her infertility journey is suddenly over.
4. The nobility of making an after-school-special-style movie about infertility is negated when you oversimplify the topic.

That is all! ❤

A House, A Child, And A Viola: Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

Well, after my last post about Moving Forward, it appears that throwing away all those empty vials of medicine really did give me some respite from the otherwise constant stress of infertility. There have been days I haven’t thought about it at all. There have also been moments when the idea of taking care of a kid totally exhausts me and I start wondering if we should just count our blessings and scrap the baby-making entirely.

AF arrived and now we’re back to TTC naturally, but without thinking about it too much. I finally got my new insurance card in the mail yesterday, so it’s time to set up my next appointment with the RE to start IVF #5.

With some of my mental capacity freed up from infertility, I made a huge decision: I am upgrading my viola. This might not sound like such a big deal, but fine instruments are so expensive that most professionals have to choose between a viola and a house. No joke. We are talking about going from the viola I bought in college for $10k (by scraping together scholarship money and working every summer in a crappy office job) to an instrument costing possibly TEN TIMES that or more. (If you think that’s expensive, check out this article about a $45 million Stradivarius viola coming up for auction this. June). With all the fertility business going on, it has always seemed like the wrong time for a nice viola, but with the help of my therapist, a good friend, our financial advisor, and of course K (and his new better-paying job), I finally admitted that a new viola is not just something I want, it’s something I NEED and more importantly, DESERVE for both my career and my soul. (More on these thoughts at a later date.) We’ll probably take out a 30-year loan for musicians and pay anywhere from $300 to $550/month after a down payment. It’s a major commitment.

Interestingly, making a financial decision like this is based a whole lot on faith that our fertility journey is going to work itself out without any more giant expenses. But I feel surprisingly fine about that. We can still handle some additional financial curveballs, but this is my very brave way of saying that my life goes on -happily!- without children. I am allowed to make a major business decision without my kids, and I don’t have to choose between them and a viola. ❤

Moving Forward (Not Moving On!)

During my first IVF cycle, I decided that my child’s baby book should TOTALLY have a photo of all those empty vials of medicine.  “Look at what we went through to have you,” I imagined us saying.  Of course I also fantasized that there would be little to no reaction from our young ‘un, and that, years later, we’d be lucky just to get an eye roll from our teen.  But when my adult child was having children -our grandchildren, think of that!- THAT’s when our effort would be truly appreciated.  Maybe they’d even say, “Wow, Mom, I can’t believe how barbaric the reproductive technology was back then!  Now we use hyposprays!  Medicine has come such a long way!”

When the first cycle failed and we started our second one, I thought, “This is going to be such a GREAT picture!  So dramatic!”  And I kept saving all those little bottles and pens.

During the third cycle, I went to the Dollar Store and bought special Tupperware for all the vials.  The fourth cycle filled ’em all to the brim.  This photo was getting expensive.  And f*cking annoying.

Containers of empty medicine bottles stayed on my bathroom shelf for two years.  Every time I sat on the toilet, four failed IVF cycles glared back at me, directly at eye level.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I realized that I’ve passed the point where a photo is impressive or funny; it is now depressing.  Looking at the vials is depressing.  Waiting to take the photo is depressing.  Wondering what our guests must think is depressing.

I thought of moving them to the garage, but I knew they’d be there, lurking in a dark corner, waiting to jump out and surprise me at any moment.

So I chucked ’em.  Didn’t even recycle (gasp).  Except for the Gonal-F pens; they still have a little medication inside, so they’ll go to Town Hall for unused medication collection.

Call me a masochist, but I couldn’t help counting everything first.  I used little hatch marks on two pages of a mini memo pad, which took me 1/2 hour.  Every container seemed like it just HAD to be the last one.  I sat on the floor in the exact spot of my first miscarriage in 2011.

Here’s my list:

  • 4 HCG trigger shots
  • 4 Bacteriostatic water
  • 12 bottles Cetrotide
  • 1 multidose Progesterone-in-Oil
  • 1 multidose Lupron
  • 11 boxes of Ganarelix
  • 2 bottles Methylprednisone
  • 2 bottles Doxycycline
  • 2 bottles Estrace
  • 58 bottles of Sodium Chloride
  • TWO HUNDRED bottles of Menopur
  • 19 Gonal-F pens (a.k.a. Liquid Gold)
  • 4 filled sharps containers (to be brought to Medical Sharps Collection Day next week)
  • (That disgusting Crinone stuff was never on my radar because I coudn’t wait to forget about it.)

Already a great weight has been lifted off my heart.  Next Monday when the trash truck rolls through, I’ll wave good riddance to my previous failures.

I’m moving forward to the next part of our plan, which is an IVF cycle WITHOUT the embryo-killing PGD.  My new health insurance kicks in today.  AF had better get here soon so we can get this show on the road!  ❤


A great big THANK YOU goes to The Stirrup Queen for including my blog in her index of fertility blogs, which you can find here:

The Stirrup Queen’s Completely Anal List of Blogs That Proves That She Really Missed Her Calling as a Personal Organizer

You can ask to have your blog added, too, or you can go to the Lost & Found section where you can simply give support to someone who needs it.  (I’ll be posting her website address more prominently on my blog.)


The OB Waiting Room, Post-D&E

For an infertile, there isn’t much worse than sitting in the OBGYN waiting room for a followup appointment after a D&E. I don’t know if it was because I was 15 minutes late to my appointment (freak midday traffic jam, ARGH), or if it’s just this OB’s MO, but an hour after I arrived, I was still languishing in the waiting room with the pregnant ladies, the newborns, and the couple who have another bun in the oven but clearly can’t even control the bun they already have.

Here’s a tip for you ladies who have just had a miscarriage and are forced to visit the OBGYN for a followup visit: Ask the receptionist IMMEDIATELY for an alternative place to sit other than the waiting room. This isn’t an uncommon request and they do try to accommodate you.

Unfortunately, I didn’t ask to be seated elsewhere, so I just went on my merry way filling out the paperwork amongst the fertiles.

When I got to:

“Number of Pregnancies?” 4.
“Number of Children?” 0.

…I lost it. Just sobbed right there in the waiting room. Not a single person seemed to notice, or maybe they all pretended not to notice. I had to ask the receptionist for Kleenex.

Other than that emotionally charged day at the OB and my current flu predicament, K and I are feeling much better, and I thank MLACS for checking in on me and inspiring me to post again.

K has thankfully returned to his usual happy, laid-back, hard-working, sporadically-helpful-around-the-house self. On Sunday while I was at work, he surprised me by going food shopping and making 2 healthy recipes we can heat up all week, plus a Waldorf salad using greek yogurt.

K’s difference in mood is mostly because his new job finally came through and he gave notice to his current one. Hooray! Plus… There is a significant pay raise involved. 🙂

Unfortunately his new health insurance plan SUCKS, and the policy says right up front that IVF will never be covered. So despite living in a state that requires infertility to be covered, I’m still forced to go buy my own, very expensive policy to cover more IVF. And in the process, I discovered that no company will approve more than 6 IVF cycles in my lifetime (unless there is an intervening live birth, after which I might get one or two more) even if those cycles were paid by a different company. So I guess we’d better make these last two count. Gulp.

But right now, I will try not to worry about that. Instead, I will enjoy the fact that, because I don’t have children, I am afforded the luxury of recovering from the flu without interruption. ❤

How I Can Feel Better Today

When I first opened my eyes this morning, my first thought was, “There’s no baby.”  Then as K reached over to comfort me, my second and third thoughts were, “Ohh, poor baby, he feels sad, too,” and, “I’m so lucky to have him.”  My fourth thought was, “How long have our three cats been on the bed, staring at me?  Yikes!”

Then I was faced with a decision:  What should I do today?

My D&E was inconveniently pushed off until Wednesday at 1PM, so technically, there is nothing medical on my schedule today except for a pre-registration phone call at 2:30PM.  Should I take the day off from teaching viola lessons, knowing that I will also have to cancel Wednesday and Thursday’s students because of the D&E?  Or should I keep my usual work schedule so that I don’t just sit here wallowing in self-pity?

So, to help me make that decision, I made a list of things I could do today to feel better.  I’m being very conservative with my ideas, and I’m not putting pressure on myself to complete every item on this list; I’ll only do what feels right at the moment.

How I Can Feel Better Today

1.  Make a list of things I can do to feel better today.  (Check!  I feel better already!)

2.  Cancel as much work as I can for the week, but don’t wallow in self-pity.  Instead, do other things that will make me feel better and help me cope, such as:

3.  Re-read and respond to all your wonderful, thoughtful, touching comments on yesterday’s post.  After my quartet concert last night (which went well despite everything), I was so exhausted physically and emotionally that it was all I could do to read your comments before I conked out.  I honestly slept a little more comfortably knowing that so many people were thinking of me and wishing me well.  A giant thank you to A Calm Persistence for sharing my post with her readership.  🙂

4.  Wash and put away all the dishes and wipe down the counter tops.  Having a clean, uncluttered kitchen makes me feel less lazy and also less embarrassed should we have any last-minute guests.

5.  Take a shower, get dressed and put on a little makeup.  This little bit of advice came from the FLYlady.  It’s surprisingly hard to do on a day like today.

6.  Go buy groceries.  We are out of most staples here.  I’ve often said that grocery shopping is my zen, because I’m not thinking about anything but food.  There is satisfaction in providing sustenance for my family, even if my family right now is just K and our three feline fur babies.  Plus, I NEED ice cream.

7.  Watch the dumba$$ Bachelor on DVR and appreciate that I have already found my soul mate.

8.  Respond to a few emails that have been hanging over my head for a while now.  In each case, I’ve dragged my feet because, basically, I don’t know how to say NO.  Well, people, get ready to read “NO” because that’s what I’m gonna type.  NO, NO NO.  (Just practicing.)

9.  Excuse myself from exercising.  I know, I know… they say that exercise improves a person’s mood.  Well, not today.  Today, NOT exercising is improving my mood already.

10.  Spend 15 minutes cleaning out the garage so I can eventually PARK IN IT.  Home improvement is always my go-to for post-miscarriage or post-IVF healing.  Usually, I want to paint a room or put up shelving, but it feels a little early for that right now.  I’ll start thinking about that after tomorrow’s D&E.  Right now, 15 minutes in the garage seems manageable.

11.  Complete ONE item on my to-do list for the May kickoff concert to my new monthly concert series.  Just one item.  There are like, 50 things on the list, but that is OK.  One item is progress.

12.  Arrange a time for Big Brother Big Sister to pick up the clothes and household items I’ve been wanting to give away.  Every few months they send a truck to my neck of the woods and I can sign up to have them come right to my front door for free.  I feel good about donating to that organization, it’s super convenient, I’m helping needy people, and I always feel positively giddy about getting rid of things I no longer use.  K and I are locked in a never-ending battle over that one… he loves collecting things and hates giving anything away… even trash!  So I just do it without telling him, and he NEVER notices.

If any of you have other ideas on how to cope today and over the next few days, I’m all ears.  ❤

Chocolate Pudding

This is a really small, silly thing that happened last week, but for some reason I just cannot let it go. I thought maybe if I post about it, I can finally put it to rest and realize how ridiculous I’m being.

* * *
My parents are excellent planners. A month ago we had our TG 100% planned, down to who’s bringing what, what time they’ll arrive, and what we’ll do while we wait for the turkey to finish baking.

Conversely, my in-laws are notoriously lazy planners. If it were up to them, we would send out our first semi-planning email on Wed around noon. But somehow, amazingly, all 10 people manage to be present at every holiday. They’ve done it this way forever.

Until I came along. I’m the first addition to Kyle’s family in 15 years, and evidently I’m also the only one with a familial holiday conflict.

In the interest of being proactive, I sent an itty bitty feeler group email to Kyle’s family asking if we could have TG dinner late this year since we wanted to spend time with my parents earlier in the day. (Mind you, the only time we had an early TG dinner was last year, when two days before TG, Kyle’s SIL’s mother [yeah, I get confused too] invited us all to her place and set the time for 1:00, which is what my parents and I had already planned. I pulled rank and told Kyle we were going to my parents’ place. Kyle was not happy at all.) After a week, I did get “approval” for a late TG dinner. Planning Phase One complete.

Planning Phase Two: deciding what to bring. Kyle’s sister has always acted the martyr despite almost everyone else’s enthusiasm to contribute. She’s a workaholic, a cookaholic and a hostaholic, which my therapist says is actually a sign of being a control freak. It’s not the mean kind of control freak, it’s the “Oh, I already know how to do it, so it will be easier for me, and you shouldn’t try because everyone will like my way better and we’ve always done it that way” kind of control freak. So, once the “late TG” timing was set, my SIL’s final response was, “OK, Mom and I will start planning.” Which in SIL control freak language means, “OK, Mom and I will divide up the cooking and hosting responsibilities between us, and everyone else’s contributions will be purely nonessential.”

Call me crazy, but I was offended by her comment. Why weren’t Kyle and I included in the planning? Kyle and I both love to cook and we consider it an act of love to contribute to the food stash. I decided to ignore the “OK, Mom and I will start planning” comment and immediately asked them to please let us know what we can bring. After a week of not hearing from them, I decided to make a suggestion: I knew how much my gluten intolerant nephew and BIL love chocolate cream pie (so much so that I saw my BIL lick the pudding and whip cream right off the graham cracker crust last Easter), so I could make a big bowl of chocolate pudding with whip cream and they could eat it to their heart’s content without the threat of gluten. Seemed like a nice, thoughtful idea to me.

Kyle immediately jumped into the email thread by saying that he was sure we could make a gluten-free crust to make it a proper chocolate cream pie. I wasn’t thrilled about him editing my offer without my permission, but I let that go. Then my SIL, the martyr and control freak, said she had once made a gluten-free pie crust with cinnamon chex and could make it again. I fought off my first reaction, which was, “WILL YOU PLEASE JUST LET ME DO IT ALREADY?!” What the hell is wrong with pudding, anyway?

I decided not to let her be the martyr and usurp my idea, so I spent about 30 minutes formulating my response. I came up with “Interesting, I’m not much of a crust person myself, probably because of my anti-flavor-mingling tendencies. But it seems like a cinnamon chex crust will be much appreciated, so I will happily make that, along with a little bowl sans crust just pour moi.” There. I patted myself on the back for shutting the door on any argument while remaining sweet and civil.

At that point, Kyle stepped in again, saying, “Now, now, ladies, there is plenty of pie-making to go around!”

Well, I flew off the handle at him (privately, not in the group thread). In one sentence he had made it sound like I was perpetuating an argument and he was stepping in to lighten up this tense situation with his charming humor. It felt like he was trying to “manage” my relationship with his family. He said he was only “needling” me to be funny and he never would have done it if 1) I’d actually sounded b*tchy or 2) if he’d realized how much time and effort I’d put into my response.

I guess this silly little email thread has bothered me so much because I have a long history of being misunderstood by Kyle’s family. I’ve been working very hard to improve my standing. It started when Kyle proposed too early and I asked him to wait a while. Proposing at that time was a bone-headed move on his part because it was obvious I wasn’t ready. But of course, his family is understandably biased, so they only heard his side of the story and thought I was being a b*itch. I think Kyle and his family still believe that the proposal debacle was entirely MY fault. Then later there were 3 years of of fertility troubles, which meant that I was sometimes sad at family gatherings because I was either having a f*cking miscarriage, or the previous day’s IVF didn’t go well, etc, etc. Rather than ask me what’s wrong, they would just whisper amongst themselves about what a morose b*tch I was being that day, and oh poor Kyle for having to put up with that, and oh she seems depressed, has she gotten any medication for that? In more recent times, they have begun asking Kyle what’s wrong with me. But as you can see in the case of the TG feeler email, he doesn’t always make things better. Then there’s the fact that I occasionally need time to myself because I’m an introvert. Conversing meaningfully in a group of 10 isn’t one of my strengths, no matter how hard I try.

On several occasions, I’ve tried talking directly with individual in-laws about my issues so that they wouldn’t have to whisper, surmise, assume, or ask Kyle to translate badly. But every time, I have felt very distinctly that they don’t want to hear about it. They only want to hear about good things. My SIL knew how to react to exactly one scenario: she could be excited for us after embryo transfers. Fragile X, miscarriage, infertility, hormone stims, chemical pregnancy… these are all ideas that are completely foreign and uncomfortable for all my in-laws. They’ll either change the subject or just stare at me, not knowing what to say. The support from them has been lackluster. If you ignore it, it will go away, and all you will feel is happy. If you don’t feel happy, we can’t help you.

Well, that’s interesting! I thought this was about chocolate pudding.


(I’m in the 2ww again. My OPK showed ovulation a couple days earlier than expected. Maybe it’s because AF started so late last month? I wouldn’t know since a late AF is so rare for me. At any rate, we had sex 5 times in the 6 days surrounding ovulation…. that *should* do the trick, right?)

Here’s another installment of our fertility story. Last I wrote, we had finally gotten the DNA samples together to start the process of PGD, which is how our embryos would be tested for Fragile X.

Our next hurdle: Insurance!

We’re fortunate to live in a state where fertility treatments are covered by insurance, but they certainly don’t make it easy. Before the RE could submit the claim, we had to enroll with the Infertility Hotline. The phone rep listened to my sob story, looked at my poor hormone test results, declared me to be eligible for benefits and then spent 30 minutes enrolling me in the fertility program.

We celebrated that IVF was covered, yay!

Then PGD was officially approved, yay! Here’s how the PGD claims process was explained:

1) Pay $3850 out-of-pocket directly to the genetics lab for PGD
2) Wait 4 months while the DNA samples are grown and analyzed
3) Complete IVF egg retrieval, fertilization and PGD testing
4) Submit claim for reimbursement with the necessary “Date of Service”
5) Receive check.

If you’re thinking that’s a shady way to do business, you’re right. After we completed steps 1 & 2, our IVF claim was denied. Why? Because we weren’t considered “infertile.” And if we were, we’d be required to do IUI’s first. Try doing PGD on that.

Never mind the chunk of change and 4 months time lost. We were staring down the barrel of about $20K for a single cycle of IVF. What’s more, our RE wasn’t even sure that my Fragile-X-Carrier ovaries would even respond to the hormones; often they don’t.

So I wrote an appeal letter. It had four main components:

1) You already approved PGD, which is impossible without IVF
2) Our IVF claim isn’t for infertility; it’s for PGD
3) IVF with PGD will be much cheaper in the long run than caring for a special needs child
4) Denying this claim feels like an insurance loophole.

My therapist told me to use #4 because it hints at trouble that the company would want to avoid.

Surprisingly, we got a reversal of our denial within two days!

Fast forward a couple months. After completing our first IVF cycle with PGD, we submitted our PGD reimbursement claim. Guess what? DENIED! Because we didn’t use the exact genetics lab they *claim* they specified.

One day I’ll get around to appealing that….

On The Back Burner

Last night my friend Claire and I attended our friend’s performance of the Mozart Requiem. It was odd being an audience member, coat-checking my viola rather than unpacking in the green room. We settled in our seats and began searching the stage for any musicians we knew.

Suddenly my heart leapt into my throat because there in the chorus was the man I almost married before I met Kyle. It had been almost 5 years since I’d seen Jim, right after Kyle and I got engaged. Jim had congratulated me with a wistful look in his eye. I could almost hear him saying, It should have been us.

The backstory: It was that wonderful time between finals and college graduation, when the weather is gorgeous and there’s nothing to do but savor the time you have left with your friends. Jim and I went on two dates and it was kismet; the sun burst with brightness and the stars glittered in the night. I’ve still never felt such euphoric highs in my life. Two weeks later he proposed. He didn’t have a ring and he was so casual that I didn’t believe him at first. My spontaneous, passionate, free-spirited side was swept away and wanted so badly to run away with him, but my brain understandably needed more time. I was afraid that someone who falls in love so fast and hard would fall out of love just as fast and hard. When I asked Jim if we could take the proposal off the table so we could date without pressure, he said no, he’d only “put it on the back burner.” There were other red flags: he’d gotten his roommate pregnant but wouldn’t admit it to me; his finances were in chaos; he loved to argue about everything. I knew deep down he was bad news. Despite my fervent feelings for him, I reluctantly cut him loose.

Five years later we ran into each other again. Surprisingly, our feelings for each other hadn’t changed and he’d matured in many ways. It seemed that the universe had thrown us back together for a reason. But sadly, I wound up breaking his heart a second time. I wondered for years if I’d made the right decision. Only now do I know how to articulate it: I loved our passion for life and each other, but I didn’t trust Jim to take care of me.

During the concert, after my heart calmed down, I contemplated life if I’d married Jim instead of Kyle. With Jim, life would be one long roller coaster with endless metaphysical conversation, intense arguments, and explosive make-up sex. We would’ve moved from place to place to chase the next adventure, living paycheck-to-paycheck and sometimes not paying our bills. There is no way we could’ve afforded IVF, even if we had health insurance.

With Kyle, my life is smooth; our conversations are down-to-earth, our sex is yummy vanilla, we’ve lived in the same place since we got married, and our income is steady thanks to his excellent job. We’ve done four rounds of IVF with PGD to combat this Fragile X thing. But most importantly, I am happy. He is happy. Even when we’re sad, we’re happy.

But there is one fundamental part of my personality that Jim brought out in me that Kyle doesn’t: passion. Passion for life, passion for music, sexual passion, passion for the beauty of the earth, passion for thought-provoking conversation. Kyle never inhibits me from being passionate, but he doesn’t exactly inspire me, either. He works hard and plays hard but doesn’t dream the same way I do.

What happened to those passionate dreams I had when I graduated from college? And why have I fallen out of practice in my dreaming recently? It’s not really because of any dynamic with Kyle. No, it’s because we’ve spent the last three years failing to have a child. It has consumed my thoughts and drained my energy. My dreams, to use Jim’s words, were put “on the back burner.”

This is your wake-up call, Haven. You are more than a wannabe mom. You have dreams and goals of your own that have nothing to do with babies. It’s time to tap into your passion and live your life the way you’ve always wanted to.