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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

 

 

 

Evanescence

OK, so the title has nothing to do with my post today, but I couldn’t think of a title, so I asked K to name a random word and ‘evanescence’ is what he chose. If you feel so inclined to look it up, it is absolutely something that I experienced with my first miscarriage, and it’s totally worth exploring in the future.

Anyway…

I’ve been working on a draft FOR EVER, but it seems that I have so much to say and way too little time to organize my thoughts. That big post is going to have to digest for a while longer before I figure out a palatable way to present it to the world. 🙂

Meanwhile, our poor girl kitty Bernstein leapt off the loft railing in pursuit of a moth, fell to the lower level, and injured her hind leg. The x-rays show no fractures, but she is still in pain 10 days later. The vet refilled her pain prescription today and she is a bit more comfortable but still limping everywhere and sometimes growling if another cat gets too close. Overall, though, I must say she’s been a great patient. She put herself on kitty bed rest and has never lashed out at us when we’ve tried to help. Here she is, looking sad while waiting for the vet:.

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In the fertility world, I’m SURE I had implantation spotting one week ago, but after 6 days in a row of negative pee sticks, AF finally arrived today. I might try a Clomid cycle this month. Fingers crossed.

Thinking of you all. ❤

More RAM, please

Well, my kitty Bing just curled up in my lap with a vengeance, so I’m taking it as a sign that I should take a moment to write.

This week has been extremely tough for me. Several big work projects piled up for May and I just can’t seem to keep up mentally or physically. I’ve tried to carve out a little bit of relaxation time, but then I just end up feeling MORE anxious about getting everything done and MORE guilty that I’m not doing it. My mental CPU has so many things to process that everything in my head is running slowly and burning out the motor. Infertility always runs in the background, making me less capable of functioning well when presented with other stressors. I need more RAM!

A good friend pointed out that I have a tendency to take on new projects without letting something else go. I do this with work projects, of course, but also with big life changes. For example, getting married and moving into a bigger house requires more housework. Making appointments to try new violas takes time. My new chamber music concert series takes planning. Blogging takes mental capacity. And TTC takes A LOT of time, energy, money, and headspace. I had shaved some things off my schedule, but as evidenced by the way I’ve felt this week, it’s not nearly enough. In the absence of more RAM, I must delete some programs from my system.

Part of my problem is that, since I work mostly from home, my work follows me wherever I go, even when I think I’m relaxing.

Next steps to internal zen: Take less work. Separate work from pleasure! ❤

P.S. I'm sorely disappointed in the NCIS show for what they did with Palmer's infertility storyline. Poof, there is a bun in the oven! Grrrrr.

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! ❤

Feline Mental Health Break :)

Back in mid-February when the nurses told us that our 3rd beta indicated a non viable pregnancy (Poof), we put in an application to adopt a 3rd cat (mentioned briefly in Go In Peace.)  A week later, we welcomed Bing into our home.

 

Bing

 

Bing has been such a loving addition to our fur baby family.  He’s sweet, cuddly and playful and he follows us wherever we go. He and our other male cat, Debussy, get along famously:

 

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…and Bing can often be observed cleaning Debussy:

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Our third kitty, Bernstein, who is actually a very sweet female calico/tortoiseshell under normal conditions, felt very threatened at first but is finally STARTING to warm up to Bing.  Her hissing is down to about once every other day.  🙂

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So happy to have our little cuddle balls.  There’s nothing like unconditional love to make our fertility struggle a little more tolerable!  ❤

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!  ❤

—AND—

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. ❤

Empty Stomach, Empty Womb

No food or drink after midnight, the nurses said.

I hate fasting. I really, really hate it. On the car ride down to my D&E, NPR aired a story on gluten free food that made me so hungry I had to change the station. When we arrived at the hospital’s surgical center, the receptionist gave us a buzzer just like we were at a restaurant. The waiting room smelled like french fries and I wistfully watched a woman sip her grande Starbucks drink.

Our buzzer buzzed and we were led to the pre-op room, where I changed into hospital attire and joked about the handy pocket in the johnny. (The “pocket” is actually a quick-access portal to my chest in case of emergency, a nurse explained.) The OR nurses have a completely different vibe from the IVF ones. The IVF nurses always seem a little blasé and patronizing, plus they’re mixed in with the green fellows and interns, who I never fully trust. Here, there were no students– just the nurses, the anesthesiologist and the OB/GYN– and I instinctively KNEW they were good.

I was asked again if I was a medical professional. Sigh. I’m flattered, but no, I’ve just been doing this for a really long time.

The actual procedure was easy, thanks to the expert anesthesiologist. She had me completely out for the exact length of the procedure and no longer. I wasn’t aware of them putting my legs in stirrups, sticking on electrodes, doing the procedure, putting mesh panties and a pad on me, or transferring me back onto the gurney. It is really an exercise in giving up control. Sadly, it must feel like this sometimes for the elderly.

Back in recovery, I woke up crying. One of the nurses was right there beside me with a comforting hand and a box of Kleenex. I’m sobbing now as I remember. She even offered to give me a minute alone before K came back into recovery, which I was relieved about, but alas, K was already on his way in. It’s not that I’ve wanted to hide any emotions from him; I’ve just wanted to be strong for him. This time around, he’s needed to lean on me.

I’ve been happy to be strong for him, but I definitely could’ve done without making my own dinner that night. It p*sses me off and perplexes me that K does NOT have the gene to wait on me hand and foot after a procedure like this. I was STARVING after fasting all day (DUH), but he just didn’t understand that food needed to happen for me RIGHT NOW. So I put some chicken noodle soup on the stove and informed him that he was in charge of bringing it to me when it was ready. I guess that’s as close as I’ll ever get to hand-and-foot. Either way, there’s really nothing better than chicken noodle soup followed by a giant bowl of ice cream. ❤

(By the way, I'm sorry this update took so long. You guys deserved to read something substantial, so I sacrificed speed.)

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.  ❤