February 28, 2007

Wacky Wednesday

Remember that book Wacky Wednesday? The Dr. Seuss book where the kid wakes up on a Wednesday and there's just a lot of wacky things going on, like a tree growing on the roof of the house? It's kind of been like that at the clinic lately, I can find something wrong every day.

Saturday, there was no drape for me after I undressed. No problem, I know which cabinet they're in now. I helped myself.

Monday I thought it was a little off that they had the GoodHousekeeping with beaming and pregnant Marcia Cross on the cover. Seeing things like that doesn't bother me at all and I know Marcia reportedly conceived through IVF, but still think of all the women in the waiting room who just don't want to see that after their last BFN.

Then Tuesday there was a Time Magazine with a story about abortion and a cover picture showing models of tiny embryos at various stages. Umm, who thought this was a good idea for a fertility clinic waiting room? I noticed the address label was cut out. Probably so some deranged infertile doesn't come hunt them down and kill them for leaving this shit in the waiting room.

So today I noticed that a print I happen to like, called Sea Battle by Wassily Kandinsky, was hanging upside down in the waiting room. It's abstract, so perhaps if you didn't know the painting you wouldn't realize it was upside down, but to me there is quite clearly a sea battle going on if you look at it right side up. Still I can see how it could get turned around, except that I noticed when I went back to phlebotomy, they had another print of the same painting, this time with a border at the bottom naming an exhibition, which made it clear which way it should be hung. (I've obviously spent too much time sitting around the waiting room lately.)

I just thought it was funny. Aside from the fact that they could be a little more thoughtful about the reading material in the waiting room, I love my clinic and they get all the really important stuff right.

Follicle check today looks about the same. About seven follies per side with several on the right in the 19-20mm range. Five on the left are more like 15-17mm. This is virutally the same as yesterday, so I am NOT triggering tonight. Probably tomorrow with retrieval on Saturday.

February 26, 2007

Making Tracks

The cycle is going along just fine. As much of a pain as it is to have to go in for daily monitoring, it is nice to have something going on every day. I dread the 2ww, assuming I make it that far. If things keep on track, it will be here before I know it, probably by the weekend.

At Saturday's check, they found five follies on each side, all smaller than 10mm. But today they saw seven on each side, the largest of which is already about 17mm (only five per side were large enough to measure, so the rest probably won't catch up in time). I was really relieved. I didn't always respond well to the injectables for IUI, and I remember there being a lot of adjustments. This time we seem to be on the right track with the meds* from the beginning.

And speaking of tracks, check out the track marks on my belly! I knew there might be little bruises, but I wasn't expecting all those little puncture holes! For those considering moving on to IVF: do not be alarmed! It looks much worse than it feels. None of these belly shots have hurt at all. And other side effects have been really minimal too. I'm definitely a little more emotional, but not much more than a PMS week. I am certainly nothing like the evil bitch I was on Clomid. I'm not looking forward to the PIO shots, but everything up to this point has been really easy. The scariest part is the idea of failing (so I just don't get my hopes up), and of course if it should work, my gigantic fear of miscarrying.

*My meds schedule:
Lupron: 20iu daily during supression, reduced to 5 iu/day during stim
Follistim: 150iu each morning, 75iu each evening
Menopur: 75iu each evening

February 24, 2007

Fashionably Late

Since we're approaching five years since we first started trying, I sometimes feel like I'm a little late getting to the IVF party. Here's why it took so long:

I have always been very drawn to the idea of adopting. Even before I was married or had any idea I might have trouble concieving. I first remember thinking about it when I was about 17, and I came across a book about adoption. I just loved how it talked about the adopted children being special because they were chosen and how their parents went to great lengths to get them. Similar to how I hope IVF babies might feel when they one day learn of how they came to be. I had nothing against ART and those who chose to take that route, but I just always felt adoption was calling me.

Fast forward to about four years ago when we first started to realize it wasn't going to happen the old fashioned way. I was ready to start looking into adoption from the get go. Finding out we couldn't do it naturally was hard and I went through a whole grieving process around that, and at that time I let go of the idea of carrying and delivering a baby. It was heartbreaking, but I was consoled by a very strong belief that giving birth does not make you a mother (case in point all those who create children but do not parent them in any meaningful way). I never worried that I would love my adopted child any less. Actually I had a little fantasy of a beautiful multi-racial family that would set an example for my children and hopefully those around them of racial tolerance and appreciation for diversity.

I read articles about attachment disorder and the challenges of multi-racial adopting so I knew it wouldn't be all sunshine and roses, but I believed in it so passionately. Kind of like how once you accept the idea of IVF, and you begin to become aware of how difficult it will be, it's too late, you've already committed to taking the chance because you believe (even if only remotely) that you're pursuing your dream. But there was a bigger obstacle to adopting: my husband was NOT on board. He was simply never comfortable with the idea. It was starting to seem like we would never have a family because we could not agree on how to get to it. After a year of working with our RE and going through IUIs and IUIs with injectables, we took a year off.

Over that year, when I told people I wanted to adopt I heard things like: "That's great for you, but I would just be so scared. I mean, you just don't know what you're going to get. What if there's something wrong with it." I never had those fears. I remember responding: "I'm much more afraid of having my own child and having something be wrong with it, because then it would be my fault!" I thought this was a snappy comeback, but I started to realize I did have my own fears to contend with. And at the same time, I was coming to realize that if my husband had real and unshakable fears that he would not love an adopted child, then we were setting ourselves up for disaster from the start. Clearly you need to be on the same page to undertake any of these more challenging paths to parenthood. Also over that year off, our marriage changed and grew a lot. So now that we are pursuing IVF, I have an incredibly supportive partner. We both feel like we're on the right path now, where ever it leads us.

Speaking of being late for parties, I am off to my stim day 4 follie check. Which I'm going to ON MY WAY to a baby shower! Which I cannot find anything to wear to because my ovaries are so swollen and tender and sore. Must run and figure out how to dress up pajama pants!

February 22, 2007

Bruised and Annoyed

So that annoyingly perky cycle buddy from Fertility Friend just got her BFP. You know the type, one of Tertia's newbie Barbies. I know I just said the other day that I'm totally down with OPP, and let me be clear, I am very, very happy to hear of anyone getting a one-way ticket off the IF freeway at the nearest exit, but I'm just annoyed that she now has the extra ammunition to try to convince me that "I just need to be positive and it will happen!! :)" Baby dust, my ass. I think it's fantastic that she's found success on her first assisted cycle, but I'm tired of her trying to convince me to adopt her outlook, when my situation is completely different.

I remember being very optomistic about my first IUI a few years ago, but that's just not where I am now. I deal with the ups and downs of this process in my own way, dammit, and respect the rights of everyone else to do so in theirs. For me it's just easier not to get my hopes up much anymore. Nowadays I look forward to making positive progress in each little step: no cysts at ultrasound-yay!, good response to supression: yay!, good response to stims: TBD, but hopefully. I just can't let myself get my hopes up about the end game anymore. I'm not all doom and gloom about it, I just take each step at a time. And if I need to indulge in some dark humor from time to time, so be it. (Post Script: So basically I am a solid Stage 7)

Ugh, am I overreacting? I blame the stims. I've got a bunch of little bruises on my belly now, and I feel those old familiar symptoms coming back. Last night I woke up with a hot flash at 4am and started thinking undeservedly angry thoughts about my husband sleeping sweetly beside me. Then proceeded to imagine a snarly exchange with a friend I have no reason to assume will snarl at me, but worked on preparing my verbal smackdown just in case! Bring it ON mutherfuckers! Yikes, I think I need to go eat some donuts and change into my comfy pants.

February 20, 2007

I Win!

Somehow I managed to drag myself to the clinic this morning for my lupron check. It was seriously a struggle; my slight touch of a cold has grown into a monster, but I made it there and back. I was called back to phlebotomy right away which was a relief because I was trying very hard not to sneeze and cough all over the waiting room.

The ultrasound was fine. Lining thin, 15 antral follies, all nice and quiet. No cysts, yay! (I had several IUI cycles cancelled due to cysts back in '05). I waited for the nurse to call with instructions to start stims. Bloodwork was fine. She told me they were pushing me back a day, so I won't start stims until tomorrow evening. Why? "We have too many patients starting on the same day" she tells me. She explained that when they need to hold someone back, they hold the person who's profile currently looks the best, "And you won that contest," she says. Hurray, I never win anything! Certainly not in the fertility arena. I asked her what made my profile so winning, she tells me: my age, lack of known problematic condition, number of initial follicles, bloodwork results. Probably this just means I am the youngest of the three people ready to start stims tonight, but still I'm enjoying being a winner for a change.

February 19, 2007

You Down with OPP? (yeah you know me)

I'm totally down with Other People's Pregnancies. In the four years since we've been trying, so many friends of mine have been pregnant. Some have had more than one. There have been a couple of miscarriages, but the vast majority have been that easy, happy sort. I have truely never felt sad or cheated or unfaired-upon by anyone else's pregnancy. I have had one psycho Clomid-induced moment of crying hysterically after seeing a stranger walk by with a stroller, during which I screeched: "She's hideous and even she gets to reproduce!" But that was years ago, I am way more mature now (now that I'm off Clomid).

But really, I have never felt anything less than happiness for any of my friends or family who've had children over these past years. When I say that, people give me this sad look like they think surely I must be lying, how sad for me. I sometimes feel I'm even more intensely aware of how wonderful it is for them and my joy for them may be just slightly more acute. The one thing that makes me feel left out is when I can tell people feel weird about discussing their children or their pregnancies in front of me. They kind of do that thing where you look away from the guy in the wheelchair, and stop looking me in the eye when they realize they've been talking about breast feeding for 20 minutes and I'm the only one in the room without kids.

One friend in particular has been really great. She's pregnant now and I've really appreciated that she talks to me about her pregnancy. She also asks about my IVF cycle and tells me how excited she is for me; especially nice when I have such a hard time getting excited myself. It makes me feel more normal to have this bond with her, like I'm not quite so far out on the fertility fringes. She's pregnant, and like lots of girlfriends, she hopes we can be pregnant together, just that mine will happen in a different way. It's been so nice for me I decided to throw her shower. I also recruited my sister to be my back-up in case I'm having too hard a time to deal with it in a few months. An IVFer needs back-up plans, after all.

The other day we were at the home of another couple who are expecting. Since she's due in six weeks, we talked a lot about her pregnancy: how she's feeling, the plans for the nursery, etc. I was glad she was talking to me about it and not treating me like the fertility-cripple in the corner. It was a relief because at other times in her pregnancy I felt like she avoided the topic with me, which hurt my feelings. I was such a lame-o for not just bringing it up myself, but it's almost like I think pregnant women will find me unqualified for the discussion.

This time, I brought it up, asked questions, let her know I was excited, and she responded by sharing it all with me. It occurs to me that maybe I've been pulling that reverse-racism type thing, where I think everyone will think I'm different and freakish so I hold myself separate from the group of fertile women (not that I in ANY way equate the challenges of IF with the struggles of racism). It has probably been more me than them all along. And I do think that when I let people in on my IF secret, it is somewhat my responsibility to help them know how to deal with me. If they hold back somewhat in talking about their pregnancies with me, it is probably just because they are trying to be kind. No question some people are just stupid in how they respond to IF, but I'd like to think the majority are aiming for kindness. Some will even ask for help.

In cycle news, AF showed up yesterday, so I go in tomorrow for Lupron evaluation and hopefully start stims. I'm looking at estimated ER around 3/2, which is my mom's birthday.

February 16, 2007

Lupron, Blah Blah Blah

I just took my fourth Lupron shot this morning and last night I had my last BCP. So far I haven't had any side effects from the Lupron, but maybe I just haven't been on it long enough. I've had several side effects from the BCPs: very sore boobs, an irrationally short temper, general crankiness. Basically just like extra-intense PMS, which makes sense. Now that the BCPs are done, I'm just hanging out waiting for AF to show up so I can go get checked out and approved to continue with stims sometime next week. Basically I have nothing to say aboput the Lupron. The shots are virtually painless and so far no symptoms.

I seem to have come down with some kind of chest cold though, so I'm hoping I can keep it in check and that it doesn't become something worse that could cause me to need antibiotics and/or to have to cancel the cycle. Hopefully it's just a little thing that will go away in a few days.

One thing I'm looking forward to: Jack (the dog) gets his stitches out Monday. He's recovering great and seems to be back to his old self. YAY!

February 13, 2007

Expensive Ambivalence

Yesterday we handed over the big honkin check for shared risk. My clinic offers up to six fresh IVF cycles plus unlimited frozen for $20,000. It's a weird feeling, because obviously no one in their right mind would hand over that much money if they weren't hoping for results, but I still find it very difficult to get my hopes up. At the same time, you wouldn't do shared risk if you were pretty confident it would work on the first try. So naturally I'm prepared for a BFN (or two, or five). Although the thought of 6+ IVF cycles is DAUNTING. I was relieved to see in our contract we can still get our money back if we choose to withdraw. I don't plan to quit, but how do I know, for instance, that I'll be able to keep going after three fresh and five frozen cycles of disappointment?

The whole shared risk thing is a little strange. When I was in Vegas last week I was reminded that you never take the insurance when you're playing blackjack, because then you're essentially betting against yourself. Shared risk is kind of betting against my ovaries, which is probably a pretty good bet at this point! Either way we lose something--if it works on the first try we lost an unecessary $10,000, but if it doesn't work, well, we all know what's lost. In the end shared risk seemed worth it to me to have the financial concern taken care of for the near future.

I still really cannot imagine ever seeing two pink lines, my brain has simply shut off my ability to envision that. If I ever do get a positive beta (I say with great caution), I think I will go buy some HPTs (they've been banned from the house for a couple of years) just so I can pee on them and finally see what a posive test looks like, after all that time spent desperately searching the evaporation lines. So it's weird, I've signed over all this cash and officially committed to IVF, even though I'm still unwilling to believe in it.

Still I managed to get a little excited about my first Lupron shot this morning. Not because I was thinking about the potential outcome, but more just that I was glad to have things moving. I guess I'm mentally stuck in the process and not the result, which is maybe a good thing. I just feel kind of tired and blah about it all. Surely that's not the Lupron already. I suspect I'll KNOW when the Lurpon starts getting to me! No doubt everyone around me will too.

February 12, 2007

Vacation's Over

I'm back from Vegas and back to work. Back to the cycle reality too. Tomorrow I start the Lupron shots. It's funny how I feel like the IVF cycle is so close and so far away at the same time.

I'm going to try to go get a pedicure today. I remember getting pedicures back when we were doing the IUI's, carefully picking out a color that seemed "maternal." As if they might think I was unfit for motherhood if they spotted some slutty toe color in the stirrups, and maybe the doc would not put as much effort into squirting the juice in the perfect spot. I felt very silly about trying to pick out a "good" color back then, and I can't believe I found myself thinking about it again this morning...maybe a nice soft pink? I know how ridiculous it is, but I can't help it. Maybe I should pick something with hot pink glitter.

February 8, 2007

Vegas, Baby!

I'm off to Vegas with my sisters to celebrate the youngest's 21st birthday! Although I do have to remember to pack the wretched BCPs, I'm aiming for three days of (almost) not thinking about ttc at all! Lupron starts after I get back and the cycle takes over my life again. While L is celebrating being drinking age, I'm going to celebrate my last few days of cycle freedom!

February 7, 2007

You Don't Have to Understand, Just Act Like You Do

My husband said the most amazing thing to me today. After getting annoyed with almost everything he said or did at lunch, I told him I was sorry for being an impatient bitch. He said: "That's okay, because I understand what you're going through." !!!!!!!! I was laughing and crying and falling out of my chair all at once! He asked me what was wrong; I said I never thought I'd hear that from you in my life! He said "Well that's what you told me to say." YAY!!! Who cares if he only said it because he thought I wanted to hear it and not because he actually did understand!! I still loved hearing it!

He knew I was stressed at work and that was what he was empathizing with, while I was thinking about the hormone-induced rage the BCPs seem to be having on me. It's irritating enough to have to be on BCPs IN ORDER TO GET PREGNANT. And I was fully expecting to deal with hormonal rage in a few weeks when I start the stims. But seriously these BCPs have turned me into a wicked, angry, vengeful, demon with the patience of a trigger-happy rat trap, ready to snap at the faintest whisper. And he just melted it all with his totally heartfelt if slightly off-target attempt to be understanding. I love him. What a long way we've come.


UPDATE ON JACK: He is recovering well and will hopefully be home tomorrow!

February 6, 2007

Get Well Soon, Jack

It's a weird day; a lot going on with dependents and procreation around us. We were suppossed to go to an IVF seminar this evening but cancelled. It's just a slide show our clinic wants everyone to see so they know we've all had the major overview and key questions answered. I feel like I'm already over educated on that topic anyway so I don't think I'm missing anything. Instead I agreed to babysit my one and a half year old nephew tonight while his mom goes to her daughter's dance recital. I'm happy to trade in time with a real live babe for slides of 5 celled embryos over cold pizza.

Also today, we had to drop off our dependent, our dog Jack, for surgery. The poor guy hasn't been able to eat for a few days and didn't get better after being on an IV over the weekend. We don't know what's wrong with him, so in he goes for exploratory surgery. I'm anxiously awaiting the results this afternoon, but he probably won't be back home for a couple of days. It's a little empty around here without him.

Meanwhile, other friends are waiting for news of their own. Today we found out that J's cousin is having a baby girl, and another good friend hopes to find out the gender of her baby in a few days. A cycle buddy goes in for ER tomorrow. I know there are conceptions and births and illness and (gulp) deaths going on everywhere, every minute of every day, but it's just interesting when they all seem to collide in your life in one day. Get well soon, puppy! You're only four years old, your circle of life is not complete.

February 5, 2007

More Needles Than a Junkie

According to my FF membership, February 1 was the four year anniversary of getting proactive about ttc. This year, a BIG present arrived at my door on the day of that anniversary. A giant box full of one cycle worth of IVF meds. It contains:

1 HCG shot ($29.90)
azithromycin (zithromax) to take prior to ER ($10.00)
Estradiol (estrace) to take after ER ($9.87)
the evil progesterone in oil ($64.75)
follistim pen w/ 4 600iu cartidges ($1,560.)
10 doses menopur 75iu ($479.)
1 14 day leuprolide (lupron) kit ($149.00)
all the needles, sharp's container, etc ($25.00)

Since my insurance doesn't cover IVF meds, my nurse suggested I go through Schraft's. They were fantastic. They participate with a free program called designrx which provides discounts, and they also have their own discount program which you pay $12 to join. For each of my meds, they priced it each way to see which was cheapest, so some of the meds are covered by my limited insurance, some are covered by the designrx plan, and some are under the Schraft's plan.

My grand total was $2339.56 compared to around $5k at full price. Overnight shipping was free because I joined their $12 discount plan. I totally recommend Schraft's to anyone else without insurance coverage for IVF drugs.

Memories Are Made of This

Our wedding song offered a recipe for a happy life...

Memories Are Made of This
Dean Martin

Sweet sweet, the memories you gave to me
you can't beat the memeories you gave to me

Take one fresh and tender kiss
Add one stolen night of bliss
One girl, one boy
Some grief, some joy
Memories are made of this

Don't forget a small moonbeam
Fold in lightly with a dream
Your lips and mine
Two sips of wine
Memories are made of this

Then add the wedding bells
One house where lovers dwell
Three little kids for the flavor
Stir carefully through the days
See how the flavor stays
These are the dreams you will savor

With His blessings from above
Serve it generously with love
One man, one wife
One love through life
Memories are made of this
Memories are made of this