Category Archives: Acceptance

Today I Ate a Burger

Of the veggie variety, of course.  No one panic.

This may seem like no small deal, but I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am about it.  Last Tuesday was the last day I ate somewhat normally, and that evening I started feeling very uncomfortable in the abdomen.  It’s been one rough week since & I wanted to offer an update here which I will try to keep brief.  It is quite detail-y, so no hard feelings if you want to skip this one.

I chalked it up to GI issues related to the meds.  Our transfer was Wednesday but by Thursday afternoon I was really struggling, with severe upper abdominal pain in addition to extreme bloating and was even having some shortness of breath.  I checked in with my doctor about these symptoms and she wanted me to go to urgent care, where they were concerned about my high heart rate and could not rule out a blood clot (which one is at a higher risk of on these hormones), and so they sent me to the emergency department.

After blood work and some concerning results there (i.e. high white and red blood cell counts), an EKG, and CT scan the blood clot was ruled out but they discovered fluid in my abdomen.  They gave me some good IV fluids and meds and chalked the heart rate and breathing issues up to related dehydration and the fluid in my abdomen pushing up on my heart and lungs.  We left around 1:30 a.m. & had an appointment at 7 that morning with Dr. C.  Three hours of sleep for us!  Hubs was a trooper through it all.

I’d also like to give myself a little tip of the hat…have you had a CT before?  They inject one substance in you that gives you a rush of heat throughout your body, then you have to concentrate on breathing normally which is harder than it sounds, then they inject you with another substance that makes you feel like you peed in your pants (but you didn’t) and then you have to hold your breath for ten seconds.  After signing a consent saying they will do their best to not harm a potential fetus with some hardy shields, if s/he has stuck around since Wednesday.  And of course all the while they are calling me pregnant which I’m both thrilled and terrified by.  In the IF community there is a slang term, PUPO, Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.  I suppose they were following this line of thinking, but I couldn’t help but correct them in my mind each time, They may just be all wrong.

Although my hormone levels and other tests were within the normal range and I didn’t have many of the symptoms for it (some lower abdominal pain but not severe, normal estrogen and albium levels, no problems urinating), the next morning Dr. C diagnosed me with OHSS (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome).

Some of my numbers had improved and I was able to force myself to eat and drink despite feeling so full that I didn’t want to, so we thought I was on an upswing and left it up to me whether they would “tap” me or not.  Tap = insert long needle into fluid pocket and drain it.  Because she thought I was improving and because it involved a rather long needle and the word “paracentesis,” I gladly declined.  She put me on a strict diet of high sodium and high protein foods and I ate my approximate body weight in dill pickle chips and guacamole (not together) in the subsequent days.  It was fun at first.

My abdomen expanded increasingly, however, and by last night it/I was gigantic, I really did not want to eat or drink, and it was very difficult to get comfortable.  Basically what happens is the hormones cause your blood vessels to become leaky, directing the fluid into your abdomen and around the uterus instead of to the kidneys.  This leads to the bloating but also to dehydration.  I broke down and googled OHSS and allowed myself one professional site (Mayo Clinic) and one lay site (some IF forum).  I learned on there that the full, pressured feeling can last 2-4 weeks, more if you’re pregnant, and that many people feel instantaneous relief from the tap.  Tap, it is.  There is just no way I could take this for much longer.

We went in today and — lo and behold — they drained almost 2 liters of fluid!   My apologies for the gross detail (I will tell you what it looked like upon request).  Also, because of the proteins in it, the fluid apparently is amazing for your garden but we politely declined the offer although we’d just gotten ours going this weekend.  The procedure was a bit painful, but not terrible and compared to all the IF involves and relative to the ongoing pain of the last five days, it was totally 100% worth it.  I highly recommend it for anyone with OHSS.  They also threw in some IV fluids, my first and third IV all in a week.  And I had room to eat a burger tonight!  High salt high protein, yippee!

Dr. C and the nurses urged me to take advantage of the window of feeling hungry because — get this — often the fluid comes back and additional tap(s) may be necessary.  They also urged me to wait as long as possible between taps.  The fluid can return in women who are not pregnant, but is even more common in women who are.  How will I not overanalyze this in the coming days?  One of the wild things about OHSS is that it is triggered by the hormone HCG.  This is the hormone contained in the Ovidrel shot that triggers ovulation pre-retrieval and also the pregnancy hormone, what the Beta test will detect to determine pregnancy on Friday.  Last Friday my HCG/Beta level was 7, so the Ovidrel was almost out of my system but not completely.  So there is a possibility that my OHSS symptoms weren’t resolving because I could in fact be pregnant — a possibility Hubs found assuring.  I was more skeptical.  However, I am a total freak and secretly hoping that the fluid madness returns.  Oh, the things IF does to you.

Lastly, neither of our two final embryos made it.  It still is so hard to believe, and hard to accept that we only got two viable embryos out of this process — especially after how awful the past week has been.  We are pressing on, though, and actually feeling fairly accepting at this point, although I fear that will all come crashing down if it is negative on Friday.  Of course we are praying like crazy for Friday and I’m hoping to have more energy to devote to that now that I’m feeling more normal.

Here’s something I got in the mail last weekend from my beautiful sis.  One of my mantras through IF and she made it into a canvas.  In our bedroom for now, but one day a nursery.

My sister is brilliant.

My sister is brilliant.

In honor of feeling a bit spunkier today, return of visual hilarity for you…

Reading for my Psychoanalytic Development class last Tuesday, the night before our embryo transfer.  What are the odds?!  Needless to say, I did not participate very much in discussion that night.

Reading for my Psychoanalytic Development class last Tuesday, the night before our embryo transfer. What are the odds?! Needless to say, I did not participate very much in discussion that night.

And Dozer the Dog — a fitter version of our little meatball, a YouTube video my sweet in-laws sent for entertainment over the weekend.

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Today Commences My Leggings-a-thon

We did it folks.  First injection!  (100 IU Follistim, 75 Menopur.)  Our amazing friend Monika came over to walk Hubs through it and they both did wonderfully.  Monika is a newer friend who has adopted me as her IVF friend after she saw the process through for our mutual friend Laura (referenced in my last post).  She is the sweetest and so generous with her time and listening and baking skills just because she wants to offer support and because she is addicted to hope.  She is the epitome of how to be a good friend to an infertile person (maybe I’ll have her write a guest post on the topic sometime.  You up for that, Mon?).

I used to be nervous about the injections but thankfully I’ve gotten over that-ish and now I’m just really eager for our first monitoring visit later this week.  I know the next few days I’m going to be thinking, “What is going on in there?”  I’m feeling good about it all and ready to get this show on the road after all of the waiting and preparing.  I’m sure there will be many emotions and not all so optimistic, but I’ll take the good cheer for now.

Speaking of good cheer, leggings are my comfort clothing and what I plan to unapologetically don for the duration of stimming as my ovaries progress from almond-sized to peach-sized (according to the nurse at our training last week).  Except for going to work, which I think is lame that I have to continue doing, but, whatever.  Yesterday was Hubs’ birthday and so I wore my tightest pants possible out for our night on the town with our buddies, bidding them farewell for the next couple weeks as we welcome the peaches.  And hopefully for longer if this all works out.

I’m going to try to blog daily-ish through IVF with brief updates, and they probably won’t be very profound, I’m just accepting that now.  But I think it’s worth chronicling a bit of what a couple experiences in this process.  I’ve also decided to include in each post some form of hilarity procured from the internet because of its power to help me step back from IVF tunnel vision.  Feel free to share any that you love in the comments section; that would make me really happy.

Happy Lenten season!: 

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Today I’m Prepared

You know you’re infertile when your shopping basket looks anything like mine did last night.  Pregnancy tests?  Check.  Feminine hygiene supplies, unnecessary beauty accessories, and desired caffeinated and alcoholic beverage for when it’s negative?  Check check check.

I felt like the cashier had to know she was in the presence of an (in)fertile woman.  So the negative was there as expected this morning but as you can tell from the photo, I’m doing a-okay today with my new headband and purple nails and with champagne night on the docket.  (I’ve been craving the champagne since my friend’s bridal shower recently.  I hereby declare that all showers, bridal and baby alike, must involve champagne for the well-being of all attendees.)  I’m also a firm believer in being prepared with your very own infertility survivor kit.

I would enjoy hearing from you infertile women, and friends of, out there how you would finish that sentence stem: “You know you’re infertile when…” and/or what your favorite indulgences are.  Mine are helping me today!

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Today’s Metaphor

Ahhh…a week at the beach, amazing what it does for the soul.  I had a great week on vacation and away from technology.  It also was full of lots of observations and realizations, many difficult ones which made me all the more thankful that I was on vacation and had some space to take it all in.  Several of these observations came as a result of an unfortunate incident on vacation, so below I will share with you Today’s Metaphor.

Ways Infertility is Like Your Husband Losing His Wedding Ring in the Ocean:

1) Oh, crap.  Really?  That easy?  It was just here, within grasp, and now it’s gone!?
We assume all our lives that we will have a biological child, and yet seemingly so quickly the idea of that happening (or happening easily and naturally anyway) can slip away.  Seriously?  We’ve tried almost everything already?

2)  And there’s a sting ray in my face?!
And yes, a sting ray appeared right after he lost it.  Turns out you don’t just get dealt one bad card in your life, or in a month for that matter, like I used to theorize.  None of the other things this year have been dire, but I’m kind of ready for the poopy stuff to quit happening.  Don’t kick me while I’m down!!

3) This search is even more serious than “finding a needle in a haystack.”  It’s a gosh darn vast ocean, after all — that moves.  And titanium is light as all get-out.  This feels entirely impossible.
I will say it again, this feels entirely impossible.  That feeling of searching the water, the sand bars, the shores, the shells, it really was useless.  And felt all too familiar, too similar to our infertility journey.  Just standing there, searching feebly, getting hit by waves, sad and helpless.  If this is going to happen, it’s going to be completely the Lord.

4) “Nephews, we will give you whatever toy you’d like if you find the ring!”
Bargaining.  Third in the stages of grief, typically occuring after denial and anger.  Wishful thinking bordering on superstition, but it feels like it’s worth a try.  There was also something really comforting about having our family involved, everyone jumped in (literally) and helped with the search.  This, too, is what we need for infertility.  For folks to say “we’re in it with you,” to ask us about it, to not be afraid of our feelings, to get wet and maybe even knocked around in the waves with us a bit.

5) I’m grieving but it seems like everyone around me is frolicking happily along.
What an odd feeling to be searching for that symbol that has been a part of his everyday life in a physical way and a central part of our vow for so long, panicky and sad, but looking 20 yards over at people laughing and enjoying a beer and playing in the ocean.  It’s just an odd part of infertility, going along in your day and operating normally with grief close within reach all the time, but most people have no idea.

6) You could just stare at the ground the rest of your life and miss the beauty around you.
It was hard to not continue to keep one eye out even after we’d given up the search, and I would catch everyone else doing the same.  I’m trying so hard not to be obsessed with trying to conceive or all that I feel daily about it being so difficult.  I think there’s a real balance between glancing down occasionally, doing our part, but also remembering there’s a great big world out there for us to enjoy and engage in — the sun setting on the water, the enormous horizon seemingly all around us, family there, other things to talk about.  We don’t have to deny, but we also don’t have to let it rule us or (dare I say?) be an idol.

7) It could ruin your day (or vacation or life) if you let it but at some point you just have to accept it and say good-bye.
I wish I could say we found the ring, but no such luck.  There was something peaceful about accepting it was gone and that we could stop the search, say our farewells to the vast ocean that contains it, and mourn it.  (And I personally liked to imagine dolphins playing with it along with the four pairs of sunglasses, power ranger, headband, and goggles we also lost that week.)  Good-bye ring, and good-bye anguish with it.  No, we’re not there yet with fertility, we’re still hoping against all hope we will get pregnant, but I do continue to see the need for accepting where we are and even that conception likely won’t happen for us without IVF.  We are having to say good-bye to that picture we had in our minds.  There is something different for us and no matter how hard we fight it, we can’t make that easier path be true.

So those are my musings on those terrible moments, but really I felt like I was seeing a ton in them about infertility and about myself.

Other highlights of vacation, however, included riding waves on the sea kayak and toppling several times in front of hundreds of people on the beach.  I like failing when I don’t care, not to mention Hubs and I laughing a ton together.  We needed that.  I also got to talk to my dad more about what we’re going through and it was a really sweet moment.  I rarely in my life have cried or been very vulnerable with him, so it was good to let go and also to be comforted by him.

Perhaps the best moment, though, was taking the kayak out really far off the coast and Hubs and I screaming at the top of our lungs to infertility.  Don’t judge.  A hearty “F— you, Infertility!” or two works wonders.  I highly recommend it.

And finally, I put this label on myself about a year ago, but it is official: I am a severe pre-mourner.  As my sister and I planned the meals for vacation a couple weeks ago and we talked about our Friday meal, I started to feel sad already about the vacation coming to a close.  That was TWO weeks before the vacation even started!  I have a problem!!  She was kind to point out to me that there’s no wonder why I’m a pre-mourner as an (in)fertile woman.  Expecting you probably won’t get pregnant two weeks before it’s even possible — that’s the name of the game!  I guess to counter-act any potential hope crash.  So as I’m awaiting Thursday and the likely negative news (especially since we didn’t do an IUI this month), I’m trying not to feel sad about that yet or frustrated by all that’s ahead of us the following month.  The bigger deal is not pre-mourning a “no” with our final IUI and having to decide about IVF vs. adoption.  I want to strike the balance of thinking ahead enough to know where we’ll go next but also not borrowing feelings from tomorrow that do me no good today.  We’ll see how that goes.

So today my vacation is over and it is time to mourn that, but it’s also nice to be back to the pup, a warm fire in the fireplace, and the return of fall.  Maybe #6 is already sinking in!

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Today Could I Be Maturing?

Or numb.  I’m not sure which.

Maybe both, or maybe it’s just a good day.  Or maybe I’ve just gotten accustomed to torturing myself.  Wow, that’s a lot of doubt right there.  But what I’m getting at is, I think I’m getting used to the fact that everyone is having a baby.  (I will not apologize for the exaggeration.)

I used to almost take it personally, as if there were a finite number of babies out there that all couples of child-bearing age were competing for.  If Couple A wins the baby lottery, then I’ve got to stand in the queue for the next one to become available.  And where am I on the waiting list again, God?  I’ve struggled very much the past two years with what I call my “metric,” my super unfair, self-righteous standard with which I would subconsciously and automatically judge whether someone who is pregnant before me should be.  Yikes, I’m really confessing that on the internet.  But it’s true.  The criteria were: length of relationship, length of marriage, age of couple, healthiness of marriage, had the woman had a career, etc..  I know, so judgmental.  I’ve done everything right!  I should have a baby before them!  It’s something I started to notice over time as I would be so deeply envious hearing of others’ “good news.”  Not easy to see such junk in your heart.

My experience of (in)fertility has opened my eyes to just how much I think I can and should earn things in my life — even deserve.  More nasty residue of the myth of the American dream and maybe, in particular, the Christian American dream-mentality.  If I’m good enough, have my life together, work hard, know the right people, pray the right way, do just the right internet search to unearth that super effective fertility secret, then I can make a baby come to me.  When I speak it, of course it sounds absurd, but I have to admit that those beliefs reside deep within me and do shape how I’m seeing God and myself and this situation.

It’s also a hazard of pretty much having been able to get what I’ve wanted in life up until this point.   I don’t mean that in a material sense (which hasn’t been the case), but the intangibles like meeting a goal, earning an award or position, having a certain image, saving for a big purchase.  For the most part I and my friends have worked hard in school and gotten into another great school to work hard in, in order to get into another prestigious school (you can begin to see the ridiculousness of it all).  So very simply, and brattily, I’m just not used to being told “no” and not being able to work my way out of it.  And on another level, it’s similar to how many of us must acknowledge our privilege of having grown up with financial wealth, social resources and opportunities, and systemic racial advantages.  All of those things that were bestowed upon me and not earned have thrust me toward where I have gotten, and so, similarly, I must acknowledge that I cannot just work hard enough to get a “yes” with a baby.  So much of this is beyond my control, and frankly, I don’t deserve a baby!  No one does.  It is a gift and nothing else.

I distinctly remember this feeling about a year into trying to conceive of sitting down at my computer, hands on the keyboard — seriously — convinced that I could figure out just what to google to figure this out.  These “I deserve it” and “work your way out of it” mindsets are deep in there, and, thankfully, God has been confronting them in me the past two years.  I really hope it gets weeded out altogether.

But today as I glanced through Facebook — which, what the heck am I still doing on that thing anyway, and why do I get into a trance of looking at all the baby pictures on my homepage, which, might I add, comprise approximately 90% of my news feed?* — I just found myself resigned to the fact that, of course all of my friends are having babies.  It’s not personal.  It’s not because they’re making unwise decisions.  They’re not betraying me.  We’re in our early 30s now, so people will be doing that kind of thing.  I’m beginning to accept this.  I’m also beginning to accept, along with that, this sense that I am getting left behind.  Whereas before it seemed they all were just too far ahead, I’m beginning to realize that I feel like they’re on track with where I want to be but that it just isn’t happening for me.  This is sad but there’s also some peace in it.  (*Longest interjection ever.)

So I also spoke today with my dear college friend and she told me that she is pregnant.  And I, for one of the first times in this journey, truly felt just pure joy for her.  She is going to be such a great mom.  She is compassionate and creative and organized and joyful and wise, and she will totally appreciate and love on that child like he or she needs.  Sure, it reminded me of not being pregnant myself, but I felt zero bitterness toward her or her pregnancy.  I am so grateful that she hasn’t had to fight this fight and so excited to think of this little one getting such a wonderful mommy.  It made me really happy.

So maybe God’s growing me up, but at the very least He is giving me strength for today.

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