Category Archives: Worry

Today I Am a Mother

I have learned a lot about myself in the past 48 hours.

1.  I have tough skin.

No, unfortunately not metaphorically, quite literally.  The nurse anesthetist had quite a time getting my IV going on Friday and, after telling me the first one “burst” and I told her that the word burst made me anxious, declared that despite my being a dainty lady (fairly certain that will be the only time in my life that I hear that), that I have tough skin.  After several tissues worth of palm sweat my husband wiped off my hands, providing much-needed comic relief, laying me back to prevent a further vagal response, and a couple tries later, we were in.  I, as usual, was a high maintenance patient as my anxiety got the best of me.  I wish it were figurative, too.

2.  I am a curious anesthetic drunk.

My friend Laura warned me that she was a sobby and sappy anesthetic drunk, that all the emotion of IVF buried deep emerged as she came out of the anesthesia post-retrieval.  Me?  I was that before it even started.  As the nurse walked me back to get changed and Hubs left to provide his sample, I broke down crying.  It all rushed in.  I gathered myself, read Scripture on my phone (coincidentally the passage of the day was II Corinthians 1 on “The God of All Comfort), and again resumed crying when Hubs returned.  And then when the nurse came back, and the anesthetist, and my RE.  It was all a bit overwhelming.  For some reason I chose to wear a ring Hubs gave me for my 20th birthday that I hadn’t pulled out in a while.  As I looking at the thing, I couldn’t help but think back to those two innocent kiddos and how they had no idea what the future had in store.  Certainly infertility is not the only thing — most of it has been great  — but we had no idea we’d be in that room, doing this wild thing 11 years later.  They somehow managed to get me back to the operating room and my RE and the nurses wished me well on my trip to the beach and requested I bring a drink back for them.  Have I mentioned how great they are at my clinic?  They were all so understanding and comforting with me and all my emotion and wispiness.  I was awakened when they brought my husband back and quickly began asking him questions about when had I woken up, how did they wake me up, how many eggs (of course), etc..  Not a single tear, I was fairly clear-minded, super relieved that part was over, and wondering why the heck I still felt so full in the ovaries (apparently they pop the follicles to retrieve the eggs, and the follicles become cysts — great).

3.  I like dried prunes (and I cannot lie).

No need for a lot of details, but did you know they taste like those Whole Foods fruit leathers?  Yum!  I can be so close-minded with my produce selections.  I still lament all the years I spent without avocado in my life.

4.  My friends are amazing cooks.

They (you all) have brought us the most delicious meals, it is no wonder we live in the foodiest small town in America.  Quinoa and roasted vegetables, lentil and rice soup, extra-ginger carrot soup, vegetarian ziti, spinach enchiladas, southwestern grits, Dahl and brown rice, sun-dried tomato artichoke quiche (dairy-free!)…and lots and lots of chocolate and cupcakes which I have been eating indiscriminately but don’t tell Julie the acupuncturist.  Biggest thanks for all of this love.  And I am proud of you, my community, for your incredible cooking skills and being the hands and feet of Jesus.  You people have even taken our terror of a puppy on hikes — that is love.

5.  I am a mother.

Lastly and most importantly.  It feels weird to have been chipper in this post so far, because I’m actually very very worried and sad and scared.  The low-down on the retrieval: the procedure itself all went very well, they harvested 13 eggs as we had hoped, the sperm report was perfect.  We got a call Saturday, though, that only four had fertilized normally.  Of the 13, three weren’t mature (in line with the 80% we predicted), and of the ten remaining, five had signs of maturity but did not fertilize, one fertilized but abnormally and so would not result in a baby, leaving our four embryos.  That is a low fertilization rate of 40% when you’re usually looking at 70%.  Our RE said that we should realistically hope for just the one fresh transfer.

The blastocyst conversion rate — how many day-1 embryos make it to a day-5 blastocyst — is 50%, meaning statistically speaking, we are hoping for one to two embryos by Wednesday to transfer, likely none to freeze for later.  What a blow after all of that work and pain and time and hope.  It is bad enough if we are not pregnant this cycle but have frozen embryos to thaw for a later attempt, but so much worse if we are not pregnant and that was our only shot after this long and grueling process.

As many have reminded me lately, it only takes one.  I am praying for this and was encouraged today to hear a story of a friend’s friend having one embryo and now having a rambunctious five-year-old girl.  But, more than that, I am incessantly praying for our four babies.

This morning I couldn’t help but realize that I am, in fact, now officially a mother.  I just felt different in my love and concern for them.  I feel desperate for them, want to fight for them, be with them, do anything I can for them.  Of course at this point that is next to nothing except for prayer.

I realize that it is highly unlikely statistically, but I am praying and asking others to pray that all four would fight and make it and be strong and healthy on Wednesday.  That the Lord would do that fighting for them.  “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).  This verse hung in my sister’s twin’s nursery who were conceived with the help of fertility meds and sustained after being born 8 weeks early.  Today in church we sang “He is Able.”  This is true and I believe it.  All four may not make it, but it will not be for me not having asked.  And, on the other hand, they just may.  I am that persistent woman before the judge this weekend, asking this of the Lord over and over and over again.

We’ll get a report on them midday tomorrow.  It has driven me crazy today to think of them, 20 minutes down the road, not knowing how many are still there, how they’re doing, if they’re growing.  But I am believing in my babies and my Father who is with them, hoping they have tough skin like their mama.  Praying that the Lord would see them through.  I’m very aware that they are ours, that we are their parents and love them already.

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Today I Put the Iron in the Pantry

I am losing my mind people.  Had an appointment this morning and here’s the message I sent to a couple of my pals after:

Hey my IF expert friends,

So I’m officially neurotic and jacked up on hormones.  Appointment this morning went…I don’t know.  I’m attaching a screen shot of the u/s results from today and last Saturday but I’m just feeling paranoid that they aren’t good enough — haven’t grown enough since Saturday, aren’t big enough, not enough of them, not enough of them big enough.
I joked with [Hubs] that maybe I’m trying to be an ovaryachiever (get it?) but honestly I’m having trouble discerning whether that’s the case or it really doesn’t look that fantastic.  I realize it doesn’t look bad per se but, I don’t know, maybe the paranoia and pressure of it all is just setting in.
I’m waiting to hear about my estradiol and progesterone but for now we’re slated for another u/s Wednesday morning, tentative retrieval Friday.  That could change to an u/s tomorrow for another look to schedule retrieval Thursday or Friday.  Meds are all staying the same.
Any thoughts?  Am I doomed for two eggs at retrieval, only 80% of which will be mature?  Do I need to be talked off the ledge?
your needy neurotic pal

They both did, in fact, write and call back and talk me off the ledge and through some deep breathing, which helped.  They also both reminded me that we’re going for quality over quantity which I totally agree with, I’m just suddenly having this fear that the follicles are going to get stuck in their growth and we will only have, like, two quality and worthy of retrieving.  I really have no indication of that, it is likely my RE just wants to give them more time to grow and let them do their thing.  I was totally reading into her every word choice, tone, and facial expression, which Hubs interpreted completely differently and entirely more rationally.  I am practicing the self-talk mantra “I am doing my part” today.

Speaking of losing my mind and my little part in this all, I’ve forgotten two and a half times now to do my shot — one we remembered within the 6:00-8:00 window, one we did at 9:30 (yikes!!!), and the other I realized before Hubs left for his work thing that we would be missing and we found a way to make it work.  What the heck kind of IVF patient am I!?  Until today I thought it was just a sign that I’m at peace and in a good place but, obviously, today my neuroticism and anxiety take over so I’m now certain that I’ve been pushed over the edge into the “total flake” category, hopefully only momentarily.

And what can help with that, you ask?  Why, baby animals and spa music of course!

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Today I’m Buying Out Whole Foods

So I have been a big-time grumpy grouper this week.  My mental life has been a bit of a wreck.  I’m playing some quite destructive mind games, like defending myself over and over in my mind to a colleague who had a negative response to news about my infertility (downplaying it, weighing whose suffering is worse, and criticizing my financial decisions).  Doubting and feeling guilty about my efforts to make life more manageable right now and worrying others also believe things about me and infertility like aforementioned colleague.  And premourning next week and already freaking out about it.

Throw on top of that unexplained snippiness with my husband, likely related to both the hormones and these bad thought patterns, and uncomfortable physical symptoms (including terrible breaking out and weird uterus feelings ever since the IUI — is this normal?) and I can hardly stand myself.  Thank goodness I did actually get decent sleep this week.  (And that my candidate won the election!)  I guess the unifying theme is that I’m feeling alone, feeling some distance between me and the world.

As someone in a helping profession I’ve always had difficulty feeling comfortable talking about myself, and with infertility I find it really hard to know how to convey to others how I’m feeling or doing on any given day or at a meta level, how awful infertility is.  Sometimes, then, I end up feeling down and a bit stuck inside myself, believing others don’t understand or care enough to understand.  I wish there were a book out there to give to others explaining infertility, the work it requires, the continuous feelings of loss.  Maybe some of the IF community’s blog posts could be compiled someday to create this.

At the support group I recently joined (yep, you heard that right) one of the women mentioned how her doctors consistently remind her that her stress is real and legitimate and that research shows that stress levels in women with infertility are equivalent to those with cancer or HIV diagnoses.  These days I’m really wishing people got that.  I worry that others might see my feelings as overblown or overdramatic, so really, I wish someone else would communicate this for me.  Having research saying it helps.  I guess I’m wanting both understanding and validation of my pain from others.  I want them to say, “I know this is terrible for you.”  And maybe “What do you need?” like we do when people get a scary, life-changing medical diagnosis.

I ended up realizing slowly over the week that some of my thoughts are askew and that there really are a lot of people in our corner.  My friend Wesley faithfully sent another email checking in on me, I remembered a few people Sunday really meaning it when they asked how I was doing and in fact noting how awful this process is, a friend let me cry to her and followed up with a card the next day asking how she can advocate for me, my dad texted yesterday to let me know he was thinking of me, my co-worker left delicious toffee in the break room for me with a note.  Why do I continue to feel all alone and doubt whether others care when I can recount things like this almost every week?

No idea, but I think it shows the depth and power of the fear and longing and deep need.

I realize that this long road takes a good deal of endurance for our support systems too, and I of course do not want to wear people out as they walk with us.  I hate being grumpy with my husband and not knowing exactly why.  I hate the feeling of needing to explain myself and not being able to do it.  And honestly I hate needing things from other people.  If I’m learning nothing else in this process, it is that I am desperate and dependent and that is something I’ll never escape, even and especially if a baby comes along.

As I’ve begun to let in these kind things from others this week, I’ve slowly felt a little lighter.  I spent the morning dropping off canned goods people from our church gathered and talking with some dedicated people there who care a lot about homelessness.  I prepared for the arrival of my pal since 5th grade, sat in the sun that’s back in town, and let myself go wild at Whole Foods.  Pear cider, ginger dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds…so excited.  Today I’m choosing not to believe everything I hear — from others or myself — and today I’m choosing joy.

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Today I Don’t Even Know

Dudes, there is so much going on, I don’t even know.  For one, I’m exhausted.  I blame it on the femara and the having been out of town the last five weekends, oh and the stress.  The stress!  The stress is driving me crazy and getting me both coming and going — there’s the stress itself and then there’s the stressing about stressing.

So we had our fourth and final IUI on Monday.  I had the day off, for which I am so grateful, so I spent it huluing and catching up with some friends on the phone and taking a nap.  I was rested and at peace and felt that — as best as I could — I was keeping my body in a calm place to receive good things the next couple weeks.

But by bedtime reality came rushing back in.  There is drama going down at work and with my family and it needs some attention, but honestly I don’t want to give it.  I want this two week wait to be mine and not to be stolen from me by others and their anxiety.  Meeting with my supervisor Tuesday she told me to please table this stuff for the two weeks and keep only good thoughts and helpful hormones running through my body.  I agreed, but then got pulled into it the very next day.  Stress management is really such a challenge.  We live in a dynamic world and can’t escape for two weeks into a troubles-free bubble.

I can’t keep stress entirely out of my life.  I can’t keep life from happening, my dog from eating everyone’s Halloween litter on our walk and amnesia-ing about “drop it” so I have to straddle him in the middle of the street and pry the wrappers and twix chunks out of his mouth.  Every block.  I wonder how other people find this balance between needing to continue to engage in life but also protect themselves from undue negativity flowing through their bodies.  Better boundaries?  More saying no?  Actually locking oneself in the house for two weeks?

I began acupuncture since I last blogged and am finding it to be very lovely, and on this front in particular.  After my first treatment I went back to work quite sure that I looked like I was on something, yesterday I actually drove the speed limit on my way home.  This stuff really works!  For relaxation anyway, let’s hope the same is true for fertility.  Hopefully it will help me to do some managing of life since controlling it is out of the question.

Maybe what’s behind all of this is that it’s setting in that this is our last shot at a biological child without IVF and/or a miracle (and IVF falls into the miracle category in my book), and I’m feeling scared.  I’m worried about how devastated I will be if in two weeks it’s a negative.  I worry I somehow won’t be able to take it.  I’m also beginning to wonder whether I could even handle IVF, it is just so demanding.  I’m worried it will be too hard or that I’ll feel all alone in it or that the desperation will eat me alive.  I feel like I will need a lot of things from a lot of people to make it through in one piece, but I’m not even sure what those things will be.  And I worry I won’t do a good job asking for them or that I’ll overburden people or that perhaps I already have.

My hope is that I can find my zen-like state amidst these worries.  While I’m all-but-fixated on the two week wait and the impending answer, the rest of real life inevitably continues on around us and involving us.  I can’t avoid it or separate myself from it, that lesson that I’m not in control from yet another angle.

So what I can have some say in, I will try to choose for myself daily.  I’m bummed blogging has taken a backseat the last couple weeks but hope to make time for that outlet more often.  I’ve been working on cutting out sugar and processed foods, I’ve decided to be a sleep nazi this week, and I’m trying to be present, breathe, and maintain some hope.  Like thoughts arising in meditation, noticing the negative and letting it float on by like a cloud — but not taking up residence in my mind.

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