Category Archives: Support

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today Our Dog Got Neutered

Oh, the irony of all ironies.  We dropped the little meatball off at the vet on our way to our first monitoring ultrasound of IVF.  He is back tonight and all is well, although he appears quite drunk from the anesthetics, whimpering excessively and his legs sprawling out with every attempt to sit up.

While his fertility was being compromised, we were getting a good look at my ovaries on steroids and were pleased with what we saw.  About 13 leaders ranging from 7-11 mm, and several others trailing behind, about where it should be for day 5 of stimming.  No cysts, lining looked good, and estradiol was in the 300s, so we’re staying on our course and will do it all again in two days to check in on those little pearls.  Which my doctor refers to as chocolate chips and, today, chocolate chunks.  I guess it didn’t take her long to realize cookie metaphors were what I needed to track with the medical jargon.

My week in TIBWM speak:

Monday: Today I Met Hapa!
She and Monika put the pieces together that she was in our area a few months ago and we finally made it happen to celebrate Hapa’s pregnancy.  She had her first ultrasound yesterday and got to see the heartbeat!  So exciting.  I think she was the first blog I followed so I’ve been rooting for her for a long time, and meeting her only further confirmed that she is a fabulous woman who would make a great mother.  Go Baby Hapa!

Tuesday: Today I Know the Meds are Working
As I was driving home from class I suddenly felt a pang in the ovaries and was kept awake that night by that pressure and a pretty rough headache.  I caved and took Aleve and finally went to sleep, but the headache is getting harder to fight each day since.  In my RE’s words today, I have hopped aboard the hormone roller coaster.  Acupuncture today provided some relief and I continue to find it fascinating how complex our bodies are.  Working on a point in the leg can address throbbing in the temple, how wild is that?

Wednesday: Today I Turned 31!
We were on our way to dinner and realized we’d forgotten to do our nightly injection and had to run back home.  I take it as a good sign (albeit a little concerning) that we forgot about IVF for a few moments in the midst of celebrating.  Also, as I opened my card from my husband I read that he had addressed it to my name and “Team Pearl,” causing me to cry and struggle to compose myself.  Further evidence that the meds had kicked in and that I have the best husband ever.

And now, today.  We’re primarily feeling hopeful and excited, save the headaches.  We have a host of people in this with us and it is palpable.  I feel at peace and attribute that to their prayers and support.  The meals friends have brought have been an enormous help as we juggle work, appointments, scheduling injections, and real life.  I can’t begin to describe the peace and comfort their support and presence bring us.

When we had our first IUI the doctor told us about a study in Israel where pregnancy rates were higher in patients who watched a clown performance post-IUI than those who did not.  She encouraged us to find something funny to entertain ourselves with for the wait after, and today’s video is one we watched for at least one of our IUIs, maybe more.  In honor of the pup’s anesthesia and mine upcoming, one of my top five youtube videos to share with you:

And I’m off to the pet store to buy a cone!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!: 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today I Clipped a $4400 Coupon

Last Monday I got a glimpse at the team.  I was in for my saline ultrasound and as I saw the round black spaces show up on the screen, I was taken aback.  There they are, I thought, in awe.  Those are our little guys.  That’s who we’re going to be watching the next several weeks.  That’s them.  I spoke this aloud to my doctor — because I can be candid like this with her — and she replied, with excitement, “There’s Team [insert last name here]!  Go guys!”  Yes, there’s the team.  What a wild thought.

How very “pre” this experience is in so many ways.  That has to be the earliest look at one’s baby possible — if, of course, this results in a baby.  Telling my dad about this he again confidently assured me that it would and hinted at wanting a copy of such a photo himself.  If this works out I will certainly make that happen.  So pre, too, in that I’m in on this early stage of conception which most couples are oblivious to.  So pre, in that I’m talking to my dad about my ovaries, which I can say with certainty I never have done before.

The past two weeks have been so full of infertility and IVF advancements.  My thoughts have been spinning and I’ve written many a blog post in my head, but time and access to my computer can’t seem to keep up.

Perhaps the hugest update to share is the gift that came in the form of an email last week from our IF pharmacy’s patient coordinator.  At our nurse training last week we went over the various medications, learning how to time and mix and inject them, and the nurse called in the thirteen prescriptions I will be taking the next few weeks.  It was overwhelming, and as we walked out I realized that, oh yeah, we need to pay the clinic!  It’s surprised me lately how my mind is so all over the place that I’ve been overlooking some very obvious details about the process.  Hubs and I discussed how to move money around from our various accounts to pay the different folks involved: the clinic, the acupuncturist, the pharmacy.

The email from my pharmacy came in and stated that our total came to $317.  I knew this was not right and immediately was on the phone.  Our plan covers $5000 of infertility diagnostics, but nothing else.  We had planned to pay this all out of pocket.  In speaking with her, however, she explained that they had submitted it to insurance and that our plan would be covering $4400 of the meds.  I was stunned and told her there must be a mistake, but she assured me that it had been submitted and this was final, this was what they were paying.  What a gift.  $4400 we expected to pay was taken care of, just like that.  I’m still having a hard time believing it.  We met with the financial coordinator at the clinic Monday and she was in disbelief herself, saying it must have been a fluke and she has no explanation for it.  This feels like reassurance and just a mercy and gift.  And I’ll try to keep my skepticism at bay.

Another enormous thing is just how attentive and caring my doctor and fertility center are.  I don’t know how to capture it here, but one example is that they give out journals to all of their IVF patients.  I could feel her hope and excitement for us as she let me pick out the color — green, of course, for new life and the color I’ve dreamt of painting a nursery one day.

And then there’s the care package from my friend Laura, well into her health pregnancy with her little angel after her fourth IVF.  She’s rooting for me and “here” via her texts and phone calls, and the package’s bubble bath and inordinate amount of chocolate.  And the bag of Hershey’s kisses that came in the overwhelming box of meds last Friday.

All of these little things accumulate, and for me are adding up to a place of peace and a feeling of being held and contained in this scary, surreal process.

Seeing the team again this Monday — I’m calling them “Team Pearl” because 1) that would be a sweet last name and 2) they looked like perfectly round pearls huddled together, ready to go — I already felt attached.  I’m noticing more of the hope than I’ve had in a long time, noticing myself follow the fantasy a little further of a child who could come of this process.  I stay in it for a moment, but gingerly, and then tiptoe backward out.  Not wanting to get too at home there, nor wanting to disturb it or shake it.

Today I’m thinking about them, all lined up.  Healthy, rested, energized, and ready to receive the nourishment coming their way.  The gate of birth control is up and they’re off to the races.

We’re all rooting for you, little pearls.  We are rooting for you.

Tagged , , , , ,

Today I’m Rich

“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” -Rev. 21:3

This verse is giving me great comfort today, as I’ve realized lately that much of my questioning and struggle boil down to the question, is God good?  Scripture says it outright countless times, yet I still find it hard to believe.  Believe at a heart level.  I question how a God who is sovereign and good could allow the kinds of suffering that I see and that I experience myself.  My own suffering pales in comparison to some of the horrors occurring in others’ lives and around the world.  How do sin and the fact that we live in a fallen, broken time and place factor in?  It feels easier to swallow that sin and brokenness are the default for now but that Jesus is entering into it and redeeming it all even now.  It somehow feels more compassionate — but perhaps just easier to swallow — that this suffering isn’t what the Lord wills, that He wants something different for us, wants us to not have to anguish for the past two years, wants our bodies to be working, wants us to be parents already, wants to take away the pain, is crying with us and wants to wipe our tears.  Can He be as good and as compassionate if He is willing this suffering and this situation for us?  For others around the world?

Not easy questions, not ones I am really trying to answer here.  And maybe it doesn’t even matter.  If I play with the ideas in my mind, I tend to think so — think in my head — but in my limited human-ness it seems to break down somewhere, leaving me wondering about a sadistic god who would will such pain for greater good.  I hate to even write the words.  Could there be a greater good?

For the longest time that has felt impossible and at the very least, trite.  But I dare say I’m beginning to experience some of it.  See it, taste it.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

I’m coming out the other side.  It sounds crazy to say when we haven’t even started IVF yet, we haven’t a clue what the outcome will be.  I’m feeling more like myself again, only a more mature, seasoned version.  A little deeper, a little more dimensional.

My friend Katherine, someone I’ve grown closer to only through this time of suffering, is one of those people who just gets it.  I can pick up with her and instantly feel understood, not to mention less like a crazy person.  Katherine wrote me after our final IUI attempt failed and I asked her if I could share it here on my blog.  It is just too beautiful to keep to myself and I hope some other infertiles can find it useful.  Her words encouraged me greatly at that time and continue to as I’m beginning to experience some of what she talked about.  (As an aside, her email is also a perfect example of how to be an amazing friend to an infertile.  I keep it in my inbox and about five other cards in my journal, all containing priceless words my amazing friends have sent me the past year.)

Hey –
Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that we’re thinking about you guys.  [My husband] told me that you came in for prayer about next steps, which was sad news (since I was a little behind on the blog and hadn’t heard about this month yet) and also so encouraging that you guys are doing things like getting prayed for.  I can think of about 1000 times we should have done that but it never occurred to us.

I am so sad to hear that your little one did not arrive this last month.  We really mourn with you, my friend.  Such an exhausting and grueling process. It’s very exciting news that you’re moving forward with IVF, though.  On to a new adventure.  🙂  I know it may not feel like it, but you are in the thick of something big in your life.  If you were to graph your growth over time (the inside kind, of course), it is taking a steep upward turn these days while you gain a treasure-trove of experience, wisdom, future empathy for other women going this path, and all sorts of other things that you might not have wanted, but are getting nonetheless.  Count on it – if you hang in, you will get your baby one day – and unlike all those other lamos who got pregnant on the first try, you’ll have that treasure trove to go with it.

Needless to say, I hope and pray that you have both of those things very soon.  🙂  We’d love to see you guys sometime soon.  We can talk and lament over this stuff, or just ponder the final scene of DA.  Either is fine.  🙂

How beautiful is that?  (And great that she deeply empathizes, mourns with us, has faith for us, and relates to the feeling that super-fertile people are lamos. 🙂 )  I replied to her that I would hang on to this image because, at that moment and for a long time before, I was not feeling an ounce of growth or feeling God’s nearness.

I am beginning to get a very real sense of this treasure trove, though; I think that day is coming.  I’m increasingly aware of a feeling that I’ve gained something the past two years.  In a time that has felt so dry and agonizing and empty.  I think that depth and dimension are exactly what she was talking about.  Maybe He can use this — whether He willed it or not — maybe this treasure trove is worth the suffering, and that He, in fact, in all His goodness helped me in the suffering and brought and is bringing this treasure into fruition without an ounce of my own effort.  I never thought I would say that and really mean it — not as a defense against my pain and confusion — but I don’t think I imagined what and how good the treasure could be.

We still await a child.  We still do not know how or when the Lord will bring him or her to us.  We wait and we wait.  We wait and are in anguish and are comforted.  We wait uncertain and fearful and aware that He desires to wipe away our every tear.  We wait, praying He continues to build that treasure trove, praying that above all on the other side the treasure is good and that we will know and taste His goodness.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2017 Lenten Readings

West End Presbyterian Church

sweetbeetcityfarm

An urban farm in Durham

exploring the (in)fertility journey day-to-day

Maberry Miscellanea

exploring the (in)fertility journey day-to-day

From A to Pink | A Blog by Katharine Scrivener

The life of a 30-something writer, cystic fibrosis patient + advocate, with a penchant for hoarding books.

The Infertility Voice™

An Online Hub for the Infertility Community — by the Infertility Community

Childless in Paris

struggling with infertility while dealing with the Frenchies...

Barren & Unemployed

Slightly Dramatic, Completely Honest, One Woman's Journey with Infertility

IVF male

IVF from the male POV

anemptywomb

A great WordPress.com site

whatisarutabaga.com/

My journey to more conscious eating.

All These Things

exploring the (in)fertility journey day-to-day

Something Out of Nothing

From 0 sperm to a family of three

Tales of a Twin Mombie

Because when you're a parent, there's always a story to tell.

Risa Kerslake Writes

Formerly Who Shot Down My Stork?

acupofbliss

Reflections on lattes, life, and love

hopefulandhungry

The road to conceiving a baby....enjoying food and life along the way

Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day

%d bloggers like this: