Tag Archives: #infertilityandfamily

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!

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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 is Next Month

It’s February 1st, as evidenced by the new red candlesticks out on the dining table (hip hip huzzah for Crate & Barrel Christmas clearance and gift card from my dad).  I’ve never been one for cheesy, illegitimate holidays, but this year I’ve been waiting eagerly to put these bad boys out and I’m guessing it has something to do with the abounding eagerness to get going with IVF that’s up in here.  In my mind and conversations with others, the phrase “We start IVF next month” has been on repeat.  But today, next month is here.

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We finally got off of the questioning roller coaster — IVF, adoption, IVF, adoption… — in mid-January and I was ever so ready.  The toiling and uncertainty were taking any potential restfulness of our “break” right out and I again found myself crying in inappropriate places like acupuncture.  We landed on IVF and were talking just tonight about how comfortable and at peace we feel with our decision.  Not because we feel especially hopeful that it will work — although as he pointed out, the odds at 45-55%/cycle are the highest they’ve been since trying to conceive — but because we’ve become increasingly certain that we want to give IVF a shot.  (I needn’t note pun intended.)  If we didn’t give it a try, I think I would always look back and wonder and ask “what if?”  And because the best predictor of IVF success is age, the best shot we can give it is now.  It feels really good to have sat with this decision and continue to feel at peace with it.

I’d like to say that, since then, I’ve been zen- and mother earth-like, but in all honesty it’s been more like an exhibition of failed nervous energy management.  Mainly in the form of trying to find something I can actually do during the wait like scheduling appointments and looking into a potential lower-cost option for meds, but also of course unnecessary baking/cooking and celebrating that Downton Abbey is now airing in the States.  (Nevermind how horrific the last episode was re: the poor infertility advice offered.  Although, I will say, if DA is taking up male factor infertility as one of its themes, I give it kudos.  Also, I forgive you, writers, for betraying me with Cybil’s pregnancy after all she went through last week.  May she rest in peace.)

So here’s our IVF timeline.  Of course this is all tentative and I’ve learned that with IVF you must expect the unexpected.  As someone told me the other day, it has a way of taking on a life of its own so the best thing to do is to expect it do so and roll with it.

Feb. 7: Predicted Day 1 of cycle
Feb. 9: Day 3 of cycle, start birth control for ~14 days, during these two weeks do testing (I have to repeat the saline ultrasounds, nooooooo!!!), nurse training, order meds, etc.
Feb. 24: Day 1 of Stim Phase (injections & every other day monitoring/ultrasounds)
Feb. 27: I turn 31!  Guess who’s getting a $12-15,000 birthday present this year?
March 5-9 (somewhere in there): Retrieval
3 or 5 days after retrieval (depending on embryo growth): Embryo Transfer
2 weeks after retrieval (approximately March 19-23): Blood test to learn the results

So, February is here and we’re a few weeks out from the real start of it all.  My acupuncturist gave me great advice today to enjoy the last week of a medication-free body and not paying attention to all the details that come with IVF.  Also, our trip was never able to happen so we’re doing a stay-cation next weekend and checking out a great local spa, so lots of good, relaxing distractions in place.

And now, in the vein of distractions, I share a YouTube submission by my dear friend and IVF supporter, Jess.  Some people have been asking how they can bring a meal or otherwise support us during IVF, which is so kind and thoughtful.  Jess will be sending out emails and coordinating that for us and we’re very thankful to her for that.  (I’d be curious to hear from others who have gone through this what kind of support they found helpful or wished they’d had, if you want to leave a comment.)

From Jess this evening: “Hoping you are having a Buttermilk the Goat type of weekend – well, except for the knocking your friends over part…”

And the same goes for you, my friends.

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Today I Found Seven More Gray Hairs

Well it’s been forever since I’ve blogged.  Like most posts I’ve read the past week, it’s been a wild month with all of the holiday rush and unfortunately this outlet of writing has neared the bottom of the list.  I now find myself on vacation at the coast, but with only a day left before returning to work.  And pre-mourning of course.

I’m learning more about what this pattern of pre-mourning and complete dread of returning to real life are: my life feels completely in limbo.

Besides all the cooking, hosting, partying, wrapping, and attempted-but-failed-reflecting-on-Advent of the past several weeks, there’s also been some serious decision-making.  And subsequent swings.  We decided a few weeks ago that we just weren’t quite ready to start IVF yet.  It was a week before we’d begin birth control and we were pretty sure, but just not positive.  I couldn’t imagine feeling okay with being this unsure just a week before beginning such an intense process, so we canceled the appointments and the trainings and settled on giving ourselves the three months for acupuncture and dietary changes and aiming for end of February.  I’m realizing now that said holiday bustle served as a convenient buffer from feelings about waiting.

I was feeling good, enjoying the idea of a break, brainstorming how we could make it feel restful and not just like killing time, dreaming about how to finance a little getaway to somewhere tropical.  Now that things have slowed down a bit the ache has returned.  We’re on vacation, where the past two years we were certain we would have a baby by the next.  I walked these same shores dreaming of having an infant with us next year, bringing a pack ‘n play in tow, our child getting great time with her grandparents and aunt.  This third year I’m finding myself more realistic, more guarded with my fantasies.  I begin to imagine it happening by next year, having a little one with us, but if we don’t start IVF until February, those chances are really slim and I quickly reel myself in.  If we don’t start the adoption process until then, count on two to three more Christmases without a baby.

As New Year’s Eve is here — also what would have been Day 1 of stims — I need to just call it, this year has sucked.  I’ve had some rough ones: my parents divorcing, moving 500 miles away from my dad, dealing with my crazy mother, breaking up with the love of my life (which I eventually ended up getting to marry!).  But this one goes down as the worst.  And as I look in the mirror this week I see it on my face.  Literally seven new gray hairs in the past three weeks.  (Shouldn’t the opposite be true now that we’re on a “break?”)  I’m vainly worrying that any physical beauty I did have is now behind me and that I’ll be an old, gray woman when I’m a new mother, not the perky, energetic kind wearing a yellow frilly apron that I’d imagined.  I feel like my body sucks and is failing me in this most important, female way.  Infertility has taken it’s toll in so many ways.  Not the least of which is that I’m tired of not knowing in the slightest what the next year is going to hold.

In each of the moments of returning to real life that have come at the end of a vacation the past two+ years, I thought it would all be changing soon.  I’m getting tired of that hoping, though, and realizing that, too, shouldn’t be assumed, because it hasn’t changed.  Still no baby in these arms, still hanging in at a job I’m lukewarm about, still going to appointments all the time, still seemingly zero control over our family building.  Will my life be any different this time next year, or will it still be hanging in the balance of uncertainty?  Still waiting.

Tonight I’ll drink my champagne — heck yes, thankyouverymuchbreak — and toast to 2012 being over, ushering it out gladly.  I’ll also try to breathe in and breathe out and try to welcome 2013 with whatever it does or does not bring.  While many things externally are exactly the same as last year, I do know for sure that on the inside I am a different person.  Hurt and wounded in some ways, absolutely, but also better, stronger, more grateful, aware of what I can take, learning I’m a fighter, and wanting it all even more.  Cheers to that, too.

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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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