Tag Archives: #infertilityandmarriage

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 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’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 I’m Baking

I just pulled my kuchen out of the oven.  No, that’s not infertility blogger code for something  related to follicles or fertility assistance devices.  Today I’m a little pissed, and so today I’m baking.

No particular reason really, but I’m just angry.  Not the road rage angry, more like the despondent, deep achey, silent cry angry.  I was thinking and praying this afternoon, giving myself a moment to really wonder, “What if this doesn’t happen?”  And the truth is, it feels unbearable.  As though something would happen and I would just dissolve in sadness.  My husband keeps talking about how he knows we will be parents and that in a few years will will look back with gratitude (not for infertility but for how it all panned out).

I’m not yet convinced.  I’m pretty worried that I never would get over it.  Yes, we will be parents by some means.  We’ll adopt if we aren’t able to conceive, but it does not feel humanly possible to wait two plus additional years before being a mother and having a baby in this home.  It seems like it would feel so empty and so agonizing, for so long or maybe forever.  There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about it — again, it’s the deep achey angry and our language falls short in representing it.  Maybe I should have more faith like Hubs does but I can’t imagine getting to a point where I don’t feel slighted and resentful should I never be given the gift of conceiving a child.

It’s hard to be angry with God.  I find myself feeling guilty about it and fearful of it simultaneously.  I know He can handle it on the one hand, but I’m also really really angry and thinking some things related to Him that I never have before.  Like how could He withhold this from me?  Why give me this desire and then not fulfill it?  What else am I supposed to do with it?  What am I doing wrong and why would He just be sitting around waiting until I figure it out?  Does He really have the ability to soothe and one day heal this deep deep sadness?  And what if it grows only deeper and greater?

I can’t say I can answer these questions, although it actually did feel satisfying to bring them into my awareness.  They’d been hiding out in my mind’s deep corners, there and affecting me but not yet ready to be dealt with.  So I did what I usually do about once a week, I cried and let myself feel fully and I asked Him, I pled with him, and this time I even pray-yelled at Him.

And once I’d let my crying run its course and figured out that the puppy wanted to bite and not comfort, I headed into the kitchen to bake mindlessly.  A kuchen.  Which, according to Real Simple is german for cake.  With apples I picked yesterday with my best pals in town, where we could just be ourselves and feel how we felt and say what we needed to say and be quiet when we needed to be quiet.  Which, I figure if I can be like that with them, I can be like that with God too.  And just be in process.  And be angry.  And not try to hide it.

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Today Is Bittersweet

The hubs and I are celebrating our fifth anniversary this weekend and, while it is mostly a very happy time, it’s also of course colored by our very real and immediate reality of infertility.  So with the anniversary come some intense reminders and feelings for me.  Feelings about needing to take an hour of our anniversary to talk through recent information and potential upcoming decisions.  Of the juxtaposed bliss of our wedding day, looking at photos considering how that 5-year-younger couple had no idea of what was ahead of them.  And the fact that now 40% of our marriage has been full of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving.  Well now that’s a depressing way of looking at it.

The morning of our actual anniversary we were driving to the beach and the words “five year plan” kept coming back to me, hauntingly.  We’d always said we’d like to be married about five years before we had children.  I laughed this weekend at our presumption that we’d get to somewhat determine that.  When we were getting married we prayed about what God might want for us in terms of that timing and the five year plan is where we landed, so it’s not as if we thought we should be completely in control.  But of course we assumed we’d have much more say in it than it turns out we actually do.  I cried and mourned that this was now officially not true and not going to happen.

But, and please forgive my cheesy song reference, the song “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts (originally by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) was playing in the fertility clinic Thursday morning as we prepared for our IUI.  It immediately took me back to our wedding day (another overwhelming moment in the fertility clinic!).  This was a song my sister had suggested we play at our reception because she thought it so well described my husband’s and my story.

Our story, our path, wasn’t a smooth, linear one by any means.  In brief, it was one where we were in love but felt it best for both of our growth to part ways.  This was immensely painful and in a lot of ways did not make sense to us or to others.  But God made it happen and He then so used the almost two years before we got back together.  We both were very different people at that point, so much more mature, now both walking with Him, more aware of who we were and what we wanted.  Looking back I can truly say that I cannot imagine us having ended up together, much less having a healthy marriage, had it not gone that way.

So the song says:
I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn’t see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I was comforted with, this time, a positive reminder.  That God had control over our relationship then and that I’m very much grateful — now — that He did and not us.  Let me emphasize again what a complete disaster it would have been if we had had it our way.  Disaster, I tell you.

And I was also comforted and felt very much at peace imagining that these lyrics may be ones we sing to our child one day.  That it was a broken road, we felt lost at times and blind to where we were going.  But that what felt like missteps or wrong turns at the time actually were part of the intended path.  Ultimately there was a grander plan leading us to just the children God had for us.

It so helps to remember.  How He has been faithful.  How He has redeemed my personal brokenness and Hubs’ and my shared brokenness.  How He’s orchestrating all of it and eventually it all really will be okay.  And those crooked paths, from that point someday when we do have our child, I imagine are going to look a whole lot straighter.

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