Requiem for A Cycle

It was a beautiful spring day today. The sun shone brightly, the trees showed off their new green bling, the geraniums were in full bloom. I started off the day on a professional high after having given a kick-ass presentation yesterday out of town.

By 12:30, I felt the defeat that only infertility can sock you with.

At 11:30, I had my IVF post-mortem with Dr. Salsa.  I had no problem with the clinical details – my E2 levels, number of follicles on any given visit, lining check – all of which were projected onto the wall in a weird sort of Excel spreadsheet.  I could handle the discussion of a new protocol.  I could even handle the discussion of what could have possibly gone wrong such that my two beautiful embryos decided not to hang around. 

What I couldn’t handle was when Dr. Salsa decided to share with me just how unbelievable it was to him that this cycle didn’t work by sharing stats from the clinic:

Of the 13 women, including myself, who cycled in that particular period, 11 – yes, 11 – got pregnant.  I was one of 2 who didn’t.  And, just to drive home his point, he said, “I would have put money that you would not have been one of the two.”


So, let’s recap. Even though I had a pretty perfect cycle with an embyro that made it to the freezer and no apparent risk factors, I managed to be one of 2 out of 13 women who still couldn’t get pregnant.  I already felt awful about the negative. I already felt – rightly or not, that is not the question – like a giant failure with a capital F. I already felt like shit just being there, seeing the financial coordinator who did get knocked up with Dr. Salsa’s brand of IVF.  THIS WAS NOT INFORMATION THAT I NEEDED TO KNOW, AND CERTAINLY NOT NOW. 

Later, when I was home and had spent some time decompressing with the dog, I sent Dr. Salsa an email. I explained that I did not want to know about how everyone else did. I explained that I am an inherently competitive person and in this particular arena, hearing about others did in the exact same IVF cycle when mine did not work was just not helpful. I asked him not to share that kind of information with me again because it just sends me into competition mode, and usually, I end up with the short end of a very long stick, which just makes me feel worse.  Sending the email helped and his response was very nice. He apparently knew by my expression the minute he finished the sentence that this was not information that was helpful to me.  It doesn’t un-ring the bell, though. It doesn’t make me forget that I was in the 15% who didn’t make it this time. 

And, so what if I was able to have a lovely glass of w(h)ine with dinner? I’m still no closert to being in that magic 11.  I can feel the bitterness choking me.

“How I Spent My BFN Weekend” By Mrs. X

I gave it a lot of thought. What I would do to get the maximum benefit out of the two day respite I had from the real world to deal with the Big Ass Disappointment that was a BFN after IVF.  I pondered all of the suggestions that you lovely ladies provided. I planned. I plotted.  In the end, though, I just gave in to inertia and did whatever the hell I felt like, which is not to say I didn’t have a good weekend.  Here’s a short recap, all brought to you by the letter S.

duncanFirst, I Slept. I slept like it was going out of style.  I Stole the covers. Repeatedly. I got up to feed the animals and then went back to bed.  I think I kicked Mr. X out of the bed at some point so that I could have full reign over the bed.  I grunted at him when he came to see if I was still (!) in bed. 

I Shed some tears. Ok, a lot of tears. Some on Mr. X, most into tissues that gave up their brief lives in my service.  Par for the course in this business, I’m afraid. 

I Squired G around the neighborhood on our twice daily walks.  We Slalomed around the street as part of training since he needs to work on his weaving in and around objects. 

I Saw that Big Red is tentatively deciding to make an appearing which is a relief as it puts this cycle most definitively to bed.

I Slurped a delicious margarita (frozen, no salt with a dash of OJ) and got nice and Sloppy at dinner with friends who were my own age and none of whom a) have children or b) are apparently in the planning stages to reproduce.  We talked about travel, work and animals. It was just what I needed.

I Snuggled into a big comfy chair with a Golden foot warmer on the ottoman and read a good book, the title of which I do NOT recommend googling as the first hit is a swinger’s club. Yea, that kind of swinger. 

I Slayed weeds that had the temerity to pop up in the middle of the lovely bed Mr. X and I planted about a month ago.

maq3737I Slathered myself in herbed brie and let Mr. X have his way with me.
(Ha! Just kidding. Making sure you’re still paying attention.) I did have some herbed brie, though, and it was quite good.

I Soothed myself listening to the old school R&B stations on iTunes.  There is nothing like Maze and Frankie Beverly to cure what ails you.

I Spent an afternoon cleaning the house and it felt darned good.  I can control at least one aspect of my life!

I Searched for information on what I have decided will be my Consolation Prize for coming up empty-wombed from this latest go-round: a super, heavy-duty, most awesome digital camera. 

I Studied our bank statements from last year to see how much we actually spent on IF treatments to see if we can deduct it from our taxes.  It was cathartic in a weird way.

I Spanked (metaphorically) Mr. X in Scrabble. 

I Soaked in Super hot water while reading and Swigging a glass of wine. 

And, last but not least, I Said goodbye to Mr. X early this morning. The Powers that Be have sent him off again on travel. Sniff.

The ‘S’ pictures were brought to you by: duncan (top left), maq3737 (bottom right)

Second Verse, Same as the First

“I’m scratching my head at this one.”

This is what Dr. Salsa said when he called this afternoon to confirm the BFN.  We make beautiful embryos, including one that made it to freeze – which for this clinic is apparently a big deal.  I’m still (relatively) young.  I responded well to the stims. Mr. X’s swimmers, while not particularly abundant, are good.  So, he’s scratching his head at why it didn’t work and why I am – yet again – on the bad side of the statistics.  I didn’t find his head-scratching particularly comforting either.  It makes me feel all the more broken, especially when he mentioned that of those of us who had negative cycles, most were not a surprise (women in their 40s, etc).  Me? I’m apparently a genuine medical mystery.  Even with a 60% chance of getting knocked up, I still can’t seal the deal. 

Personally, I would say that it was my old friend Luck. Or lack thereof.  Shit happens.  This was particularly expensive shit, but I know that I did everything I was supposed to do to make this work. So, while I am very, very disappointed and not a little sad, I have no guilt.  For whatever reason those two little buggers decided not to stick around in the posh accommodations that I so thoughtfully (and at great expense) provided.  Ungrateful brats. 

i-can-haz-boozeOn a slightly lighter note, thanks to everyone for your suggestions on what to do this weekend. I was particularly impressed that no one caved and used the dreaded ‘s’ word.  I even warned Dr. Salsa not to use it and he obliged. It was the nicest ‘negative’ call I ever received.  Once I’m ready, I am to follow up with him and the embryologist for the Failure Meeting.  I think I need to do some boozing before then, though. Thank God I got Mr. X that margarita machine for Christmas! 

I’m sure I will be pondering quite a lot over the next few days, but there is one question that is playing like a broken record right now:

Will it ever be our turn?

Sneak Preview?

Despite having been pregnant twice, I can honestly say that I have never had a positive home pregnancy test.  In fact, I think I’ve peed on a stick all of maybe six times in my life and each time the absence of the second line mocked me. 

tony-newellMy streak continues. 

As of 9dp5dt, Brand X HPT refused to show that second line. 

I’m doing surprisingly ok with this information as it confirms the lack of symptoms that I’ve had (boobs have been annoyingly calm and uninflated or sore) and likely spares me the chance of a D&C in April.  It also resolves the angst which has been building since Monday.  And, I have to admit that I’m a little bit relieved (although not like last time), which means that I was probably almost ready to really be pregnant again, but not quite. 

I’m sure the anger and frustration will come eventually, but it hasn’t hit yet.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Beta is on Friday (the 13th!), still leaving me the opportunity to suck down some booze this weekend whilst eating herbed brie and chugging a Diet Coke with lime.  

I will ask one favor, though – please do not drop the S word (‘sorry’ or any version of ‘sympathy’). Instead, feel free to use other ‘s’  words (shit, suck, shitty shitty bang bang) and tell me what your favorite thing to do is after a failed IVF cycle.  I’ve got a whole weekend coming up that will likely be filled with that three letter BFN combination, so I need some ideas!

image: tony newell

Everything Zen

I could tell you that I have been and am on pins and needles waiting for The Answer. I could tell you that I have been debating with myself about whether or not to pee on the dreaded stick. I could tell you that I’ve been lurking on sites about symptoms at 6dp5dt. 

Unfortunately, I would be lying.  And I suck at lying.  I could never play poker successfully because I suck so much at lying.

zeneraNo, I’ve been surprisingly zen.  I know that I have done everything I can and it is really no longer up to me – well, other than the big no-no’s like shooting up heroin, and rollercoasters.  Luckily, I’ve never acquired a taste for either of these.  Mr. X and I have also discussed how we want to proceed in the event it doesn’t work this time and once again, I am greatly relieved to realize that we are on the exact same page.  We’ve also been discussing other options for our lives regardless of whether we end up parenting.  Building or renovating our dream house has been batted around quite a lot.  In other words, we’ve got plans that extend beyond and do not depend upon what may come to pass.  And that is a great comfort.

I think I’m also still so grateful to be released from the mindsuck of bedrest.  I knew daytime television was a wasteland, but geez.  Even HBO didn’t do much to help stem the tide of mediocrity.  So, to be able to go back to work and get up when I wanted to (!), stay standing for more than 5 minutes (!) and ponder questions headier than how long has it been since I got up last? has been a wonderful gift.  G and I have also been training for pet therapy which is as much about him training as it me, so that has been a great distraction as well. 

And so, what have I been doing with myself if I haven’t been obsessing over the fact that I am in the two week wait?  Lots of stuff.  I’ve been working, cooking (I baked a cherry pie!), reading, visiting with friends, watching BSG with Mr. X (Xena, how could you?!) and enjoying  our first full week of gorgeous warm weather. I also have been guilty of major animal snorgling. It is an excellent way to spend any time, let alone the dreaded 2WW. 

Other than the morning butt shot, no caffeine and no booze, you wouldn’t think that I am where I am. And that’s just the way I like it.  

image: zenera

Transferring, Please Hold (It)

I vividly remember the last time I had to pee so badly that it physically hurt. It was in 1997 or 1998, when I was a junior in college.  We were walking home to the dorm after a particularly marathon-esque night of imbibing.  mark-kempeNow that I think about it, there were probably at least five buildings on campus between the (off-campus but right next to the edge) bar and our dorm that would have been unlocked in which I could have made a mad dash to a fluorescent-lighted throne with my name on it.  For some reason, though, I had to wait until we got to the dorm and it was Torture.

My friend tried to distract me by having me tell him a story, and I played along, walking fast but gingerly. But, in reality, I was still just as cognizant of the fact that the dam was going to burst, sooner rather than later and I really didn’t want it to burst in front of my friends.  In the end, we made it to the dorm with nary a drop spilled and I was able to give my eternal thanks to the builders of that 10-story cinderblock menace from hell for having the wherewithal to install a bathroom on the first floor. 

Fast forward, eleven or so years, and once again I had to pee so badly it hurt.  Only this time, there was no booze to be blamed. No seal had been broken and drinking had continued.  All that had happened was that I was swigging water like I was on a desert island in a desperate attempt to actually completely fill my bladder. 


turtlesEver since I had known that we would probably have embyros to transfer, I began to think about what special thing I wanted to have with me at the transfer, especially since my most special thing, Mr. X, wasn’t going to be there. The powers that be sent him to the northeast yesterday and he won’t return until tomorrow.  My mind kept coming back to one item that just made me smile: a pair of turtle socks that Mr. X game me for Christmas a few years ago.  It’s rare for him to pick out clothes for me and so these were extra special because he had chosen them. And, they are just so darn cute.  I knew what I needed to wear so that I could feel him with me even if he was far, far away.  And they really helped.  Thanks, little turtles.


Once I had gotten dressed, walked the G and dispensed with the feedings of the various animals, I began to swill the fluids that usually run right through me: tea (decaf, of course) and water. I also had some grapes (so juicy!) for breakfast.  About an hour later, still not getting that ‘gotta go’ feeling, I headed out the door with my glass of water in hand and made my way to Dr. Salsa’s office for my acupuncture treatment before the transfer.  I was swigging at stoplights and taking a slurp on boring stretches of road.  I still didn’t feel much need to go when I got there and I began to worry that maybe I wasn’t drinking enough, after all I had peed when I got out of bed.

I needn’t have worried. By the time she came back to take out the needles, it was getting uncomfortable.  By the time I was ushered back into the procedure area, it was really uncomfortable.  And, adding insult to injury, I had to change into my gown in a bathroom.  There was the toilet, pristine and white and untouchable.  I grabbed my iPod and walked as best as I could to the bed before getting in and trying not to think about how I was now sweating because I had to pee so badly.

I listened to a podcast of Car Talk because I needed distraction from the agony going on down below.  By the time I was in the room with the ultrasound, I was almost writhing in pain. My legs were shaking and I was spewing four-letter words.  I was on the verge of tears when Dr. Salsa appeared and I had a glimpse of hope that relief was going to be coming soon.  And it did, in the form of a catheter that he inserted and placed in a bed pan and I can easily tell you that I have never felt so good as when I was literally peeing in the face of my RE. 

After this relieving interlude, my bladder was still full enough that they could do the ultrasound visualization on my belly, but I was blissfully comfortable.  I was so comfortable, in fact, that I didn’t even feel the catheter for the transfer. It was the smoothest transfer I have ever had – even of my 6 IUIs. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

So, how many embryos were sent down the fun chute? Two beauties. As of this morning, these two were the real over (ova?) achievers of the group and were apparently raising their little hands going, “ooh, oh pick me!” to the embryologist. The other three are still doing well, but were not as enthusiastic. We’ll know tomorrow if they developed enough to be frozen.  I’m going to fight the urge to pass judgments on the success of this cycle if the other three do not in fact make it to the deep freeze of the nitrogen tank.

As for whether this will work, I’m not thinking much past tomorrow.  There’s a stack of books that are waiting to be read, beautiful weather to be enjoyed and animals to be scratched and loved on.  If there was anytime to just be, it would be now. 

image top left: Mark Kempe

Monday, Monday


La-la, la-la-la.

Monday transfer it is!  The five are still growing – no doubt because of all of the wonderful thoughts that have been sent through the Internets – and I am very happy. As of this morning, there were four eight-cells and one seven-cell.  And bless the embryologist for calling early this morning so that we could enjoy the news and get on with our day. 

I’m also really happy that it is a five day transfer.  Last time I had a three day transfer and had read a great deal of the literature on the benefits of a five day, but Dr. Uterus was a three-day man. So, I’m liking Dr. Salsa’s approach. Although, he’s of the bedrest school, so it looks like I’ll be a couch potato on Monday and Tuesday. 

As for the PIO, I’ve been shooting up since Thursday and my behind is crying uncle (and frankly quite a few more nasty words that I won’t print here). To say it is unhappy is quite possibly the understatement of the year.

Thanks for all of the wonderful thoughts!

image: rustman

Hope and Hubris

I had my first monitoring appointment with Dr. Salsa yesterday and he was pleased.  My right ovary is putting on quite a show. 

look_westThe left, not so much. He wasn’t too concerned, though. He told me in his delicious accent, “Your ovaries are telling me that they are young, my friend!”  They were telling me that he was jabbing just a little too hard, but hey.  Later, I asked not to be told what my E2 level was.  It is just fodder for unnecessary angst.  All I wanted to know was whether it was good and if I should continue on my current dose of Follistim.  The answer to both questions was yes, with a follow up in two days.  

So, why can’t I shake this feeling of fatalism? That no matter what we do, it won’t ever work?  I can’t stop thinking that because it is me, me of the long sordid saga of infertility treatments that nothing in the fertility realm could possibly ever work out for me, including growing good eggs.

I think it all goes back to one little word: hubris

I’ve come to realize that even now, I feel as if my first miscarriage was a punishment of sorts for my hubris in thinking that because I was pregnant, I would have a baby.  I felt entitled to have that baby.  I had given enough, wanted it badly enough, and damnit, I had finally gotten the elusive BFP so I was going to take that thing out on the road.  I started to look at baby names and thinknig about how I would take a few months off of work after the birth. I made plans. And then, wham. And with my second one, I got excited, used lots of exclamation points, and then again, wham. The result is that I am conditioning myself to not get excited about anything fertility-related because that will result in whatever gains being taken away. The minute I publish that exclamation point, it’s all over.

To me, hope has become hubris. Having any amount of hope feels like a set up for the inevitable smack down. The two have become so intertwined that I don’t know if I can separate them.

image: look_west

Not This Time

It’s mid-February and I have been busy resisting  the urge to play the This Time Last Year Game.

ohdearbarb1If I gave in and drew out my worn and dog geared deck of cards, I would remember that I was newly pregnant after our first IVF.  I would remember that in just a few short days, I would start spotting and so would begin the almost month-long odyssey from no hope to hope to no hope

I would note that the Oscars are on this Sunday and that Mr. X and I watched the Oscars last year at his relative’s house, and I couldn’t concentrate because all I could think about was how I had started spotting that afternoon, but I couldn’t share anything with anyone except him.  I would dread reliving the agonizing day until I could get into Dr. Uterus’s office to find out what was going on.  I would remember how awful it was to go through that without Mr. X.  In short, I would have myself a nice case of post-traumatic stress disorder, infertility-style.

So, rather than play that deck, I choose to open a fresh deck of cards.  On top, is the card of Can-I-tell-you-how-wonderful-it-is-to-not-be-pregnant-right-now?  There is such power and relief in knowing that at least this February will be different.  This February unlike the last two will not feature me getting knocked up and being worried about being knocked up.  This February, all I have to do is just be. 

The next cards in the deck, of course, belong to Dr. Salsa.  But, knowing that the dealer has changed from Dr. Uterus to Dr. Salsa is further helping me avoid playing that old deck.  I think the mind f*ck of trying to get pregnant/being pregnant for the third February in a row and seeing Dr. Uterus at the same time would be too much for my over developed sense of deja vu to handle.  I would feel like I was in the Infertility Groundhog’s Day movie, except the outcome never would change. 

I don’t know if our outcome this time will be any different. But at least I’m playing a gleaming, new and shiny deck of cards that haven’t been tainted or tampered with.

image: ohdearbarb

Thigh Master

Ah, my peeps.  Thank you for your wonderful birthday greetings (and a special shout-out to Shelli, my fellow Groundhogger who also celebrated her birthday on this most auspicious of days). I am home, but I think I left my liver somewhere between Norway and Germany at Epcot’s World Showcase.  We had margaritas from Mexico in Norway. Japanese beer in Japan. German beer in Germany. Another Mexican margarita in Italy. It was absolutely bacchanalian. And, it was the perfect birthday celebration. I – hiccup – highly – hiccup – recommend it. 

Yeah, there were kids. Lots and lots of kids. But 90% of them were probably too young to have the stamina that is required to do Disneyworld and so were in major meltdown mode just about everytime I saw one.  A wailing child in the middle of the Haunted Mansion is an excellent cure for the infertility blues.  

And, there were some pregnant ladies. But you know what? I was actually glad that I wasn’t pregnant. I had plenty of energy to walk all over, I could go on any ride I wanted and I could knock back the liter (yes, you read that right) of beer at the Biergarten with the rest of the non-child-toting 20 and 30-somethings they sat us with at the communal tables.  In short, I was really able to enjoy myself.

And, I did everything within my power to enjoy myself. 

Well, I refused to go on Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood. I love my man, but that love does not conquer my overwhelming fear of heights.  Luckily, I was able to use my birthday as an excuse not to be guilted into being dropped 130 feet in a randomly programmed nightmare. 

I was having such a good time, in fact, that I almost forgot that I had to start my Lupron.  But, I remembered! I also remembered that I had to give myself the injection in the abdomen.  Let me just say that Dr. Uterus never, ever required such measures. Hips – with their ample cushion of plumpness – were perfectly fine for him.  Not so for Dr. Salsa. Oh no. He has to be different.

So, that was how I found myself in the bathroom of our hotel room, listening to Mr. X howl with laughter as a sophomoric show, pinching my anemic abdomen fat and sticking myself with the Lupron needle.  And what did I get for my trouble? An immediately huge welt that itched and looking like I had swallowed one of those turkey timers.  Not a happy camper.

I called Nurse Chipper the next day and sweetly inquired as to whether this dreadful experience meant that I was allowed to return to my beloved hip injection site. No dice, but I was cleared to use the top of my thigh instead. 

I initially pouted (seriously, I pouted) that I was not getting My Way in this. But, Mr. X, sweet gentle loving man that he is, pointed out that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad because maybe there was more fat to work with on the thigh (why is this starting to sound like a description of the Thanskgiving turkey?).  I did some preliminary comparison pinching and wouldn’t you know? Plenty of deliciously cushioning fat.  For my second injection, it was strictly a thigh night and boy, was it smooth as silk. 

I am officially the thigh master.