We Came, We Saw, We Heard

I have a really bad habit when something big is about to happen. I think, “oh, in x number of hours, we’ll know” or “in another hour, it will all be over.”  Of course, this is only used for events that are anxiety inducing – they are not pleasant thoughts and only serve to cause more anxiety about the impending event.

This was what I was thinking as we drove the five minutes to the clinic in 6:50am cool air.  I’ve driven this route so many times now, seen the same people walking the same dogs, it’s amost comforting. Almost. Because today, was no ordinary day.

Today was the 8 week scan. The scan where the stakes were raised to threat level heartbeat.  Luckily, Dr. Salsa didn’t waste much time getting down to business.

And, poof, there was the little p.  I could tell right away that there was significant growth since our last scan two weeks ago.  And, with the movement of the wand just a milimeter, I saw the tell-tale flashing.  The tiniest heart amongst us.

You will probably shocked to hear this, but I never actually saw the heart flash before on either my two previous pregnancies.  Dr. Uterus’ scanning equipment was fine, but there was one monitor and it was rather hard to crane my neck to see the important stuff. Dr. Salsa of course, provides you with your own monitor on the ceiling which I am appreciating more and more each time. 

He turned on the sound and there it was – wocka, wocka, wocka – like Fozzie bear.  The rate measured at 167 bpm which is nice and solid. He took some measurements and everything was on track.

I also tallked with him about the big D.  He gave me the name of a psychiatrist who can, if need be, proscribe me something.  I also see my regular therapist on Monday and will definitely raise the issue with her as well.  Between the two, we’ll see what we can do.  The uncertainty level has gone down a little with today’s appointment.  But, it will come back up again.  We are in charted, but still dangerous waters and know that the boat can capsize still.  We’re just taking it day by day.

Thank you all for your lovely comments and support. May this karma rebound to you in droves!

The Sixth Symptom

I’ve been pretty fortunate so far in this go round with symptoms. And, frankly, I’m like Goldilocks when it comes to them – I don’t have too few or too many, but just the right amount at the right (read not incredibly uncomfortable) level.  I have the usual suspects – nausea, sore boobs, occasional back pain, tiredness, crankiness – all of which make feel better and worse at the same time. 

I have also developed another one that until today I did not realize I even had.  It is the most anachronistic one too, one that I had originally chalked up to that general personality change that I go through in the beginning of a pregnancy (think Jeckyll and Hyde).  What is this mysterious new visitor?

I’m almost embarrassed to type this because I know when I was not knocked up if I had read this I would have likely said something very unladylike at the screen. But, here goes:

Depression.

Yes, I am depressed – the version where you have no interest in anything that used to bring you joy or pleasure, the version with the extremely low attention span – huh? – the version that you really wonder why you get out of bed in the morning, the version that makes you question, will this ever get better?

I was incredulous at first.  Depressed, really? Not a toxic side effect of the hormone soup going on?  But, deep down, I knew that no, that was not the cause, although it damn well may have helped. 

I have given a lot of thought as to why I might be depressed.  On paper, this would appear to make no sense – I have finally gotten that thing I have been trying to get for a really long time and while there are no guarantees, there have been no statements of alarm yet. 

The problem is the no guarantees part, the part where I don’t feel as if I can plan past tomorrow because I don’t know if the little p will still be around.  And, I love to plan.  Along with the no guarantees comes the uncertainty. Will it work? If it doesn’t, when will we know that it won’t?  I was perversely fortunate last time to know pretty early on that viability was not looking good.  This time, Dr. Salsa has been nothing short of maddeningly cheerful making it that much harder for me to remain skeptical and preserve my fragile little heart.  I can’t let myself look forward and I can’t look back so all I am left to do is look at now and see the ocean of uncertainty that I just don’t know how this is going to end.  And that doesn’t help. 

Should we have progress tomorrow, I will talk with Dr. Salsa about this issue and will ask him about other options that are safe for me to take because I have finally figured out that this is not normal and I don’t have to live this way.

[Insert Title Here]

I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  I swear.  But, my blogging ability seems to have been robbed from me sometime in the middle of the night a few weeks ago.  I’ve put up LOST posters, taken out ads, but to no avail.  I am beginning to suspect G might have something to do with it. I keep getting emails of dogs showing their bellies.  Naughty boy.

Since paragraph formation is not in the cards, you will have to settle with items.

  • My symptoms and I have reached a detente.  They are allowed to take some time off and as long as they come back, I won’t send out the search party.  So far, this has worked out well. 
  • I have developed an aversion to chicken. And ceaser dressing. Very interesting.
  • I still have an aversion to obviously pregnant women.
  • The aforementioned symptoms have also worked very well to spark sympathy offerings of household choring from Mr. X.  This has yet to extend to laundry, but has involved food delivery. 
  • I’m finding it very easy to not be tempted at all to share our news with anyone other than those who have already been told. 
  • Although, it might have come in handy last night at Bunco when the hostess served dessert that for a while there sounded as if it might have salmonella.  No worries, though.
  • My googling has slowed to a trickle.  This is less a sign that I am becoming more confident and more a result that I have googled just about everything I can and now see the same stuff over and over again.
  • Next scan is on Wednesday.  I’m not freaking out . Yet. 

That’s all about I can manage for this evening.  Stay classy, blogosphere.  Thanks for stopping by.

Trust

Infertility and miscarrige have brought many new experiences into my life – needles (oh so many needles, of all shapes and sizes);  powerful, mood altering drugs; amazing bouts of unrequited jealousy; complete lack of modesty; an apprenticeship in reading follicle scans (seriously, I am a total pro. I can guess within 1 mm); the first opportunity since grade school to use ‘meniscus’ in a sentence. 

rogiroBut, one of the less obvious, yet still devastating experiences these two harpies have brought me has been a loss of trust and confidence in my body and its ability to nurture life.  Reproductively, we certainly didn’t get off to a good start – somehow both of my fallopian tubes became blocked and had to be cleared.  I have a champion uterus, but that has meant absolutely zero since the embryos that keep implanting in it are chromosomally abnormal.  So, I can easily say that I no longer have a lot of trust in my reproductive abilities. And, it is an awful feeling.

This has become painfully clear again with this most recent try for the teething ring.  I question my body, and frankly everything about this go round, constantly – am I exhausted enough? nauseous or just nervous? what was that twinge? cramping, but not too much? spotting? not spotting red? – because if I worry about it, or so the thinking goes, then I won’t be blindsided again with bad news.   

And, it’s not just physical feedback from my body that has me on edge.  I still eye even good news – good beta numbers, etc –  with suspicion because I’ve had the “good news” before and then watched it turn very bad.  I think taking a frying pan upside the head would have been less painful than the moment I learned that my first pregnancy had ended because I didn’t see it coming At All.  All subsequent pregnancy experiences for me revolve around never getting blindsided again like that because it was such an awful, awful experience. Easily one of the top 5 worst in my life. 

So, even when today’s scan at approximately 6 weeks had no surprises, I still cannot say that relations have improved.  But, I can report one bean, measuring on target with a gestational sac, yolk sac and a fetal pole. No heartbeat detected on the screen, but Dr. Salsa didn’t try using the microphone.  I had asked him ahead of time what we should expect to see and a heartbeat was a 50/50 at this stage, so I wasn’t too concerned (and Dr. Google repeatedly told me that it would be iffy seeing one at this stage).  The gestational sac was looking more oval and elongated than round, but Dr. Salsa once again was not concerned since the angle of the dildo cam can change how it looks on the screen. 

I still don’t trust my body or my reproductive abilities, but the ice is melting. Next scan is in two weeks, when the stakes get raised (or the limbo bar gets lowered, depending upon how you look at it) again. 

image: rogiro

Facing the Fear

I remember the wait before my first OB scan.  I was nervous, but mainly because I had no idea what to expect.  It didn’t occur to me that there might not be anything on the screen or if there was, that there might not be a heartbeat.  My naivete was rewarded with a perfectly normal OB scan, complete with a heartbeat (although it still ended up going south anyway – so much for statistics!).  The second time I was waiting for that first OB scan, I wasn’t nearly as naive.  I was also tormented with spotting which I had never had before and was convinced meant the end before the beginning.  By the time I got to the scan, I was so exhausted from worry that I wasn’t surprised that there wasn’t much to be seen

7 (Miguel Angel)So, approaching this latest first OB scan has been a study in compromise.  Should I allow myself to have even a little dash of hope?  Should I be like Mr. X and expect the worst?  I have, so far, chosen the middle ground.  Neither hoping or dreading.  Even when I started spotting last week (brown) or cramping more regularly today, I have refused to entertain that little voice in my head saying, “OMG, OMG, OMG, what if it’s all over?!” 

I do, however, sit down with it and ask, “So, what if it’s all over? What is the worst that can happen?”  And, I find comfort in knowing that I know what the worst is that can happen and I have survived it, twice now.  Ironically, whenever I think about it, I worry most about being an object of pity and how much that hurts.  But, I know that I would be ok, as would Mr. X.  We would survive as we have done before, and we would move on, although where I don’t know.  And, that by far is more comforting right now than anything Dr. Google has been able to provide. 

I have kept Dr. Salsa in the loop about all of the gory details – the brown spotting (or staining as I think it is officially called), the sudden change to reddish brown on Sunday that disappeared as quickly as it arrived, the increasing cramps – only asking whether or not I should be worried and taking heart in his all caps response, NO. 

In the end, my fate is out of my hands as it has always been and I can only wait patiently to hear what it will be. 

image: 7 (Miguel Angel)

O-Bla-Di, O-Bla-Da, O-My-God

alfarmanI had my blood draw this morning for my third and final beta and all I can say is thank God.  I actually find it more stressful to go to the clinic now than I did when we were just cycling.  Part of that is because those people insist on throwing out the p word at me and saying, “I’m so happy!”  And, they see my pained expression and say, “Oh, I know, I know, but I am going to be happy.”  I also cringe because it’s a fairly open office and I hated it when I was a patient and would overhear such protestations of joy.  I can’t bear the thought of someone else having to deal with that, too, in the one place where they are supposed to be able to get away from it.

And, with this last blood draw I thought with a certain amount of satisfaction that it was going to be a good while before they would have me back for an ultrasound.  I mean, at least not until the end of July, which would give me lots of time to mentally prepare, right?

Wrong.

Next week.  They want to see if there is a gestational sac.  This is a new one for me. With Dr. Uterus, they practically bar the door until at least 6 weeks because there isn’t much to see.  But, they also didn’t do third blood draws, so maybe comparisons aren’t as helpful here. 

I have a week.  A week to calm my self down and find that mellow spot of meditation where I can still function.  Because I have to be able to function.  Hibernation, while attractive, is not an option.  And, I need to develop a method for coping with my anxiety because this may not be the end of the road and I don’t think my body can handle the up and down stress for a long period of time.  I also don’t want to drive everyone around me batshit crazy (except Mr. X.  I’m certain that he accepted this in our marriage vows).   Any suggestions for how to achieve a zen like calm in this kind of situation would be greatly appreciated.

I could have really used them this afternoon when I had to wait until 4 to get today’s results.  They were worht it, though: 15dp5dt beta = 846.  Doubling time of 44.4 hours, which while not as overachievingly spectacular as my previous 36 hours is still damn respectable.  Progesterone = 306, and yet, I still have to shoot myself in the ass.  Sing with me, “While my butt gently weeps…”

image: alfarman

Every Little Twinge

I had a sort of friend in college who I used to run with sometimes.  She was a sort of friend because we knew each other and worked with each other, but we didn’t hang out that often.  For some reason, though, we ran a 10K together at some point.  We were talking about running in general one day and I casually mentioned the practice of taking pain relievers before a race so that you wouldn’t get slowed down by those nagging stings of pain that inevitably showed up at some point (or points).  She had a very reasonable (but rather smarmy, I thought) response: you shouldn’t take pain relievers so that you can know if you have a serious problem. 

Now, I can’t even think about taking a pain reliever even though my back is in an almost constant state of discomfort.  I want every damn twinge so I know that there is still something going on.  I mash my boobs every 15 minutes on schedule just to make sure they’re still tender.  If I’m really feeling masochistic (or the mashing isn’t having the desired effect), I even do a fair share of nipple twisting to make sure there are still little knives in there.  And, thank goodness I work from home. I don’t think I would ever be able to explain this in an office.

Why do this? At this point, my symptoms are pretty much the only instant feedback I have that this is real.  So, the boobs are still going to be prodded and I’m going to continue to sit in positions that aggravate my back pain because I need to feel it.  If I stop feeling it, I will assume the worst.

I do have some more good external feedback, though:  today is 13dp5dt, beta #2 = 400.  A doubling time of 36 hours.   I have a third blood draw on Wednesday.  Still content, still on parole.  Still not using the p word.

The Un-Announcement

I have read many posts written by fellow infertiles that say what I am about to –  indeed I’ve written at least one myself.  And, very few have managed not to stick a dagger right into my heart.  Those that did manage to insert knife into tender heart were not call-outs, or insults.  The stab came from their suffusion with emotions that I wasn’t able to experience very often – utter, indescribable joy at the happening of that which seemed to be impossible. 

My problem, of course, was that it still seemed impossible for me and so I wasn’t feeling particularly charitable to the person who was able to write of joyful news with undertones of “finally, it’s my turn to get out of his hell hole and get back to a normal life” – whether they were there or not.  I still remember very, very well the bittersweetness (with a lot more bitter than sweet, I’m afraid) with which I read those words.  So, I knew that should  I ever have cause to write a post like that, I would do my level best not to break anyone else’s heart with it.*   

And, that moment has appeared to come to pass.  Wednesday brought a faint second line, Friday a darker second line and today a number: 158.  All this means for now is that I am merely paroled from this maximum security prison of infertility, but still one violation away from being locked back up again.  I will be on my best behavior, but ever mindful that I am not free and clear of the spectre of being sent back to solitary confinement. 

So, you can understand if I will not be throwing out the ‘p’ word – I can’t even bring myself to think it, let alone type it for all of the internets to read.  I will not be shouting with joy and the exclamation points are just going to have to find someone else’s blog on which to reside because they sure as hell ain’t going to be on mine.  

Am I happy about this recent development?  I don’t think that happy is the word I would use.  Happy implies that I’m optimistic about the future.  I’ve burned my hand on that stove too many times to even go near it.  No, I think the best I can say is that I am content.  Content that, at least for now, we have good news. 

I humbly ask that if you are so inclined to respond to this news that you simply share in my contentment.  Above all, please no statements that I’m going to be a mom.  I know all too well that a positive test does not necessarily equal squalling ball of infant in nine months.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled (and blessedly snarky) episode of The Young and the Infertile

* This is not to say that the women who wrote those posts woke up that morning intending to impale me.  They just wanted to share their joy and I was being (and still am a little bit of) a petulant 5-year old.

Bonne Chance

One of the things I really like about my clinic is that they only give you instruction sheets for as far as you have gotten.  So, your stims sheet will only go to retrieval.  Your retrieval sheet with only go to transfer. And, your transfer sheet, will go to beta, the end of the line.  It really helps to compartmentalize the process and not get you ahead of yourself.  And, there are so many instructions on each sheet, it would be three pages easy if they gave them to you all at once.

Today I got the post-transfer sheet complete with the date of beta day*. 

scene'sAnd I got embryos.  Oh, did I get embryos. Four to be exact.

Yes, you read that right. We went from three to four – although, if you want to be nit-picky, we went from two to four, two being how many we transferred last time. 

After my acupuncture session, I headed over with the full, but not really uncomfortably so, bladder to the prep area where Mr. X was waiting.  The embryologist came out and spoke with us about how many contenders were left standing.  Of the 7 from Sunday, three had arrested (as had the four cell, but we weren’t really expecting a robust future there).  We had three beauties left and a nice looking fourth that while not at the level of its three counterparts, was still better put back than left to the freezer, which it probably wouldn’t have made it into.

Dr. Salsa and the embryologist both agreed that given our history, it was not that aggressive to transfer all four and see what sticks.  It also means that we had none left to freeze, but for some reason, that doesn’t bother me.  I think alot of that is because I specifically asked the embryologist if I should be concerned about the quality of the embryos that we were going to transfer since there were no others that made it and he said no. 

So, four it was. No bladder drama either this time, which was a real nice change from last time.  And, I wore the wonderful earrings that my friend made for me. On the left side, it said “Bonne” and on the right it said “Chance”, good luck, which some how sounds so much more encouraging in French.

Bonne chance, little four. 

image: scene’s

*I must disappoint those of you who want to know the date.  I share all kinds of things here, but that is just one thing I cannot bring myself to divulge.

Lucky 7

Do you want to know the lengths I went to this morning to be prepared to receive the call from the embryologist while still being able to complete my morning gardening?

I put the cordless phone in my sports bra so that I could be hands free and still do my thing.  And, darned if it didn’t fit nicely!  I am sure any passing neighbor would have been greatly amused to see me wheeling out the wheelbarrow with my mulch with a white cordless phone sticking provacatively out of the top of my blue sports bra.  I always like to give a good show.

In the end, it didn’t matter because it reached that hour with no phone call that I either had to take G for his walk or he would do without since it is So. Freaking. Hot.  The boy has a fur coat, and anything past about 10am is just brutal for him.

So, I entrusted the phone with Mr. X who was still lounging in bed and warned him that he was required to answer the phone on pain of death.  I departed with the pooch, fully aware and not a little bit relieved that the embryologist would likely call while I was gone.  And he did.

Today’s fert report: of the 10 contendas that we had on Friday, 7 are 6-10 celled and there is a straggler 4 cell little guy that he’s watching. This means that two contendas have been voted off the island.  But, 7 are still going strong with one bringing up the rear.  For now, we are focusing on our lucky 7.  We are still in the game and that is good.    

Transfer (5d) is on Tuesday.  We have been having some discussions amongst ourselves that we want 3 embryos transferred.  Last time we had 2 transferred with zilch result.  I brought it up with Dr. Salsa and the embryologist at my WTF meeting after March’s IVF failure.  At the time, they made rather non-commital noises, but didn’t rule it out completely either.    

Regardless of how many are transferred on Tuesday, that’s when the hardest part begins: The Wait.