Ever since I posted about my re-emerging battle with the impotent rage of unfairness and reading the thoughtful and wonderful comments that were left by you, dear readers, I have been giving more thought to the question of why the why still bothers me so.

It is an eternal question, one that I have fought with before.  I’ve read numerous articles about bad things happening to good people.  I’ve heard the, “don’t ask ‘why me’, ask ‘why not me’?” and I still don’t really understand what that has to do with the price of grief these days.  None of these things really helped me get a final answer – they just gave a short lived high of compassion and understanding.

Of course, this is because no article can tell me about why I feel the way that I do. They can suggest reasons or solutions, wrap them up in helpful bullet-point lists with uplifting words and uses of exclamation marks.  They cannot substitute for me doing the necessary mental gymnastics of really sitting down with myself and having a conversation.  Which I have finally done. Here’s the transcript.

Me: Why does this continue to bother you?

Me: I can’t think about it without feeling that it is all terribly unfair.

Me: You sound like you’re whining. Life isn’t fair, right?

Me: Of course I’m whining. Perceived lack of fairness is one of my greatest pet peeves.  To me, the “life isn’t fair” screed only applies to the little things like parking spaces, bad hair days and a genetic predisposition to thighs that rub together.  It shouldn’t apply to the big things in life, especially when I’ve been taught so often that I can accomplish anything.

Me: So how is it unfair, though?

Me: Because I can’t for the life of me figure out what makes them so special that they get to be normal and happy and ignorant and I get infertility and miscarriages and dread.  I think it’s the part where they get to act like getting pregnant without help and then have the baby like it’s all normal and good that drives me crazy the most.

Me: That’s because it is normal to them.  It’s normal to most people in the world.  You’ve been graced, for whatever, reason with the unnormal version and get to obsess over your inclusion in this illustrious group for the whole world to read.

Me: And, it’s my inclusion in this group that I cannot explain.  I can’t explain it going backwards looking at my past misdeeds, I can’t explain it now and I probably won’t be able to explain it going forward.  And I want an explanation because I can’t stand thinking that it is just random or bad luck.

Me: You’re going to need to work on that because unless you become omniscient, you’re never going to know why it happened to you.  And, I would like to posit that maybe that’s ok.  Maybe it doesn’t make you a lesser person than those ladies, maybe it doesn’t make them luckier or more blessed.  Maybe it just is.

Me: Damn, damn, damn.  That is way too esoteric for me.

That Same Old Feeling Again

I really thought I had left my bitter infertile lady days behind me.  I beat infertility to have the most gorgeous, amazing child about whom there are not enough adjectives to describe his awesomeness.  I kicked IF’s ass after a long, drawn out battle on multiple fronts.  I won.

So, why was I pissed off to learn that our neighbor is pregnant again? Or my sister-in-law?  Or random celebrities?  It’s because I know at least with my sister-in-law and neighbor that they just decided to have another one and poof!  No IVFs, no beta following, no waiting for shoes to drop, no miscarriages – in other words, the complete opposite of my experience with pregnancy.  They got and get to have again the happy, ignorant experience that I don’t think I’ll be able to experience.  And, it makes me angry.

The problem is that it has always made me angry.  I initially thought having Rex would fix this, but it only temporarily buried it.  It’s back now and showing no signs of going away.  Part of the problem has always been that I feel like I need an explanation for why infertility and repeat losses struck me, not them.  And, I’ve never been able to come up with one.

Have you?

There Is No Try

I saw the Lady Parts Doctor in October for my annual exam.  I passed  (I studied hard) but not before she quizzed me on important topics such as how much I drink, whether I smoke and of course, my birth control habits.

She didn’t ask whether I was using any birth control.  She asked what form I was using.  I just had to roll my eyes a little at silly Lady Parts Doctor.   She just assumed that I was on birth control because otherwise, I would be poppin’ out those babies like a rabbit.  She assumed that I was normal,  bless her heart.

I was honest.  I told her I wasn’t using any birth control*. I stopped filling the birth control prescription in August.  “So, you’re trying,” she stated, not questioned.  “Not exactly,” I said.  “If something happens, great, if it doesn’t great.”

“In my book, if you aren’t preventing, you’re trying,” she countered.  Touche, Lady Parts Doctor! You got me there! Ha, ha, not really.  I’m still not trying, no matter what magical powers you think Mr. X’s sperm have or how many stories you may have heard of infertile ladies getting knocked up the old fashioned way after Baby No. 1.  (Yes, I know some of these ladies, and no, I do not think I will be one of them. And that is just fine with me.)

We’re not “trying”, Lady Parts Doctor, because for us, trying to have a baby means we go see Dr. Salsa.  We’re not seeing Dr. Salsa, adorable as his Spanish accent might have been and no matter how darned effective he was at getting me knocked up.  Just having unprotected sex with my almost 36-year old eggs and a guy with a low sperm count does not count as trying in my book.   It counts as just having fun and seeing where the chips (or babies?) fall.

So, Lady Parts Doctor, no need to give me that knowing smile when you say you’ll see me in the new year.  I’ll be seeing you in the new year… for my next annual.  Maybe then we can talk about how I define trying.

*Does male factor infertility count?

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.

A Thousand Points of Light

One of the more important differences between Dr. Salsa’s methods and those of Dr. Uterus is that Dr. Salsa places a great deal of emphasis on the holistic and mind/body connection aspects of infertility treatment. He was the one who really recommended that I try acupuncture.  He asks how you are doing emotionally as well as physically.  He gets it and that’s been a welcome change.

flickrolfThere was a time, not that long ago, though, that I didn’t put a whole lot of stock in alternative medicines and theories.  It was a big step for me to start acupuncture.  Still, even after this long road, there are still some aspects of alternative and holistic medicine that I have trouble accepting.  I had one of those moments as I was being impregnated with my two embyros on Monday and Dr. Salsa instructed me to begin talking to them as they were heading down the catheter.  I cheerily agreed because the man had delicate implements in delicate places, but my inner cynic said no way.

It’s not that I didn’t want to do the absolute most to ensure that this works.  It’s that I didn’t want to start thinking about those two little blastocysts as people. Not yet. Because, if neither of them decides to stick (ha) around, then I will mourn them that much harder.  This is precisely why I didn’t want blastshots of the embryos from my previous cycles.  I knew that I would begin to project all manner of human characteristics on them so that should things go awry – and let’s face it, with me that always seems to be the case – it wouldn’t be as hard.

Luckily, I had an alternative that while recognizing the life potentially taking hold of me, didn’t elevate it to the status of personhood that would have required me to have a non-stop conversation with my uterus. 

jesse-gardnerDuring my pre-transfer acupuncture session, the acupuncturist gave me a pep talk of sorts to get through the two week wait.  She warned against the effects of worrying and offered alternatives to allowing myself to get mired in it.  One alternative involved a visualization technique but with a twist.  Should I feel that worry coming on, welling up inside, I should imagine those two little blasts as points of light that grow stronger and stronger with every deep breath and feeling of relaxation.  Kind of like little headlights in my uterus that instead of dimming, get stronger each time the engine turns over. 

So far, I haven’t had much worrying, other than if it is possible for my ass to begin to blend into the couch. But, I have been visualizing those two little points of light and mentally sending them invitations to stick around for a while.  For now, though, I’ll leave that talking thing to the professionals.

images: flickrolf (top right); Jesse Gardner (bottom left)

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

And Then There Were…

Right on cue this morning, the embryologist called with the Fert Report:

Of the 11 retrieved, 7 were mature. Of those 7, all were ICSI’d and 5 fertilized normally.  As of this morning, all five were growing nicely.

We are still very much in the game, but I would be a lying beyotch if I said I was totally thrilled and not the least bit disappointed.  As the numbers creep lower, it’s hard not to see your chances creeping with them. 

But, rather than obsess over this information (which I knew I would do), I emailed Dr. Salsa to get his perspective and boy, did he come through.  He used lots of exclamation points (!) in assuring me that it is normal for some eggs to not be mature and that things are still going very well. ¡Viva Dr. Salsa!

Assuming everything continues to grow, transfer will be either Saturday (3d) or Monday (5d).  

And once again, we wait.

ps – thanks for all of the wonderful thoughts. It is always nice to have such supportive comments to go and read.


Firstly, thanks to everyone for your wonderful words of encouragement for our egg retrieval!

Secondly, I’m going to have to disagree with Nancy Reagan and declare that you should say yes to drugs. Drugs are wonderful, especially the kind they give you right before your retrieval.

Thirdly, I am very happy to report that they got 11 eggs.  Dr. Salsa likes anything above six, so the girls really put out.

Fourthly, we won’t hear from the embryologist until tomorrow, so I get to enjoy the rest of my day being grateful for our wonderful haul. And napping. I’m going to do some serious napping.


Trigger Happy

fangleman2Tonight at midnight, I will pull the trigger on this cycle, and it could not come a moment sooner.  The girls are working overtime in the factory and they are making this fact known with every step, every turn, every sit.  I had forgotten the discomfort of IVF stimming.

But, I am grateful to feel every pang, every move that requires a sharp intake of breath because it means that the system still works and we are still on the train.  And, I’m not thinking about retrieval yet, which means I’m not even going to begin to contemplate whether we’ll have embryos to transfer.  We’ll get there soon, but not right now so I’m not going to worry my mildly attractive head over it. 

Instead, I’m going to don my favorite lounging comfy pants with an oh-so comfortable elastic waist, sit gingerly on the couch and snuggle with Mr. X to watch some tellie.  Good times.

image: fangleman