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.

So Wrong on So Many Levels

tantekFirst Response, that purveyor of hope and warm fuzzy images of normal fertile ladies, has a new product on the market that tests a woman’s fertility.  Apparently, it “accurately” measures your Day 3 FSH giving you a picture of the quality and quantity of your eggs.  I’m not going to address the fact that FSH is in some circles considered to be an inexact measurement of a woman’s egg quality (note that I didn’t say fertility – a woman can have the eggs of an 18 year old and still be unable to get pregnant due to other issues such as tubal blockage, uterine abnormalities, hormonal issues, etc) nor am I going to address what I consider to be First Response’s blatant use of this product to freak women the f*ck out and make them think that if they have a high FSH, they are permanently screwed. 

No, I’m going to address how they have marketed this scare tactic because it is a real smack to those of us who are fertility challenged.  They have put together a commercial for which I was not able to find a link, but that has been transcribed here

artnooseMy blood started to simmer at the first line, “The moment we pass from womanhood to motherhood, we cross a threshold“.  At least it could be read to include women who become mothers through adoption or even women who provide additional parenting as aunts, etc.  But, what is this magic threshold? Does that mean that you cannot be a mother and a woman?  Or, is it like the field in Iowa where you walk into the corn never to be seen again? What of those women who cannot be mothers or choose not to? Are we left behind in womanhood never to cross this magic Rubicon?

If only that were the top of the mountain.  Instead, it was only the tip of the infuriating ice berg. Here is the real blood boiler line:

Fertility is a woman’s most sacred birthright.”  What. The. F*ck.  Are you shitting me?  If this is the case, then I’ve been totally cheated!  I want my money back!  I’m going to call my parents and tell them that they really screwed this one up. 

 I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how ridiculously awful this is.  It’s as if the most important thing that a woman’s most prized possession is her ability to reproduce, to repopulate the species.  (Notice that there is no mention of man’s most sacred birthright (or as the commentary so eloquently put it, “[s]trangely, I never see Viagra commercials arguing that knocking people up is a man’s most sacred birthright.” That would be sexist, right?)).  And, what of those of us who are infertile? We apparently lack that most sacred of birthrights, and have little else that can be nearly as important as this. We are, in essence, lesser people because of it.  Is it really necessary to beat on infertile women to sell a product?  Have we reached that low?

As unbelievably an eye-roll inducing a statement as it is, I know in my heart that my fertility, or lack thereof, is not a measure of me anymore than it is a sacred birthright.  I cringe at the word birthright anyway because it has so many connotations of people getting things that they have done nothing to deserve, although, frankly, I’ve thought this about quite a few fertile ladies in my day, so many they aren’t that far from the mark.  No, fertility is no more a sacred birthright than expecting that you will have blonde hair or blue eyes.  First and foremost, it is a choice, one of many that women get to exercise now that we have moved out of the Dark Ages.  Women can be mothers, but, they can choose not to be and still have fulfilling, non-spinsterly lives. 

So, shame on First Response for trying to repackage fertility into something that should be seen by women as a thing that they are entitled to or, by extension, must exercise.  

images: upper left – tantek; bottom right – artnoose, both used through Creative Commons.

The Word: Knee-Jerk

I never understood the purpose of the medical exercise of tapping one’s knees with a rubber hammer in just the right spot to make the lower leg involuntarily swing.  All I remember is that it made me giggle and seemed to be a very Marcus Welby, country doctor kind of exercise. This is just one of many reasons why I am  not in the medical profession.

Jeff Youngstrom

The exercise, though, is useful in one respect, namely that it reminds us that there are many stimuli out there that make us have that knee-jerk reflex.  For me, the stimuli is the gratuitous mention in thoroughly inappropriate places or situations or completely unrelated discussions, articles, etc., that someone is either expecting or has children, or – worse – grandchildren.  The knee-jerk reflex that is produced by this stimuli sounds much like the childish game where you add “in bed” to the end of every sentence except my phrase is, “and you don’t” or “you aren’t” or “you never will be”.  I think an illustration would be helpful at this point.

I was at a professional conference today listening to talks by learned professionals in my field.  It is a wonderful respite from the world of reproduction since the topics that are discussed do not in any way have anything to do with the reproductive luck of the speakers.  In fact, there is an unwritten rule that it is rather tacky to mention one’s family in one’s biography that accompanies one’s talk.  So, when I was reading the biography of the upcoming speaker, I skimmed the mind-numbing recitation of honors, awards and other blather and skipped to end where I actually look to see if the person is tacky enough to break the unwritten rule and mention that on top of all of these wonderful professional accomplishments, they have managed to procreate. 

This guy did not disappoint.  Not only did he plug that he has two children, but they were ‘well-adjusted’ children (which apparently is not the norm in our profession – news to me!) and, he is a first time grandfather to twins, for whom he also thoughtfully provided their birthdate. OMFG. It was the motherlode of stimuli. My synapses were firing, my head was hurting, my inner reader was adding “and you don’t” to the end of every nauseating sentence.  And, inevitably, I was feeling worse and worse because I was making myself feel like I was less of a person because I didn’t have these things that were so obviously important to this guy.

I didn’t use to be like this.  With some things, I am still not like this.  I am still confident in the choices that I have made and happy and satisfied with them, ups, downs and all.  It is only when there is that statement of obvious pride at the sheer act of procreation or the gratuitous mention of one’s reproductive status which is obviously placed for no other purpose than to elicit the “ooh congratulations” response, that my knee jerks right out of its socket.  They say, “I’m a proud mother of two!” and I hear, “And you aren’t!” Because, to me, it’s as if the person knows that I have not been able to do something that was so obviously simple to them and they are rubbing my face in it that they can do this one seemingly simple thing. I know that’s not what it is, but that’s what it feels like.

I know that this guy at the conference doesn’t know me. I know that he didn’t include this information because he woke up this morning and decided, “It’s a beautiful day to remind Mrs. X that she is infertile and barren, ha ha!” I know that he just wrote it because he wanted to let others in the profession know of his pride at having raised well-adjusted kids despite his profession and has been rewarded with twin grandchildren. I know in my head that he didn’t put this blurb in there because he wanted to hurt me. But, that doesn’t stop me from hurting at the reminder.

I am not advocating that people suddenly stop bragging about their children around me or decide not to sneak into conversation that they are expecting because they have every right to be happy and proud (and geez, what else would people talk about with each other?). I know that this is my problem, not the world’s.  I know that I am generally happy with who I am and where I am even if I haven’t been able to achieve everything that I want. I know that the measure of my success in life is my own yardstick and not someone else’s.  I know that I can turn off the knee-jerk reaction because even though I may not have that one thing, I have a full life and I don’t need to focus on what I don’t have to see what I do.  But, my knees are twitchy things and it will take some time to reprogram the system.

image: Jeff Youngstrom

Panic! At the Bunco

Monthly Bunco has been a relatively safe outlet for me. I can meet up with lots of women, enjoy girly conversation and not be worried about surprise pregnancy announcements or bulging bellies since all of the women are the parents of at least teenagers and are much more interested in discussing what the people down the street are doing (or not doing) to their lawn.  Monday night, I presented myself on the steps at the appointed hour for our monthly get together and greeted friends right and left. It was shaping up to be a typical low-key Bunco affair.

I made my way to the kitchen and commenced dishing with my neighbor down the street about something really trivial and stuffing some awesome cheese into my mouth.  I was simultaneously eyeing up the bar and debating if I wanted a red-wine hangover the next morning. 

This train of thought came to a screeching halt when something waded into my peripheral vision, that looked an awful lot like a large, swollen beachball of a belly.  It broke the waves ahead of its owner.  It had that slow movement favored by people carrying a lot of weight in the front.  Sure enough, it was a pregnant lady. At my bunco. WTF?!

If you could have taken a picture of me, the imge would be me with very wide eyes, with hand bearing cheese on cracker frozen in place on trajectory to meet open mouth that is now open for another reason.  In other words, I looked like a freaking deer in her very ample headlights.

I unfroze, ate the delicious cheese, and headed out to the other room away from this paragon of fertility.  I debated for about 20 seconds if I could excuse myself from the festivities.  But, I decided that this was a good challenge: could I stick it out, have a good time and manage to avoid her?  I was going to find out. I decided right then and there that neither this interloper nor her giant stomach were not going to run me out of my bunco night!

But, she kept following me, being introduced by the Judas of a neighbor who brought her along to meet the girls.  I developed a sudden interest in the backyard, answered the door when the doorbell rang and tried to get the hell away from her.  I got trapped in the kitchen , though, with her and some of the ladies where the first question asked of her was, “So, when you are due?!” Ugh. Preggo declares herself to be 7 months along but, “huge” – her words, not mine.   This started the ladies who had popped babies previously to chime in with their stories of being huge and ending up with twins.  Preggo dispels any notions that she is carrying two – “We only saw one heartbeat!”  Double ugh with knife stabbing. 

Not a moment too soon, it was time to go to the tables. Mental notations of where Preggo was heading were made and I went into the exact opposite direction.  I proceeded to eat too much chocolate while beginning what would turn out to be a spectacular losing streak (10 out 12). 

Losing on the fourth game at a given table means that you have to move to another table. Winners get to stay.  Needless to say, I lost the fourth game and headed to my second table where I breathed a huge sigh that Preggo was at the other table, at least for the next four games. 

Luck, that bitch, ran out on me again, and I lost the fourth game meaning I had to go to the third table where, you guessed it, she was sitting, enthroned.  This was easily one of the hardest things I have had to do in a long time.  I sat at the table and actually conversed with a very pregnant lady who I am pretty certain got that way the way most people do.  And you know what?

It wasn’t that bad.  We had a decent conversation. She made a few gratuitous preggo references, but all in all, it wasn’t terrible.  I am at that point in my infertility journey that I have a very visceral, usually negative reaction to visibly pregnant women, but sitting there with her, I was able to see her as someone I could relate to, even if she is pregnant and I am not. I was so proud of myself that I stayed there, I talked with her and was able to forget that she had what I did not.

And, I realized, walking home that night, that it hurt to be near her, but it was a self-inflicted hurt. No one else was involved.  She did not come to Bunco to flaunt her luck in my face. Even my neighbor who invited her (and knows some of our IF history) didn’t invite her to make me feel like shit.  And I felt such relief at this realization.  The power of the Preggo on me is only that which I give her.  And, I didn’t give her more than a centimeter.

I enjoyed my evening and I enjoyed meeting her.  I enjoyed deciding that my evening was not going to be ruined by her and I was going to have a good time even if she was there.  And I did.  I was a winner after all.

Got Cliché?

My infertility reading – other than blogs – has been rather haphazard.  When we were first diagnosed, I read just about anything I could get my hands on, partly to learn, partly to not feel as if I was the only person who was dealing with this.  Some books helped. Others, not so much.  As we got deeper down the rabbit trail of treatment with more and more experiences behind us, I found my own voice and also found that most books just kept saying the same thing.   

41lcshl2b3jl__ss500_By the time Waiting for Daisycame out, it was late 2007, I was two and a half years into the journey, with one lap, two HSGs, 6 IUIs and one spectacularly awful miscarriage behind me.  I was no longer interested in reading the prepackaged success stories (I did it and so can you!) that most books seemed to be or the books about miscarriage that never seemed to give me much comfort (this onestill grates me).  I also had never heard of Peggy Orenstein and wasn’t particularly interested in what she had to say on the topic of infertility. 

After my second miscarriage, a thoughtful commenter directed me to her article about how the Japanese mourn miscarriage.  It helped me a great deal, but still I wasn’t ready to take the plunge and read about how she eventually went on to have a child. As we got back onto the rollercoaster again for IVF #2, though, I began to feel that familiar tug to read more of these completed stories about infertility.  I decided that my wait for Daisy was over and it was time to pick up the book.

It didn’t take me long to finish. Peggy Orenstein is a beautiful writer, and her experience is so raw. She lets it all hang out – every ugly emotion, every flaw. More than a few times, I caught myself nodding knowingly at the sentiment that she put so much more eloquent words than I ever did. I also found myself shaking my head at her and her husband – neither should win the award for Best Communicator in the Marriage.  But, I digress.

I stayed with Peggy – all through the multiple miscarriages, the donor egg fiasco, the failed adoption.  I was nearing the end, anticipating the denoument , assuming that Daisy was the product of adoption.  Do you know what happened, instead? If you haven’t read the book, you might not want to read any further. I’m just warning you now.

She got pregnant on her own. Over 40. With one ovary.

1418417514_dae7a872c2My first reaction at her final triumph in reproduction was not joy.  It was not hope that if she could do it with one ovary over 40 and after multiple miscarriages, so could I.  It was anger.  I was angry that she ended up fulfilling the Cliche To End All Infertility Cliches. She had become Charlotte who got pregnant when she decided to adopt.  She was Tina Fey’s character in Baby Mamawho ended up getting pregnant with a freaking t-shaped uterus after her surrogate faked a pregnancy.  She was Nicole Kidman who’s dip in magical waters made her fertile.  It’s the “When All Else Has Failed and You Have Reached the End, You Will Get the Pregnancy and Baby that You Always Wanted” Cliche.

I bet you are thinking right about now, gee, Mrs. X, bitter much?  A lot of this anger comes from the fact that I still haven’t managed to have my Cliche moment and I don’t know if I ever will.  But another portion of it comes from the fact that a great majority of the books, movies, etc., out there that touch on infertility give an unrealistic portrayal of how many people end their battle with infertility.  Most end it either by adoption, getting pregnant through ART or deciding to live child free.   It’s a rare couple that after many, many years of heartache and pain have a child naturally. 

But, we are suckers for a happy ending.  And, I am genuinely happy for Peggy.  I’m also sorry that she had to go through as much as she did to get there, but I’m thankful that she wrote this book about it because for a while there, I saw a lot of myself in her.  Just expressed a lot better.

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.”

Um, NOT HELPING.

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 Letter, An Update and An Award

A Letter

I have resisted the temptation to blog about Oc.to-Mom.  What could I say that others have not already? Why glorify and give her even more of the attention that she so desperately craves?  Because I really have something to say. And it is best put in a letter.

Dear Lady of the High Order Multiples:

Normally, I would congratulate you on the overwhelming success of your IVF.  I mean, most of us just want one, but to get 8 in one shot! You have instant teams for just about any contact sport.  And, the taxpayers of the great state of California should be really thrilled that they are now the proud supporters of your 14 children.  But, for me, I just have one thought:

You are not helping.

You are not helping those of us who are going through IVF right now.  You are not helping those of us who are using it because we don’t have any children, let alone six. 

You are like the guy who tried to blow up his shoes over the Atlantic and now we all have to take off our shoes every freaking time we want to get on an airplane.  You are like the guy who put his hand underneath the lawn mower, got it chopped off and sued so that now we all have to read the stupid sign that says, don’t stick your hand under the lawn mower.  Because you just had to have all six embryos put back when you already had six children who you could not support, and because you just had to have all eight babies, never mind at what risk to them, we are all going to be under that much more scrutiny.  We are going to be given the looks, asked the questions, implied that there is no right to experience pregnancy and child birth and you know what? there are thousands of children looking for homes, so why don’t you just adopt?

You are not helping the rest of us who are still struggling to even start a family.

I hope in my heart of hearts that you can make this work.  I hope that those babies are not at a deficit for your overwhelming desire to have as many children as possible.  I hope that you haven’t totally screwed it up for the rest of us.

Sincerely,

Mrs. X

An Update

In a little less than an hour, I will have my third date of the weekend with the Follistim Pen.  Can I tell you how much I am loving the pen? Holy moly. It makes the Menopur mixing of my past seem so… 90s.  Dial and jab! What an amazing little invention.  And, I was not able to win over Nurse Chipper to let me do them in my upper thigh rather than my stomach, but it turned out that this was not a problem. I haven’t had any problems with the Follistim injections in the tummy region, so it must have been the Lupron.

I’m already beginning to feel that familiar twinge. Down there.  You know, the one where the girls start perking up and creaking awake after their Lupron-induced hibernation.  Good times.

An Award

To end on a high note, Loribeth at The Road Less Travelled has bestowed an award upon moi:

honestscrap5

The Honest Scrap Award, given to blogs in the opinion of the giver are brilliant in content and design.  Thanks, Loribeth! Your check  is in the mail.  As with these things, there are rules. 

 1) Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

2) Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Scrap.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

3) List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

I’m going to do this in reverse order.  Here are the 10 things:

  1. I have a ginormous headache right now and it is not being helped by Mr. X playing that infernal game with the sound on high!
  2. I hate bananas. Always have. My parents tried feeding them to me and I just spit them out.
  3. I hate liquer in desserts.
  4. Wow. Two hates in a row. Um, I love taking pictures.
  5. I took a three hour nap on Saturday and still slept for 12 hours Saturday night.
  6. I’m thinking about wearing my awesome orange dress tomorrow.
  7. I’m procrastinating because next I have to iron.
  8. This headache is really awful.
  9. I think I will mention to Mr. X that maybe getting headphones would be a good idea. For him.
  10. I’m addicted to Chapstick.

Unfortunately, the rest of the list is going to have to wait since I have to take some Tylenol and go iron. In that order. I live for pleasure.

Don’t Make Me Use My Angry Infertile Voice

haxed

I’d like to think that even in the midst of this struggle, I maintain a certain level of self-control and politesse when coordinating with Dr. Salsa’s office.  They are just trying to help us realize that elusive goal and I try to let them know that I appreciate that by being polite and courteous.  There is hardly ever a need to raise one’s voice or be just plain rude. image: haxed

But, this credo was sorely put to the test this week.  On Thursday, to be exact.

When I was at the office for my whirlwind of a visit last Friday, Nurse Chipper (as in she’s always chipper and happy and actually chirps) promised that she would have my IVF schedule ready by the following Wednesday.  I called her on Thursday because I hadn’t heard anything. 

I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, that she had forgotten to send it to me the day before, that she was just finishing it up and would have it over to me in no time.  What I didn’t want to hear is what she told me:

Nurse Chipper: “So, I was looking at the calendar [WHICH WE BOTH WENT OVER AD NAUSEUM ON FRIDAY] and it looks like the lab will actually have to close the week that we had looked at for your retrieval, so we are going to have reschedule your cycle.”

Me: Silence. Inside, I’m beginning to feel that heady mixture of anger and disappointment.

Nurse Chipper: “See, the lab has to close for one week every three to four months for an inspection and this just happens to be that week.”

Me: “And they can’t move it?”

Nurse Chipper: “No, it depends upon the inspector. And, I knew that they were going to close it, but I just didn’t know when. But, now I do know.”

[What I wanted to say: THEN WHY THE F*CK DID YOU POINT OUT THAT WEEK AS BEING A GENUINE POSSIBILITY AND NOT EVEN MENTION THAT THIS WAS A POTENTIAL ISSUE!?!?!]

What I did say: Really big sigh.  “I have the worst luck in the world.”

And, then it just got worse.

Nurse Chipper: “We can move it up so that we have a retrieval the last week of February.” [WHICH IS THE EXACT WEEK I TOLD YOU MR. X IS OUT OF TOWN, IN ANOTHER TIME ZONE FOR THE WHOLE WEEK.] Or, you have to wait until the end of March to begin stims and have a retrieval in April.”

[What I wanted to say: I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS BULLSHIT!!! HE IS GOING TO BE SO PISSED BECAUSE HE SCHEDULED THAT TRAVEL ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT WE WOULD DO EVERYTHING THAT REQUIRED HIS PRESENCE IN MARCH!!! AND NOW THAT I’VE DECIDED THAT I’M READY, AND OH YEA, I STARTED THOSE G*DDAMN BIRTH CONTROL PILLS ALREADY, I DO NOT WANT TO WAIT UNTIL THE END OF MARCH!]

Me: “Like we discussed last week, Mr. X will be out of town that whole week.  But, let me talk to him and see if he can move his travel schedule. I also really don’t want to wait until the end of March to get going.”

“Nurse Chipper: “Ok! Talk to him and then give me a call back so that I know where to put you on the calendar.”  No sorry, no I should have told you that this was a distinct possibility when we went over the calendar on Friday, no oops. 

And, when I tried to call her back that afternoon with questions that Mr. X and I had about scheduling, I’m informed she’s gone for the day. At 1:30pm.  I appreciate that you work on Saturdays, lady, and I don’t begrudge you the right to have your time off. BUT FREAKING TELL ME SO THAT I DON’T GET EVEN MORE FRUSTRATED AT EVEN MORE INFORMATION THAT YOU AREN’T GIVING ME THAT IS KIND OF IMPORTANT.

How did it end?

Continue reading

Vidi, Vici, Venipuncture*

*I saw, I conquered, I got poked for blood. Again.

Yesterday, I took my first solid step into the land of IVF Number 2.  I plunked down the Mastercard, attended the IVF Class, gave up the first of many vials of blood and, (bonus!) got an SHG to start things off with cramps a bang.  I was out of there in an hour and a half.

First things first. We made the payment for the entire cycle on the plastic and I had a very inappropriate laugh with the financial coordinator about how many points I was earning on the conception of my hopefully future child.  It was then that she just had to share with me that she had IVF in December and was pregnant.  Talk about a double sucker punch – pay five figures AND get a pregnancy announcement. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me for one second while I say something very rude: “WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU SHARE THIS WITH ME, ME WHO YOU CAN EASILY SEE FROM THE CHART IN FRONT OF YOU HAS HAD TWO MISCARRIAGES, BOTH AROUND THE GESTATION THAT YOU ARE AT NOW? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, WITH THAT STUPID GRIN ON YOUR FACE AND VERY ANNOYING ASSUMPTION THAT I MUST BE HAPPY FOR YOU? RULE NUNMBER 1 OF WORKING AT AN INFERTILITY CLINIC, HONEY: NEVER, EVER SHARE YOUR REPRODUCTIVE HISTORY OR STATUS WITH PATIENTS, OR MORE PARTICULARLY, WITH ME. IT’S BAD ENOUGH THAT I’M GOING TO HAVE TO WATCH YOUR BELLY EXPAND.  I WISH YOU WOULD HAVE NOT TOLD ME AND JUST LET ME DECEIVE MYSELF THAT YOU WERE GETTING FAT.”

Ah, I feel better. 

I didn’t have much time to collect myself before I was called back and told to pee in a cup and whip off everything below the waist.  I stood there for a minute, looking very stupid, and said, “but I thought I was here for the IVF class?”  Apparently, it was decided without my knowledge that yesterday was also SHG time!  At least this gave me very little time to ponder what a terrible experience with an SHG I had had before.  So, I went and peed in a cup, knowing that it was likely for a pregnancy test which I could have told them would be as white as snow (“UPT was negative,” the nurse chirped).  I delivered the precious cargo to the nurse and went in to the exam room to do my favorite strip tease.  Flat on the exam table, I waited for Dr. Salsa to appear and amused myself by looking at the screen on the ceiling to see what the dildocam looks like when it is not dildocaming (pretty much as incomprehensible as it does when it is dildocaming). 

Dr. Salsa promptly arrived and looked like…. Ted Kacz.ynski?  Apparently, he has decided to start growing a beard.  I looked at him with furrowed brows and successfully fought the urge to point out the similarity.  I also subtly shook my head at the coincidence: when I first started seeing Dr. Uterus, he too had the Mountain Man beard thing going on.  He shaved it off about half way through our relationship.  Now Dr. Salsa has begun to grow the Mountain Man beard.  What is it with my REs and beards?

Dr. Salsa was damned efficient.  He had that catheter in before I could say “hey, where are you sticking that?!” and then it was time for the dildocam and saline action.  Everytime he would push in saline, he would say, “and now, some cramping” and he was so not kidding, and I would yelp.  We did this twice and then, thankfully, he stopped squirting water into my lady parts and merely took a perfunctory looks at my ovaries which he pronounced, “photogenic.”  I would think that he was trying to pick me up except that he already had me on my back. I’m easy that way.

With the SHG (or “mapquesting of my uterus” as the nurse called it) finished, I headed over to the patient education room waiting to learn all that the IVF masters had to teach me.  Pretty quickly I realized that it was as I had thought. It was IVF 101, or what I would have loved to have heard the first time around but is no longer information that I didn’t know.  Some highlights though – they do a lot more monitoring than Dr. Uterus did and they will work with the schedule so that all procedures will be done when Mr. X is in town.  I also learned how to use the Follistim pen and that they will allow a subcutaneous HCG injection, rather than the intramuscular that Dr. Uterus swore was the only thing that would work. 

I then gave up the vial of blood to test for exotic diseases and I was released. 

So, I’m feeling ok about getting started again.  There is enough that is done differently – different protocol, different medicine, different doctor, different procedures – that mentally I don’t feel as if this is just a repeat of our last IVF and may not automatically be a repeat of how it ended.  Right now, that’s about all I can ask for.   Well, that, and for the lady at the office to NOT share her news with any other patients.

You Gotta Pay to Play

merrick-monroeBack in August, on the immediate heels of my spectacularly failed and drama-infused FET, I gave about a milisecond’s thought to doing another IVF in the fall and immediately shivered the full-body shiver of revulsion.  I knew that while my body might be ready, the rest of me certainly was not.  The thought of walking away from Dr. Uterus had already started to germinate, I had fresh memories of a particularly horrific and prolonged go round with the progesterone shots, including one 30 minute hyperventilation session in the bathroom before I was able to do the deed, and I just wanted to be normal again.  I didn’t want to count follicles or fret over sperm counts.  And, I certainly did not want to to go through beta watch and OB scans of doom, because to be perfectly honest, that was exactly what I thought was going to happen. Again.

And, I secretly wanted to test the theory that Mr. X and I could actually get this thing done on our own and achieve the Holy Grail of Infertility: a spontaneous, honest-to-God two-people-only-involved pregnancy.  A baby for free!  No beta watch crap, I could go in for an OB scan when I was ready and even if things didn’t work out, I would know that it would be possible for us to get the job done on our own.  Naive, I know. Just like all of my other notions of this getting and staying pregnant business.

ian-muttooThen my cycle started getting really whacked out, a fact which I attribute to Dr. Uterus’s parting gift of two months of Estrace and progesterone during the mock and real FET cycles (which, while making me lose 5 lbs and dropping a dress size was awesome, was so not worth the rest of it).  The Clomid of November too whacked up my system despite producing some beauties of follicles and it’s just now getting itself worked out.

So, rather than being the fall of procreation, it’s been the fall of “what the f*&% is up with your uterus?” And, I’ve come to the realization, that we will likely have to do another IVF to have a solid chance of being able to utter those magic words: “I’m (so not even in an altnerate universe) pregnant.”

We still have until February before things gear up again and I start taking the birth control pills.  But, given my new whacked-out-ness, who the hell knows if we’ll even have a glimmer of a shot without the high tech solution.  And, I’m back at where I started: the girl with no current discernable problems other than two back-to-back monosomy miscarriages which may or may not be the result of spectacularly bad luck who apparently cannot get pregnant on her own but has no idea what to do differently this time to make it work. 

images: merrick_monroe, ian muttoo