The Freak Show

Story of my life.

CD3 Monitoring appointment today. There were follicles in my ovaries on day 3 for the first time in 2 months. Which is wonderful, however…they look more like cycle day 10 or 12. In fact my ultrasound tech was more excited about it than I was. Bless her.

Lets talk numbers.

E2, 426. FSH 3.0 LH 8.8. Normally my RE doesn’t test for LH at this point but after the E2 being so high and FSH being so low, he wanted to see how close I was to my LH surge. In case you have no idea what these numbers mean, let me just say that e2 is crazy high.

This sets a new record for highest E2 and lowest FSH ever. Much less on day 3. Everyone in the office was talking about it, nurses kept coming up to me ” I just saw your chart are you sure its only day 3?” I’ve always wanted to be the person who actually is every single use case scenario. No, actually I’ve never ever wanted that.

If you don’t know what a “use case” is, it’s a software development term  used to define every possible exception, every odd occurrence, every strange happening.

The prodigals right ovary made a rare appearance today with 2 follicles, measuring 24.9, so that’s probably a cyst, and 21.1. The more demure and under performing left ovary had one follicle that is 16.3.

Dr Y asked me point-blank “Have you been taking some drugs that I don’t know about?” I squeaked “Drugs?” He said “Yes fertility medications?” My jaw dropped and I said “OF COURSE NOT. I hate them. Clomid makes me feel like a beast” and he started laughing. For which I gave him the evil stink eye.

I left the clinic with a Lupron shot, to be taken tonight at 10:30, and an egg retrieval scheduled for Wednesday morning at 9:30 which means I will still be having my period during this procedure. Perfect. A whole new layer of humiliation. If it means I get 1 or 2 good eggs, then sign me up. Why not, I said goodbye to my dignity 6 months ago and haven’t seen it since.

I’m amazed that my body just does whatever the hell it wants to and leaves me holding the pink bag, literally, looking like some kind of fertility medication crazy person. As you can see I am willing to embarrass myself to have a baby. Just in relation to monitoring I have endured 20 blood drawings, 20 ultrasounds, half of the building has seen me with no pants on, a handful of people have seen my girly parts more than I have in my whole life, 5 previous egg retrievals, with another on the horizon but taking fertility drugs outside whats prescribed to me? You have to be kidding. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Maybe those Circle and Bloom visualizations are working. Or maybe my body is just a freak show.

I’m happy. I think. I’m a little worried, but I’m glad I don’t have to talk about Kardashians this month.

The Red Thread

CD1

Monday morning I will have my CD3 monitoring appointment.

I’ve been good, I’ve listened to the visualizations and trying to focus about everything being new again. Shaking off the bad cycles and the past, and trying to have faith in my journey.

My diet hasn’t been as strict as it has been in the past months, it’s clear I need to go back to that. I feel better when I’m really eating clean. I haven’t had the best attitude lately. I’m working on trying to change that. Perhaps that too is cyclical.

I need to say thank you to everyone that’s been so supportive of me this last few weeks. I have appreciated it so much. So much more than I can articulate here. Thank you.

The Provera seems to have worked, in that it extended my cycle from 27 days to 31 days. Which was closer to what my cycle was before starting all this IVF stuff.With any luck on CD3, my ovaries will have follicles. I know it’s a lot to hope for, but maybe this month wont be a “Circus” so much as a normal, productive, non scary cycle.

I’ve talked a lot about my failings, my frustration and my fears. I’ve said before I want to let it blow off into the ether. I want calm, serenity. To accept whatever happens and stop fighting myself and therefore everyone else. A clean mind, a clean body, a clean slate.

My friend Carlton and I had a long discussion about the “Cross Winds” post. His conclusion was that while I have mastered the poker face, what I haven’t figured out yet is how to unburden myself. But he gave me a lot to think about, and for that I am grateful. So thank you Carlton, you truly are an incredibly kind and understanding person. Its amazing through this journey who steps up to be a real friend. It was so unexpected. Again Thank you.

If you look at the profile picture on this blog, you see me, at the end of February, the day I found out that my first transfer failed. Poker face indeed.

Which brings me to a proverb I’ve been reading about a lot lately. “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.” – Chinese Proverb

You can read more about it here: The Red String of Fate

A lot of the references to it are in regards to the destiny of your partner, or soul mate, but I’ve read about it referring to children and pregnancy as well.

Faith is a word I’ve struggled with for a long time, I used to joke that “Faith was a gift I wasn’t blessed enough to have been given” I’ve always related it to organized religion, but what I think I am starting to see is that faith is a gift you give yourself.

I dedicate this post to my husband David and to everyone, who like me at times, have a crisis of faith. Try to have faith in your journey. Have faith in yourself.

The red thread of fate never breaks.

Home

I live in an old house. It was built in 1933. The style is called California Monterrey. A style created by an Architect from the East Coast who modified a style of homes he loves, a more colonial style, to incorporate the adobe that was so plentiful in Southern California.

It’s not perfect but this is what it looks like from the front elevation. The wrought iron is horrible. From a true architects/artisan point of view.

My husband is an architect. A rather well published and talented one. Who has built a lot of houses for famous people. A lot of sports figures, and some actors and Hollywood types. He has his own firm. He’s a very successful man. He collects historic architecture books, often owned by famous architects. Its his passion. His first love, the single thing he relates to more in this world than anything. Except his daughter. Who I’ve written about before and who is extraordinary in her own right.

Which sometimes leaves me wondering why it is he loves me.

Because I am of average intelligence, average looks, average everything. Why would an extraordinary person love me? I am not special, I don’t come from a good family or an ivy league education.

In a way, we are two peas in a pod because we don’t have the family bonds that so many take for granted. We have each other. And that’s it.

Through this journey he doesn’t have a lot of words to encourage me because he doesn’t really know how. But he gardens, plants things in the back yard that he thinks will make me see that he loves me. Azaleas, Camellias, a Japanese Cherry tree. Things that go with the Japanese Maples, the stephanotis, the hydrangeas and the gardenias. Even though growing them is hard because the heat of the southern California summer make it difficult. But he endeavors through it.

In Southern California it’s unusual to find a house of this age, or a lot that hasn’t been subdivided somehow. Lots of people have more land than we do, lots of people live in bigger houses and lots of people have bigger yards. And bigger wiener dogs. I adopted him because my stepdaughter loved his long back and short legs and his sad face. She didn’t realize it was all an act, because Ive never seen that face again and he’s never sorry for anything he does wrong, he just shows me his butt.

The avocado tree is over 100 years old. It fruits over 1000 pounds a year. Ask my RE, I’ve brought at least 150 pounds of avocados to his office over 2 visits, because I am not above shamelessly bribing the women that work there to remember and to be nice to me.

From these things a journey is made. It’s who I am, where I live, how I think. It’s what I believe, and hopefully it’s where the baby I wish so much for, will live with us. There is a room ready for him or her, a room  that I painted last summer, whose floors I re-finished, and whose windows you can’t see because the tree blocks it, shading it, during the hottest part of August in a house with no air conditioning.

It’s an old house, with a lot of things I’d still like to change, and where with patience and tenacity we are changing them. Updating them. Restoring them. It’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to a home. And it’s where those who I love most live.

Cross Wind

A long with picking myself up and dusting myself off, I’m going to try some new things. First here’s my update.

I went to acupuncture yesterday, and today I am sore from the adjustments. All the needles were really tender, everywhere and still are today. Dr. P said some of my stagnation has returned. Probably from me being inconsistent with the acupuncture lately, and the fact that I ate bread and refined sugar for the first time in 4 or 5 months last week.

Eating bread after none for 4 months was like pouring flour and water in my stomach. It made my stomach hurt and feel really bloated. I also had my favorite candy, Skittles. Which after 4 months with none, taste very similar to how Pledge smells. Which is a pretty good smell I guess, but taste, not so much.

As a followup to my embryo status, I called today, on day 9, to find out what happened since I was supposed to hear from the clinic on day 7. I was told it was discarded on day 7 due to fragmentation but no one ever called me to let me know. Part of me is angry, because at the very least my clinic should be delivering the news. Good or bad.

I’m coming to realize that being angry at the clinic is really me angry at myself. Angry that my body has betrayed me and angry that I feel like I’ve failed. Again.

I’ve covered how much of a perfectionist I am. I’ve covered how I’m a bit OCD about, well everything. My acupuncturist says “I carry a lot of burdens” I asked him where do I let them go? Where do I put them? He said ” See? You’re looking for somewhere to put them down, you need to stop that and just be.” Which puzzles me because I’m not sure what that means. When someone says “just let it go” I never have any idea what the heck that’s supposed to mean. Go where? And how? Instructions? Anyone?

People have told me that I need to “let it go” my whole life. I get the idea. Kind of. I mean, I want to, I just don’t know how. And its one of those trite expressions that has always irritated me more than it resonated with any kind of real meaning.

After my meltdown earlier this week, Louisa, recommend and article on “self compassion” which I read, and loved, but I’m not sure how to get there. It’s another one of those things that doesn’t really make sense with me. I’m not sure what the difference is between self compassion and self-pity, so again I ask for an instruction manual. Something in English please. Don’t give me those Danish IKEA instructions  because unless there are pictures, I can’t read or comprehend it.

Which brings me to the new things I’m going to try. I’m going to try some visualization techniques. I got a visualization CD specifically for IVF, from Circle and Bloom. They have a host of other programs for fertility, and while I can’t tell you if it works or not, especially since I have only had it for 2 days, I can tell you, its relaxing, and for me now, that’s enough. There is also 35% discount for National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22, through 28th so have a look! They also have a blog, which you can find here: http://www.circlebloom.com/national-infertility-awareness-week%C2%AE-april-22-28/

In an email conversation with Joanne, the founder of Circle and Bloom, she said, “Can I make one suggestion while you listen to the programs?  Try to really let go of the past problems you have encountered.  Think of your body as a clean slate for this cycle and procedure. Put yourself completely into the visualizations and let go. And I do not mean fake positive psychology, I mean honoring your body and knowing that pregnancy is possible.”

Which started to click things into place. I’m not sure I’ve got it completely, but even I recognize that there is a theme here. If I’m not mistaken it’s letting things go. There is no magical solution to everything that has happened in the past, the bad cycles, the mistakes I’ve made, the regrets.

In my mind’s eye, I see it as releasing all those pent-up feelings of anger, frustration hurt and fear into the ether. Imagine black molecules that pollute nothing but you, your body, your life and hinder your ability to have room for anything good or positive. They weigh you down, teach you to be cynical, and not to trust that anything good can happen. I can not begin to tell you how much, I do not want to be that person.

I see it in terms of air propulsion, velocity, gaining enough forward movement that the negative washes off you like a cross wind through a jet-wash. Oh fine. Just toss my overcomplicated analogy and say “water off a duck”.

No matter the outcome of this journey, that’s not who I want to be. So I’m going to try to do some visualizations, positive thinking, learning more about this “self compassion” business and work on forgiving myself. Because ultimately, I think it’s really me I’m mad at.

I want that clean slate so much.

Party’s Over

Ok. I’ve taken some deep breaths. Ive hidden, felt sorry for myself, cried, whined (in my head, no use saying any of this trash out loud), not talked to anyone and now its official. I’M SICK OF MYSELF.

I did speak to my acupuncturist yesterday. His question to me was wary, “Exactly how much longer is this “hiding” going to go on?” It was just a phone call but I could literally see the raised eyebrow through the phone. OK ALREADY, I GOT IT. I’M HAVING A PITY PARTY SUE ME.

But now I have had enough thank you very much. I can’t stand it anymore. Sometimes life kicks you in the ovaries. And yeah, it hurts. No one ever said any of this was fair. So. I’m going to make an appointment with him, hope he doesn’t actually roll his eyes at me, though I couldn’t blame him if he did. I’m going to finish the last 3 tablets of Provera my RE gave me. Not all at once, over the next 3 days. I’m going to kiss that medication goodbye, give it the finger, I’m going to wait for shark week and start the circus all over again.

I’m going to go out on a limb and HOPE for a normal cycle where on day 2 or 3 there are actually follicles in either of my ovaries, and then I’m going to try to connect my head and my body with some visualizations. (which could very well be some kind of new age voodoo for all I know) I’m going to continue doing my best, and somehow, someday I will learn that it’s enough.

I’m going to keep trying, which means I’m also going to keep falling down, making mistakes and because I’m a perfectionist, I will have to learn to stop punishing myself for it. Way easier said than done. This is by far, the most humbling experience of my life. I’m normally an overachiever, and to be betrayed by my body is incredibly frustrating and upsetting. Sometimes I think this is a war of attrition. Who will get tired first, me or the bitch that is infertility?

The bitch may win in the end, but I’m not done trying.

Life and dark

I haven’t posted in a few days, because I’ve needed a break. I didn’t feel good about this past cycle, and the drama surrounding my egg retrieval was almost too much for me. When they called on Friday and said the egg had fertilized and had become 4 cells I was really happy.

On Saturday they called and said, there was a mistake, that it was slow-growing, and was still only 2 cells and since then I’ve been really struggling with some dark thoughts, feelings of defeat and wondering if this endeavor is even worth what I am putting my body, my family and our finances through. The Clomid makes me feel like crap, and I’m now on Provera which isn’t making me feel any better.

While I know “I told you so” is inappropriate in this situation, maybe now you can see why it’s so hard for me to trust.. in general.

Tomorrow the clinic will call and give me a day 5 status on the embryo, which may be good news or it may have arrested. Which is the polite way of saying it died. Tomorrow is also my birthday. Which as I stated in another post, I don’t like. While I am not terribly superstitious, the Chinese word for die rhymes with 4. Tomorrow I will be 44. It’s a horrible number. Statistically, it’s another huge drop off in fertility, should I become pregnant, it raises my chances of miscarriage to 60%, and it doesn’t bode well for anything I am trying to defy the odds on.

For 5 months I’ve struggled to laugh at myself, the absurdity of this process and make light of some of the most devastating personal news I’ve ever heard outside of the death of my father. Today, I can’t do it. It’s not funny. It hurts, I’m tired, I’m frustrated and I feel broken and alone. Tomorrow I might feel better but today, I need blankness, serenity and peace.

That’s not in the cards for me either. Its only 1pm, I’ve been on 2 conference calls, paid my federal and state taxes, called my gyno to ask her to fax my well woman exam results to my fertility clinic FOR THE THIRD TIME, been to the DMV which in Ca will suck the soul out of anyone, had to talk to the tax assessors office about my property taxes, yelled at AT&T for their mismanagement of my U-Verse bill and had to talk to the woman at my stepdaughter Chinese School who could not understand a single word I was saying. I’ve also done 2 loads of laundry, this blog post, some ironing and worked in the backyard.

At some point, I need to come to terms with the possibility of children never happening for me. I’m not sure I can take that on today, but it’s sitting there staring at me, as one more thing to add to the “to do” list.

I don’t do well when I feel like this. I want to hide, from everyone and everything until it blows over or enough time has passed that its safe to come out again. I don’t want to hear anyone talk to me about “well you knew when you undertook this that your chances were poor” I don’t want to hear any of that. I am tired of being the strong one, the one that takes its on the chin, dusts myself off and gets back up again.

I aspire to be someone who is strong and brave and deals with the cards life gives me with quiet strength, determination and courage. But today, I just don’t think I can do it. I just want to hide from the world until the worst passes.

I will update tomorrow if there is good news, otherwise I just need a break.

Just please give me the dignity to get through the next few days.