Saturday in the Park

 

Last Saturday was my CD2 monitoring for the first time after what appears to have been a chemical pregnancy. It was crampy, uncomfortable, really messy and emotional. I don’t know why. It’s like limbo. It’s not far along enough to even register but all the same, to know my second FET failed was disappointing and sad. It’s also the longest shark week I’ve had in years. 6 days.

I made it through the ultrasound ok, 1 follicle on each ovary, 5mm each, until the tech left the room. At which point I stood up and looked down at the floor at a small thick puddle of blood, and burst into tears. I cleaned myself, put my clothes back on and crawled around on the floor trying to clean up the mess, crying all the while. Mortified.

My blood work was drawn, my E2 was less than 25, my FSH was 17.5 and it will be a natural cycle, with another check on day 9, this Saturday. I’m guessing I might have a retrieval later in the month, and at some point after that an endometrial biopsy. Last Friday I was tested for a vitamin D deficiency, and a bunch of auto-immune issues. I should get the results by Saturday.

I have not had a lot of good things to say about anything so I’ve done my best not to talk. I’ve avoided my husband and stepdaughter, avoided my friends, let calls go to voice mail and just keep trying to put one foot in front of the other. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how to say, I need support. I don’t know how to say, I need love or care or kindness. So I’ve said nothing.

I finally went out to lunch with the husband and stepdaughter today, it almost felt normal, except I no longer finish meals, and I am not hungry 95% of the time.

I guess that’s how you get back to normal, you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 

 

 

 

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August and Everything After

My test results were given Monday morning. I was told stop all meds, in 2 days shark week will begin. It hasn’t. I feel bloated, disgusting and miserable. I’ve been lots of fun to be around. By fun, I mean no fun at all. I don’t smile I don’t laugh, I don’t eat, I don’t care.

This was the week we were supposed to go on vacation. My stepdaughter has been here, my husband has been *sort of* present but work emergencies keep arising. The dog isn’t really getting any better so we can leave him for long periods of time. We tried to go to San Diego for the day today, got halfway there the dog was whining so loud and didn’t want to be in the dog stroller we borrowed from friends.  Mother of Christ I will never ever own a dog stroller. Not that there is anything wrong with them, I just think that they are fundamentally stupid. Disagree? That’s fine. I still will never own one and cant wait to give this one back to its rightful, twee owner. Anyway, we got almost there, it became clear that we’d never be able to do anything much less have lunch or dinner so we just gave up and came home.
Knowing that this was a chemical pregnancy leaves me in a funny kind of limbo. It never was a “real” pregnancy so there is nothing to grieve, right? Except maybe another lost opportunity. But knowing that there is something that started out alive inside of me and died, and is still in there is excruciating. I didn’t find it so hard last time. It was awful last time too, but it wasn’t a blastocyst so I didn’t have such high hopes for it.

The few people I did tell about it keep asking me how I’m feeling. Like I can explain it in words that don’t include expletives and foul language so atrocious even I’d be ashamed to say it. Its easier to just say, “I’m fine” and when they ask follow up questions firmly shut them down with “I really don’t want to talk about it” because I don’t. I just wish I’d bleed this thing out and that it will be over. I want it to be over. I NEED it to be over.

I had to hire a personal injury attorney for the wankster that rear ended me and gave me whiplash and screwed up last months egg retrieval before the transfer.

I guess if I had to sum up my feelings, Id say I’m just angry and sad. But mostly angry. The anger is what is allowing me to continue to function through this, its whats keeping me focused on the next steps forward. Dr. Paul said I just need to put down all the baggage and hurt I carry. I’d like an instruction manual please. If I knew how, I would be more than happy to dump it off anywhere that accepts toxic waste.

Between the problems and cost of the dogs surgery, the car accident and this failed FET, I can safely and with tremendous certainty say, I really want August to be over.

Confession

Confession time. I went silent or mostly silent after my friend told me that sometimes things are better kept to yourself and low-key until after the results are known. I decided she might be right. I didn’t mention it on my blog, or in any of the IVF message boards I belong to, or even the one I created. I didn’t tell my friends, I completely cut myself off. Or well, I almost did.

Friday August 10th I had a transfer of my lesser graded embryo, it was unfrozen Thursday evening, a small hole was made in the zona, and it hatched and expanded fully upgrading itself to a 6AA quality embryo. It was growing so quickly that they called me and asked me to come in early for transfer. According to my embryologist, ” it was ready to implant now!”

The transfer went smoothly, and I decided that this time:

1. I wouldn’t test before hand to find out the results. *this failed miserably*
2. I would actually take it easy during my 9 day wait, actually 10 because my 9th day was on Sunday the 19th and they are closed on Sundays.

As promised my husband refused to help me with the progesterone in oil shot. Which was mostly easy to do and I very much prefer over any of the vaginal suppositories. Until the night when I hit a vein. My bathroom looked like a crime scene, blood all over the floor, all over me all over everything. Yes my butt cheeks are bruised and sore. But I will take that over the suppositories any day. I’ve tried both kinds and for different reasons they are both equally disgusting.

I was so happy to have a rest from the Clomid, so happy to be doing something different, something that felt hopeful. I can’t begin to tell you how much relief I felt at not having to deal with an egg retrieval and just focusing on something entirely different.  I felt so relaxed for a few days. By day 2 I felt some cramping mostly on the right side, by day 3 I had implantation bleeding, which also left me happy and hopeful. Day 4 the cramps turned into pinching and continued for the next few days. By day 6 I was anxious, and by day 7 when most people begin to get positives albeit faint ones, I tested. It was negative. And devastating. I’d had so many symptoms, heartburn, gassy, sore boobs, constant “something is happening in there” feelings.

I kind of melted down at the BFN, but on Day 8 at 4:30am I got up again and tested again. Negative. Day 9 (today) negative.

I suppose that there is a snowball’s chance in hell that the beta will turn out positive, however if it is positive and the number is really low, as in too low for an HPT to detect at this point, chances are it will fail. If there is no sign of HCG in my blood tomorrow, then I was never pregnant and all these symptoms were in my head. If there is some trace of HCG in my blood tomorrow, but not enough to declare a pregnancy then what it means is the embryo probably implanted, and then died. Which indicates a chromosomal abnormality. The logical part of my brain knows that this is ok. Its better to end sooner than later. But the part of me that has had 9 egg retrievals with so little success, and been through so much over the last 10 months is sad.

My gut feeling is that it was a chemical pregnancy and I will soon be experiencing a very early miscarriage. Tomorrow I will know. If I am right, then I need it to be over and to move forward.

I guess if I had to pick a silver lining, then Id say, even though I’ve been on enough progesterone and estrogen to choke a horse and am bloated like a balloon, I’ve lost 7 pounds in the last 5 days.

I don’t have enough distance from it yet to be philosophical, hopefully it wont take me too long to get there.

Symbolism

Lately I’ve been all about calming my mind, understanding what I can and cannot control, trying to take it easy, and not sleeping very well because it’s the 9th circle of hell here. I’ve been up since 4am. I’ve listened to some meditations and tried to go back to sleep and can’t so here I sit. Blogging for the first time in more than a week.

Looking at my IVF journey so far, there is a tremendous amount of it that’s been out of my control. Yes, I’ve been doing what I can to better my outcomes, I eat properly *most of the time* sleep as much as my body allows me to, I get acupuncture and now chiropractic therapy for my whiplash. I’ve had cycles I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and I’ve had 2 cycles that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

In the last 10 months, Ive had 9 egg retrieval’s, 1 failed transfer, created 2 blastocysts, my mother has been diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer. I’ve been in a car accident, my cat of 13 years died, I’ve fought (pointlessly) with my idiot sister, my dog has had a surgery so expensive, we had to cancel our vacation plans entirely. I’ve struggled with faith, trust, hope, believing in myself and wondered if I am doing the right thing for my husband and stepdaughter by pursuing this dream of mine. Its his dream too, but this is my blog. I’ve made some friends for the first time since..forever. Among our/my smaller accomplishments, I’ve taken another Mandarin class, re-landscaped the backyard with the hubs, learned how to bake the perfect croissant (yes it is in fact, the water) and made enough jam to provide every child in Orange County with toast and jam on their first day of school. I’ve made “fertility bracelets” from semi-precious stones and am about to open an Etsy store to sell them. Next month, I intend to learn to knit, and will undertake a complete redesign and architecture of my husband’s business website. If all goes according to plan, my fertility treatments will continue.

I’m a big believer in occupied hands lead to a more peaceful mind. The last 10 months have been anything but boring.

I’ve talked a lot about Chinese symbolism, I suppose that since I am Irish and Scottish I should be taking about Celtic symbolism. Symbolism has always been fascinating to me. It began when I was learning about my background and history, continued when I was learning Arabic, because to understand classical and colloquial Arabic you have to find the roots, to understand the roots, you need to understand the history, to understand the history you need to understand the evolution of language and sociology. All of which leads back to symbolism. In symbolism you can usually find more human similarities than differences. Understanding symbolism to me is like deciphering a message. Learning what the symbol is, what it means, why it means that, and its overall intent.

The symbols of my IVF journey are a few bracelets where each bead has a meaning, each charm symbolizes something, a necklace, my intentions, this blog, my hopes; and the things I’ve learned about myself. The necklace and bracelets are tangible reminders of what I lack, what I need to focus on and no matter the outcome, the person I hope to be.

I’ve learned that some words are very powerful when you need hope or faith or to believe. That offering those words to the person suffering is like offering water to a thirsty person. I’ve also learned to try to quiet my incredibly noisy mind, focus on my dreams and live there for a little while every day. Some days are harder than others but ultimately, I am getting the hang of it.

I wonder, when I reach the end of this journey, what my little symbols and talismans will mean to me then.

Acrobats

The Chinese characters for goldfish are 金鱼. The pinyin is jīn yú and the word jīn yú rhymes with “abundant gold”.  By rhymes, I mean they are the same words with a different meaning, depending on where you put the emphasis. For years we had the traditional 50 gallon fish tank in our home, with the big white and red goldfish with raspberry heads, some big plain gold ones and usually a black one as well. Always 8 of them. Always a good number. The idea is that goldfish bring all the good things into your home. They bring in prosperity, life, abundance, happiness, good health etc. The black fish is there to symbolically collect the negative, and take it on so that it doesn’t affect or impact the family. But they are all still considered goldfish.

After many years as my husbands free time got taken with added work time, he stopped having the energy to properly care of it, so it sits in the garage waiting for the next time he wants to take on a project that will take a few hours each Sunday.

When I started IVF, I called my embryos goldfish. I’m not sure why, maybe it was because I know that goldfish are delicate creatures, who without proper care, are prone to sickness, that you can’t name them or pet them, you can only look at them swimming around and hope that the water/environment is the right balance for them. Somehow embryos seemed the same to me. Without proper care and love in the lab, they don’t survive, and sometimes even with proper care they don’t survive. With goldfish when they are happy the kind of skitter around the tank swimming through the water filter bubbles and nudging into each other. When embryos are happy, they grow, swell, divide and have lots of energy.

It’s a delicate balance that’s always shifting.

Today is a good day, because I can see myself chasing after a toddler calling “jīn yú”, or my little goldfish. It’s an old Chinese custom to call your baby after an animal so that the spirits from the netherworld don’t try to take the new soul away from you. My stepdaughter is still called “little piggy” by some of her relatives. It’s not a pejorative as it is in the US. It means she’s well taken care of, well-loved and well fed. To be clear, it’s a nickname it’s not anyone’s real name. No, I’d never name my kid goldfish. I’m probably doing it all wrong, Chinese probably only call their kids names of land animals and here I am equating a potential baby to a water animal. I’ve probably got this whole thing all wrong.

I’ve had some questions about why no egg retrieval this month. It’s because I had to have a bunch of X-Rays on my back last Friday, and today would have been egg retrieval day and it’s just not enough time between them to not be dangerous.

Cirque du Soleil is in town so I suppose I should come up with something appropriately circus-y. Its been quite a while so ok, here’s my comparison.

Lets talk about those acrobats that fly on a trapeze across great height, let go, and blindly hope, that their partner catches their wrists. That between the two of them they can hold on, finish their routine and neither of them dies. My RE *probably* says that working with me has been like that. That he hopes that, not only do we both successfully live through this venture, but that the outcome produces a child. In case you were wondering, he is the one that catches me and keeps me from falling to my death in this overly dramatic, although also kind of accurate and morbidly funny scenario. There have been times when I am positive he’s wanted to kill me. At times I’ve wanted to kill him too. But we have practiced a lot, and I’m hoping that when the time comes we can hold on. I’ve said lots before. Blind faith is something I’ve always struggled with, its not easy for me, and there is enough baggage in the reasons behind it, to fill a complete Louis Vuitton set of luggage. (Not that Id ever carry anything so pretentious)

Between Dr Yelian and Molly, I know I’m in good hands. I just need enough faith to get me through the blind spots and hope that they can catch me if I fall. If he doesn’t, well, I do have a net, with Jamie, Cindy, Dr. Paul, Suzy and a few others to catch me, but if I fall, it will be hard and it will of course be painful.
To quote my friend Bitter en Zoet from Mother Sugar, “Magical things happen at the Circus”

Universe

CD13 Update.

As of yesterday, I have follicles. Unlike my last 2 visits, where my ovaries appeared to be hollow as a Kardashians head. I hate having to mention Kardashians in my posts. Seriously. Ovaries, I mean you. Do your jobs. Both of you!

Or my second ultrasound could have been an error which seems likely since otherwise my follicles are growing at a Herculean rate. If that’s not the case, well then I’ve got a 14mm follicle that wasn’t there 3 days ago, and a 5mm follicle that also wasn’t there 3 days ago.

E2 222, LH 6, P4.24 Continue Estrace add Prometrium, some other progesterone and a partridge in a pear tree. Don’t ask me whats next, I’m not sure. I am sure I like not having to take Clomid. I’m still a little overly emotional but its nice not to feel like a bloated moose for the first time in a long time. I do know that there will be no egg retrieval this month. Which again, I am OK with.
Its been an exhausting week. As in really upsetting, frustrating, and anxiety ridden. I had an X-ray yesterday for my back injury which is conclusively soft tissue except in the neck area which appears consistent with some type of whiplash. I also had both acupuncture and chiropractic yesterday, and an appointment with the RE.

We picked up the dog from the vet last night, after 2.5 hours of instructions on how to care for him and what we can and can’t expect in the next few weeks. Mostly that its going to be a long road back to him walking, playing, running or anything else using his hind legs and that he may never get his full mobility back. Not to mention peeing on his own, and you know… enjoying being a little buddy. But he’s resting comfortably and happy to be home.

I am declaring a moratorium on stress this week. Starting now. I will be avoiding it and everyone and everything that stresses me out. I just need the universe to co-operate with me for 5 minutes please.

Universe. Do Your. Job. Which is not to give me every single exception or to make me feel like a piled upon person with all my bad karma at one time. I do way more good things than bad things, so lets give this old girl a break this week, actually for the next few weeks if you don’t mind. Please. No really. Please? Otherwise I might actually seek out a Thundershirt for myself. Not my dog. I’ve spent a lot of time cursing the Universe this week, maybe that’s why its mad at me. If I stop calling it names maybe it will cut me some slack. Sorry about that Universe, but if I’m honest, you’ve been really hard to get a long with lately.

I need to change my mindset to something a little more low-key, positive peaceful and restful, starting tomorrow. Scratch that. Actually  starting Monday afternoon. Because Monday morning I have an interview with the NFL. Yes. The National Football League. Don’t ask. I have no clue why I am doing this.

I’m going to try to catch up on some sleep this weekend, do a few errands but nothing major, try to enjoy the weekend and my family and face each day as it comes knowing I’ve tried my hardest.