Flowers for My Ladies

Flowers for My Ladies

 

101

My last post was post number 100. I didn’t even notice.

I went to the RE today for CD7 monitoring, I have 1 follicle still on the left ovary that is 12.1. FSH is lower, *weird* E2 is about where it’s supposed to be.  It’s grown exactly 6mm in less than 5 days with a natural cycle. Which as of this morning is no longer natural. I’m on a new protocol this month, where instead of Clomid, I’ve been prescribed Tamoxifen. Which I am only familiar with as a cancer drug. Because my mother took it for 10 years, before being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. That scared me a little, however it seems my RE has discovered that it acts (stimulates) similarly to Clomid but doesn’t thin your Endometrium or cause your LH to surge unnaturally. I monitor again on day 12 (Tuesday) to see whats happening. I imagine, since I’ve done this 10 or 11 times before, that I will trigger, and get a retrieval at some point next week if all goes well with the new meds. In 10, 11, oh who the hell knows, how many retrievals, I’ve never had a dominate follicle come from my left side. Ever. I’ve gotten a follicle or 2 from it before but they always wind up being the immature ones.

My left ovary is all wallflower-ish and under achieving. Like me in High School. Kinda. It’s the one that’s most easily visible and isn’t in a weird place like my right one, but it’s generally kind of lazy. Who else has 1 lazy ovary? How do you get it to be less lazy? Tell it, “You’re grounded until you produce a follicle?” Seriously, is there anything anyone can do to wake the lazy one up? Throw ice water on it? Poke it? What causes one to be lazy? Is there a difference in the egg quality?

Its been a busy week. Remember how I took Chinese III (Mandarin) a few months ago? We this semester I decided since I’m at home alone a lot at night, to take Honors Economics and Honors Political Science and Chinese IV, for fun. Note to self: Stop making decisions while hopped up on fertility meds or in the middle of a depression after a failed FET. Most people would avoid making decisions during times like that. Not me. Bring on some school, and some homework, and some new pencils, and SHUT THE FRONT DOOR this is expensive! Yes. I am an idiot.

My new “plan” is actually going pretty well so far. I’m avoiding the people and the “friends” and the situations that don’t add something positive to my life or my day-to-day. Instead, I’m trying to focus on friendships and classes and activities like Yoga, that make me feel better about myself. I’m also trying to avoid added stress and while the classes “might* have been counter intuitive, I have to admit it does feel good to have my brain engaged in something intellectual. Add a little more exercise and I should have a good recipe for how to better manage the outside stressors in my life.

Since I had to get a scrip filled from the Dr, I stopped at Costco this morning after my appointment. Where I got the scrip filled and decided to bring home some flowers for no other reason than because I felt like it. Usually there has to be an occasion. But not today. Today I just want to be surrounded by pretty, happy, peace and serenity, and there doesn’t have to be a reason. Right?

Insulation vs. Isolation

 

Today was my Endometrial Biopsy. It went well, I got nervous driving over and my heart was racing by the time I walked in the door. It hurt. About the same amount as an egg retrieval does but it was bearable and I didn’t cry or make any noise during it. I’m not sure I was breathing though, and when Dr. asked “You ok?” I squeaked “yes”. It went fine. Finish Estrace and Provera, wait for shark week, and we will see you on day 2 or 3 at which point we will decide what to do next. I will be ready.

I’ve made a new plan. Because planning for things I can’t control is super useful. Not it’s not actually groundhog day, I have said that before. But before you tune out, this plan is different. This one is stuff I actually CAN control. Imagine that? Me getting smarter over time. I’m shocked at myself really.

Isolation is what I do when I’m miserable. Go off like a wounded animal to lick my wounds in private. Or you know, die. It’s not good. It’s really not healthy as I have done such an exceptional job of demonstrating over the last few weeks.

i·so·la·tion [ahy-suh-ley-shuhn, is-uh-] noun

1. an act or instance of isolating.
2. the state of being isolated.
3.the complete separation from others of a person suffering from contagious or infectious disease; quarantine.
4. the separation of a nation from other nations by isolationism.
5. Psychoanalysis . a process whereby an idea or memory is divested of its emotional component.

I’ve decided to keep working on my support system, try to nourish and grow those friendships, focus on myself and actually be selfish. *Yes. Dr Paul, I know you’ve told me this for almost a year, but I am stubborn and have a thick skull, doy.* Also I’m 9 and still use words like “doy” in fact, I think we need to bring it back.

The growing the friendships and support system part is Part I. Part II is: I’m  going to start insulating myself from things that add additional stress to my life in general. My husband and I talked about it again and he said he’s willing to help try to support me better. I’m getting rid of a lot of eejits from Facebook, avoiding things and people who upset me, and trying again to think pretty pink positive thoughts.

You have to give me credit for persistence, effort and tenaciousness. I keep trying.

Insulating yourself from negative influences, or things that influence you negatively isn’t a bad thing. Right? I mean I’m not saying I’m going to avoid my life, but I am going to stop trying to take on, or responsibility for every single thing alone, and I am going to try to stop isolating myself when I’m feeling particularly dark. It’s new for me, I’m not good at asking for help, but if I have learned anything in the last month, it’s that I am sure I will make mistakes, and its a step in the right direction.

I will decide when this is too much for me. I am still here, a little bruised and shaky, hoping to dust myself off and keep fighting toward my ultimate goal. A family of my own.

I heard this song last year once, and last night again. Its beautiful. And peaceful.

 

Regularly Scheduled Programming

Its been a few weeks since my FET failed, where I felt like a huge failure.  That my life was one huge fail, and that it seemed like I would never do anything but fail. Not exactly a confidence booster. Not great for people like me, who don’t sleep on a good day, and don’t bother eating much when its a bad day.

I spun off into more feelings of failure, a very quick weight drop, a brief stint at the Urgent Care for extremely erratic and low heart rate, *34bpm* at its lowest, my baseline is between 70 and 74. Low blood ox, low blood pressure, a visit to my GP, more blood work, my retrieval cycle being cancelled, my first visit ever to a cardiologist, and the temporary installation of a heart monitor. Which I wore for 4 days and promptly took off, because it was itchy, sticky, giving me a rash, annoying and was ruining my clothes. Yes. I am a shitty patient. You could see it through my clothes. I looked like the first stage of becoming a borg. I’m not sure what that means. It’s what my friends husband said. He’s one of those Star Trek people.

I once dated a writer from Star Trek the Next Generation, but I kept pointing and laughing at him so we didn’t last long. Maybe it was because I didn’t really consider that to be a job. Or maybe I didn’t respect him enough. Whatever. I digress and that’s a story for another day.

Its Monday, my Endometrial Biopsy is on Wednesday afternoon, and I feel better. Not so dark and dismal as say 2 weeks ago. Not great really but better. I am functioning, eating, so you can stop yelling at me, and you know who you are. I’m taking my vitamins, trying to be healthier in my choices, which in my case means eating at mealtimes, and choosing fruits, vegetables and either chicken or fish.

Am I scared about the biopsy? No. I feel sort of wary, even though I’ve never had one before, and I don’t know anyone that’s ever had one before, I’ve faced enough “new stuff” each month of my IVF journey that I’ve survived, and I will survive this too.

Here’s my “take away” from the last 2 to 3 weeks. Note to self: Stop saying you’re not going to react badly when something bad happens to you. Because you can’t cure normal. Feeling shitty after the August I had, was not only normal it was a rational response to a series of really bad things happening.

As far as advice for people who try to support the person going through the bad things? Stop saying things like “get over it” and “just move forward”. It’s unfair, it’s unkind and frankly as a society we spend too much time trying to invalidate or medicate our way out of our feelings. Give me some time to breathe, give me some time to grieve. These feelings are hard, and piled up, they are overwhelming.

I’m not saying this to anyone in particular. I’m just saying it. *To be 100% clear, Paul, I’m not saying it to you*

I also had a couple of people who said “So are you going to quit now? I think its time you quit”. To you, I quote Theresa from “A Journey to the Finish Line” I don’t quit when I’m tired. I will quit when I’m done. I will decide when I’m done.

The things that helped me the most were hugs, listening when I was overwhelmed and crying. My husband reaching for my hand in the car. Touch, I think helped the most. There is a saying in Arabic that “you must hold on to the person who is grieving to remind them to stay with this world”

Arabic is general is very poetic and dramatic, so yes its an overstatement, but touch was what helped remind me of my responsibilities to the people who love me, and who I love back. To those of you that reached out and touched me, Thank you.

Now to abruptly switch subjects because I’ve reached my mush quota for the month, and because for all my talk about feelings, I’m still uncomfortable with a lot of mine. I’m happy summer crap tv is over. Because the sheer volume of it I’ve watched is mortifying. I can’t wait for the smart shows I usually watch to come back over the next few weeks.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

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.

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.

Friends

I had my cycle day 2 appointment and my stats were as follows.

FSH 6.4, E2 82.2. No visible follicles on either ovary. 5 months ago this news would have terrified me, but now, I will take it. For some reason my protocol is different this time. No Clomid, no stimulating drugs. Yay! But I am being given 2 tablets of Estrace a day with no monitoring again until day 10. Usually I monitor on day 8 but again OK. Dr Yelian, my RE called it Hormone Replacement Therapy, which I kind of prickled at, since I associate that term with Menopause but he assured me no. So let’s get on with it and see how it works out. Next week I will know more. He said not to count on an egg retrieval this month. Weirdly I’m OK with that too. If it happens then great, if it doesn’t, well It’s not a complete break but at least there is no Clomid involved.

Now as I’ve become known for doing, I’m going to abruptly switch subjects.

I’ve always been the woman who has more male friends than female ones. It worked for me for a long time. I find some of the cattiness and pettiness’ of my gender sometimes hard to take. I hate when women agree to go to lunch together and someones pipes up “I only ate a salad I don’t want to pay the extra 2 dollars so can we all just get separate checks?” among other things. I am a girl I know that were not all like that but its one of those things that’s always bothered me.

Consequently when I began this journey I had one girlfriend, that I’ve known since high school, with 6 kids of her own, and she was living in Canada, so we couldn’t even talk on the phone most of the time. But I leaned on her, she said all the wrong things, meant well, and I had to forgive her for that because fertility is obviously not something she’s ever had an issue with. Shes been an incredible friend to me though and I wouldn’t trade her for anyone. I had my acupuncturist who I leaned rather heavily on, and he’s tolerated way more than he should have ever had to.

I’ve spent the last 9 months really trying to make girlfriends. At my age, its hard. But without some kind of support I’d be writing this post from a padded room somewhere. My blog has helped, its given me a starting point as to explain myself and my situation. Slowly over the last 9 months I’ve made friends, real friends who I respect and love and would totally break a nail for. Women who struggle in their own right, with fertility, their weight, making their lives into something they are content with living. Strong women who are on their own journeys. Some the same path as me, and some not. Intelligent, educated women who know better than to be judgy or petty. Supportive women who can handle my mood swings and my frustration and sometimes anger and fear. They are there for me, and I am there for them, on their own journeys none of which are easier than mine.

Much to my joy, I’ve also become friendly with some younger women, one special one who is going to help me learn to knit, who loves animals and is on a break from blogging. We will conduct these lessons via skype because she lives in upstate NY and I live in CA. Another young one who is taking her LVN boards soon and will then go back to school for her RN, and another who is just struggling in general about who she wants to grow up to be.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, and I do believe that’s somewhere around middle school, I have a group of girlfriends that I really adore. Who defy my own petty judgements of women and who make me laugh and who I’m thrilled to cheer for and who cheer for me. It’s nice to get out of my head and do things for others, little things that I hope in some small way brings joy to their lives and reminds that they too have a friend, and make them feel a little more loved.

You know who you are…

It’s such a relief. To have a support system that forces me not to isolate, that can take me out of my head, and who make me laugh like a cackling maniac. Its not easy. But its possible. Just like getting pregnant.

Do I get discouraged. Yes. Do I get tired, yes! Do I have fears, yes! Do I let it define me? No. Do I let my sadness over not being pregnant become my new normal? No.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get all worried and OCD about things. The loss of control in the process is one of the things I struggle with most. That and displaying the Queen Victoria like she was the crown jewels. I still find it mortifying. There are at least 5 people in my REs office I’m not sure I will ever be able to look in the eye.

This month I will do my best to walk bravely into the great unknown and hopefully come out the other side with something good to show for it. That being said, I don’t know what that something good might be.