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?

Procrastinating

I haven’t posted much this week. I’ve been waiting for shark week to begin. I finished the Provera and Estrace early this week and while I have lots of cramps and back pain, no period. So I’m waiting. I never thought Id be one of those people who actually wanted their period to start, because mine are painful, with a lot of um, yucky symptoms and discomfort.

Normally in July we go on vacation, but because of a screw up in schedule (by his ex-wife) we’re technically not supposed to go on vacation until August. I’ve booked the hotel, but not the flights. Because I don’t know what this cycle is going to look like or where I will be within it, I am afraid to commit. For once in my life I am the procrastinator. If I am completely honest I don’t feel like I can go on vacation this year but after what will be 9 cycles of this my husband DESERVES a vacation. Between the pressures from his work and everything we have been through we both need some time to get away and have a change of scenery.

I’m not sure I can do that though. I told him when it looked like my last retrieval would become a blast that if it did I would take August off and we could go and do whatever he wanted. It didn’t. So I’ve been struggling with feelings of guilt since then. Struggling with feelings of trying to be the balance between the IVF crazy and my husband and family. Of what I want, and what he deserves. I still have no clear answer and the longer this period takes to come the less likely it will be that I go on vacation with him and his daughter.

Whats worse is his daughter knows nothing about any of this because if it fails why bother telling her?

It would be the first time we didn’t spend this time together and we are both uncomfortable with it. He says well then we just wont go, but I tell him he should plan on going without me and if it works out I can make it then ok. His face shows his disappointment and while he doesn’t say much about it, I know how disappointed he is. I know he feels like he’s taken a backseat for the last 9 months. I don’t really know what to do. Normally I can make decisions about this sort of thing really easily but I’ve been told by my RE that if I take a break “there may not be follicles when you come back”.

That’s such a definitive and scary statement. There it is. The truth. I’m scared to stop.

Logically I know missing a month shouldn’t be that big a deal. I mean in theory no meds mean my ovaries would get a rest and maybe things would look better in September. I don’t know. The what ifs and the what might happen make me so anxious that it becomes very hard for me to make a good decision.

There is no fortune-teller at my Circus to tell me that it will be ok no matter what I choose but I really wish there was.

Mother of all that is holy. I am a person of science, I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence. I don’t believe in fortune-telling. I believe we make out own luck and we make our own choices.

But here I am still frozen.

If it comes this weekend I can monitor on Monday and maybe still make the vacation window. If it waits longer than that then I’m going to have to find a compromise with my husband because he doesn’t ask for much and I have a really hard time saying no to him.
In my last post I promised a picture. Here’s today’s. It’s a pie chart with my blogging/work/life process. Enjoy.

Retrieval #5

I’m still at the IVF center, having just finished the retrieval.

My husband is currently in one of the “Man Rooms” providing his sample. **snickers** (because I’m 9)

They prepped me, took me into the surgery, did an abdominal retrieval. Everything was fine until he said that they got it, but there was no egg. I got dressed, went to the waiting room saw my husband, started to cry. A few minutes later, the Dr. came out and said “We found the egg”. I am grateful they got it, I hope it fertilizes and if possible will be grown to blast.

I got another goldfish!

Now we wait.

Almost a Kardashians Head

Cycle day 8 monitoring appointment today.

The right ovary was visible and showed one follicle less than 5mm. The left was quiet. In the IVF world when someone says your ovary is quiet, it’s the polite way of saying that there are no visible follicles.

Blood work today showed FSH has gone up to 30, E2 is normal. I think. They didn’t talk to me about my e2. When your FSH goes high it usually indicates bad things for whatever follicles you have growing. A high FSH may keep them from maturing. Dr Y almost put me on a drug to suppress FSH but then decided since I am borderline with the FSH, to continue clomid and to monitor again on day 11 and to decide then. So I will do it all again on Saturday.

I will go to the acupuncturist tomorrow to see if he can help get the construction crew to show up to work and get their job done.

Not bad news exactly, but not good news either, though one is better than none. My ovaries are almost as vacant as a Kardashians  head.

Almost.

Things Worth Saving

I wish I could say that I have a good relationship with my family. The truth is I just don’t. I can’t have a civilized conversation with my mother for more than 5 minutes, neither of my sisters speak to me, so that leaves 2 brothers. One who talks to me occasionally and the other who doesn’t. My father passed away suddenly 11 years ago.

For years I wished things were different. While I seemed to grasp that logically, emotionally there was still a sad little girl who wishes we aren’t so fractured as a family. My husband has learned that some holidays I tolerate better than others and that  some are altogether un-salvageable. Which 1. Made me think I married a pretty awesome guy and 2. Made me wonder how much my sadness has affected the family I have now. It’s a sobering thought. It made me uncomfortable, because my sadness is my responsibility. If I’ve focused on my sadness, then I’ve not been giving my best to the family I’ve created.

I’ve heard that I need to “live in the moment” or “walk out of your upbringing” and lots of other colloquialisms that seemed trite and never really resonated with me. I mean seriously where is the instruction manual?!

I was in my 30’s before I started cooking regularly, because I thought that cooking for 1 was a waste of my time and cooking for 2 was also a waste of my time.  I outsourced my housework, laundry, dry cleaning, and sometimes cooking, because my time was worth so much more than those menial tasks.

A few months ago, by accident, I realized that I save things “for a special occasion”.  Saved them for a time that’s more important than now, where I will be prettier, thinner, happier, more satisfied. Endless tomorrows that never seem to come.

What I suddenly grasped was that life is ordinary. It’s made up of lots of menial tasks, a million ordinary moments, and a few extraordinary ones. There are no special tomorrows. Yes there will be special times, but I think that the point is to see the beauty in the menial tasks and ordinary moments.

Maybe it’s time to wear that outfit I’ve saved, or to use the crystal or china that’s been sitting in the cupboard for years gathering dust. Maybe it’s time to stop looking at the past, and letting it overwhelm me. Time to realize and accept that I’m never  NOT going to be sad about it. Being sad is a normal reaction to terrible events. It’s time to make peace with it, to realize it’s never going to go away, and for lack of a better term, acknowledge that it walks along with me whether I like it or not. Acceptance.

I don’t like cleaning but I love a clean house. I HATE folding laundry, but I love the smell and feel of fresh sheets, towels and clothes. I’ve learned to enjoy cooking because I like to know what I’m feeding my family. These menial tasks, they have become a huge part of my life.

Ideally you get two chances at parenthood. You get the ones who gave birth to you, and the ones you become in whatever form that takes. My past is sad, but I’m aware that I need to put it aside, stop saving things for a “special occasion”, give my fullest attention to my family, and both work toward and allow myself to hope for a better now.

Vampires and Light Sabers

Monitoring Day 10. First blood work then ultrasound. Get it? Vampires and light sabers? Zzzzzzzgghhhttt zzzzzzgghhhttt. OK technically, that *might* not be how they work but its a funny mental image. To me. In case you haven’t noticed the inside of my head is a combination of song lyrics, images from popular culture, and random parts of books I’ve read. I think it’s about 70% song lyrics though.

The phlebotomists at the clinic I go to are actually really funny and nice all of them are wonderful, I’m not an easy person to poke because my veins are never visible, no matter how much water I drink. But they do a great job, plus they laugh at my lame jokes and generally are fun to be around. I mean “vampire” in the nicest way possible Like “Twilight” or better yet “True Blood” . I don’t mean they are like Vlad the Impaler because they aren’t.

After the blood work, I was waiting in the ultrasound room for the Dr to appear, for what seemed like forever but was about 15 minutes, with no pants on. The paper sheet over my business, knees together, because I am nothing if not a lady. Please note, time ticks very slowly when you are waiting sans pantalon.

The prodigals ovary was easily visible today, practically waving..”Why hello there! I have something to show you!” 2 follicles on the right side, 1 small one on the left side. The left has always been kind of an under achiever. It was visible too but more in a wallflower shrinking violet kind of way.

E2 was 321.3, FSH was 10.6, which is by far the highest my E2 has ever been at this point, and my FSH is by far the lowest it’s ever been on day 10. I don’t know if it means anything but I’m hanging an “under construction” sign on my ovaries, until Monday when the retrieval is scheduled. You know those Walmart happy faces with the hard hats on? Yeah. In my head that’s what it looks like. Little smiley faces with hard hats and hammers.

I am capable of giving really great advice, but then I get caught in the details and mired down in the minutia and don’t act on it. I’m going to try really hard to stop driving myself crazy with the “what ifs?” and the “what happens when?” and just try to take one little hurdle at a time.

Lupron shot tonight at 9:30, (Don’t forget to set your clocks back) ibuprofen tomorrow twice to suppress early ovulation, at 5 and 11pm.

I’m not really sure who is reading this or why, but it makes me feel a lot better to write it. It helps me keep perspective, helps me be sane, and it forces me to laugh at myself. This is serious business I’m joking about. It can be heartbreaking, terrifying, full of fear and anxiety ridden and that was just this week! I’m not trying to make light or make fun of that, but I refuse to live my life in despair. My outcomes matter to me. A lot. I’ve had more meltdowns in the last 4 months than I probably have in my whole life. The analytical and logical part of me finds that mortifying. There have been a few moments when I was ready to just chuck it altogether, but I think I’m starting to dig my heels in for the long haul.

Whats funny is, in my life, I don’t talk about how much I want a baby. To anyone. Ever. It was only when I started acupuncture that I think I said it out loud, other than brief discussions about it with my husband and obgyn. At the beginning I couldn’t say it without crying, so I’ve also probably cried more in the last 4 months than I have in the last 10 years. At some point there are 2 people I’m probably going to have to apologize to, but until then, they know who they are. Bless their hearts. Actually now that I think about it, I probably owe an apology to the entire staff at my IVF clinic as well.

Sigh.

One thing at a time.

In my last post I said it helps to have a good support system. I don’t have one. I have the beginnings of one, but I have relied very heavily on the 2 people I was just talking about. I am shocked that either of them still speaks to me. I don’t have a supportive or close family, my husband is a wonderful man, he’s an incredible father to his daughter, I love him like nobodies business and we have a good marriage but his Aspergers means he’s not always emotionally connected. I don’t have a ton of girlfriends, I have one. Shes one of the 2 people I mentioned. The support system is something I’m working on. If you are going through IVF, and have a good support system, thank them the next time you see them. Hearing about people’s estrogen levels, their cycle days, their follicle counts and geeking out on percentages can’t be easy for the someone who isn’t going through this. Thank them for their patience and their care.

And then come back here and be my friend.

What Im listening to:

Pins

Its been a few month since I started acupuncture. I researched, found a guy whose education and belief system I liked. Hes fantastic, really kind and caring. That was in November. The effects were swift, it helped me to relax, and more importantly it helped my body get ready for IVF. I started sleeping better, things bothered me less and generally I was just coping with stress better.

I spent a month or so feeling like I was finally climbing out of a really dark place that I’ve been in for a long time, and by long time, I mean at least 4 years. But finally a tiny flicker of hope, like a breath of fresh air, that I protected the way you cup your hand around a flame in the wind. The fact that the flame was so tiny, made me feel vulnerable, constantly on the verge of tears, raw. I was afraid of it, because while I am sure most people don’t wander around with a thick turtle shell on, in my world it’s never ever been safe not to. Incoming can fall at any time.

A few months ago I had a counseling session with my husband where for the first time we were talking about his Aspergers, coping mechanisms and expectations with the therapist. I felt hopeful, like I was doing it well, understanding and dealing with his brilliance, and his limitations. When out of nowhere he took a kind of right turn, started talking about his daughter, and how I really wasn’t a very good mother because of my upbringing. That I compared my family to hers. That wasn’t true. It infuriated me that he said that, and it sent me crashing to the ground with a hard humiliating thud.

After talking about it later, what he says he was trying to say was how far I have come in the 11years I’ve been in her life. How far away I was from the early times when I really probably wasn’t a very good mother to her. But the nature of his Aspergers leaves him sort of stuck on a single thought, sometimes for a long time. So he never got there.

To be honest, it threw me. I mean walking around in the world, all squishy and raw, it’s just not my strong suit. Add the holidays, my fractured family, that I’m not really feeling great about myself, and the fact that I am anxious about starting IVF, and what you have is a recipe for slime.

You saw Ghostbuster‘s right? That fat greedy, nasty, needy, little monster i.e. me, who is all emotional and vulnerable, has a conversation that spins off in the wrong direction and slimes you.

The slime is just some weird concoction of tears and snot so while not really hygienic it’s also not going to kill you. It’s just yucky. And so are all these feelings.

I’m trying to come out the other side at hope. Because yes I said it. I want a baby. The entire idea of procreation is one based in hope. Hope that you will be successful and that the baby will come out healthy. Hope that you can successfully raise the child without the scars your own parents left, and without too many new ones that you left. Hope that the world is kind enough to this child that it flourishes and doesn’t see the hard times you’ve been through.

At some level you hope it will redeem you. That it will be the truest love you have ever felt or given. Hope that everything will be alright. This is a child’s phrase, but in the end isn’t it what we all hope for? That everything will be alright?

This is not my beautiful life!

From my music references you might have guessed I’m over 40. You’d be right. I am of Advanced Maternal Age. Which I’m pretty sure means my ovaries hobble around with walkers. I married young, divorced young, stayed single a long time, worked on my career, and concluded that I’d never have kids and that I’d probably never marry again. Then I turned 32 and met my husband. He came with his own ex-wife, a daughter (who is amazing) and a matched set of Louis Vuitton emotional baggage. Not like I didn’t have my own. I did. I do. Whatever, you’re missing the point.

We lived together for 5 years before getting married 6 years ago. He wanted babies before we were married and I wanted to be married before we had babies. It was a lot of work blending our styles, our peccadilloes and our family. He’s also Cantonese, and I uh.. am not. Which came with its own set of cultural issues we worked really hard to overcome. Meanwhile the years were ticking by. We finally married in a tiny ceremony in Yosemite, in March 2006, during a snowstorm but, that’s another Oprah.

Things were going a long really well, suspiciously well, for a couple of years, until they weren’t. I’m not going to discuss that here, but I will say that there was a time about 4 years ago when we nearly ended our relationship. Again, we worked really hard to overcome it and put it behind us but it was hard work, painful and it left some scars. Which brings us to about a year ago. When I suddenly realized that Id been off birth control for a couple of years, and we weren’t having any luck getting pregnant. So I went to my regular OBGYN and asked for some clomid, and a referral. Both of which she gave me. I took the clomid, not having the first idea what the hell I was doing, but I took it and for us it didn’t work. So on to the first IVF clinic. Which is where the fertility circus started.

IVF clinic one was brand new, kind of half-finished, and deserted. I met with the Dr alone, because my husband had to work, and the Dr. took a lot of info down, gave me the price list, told me I had maybe a 10 to 20% chance of success and said it was 36k for a package of 3 attempts not including meds, anesthesia and a host of other things. The number(s) and percentages scared me. But he sent me on my way with a package of info and a list of blood work to get completed.

I was happy though because I felt like I was making progress toward completing the family Id always wanted. The family I’d wished for as long as I could remember. So I took my blood work requests to the lab and got started.

A week or so later they called me with results, told me my FSH was too high and that it was past a level where they were willing to treat me. I cried for about 6 hours. They called me back said they had made a mistake and given me the wrong results. Which made me suspicious, and after a few more weeks of screw ups and there were many, most of which involved a blood glucose test I had to have retaken 4 times because they kept writing it down wrong.. we decided not to go forward with them.

I spent the summer depressed and sad, thinking children just wouldn’t be part of my life. I just couldn’t come to terms with it. This was never what I wanted, it was never how my life was supposed to turn out.