Friday, January 30, 2009

More Funny Business

Infertiles know there's nothing sacred about conceiving with ART. I've had to expose myself to so many u/s techs, doctors, REs and nurses over the past few months that I don't even worry about what I wear to the doctor's office anymore. I mean, I'm going to be naked half the time anyway, so who cares. There is no room for privacy, let alone bashfulness.

I thought I had been doing a stellar job of relaxing while exposing myself in more ways than one, and talking about the most intimate details of my life. But the universe had a surprise in store: I discovered this process can also be... funny. Now I know "humor" is not generally a concept associated with visiting any medical professional, but trust me. When you're infertile, you take humor wherever you can find it.

I haven't found much to laugh about lately, and the last place I anticipated cracking up was accompanying hubby to an urology consult. I mean, can you say, "a-w-k-w-a-r-d."

In search of a second opinion, hubby and I visited a remarkable, intelligent, wonderful board-certified, Harvard-trained, specialist who - with all the compassion and warmth in the world - also found ways to sneak the funniest punch lines into the conversation. But this doc, as amazing as he is medically, surely missed his calling as a standup comedian.

So, while hubby is in the other room still fastening his belt, the doc comes back into his office where I was waiting and says to me gently and compassionately, "The men have it so easy when it comes to IVF." He paused, and with impeccable comedic timing, says, "So, you should really bug him about going for a prostate exam soon." I about died laughing, and all I could get out was, "There is justice in the universe after all."

This doc may be a man, but he sure as hell gets it, all of it: the stress, the injections, the violation of the female body. And he may be focused on guys all day long, but he has the ability to see the world from a woman's perspective. The world sure needs more specialists like him.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Farming Out

It's quite the concept to farm out the most significant and life-changing experience to a group of REs, embryologists, nurses, pharmacists, and goodness knows who else.

I've known for more than a decade that IVF would be in my future, but the closer I get to it, the more I'm mourning the loss of conceiving "normally" (whatever THAT means!) I'd like to think I'm totally over the lack of romance this process entails, but maybe I'm not. I'm really resentful that it will take an army of specialists to make an embryo in a petri dish, and that it might not work despite everyone's best efforts. Dh's sperm won't even get to "swim" to fertilize the egg, for heaven's sake. It'll be shot straight into the egg, if we're lucky enough to have eggs retrieved for ICSI, that is.

Some days, I just want to shout from the rooftops, "Why does this have to be so $%&* complex and expensive?" And then the internal whining, "It's not FAIR!" Ugh. I know, I know life's not fair. But honestly, IF just sucks in so many ways. Sometimes I want to give up before I've even tried, because of all the "what ifs." It's beyond daunting, and running away seems like a perfectly reasonable response.

Healthy - With a Vengeance

In anticipation of the upcoming IVF cycle, I've forced myself to start exercising again. Getting into my gym clothes and onto the treadmill seems to be the toughest part of the exercising routine. Especially since all I really want to do is cry and sleep, in that order. Or, on a good day, sit on the sofa and read every blog post and forum about IVF experiences and protocols (which often leads to more crying).

Once I'm on the treadmill, however, the anger and frustration with, and injustice of, IF could keep me walking, forever. Spinning infinitely and seemingly getting nowhere but exhausting myself... it closely resembles how I feel about this infertility path, actually.

I've recently been on a total health rampage. Exercising with a vengeance, drinking daily vitamins, eating better, fresher, healthier meals. I suspect it has little to do with the honorable goal of preparing my body for IVF and a possible pregnancy and more to do with exerting control over the 1% of my life I still have a semblance of control over while the rest is slipping away into this infinite pit of IF despair.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Totally Normal

At last, some hopeful news on the IF front. My RE called today and left a voicemail saying my FSH of 3.4 and estrogen levels look "totally normal." I don't recall when the last time was that I heard any good news on the reproductive front. I've been expecting the worst - it's a coping mechanism learned through many disappointing interactions with physicians and surgeons these last few months.

But today I could actually hear my RE smiling as she left the voicemail, and it made me relax instantly. Finally, things are looking up despite the Endo, the surgery, and my age.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caffeine Highs and Lows

Cranky doesn't begin to describe it. I've been slowly cutting back on my favorite cup o' Joe in the morning in anticipation of IVF cycling, and today, I bravely kicked the habit completely.

Frankly, if not for coffee and chocolates, what else is there to look forward to in a life consumed by doctor's appointments and work? But my Starbucks and Illy addiction is sadly no more. I tried replacing it with a cup of tea this morning, but blegh! Suffice it to say that it's NOT the mama.

I used to favor tea over coffee every time. In fact, I never used to touch the caffeinated stuff. But after I met dh, the coffee ritual became a sacred part of our mornings.

Giving up coffee is a small enough price to pay in the pursuit of a baby, I guess. After all, if we're going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a petri dish miracle, the least I could do is give up coffee. Dh drank coffee this morning and beer tonight... It's not even worth giving him the evil eye, but hey, *somebody* has to look after those precious, expensively retrievable sperm.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Waiting Game

We’re just waiting. Waiting for FSH results, waiting for hubby’s appointment, waiting to make an appointment at the local clinic, waiting to cycle. I almost lost it when hubby told me he might have to reschedule his appointment because of his work schedule. With everything hinging on this one appointment, I wish he’d just get it over with so we can move on to IVF, and fast.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are My Eggs Cooked?

I drove to the nearest Quest lab this morning to have my FSH, LH and Estradiol tested. Let’s hope my ovarian reserve looks as good as my RE said it did after looking at the “many follicles” during my u/s. I can’t handle more bad news right now.

If my FSH is over 9, then the news is not only bad in terms of ttc, obviously, but it’s a double whammy because we won’t qualify for the shared risk insurance option down the line. My mom was 39 when she gave birth to my brother, and I’ve read that one’s mother’s fertility clock can be an indicator of one’s own ovarian reserve. I’m cautiously hopeful.

A poster on one of the forums mentioned a clinical trial in NYC. I completed their pre-screening evaluation, so we will see if anything comes of it. They are comparing different IVF protocols. My RE reckons I’m at risk of OHSS, so mini-IVF wouldn’t be objectionable. I wonder if MF is reason for disqualification. We shall see. I wouldn’t mind a free IVF cycle.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Visit From the Finance Fairy

I spent the entire day obsessing over our finances, but think I’ve started to figure it out. I applied for my free credit report from
and applied for a free trial from in order to get my credit score. Then looked into a gazillion credit cards, and finally settled on Capital One’s because it had a 0% interest for 12 months, plus a low APR thereafter.

With our savings ($4,000), my pretax flexible spending account for healthcare ($1,800), our employee retirement contributions ($1,000/month), and the extra money we usually put into our mortgage, we may just be able to afford MESA and have enough for the downpayment round of IVF #1, interest-free. Not having to apply for financing for round 1 would be wonderful. We’ll put the meds on our credit card, and pay it off within 3 months. Then, early next year, we’ll claim anything above 7.5% of our adjusted gross income from the IRS, including mileage, hotel, and other medical expenses, like dental, vision and co-pays. (Minus the $1,800 for the flex spending account, of course.)

Ladies and gentleman, we have the beginnings of a plan. Thank you to everyone who posted financial info on all the various IF forums, this “plan” could not have materialized without input from those in the trenches, and my friend, Google.

The idea is to do as many cycles in one year as our credit, time and health will allow, because then at least, we can recoup some of the cost. Since we’re self-pay, we have to do this smart. Not only that, my Endo will grow back, and we therefore have a window of one year of “optimal fertility” to work with. And then there’s my age egging us on, so to speak.

If IVF #1 doesn’t work, our round 2 plan is to buy a $20k shared risk plan (if I qualify), or to go to Cornell. It’s too early to know, but I guess our decision will be informed by how MESA goes, and how I respond during our first cycle. It kills me that the economy is limping along just as we embark on this journey. Our timing just sucks. I wish we had started when I was younger.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


My fighting spirit is back this morning. I have PMS and I’m pi$$ed off, so give a wide berth. No gold digging surgeon, no matter how amazing he is, will keep us from realizing our dream. I scour the infertility forums for more information on MESA costs and find nothing useful. Come on Dr. Google, throw me a bone.

Someone posts saying their urologist charges $4k for MESA and he’s outside NYC. Glimmer of hope. Dh makes an appointment while I look into a fertility clinic an hour’s drive away. I like the local clinic's shared risk and no-interest packages, but I hate their stats. I guess you get what you pay for. We have to at least try before we give up. It makes sense to exhaust the cheaper options before me move on to the big guns.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Clock Stops Here - And So Does the Buck

On our way home from work, hubby tells me his doctors fee will be $10,000 for MESA. That doesn’t include the anesthesia or hospital fee, or any other incidentals. I walk through the door to our house, my beautiful watch that hubby bought me for my birthday two years ago breaks and falls from my arm as I’m unloading the groceries.

Dh meant to replace the watch for my birthday, but never got around to it. It hits me that I can’t even afford to spend the $100 to replace the watch because we’re saving every damn dime for this ridiculous roulette that is IVF/ICSI. So, no birthday present or Christmas celebration, just the surgery, and the painful realization that I’m a year older, still have no child(ren), and awaiting my next period.

I throw the stupid broken watch against the wall, slam my bedroom door out of sheer frustration and disappointment, and weep for hours until there’s nothing left. It’s not the watch, or disappointment around the holidays, or PMS, or hubby.

I'm so angry all the time now. Each setback, health, financial, or emotional, hits me harder than the previous. I have no reserve. I’m hovering between despair and disappointment. My dream of a family is slipping away. We take a few steps forward only to slip farther back. And I feel he just doesn’t get the urgency. I’m constantly “on” him to make a doctor’s appointment, find out information, request medical records, get the questions together, etc.

There’s just no proactiveness in him and it drives me crazy. He’s totally laid back and I’m all type A control freak. Usually, that works for us. He mellows me out. But clearly not when it comes to IF. I’ve sat back for a decade thinking he’ll step up to help me figure all of this out, because he’s the one who had the failed VR. But I’ve finally realized it’s going to be up to me.

So step away slowly. I’m driving this trainwreck now.