Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update after today's transfer - pregnant until proven otherwise

I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, too excited to sleep, but it might have been a side effect of the progesterone too.

The acupuncture session prior to transfer helped calm me down significantly. Thirty minutes prior to transfer, I took a Val.ium the clinic provided. At least, I tried to. I was alone in the waiting room, retrieved the Val.ium from my purse, and as I opened it, the pill broke into a million little pieces. A largish chunk fell into my purse, some of it was on the palm of my hand, and some powder was left in the pill wrapper. Argh! Gone was the serene calm. I was laughing out loud at Murphy, my constant companion. There I was, licking my palm like a junkie, frantically scratching through my purse to find the little orange getaway nugget, and dumping the rest of the pill wrapper contents onto my tongue. I'm so together.

Needless to say, the Val.ium didn't do much of anything. I don't know what I expected, but I didn't feel a sudden wave of calm or floatyness, nor did it help to relax my muscles (which was the primary reason I was persuaded to take it, because how would I even know to relax my cervix?)

We were soon dressed in OR garb, me proudly sporting crazy rainbow toe-socks this time around. The RE came in, loved the socks, discussed the embryo quality with us, and gave us a picture showing all seven embies. Apparently the embryos weren't doing as great as we had hoped. Although they are all 5 days old, just one made it to blast. The other 6 were all cleaved embryos that may or may not make it to blast.

The RE advised transferring three to four embryos. We were comfortable with three, given my age and the embryo quality. It was the hardest decision to make, because my heart was set on transferring two at most. I'm well aware of the risks of High Order Multiples, but I was swayed by the REs reasoning. The embryologists will continue to monitor the other 4 embies, and that should give us some indication on how the three in utero might be developing. Even though this is not the outcome I had hoped for, I'm still cautiously hopeful as even less-than-perfect embies can become healthy babies.

The RE left us alone for 10 minutes while they prepared the embies, and hubby and I had some space to just absorb the moment. Dh whispered beautiful things to me, while I clutched the photo of our embies. It was perfect.

The transfer itself went very well, and was over much quicker than I had anticipated. The speculum is obviously pretty uncomfortable, but my RE thankfully moves quickly. He pressed down very hard on my tummy with the u/s wand to see my uterus more clearly, but it was still a heck of a lot better than having the d.ildocam inside me every other day. A few deep breaths, hubby squeezing my hand, and then it was over.

The RE had me lay back for another 15 minutes, during which I tried to imagine the embies implanting over the next few days and growing inside me. This is as pregnant as I've ever been.

I went for a 2nd acupuncture session and fell asleep during the session. Calm. Content. I slept for a few hours when we got home too, following my doctor's instructions to "be a couch potato this weekend." Now THAT I can totally do.

Dh has been on pampering patrol - bringing tea, snacks, and pineapple. He will be making dinner tonight. Gotta love men who get it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Purchasing pregnancy tests, and being ready

A girl has to be ready for any and every eventuality. I'm nothing if not a Type A personality who has to be in control at.all.times. I have to know the unknown, and plan the unplannable. This sounds a little Zen, but you know what I mean, right?

I don't have the embies in me yet, and I've already decided to POAS. Those of you who have been in the trenches with at-home TTC, zillions of IUIs and multiple IVFs won't believe this, but I've NEVER purchased a pregnancy test in my life. Dh had a vasectomy before I met him, so there was really no reason to ever suspect that I might be pregnant. Even after the vas reversal, we knew we couldn't get pregnant.

So there we were yesterday: hubby and I pouring over pregnancy tests in the grocery store and debating which ones to get. We were giggling like high school girls buying con.doms. We finally settled on an e.p.t. Certainty, the ones that show "Pregnant" or "Not Pregnant" digitally. I know I'd drive myself crazy with the "line" ones... and I need more crazy like a hole in the head.

To check whether the trigger is still in my system, I might just get a few el cheapo ones from the D.ollar Store to do daily checks from 6dp5dt onwards. It will give me something to look forward to every day, being the obsessive gal that I am.

The kitchen cupboards are stocked with comfort food, the pineapples are ripe, the pregnancy test is at the ready on the bathroom counter, the chores around the house are done, and the clinic-supplied Val.ium is ready and waiting for tomorrow morning.

Bring it.

Embie update ahead of tomorrow's transfer

We are still a go for a Day 5 transfer tomorrow morning. I'm so excited! I'll be going for an acupuncture treatment directly before and after transfer, and I'm looking forward to being in the moment, and the relaxation that acupuncture will bring. All week long, I've had this inexplicable longing to have my potential babies safely and snugly in my uterus rather than in the cold petri dish. They're not even in my ute yet, let alone born, and I want to snuggle them already.

I've always had a very strong maternal instinct, and knew that I wanted to have kids from a very early age. In fact, I remember telling my mom when I was 5 years old and she was nursing my younger sibling, that I wanted to have kids someday too.

Of the eight embies growing in the petri dish, one arrested yesterday, but seven are still growing. I felt sad and disappointed when I heard that one embie didn't make it. It's somewhat irrational, but I'm already connected to these potential babies.

The 5 Day wait has been excrutiating. I myself was born 3 weeks early, I nagged my mom from age 4 that I wanted to go to elementary school, and this trend continued throughout my life. I graduated high school at age 17, had my first degree before I was 21, and my second degree when I was 22.

I'm the world's least patient person and can relate to Generation Y wanting everything NOW. Good things come to those who wait? No way, man, early bird gets the worm. Yes, yes, early worm gets eaten, I know, but let's focus on the bird, 'kay?

The only upside to a 5 Day transfer is that it has cut down the number of post-transfer waiting days. My clinic's first beta test is two weeks after retrieval, which would be 9dp5dt.

Aah, how far I've come - I remember the first post about IF and TTC lingo and not understanding what the heck those letters and numbers meant! For the newbies: 9dp5dt stands for 9 days post 5 day transfer. Thanks for the rapid education by immersion, everyone.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Honest scrap award acceptance speech & more

Thanks, L, of Baby Making Journey-fame and Gil over at the
The Hardest Quest
for tagging me with an Honest Scrap Award.

It's my first blog award ever, and although I probably don't deserve it, I'll accept it anyway. I'm totally chuffed. I'd like to thank:

1) The Academy

2) Stirrup Queens, Lost and Found, and ICLW for connecting me with the IF community

3) The IF community for blogging so eloquently about the impact of infertility, the obsession to conceive, and how life comes to a grinding halt when you're TTC.

4) My parents for not pressuring us to make grandbabies

5) My fertile friends for their compassion

6) My "pet" squirrel and chipmunk for the daily entertainment outside our living room window, and my dogs for being so goofy that I forget I'm supposed to be sad, angry or both.

7)Oh, and of course, unlike Sean Penn who made a cute speech but forgot to thank Robin Wright-Penn, I'd like to thank the love of my life, my soul mate, my buddy, my long-suffering Dh, for everything and then some. Mostly for having sperm, but he's useful for other things too. ;-) Honey, if you're reading this: don't.

The rules:
1) Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

2) Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with "Honest Scrap." Well, there's no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

3) List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

And the 7 winners aaarrrreeee:
1) Mustard Seed Baby
2) Invitro Veritas
3) Strong Blonde
4) Infertile Myrtle
5) Yes, We're One of THOSE Couples
6) Inconceivable?!
7) Baby OCD

Here are my ten honest things. Honestly!

1) I'm scared that I've waited too long to have a baby. Having a family is the only thing that matters to me now and I'm completely, utterly obsessed by it.

2) Flying reminds me that anything is possible. I love the rush of a plane becoming airborne, but after 9/11 I'm anxious every time I fly. I have taken to the skies in a hot air balloon, a military helicopter, a twin engine plane, a prop jet, small chartered flights, and of course, large commercial airliners.

3) Traveling is my number one passion. It feeds my soul, and energizes me.

4) I'm drawn to fire like a moth to a flame. Big bonfires, small cozy fireplaces, BBQing with real wood. I love watching a contained fire, and find it meditative and relaxing. My fertility clinic has a fireplace in the waiting room... Good sign, no?

5) I dreamed of a big church wedding all my life, but Dh and I were married in a very small ceremony, on a secluded, pristine beach, with just our closest friends and family. It was perfect, but sometimes I wish I hadn't done my own hair.

6) I'm afraid of getting lost. I can read maps, but have no sense of direction.

7) I have met Nelson Mandela and the XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. I know this sounds pretentious, but it is true. Both of these encounters were in very small inner circle gatherings, where I had the opportunity to speak to them. Their humility and faith in mankind despite their own suffering astounds me.

8) I believe our loved ones in the afterlife are sending us subtle signals. There have been too many weird coincidences to explain it any other way.

9) Genealogy intrigues me. I've traced my mom and dad's ancestors back 13 generations.

10) I have never been to South America, Antarctica or Australia, but have set foot on the four other continents: North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The fertilization report is in!

The embryologist called with the best news this morning. Of the 13 eggs, 9 were mature enough to be injected with sperm (ICSI). Of those 9, she said, "Eight beautiful embryos are continuing to grow wonderfully."

They have scheduled a Day 5 blastocyst transfer for Saturday, February 28. Beta will be Monday, March 9. Hubby and I are both over the moon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Home after egg retrieval and PESA

Thank you, all the loyal blog followers, and ICLWers, for leaving such supportive, encouraging and wonderful comments on my blog. It carried me through the anxiety. I'll be commenting soon, but first, here's what you've been waiting for:

Today was a good day. Instead of the predicted 8 eggs, the RE retrieved a whopping, surprising 13 eggs. I'm beyond ecstatic, because they also found sperm during Dh's aspiration. No motile swimmers, but sperm nonetheless.

Since the little tadpoles are being ICSI'd 1:1 into the eggs this afternoon, we could care less that they're not motile. Ladies and gentleman, after 11 years of waiting, we now know we have both sperm and eggs! We will receive the fertilization report tomorrow, but I have a feeling we'll have something to transfer.

Dh's is in excellent spirits despite braving an overnight snowstorm that threatened to derail our best laid plans. We were up at the crack of dawn to be at the clinic at 6:30 a.m. (hey, who can sleep in when your future is about to revealed in spectacular fashion?)

My incredible hero of a husband had to brave 16 needle sticks in his nether region, and the urologist finally used the dreaded "gun" to extract tissue from his testicle. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I'm cringing for his sake as I'm writing this. He's been up and about since 7 a.m., directly after the PESA. The Novacaine's effects are waning, but he says he doesn't need Tylenol. (He's usually a baby when he has a head cold, so I believe him that he's okay!) Men dealing with MF, take heart. Hubby took it all in his stride. My tough guy.

As for me, I'm feeling unexpectedly terrific! I can remember everything prior to and directly after the retrieval, but nothing of the retrieval itself. Okay, I'm a girl, so I have to tell you what I wore: cute soft babyblue socks with dark blue arrow grippies on them, a most fetching hospital gown, and a must-have blue hair net.

A very sweet nurse put the IV in my left arm (no drugs yet), and hooked me up to the heart rate monitor while she was chatting with me. (My heart rate was beeping way over 90 and rather intermittently - I was scared sh!tless!) My resting heart rate is usually nice and low: 50 to 60.

Hubby commented on the stirrups that look like humongous snow boots. It cracked me up. Yeah! I've reached the summit and the only way forward is to go down at breakneck speed.

I was seated in an upright position while the RE, anesthesiologist and nurse walked us through the pre-procedure questionnaire, consent forms, and post-op instructions. The RE popped in briefly to check on me. He was there just long enough to say, "Hey, how time flies. Can you believe you're in the OR already, just 2 weeks later? We're here to get you pregnant soon... and then get you outta here. Are you ready? Start visualizing that cute baby bump of yours. Can you see it yet?" I nodded an emotional "Yes..." and swallowed tears.

The anesthesiologist clipped the oxygen monitor to my left thumb, lowered me with a warning about how fast it will feel and he even let out a "Wheeee!" like a little boy riding a roller coaster. The roller coaster visual totally made me smile, and you IVFers will know what I mean.

The nurse put my feet in the stirrups, the anesthesiologist then gently inserted the air tube in my nose (weird!), and then I was blissfully gone. Asleep. Hubby, who was in the OR throughout the procedure, said I started saying something, but trailed off in hilariously and embarrassingly incoherent fashion as my eyelids started closing.

I woke up to the sound of, "We retrieved 13 eggs!" It confused me completely, because the number was so much higher than I had anticipated. I confirmed 3 times, "Really? 13? Are you sure?" I was lucid then... just in utter disblief. I thought I'd be out of it, sleepy, groggy, but I was wide awake. The nurse brought me my clothes and while I got dressed, she poured some green tea for the drive home, brought me my coat, and escorted me to the car.

I was awake all day, feeling a little lightheaded, but fine. Hubby and I took an hourlong nap. There are a few light cramps every now and then, but nothing like the sharp, stabbing cyst or Endo pain. It's not even as severe as my regular period pain, and I haven't taken any pain meds.

Anyone who's had surgery or an operative laparoscopy: retrieval is a walk in the park in comparison. Of course, if you suffer complications from retrieval, then that's another matter altogether. But I got lucky today.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The day before retrieval

ICLWers, welcome! Please share your ER stories with me to get me through today. Your comments mean the world to me.

Ahhh! Finally, a day off from injections. I'm feeling optimistic about tomorrow's egg retrieval, and of course a little scared, but mostly excited and calm. I keep telling myself it can't possibly be worse than the Endo lap surgery two months ago.

It helps that today is Sunday, and I had homemade, organic scones for breakfast. I'm listening to good music, visiting IComLeavWe blogs, calling my family and generally just chilling.

Usually, I'm a workaholic stress case, an undeniable type A personality who needs to control everything. It's a new feeling to try to be good to myself, to take it easy, to relax, and to let go. I practiced this approach with great success last weekend (see Sleepy Tiger in Sleepy Clothes post) and I'm working on perfecting it today. I have the week off from work to stay sane between ER and Tx, which bodes well for becoming an IComLeavWe Iron Commenter. A girl has to have goals. ;-)

Dh's aspiration is at 6:45 tomorrow morning. We don't know if they'll find sperm, but the RE said he was so sure they would, he'd give us the cycle free if they came up empty-handed. After 11 years and a failed vas reversal, we'll finally know if the boys are coming to the party.

My clinic does ICSI for everyone's IVF cycles. It's included in their regular IVF fee. I'm relieved they do this on a regular basis, and that we'll maximize our chances if they only find a few viable sperm.

My ER is at 8:30. No food or drink after midnight tonight, and no strong smelling perfume/hair spray/cologne allowed. I use natural products with little scent, so this is good news for me. Strong smells can easily trigger my migraines. Jasmine, hazelnut coffee brewing, strong perfume. Blegh. Makes me instantly nauseous. I can't go near Y.anky Candle or the perfume counter at department stores.

Based on what I've read on the blogs, I'm expecting to do a whole lot of sleeping and cramping after ER... Sounds like a good time.

Donor sperm - will we or won't we?

After weeks of frank discussion, it's clear that my husband is vehemently opposed to even thinking about donor sperm. I could see in his face he was perplexed by me even bringing it up for consideration. His expression said, "As if this journey isn't painful enough, if I don't feel guilty enough for having had a Vasectomy, you now want me to consider being a part of impregnating you with someone else's sperm." Of course, he didn't say a word other than, "I don't think I like the idea."

I do understand his position, and I feel uncertain about it myself, so I dropped it. What I’ve always wanted is my dh's baby. More than a month passed, and we have been engulfed by our first IVF cycle.

Friday night he sat with me while I was relaxing in the tub. He sat on the bathtub’s edge with his feet in the water (you know, bathtubs are bad for his "swimmers" who need to stay cool, calm, and collected). He became really quiet, took a deep breath, and said, "You know. I've been thinking...” Pregnant pause.

My heart raced. What now? Does he have cold feet? Does he not want a baby anymore? Is this IVF cycle too much anguish? Is the cost too high?

And then, he says, “If the urologist goes in on Monday and finds nothing, then I want you to know I'm okay with us using donor sperm for the next cycle."

Excuse me, what? Where did THAT come from?

We often don’t give men enough credit. They sometimes need more time than we think they do. I know some will never get used to the idea, but my open-minded, loving husband had to get to this life-altering decision all by himself, without my intervention. And that is good. Because I love him, and would rather have his genetic offspring than use donor sperm. But I also know him well enough to know he could love any child that came into our lives, whatever the path. He is intelligent, loving, gentle, selfless. My soul mate.

I'm relieved that we have more options on the table now, because adoption is too expensive for us to even consider. If this IVF/ICSI cycle doesn't work, then all we could have done was to try the same thing again and again, maybe with a different protocol of meds and dosages.

With donor sperm, we have at least one more (albeit less desirable) option to consider. With DS, we get to bond with the baby while he/she in my uterus, we get to be present for the birth of our child, donor sperm is easier to match, more affordable, the baby would at least be genetically linked to one of us, and I get a reprieve from Endo and lower my risk of ovarian cancer by carrying our child. It's comforting to have a backup plan as we head into the uncertainty of next week’s retrieval - and hopefully a transfer of beautiful blasts.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trigger happy

A colleague in the know commented tonight on how calm, happy and serene I am despite IVF. Anyone going through IVF knows that's the nicest compliment one could hope to receive, especially on the night you are triggering. We all aim to be relaxed, but it's not really an attainable or realistic goal when Lupron, stim injections, the stress of IVF, and a full time job is in the equation.

I've been trying hard to calm myself, and be acutely aware of this profound moment in my life. Although this path to parenthood has no guarantees, and is not for the fainthearted, I do find myself feeling surprisingly happy tonight. It's a strange feeling, one that I'm at odds with. I do feel trepidation for what lies ahead, but I'm also in somewhat of a celebratory mood to have reached this point. For the longest time I didn't know whether I'd be able to do this - financially, emotionally, physically. Biologically, I wondered whether I'd be a poor responder or someone who would easily hyperstim as my first RE had warned. Doing the trigger shot tonight was confirmation that things have gone well so far.

Yesterday's u/s still showed 6 follies on the left and 2 on the right. It's not a huge haul, and some follies were on the small side, but the nice nurse reassured me they'd all be ready by Monday's egg retrieval.

My fridge is empty, my sharps container is full, and my heart is bursting with excitement, happiness, and fear.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Stim day 12 - oh so blasé

I just completed injection #23 and #24 - the last of the stims before the Ovi.drel trigger tomorrow. The whole injection thing is totally overrated by now. It's become completely old hat. I even have my own little injection routine down to a tee.

Around 8:30 p.m. I take 2 minutes to remove the Gonal-F pen from the fridge and move it to the bathroom so it reaches room temperature by the time I do the injections 30 minutes later. (Cold injection = pain.) I then proceed to set up the crack house: alcohol swabs, Lupron vial, Lupron syringe and Gonal-F pen, and dial up the pen to the correct dosage. Then I'm off to go do something fun, like catch up with my IVF-friends via their blogs.

At 5 minutes to 9 p.m. I wash my hands thoroughly, swab my belly and let it dry while I swab the Lupron vial and Gonal-F pen. (The needle will burn if you stick it through wet alcohol on your belly.) I don't use any ice or Emla cream.

I insert the needle into the Gonal-F pen and set it aside. Then I draw up 5 units of Lupron, inject it, and discard the needle into my fancy little red home sharps container. Gonal-F is next: I pull out the tab to the dialed dosage and confirm, inject, wait 5 seconds, pull it out, and discard the needle. The whole process takes no more than 3 minutes. It's become so routine that I don't even think about it anymore. I'm like a commercial. Just do it.

What takes the longest, actually, is to find a suitably unpunctured, pristine spot on the belly. I've been working "around" my recent lap surgery and old appendectomy scars. I have only one bruise to show for the IVF injections - that ain't bad. After 24 IVF injections, and just one more to go - I am proudly wearing my battle scars.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stim day 10 - discomfort is the name of the game

I had a really nice nurse for my u/s appointment this morning. She showed me the u/s pictures from Wednesday, and took the time to talk to me while she drew blood. Pretty follicles, but not many, unfortunately. About 6 on the left and 2 on the right - fewer than what I had hoped for. She was very encouraging, though, repeating the "quality over quantity" mantra.

The follicles are growing very slowly, which is good. I'm somewhat frustrated by the thought of having to inject until Friday. This would mean 12 days-a-stimming... and a partridge in a pear tree. I'm pretty uncomfortable already, and can't imagine what Sunday will bring. Moan, moan, moan. How do you gals who have 20+ follicles handle it? Aside from the occasional twinge, there's no pain, thankfully. The "twinges" are nothing compared to the stabbing pain of Endo and cysts. But, I'm nauseous, with a stubborn, dull headache, and of course, the bloating. Oh, the bloating.

Looks like I'll be triggering Saturday, and heading to retrieval bright and early on Monday morning. I.can't.wait.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stim day 7 - nightly countdown to 9 pm

It's really strange to suddenly have this nightly 9 p.m. stim commitment. I generally dislike structure and schedule; always have. Perhaps because this is the only contribution I can make to the IVF process, I don't mind it as much.

I'm generally absent-minded, but prefer to think of myself as "hyper-focused" on the things that matter, and just not caring as deeply about all the other minor details of life. My attention is fully focused on this IVF process now, and I catch myself subtly counting down to 9 pm all day long.

The whole IVF experience is so unreal, so violating, so inhumane, so excruciatingly emotional, that I think it's my way of beginning to process it all, not letting a moment slip by that I'm not realizing that I'm in this NOW. For good. For better or for worse. No turning back, no regrets about having tried, whatever the outcome.

Last night - stim day 6 - was the 2nd evening in a row that dh gave me the injections. Not because I'm squeamish (I actually prefer to do them myself - control freak), but because I need to force myself to let go sometimes.

Of course, while I was busy setting up the "crack house" as invitroveritas so aptly and hilariously described it, hubby hurriedly attached the Gonal-F needle without swabbing the rubber tip with alcohol. Surprisingly, I didn't freak out with a hormone-induced hissyfit. I calmly asked him if he had swabbed it, and he said he forgot. So, I said, "It's okay, let's remove the needle, swab the top and attach a new needle." Not that it would help much, but it made me feel better. He recapped the needle and tried to pull it off rather masculine-ly, instead of gently turning it clockwise to unscrew it from the pen. I was busy loading the Lupron injection when he started futzing with the Gonal-F pen, so I put the uncapped Lupron shot down.

I hadn't realized he accidentally bent the Gonal-F pen needle and it was now sticking through the safety cap at an angle. When I asked him to slowly hand me the pen so I could show him how to remove the needle, the thing bit me through the cap as I was unscrewing it - badly. Ugh. Now I'm bleeding, and we haven't even started the evening's shots yet.

So we get a Band-Aid, take a deep breath, and start over.

Then he points to the uncapped Lupron injection, and says, as he's reaching out to pick it up, "This is unsafe." Wtf.

I'm real proud of myself for not turning into Lupronzilla right then. That's unsafe? Ya think? How about you NOT swabbing the effin' Gonal pen, bending the effin' needle because you were struggling with it so violently instead of just asking for help, and then That's not unsafe? I could have jabbed him with it. But I didn't. I bit my tongue, smiled, and said, let's do the Lupron first.

It was one quiet victory in a sea of unsuccessful attempts to contain my raving lunatic lupron rage. Progress. Everything went smoothly and lovingly from there on out. Afterwards, I snuggled next to him on the sofa. Today he made lunch. We're all good.

Heavy-handed nurses & other amusing u/s anecdotes

By now, I'm unfortunately intimately familiar with the affectionally nicknamed, and although it's never pleasant to undress and park my feet in the stirrups, I've never had an experience like this Friday morning.

I'm a va.ginal ultrasound vet of sorts, having had several unpleasant encounters prior to laparoscopic surgery to remove bilateral endometriomas. My previous RE, a woman, wasn't the gentlest of operators, but despite severe Endo and cysts, the u/s itself was never painful, just well, rather uncomfortable. I'd be a hurting unit an hour or so afterwards, but nothing during the u/s. And she was nothing if not thorough.

At a follow-up Endo appointment at a local hospital, the female u/s tech allowed me to insert Mr. Dild o' Cam myself, which of course was weird, but also, well, empowering and even, dare I say it, more comfortable physically. Of course, there was the uncomfortable moment of having to ask how deep to insert it. But I digress.

My first ultrasound at the fertility clinic proved to be bizarre too. There I was, undressed from the wait down, with a new (male) RE I had met just minutes before, a female rep from an ultrasound company somewhere in the deep south, a nurse, and my husband. You see, the clinic was in the process of purchasing a dozen fancy new u/s machines that make your stimmed follicles light up like a christmas tree for fast and easy counting and measuring.

The RE respectfully - but excitedly - asked whether I would mind if the rep was in the room, because he might need help with all the new buttons. "I don't have much of a choice, now do I?" I said with a pathetic but understanding smile. "Oh no, you definitely DO have a choice. It's just that it will go faster if she's here. I'm sure you don't want the probe in you for 20 minutes while I try to find my way with the software," he said, laughing compassionately. So, I didn't in fact have much of a choice, but I relented, because I was already undressed. It went fine. He was gentle, and fast, and the tech kept her eyes on the monitor. The sweet nurse had her back to me, busy somewhere off in the corner. Hubby was trying his best to sit still, not fiddle, and not accidentally press the emergency button that was hanging next to him. Oh, the temptation.

Back to Friday's monitoring... You'd think women would be gentler. Yowser, did it hurt! There's something alarming about a mean-looking nurse on a timed mission, armed with a 6" magic wand and a condom, searching for your tonsils.

Prodding wildly left and right, she went on her follicle hunt, disregarding my exasperated exclamation, "Ouch!" and proceeding to point at the oddly-shaped black circles on the screen as if they were the most amusing thing she ever saw. Yes, poly-cystic-like ovaries, I know.

I tried to ask how many follies she counted, how big they were, you know, the important stuff. She just said it was too early to tell exactly. They'll probably up my stims, but that they need to wait for the blood test results. She'd give me more info about the follicles on Monday. I didn't push her, because you know, she might be armed and dangerous on Monday, and I sure as heck don't want to get on her bad side.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sleepy tiger in sleepy clothes

Hubby is working today (Saturday), and I've decided to happily ignore the world, stay in my sleepy clothes all day long, and just chill. If I feel up to it, I may build up just enough energy to drag my lazy behind off the sofa to go light some candles and soak in the bathtub. But it sure as hell ain't looking promising for the bed to be made, the house to get clean, the laundry to get done, the groceries to get shopped, or the dinner to get made.

I'm giving myself a break, not committing to anything, and just focusing on relaxing, for a change. Lupron and Gonal-F has me feeling like a sleepy tiger, exhausted, but ready to pounce at the slightest annoyance. It's best for me, my bloodpressure, and the world at large for me not to be in circulation, as I might just accidentally rip someone's head off.

The following song, aptly called "Sleepy Tigers" from "Her Space Holiday" makes me so happy:

Oh I love you so very much so much in fact I'm gonna switch it up
I'm gonna take this room that I built for fun
And burn down the walls in front of everyone
So they see, you and me
Dancing in our sleepy clothes
With two big smiles and a bowl of hope!
That we'll drink down like ginger tea
The heat will help us forget everything
That you and I, that you and I have seen

And if Ive learned anything at all
In this short life of mine (it's this)
If you hear that joy has come to town
Track it down, take a picture and tape it to your eyes

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stim Day 5 - time's a flyin'

I had my first monitoring appointment today, and the nurse called this afternoon to say they're upping my Gonal-F dosage to 225. So far, I've done all the injections myself, but I asked dh if he wanted to try doing them tonight, and he said yes. He did everything perfectly, but I could feel the difference tonight - the Gonal-F injection site felt kind of numb and weird afterwards. I wonder if it's the higher dosage, or the fact that I've "lapped" and am now starting to get the injections in places where I've injected before. Who knows. It's like an alien trying to make sense of clothes tumbling in a dryer: fascinating, but it will get me nowhere.

As if I'm not being poked, prodded and stabbed enough, I'm keeping an open mind about alternative therapies, and have scheduled my first acupuncture appointment. Should be interesting. In principle, I like the idea of western medicine being complemented by an eastern approach. We'll see if I give a shit about the yin and yang afterwards. They recommend doing one acupuncture session a week prior to retrieval, another one directly before retrieval, and one directly afterwards. Hopefully I'll be so out of it on retrieval day, that I won't care one way or another.

It's now looking like retrieval could be Monday, 2/23, but the nurse practitioner was hesitant to make any predictions.

Good luck to everyone out there cycling now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lupron "flare" protocol - stim day 3

My RE has me on the regular dose Lupron "Flare" protocol. I jumped right in with stimming on CD2 with a combo of gonadotropin (Gonal-F) and a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist (Lupron).

Since I'm at a higher risk of developing OHSS, the doses are 150 iu Gonal-F and 0.05 ml or 5 units of Lupron every night. So far, I had a killer headache today and lingering nausea throughout the day, but no other discomfort. It was incredibly hard to focus on work today, but I gave it everything I had. Of course, I came home and crashed, and woke up at 9 p.m. to do the injections. Having to wake up from an early evening nap to inject myself is an entirely new experience, and one I do not wish to repeat often. Having said that, I'm already on autopilot with the injections. So far, it's real simple, fast, and much easier than I thought it would be.

I use the Gonal-F RFF Pen:

and Lupron:

In terms of the cycle, I'm hoping for quality over quantity, and since this is my first IVF go around, it's hard to know how my body will react to the stims.

In addition to severe Endometriosis, I've now heard three different REs say that I have many antral follicles and although I don't have classic PCOS, I have "polycystic-like ovaries" - whatever THAT means. I guess time will tell. At least my new RE listened to my concerns, and agreed that I may have greater success with lower doses. All in all, I'm okay with less meds.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tears of joy

So I thought it had all sunk in nicely overnight, and decided bravely to call my folks long distance with a "Hey, guess what!" to have them share in our excitement.

My dad, who is - aside from my dh - the sweetest man in the whole world, answers the phone. "Hi dad, is mom there too? Could you get her on speaker phone, because I have some news." My mom comes to the phone and instead of telling them about the surprise IVF cycle start, I get so verklempt that I can't get a word out. I hand the phone to hubby, who promptly tells them the basics about the IVF and sperm aspiration without missing a beat. It sounds like he's talking about the weather, only more excited. (I told you, I have a great husband.)

All of this, while I sob and smile and nod and wave with my hands in front of my eyes - the way Oscar winners do - in an effort to compose myself. Hubby comes and sits next to me on the sofa and puts his arm around me while I cry with joy - and he talks to my parents. I managed to get a few incoherent sentences out, but by the time they were saying goodbye and "We love you, we miss you, we wish we could be there with you," the next crying fit started.

After years and years of waiting and anticipation, the moment of telling my parents that we've started IVF was simply too big. They have known from the very beginning that we may never give them grandkids, they have never pressured us, or asked us whether we were making "progress" on the baby front. They love my husband like they do my siblings and I. He is their son.

I have the most amazing and selfless parents, who have always been supportive of me, whatever the path was I chose. Through all of the infertility struggles, my parents have just listened, asked questions, encouraged me, and said, "We love you." I wish I can be the same kind of supportive parent to my soon-to-be kid(s).

Monday, February 09, 2009

All in a Day - IVF/ICSI cycle #1 starts

The thing about relinquishing control is that life sometimes just magically works itself out, without my intervention. Sometimes, it's best to take my sense of reason out of the equation and just go with the flow. Today was such a day.

My plan was to go for a consult in March. Then the fertility clinic called and said, "We had a cancellation. Can you come on Monday?" I have always been impatient, and even more so where IVF is concerned. So, of course, I jumped at the earlier consult.

AF, usually as regular as clockwork, started two days late, and there I was, going in for a consult on day 2, and beyond all expectation, coming home with a protocol, prescriptions, and instructions to start a fl.are protocol TONIGHT. It's a beautiful thing, really, when you're in your thirties and have Endo, not to have to wait one nanosecond longer.

The doctors were contemplating the best approach and protocol, and the one said to the other, "She's ready, man. Look at her. She's ready." And so I was. In that moment when it became evident that I could start today, the weight lifted from my shoulders. The waiting is over, and I'm entering the next phase. I am suddenly feeling at peace with it all.

Hubby is beaming. I'm beaming. We're really doing this and it's not as daunting as it seemed a week ago. Now there's no turning back, and I'm okay with that.

On my way to buy the meds, I turn the radio on, and hear the ending of a song, "today... today... today." No kidding. Today. It's been an unpredictable day already, and it's only the beginning. It takes an hour to get the prescriptions filled, and they don't have it all, but I don't even stress about it. As long as I have the meds for tonight, I'm fine.

I switch the radio on as I drive to work, and hear, "Make a wish, take a chance, Make a change, and break away." No time to ponder the song, or bond with my box o' meds, as I'm late for a meeting. I grab an opaque bag and shove the meds in the work fr.idge. After the meeting, I retrieve the stash, and rendezvous with dh in a parking lot to do a covert meds handover as I head into another meeting. He couriers the meds home, while I focus all the attention I can muster on the meeting.

It's 8 p.m. when I'm finally home and can start to process the day, and figure out tonight's injections. Let the fun and games begin! The 2 shots (lupr.on and were easy and painless. Now that I've spent months reading everything and educating myself, I can let go and just do this thing.

It's a crazy horse. But somebody's gotta ride it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Obsessing about IVFing

Now that I’m forced to wait, I realize I’m getting utterly and joyously obsessive. It’s as if I have IVF OCD. I have read every IVF/ICSI blog I can lay my hands on, subscribed to IF forums, and have Go.ogled the heck out of every protocol on the planet. I have sobbed when reading about cancelled cycles, BFNs, and m/c as if they were my own, and have basically spent every waking moment thinking about IVF.

I’m at the point where I get annoyed if my husband dares ask me about anything else.
Him: “What would you like to do tonight?

Uhm, let’s think about this for a second.

Me: “Read about gonadotropins.” (I say this deadpan.)
Me (distracted, after a minute or so): “Why? What would you like to do?”

Then he sighs softly and walks away towards his laptop, kind of sulking, kind of relieved that I’m not engaging him in a discussion about Go.nal-F. He knows I'm hyperfocused, and he knows I need space. This is why I love him. He gets me.

I’m not really dreaming about a child(ren) as much as I’m thinking about IVF and its impact on our lives. Contemplating what I’m about to do, and how I feel about this point of no return that we’ve been approaching for ten years. IVF has been a vague possibility for all these years, something we’d get to when the time was right. But the time never seemed right, and now, suddenly it’s here, and in focus. And coming at me fast.

If we don't try IVF, we'll never know. And there's some comfort in not knowing. It keeps the hope alive.

I’m overwhelmed by the thought that I’ll finally know whether it’s possible for me to have my husband’s child(ren). I’ve always believed that if we had “intervention” in the form of IVF, we might just be able to realize this dream. I now know that if it doesn't work, I’ll be devestated, not only for the BFN, but for the whole belief being proven wrong. For being so stupid as to have believed that it might work for us.

Soon I’ll relinquish the last 1% of control (or the illusion of control), and just do. Just be. Just breathe. I’m at that tipping point where my destiny is to be revealed.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Murphy's Law of Infertility

Trying to be discreet about IF at work is an exercise in futility. The RE hardly ever calls me back, and my boss is hardly ever in my office. However, these two universes are *guaranteed* to collide the moment the boss pays me a visit about something urgent.

I had to excuse myself today, grab the cell phone, and head outside, because where else can you say things like, "sp.erm aspiration," "transvagi.nal ultrasound" and read a list of VDs you tested negative for aloud, and still act natural?

Then there's technology. Try staying calm while you order *all* of your medical records to be faxed to you, stat. First, the nurse has me on the cell because of the obvious privacy concern. Instead of dialing the fax, she attempts to fax it to my cell. I should have just quit right there.

Me: "Uhm, I hear a call coming in, and the ID is blocked. Is that you calling me?"
Nurse: "No, I'm dialing your *fax*. Oh, wait. I can hear your voicemail.... That's strange."


She tries again and one page comes through on the fax.

Me: "Good, you got it. That's the right fax number."
Nurse: "Okay, I'm sending the rest now. Stay close to the fax. Let me dial again."

Then my cell rings AGAIN. "Wait. Hang on. Are you dialing my cell again?"

Nurse: "No, I dialed your fax number! This is really strange." (She's starting to sound perplexed.)

She tries again, and the fax machine begins spewing out 30+ pages of my not-so-sacred medical history. Of course, there's a hiccup. It runs out of ink in the middle of it all. I mean, why on earth would I have anticipated this to be quick and easy?

I quietly replace the ink so as not to draw attention to the lengthy illegitimate fax, only to have the fax machine's alignment function go belly-up. One co-worker lurks, trying to see what I'm up to, while another leans over and catches a glimpse of my sad ovaries as she tries to help fix the issue.

Throughout this ordeal, I'm still on the cell trying to get the doctor's office to resend the fax. Another colleague has now entered the office and is looking at me pitifully and puppy-faced, non-verbally asking my help with the copier that is busy eating multiple pages of her project. I lean over and unjam the thing, while talking to the nurse, and then proceed with my stealth faxing maneuver.

Next time I'm trying to do anything personal during my lunch break, I'll be sure to send out a memo. It may contain words like, "scro.tum" and "test.icle." In fact, you can bet on it.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Uro-logically Speaking

Dr. Hopeful said hubby is a young and healthy almost-half-century, and that in his esteemed medical opinion, he'd be "very surprised" if dh's "good sized" right testicle didn't yield a gazillion sperm. Dh is in excellent health after all, so why am I doubting this will all work out in the end?

He must have keyed into my hopelessness and overwhelmedness with the entire process, because he ended with, "This is exciting," as if to say, "I'm giving you permission to be excited, because the odds are good." Of course, he couldn't - and didn't - say that.

Besides, any amount of time spent on blogs and IF forums informs me the chances of conceiving on cycle #1 and carrying a baby or babies full term are remote - and I'd be foolish to hope for that when the babymaking battle scars are to be seen everywhere I turn.

I've always been a pretty realistic person (as opposed to a fatalistic or overly optimistic one), so throwing that realism away won't be happening anytime soon. I will, however, try my best to conjure up a bit of hope and a smidgen of excitement.