Monday, December 31, 2007

Famous People.

Late last year, I imposed a ban on purchasing anything having to do with celebrity gossip (except Instyle, purely for the fashion people). I found myself spending entirely too much time eavesdropping and opining on the sad, sorry lives of prepubescent celebrities. Let's face it, it's much easier to tsk tsk the lives of anonymous trainwrecks than it is to focus on the stuff you really should be focusing on...working out, nourishing friendships, growing your own food (kidding) um, working. To make money. To support your lifestyle. So, no more Peoples, US Weeklys, goodbye Life & Style, see ya OK. I just can't help but think there's something sort of wrong with a 30+ professional woman fueling the hysteria surrounding these child celebrities. My life as a voyeur. Au Revoir.

My husband, on the other hand, has no interest in the celeb mags. He couldn't tell you the channel for E and I'm sure believes E, TMZ and Entertainment Tonight are one and the same. If asked, he'd tell you Perez Hilton is a hotel in South America. But give him a celebrity in the flesh and the. man. changes.

Paradise Island, Bahamas, 2003. Salma Hayek and Pierce Brosnan were filming "After the Sunset." We were lounging on the beach and a very beautiful, tiny woman walks by with a friend and several dogs. My husband hates dogs. I had no idea the woman walking by was Salma Hayek, but my husband knew immediately. And immediately developed a fondness for wet labradors. He swears he and Salma exchanged "a look." I told him I would leave him if he followed her to tell her she should have won the Academy Award for "Desperado." He got a sunburn on one side of his face watching her walk away. Into the sunset.

Anguilla, 2004. Lounging on the beach. Three umbrellas down is another tiny woman with a distinctive laugh along with a very pale, paunchy husband and naked boy child. I have no clue who this woman is. (Seriously, I could snap her in two with one hand.) E knows immediately. Sarah Jessica Parker. Matthew Broderick. Child. They get up to go get in the water. My husband decides a swim sounds great too. I grab hat and book and shake my head. To this day, E will tell anyone who'll listen that he and SJP went swimming together. It's a big sea, my friend.

So we're off to the beach, and the first question my darling husband will ask, anyone, is "Are there any famous people here?" (Imagine his sad face when the response is "Marilyn Monroe, once.") Nope, if they're there, I'll ignore them, hide my face, mind my own business. Picture of nonchalance. I've got other things to do. Unless.

Of course.

It's George Clooney.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Here comes the sun?

It's easier being infertile in the summer. You see, we have this little pool in the backyard (shaped like a contorted pear, God love it.) The jets are magically positioned so that when you cast off in your float (with drink holder--preferably occupied--and footrest) it meanders around the perimeter of the pool. If you need to get up to say, refresh your drink, you just wait until the rotation lands you near the steps and, exerting as little energy as possible, you scootch over and up. Ahhh. Even when I'm not in it, I like to look at it. It's private and intimate and peaceful. I really have to work at it to be sad in the summer.

Last summer was a time of hope for us. We took care of all the physical things we needed to take care of to prepare for IVF. We fell into the lazy cadence of summer knowing that we were going to try in vitro in November. We had lazy days around the pool, had good friends over and secretly harbored thoughts of "wouldn't it be nice if we just got pregnant, on our own?" It stung, of course, when it didn't happen, but it was summer. And we all look better with a tan.

Now the pool's covered (gray of course) with a blue pump sitting on top. The flowers are gone, the trees are bare and my neighbors just cut down two huge trees, so we're seeing a lot more of our neighbors and their neighbors and so on than before. And it's cold. For me, it doesn't take much effort to muster up the melaniecholy in the winter, but this winter just seems a little grayer and colder than before.

So, we're heading to warmer climes a week from today. I'm desperate to get there, to feel the sun, dear heaven to get some color on this pasty skin. To lift my spirits. To suck it up and tough it out. And to come back. To come back.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Joy to the World

I had my first ultrasound this morning for my first frozen embryo transfer. My plan? Business as usual. No silly blue birds singing and spreading garland with their happy little beaks. Jaded, been around the block before, we'll believe it if and when it happens kind of girl. Like a high school girl smitten with the quarterback, I failed. I'm easy. All it took was this:

Kit, the wonder nurse: "Your ovaries look wonderful. I feel very, very positive about this cycle."
Jaded, been around the block before, we'll believe it if and when it happens kind of girl: "Well, we've made the decision that we'll try three rounds of IVF, and that's it. If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be."
Kit the wonder nurse: "I think that's the right attitude, but I don't believe it will take three rounds. I believe this will happen for you before then."
Smitten, easy girl: "Really? (sniffle) (shy smile)."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, all she needs are a few sweet nothings and she's planning the wedding.

Immediately after our first IVF failed, we (I) decided we needed to plan a trip to the sun, recompense for the heartbreak of what wasn't. So, we're heading to the sun on January 5th for a week. I start Lupron on the 6th; estrogen pills and patch on the 9th. I kind of like the idea of beginning the process in paradise; the juxtaposition of responsibility for planning (blue birds chirping) a pregnancy yet eating and sunning to excess.

I'm trying to wipe the damn smile off my face.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yule never believe it.

Christmas is on Tuesday? Christmas is on Tuesday! Christmas is on Tuesday. How is it possible that I've been getting up in the mornings, working five days a week, preparing meals, occasionally exercising, more occasionally enjoying cocktails, overall minding my own business, and Christmas is on Tuesday. I haven't hummed along to "Frosty the Snowman." I've deposited NOTHING in the Salvation Army kettle (this blog is anonymous, right?). I haven't chortled at those silly little Hoos in Hooville. I'm not actively or even passively pursuing thoughts of goodwill to men (women, maybe, men, no). I'm on Christmas autopilot. Tree? Check. Presents purchased and wrapped? Check. Glad tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy? Nope.

How do you get it back? I'm not talking about the painful anticipation of what's under the tree, when the days leading up to Christmas take years, but that general sense of "I think I want to save a whale but I'm not sure why." Humming Christmas carols. Making an occasion out of decorating the tree. Going out of your way for others because, well, it's the season. How do you get that back? Many people say you get it back when you have children of your own. You see Christmas and its wonderment all over again through their eyes. It makes sense. But is that the only way?

I ask because for many of us, despite our optimism and best laid plans and oh so hopeful pretty, pretty pleases, we may not get those children or, heck, child. As much as I would like to believe that it will work out, sanity requires a calm, grudging acceptance that it just may not. work. out. after. all. Maybe that's why, this year, Rudolph is just an annoyance.

And Christmas is Tuesday.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Do I look like I shoot heroin?

I wasn't sure what to expect with acupuncture. And now, after the fact, I still don't know what to expect. I'll paint the picture.

Cute little acupuncturist. (That sounded sexist, but I'm of advanced maternal age and employed, so I can say whatever I want.) She's in her early 30s, very "natural", but also polished. She seemed very knowledgeable about IVF. She asked about my uterine lining (very fluffy, thank you very much); how I reacted to the stims (peachy); any problems with giving myself shots (nope, I'm a natural); what am I doing next (FET, those frozen little darlings).

She gave me a fluffy robe to change into (soft like those sweet little Gund stuffed animals). She took my pulses. Plural. I always thought you could get all you needed from one wrist. I was thinking to myself, "wrists, listen. We're telling one story and we're sticking to it." Pulses checked out and I took the position on the bench, which looked deceptively like a massage table. It made me wish for Raoul, my massage/beach boy.

Situated. check. Fluffy robe. check. Bring on the needles.

CLA returned and I finally thought to ask, "tell me what we're doing here?" And she told me about "chi" and energy and moving the energy around my body and how all areas of the body are represented in the ear. Come again? Needles one and two in the wrists. Fine. Needles three and four in the foot. A little ouch, but still fine. Needles five and six in the legs. No problem. Needles seven, eight, nine and ten in the ears. Son of a bitch.

Then 30 minutes in the dark, soft relaxation music playing, lights dimmed, festooned like a heroin addict. I figured it was five bucks a piece for the needles and a buck a minute for the relaxation. Not a bad gig. After my ears numbed, it wasn't so bad, it just wasn't much of anything. I didn't feel my chi or my energy. I was kind of excited when my hands went numb, but CLA told me it was because I had them in one place too long. Go figure.

So, I'll keep at it. I'll try to keep an open mind. Maybe it will make a difference. And, I mean, if this IVF thing doesn't work and all else goes to pot, I might have a future with needles.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Choose well, my friend

When you're little, your parents (or at least mine) encourage you to make lots of friends--"you can never have too many friends"--to give everyone in your class a valentine, to share your toys, not to spit, don't stick crayons up your nose, etc. I tried to follow those rules growing up (though I still cringe at the sight of yellow crayolas). In fact, it is reported that upon leaving the playground one sunny day after preschool, I kissed each and every one of my classmates through the fence. (Next post: musings on promiscuity.)

We make friends in grade school, different ones in middle school and even more in high school. College brings a whole new set of friends. Law school, more. Some stay with you, some don't. Hopefully, though, we take a bit of every friendship with us, the good, the bad and the ugly. And we learn how to be better friends. More loyal. Accepting. And we nurture those friendships that make us more real and lessen the grip on those kinds of friends that might, say, steal your boyfriend or write notes about you behind your back. We learn that you can have too many friends, if they're not the right kind.

Infertility has been a two faced bitch, but it has shown me the beauty of friendship. My dear, dear friends have laughed with me, cried with me and called me the "brave girl." They've been poignantly thoughtful (a girl loves a bouquet of white roses on her transfer day, Anne thank you, it still makes me weep) and quietly accepting when I simply could not talk about it today, maybe tomorrow, call me Greta Garbo. They've been uplifting, encouraging, sensitive and, best, interested. (Who knew how much fun it could be to demonstrate the proper technique for delivering a trigger shot?) They've told me they have no idea how I feel, but they feel my loss for me.

So, today, I probably wouldn't kiss all my class mates through the fence (setting aside concerns about communicable diseases, lawsuits, etc.). And I wouldn't send valentines to every single person. But I would walk through coals for the ones I've got. I've chosen well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dear God, it's me.

Prayer doesn't come easily to me. Not because I don't believe in God or a higher power, I do, earnestly. The actual praying part is hard. Last night, I couldn't sleep, it was dark, I was comfy and I thought it was an opportune time for a conversation with God. "Dear God," I began, "let's talk." I prayed for the usual things, "Please be with me and E and our families. Keep us safe." I was on a roll. "Help me be a better a person...not so snarky sometimes. Help me curb my impatience." And the inevitable, "please let me be a mother." Then, blank. My mind started wandering. I started thinking about Christmas presents. Who's left on the list. What did Santa have in store for me. Oh, yes, back to prayer. "God....ok, God...Let this FET work in January." Silence. On my end and God's. I wandered again. Finally fell to sleep.

I prayed every night up to and during my first IVF attempt in November. These were the "baring of the soul" types of prayers, almost akin to the childhood "I will never say a bad thing about anyone again, ever, and I'll be a really, really good person, if you just let this work. Please." I'm not blaming God that it didn't work, but I would be less than honest if I didn't admit that it makes me question prayer itself.

I read someone's blog the other day describing the blogger's conviction that her first IVF worked because she prayed. She intimated that perhaps others would have more success with in vitro if they had a closer relationship with God. No mention that if her fertility was solely up to God--no science involved--she wouldn't have a child. No, I think God's role is not so much "make my burden go away" or "make me pregnant" as it is "make me better able to deal with my burdens, my heartaches."

But it is a good question. How do you have meaningful prayer? Is it less of a conversation and more of a meditation? More of a sense of awareness of the spirit? I have felt God's presence in my life, but less so when I'm "praying." Is prayer one size fits all? I don't think so.

But I'm going to pray on it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

One of those women...

I have never been "one of those women." I never had childhood dreams of being a mother. I never picked out names for my future children. In fact, for many years I wasn't even sure that I wanted children. As a general rule, I don't think babies are cute. The neediness of infants has never appealed to me; I like it when children can communicate and do tricks. I'm fiercely independent and value my time to myself. I get itchy and squirmy and all is not right with my world if someone, a friend for example, is too clingy. With the exception of my husband, I don't like being referred to as a "we," it robs me of my identity.

So, for many years, I didn't want children. I wanted to wander the world, eat strange foods, take risks, meet interesting people in obscure places, have stories to tell. I still want to do those things, but my feelings about children have changed. I feel sure that the change began when my sister had children. Not because it brought motherhood closer to home or I got a license to breed, but because I was kicked in the face by love. Knocked over by awe that these beautiful, funny, smart, intuitive beings came into the world *poof* and lit it up. How powerful is the feeling of just loving these little creatures, not for anything they do, but because they just are. These are not my children, but I would do anything to ensure they are happy and healthy and safe.

In a very real sense, they opened the door. I have a taste of the love that only a mother can experience. And it helped me to see the power of my relationship with my own mother. My rock. My connection to the spiritual. My greatest supporter and staunchest ally. My friend.

So, it's been a long time coming, but I think I can be a mother. A good one. Maybe I am one of those women after all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ah, tell me more...

I feel like saving a whale. The visit to the RE yesterday went really well. I feel relieved and, dare I say it, optimistic? I learned that my clinic had a 75% thaw rate last cycle for frozen blasts. This is good. This means that there's a huge likelihood of success that one of my ice pops will survive the thaw, dare I hope, maybe both will make it out of the cold, dark freezer? I also learned that there's a very strong likelihood that I'll get pregnant at some point; that I have no insurmountable obstacles to achieving pregnancy (other than, ahem, the equivalent of a new Volkswagen (though bottom of the line) for each fresh IVF cycle); and that plenty of almost 38 years olds get pregnant. Happy sigh.

I'm also going to do acupuncture. I've read so much about the positive effects of acupuncture on infertility and in vitro that I'm going to give it a try. I talked to the acupuncturist today and she, well, didn't sound like a sadist. She seemed kind of perky and not what I'd expect from a person who deals in needles every day. (I like that her name is "Chase" and not "Gruelda") She also said that it's very relaxing and many of her stickees fall asleep on the table. Relaxed or passed out from the pain? Dunno. I'm going next Wed. If I fail to post after that, call the cops.

So, I'm feeling like I'm getting my groove back. Not "shopping at Pottery Barn Kids" optimistic, but hopeful. Cautiously, optimistically, "getting my groove back on," by damn this might work out" hopeful.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What in the FET??!!

I called my RE's office last week to admit that I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing to prepare for my FET in January. I know I got instructions on that black Wednesday, but my memory goes something like this: "I'm sorry, it's negative....wah, wah, blah, blah, wah...blah." Turns out I was supposed to have started birth control bills after I got my period.

Me: Um, well, ok.
Nurse: You didn't?
Me: Um, no.
Nurse: That's ok.

I was also supposed to have come back in for an ultrasound a week ago.

Me: Really? Really. I just don't remember hearing that.
Nurse: That's ok, we'll do it next week.

Turns out everything's ok and still on track (or the sweet nurse didn't want to risk my magical ability to hear nothing and wants the RE to tell me). And tomorrow at the ultrasound I'll ask all the questions I was supposed to ask, like maybe:
  1. If the two that were transferred didn't implant (rhetorical question, but need it for the set up), why should my two on ice implant, e.g., what if the whole basket is rotten?
  2. What kind of drugs will I have to take? Lupron? Adavan? Zoloft?
  3. If this doesn't work, when I can do another round of IVF (fatalistic, yes, but necessary. I'm a planner)?
  4. Why is it so easy for meth addicts to get pregnant?
  5. Why do people ask stupid questions? (I met a woman this weekend, who asked, "so tell me all about you. Do you have children? Why not? You're not getting any younger, you know." Really? Who knew.)
  6. You must know a lot of doctors, plastic surgeons even. Any chance of a good customer discount?

Or I won't.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I can see clearly now the rain has gone...

Well, my vision's not 100% clear and the rain hasn't completely gone, but all in all the forecast is looking better. The sun's peaking through a bit. Thunderclouds have definately found a new playground. I'd say I'm moving into "cautiously optimistic" avenue, which is a couple of streets shy of the "Plan B" detour.

Let me explain. I believe we have a great shot in January. I feel hopeful that the embryos will make it out of the big chill and decide to cozy in and make a go of it. If they don't, we'll do in vitro again. I have no reason to believe that I won't respond just as well the second time around as I did the first. And maybe, just maybe, we'll get a few to put on ice again. And if round two of IVF and FET doesn't work, we'll do a third round of IVF. I've read that 80% of folks who do three rounds of IVF get a consolation prize for playing, a baby. I like those odds. So, we've got a few road trips before the detour.

The Plan B detour. I don't know what that means at this point. I guess I'm not ready to read the map. What I want in my deepest heart of hearts (cue the selfish part) is a combo meal of E and me. Oh, the child would be witty and smart and sensitive and, to borrow from the Little Prince, unique in all the world. I just don't want to think about not having that. Not just yet. Maybe never.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It really is like a death...

I was so optimistic. Scarily so. My stims went fine, better than fine. I didn't bruise from the shots. I didn't feel strange or moody. It was empowering, actually, to finally be in control of this process. Each ultrasound progressed the way it should. My lining was fluffy and lush and receptive. My follicles grew at the same pace and size. The RE didn't have to change my meds.

Halloween - I was the only retrievee on the day of retrieval...all the attention from the doctors and nurses was on me. (E told me I should have dressed as a hen; the nurses swore they hadn't heard that one before.) The retrieval went fine. 14 eggs. The transfer three days later couldn't have been better; the RE said it was "perfect." An 8 cell and a very handsome 5 cell. I asked, because I had to, if this doesn't work, what will we do differently next time. The RE said "nothing, absolutely nothing," and gave us 50-50 odds. And I knew, I just knew, that it was going to work.

I didn't test at all during the two week wait. I figured that I would rather hear the bad news from a human rather than a glaring single line from a piece of plastic. But really, I knew it was going to work. I wanted to hear those words from a medical professional. We drove to the RE's office on a Wed. morning and I told E that I didn't feel pregnant. But in my heart, I knew I was, I felt it was to be.

I peed on a stick, stuck my arm out for the nurse to take blood and then we waited in a conference room, listening for footsteps. And I knew, the minute she walked in, that it wasn't. And other than, "I'm sorry," I didn't hear another word she said. E remembers hearing "the good news is that you have two frozen," but I don't. And I cried. I couldn't even wait to get to the car. I cried like my soul was breaking and my heart was torn apart. I cried in the car, I cried at home, I cried at work (why I went to work I don't know). And I'm tearing as I write this.

Because it's more than just a negative, it's like a death. And I'm still sad.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Deep breath, exhale, relax, AHHHH

Anguilla, 2004. I call it "toes in the sun" #1. Or "bring a drink pronto, beach boy!" Or, "did I take my pill this morning? Whew."

And in the beginning...

There was a very optimistic, nay naive, 37 year old lawyer, who believed that getting pregnant would be a snap. Not so. E and I got married in June of 2006 and started trying almost immediately. One month, zip, nada. Two months, nope. Six months, nuh-uh. Visit to RE. Tests begin. Endometriosis...fixed, snipped and cleared up. One year...uh, nope.

Enter In Vitro. The journey begins....

October 18, 2007 - baseline. Become acquainted with the wand. He's a little fresh.
October 22, 2007 - first ultrasound: 6 follicles, which seems low. Was looking for overachievers.
October 25, 2007 - second ultrasound: 11 follicles, all about the same size. Yee ha!
October 29, 2007 - third ultrasound : 11 follicles, but BIGGER.
October 31, 2007 - retrieval: 14 eggs
November 1, 2007 - of the 14 eggs retrieved, 9 are healthy, 7 fertilize via ICSI
November 3, 2007 - transfer two, an 8 cell and a five cell. They are "perfect." (not my words; I thought they were awfully cute though)
November 8, 2007 - 2 frozen blastocysts. Glorious.
Ed. note: She manages not to pee on a stick during the two week wait.
November 14, 2007 - Negative. Devastated. Gutted.

This is my journey.