Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I. am. a. Dummy. I should have insisted on multiple betas instead of hanging on my initial 675 by the tippy tops of my fingers. Oh and my initial progesterone level of 125. 675. 125. That's all I've got. I should have realized that my mental well being hinges on numbers, levels, counts and data. I should have scheduled that second beta, dammit, instead of wondering, hoping, praying, wishing, believing that there's something inside holding on for all he/she's worth. At the risk of sounding like the very worst of the drama queens, this is the longest two weeks ever.

My problem is that I just don't have a lot of symptoms. Little tinges of nausea, which could be directly related to the 6 chocolate chip cookies I ate in one sitting. Lots of naps, which are most likely because of behavior similar to the aforementioned and because it's the holidays and it's cold and my bed is warm. Not a lot of breast tenderness. E thinks I'm more bountiful in the chestal region, but I would argue my whole acreage is more bountiful because of my less than ladylike eating habits and my bear-like hibernation tactics. A whole lot of not really symptoms. In fact, other than a four day bout of um, well, the opposite of throwing up, I feel pretty darn good.

So, lack of data, numbers, levels and counts + feeling pretty ok = concern that nothing's really cooking where it should be. Hence, I'm a dummy.

Monday, December 22, 2008


675! 675. Six hundred seventy five. At my clinic, they don't do repeat betas if your number is over 300. They gave me the option of having another blood draw on Wed. I've decided against it. It will be what it will be. My ultrasound is January 5. I'm going to remain positive until then.

675. I'll take it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stranger things have happened, right?

It's entirely too early to celebrate. Maybe if this were my first attempt, or second, or third, if you count frozen transfers, which I do.
But still, I appear to have an arsenal of positive pee sticks. And what that gives us is a shot that this will work out.
I very much hope so. Very, very, very much.
P.S. My threats against the reindeer and elves still stand.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My name is Melanie and I am an addict.

I hesitate to even post this for obvious reasons, not the least of which is that I'm killing my IVF street cred. I'm thirteen days from my hcg shot at retrieval (my clinic gives an hcg shot early morning of retrieval in addition to the trigger shot you give yourself), 6dp6dt and my tests are still positive. Not glaringly, line pops up in two seconds, you're carrying a litter positive, but consistently, that's a second line positive. I started testing on Saturday after my Thursday transfer and I never got a negative peestick...one very, very light one on Sunday, but that's it. To top it off, I have no symptoms. None, so I don't even get the secret self chuckle "Ah ha ha, I will proclaim ignorance, but all signs point to pregnant." Seriously though, shouldn't the damn shot be gone by now??

I feel like a messed up a science experience. Worse, I can't stop peeing on those damn sticks. I sneak away from my office, barricade myself in the stall, flip out the evil monster of technology and tiddle away. And each time I get a line. How am I supposed to trust the little bastards until I get a baseline negative, though? I can't. And time's slipping away. The positive from my FET arrived 8dp5dt, which can't be relied upon as a control because I DIDN'T GET A DAMN HCG SHOT. Yet, if I got a real positive under similar circumstances now, EXCEPT FOR THE DAMN TRIGGER SHOT, I need to get a negative in the next 10 minutes and then a huge positive tomorrow morning to be on track. Did I just say "on track." Yes, I did.

My husband's response to all this, "that's why they scheduled the test for next Tuesday so you can test then." Yes, he did.

That's it. Done complaining. Nothing I can do about it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

100 Posts

I'm certainly not as prolific as other bloggers. Over one year of blogging and only 100 posts. Still, I will chalk it up as one of life's little accomplishments. This is where I am after one year and 100 posts.

I can handle anything. That's not to say that, off the bat, I will handle anything life deals me with grace and maturity and wisdom. Certainly, there will be times that I will scream and kick and moan and "why me". I'm pretty darn confident that I'll even act like a little shit at times. But I will end up in a place of grace, of acceptance and always good humor. Despite the tears. At some point when faced with the unparalleled unfairness of life, I will turn bitter cranberries into a darn good Cosmopolitan. I believe, despite everything, that this life has been a blessing and will continue to be.

I accept that people can be insensitive, self centered, clueless fools. That includes me. I used to spend countless minutes obsessing about the ridiculously imperceptive and tactless comments made by strangers and even close friends. The "you don't have children, so you don't know what I'm talking about" or the "don't you think you're taking this too far" or that I am somehow less of a human or a woman because I don't have children variety. I accept - now - that these comments and many others about a myriad other subjects will always be around for the "sharing." And other than the few minutes I will spend gleefully retelling the affronting comment(s) to my husband and others worthy of my skewering wit with attendant commentary about the unattractive physical attributes of the dummies who made the comments of course, I will go on my merry way. I continue to try like the dickens to avoid being such an obtuse human myself. (For example, telling a new mother that her child looked like a sweet little lizard. I actually said that. Jesus.)

I hope that I've learned to be kind. I don't mean milquetoast kind or pushover kind or honey dripping from your upturned lips kind. Just kind. Respectful of the differences of others. Mindful of how words can hurt.

As to my three days of notreallybedrest, bedrest....

Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. It could only have been better if Raoul my beach boy had flown his tan perky self in from the Islands to peel my grapes. (My darling husband tried very, very hard but his grape peeling skills are deficient.)

And I have POAS, but it looks like the trigger shot still isn't out of my system. I thought it was supposed to be gone in 10 days, but it's still showing positive on 11 days post trigger. Oy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


2 AA blasts transferred this morning. Looks like we'll have three to freeze. We considered transferring three, but the thought was that it would only increase the odds of multiples. Snicker. Regardless, it went well and we're well pleased with the quality of the blasts we transferred.

Despite the many disappointments, I continue to be awed by this process. If, by chance, this were to work out, how surreal to think that we saw pictures, pictures!, of a bunch of cells that because our future child. I do feel the spirit in all this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thursday, Thursday.

Four morula today. Two stragglers proceeding nicely. Transfer tomorrow morning. Tonight, I tie one on. I'm thinking an evening of bourbon, a side of beef, a potato with my butter and sour cream, champagne, some cigars and a few left over vicoden. Those silly potential life forms will be too hammered to do anything but settle in for a nice long sojourn.

I kid.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Whilst I integrate my personalities.

Screw positivity, I hate IVF. Today, I have 4 embryos at 14 cells, 1 at 10 and 1 at 8. One cracked under the pressure and elected to swan dive out of the petri dish. Now I'm pondering the unponderable...what if they all go belly up? In the interest of full disclosure, I was the one who insisted, absolutely insisted, on a blast transfer. I'm wondering, of course, if I did the right thing. (This from the dumbass who yesterday would have also insisted that each of the seven would be A++grade blasts by today: three to transfer; 4 to freeze. No brainer.) I was so sure. Today, less sure. And, overall, feeling like a dumbass all over against because it's out of my hands anyway.

I'm ready to get this party started; get the show on the road; put pedal to medal. I've got 8 books from Amazon, three movies, a fully charged laptop and Jim's Good Time Pizza Emporium on speeddial. My out of office message is ready to be activited, my voice mail message has been changed twice, I've got a stack of work I'll use as a placemat for my pizza. Good heavens, I've got new batteries in my remote control. Let's move.

I call tomorrow to see if the overachievers have made it to blast. If so, I meet for some sexy time with the RE, a nurse, an embryologist and a catheter. If not, I'll go in Thursday. Lining is hanging in there, but, to my utter dismay, did not develop into a cushion of plumpness and receptivity as I fully expected. Whatever.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just the facts.

At the risk of sounding too optimistic and setting myself up for the downfall (well 3rd downfall) of 2008, the petri dish colony is kicking embryonic ass. Of my seven fertilized embryos, 5 are currently 8 cells, 2 are 6 cells. Transfer is scheduled for Wed., at which time I expect them to line up according to height and weight, don Hazmat suits and flares and transfer themselves to the Uterus of Doom.

I'm hopeful, dammit.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fa la la la la la laaaaaa

Sadly, this picture doesn't do it justice, but up close it's a darn good looking tree. My holiday wish is that it's allowed to live out the season in its fir-like glory, spreading Christmas joy and good cheer to all, instead of being used to impale elves and reindeer.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

This just in...

Of the nine, there are now seven. Seven. An oddly comforting number, better than say .5 or, heaven forbid, 41. Of the nine, one was immature...like I would want that one for a potential child! One fertilized, but then arrested. I have to believe the sight of its seven petri mates lifting weights and discussing Platonic theory caused the poor dear to keel over. Better now I guess than when experiencing the chaos that is the womb. Seven it is. I will get no updates on this motley crew until Monday. I hope that their petri dish isn't situated anywhere near that 20 something that came in after me. They're too soon in this life to experience that kind of performance anxiety. Instead, I will picture them holding embryonic hands and humming Mozart's Requiem.

An early warning to all carolers, reindeer and jolly elves....Beta is December 22. Be warned.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hide the elves

Retrieval was two snaps in a circle. 9 eggs. I was a little disappointed because, typically, I wanted more, more, more. My little lottery tickets. The RE and embryologist were pleased, telling me that this was my best cycle so far on all fronts. I let those words swirl around a bit and allowed myself an atta girl, like a third grader who correctly completes a math problem on the black board. (do they still have black boards?) My atta girls are certainly tempered with a dose of reality. There's a heckofalot more to this process than what we can see and hear. In other words, it's outta my hands. Transfer will be Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on my lining.

This weekend I will stalk the perfect Christmas tree. Tall and skinny and fresh tree smelling. I will also stock up on books and movies and other bribes to keep me from moving about so much on my not really bed rest, bed rest. And then, if it turns out that this transfer does not result in a viable pregnancy and ultimately a pink, round, roly poly child bundle of childness, I will take said tree and stab an elf and at least 6 reindeer.

I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Keeping on with the keep on

If I ultimately go down in a flaming ball of destruction on this cycle, at least I will know my body did everything it could. My body, God love her, is doing everything she can to score one for the home team. E2 levels are awesome (3000), follicle development is stellar (as of today, around 14, all about the same size), and my lining, oh my lining, is 9. A 9 for crying out loud. My RE told me that I'm the overachiever of the week. We actually shared a hearty laugh looking at the ultrasound today. "What are you trying to prove?" he said, as he shook his head. Oh buddy, if you only knew. Retrieval is Friday.

So I'm optimistic. Yes, I'm optimistic, but with a healthy dose of realism. I recognize that typing these words now will do nothing to obviate the sadness if this cycle goes south, I know that. But I will also know that I did everything, everything, to make it work. If this cycle were like the last, which was touch and go from the first minute, I imagine it would be hard for me to walk away. I suspect I would always wonder if I had just given it one more try, maybe the outcome would have been different. Maybe my body would have responded differently. Maybe the timing was just off. Obviously, I've still got some steps to take...I mean, the follicles need to contain actual eggs right? But, this is good. Really good.

Because a girl always needs a plan, I've begun compiling my 39 for 39 list. You know, the 39 things I will accomplish in the year I turn 39. Uh hem, that would be in February. My list includes the exciting "visit Australia" to the challenging "lose those damn 15 *&^%$ pounds" to the philanthropic (TBD). I've still got 24 things to add. All suggestions welcome.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Monday

I'll be darned. Second Ultrasound: 13 follicles. Lining 7.7. Retrieval likely Friday. Approx. 11 days of stims.


Let me recap. IVF#1. Second Ultrasound. 11 follicles. Lining 7. Stimmed 14 days. IVF #2. Second ultrasound. 3 follicles. Decent lining, but 3 follicles. Stimmed 16 days.

I offer this information as support only for my perky Monday mood. I, the UOD ("Uterus of Doom") know very well that an optimistic second ultrasound for one's third IVF is not necessarily a reason for overall optimism, but rather a beginning of the week pick me up. Solely. I am too far in this process not to understand that the proof is, well, in the pudding. That said, I've also learned to enjoy the little pick me ups along the road. So happy am I this Monday. Two Mondays from now I could well be a wallowing lump of pitifulness, but happy am I today.

As further proof that I'm not an optimist, I ordered another $1000 of meds last week to arrive today. Turns out I won't be needing the extra Menopur and I'll have nearly 400 units of Follistim left over. Why you ask? Because I have always stimmed longer than usual...much longer. So I jumped the gun. I ass-umed that I would need more so I went ahead and ordered them. Dumb. Let's do the Math. That's $530 for the menopur and $278 for the follistim I WON'T BE NEEDING. Dare I point out the types of shoe stock that'll buy?

Regardless. Good news.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Status Report

Bad patient. Me. Bad patient. I was behaving myself in the examination room this morning. No, seriously. No glove shooting, no rooting through the drawers, no building of syringe animal figures, no playing with the dildo cam. (oh stop, I never did that even when I did play with it.) I was sitting on the table, pink paper bottom cover appropriately covering bottom, reading the Wall Street Journal. Yes, I did rearrange the crotch level heat lamp so I could see to read, but there was no clear and conspicuous warning and waiver of liability to sign indicating I shouldn't touch. And, ok, I did slightly have to pee, but I had been waiting for a while and I wasn't going to trollop out to the loo with the pink paper bottom cover barely covering bottom. Would you?

All this good behavior and I was chastised by the nurse because my bladder "was so full." Move wand to large mass, see there, that's your bladder. (If she thinks I'm paying extra for that...) It makes it difficult to count the follicles when your bladder is so full. Next time, empty your bladder even if you don't think you have to go. Blah blah blah. So, I had to press down on my ovaries (I expect some money back for that) to get a good shot of my 7 follicles. Even my left ovary was in the game. Not bad, full bladder or not. I'll take 7 at this stage of the game. Lining is less prolific, but there's still time.

And in other news, today (or maybe yesterday) is my ONE YEAR BLOGOVERSARY. Sadly, I don't have 100 posts for my ONE YEAR BLOGOVERSARY, but I like to think of it as quality vs. quantity. Indeed, I believe people all over the country should have a feast tomorrow of turkey, ham, gravy, various starches and winter vegetables, marshmellows and fruit pies in my honor. ONE YEAR. I am humbled. And to the one person reading my blog, I couldn't have done it without you.

Joking aside, Happy Thanksgiving. Despite the disappointments and the uncertainty, I, we, all of us, have much to be thankful for. And I'm thankful for every last drop of this wonderful, aggravating, joyful, heartbreaking life. Salut!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I heart IVF

Fine people, if you have never allowed yourself to undergo IVF, hide the children, go straight to the closest RE's office, throw yourself across the threshold, drag yourself to the registration desk and cry "Please, for the love of God, l'm infertile and I must have IVF." (Please ensure right arm is helplessly crooked over weeping eyes, a la Blanche Dubois.) Seriously, IVF is a ton of fun, why miss out just because your ovaries and other procreating accoutrement work?

I kid, I kid.

Seriously, at least seriously for me, the process of IVF isn't so bad. Physically, that is. I continue to be amazed (what that it hasn't worked? That's another post.) how different it is cycle to cycle. This cycle, for example, I've already bruised from the subcutaneous shots. I never bruised my first cycle. Not really my second cycle. Maybe it's because I'm not paying attention like I used to. On Sunday, I gave myself a shot after inserting a meat thermometer in the leg of a free range chicken. Hmmm. And the menopur shot has never really stung like it has this time. Oh yea, I'm using three vials this time. Duh.

An interesting variation this time is that I'm not using estrogen in any form. My RE is holding off because of a recent study indicating that estrogen may inhibit growth of the endometrium. My lining has never exceeded 8.7, even with varying amounts of estrogen use. I'll be interested to see how or if this works. I will probably go to my first ultrasound tomorrow and find that not only has my lining not plumped up, it has folded into itself and *poof* disappeared, except for the faint outline of a middle finger, viewable only on ultrasound. Such is the luck of a three (four if you count the frozen) time IVF drop out. (It just felt right to inject some pity there.) My bet is that I end up back on the estrogen pill and shots.

So tomorrow we see what's the haps. I'm expecting my left ovary to remaining annoyingly recalcitrant, just like last time, and my right ovary to do its job, although less than adequately, see note about three time drop out above. Lining will be woefully inadequate, but I'm not going to get too worked up about that yet. If I'm on the mark about this, I'll be heading to the 7-11 for my powerball ticket. I'll come out a winner yet!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back in the saddle again...

I'm starting IVF #3. On time. In spite of my 58 day cycle. Who knew! We're already off to a riproaring start.

Meds arrived last Friday. I didn't unpack the box until I arrived home. Yes, yes, I know that Follistem needs to be refrigerated, but I also know...from experience...that they pack it nice and comfy with ice packs. Back off, would you, I'm a pro. I put the Menopur in the refrigerator. Funny, I don't remember it taking up so much space last time. I take the empty box to the garbage outside. In the alley. Behind the garage.

Saturday morning I decide to check off the meds I received against the packing slip. So responsible. Hmm, strange. Follistem pen, but no Follistem. Is it in the fridge with the Menopur? Um, no, but Menopur doesn't need to be refrigerated. Silly. Take nicely chilled Menopur out of the fridge. Smack head, holy smokes, big pharmacy forgot to send me $1500 worth of Follistem. Dumb pharmacy. Call pharmacy. Explain gently, kindly, patiently that of course I checked the box. I'm a pro. I've done this several times. Pharmacy screwed up, send me Follistem. Yes, yes, I'm sure you checked the packing list carefully, big pharmacy, but I wouldn't be so stupid to throw away $1500 of injectables. Yes, thank you. You'll send it next week? Great. Click. Pause. Silence. Put on raincoat, shoes, retrieve box from garbage behind garage in the alley. Remove $1500 worth of Follistem from box, nestled neatly under two ice packs. Call big pharmacy back. Tell them Nevermind.

Like I said, a riproaring good start.

I kind of like the idea of getting my third and final IVF on the road at the end of 2008. It's almost a year to the day since my first IVF. Almost exactly a year of blogging about it. And 2009, well, it will be a new road, one way or the other. And how often do you get to do a fresh cycle and potentially thrown in a blast on ice at the same time? Wicked cool. As a testament to this solemn occasion, I have made the following vows for this, my last IVF:
  1. I will stop purloining latex gloves from the examination room. Yes, they are fun to shoot across the examining room. Yes, there is a thrill in gathering my pink paper bottom half cover and jumping off the exam table to retrieve the gloves and then shove them quickly in my purse to hide the evidence before the nurse comes in . If I simply need a pair of gloves to use at home to slice a jalapeno, I will buy them at the Kroger.
  2. I will stop fiddling with the keys and controls on the dildo cam apparatus before the nurse comes in the room. And I will not retype my name to "uterus of doom." I'm the only one who finds it amusing.
  3. I will no longer ask when the padded covers on the stirrups were last laundered.
  4. I will never ask for my HCG shot to be administered in my thigh. Never, never, never again. I will never again refer to the nurse administering the HCG shot as Satan.
  5. I will never again call the RE a weenie for giving me only two xanax. Along the same vein, I will not justify my comment by pointing out I have the tolerance of a Clydesdale.
  6. Finally, assuming I make it to transfer, I will not suggest to the RE that this time he get the embryos in my uterus, which will be more hospitable then, say, my liver or bladder.
Yep, with this kind of plan, what can go wrong??

Monday, November 10, 2008

Spring Cleaning in November

When I was a little girl, back before my eggs needed wheelchairs and oxygen, after an emotional slump I would rearrange the furniture in my room. Bookshelf moved to another wall, Shawn Cassidy poster thumbtacked to the back of the door instead of over my desk. I lacked the financial resources, e.g., a job, to pull up the bright orange carpet or create a meditation garden, but physical rearrangement of my space usually did the trick. Hence, the rearrangement of my little blog. It's not much considering the personal technological impediments I don't have the patience to overcome, but it's kind of doing the trick for me.

It has been an emotional slump around these parts and not for the usual reasons. If you haven't noticed (typed firmly tongue in cheek) it's an economic maelstrom out there. At my company, hundreds of people are being informed this week that they're losing their jobs. I'm not one of them. I'm thankful and yet, down in the dumps; shoulders slumping, corners of the mouth downturned, down in the dumps. So much uncertainty for so many people, well, for all of us. In my professional life, I've had to deliver difficult news before. This has been gut wrenching. It is one thing when someone loses a job in a healthy economy. It's quite another when there are no comparable jobs to move into. Makes me want to rearrange the furniture of the country.

Dare I even point out that winter is upon us? For some, this is good news. A change of season, gentle snow showers, hot chocolate, holiday cheer. Pheh. You see falling snow, I see chapped lips and malfunctioning water heaters. You see skiing and picturesque mountains, I see mangled limbs and a directionally challenged, blind St. Bernard with an empty cask. Reindeer? Roadkill. Warm fluffy sweaters? Socks with holes in the big toe. Did I mention I got on the scale this morning? Clinical Depression, take a left at the plunging thermostat. Fa la la la laaaaa....

Monday, November 3, 2008

What to Say, What to Say...

I'm feeling like a one trick pony. A one trick infertile pony. What I mean is that I'm tired of talking about infertility. I'm saying the same things over and over, except sometimes, when I'm creative, I use different words. Sadly, I don't feel that creative anymore. Even worse is that I'm not only tired of my own infertileness, I'm tired of everyone else's too. It's just so damn sad and all consuming. And other times, it's the opposite of sad and I can't relate. I've run out of words.

Many of the women I started out with are now pregnant, or have made a decision to move to adoption or to live without children or to try more treatments. Many more women are just starting out with the same joyful naivete that I did. IVF: the final frontier. We have all or will soon combat our own immeasurable sadness and joy and uncertainty and soul searching and anger. We have all been or will be changed by our own unique experiences. My stroll down Infertility Ave. is close to ending. One final IVF and then the outcome. Of course an uncertain outcome but one I'm ready to meet. I've had enough. And I'm ok with that.

Lest I sound terribly ungrateful, I'm not. I have been buoyed innumerable times by the support I've received in this internet community. I've been the lucky recipient of sage advice and warm hugs and some laugh out loud moments. I've met some wonderful, dynamic people whose real names I don't know but whose most private lives I follow closely through words. I have been lucky indeed to have people rooting for me and sending kind words when the bottom drops out. But. But. I'm tired of infertility. No, I'm simply tired of defining myself by my inability to procreate. Of being a one trick pony.

All this to say that I'm in a quandary about what to do with this little blog. A part of me wants to print off everything I've written and have it bound into a tight little package to look at again...sometime...in the future. Another part says take some time and refocus and come back refreshed with a more interesting carnival. Maybe keep the pony for a little while but add a few elephants, clowns and a circus tent. (And always some corn dogs and an elephant ear.)

So off I go for a little while. Just need a little focus.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And a comma.

In another ironic twist, I've been prescribed Provera to bring on my period. Silly, naif that I am, I had always assumed that the lack of a period in the baby-making process was a good thing. In this case, not so, not so. So I await my period. No "spontaneous" pregnancy for me. (How she did laugh when she realized that a "spontaneous" pregnancy in my case means one achieved without a doctor, an embryologist, a nurse and a catheter.) Even more hilarity ensued when I realized that, if all goes according to plan, my 2ww will fall during Christmas. (Or given my last marathon stim session, I'll be transferring during Midnight mass.) Fa la la la la la.

I'm ready to get this show on the road. In the last year, I've had two fresh cycles and one frozen. I never, never, in my wildest dreams expected to be getting ready to go forward with #3 (or #4 depending on how you look at it.) Other than my age, there are no significant issues that should preclude this from working. I don't get it. But slowly, I'm beginning to realize that I'm not supposed to get it or control it or force it into being, I just can do everything I can and accept the outcome. I'm working on it.

The last couple of weeks have very much driven home how little control we have. This economy is throwing many lives into disarray. Those who were secure in their livelihoods a year ago are now dangling in uncertainty. It's affecting our family and our friends. Ourselves. It's tough to get upset about losing money in the stock market when others have lost their jobs. Selfishly, it's a good lesson for a girl who many times in the last year has thrown up her hands and said "why me. Why pick on me??"

So, enough for this disjointed post. I blame it on the hormones. (Personal responsibility only goes so far!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

End of Sentence.

The first day of my last period was September 21, 2008. Sunday. Today is October 27, 2008. I have had no period since September 21, 2008, which was one week after my last failed IVF. That's 37 days. I'm not pregnant because the peestick I christened on Friday says, most emphatically, I'm not pregnant. I have been instructed to take my last birth control pill on November 18 in preparation for my third and final IVF. One can't begin taking birth control pills until one's period arrives. I have felt crampy and headachey and blah-y for the last two weeks. No period. I wore white pants after labor day yesterday. No period. Seriously, what the hell?

Possible Reasons:

1. My body is on strike. Holding out for more favorable treatment and higher pay. No negotiations. No crossing the picket lines. I start eating my vegetables, exercising regularly and getting regular spa treatments, body returns to work. Normal bodily functions ensue. Body to Melanie: You're not the boss of me, scab. Melanie to Body: Uh, no shit.

2. Body and Mind are in collusion. Mind tells Body that shots are right around the corner. Mind reminds Body of physical effects of shots. Body points out that Body only recently healed from last round of punctures. Body reminds Mind how crazy Mind gets when shots ensue. Mind grows angry. Body follows suit. Body and Mind become co-conspirators. Melanie screwed.

3. The mighty infertility forces ("MIF") realize that lack of a period was never a factor Melanie factored in. With unbridled glee, the MIF punish her for making plans in advance and otherwise attempting to assert control over the MIF. Once sufficient angst and wringing of hands has occurred, MIF will allow the red surge. Cue evil laughter.

4. See previous post. Bitch slap from fate.

Tomorrow I visit the RE. More then.

Friday, October 24, 2008

On Hiatus and then a question mark.

And now I'm back. Last week, I was at a conference in Austin, TX. The kind of conference where the lack of natural sunlight transforms you into a subterranean burrowing mammal with small covered eyes. And it was with a bunch of lawyers. I hate lawyers. Monday of this week more than made up for it. I played in a golf tournament at Valhalla in Louisville, where the Ryder Cup was held this year. It was spectacularly beautiful. Even the errant shots and occasional whiffs (okay and scattered F-bombs) didn't take away from the beauty of the day. Not to mention the guilty pleasure of playing golf on a Monday. And drinking a beer at noon.

I will be starting another cycle in November. That is, I will be starting another cycle if I ever get my period. No, no, I'm not pregnant. But I am 7 days late. I've never been 7 days late. I've been a consistent 29-30 day cycle-er for many a moon now, but for some reason, I'm 7 days late. I can't start taking BCP if I don't get a period. Strangely, I was never late after any of my IVF cycles either. I can't attribute it to stress or travel or weight gain/loss, so I guess I'm flummoxed. Or, I'm going through menopause. And wouldn't that just be the final bitch slap from fate? (I should just link back to my gazillion posts on how infertility always, always throws you a curve ball.)

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

High School Reunion

Infertility gets old. One year into "active" infertility, which I define as seeking pregnancy with the assistance of at least three medical personnel at any one time and culminating in the insertion of a catheter, I find that I'm tired, oh so tired, of the subject of infertility. E2 levels and linings and number of follicles. The hope, the plunging defeat. And God love all of you who are just starting out, but I'm tired too of the "I just know the first one will work"optimism of the newly actives. The excitement and fear when the first huge box of meds arrives. The sense of accomplishment with the first successful shot. Give me a puppy to kick.

Infertility drives home the adage that too much of anything is never a good thing. I remember vividly, painfully my first love. I was 16, he was 18. He was the kind of boy your mother warned you about and the warning was delicious. He was often at arms length, sometimes tantalizingly close, but never mine. I was painfully, hopelessly smitten and he broke my heart. It took me years to get over him. Years to realize that the challenge, the "just this much out of my grasp" was the real appeal, not the boy. At that age, I didn't, couldn't, fully see the damage I was doing to myself in my relentless focus on something I couldn't control. We know, don't we, that the only thing you really lose is yourself.

Infertility is a lot like my first love. A lot, but not quite.

Unlike with my first love, my goal here isn't simply to win the challenge, cross the finish line, collect $200, ha, I showed you, fate! (Although yes, it does piss me off that I can't accomplish something I've worked so hard for, but that's another post.) The similarity is what happens when you lose yourself.

Infertility. Heartbreak. Desire. You set your sights on something and you work like hell to reach the outcome. Sometimes the desired result is firmly outside of your grasp, other times it's a whisper of a maybe; you can feel the possibility in you. Then it's gone. Leaving the inevitable "why can't it be me" or "what did I do wrong?" For some of us, the weeks turn into months and the months turn into a year and you find yourself sorting through the cupboard of your heart wondering what's missing. What part of you have you neglected in your pursuit of something over which you have absolutely no control?

I can offer no poignant or even insightful conclusions here. Just a dawning certitude that I've been neglectful of me. My unyielding focus on an outcome has crowded out some of the Melanieness that I need to feel whole. And balanced. And, well, sane. Ok, and not a bitch.

And by the way, I saw my first love again several years ago.

He was so not worthy of me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Swing, batter, batter, batter

My three day FSH is....normal. 6. Not high, as I expected. No flashing lights on the test results "Turn back now oh ye of diminishing ovarian reserve." My RE wants to change the protocol to microdose lupron, which he explained was for "poor responders" though he assured me I'm not technically a "poor responder." (Like I'm a tender flower at this point.) He is suggesting that we do another fresh cycle, go to blast and thaw my frozen blast for transfer as well. (Throw 'em all in, each and every one.) Nothing points to the need for donor eggs, according to the RE. In sum, I'm on the shit side of statistics. If I'm up for it, let's try again.

And this is why I love my husband. My husband has a child and a grandchild, both of whom he adores. He has me. And, if I do say so myself, which I will, I'm fun to be with, cute as a button, though a tad on the chubby side lately (IVF drugs and consolatory food and beverage) and financially self sufficient. What's not to love? We have a great life. Why should he complicate his life by adding a bawling, life sucking infant? Because I want one.

We had decided that IVF #2 was the final frontier. That is, until after 11 days of icepicks to my chest and barnacles on my heart, I knew that it couldn't be over yet for me. That I could not live with the "what if I had tried again?" If my FSH had come back high, if my RE had introduced the donor egg discussion or the "I'm just not optimistic that this will work" talk, I could walk away with assurances that I had done everything, but it just wasn't in the cards. So I planned my discussion, readied my arsenal and before I got the words out, my husband said "we'll try again." (And later, "please speak clearly into the microphone that the third time is it.")

So, we live to fight again. It is lovely to have a plan. To have made a decision. I mean, stranger things have happened, right?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Waterfalls my ass.

This just in: "Kidman credits fertile water with pregnancy" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26867732/. Yes, according to Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman "swimming in Australian Outback waterfalls may promote fertility and might have contributed to her unexpected pregnancy over the past year." Sigh.

I don't subscribe to the notion that everyone, including public figures, must share every aspect of their lives to everyone they come in contact with. In fact, I think we, as a society, are too forthcoming about too many things (reality shows) and too quick to put it all out there (reality shows). I get particularly irritated with the arrogance of "it's my opinion and I'm entitling everyone else to hear about it." As if couching hurtful words in the form of an opinion makes it any less hurtful. But that's another post.

My point is that when you choose to share, you should be honest. Responsible too. Even if you're famous. Especially if you're famous. I don't personally know Jennifer Lopez. I've never met Nicole Kidman. I do know, however, that women of a certain age are exponentially more likely to have issues with fertility. I also feel certain that famous, driven women of a certain age who have also publicly expressed their desire to have children are very likely going to take steps to achieve that desire. Greater steps than, say, water ballet in waterfalls or simply thinking positive thoughts.

When I learned that we had fertility issues, my first thought was "ok, we just do in vitro." Solved that. It never entered my mind that it might not work. It certainly never entered my mind how emotionally wrenching it would become. And if I, a fairly educated and not naive type person, discounted the difficulties I would face as an over-the-age-of-35, trying-to-have-a-child woman, I feel sure many others out there do as well. Exacerbating this are those famous people who "unexpectedly" bear children in their late thirties and early forties, while denying any involvement at all with assisted reproductive technology. Hooey, I say.

I have told very few people in real life that I've had IVF. Not because I'm ashamed but because I'm private, the issue is hugely painful and emotional, and I also don't share info about bikini waxes or how much I've spent on shoes (unless I got a great deal and want to appear thrifty). When I do share my sordid reproductive history with someone in real life, I take care to share it as honestly as possible because the issue deserves so much respect. And maybe it will prevent that sharee from being insensitive to a fellow infertile.

I recognize that not every woman in her late thirties and forties must use ART to get pregnant. The overwhelming majority do though, and it's insulting to us, said majority, when famous people suggest that they were just blessed, God answered their prayers (not the rest of us heathens), fate shined on them, they were patient and it happened, twins just run in their families, and heavens no we didn't do in vitro.

Oh, and Nicole Kidman's never had plastic surgery either.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Thank you Anne. You have no idea how much this touched me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Time to Mourn

Yep, I'm feeling it. The gray, olive green clouds. The quick temper. The raw, exposed nerve endings. Difficulty concentrating. Sprinklings of tears, always out of the blue, unpredictable but reliably so. A jellybean of loss, lodged like a splinter. Comforting words bounce off like raindrops, leaving me, well, feeling all soggy. Vacillating between wanted to be coddled and wishing for an impenetrable layer of People B' Gone.

E asked me if I needed to talk to someone. Of course, it set me off. "About what?" I asked? "I need to pay someone to offer me sympathy and tell me that I can have a rich, full life even without a child?" I know that. Of course I know that. I just need to mourn what could have been for a little of while. And if I'm snappy and short, well, get over it. (I thought I trained him better... just yes me and send me flowers.)

I really feel, with the assistance of Dr. Google, that physically it is over for me, even if I was willing to commit even more money and time. I've had two failed fresh cycles and one miscarriage from a frozen cycle. I'm 6 months from 39. Try as I might with the assistance of very creative Google searches, the odds are far from being in my favor. My RE, the doll, made it clear that ovarian reserve can diminish greatly in a short period of time. My response to this last cycle bears that out. But still.

In the vein of if wishes were horses, I just wish I knew. The humble comfort of certainty. Oyster, meet my world. Pack up the bags, hon, I'm taking that international job and we're moving to Spain. Or culinary school just for kicks. Why the hell not. I was walking from my car this morning and I thought, "you're just not going to be able to have this child," almost like some doctor somewhere had proclaimed it physically impossible. And it gave me peace. Permission to plan, I guess. For just a moment.

But I'm just not there yet. Maybe I will be after we meet with the doctor. Maybe after I try another frozen cycle with my one, freezing little blast. Maybe my issue is not so much having a child as it is dealing with the palpably bitter disappointment of failure. Failure and sympathy, frick and frack. Oh, yea, and just feeling so darn vulnerable and exposed. You know, the things that percoset can't touch.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Cat Ate My Peestick

I have no idea what I mean by that title, but sadly, even if a cat did eat, or pee even, on my peestick, the result would be the same. Negative. To add insult to injury, my box of peesticks contained two kinds of sticks: (1) the glaring middle finger type of peestick and (2) the subtle "you are so not pregnant, beeyatch" type. I did have my beta today but I told them only to call me if my blood work reveals tomorrow's winning lottery numbers. Funny, the phone has been strangely silent.

I feel ok, though. Sad, of course. Confused, well always. Contemplative, definitely. I have given thought to what this means for me, at least in the near term. I will definitely lose some weight and start exercising again. I'm going to buy some shoes. Probably some really expensive ones. I'm going to revisit my "10 things to do before I die" list, maybe expand it to 12.

Thank you for your well wishes and for the glorious lack of "I'm sorry's" and "It's still early's." I love that I read nary a one. And I very much appreciate you offering up your housepets for blame. The little shits.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Uterus of the Damned

I'm about 99% sure this cycle is over. I bought pregnancy tests on the way to work this morning, snuck to the bathroom, orchestrated the test....and a bigger, more obnoxiously speedy negative you have never seen (ok, many of you have). It's 10dp3dt, so I'm sure it's over.

Please, no "I'm sorry's" or "it's still early's."

Shitty luck.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt.

I can feel the lightening bolts and pelting rain positioning above my head as I type this. Here goes: I don't want this two week wait to end. I don't. Really. I want to reschedule my Beta for sometime in October. Or January. I want to continue to live in the glorious netherworld of the unknown; of the maybes; of the "is that a tad bit of nausea brought upon by my powerful sensory aversion to the pregnancy hormone, or should I just not have had that 3rd taco? I'm living in denial and I like it here.

I haven't bought any pregnancy tests either. And now that I think about it, I don't think I've even scheduled a time to go in for my beta. Who is this interloper who has taken over my type A, "give me control or give me death" person? No idea, but if she's a good cook and can get me out of the office on time, she's hired.

Seriously, I had "the" conversation with myself last night. It went something like this: "Self, you have no control over the outcome, just how you handle the outcome. Your period of blissful ignorance is coming to an end so it's time to deal. It was a shit cycle, but you ended up with four fairly decent blobs of potential human life (did I mention that my last embryo made it to freeze?). This was a seriously good effort, but now it's time to deal in the here and now. And you can handle the outcome. You have before, you can do it again. So, put down the faux daiquiri and smell the noncaffeinated coffee. And lose some weight while you're at it." Bitch.

So that's where I am. I wouldn't say that I'm treading water, just that I'm floating on a very comfortable raft on a river in Egypt with no natural predators and a good book. And, self be damned, I get to stay here for just a little while longer.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes

My herculean efforts to occupy my time whilst "resting" for 72 hours following transfer led me back a year to some journal entries (pre blog) I wrote during my first IVF. In them, I analyzed each and every "symptom", waned on about how "perfect" my cycle went and concluded, wistfully and between the lines of course, that I just knew it would work. I love the smell of naivete in the morning. I say this not with bitterness or irony, but, wow, what a difference a year makes.

This cycle ended up pretty well for being such a shitty touch and go cycle. But still, it's out of my hands. No "Dr. Google" for me on this one. I know, for example, that there are no symptoms during the 2ww, regardless of what anyone says or thinks or hopes. Any symptoms you have are a direct result of the HCG, progesterone and estrogen shots (not to mention the other substances you've been pumping in your body for weeks). Your breasts are sore not because you are a world class incubator of embryos or blasts but because of the aforementioned. Though I admit to drinking raspberry leaf tea, submitting myself to acutorture and eating copious amounts of pineapple (No hardship...I love the stuff), I'm not convinced it makes a hill of beans difference. (Couple that for this 72 hour resting nonsense I'm too paranoid not to follow...well as much as I can follow any kind of advice.) Nope, regardless of whether you do or do not believe in a higher power, make no doubt about it, this one's out of your hands.

I've also found that my support needs have changed dramatically since my relationship with the dildo cam blossomed into a long term affair. Three friends total know. I told these women because, well obviously, they're good friends but really because they asked. In a supportive, but refreshingly noncloying, genuinely interested way. Though the discussions have been brief, the support has been felt. I didn't tell my mother until after my first week of stims, not because I didn't want her to know, but because I knew her support was there, gentle and nurturing, and I didn't even have to say a word to get it. No tears this cycle, despite the ups and downs, and the very real possibility that it may not be in the cards for me. (Seriously, 38 doesn't seem old, but it's ancient in egg years.)

The last time, too too many people knew. Certainly, those who knew were interested and supportive, but when it came time for the fat lady to sing, the song was too much. For me, at least. I've absorbed a lifetime of I'm sorries. I find the sympathy clings to me like a wool coat in summer, the tag on the collar reads "you are to be pitied."

Not to say that the tears won't come if this cycle goes belly up. If so, I will surely exhibit a good bit of private wound licking, why me's, life's unfairs. I will probably lose my temper at someone who asks me if I know on which aisle the radishes are sold. But I've also found that with life's greatest disappointments, acceptance comes in time and hopefully grace enters the picture too. In time. Oh, in time and if you let it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How about them apples?

I know better than to get excited or even mildly optimistic, but my four little eggs really kicked some ass. I ended up with two eight cells and two seven cells for my three day transfer. Last time, I had 14 eggs, 9 mature, 7 fertilized, transferred an eight cell and a five cell and froze two blasts. We transferred three this morning and my darling husband was sweating bullets. It didn't help when I mentioned that I've always wanted quads so let's put the fourth in. Kidding, oh so kidding. So who knows? All I can say is that this is pretty good turn out for four little eggs that twice almost didn't get the chance to do the labamba in the petri dish.

For what it's worth, if this is my last cycle, I feel a certain amount of confidence that we put heart, soul, belly, thigh and both butt cheeks into it. And ears and feet if you count acutorture.

So we'll see. And absolutely yes I will be peeing on a stick long before the beta.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What a difference a cycle makes

There's no comparing this fresh cycle to the last one. The last cycle couldn't have gone more perfectly. I responded immediately and quickly to the stims, my lining cooperated, the retrieval and transfer went swimmingly. Alas, it ended with a BFN despite the ease.

This cycle could not have had more ups and downs. I was on the maximum dosage of stims for 17 days. Intramuscular estrogen shots were also part of the regimen (still are), as are PIO shots. I came within a froghair of getting cancelled twice. And I don't remember feeling so crappy after retrieval. In fact, I called E at work after the retrieval to ask him if someone put an ice pick in my thigh or if I offended the RE and was kicked off the gurney. Not so. Apparently, I was complaining about how my hip hurt from the trigger shot, so they--at my request --gave me the hcg shot in MY THIGH. I remember squat about this, but feel sure I wouldn't have made the same request sober. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

The good news is that they retrieved five eggs, one a midget. The midget didn't fertilize, but the other four did. So, we'll see. I'll do a three day transfer assuming the fab four don't hatch a suicide pack in the next couple of days. I was pushing for a five day transfer, but that was before the world's most irritatingly long and expensive stim cycle. And, we're heading to Charleston, SC next week for some golf, sun and relaxation. A five day transfer would mean ta-ta sunny South. So we'll see.

Emotionally, I'm doing much better. I had some close calls with the threatened cancellations, but feel like I'm back to myself. I've been very selective about who I've told in real life, so many thanks to you for your unfailing support (and particularly for helping me with the rage and anger directive a few posts back. Boy, was that refreshing).

I leave you with this....never, ever, under any circumstances allow an HCG shot to the thigh. Trust me. Never.

Friday, August 29, 2008

You wouldn't be messing with me, would you?

When I'm old(er) and gray(er), I hope I look back on this experience with gratitude. Not necessarily for bringing me a child (if that happens) but for driving home (again and again, ad nauseum) that the world does not revolve around me. That I simply don't have control over everything that I wish I had control over. I can't guarantee that I'll ever be that humble, but I most assuredly do recognize that I can't do squat if my body has other ideas.

That said, my lining is, again, fluffier than it ever has been. 8.5. Follicles are less prolific than last time, but hey, they're all roughly the same size and, well, my short term memory sucks at this point too. I recognize that when my follicles are forcibly sucked out of my body there very well could be little aliens inside giving me the collective finger. The good news for now is that this cycle is on track. After 16 days of stims. Nearly $5000 in drugs alone.

I'll take some good news for the long weekend.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is a joke, right?

File this under the category of "Never get complacent whilst undergoing IVF." I've mentioned before that in vitro is a vengeful beast. First IVF, you produce a great lining, pump out some decent embryos to transfer and a few to freeze, make it to beta and zippo...hello negative. Ok. First FET, you pump yourself full of lupron, dine on estrogen tabs, schlump along to transfer then...blammo, your lining sucks in like it's Oscar night and a size 0 Carolina Herrara. Cancelled. First FET times 2, you again pump yourself full of lupron and estrogen tabs, throw in some shots of estrogen to the tail and make it to transfer with 2 high quality blasts. You expect, based on your experience, a negative OR a positive. Turns out you should have chosen "c", all of the above, for a positive, followed by a negative. Alrighty.

So you start fresh. Your experience tells you that you'll likely get a decent number of follicles like last time, might have some lining issues, but the shots in the tail should take care of it like last time. You'll make it to transfer and this time, you'll get either a negative, a positive followed by a negative, or a real positive. Silly girl. Why should you put any faith in past experiences? The vengeful beast has other plans.

Last week, I was thiiisss close to being canceled because my follicles were slow to develop. My lining though had never been better. This week, turns out my lining thinks it should be wearing Valentino and my follicles are on the move. Eeehh? So, I'll make it to retrieval but not to transfer if my lining doesn't GAIN BACK THE TWO MM IT LOST OVER THE @#$%^&*! WEEKEND.

How can this be? How can this BE, I ask you? I was with my lining all weekend. There were no black tie events. No one, I assure you, was on a diet. No one was traumatized to the point of losing weight. How does this happen?

No "I'm sorries." I need answers. If no answers, then please help me find the appropriate person or thing to blame for this.

Friday, August 22, 2008

1000 Sorries

Death. Terminal illness. Divorce. Infertility. Try as I might, I can't conceive (no shit) of four more stressful, devastating, isolating, heart wrenching situations one could face. I write this with confidence because my own fabulous therapist (8 IVFs) confirmed that indeed, infertility is part of the big four. The issue I have is how we respond to those of us facing one of the above. Drum roll please, that issue I'm specifically interested in is Infertility.

The support I've received in this forum has been wonderful and affirming. At times I have felt that the only place I can snuggle up with my like kind has been here, in this community. But I've also reached a point where I can't hear "I'm so sorry" anymore without cringing, or lately polishing off my hard exoskeleton and letting the words bounce right off. I know that every sentiment of condolence has been sincere and heartfelt, but I've reached my lifetime maximum of sorries, I'm not sorry to say. Perhaps I need more therapy, but the more "I'm sorries" I hear, the more I hear that I'm to be pitied. I can't bear that.

So I propose a new lexicon for those battling infertility.
  • When a cycle is cancelled because of an anorexic lining, the proper response is this: "Fucking Whole Foods for selling out of raspberry leaf tea; don't they know how many people are undergoing IVF in [insert geographical area]." Or "Dumbass RE couldn't figure out until too late that intramuscular estrogen shots are more effective than those patches that don't stick to human skin." "Bastards."
  • If your cycle is cancelled because you're follicles aren't developing, the proper response is: "Stupid nurse didn't know any better than to jam the dildocam into your left ovary, scaring your follicles into submission until next cycle?" "Bitch."
  • How about this for a BFN? "Moron embryologist should have know to do a five day transfer to weed out the weak little three dayers." Or "Your stupid embryologist should have known that the longer you leave embryos in a petri dish, the more they squabble and get discontented with life. That's why they should have done a three day transfer." "Idiots."

You get the picture. I recognize that this new lexicon is fairly low on the accountability ladder, but frankly my dear infertiles, I don't give a damn. All missteps, failures, bad news, uncertainty and unexpected events should be someone else's fault. I speak only for me obviously, but, please, I implore you, help me put the blame elsewhere. No "I'm sorries." No "My heart breaks for you." I want anger. I want rage. I want venom directed to some moron somewhere who screwed up my cycle, my pregnancy, my emotional wellbeing. And if I've done something to screw up my cycle, I want a steady stream of directed, red hot fire at the individual or situation who or which disrupted me enough to cause me to screw up, even if said culprit is not readily identifiable.

All this babble to say, I like me better when I'm angry. I'm good when I'm pissed. I'm worthless when I'm a ball of self pitying mush muttering insensibly to the wall "why me?"

As for my August cycle, which I've been loathe to talk about, it's been one big roller coaster of bullshit and it's someone else's fault. My lining is like a 20 year olds. Seriously. My follicles are behaving like someone's geriatric great grandmother. That said, it still continues. I thought it would be cancelled today, but my right ovary has decided to perk up (the right side? It pains my liberal soul.) So we proceed. Despite all those bastards throwing me curve balls.

Say it with me, "Bastards."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Talk to me.

There are few topics as polarizing for those of us who don't have children as the topic of children. Let me shuffle back a few steps. After my first BFN and then my miscarriage, the topics of pregnancy and babies chafed. Justifiably so, I contend. Later, after a bit of time and some pretty darn good counseling, the topics don't bother me. Pregnant bellies and bumps and registrations for baby gifts don't bother me. Baby showers do bother me, but they always have, as have wedding showers. Thirty plus year old women are not meant to play pin the penis on the groom. I'm happy to talk about friends' and relatives' children, schools and such. I'll talk about nannies and preschool and the silly, funny child-like antics of child-people. I'll even endure insensitive fertility comments from those who should know better. But what really gets me are those folks who can't talk about anything other than their children. Those folks who aren't anything else.

I was at a work event the other day and spouses were invited. Several of my male colleagues brought their female spouses. I introduced myself to the wives and the discussion inevitably centered around children. Nannies, preschools, summer camps, teachers, funny child-like antics of child-people. And it never left. Not once. Any discussion of other interests quickly circled back to children and all topics causally related to children. I said my "nice to meet you's" and moved on. I wasn't uncomfortable or jealous, just bored. Certainly, an important part of friendships and social get togethers are finding common ground and interests, updating folks on your life...but at some point, hell, let's move on.

No doubt, having children changes your life, makes it different, fuller maybe, more complicated sure. I also know that serious life events, like children, deserve a fair amount of discussion. But I also know, with every thing that I am, that there's more to life than children. I say this as a person who wants a child and who will try again for a child, but who values even more than that who she is and how far she's come. And, for me, how astoundingly important it is to continue to have my own interests and pursuits. If anything, these many child centric discussions lately have made me thank my lucky stars for those women in my life who, lovely as their children may be, also like to dish a little dirt about their boss, share a perfect cabernet and hit a little white ball in a forward direction (god willing) on some well manicured grass. Not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stick a fork in me

Puerto Rico was not what I expected. The hotel was not what I expected. The beach was not what I expected. Sooo, Carpe Diem and screw expectations, we had a ball anyway. A ball, I tell you. For the record, Puerto Ricans have the right attitude.

The first day on the beach we were carefully encased in our fluffy lounges with a perfectly tilted sunbrella. I moved my book down a few inches from my face (my daily exercise) and noticed a woman walking toward the water. Not skinny, definately pudgy, more than pudgy actually and in a two piece bathing suit. My first thought, of course, was you've got to be kidding me. She surely cannot believe that that suit is weight appropriate. Please, no, that is not a good look. Book creeps down farther, more exercise. Heavens, it's been 15 years since I've even picked up a two piece at the store and she's got 50 lbs on me. Hrrmpf, what is she thinking?

I never found out what she was thinking, but I slowly realized that she wouldn't give two shits what I was thinking because she was having a good time. She was comfortable in her own skin, enjoying the beach, catching some rays and carrying the right attitude. And she wasn't the only one. I saw many, many women shakin' what their mamas gave them who in the U.S. wouldn't be caught dead without full cover pantaloons. Freeing actually. That's not to say that I skivvied down to a g string and nipple tassles, but it did cause me to think about how we Americans are so image obsessed. More than image obsessed, I think. We tend to define one standard of beauty, which is always skinny, skinny and impossibly young.

And speaking of skinny, I did some fine eatin. If you're ever in San Juan, ever I say, immediately exit the airport, head straight for Old San Juan and immediately go to Marmalades. http://www.marmaladepr.com/index.htm If the restaurant is closed, just sit patiently on the front stoop until dinnertime. My dinner consisted of three appetizers: (1) grilled peaches with lemon mascarpone and proscuitto; (2) paella bites and (3) gnocchi with braised beef ribs...don't know that I ever would have typed those two together in the same appetizer, but such is life's little blessings. I also got a little sample of love...the white bean soup. With thin scallions. Crispy pancetta. Black truffle oil.

Next week I'm off to Newport, Rhode Island for a company meeting. I've never been to Newport, so let me know if there's a sight I absolutely shouldn't miss. If it involves food I assure you I'll find it. My return should be greeted with a very large, expensive box of medicines. Sigh.

Did I tell you about the paella bites?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oh Bother.

Ah, a full pot of honey. Cool, summer day. Flower-filled meadow. Good friends. Melanie the Pooh. Or maybe Ee-yore without the "woe is me". I will admit this only to you, blog land, but I'm a girl without much drive this summer. Today for example I find myself longing for Friday because then Saturday will be the next day. And Saturday brings a good float in the pool, a nice spy trash novel, and later, a cocktail. I call it the Just Coastin' Cocktail, vodka, fresca and a splash of cranberry. Ahhh.

I haven't enjoyed summer this much in a long time.

E and I are going to San Juan, Puerto Rico next Wed. for a long weekend. It's his birthday and we wanted to get away somewhere relatively easy to get to. The place we're staying has a casino and a spa. And a bar. I doubt that I will lose the ten pounds I planned to lose before next Wed., so I go with a light heart and a slightly chubby physique. No worries. Those ten pounds will be around to lose after San Juan. And it's true, tan flab looks a lot better than pale flab.

And on the infertility front, I ordered my meds today. $2,800. Not quite the same event it was the first time around, but that's ok. Start sometime mid-August, so I've got a few weekends to go.

I'm going back to my meadow now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It seems like ages, dahling...

Goodness me, it's hard for a girl to escape the topic of infertility these days. I've counted no less than five articles on infertility issues online in the last week. For example, who knew that fertility in men decreases after age 40? (She types with a straight face.) And that's not counting the omnipresent pregnant celebrity, which I wouldn't know about anyway because I'm entirely too cultured to read about such things. Ahem.

I've very much enjoyed my fertility vacation. I've been keeping up with all of you, though I haven't been commenting as often. Sort of makes me a cad, I guess, like an "I meant to call, really" kind of blogger. In my defense, I've just needed to be away from it all. Dramatic sigh, back of hand to forehead.

I dipped back into the infertility pool this morning. Ordinarily, my RE's office is fairly empty. I show up, get wanded and get the flock out. This morning it was packed. With couples. Dear God in heaven, it was "results" day. First couple walks in, holding hands, anxious, I hear her tell the nurse at the reception area that the nerves are killing her. Another couple comes in, nervous smiles, gentle pats. And there I sit. Wondering. Trying not to make eye contact. Giving them their private hopes. Clearly, this is the first try for the first and second couples. The third couple that walks in looks a bit more road weary and time tested. I eventually learn that of the three couples, one is pregnant, the others are not. Could it be, finally, for couple #3?

There's always an easy familiarity at the RE's office. Jokes and smiles and hugs. My favorite nurse crashed her grocery cart into mine at the local Kroger. Crappy driver. I didn't stop to wonder until later if the couples noticed, hoping they would never have occassion to build that kind of rapport.

The appointment went well. Everything looks good, is where it should be, nothing where it shouldn't be. I have to take their word for it; I continue to believe that my uterus looks more like a rutabaga than a uterus on the dildocam. Hmm, maybe that's the ...? Anyway, everyone feels really good about this next cycle. Me, too. I feel good and strong and resolved. I really do.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Movin On.

I was raped when I was 22 years old. Just home from college, living with my parents, stymied about my future. I was walking through the neighborhood on the street next to the railroad tracks. I had my headphones on, listening to Soul ll Soul, Keep on Movin. Time to lose the freshman 15. A sunny, hot July day. Not a soul in sight. A man came up behind me and put a plastic bag over my head. I had just walked under the highway overpass. We struggled across the road and, talk about things going downhill from there, fell into a drop on the side of the road. Deep brush hid it from the road. It was where the drainage tunnel ran under that street and the two roads on the other side of the railroad tracks.

I remember four things very clearly. One, that I couldn't believe this was how it was going to end. So much life to live and it's over, like this? In a drop on the side of the road? I didn't see angels. I didn't feel the presence of the spirit, any spirit. No fear anymore, just blinding carnal anger that it would end like this. I remember clearly the musty smell of damp earth; damp smells bothered me for many years after. I remember my ear bleeding from the impact of my ear and headphones hitting the ground and, strangely, the rapist expressing concern. Asking if it hurt. But my clearest memory is after the rape. Right after. He told me to crawl through the drainage tunnel and not to look back. He wouldn't kill me if I didn't look back. I didn't look back. The light at the end of the tunnel was, blessedly, just that.

The police caught the man who raped me. They told me that when he was arrested he looked like shit, bruises and scratches and scrapes. They told me that he looked worse than me. I think they were just being kind, but it made me smile. Take that! His lawyer (damn lawyers!) said it was consensual, then quickly dropped that claim. He pleaded guilty. He was 18 years old and ended up spending the maximum in prison for 1st degree rape, 15 years. Registered sex offender for life. I fought my demons and my anger for a couple of years after the rape, but got over it with help. And time. I rarely think about it anymore. Truly. Even on the anniversary, July 2. Today.

I've been thinking about it, please not for sympathy, but in the context of Movin On. Life moving on, people moving on, even though you're not ready to or you just can't, for whatever reason. My low point after the rape was after the trial, after the "My God, you're so strong's", after the "what can I/we do to make it better, safer, easier, more comfortable's for you." At the point when the world goes about its business, as it does, as it must, but you haven't. How can everyone go on living, happily living, when my world is falling apart and the anger is making me toxic, I thought? Ok, fine. Then stop the world and let me off. Just for a little while.

What does this have to do with infertility? Absolutely nothing. Everything. Infertility, like any major life event, has the power to knock you to the ground, fixate you, obsess you, tie you in knots, cause you to fling open your arms and scream to the world "Are you kidding me, why ME?" Indeed, I've found myself perilously close at times to doing just that and then collapsing on the floor in a self-induced puddle of pity, soft underbelly exposed to the world. Life can really, really be a bitch.

At 22 I learned that shitty things can and do happen to good people. Lesson: Life's not fair by any means. I was older when I learned that you can deal with anything, violence, sadness, divorce, joy, disappointment, uncertainty, anything...given time and acceptance. Sometimes you deal by letting the world spin for a while without you until you're ready to get back on gracefully. Othertimes you just fight it out. Take that world! But the key, I think, is Movin On. Keep on Movin.

One more cycle and I'll take the outcome, whatever it is. For sure, I won't be immune from sadness or disappointment or joy, whatever the case may be. But I am going to keep Movin On.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tai Chai and Vitrification

Experts in any field must feel the same exasperation when lay people try to be experts. Today, for example, the gossip website I was not reading during the workday reported in all caps that the celebrity defendant to a lawsuit "promptly filed an answer and counterclaim" to the plaintiff's complaint. Of course he did. The law requires one who's had their pants sued off to respond promptly, sometimes in 20 days. Silly. And today, when talking to the computer help desk attendant, "Why the hell isn't my wireless working?" "You want me to type what? Backslash, semicolon what? Yes, you have my permission to take over my computer by remote. (*&%$." Said help desk attendant, before taking over my computer remotely, was speaking to me in slow articulations, better for my mentally disabled, learning impaired self to understand I guess.

Same can be said for fertility "advice." This article, for instance, tickled me. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24777998/ Without question the article is written for women in their 20s who won't be reading it anyway because they're in their 20s and doing everything from modern science to voodoo chants not to get pregnant. That aside, I couldn't help but cringe while eye rolling through some of it.

1. "Luckily, fertility isn't a total crapshoot. And though you can't put off pregnancy indefinitely (despite exceptions like Marcia Cross, your odds of conceiving drop substantially after age 35), there's plenty you can do to help keep your body in peak baby-making form."

Eye rolling. Indeed, Marcia Cross would be a great example if she hadn't had in vitro. In vitro with donor eggs. The article should have cited Jennifer "twins run in my family and I knew it would happen in time" Lopez.

2. "Don't worry, be happy. Stress interferes with the brain's bulletins that tell your ovaries to do their monthly job of rolling out an egg, says Sarah L. Berga, M.D., chair of the ob-gyn department at Emory University in Atlanta. If you're a type A (for anxiety and angst), figure out a calm-down solution that works for you, whether it's practicing tai chi or thrashing around to the Foo Fighters, before you get ready to pee on the stick."

Eureeka! Smack head. You wily stress bastard! Had I but known, I would have built a yurt with meditation altar in my backyard years ago. Just think of all the little hippie children I would be tie-dying today. Certainly, I will practice tai chi or thrashing prior to peeing on a stick in the future. And I call myself educated.

3. "Freeze your assets. If sperm are the tough Gap T-shirts of the reproductive world, your ova are like gauzy couture dresses. Until recently, this meant that freezing your eggs was mostly out of the question (the ice crystals that form during the slow-freezing process used on embryos damages eggs). But a new method, called vitrification, involves very rapid icing that safely solidifies the eggs. It's pricey — $6K and up for a single procedure (and the number of good eggs you'll get varies), plus annual storage fees — and it tends to be most successful when you and your ova are young (in your 20s). Though there are no long-term data on the procedure, it's worth investigating if you know your antral count is low or if you're about to undergo a fertility-zapping procedure like chemotherapy."

Interesting, but ridiculous. Assuming that a 20 something would even read this article and isn't trying desperately not to get pregnant and isn't convinced that she'll meet her true love soon and isn't trying to develop her fledgling post college career and isn't paying off student loans and living in a studio apartment and trying to afford a social life and isn't living on ramen noodles and doesn't believe that getting pregnant is a snap anyway, this is great advice.


I recognize that I'm sensitive to these issues. In the interest of full disclosure, yes I did listen to much assvice in the beginning. Cut out caffeine, check. Monitor ovulation, check. Watch the alcohol intake, you betcha. And even got to the point of acupuncture, raspberry leaf tea, avoiding hot baths, baby aspirin. You name it. So it pains me now to read the silliness. In fairness, this particular article does impart some good advice, but the silly advice overshadows the good.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Falling out of Trees

Growing up, I lived in a big old house surrounded by several acres. Lots of trees with soaring limbs...the kind meant for climbing. I gag at the thought today, but back then I could climb to dizzying heights. And when I had climbed as high as I possibly could, I would nestle back against the trunk, sap in my hair, and think this is the view I'd have if I could fly.

I didn't always make it to the dizzying heights. I remember once setting upon my usual climb but slipping; my foot stuck in a "Y" branch, dangling like a rhesus monkey. I was only about a foot off the earth, but I panicked and cried and screamed for someone to help me. No one came. I laugh now to picture myself, dangling from a tree, a victim of my own carelessness, pissed off at the world, pissed off at the tree. Stupid tree. Eventually, the tears dried up and I set about trying to free myself. I don't know how long it took (though I'm positive I couldn't do it today) but I twisted and contorted and, after what seemed forever, I dropped to the ground. Dusted myself off and set off to find some more trouble. And, yes, climb more trees.

How like life it is. You get in a pinch. Sometimes of your own making, sometimes not. You scream and cry and blame and accuse. Paralyzed by your situation, the utter unfairness of it all. Why me? Your plight certainly is worse than anyone else's. Why isn't someone making this better? Fixing it? Then the quiet and the soul searching. The tears dry up, the resolve sets in and you deal. One way or another, you deal. You climb more trees. Sometimes you make it to the top and soar with the birds. Other times, well you dangle like a rhesus monkey. But you always disentangle and get back up.

So I say, gently to myself: Honey, you're way more than your infertility. I spent a good many months yelling and screaming and sulking and crying and blaming and dangling time and time again and I find myself now changed somewhat. More than somewhat. I find that I like, like, like my life. I find that I like who I am and how far I've come, am thrilled to pieces with my husband, think my marriage is the cat's meow (It's two years today, by the way), have the wonderful good fortune of having good people in my life, have a job that challenges me, pisses me off, gives me an identity and also lets me enjoy nice footwear. And as to that baby thing, pardon the really bad pun, but it's not the only egg in my basket.

This next IVF will be my last. I will go into it with positivity and hope, but also with the understanding that I will have reached the end. Either it produces a live child or a new life path. I'm ready for either. My new marriage counselor mentioned a Harvard study showing that the three most stressful events a person can face are cancer, divorce and infertility. I've had two of the three. My goal is to skip the third and put the other two to bed. And keep climbing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

In the Summertime II

I love, love, LOVE me some summertime. Last weekend, for example, was simply gorgeous. Sunny, hot, gentle breeze, all kinds of blooming things in the backyard, farmer's market on Saturday morning, plenty of food to be eaten (not sure that that changes too much season to season in my world but year round satiation is a good thing), cold adult beverages a plenty. I streamlined my weekend to-do list such that it would only contain the most critical tasks. Said tasks: (1) grocery to provide food for my family; and (2) pedicure. (I would take and post a picture of my poor pitiful feet but that could change our relationship.)

I accomplished: Neither.

What did I do instead? Went to Target (Oh, Mecca) and bought new summer rafts and floated in the pool all weekend. All Weekend Long. With plenty of sunscreen, but again, I floated all weekend long. I accomplished nothing substantive. Didn't even purchase some shoes.

I love me some summertime.

I did go to a new counselor recommended by my RE (my "marriage" counselor according to E). There was nothing wrong with my old one except that I wasn't feeling it. I don't want to talk about my childhood or what kind of mothering I received or who I resent or my anger issues (all provoked I must add), I just wanted help on "the" topic. My new marriage counselor had 8 IVFs, so I think she may know a thing or two about the "the topic."

I liked her. We got right to business. No foreplay in this relationship, which at $2 a minute I don't need to be held or caressed. Why do I want a child? Why do I not? How does E feel about it? What's my relationship like with my mother? Kidding. She did interrupt me at one point to tell me how refreshing it was to talk to someone going through infertility who has such a strong marriage. I assured her that E realizes he could never do better than me and behaves himself accordingly. Overall, it helped. She asked good questions that got right to the issue. At least I think she did, I was shlumped in awe over the 8 IVFs.

That's my weekly report. I'm still infertile. I'm still planning on one more try in the fall. I must go now and prepare my float for the weekend.

Love me some summertime.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stupid People

People say the dumbest things. Dumb, dumb, dumb. And because my mood is slightly rancid today, I feel compelled to share.

1. This is a true story. I was shopping in this adorable boutique near Kiawah, South Carolina recently. I bought a funky fun jacket there last year and was pleased to be back and see what other delicacies I could find. I wandered around a bit and noticed that things had changed a bit. Last year, the clothes were edgy and modern, now they were sort of upscale slut. A woman of my delicate years can't pull off navels, you know. So, I was walking out of the store and the salesperson said to me, no joke, "if you're leaving because you don't see any of your size, we keep the larger sizes in the back."

Self: Silence. Surely she didn't say that.
Self: "Excuse me?"
Stupid Person: "Yes, I didn't want you to leave because you didn't see your size. We keep the large sizes in the back."
Self: Silence. Incredulous stare. Finding self getting defensive. WTF? Yes, I could lose ten but I'm not ready for Kiawah Tent and Awning. I could snap you like the uncute twig you are, Stupid Person. I can't believe that was just said to me. Bring out a scale, you twit, and I'll show you I'm a respectable weight. And, you, you, shame on you, you perpetuator of distorted body images. And I'll have you know I graduated 8th in my law school class. Bitch.

Self leaves.
P.S. Self has returned to the gym.

2. Another true story. I was shopping with my adorable Mom not too long ago and we ran across a woman who used to teach me in Sunday School. It was Christmas time, right on the heels of my first BFN. She was wearing reindeer antlers. You see where I'm going with this. We were having a nice conversation, catching up on her children, my sister, my marital status. She asked me if I was going to have children. (Aside: Why do people feel comfortable asking these questions? I would never think to ask someone, so tell me, do you put the max in your 401k? Those shoes you're wearing, did you pay full price (chortle) or did you get them on sale? Is that really your nose?) I said, "I'm not sure about that one." Her response, no kidding, "well, you better get on it, how old are you anyway?"


What makes it all better?

Self loves shoes.

No seriously, I don't think I was so aware of the effects of our words until the infertility fairy came to roost. The first example above is just stupidity. The second example is stupidity and insensitivity... a lethal combination.
Next post: Stupid People and the Stupid Things They Do