Monday, January 28, 2008

Stop stepping on my toes and let me lead.

I'm going to put Schraft's, A Walgreens Speciality Pharmacy, on speed dial. More Lupron, please. Yes, just use the credit card you have on file. Another Sharps container? Well, yes, I guess I'm going to need that. How many syringes? How many have you got? Oh, an additional 10 will be fine. Do I need anything else? Sister, you have no idea.

The biggest complaint I have about infertility, other than the obvious, is the lack of control. I have no idea how this is going to end up. No idea. And while I wait until ultimately it becomes known to us what the outcome will be, I put a sizable portion of my life on hold. It wasn't clear to me how much until today. A few weeks ago, I thought today was the day I would have my FET. Sure, I recognized that it could change by a couple of days, but I marked it out on my calendar. Told my boss and clients that I was having a "procedure" and planned for a couple of days of emails, Little Debbies, the food network and, dear God, please George Clooney on HBO. Except, it wasn't to be. No "procedure." I'm healed! Hallelujah.

There's no guarantee, I now see, that February will be the magic month. Or April or June or 2008. Can we plan a week get away in May? Dunno. Any number of things could be happening. Cycling. In between cycling. Knocked up, in which case I don't think I'll be going to the beach, thank you very much. New York next week? Sure, let me get my doctor's note so I don't get thrown in the pokey for carrying needles of mass destruction on the plane.

Let me be honest. I've grown accustomed to having some measure of control over my life. I've worked very hard to get where I am. I've stumbled and fallen but also soared. I've had heartbreak that suffocated my soul and crushing, senseless, overwhelming joy. And I've learned from it all. I'm self sufficient. If E were to leave me for a nubile young thing and assuming the authorities never found his stinking decaying corpse and the dagger with my fingerprints impaled through his heart, I could financially and emotionally take care of myself (after much counseling of course)...and a child.

I simply don't have control over this process. I would love to think that something, anything I do will change things, speed things up, affect the outcome. Inhale essence of seaweed? You got it. Sip extract of rhinoceros sweat? Gladly. Insert dung beetle suppository? Ah, let me see the research first. I just don't get to lead this dance.

And if, as an English playwright said, "Grace comes often clad in the dusky robe of desolation." I'm not there yet either.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

For another exciting episode...tune in next month.

It was the damn pregnancy tests. I knew I should have just left them on the shelf for the nervous, twitching 18 year old lingering back on aisle 12 in Target. It was a sign. But no, I had to brazenly lean down to the ladyparts section of the "feminine" aisle and pluck up the last box of EPTs with impunity. I'm an adult, I rationalized. I pay taxes. I want to get pregnant. I can buy pregnancy tests because I am a tax paying, pregnancy wanting adult and must be prepared when I need to test after my lining plumps up like a Chia Pet and my blastopops are transferred into the promised land.

It was the wrong move. I tempted fate. I counted my non-hatched chickens. I got cocky. I got cancelled.

My uterus eeked out a miserly lining of 6.2. Traitorous bitch.

I was given the choice if I wanted to go forward, but my RE advised against it. Why not instead try a greater dosage of estrogen and get it up where it needs to be next month? I've only got two on ice, so she wants to get it as close to perfect as possible. Makes sense. This is going to work, she says.

I'm ok. Disappointed. But ok.

I think shopping will help. But not at Target.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What the?

My lining is only 5.9. I've got the trifold, but it's a waste with only five point nine. What the? In November, my lining was a cushy, fluffy 8.8. I've been instructed to show up Saturday morning for a meeting with the dildo cam to see if it's any better. If not, my troubles were for naught this month and we'll have to give it another shot next month. (Bad not funny).

5.9. Pitiful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The dog ate my homework.

At the risk of jinxing any credit I've got built up with the Gods of Fertility, I must be frank: I'm not sure I'm buying this acupuncture stuff. My Monday visit, well, I didn't like it. It started off ok. Relaxing on the heated massage table. Fluffy robe. Soft lights. Pleasant conversation. (Sounds like a great first date.) First needle...between the big toe and innocent second toe. That thin, webby expanse of tender skin...pierced by a lance. @#$%^!, how is it possible a needle the circumference of an eyelash can hurt so damn much? My hsg trigger shot was like the Easter bunny compared to this. And it kept getting worse. The needle to the abdomen drew blood. Drew blood! I have a sharps container full of syringes pierced directly to my abdomen with nary a drop of blood and this. This! I had needles between my toes, in my ears, the top of my head and my abdomen. I felt like a cat suspended over tub of water. With a hair dryer.

And, well, I'm nervous. Tomorrow is my lining check. I've been on Lupron, estrogen pills and an estrogen patch for two weeks and tomorrow is my first visit with my RE. I need to make a real confession. I have not been a model infertile. I've been sloppy with my instructions. Detail-oriented? Not really. Disciplined? Ahh, no. I would not hire me.
  • I did not increase my estrogen as instructed on cycle day 6, but waited until CD 7. It was not my fault. The instructions were unclear.
  • I believe I was to have stopped my Lupron today. I can't be held responsible though because the coffee stain on my instructions blurred the wording.
  • Yes, I am drinking coffee.
  • I did not decrease my estrogen as instructed today because...the dog ate my instructions.
  • My estrogen patch was changed more frequently than instructed because the salt water kind of corroded it.
  • There were times when I did not give myself the Lupron shot within an hour of the time I took it the day before. Again, not my fault, there was a time change coming back from the beach.

Accountable? Me? I guess not.

I'm fearful that tomorrow at my appointment or promptly thereafter, I will be fired. Or held back a grade.

I believe I need a drink.

And a smoke.

Behind the gym.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Peel me a grape, I'm infertile

I went to Target yesterday. With a big list. Toothpaste, contact solution, toilette papier, lightbulbs, Advil...pregnancy tests. No need, of course, for pregnancy tests right now but I will need them in a couple of weeks after my FET. I'm going to learn about the yes or no right here at my home turf, thank you very much. I'm doing this as much for my fellow infertiles at the clinic as for me. It wasn't pretty last November.

Checkout at Target. Toothpaste. Scanned. Contact Solution. Scanned. Pregnancy tests. Scanner: "Oh, honey are you pregnant?"
Me: blink. "No."
Scanner: "Oh, are you buying this for a friend?"
Me. blink, blink. "No."
Silence. Standoff. Resume scanning.

What a dumb thing to ask a perfect stranger. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. It was wildly insensitive and hugely inappropriate. I immediately mounted my moral high horse. I would never be so insensitive and callous and .... Except, I have been. Recently. Not too long ago, a co-worker was showing me pictures of her two year old. She was proud that she got her daughter to sit down and allow a picture to be taken of her in her birthday finery. And I said, "I love her little birthday mullet." I really said that. Instead of gushing about how cute she looked, I focused in on a two year old's hair. Silence. It was an insensitive, thoughtless thing to say and I meant absolutely nothing by it. I just said the wrong thing.

And it got me thinking. Am I beginning to define myself by my infertility? Lately, I'm far more likely to focus on the insensitive things others have said in passing than the many gifts of friendship I've received. I turn rabid every time I hear "When you have children..." or "you'll know when you have children." Yet, 9/10 times the people saying these things have no idea about my situation. And the remaining 1/10 isn't just trying to stick it to the infertile. Though I have confided in very few people, by damn, I expect everyone to be sensitive enough to, well, consider every single life event I could possibly be going through and simply stop saying stupid things. I'm a tender flower, you know.

What it really boils down to is that feeling sorry for myself is becoming too much of a commitment. I'm spending inordinate amounts of time and energy walking on eggshells around me. Lordy, I'm no fun to be around anymore.

Bring me the smelling salts.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Damned if you do.

I hate to say this. I really do. It pains me to put this out there. I'm gonna say it anyway.

This is too easy.

I know, I know. I know. But, I don't feel like I'm doing anything. Two pills in the morning. Estrogen patch. One tiny little Lupron shot a day. Repeat. With the fresh IVF, it was: shot in the morning, shot at night, estrogen patch, estrogen pills, monitoring every couple of days, please, please let me have some decent follicles, blood work, introduce third shot, progesterone, antibiotics, more progesterone, no exercise, more bloodwork, please let those little eggs divide and conquer, one final big shot in the ass.

I haven't even gone for my first ultrasound yet. I feel...fine. Normal. Dear God, I have no complaints. This is no way to live.

It's just there was so much activity for my IVF in November. I had responsibilities. I had things to do and get right. I had milestones. As agonizing as it was to have to wait to see if my follicles were developing or if I was overstimulating or understimulating, I was involved in the process. I was cheering them on. Go, follicles, go! I blushed with pride the bigger they got. And, ok, it didn't work out.

Which, I guess, gets me back to here.

You're damned if you do and damned if you don't with infertility. You have no control over the outcome. I can do everything right, at the right time, with the right attitude and yet have no control over the outcome. Infuriating. I can choose what I eat for dinner and if I drink too much red wine. I can choose not to buy those really expensive shoes that will match exactly one outfit I own (bought 'em). But I can't choose when or if to have a baby. And that really pisses me off.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A lighter shade of pale.

Ah, the halcyon days of your first IVF. Carefully, gently, patiently spreading your drugs on the counter atop a clean towel. Bottle of rubbing alcohol and cottonballs close by...the alcohol swabs provided by the pharmacy just seem so insignificant. Mixing your drugs with the care and delicacy of a chemist. Preparing the syringe, just so. Gentle wipes of the alcohol swabs to the needle, the vial and of course, the exact area where the shot will be administered, which will never occur one minute before or after the exact same time it was administered the day before. Wait too long to administer the shot--more than 5 seconds--must reswab the skin area. (those nasty germs will swarm to the precise postage size area of your belly within seconds, you know.) Discard used syringe in the Sharps container. Heh, heh, I'll never fill this thing up. Replace meds in their proper place. Mission. Accomplished.

Round two.

Meds still in the box. No clean hand towels. Lupron, 10 ml? Please. Challenge me, will you. Syringe out of the plastic, inserted into vial, filled to the correct amount or thereabouts and removed from vial...under five seconds. Alcohol swabs? Superfluous. It's all sterile anyway. Grab a scrunched inch of belly flab, insert needle. Done. Repeat sometime around sort of close to the same time tomorrow, give or take. Dispose of syringe in Sharps container...later. Leftover syringes have kind of an edgy, out there look. Bathroom Heroin chic.

The bloom's off the rose, people.

During my rose colored spectacles days, the shot giving process was almost sacred. I wanted to be home. I wanted to mix my menipur in my bathroom. With the towel. And the alcohol swabs. And then I would waltz down the stairs, Scarlett O'hara-esque, minus the green velvet curtain dress, "darling, I have it all under control." E and I left a party early honoring him, him, during IVF #1 because I had to give myself a shot. At home.

How the worm turns.

We got back from vacation last Saturday and found the car battery dead in the parking lot of the airport. It was time, ok past time, for my shot. Did she go back to the airport, find a bathroom, close herself off in a stall, mix the meds and administer the shot? Uh, no. She shot up in the front seat of said dead car, whilst on the phone speaking to AAA and in clear view of airport security. E's protestations were met with "It's your fault we don't have jumper cables. Besides, I've got a damn doctor's note."

So, yes, this is very different than November's attempt. The bloom is off the rose. I hope that it works, but I'm not picking out bumper pads from Pottery Barn Kids. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not pessimistic or fatalistic. I assure you, I wouldn't drop the equivalent of 1/2 dozen really, really nice pairs of shoes without a fervent belief that it could work out. I just can't walk through this with the same rose colored spectacles, beautiful that they were.

This time, I'm going for a lighter shade of pale.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Call off the hounds.

Why did I wait until I was almost 38 years old to get away to the sun in January? Other than poverty, I mean. For years, I've had the winter time blues, the cold weather doldrums, the skin crackling, red nosed hatred of anything icy (unless it's a daiquiri). Just feeling the hot sun beat on my face--though with at least 25 SPF, I am in my thirties you know--might yet save me from a winter of zoloft. It was, sigh, wonderful.

Lest you think I didn't come away from my tropical adventure with anything other than several added pounds and a mighty nice tan, I did want to share an observation.

Children are little beasts.

There, I've said it. Before I explain myself, let me explain myself. I didn't realize that January in the Caribbean is family time in the Caribbean. There were many more families where we were than couples. Makes sense I guess. If you're a couple with children, you're not going to leave them with the in laws over the Christmas/New Years holiday. I just wasn't expecting the number of children. When I was growing up, we were delighted to get a week in Myrtle Beach, SC in August. The closest we got to sunburn in January was wrapping our hands around a mug of hot chocolate, extra marshmallows please.

They were all over the place. They were loud, they were unruly, they cried, they put their little hands all over the muffins at the breakfast buffet before picking one. Some of the parents just smiled at their little bundles of energy--aren't they adorable when they whine?--others looked fatigued--honey, remind me, we brought the whole family to the Caribbean because....? (it's at this point, one wonders, I'm spending tens of thousands of dollars and laying the groundwork for serious intravenous drug use because....?)

It pains me to say this, but when I was their age, I walked three miles in the snow to school. No, no, what I mean is I remember very clearly as a child, even as a young child, there were certain things expected of my sister and me. If we were out in public, we were expected to behave. Behave. I remember the look. Getting too rambunctious, bordering on obnoxious? The look. Whiny? Demanding? The look took care of that. Here, I saw the look too. And it shut the parents right up.

But I generalize...always a bad thing. There were some wonderfully behaved children attached to some lovely parents. A German couple, for example. The parents were charming and older and the little girl was a curly haired little moppet. Adorable. Well-behaved. Her parents clearly doted on her. Maybe their journey to this child wasn't an easy one. Who knows. But what was refreshing was that as much as they doted, they also parented. I saw the look. And it worked.

And that's why the tens of thousands of dollars and drug use are worth it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I just can't.

Like the rest of the free world, I have caller ID. I can't imagine life without it. No more conversations with automated sales people; no more "May I have just 5 minutes of your time," or "Mrs. [insert incomprehensible pronunciation of last name], I'm not selling anything, but..." It makes no difference that we're on the national and state do not call lists, we still get them.

My most recent irritation has been repeated calls from a number in Denver, Colorado. I'm sure there are many, many lovely people in Denver. I, however, don't know any of them. I don't even know any disagreeable folks in Denver. So I never answer the phone. But they keep calling. Last Saturday, they called four times and they never left a message. Last night, I answered the phone.

Me: "You call incessantly and you never leave a message. Please take me off your calling list."
Denver person: "Ma'am..."
Me: "No, please. I need you take me off your calling list. Can you do that?"
Denver person: "Yes, but I'm with Planned Parenthood."
Me: Silence
Me: "Please take me off your list."

Planned Parenthood. The first charitable dollar I ever gave was to Planned Parenthood. I have always fervently believed in a woman's right to choose what to do with her body. Why should my desire to have a child trump your right not to have a child? I believe no woman makes the decision to have an abortion with anything other than a heavy heart. I believe abortion should be legal and available. I believe that Planned Parenthood stands for more than just abortion rights and is a worthwhile and purposeful organization. And for reasons I am having trouble articulating, I can't give them any money. I. Can't. Write. The. Check.

My planned parenthood is not going according to plan. I recognize that this is my issue. It has nothing to do with a scared 16 year old who doesn't believe that she can be a parent or carry a baby to term. It has nothing to do with a woman who was raped and cannot, cannot, have the child of her rapist. It is my struggle and mine alone. But my struggle, my heartbreak, my hope for parenthood....I simply can't. Write. That. Check.

Maybe it is not just my struggle to be a parent, but also who I am at 37. A dear friend of ours died of lung cancer last year. It is a devastating disease and I want to support finding a cure. Volunteering at a Boys and Girls Club recently opened my eyes to the overwhelming needs of children in this country. My heart urges me to open my checkbook. Maybe it's just that we can't give to everyone. Maybe.

Or maybe, it's that I just can't.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Resolutions that aren't.

I'm resolute that the easiest way to get off to a bad start in a new year is to make resolutions. Day one of the new year and you're immediately burdened by a daunting list of must-dos, not to mention the nagging feeling of inadequacy that prompts such a huge list of "resolutions." Note to Me: You are not going to learn French and write the Great American Novel by December 31, 2008. I'm sorry, me, but your days of being a supermodel by day and neurosurgeon by night are, sadly, not meant to be in 2008. Nope, I'm taking baby steps into the new year.

I've decided a better use of my time this resolution-making season is to take a good look at the me of last year, give a few atta girls where deserved and a few might-want-to-tweaks where necessary. So here goes:
  • I had a great year professionally; took on a lot of responsibility; learned to set aside my fear of criticism and sought feedback, even when it was hard to hear; learned to be a better boss; also learned how to let go. Overall, Atta Girl.
  • Forgiveness. It's easier to forgive a stranger than it is someone close who hurt you. I've got some steps to take before I get this right. Some ego to set aside. I'm going to work on this.
  • Last year was my first full year of marriage with E. And never in my deepest heart of hearts did I believe I would have this much happiness. I get an Atta Girl for choosing really, really well.
  • Stress. Umm. Well. Uh. I will definitely work very hard to learn how to manage this better. I am not a pretty girl when I'm stressed.
  • Relationships. I have a lovely family and wonderful friends. For that I get an Atta Girl. We can always strengthen relationships. We can--should--strive to be kinder, more understanding, less judgmental, less demanding. I'll keep working on this.

So that's my review of 2007. Overall, (double negative coming) it wasn't a bad year. In fact, there was a lot of joy in 2007--lovely first year of marriage, wonderful home, supportive family and friends, and the hope, oh the hope, of solving this infertility dilemma. I believed that in vitro would work, it didn't, I was crushed. But I still believe that it will work. Have to.

Bring it on, 2008.