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I had another ultrasound and blood draw this morning. Trigger will either be tonight or tomorrow night. I’ve got a couple of stragglers, so they have to decide whether to wait for them to catch up and risk losing my more mature eggs, or just go for it with what I’ve got. I guess my E2 results help them decide that.
This cycle hasn’t exactly been a winner. Even now, at day 10 of stims, it looks like I have only 5 or 6 eggs that are really in the running. That’s almost half the number I’ve gotten in the other cycles. I guess it all comes down to quality, though. The last times, very few would fertilize. If more fertilize this time, I’ll be thrilled, and the RE’s and their new approach will be vindicated. If I’m left with nothing or one unpromising embryo to transfer, I’m going to be pretty pissed that they put me on the Pill for so many weeks. So, we’ll see.
I’m less upset and more resigned to the situation than I was. Or maybe I’m just too exhausted to be upset. I think all the stress of the last couple of weeks has just worn me out. I wake up tired every morning, and yesterday I was achey all over. I haven’t felt that way since the last cycle failed, before I was on the Zoloft. I booked myself a massage for tomorrow. I figure I deserve it.
I’m really torn now about what to do if this cycle doesn’t work. If it seems like they did over suppress me, it’ll be hard not to feel like it failed because of their error. I had pretty much decided that this would be our last try with my eggs. I’m tired, and I know J is, too. It’s one thing to give up on my eggs if I feel like we’ve proven to ourselves that they’re just not going to work. It’s another thing entirely if this cycle might have worked if they had done things a little differently. But then again, can you play that game indefinitely…? I just don’t know.
Think I’m going to take a nap. On days like this I’m incredibly grateful to work from home.
My body has done its now familiar trick of waking me up at 3am. Since I’m wide awake and anxious anyway, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a post. Why not? The thoughts will be swirling around in my head anyway, right?
On the whole, things aren’t going so great. I’m sure my psychiatrist would say that statement comes from the fact that my new dose of Zoloft hasn’t kicked in yet, but from where I stand, things really, empirically aren’t looking so very good. My life has been pretty overwhelming lately on a lot of fronts.
I’ve realized that someone I work with (the person who strong-armed me into telling him I’m doing IVF, mentioned in previous post) really is a very unscrupulous, dishonest, ruthless person. This person also happens to have all the power in our working relationship. It’s pretty daunting to realize this. I’m not a very strategic-minded person, and (crazy me) my actions are normally pretty guided by my internal moral compass. This puts me at a serious disadvantage. My only defense as I see it is to do my best not to make an enemy of him and to avoid interacting with him as much as possible. It hasn’t been fun coming to this realization, though, and I foresee having some problems with him as our project unfolds.
This cycle isn’t turning out to be exactly stellar. Now, I know that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a failure. I know it doesn’t take a ton of eggs to get pregnant. But I am producing fewer eggs this time, and with our fertilization problems, I have to accept the fact that it is possible we might have nothing at all to transfer, or might only have one or two unpromising embryos. That, for me, will be even harder emotionally. I do much better with something – even something negative – that is definitive, so I can move on and deal. It’s going to be difficult, to say the least, to do PIO injections for two weeks to try to sustain a pregnancy I don’t at all believe in.
Ok, this one is the worst. J is having the pains in his legs again. Of course, just because he had an MRI doesn’t mean the pains would magically go away. He’s very anxious, though, despite finding nothing on the MRI. I’m frightened, because I know how difficult MS is to diagnose. I don’t feel confident that we’re out of the woods. He has had a bunch of minor symptoms for awhile that, when I add them together, make me think that MS isn’t unlikely. I know it’s all too easy to diagnose ourselves with tons of frightening diseases. I’m trying not to go down that road, but the thought pops into my head sometimes. I’m also trying hard not to imagine what our lives will become if he does become ill.
He’s not dealing with the anxiety in a way that’s easy to be around. He won’t talk to me about it much, and won’t confide in me in a way that lets me comfort him. No doubt he doesn’t want to let his guard down. But the result is that he’s aloof and is angering really easily. Meanwhile, I’m on some serious hormones, am not sleeping well, and need support myself these days. It’s not a good combo. Neither of us have the resources to be there for the other, so we’re fighting over stupid things (like who should take the recycling out mid-week if it starts to overflow) and mostly spending more time apart.
When my depression and associated anger around the IF got bad, J told me that I really needed to get help for the sake of our marriage and for our peace at home. He said that I was angry all the time. No doubt I was. For awhile, I was consumed with such huge rage at the universe at the injustice of my not being able to have a baby. The universe wasn’t around to vent at, but my husband was. I’m thinking of saying the same thing to him – he needs to talk to someone for the sake of our peace at home. I’ve been trying to get him to see a therapist for a long time, and he’s been frustratingly reluctant. He’s been dissatisfied with his job, no doubt has complicated feelings he can’t always share with me about our IF and the repeated IVFs, and now he’s consumed by anxiety that he’s got MS. Um, I think he should talk to someone.
And here I am, creeping closer to retrieval, not knowing if it might be better not to have any eggs to fertilize. If J has MS, should I worry about passing that on? Should we just freeze any eggs we retrieve until we know for sure? How long would it even take to get a definitive diagnosis? You hear about people having undiagnosed MS-like symptoms for years. No doubt, partly because of his fear, J refuses to go straight to an expert MS center, but wants to see a general neurologist instead. Should I ask J if we should consider donor sperm if he still thinks there’s a real chance of his having MS? I can’t imagine how hard it would be for him to hear that, when he’s in fear for himself. Should I try to take comfort in the hope that treatment for MS – and IF – will likely be greatly improved in the next generation? Are our genes worth passing on? These are not comfortable thoughts to be having while in the middle of an IVF cycle. It’s no wonder that my body is aching again…despite the Zoloft.
I miss the reality I knew before struggling with infertility. Back then, I could never believe that something else bad could happen to us. I had a deep seeded belief in some kind of cosmic justice. If you have one huge challenge to deal with as a couple, surely you’ll be spared another difficult one. Each life is burdened with only so much, right? Unfortunately, I don’t believe in that reality anymore.
The original purpose of this blog was for me to keep working consistently on finding positivity in my daily life. To actively find ways to balance out the stress and pain of infertility. I haven’t been doing a very good job of that lately. I can’t quite imagine what relaxation trick is strong enough to deal with all of this, I guess. I am breathing more, I’m meditating at least once a day, and I’m trying to remember to stretch. I’m surrounding myself with beauty (I have a little bouquet of flowers by my injection station). What else can I do to help me through this?
Ok, I guess I’m going to actively try to use affirmations.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
I just wanted to write a quick post to say that J got a letter from his doctor this morning saying that there are no signs of MS in his MRI. I’m incredibly, unbelievably relieved, of course. Exhausted and depleted, but relieved. I just want to thank everyone for their support as I went through this additional, awful, unexpected roller coaster.
I am so grateful to have supportive, caring people to go to in such a time, grateful that I and my husband have our health, and incredibly grateful that I have such a wonderful, loving, funny, handsome husband. I hope I can hold on to all of this and do a better job at not getting caught up in what seems less than perfect. I realized how easy it is to spend my time being envious of the people who seem to have a little more than I have, rather than being thankful that I have so much more than so many.
Ok, now I feel like I’m going to go sleep for a few days.
PS: I know it’ll make this post extra puke-worthy, but I have to post photos of a couple of things J gave me recently – a bird’s nest, and a pretty little dish to put all my pills in. He just surprised me with them because he thought I’d like them. He’s a keeper. Ok, now you can go puke 😉
I feel torn about starting this post. Part of me feels like it’d be good to get things off my chest, and part of me is afraid of dredging up all the fear and worry that I’m doing an ok job of distracting myself from. I guess there’s also a superstitious part of me that worries my writing about all of this will make it real – will make it happen. Where on earth does that superstitious part of me come from?
Anyway, the day is almost over and sometime tomorrow we hear the results of J’s MRI. I know I’ve mentioned on Twitter that he was having a health scare, but I kept it kind of vague. Again, I had an irrational feeling that, by giving voice to the details, I was somehow going to call it into being. Anyway, we’re worried that he has Multiple Sclerosis. J’s mother has MS – a very severe form of the disease. She’s been disabled for many years and has to live in a full care facility. She can’t walk, or feed herself, or light any of the many cigarettes she consumes every day. I know that J is very close to his mother and loves her dearly, and that her illness has caused him an unimaginable amount of pain. No doubt it’s part of what makes him the kind, gentle, nurturing person he is today.
I know the fear of having MS himself has been with J for years. He carefully packs that fear away and doesn’t ever talk about it, because he’s good at not giving rein to emotions that aren’t useful. That kind of fear is inevitable when you have a parent with a semi-genetic disease, though (MS is a little complicated – it’s not strictly a genetic disease, and isn’t always inherited, but genetics is thought to be part of the picture along with environment and who knows what else. It supposedly makes the odds of your getting it higher. Like IF, they still don’t know a lot). The other confounding thing about MS is that the symptoms vary greatly by person, come and go, and can often be attributed to many other things. It’s a really tricky disease to diagnose. They can only do that by MRI, and I guess even that’s not completely reliable. Sounds like hell, right? Sounds like the same sadist who designed IF designed MS, if you ask me.
So, lately J’s been experiencing odd pains in his legs. They could just be dehydration and a lack of electrolytes. It could be that he just needs to exercise more. Or it could be MS. There you go. Either he needs to increase his intake of water and stretch more regularly, or he might slowly become disabled over the years and our lives might be changed forever. And that’s where we are.
When I’m faced with a crisis, I go immediately into problem-solving mode. Faced with this possibility, my early thoughts were pretty practical. Does J have disability insurance bundled in with his life insurance? How do I ask him that question without making him angry or frightening him? I felt like I needed to know – and that we needed to do something – before he was possibly diagnosed. My income is paltry, and if something were to happen to his ability to work down the line what would happen to us? We couldn’t get that kind of insurance AFTER he was diagnosed, I’m sure. And then I was wondering, if he does have MS should we use donor sperm as well as donor eggs? Would we want to risk passing MS on to our child? Apparently, it is passed on to offspring more readily by men – great.) I had to stop myself from researching the vitamins and therapies that are thought to help slow the progression of the disease. Of course, all these practical, nuts and bolts thoughts are just the way my brain has of trying desperately to get control of the situation – of trying to avert disaster as much as possible. That’s just what my brain does. That’s what it did with the IF, too.
I had to hold my husband in my arms and try to comfort him as he told me that he “didn’t WANT to have MS.” He’s a man who loves to snowboard, mountain climb, and backpack in places like Tibet and India. It broke my heart. I wished so damn hard that I believed in a God that was watching down on us and that decides how things are going to go. If only there was someone I could bargain with. I instantly wanted to tell whoever was in charge that I would gladly give up having my own genetic child – or even ever giving birth at all – to make this not happen to him. Even though I don’t believe anyone in particular is listening, I keep pleading anyway. Please let him be ok. Please let him be ok. Please let him be ok. How can I not?
So, we’re in this limbo while we wait for the results of the MRI. It seems like limbo is the theme for our lives these days. The one good thing that’s come of this scare is that it’s put the IF in perspective. I don’t give a damn whether this cycle works or not. We can use donor eggs and donor sperm. Does a genetic link to our child matter AT ALL in the scheme of things? It’s amazing how something that seemed so enormous suddenly seems so unimportant. I just want my husband to be well.
Ok, now I have to dry my eyes, and pretend that I’m fine and just browsing online. J’s pretending like everything’s ok and that he’s not really concerned, and I have to play along.
I will not be making him sick by posting this. I don’t have that power. How can I be so superstitious?!!
I thought I’d take a break from IF angst to share a recipe. The Metformin side effect hell is wearing off, and I’m actually looking forward to eating again. Fingers crossed…
A few weeks ago I went on a yoga retreat for the week-end. They had amazing food there – a huge buffet full of healthy, delicious options. I bought their cookbook and then invented a salad using a couple of the recipes for the things I couldn’t stop eating when I was there. I call this the “Yoga Salad”. J likes to call it “Krapalu” just because he wants to try to get a rise out of me by saying “crap” in relation to my cooking. Ah, male humor. But seriously, we both really love this salad and can happily eat it for days on end. It’s a perfect meal to have in hot weather, and I think it’s great to have as you’re priming your body for IVF or are in cycle. I can’t attest to any magical powers, of course, because I’m so very NOT preggers, but it seems to me it’s chock full of really essential nutrients. J is not at all the yogi crunchy kind of guy, but he still loves it. It takes a bit of prep, but it’s about an hour or less of work one evening, and then you have all the makings to supply several meals.
First, I make what they call “Pumpkin Seed-Dulse Condiment.” Bear with me here. Dried dulse is a kind of seaweed, but it doesn’t taste seaweedy. It tastes kind of smoky and umami-y, which is I guess why I wanted to sprinkle this condiment over EVERYTHING I ate on the retreat. It also adds a really interesting texture and a little crunch to the salad. It makes the salad feel a little less healthy, the way a crouton does, but I think that the healthy seed fats and the sea vegetable make it super good for you (The Dulse package says it’s high in B6 and iodine. I just looked up Iodine and apparently it’s integral to thyroid function. Who knew?)
1 cup dried pumpkin seeds
1T dried dulse flakes
In a small skillet, dry roast the seeds on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the seeds pop. Remove and let cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, place the dulce and bake for 3-5 minutes (check to prevent burning). Using a blender or mortar and pestle, blend or crush together the cooled seeds and dulse.
Now, this is pretty forgiving. I made it from memory this time and guessed on some stuff. I toasted all the pumpkin seeds I had without measuring them because I want to have a huge batch on hand. I added way more dulse because I thought it’d be more nutritious. I also turned the oven to 300 and baked for 10 minutes. It still came out toasted and crispy.
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
1/2 t chopped garlic
1/2 t dill
1/2 t salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Or, reserve half of the cheese and add after blending to provide a contrasting texture. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. (This dressing can be stored, covered, in the refridgerator for 7-10 days.)
Believe me, the dressing won’t last that long. I make a couple of alterations to it. The raw garlic clove kind of stays with you a little too much, so I put in a shake of garlic powder instead. I also don’t have any dill, so I just left that out. It’s a lot of oil, but it makes a LOT of dressing. It’s great for salads or even just dipping cut vegetables into.
So, what I do then is put a crown of broccoli in the food processor to break up into a kind of confetti. It’s raw, so I figure it’s easier to digest if it’s broken up a little bit. That can also be stored in the fridge for numerous salads, and it adds a good helping of a cruciferous vegetable and a different texture to your salad.
This is how I build the salad:
A small helping of brown rice or quinoa
Chopped romaine lettuce
Shredded carrots (I just buy the bag of pre-shredded ones)
Sliced grape tomatoes (if you’d like)
Part of an avocado, diced (if you have it around…healthy fats, after all)
Top with dressing
Toss around a little bit, and enjoy. There you have it, the “Yoga Salad.” It’s not quite so pretty once you mix it together, but it’s really good. I find the combination of colors, flavors, and textures absolutely amazing. What I also love about it is that I feel like I can kind of shovel food into my face without feeling guilty. I need that occasionally, but maybe that’s just me. I think a big bowl of this salad is probably pretty healthful. Of course, it can be customized in tons of ways. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
I’m sitting on the couch with my stomach bloated like a beach ball from the Metformin. I look like I’m six months pregnant, but of course, I’m not. I thought I was getting off easy in the side effect department. For the first two weeks, I had some bloating and discomfort in the evenings after taking it, but that was about all. Now, about three weeks in – surprise! – it’s making me pretty miserable. I’ve been getting waves of stomach cramps since sometime in the middle of the night. In between, I just feel huge and uncomfortable, and then every 10 minutes or so I have the cramps. Anyway, that’s not what I meant to write about, but with my babyless, bloated belly sticking out in front of me, it was hard to ignore.
I just noticed that our next door neighbor is visibly pregnant. She has a 3 year-old adorable little girl (just the age I’m especially nuts about) who I watched grow from an infant. If things had gone the way we intended, I’d be in the exact same place right now – with one little kid and pregnant with the second. After awhile it ends up feeling like this state of struggling with infertility is just what my life is supposed to be, and that it’ll be this way forever. All the sacrifices, changes, alterations – the childlessness, inability to plan ahead, the weight gain, amassing prescription medication bottles, lack of sex drive, the isolation – they’re just how things ARE. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I could decide I’ve had enough.
I think I’ve almost decided that if we have the exact same results this cycle – not just that I’m not pregnant, but that most of my eggs don’t fertilize – I might move on to donor eggs for the next cycle. I think a three year struggle may be enough for us. I’m still working through it, but I’m seriously considering it. This will be my fourth IVF, and we can be covered for seven (we got a freebie at my old clinic through a technicality). J initially assured me that we could use all our covered cycles on attempts with my eggs if I wanted. He very sweetly wanted to be as supportive as possible and knows the whole thing means more to me than it does to him. I think we’re both getting tired, though, and we want to have our lives back. Now he even pays more attention to kids and babies we encounter than I do. His desire to be a father is palpable. He’s going to be 42 next April. Is it just selfish of me to make him wait while we take the time to exhaust all of our tries? Will there be any joy left in our marriage after all that?
Another thought that’s making me lean towards DE is how many other problems it would solve. We wouldn’t feel quite as rushed for a second baby, because my age would be less of a factor. We would likely have frozen eggs from our donor for a FET sibling. Even more compelling is the thought that I might be more likely to feel safe from miscarriage, and would be able to enjoy my pregnancy with at least a little less fear. Dr. Bedside-Manner, my RE, made it very clear to me that because my eggs seem so rotten, I’m at a very high risk for miscarriage. Thanks, doc. Gee, I had no idea and SO needed to hear that right before starting my cycle.
I still have moments of sadness. I’m reading a novel where the narrator describes seeing his wife’s exact, unique expression of passionate determination on his little son’s face. That passage broke my heart a little. It seems like such a huge thing to give up sometimes. How much of who a person is comes from genetics? We have no idea. It’s so much more than picking out the right hair and eye color. What about their spirit – the energy they give off? Maybe the reality is that the option of having a biological child is not really mine to give up. Maybe that’s just how things are, and I’ll be happier if I accept it and move on.
We have a yoga place near us called “The Blissful Monkey.” J teases me by calling me “Clenched Monkey Fist,” because I’m SO not the epitome of zen easygoingness. I admit that somewhere along the way I picked up the belief that with determination, hard work, and focus, I could steer most things where I want them to go. IF, more than anything else, has taught me that I’m SO not in control. I don’t know what or who is, but it’s certainly not me.
I recently was talking to a good friend of mine about DE. I told her I was feeling more comfortable with it, but that I’d have misgivings when I’d imagine a possible DE child that didn’t want to do art projects, for instance. She told me that her (biological) daughter is surprisingly unlike herself, and that her son doesn’t have his father’s musical passion and talent – something he would have loved to share with his child. Ultimately, a child is going to be its own person, and I’m not going to be able to steer him or her – whether a DE child or not – exactly where I want. Maybe sharing my genetics provides yet another illusion of control, but nothing more. I guess I’m filled with more questions right now than anything else. I’ll get there. In the meantime, I can only hope that the lessons I’ve learned through my struggle with infertility will make me better able to cope with the ultimate out-of-control situation – parenthood.