You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2011.
I’m thinking I might just play that Gloria Gaynor song on loop for the next couple days. It does help. In case some may not already know, IVF 4 ended in a whopping BFN. Initially, I was so shocked and surprised. I felt that horrible pang in my gut that you get when the nurse calls with that hateful sad tone in her voice. And then I was momentarily confused. I was so certain it had worked this time that I almost asked her if there had been some mistake. Let my situation be a cautionary tale to all. Symptoms mean NOTHING. Symptoms you hadn’t experienced in a previous cycle mean nothing. Implantation cramping and spotting and weird stomach stuff – nothing. Lightheadedness. Nothing. Whether you feel hopeful or positive or “feel pregnant” or not – means nothing.
After getting past the initial shock and stupor of the news (I don’t think I left the couch for most of that day, unless it was to stumble to the kitchen for another unhealthy snack) I asked J how he felt about our next step. He said that this was so hard on both of us, and that he really wanted to move on to a place where we’d have a better chance of actually, finally coming home with a baby. He’s being very sweet and supportive, and he made it clear that he’s willing to try again with my eggs if I feel like I need to. I don’t know that I want to put either of us through that again, though. I think we’re done. We’re exhausted. IF has taken so much from our lives. We need to get our lives back.
My initial reaction to this tentative decision to move forward was a feeling of relief. It felt so freeing to imagine not having to stress about making my body do something it doesn’t seem to be good at. I don’t have to try to take magic supplements or eat magic foods or try to send encouraging thoughts to my ovaries anymore. I don’t have to be disappointed by my body anymore. It made me think of my junior high graduation photo (I know it seems like a tangent, but go with me here). I grew up in Los Angeles, and at that age was still desperately trying (unsuccessfully) to live up to the California beauty ideal. So, there I am in my graduation dress (it had shoulder pads, of course), with lobster pink skin because I had attempted to “tan” for the event, pale frosted lipstick, and straw colored spray-in highlighted hair. It’s not a pretty sight. I was much happier once I embraced my own beauty – the petite, curvy, fair-skinned kind. Of course, this is on a much less superficial – and much more heart wrenching level – but it will be a relief to stop trying to expect stellar eggs when there don’t seem to be any there.
I was in a lot of pain after my third failed cycle. The fact that we had persistent fertilization problems even after multiple tweaks to the protocol seemed to indicate that we were likely one of those couples who just weren’t going to get a break. I knew then that my eggs might never work for us, and I was devastated. This time around, I have to admit I hoped I had already gone through all the grieving. I so badly didn’t want to experience that pain again. The day after beta I busied myself making appointments and contacting people. I made follow up appointments with my REs, found a therapist specializing in DE and surrogacy, and investigated DE support groups. I even made initial inquiries about a donor J and I really like. It felt good to be proactive, and it felt even better to imagine that I might actually be pregnant by the New Year. I even felt a little excited and hopeful.
Then we went away to Montreal for a long week-end. It was exactly what we needed. Exploring the city was a great distraction, and we had a wonderful time. Poutine is clearly the king of all comfort food. J was patient and kind when I had moments of sadness, and even humored me by going with me to the botanical garden (most of these pictures were taken there). I think it helped to start slowly letting in our new reality away from home, bit by bit. It’s not surprising that right before coming home things got more difficult for me. There’s something about going back to your real life that makes it all surge forth in an overwhelming way. We went to Vietnam before our first IVF, and I absolutely BAWLED the first part of the flight home. It certainly didn’t help that a sweet, pretty, very pregnant Vietnamese woman sat next to me. I guess there’s no avoiding it. I have to mourn this huge loss: I won’t have genetic children of my own like other people do. I know I’ll love a DE baby and that I’ll be its mother. I’ll carry it, give it life, nurture it, and teach it. But I also have to grief for what I’ve lost. I was foolish to think I could skip over that part. I’ve submitted to it, and admitted I should go back to my last Zoloft dose. My muscles were tightening up like they did last time, so the physical pain made it hard to deny that I needed some help. And unless I want to grind my teeth down to little stubs in my sleep, I might as well support myself through this.
While we were away, a bunch of thoughts popped in my head. I felt dread for the moment when my adolescent child wants to know about the donor, and perhaps diminishes my role as his or her mother (because aren’t all adolescents a little cruel?). Luckily, J said he’d throw the kid out on his or her ear in that situation (jokingly, of course, but it made me feel better to know he’d fiercely protect me from potential teen insensitivity). Then I wondered if I wanted to change my last name. I didn’t when we got married, but would I prefer to have that additional connection to my child since I won’t have the genetic one? If I’m the “odd man out” in our family genetically, do I want to have my name make me more so? I don’t know if this will seem less important as I get used to the DE idea, or not. I know I’m still working through a lot, and I still have tons of of questions and fears. What if there’s something else wrong with me and we can’t even have success with someone else’s eggs? Will some of our friends pity us for having to have a DE child? How will J’s family feel about it? Am I crazy to be interested in a non-proven donor (she has had a previous pregnancy, but no prior donor cycle)? I guess these questions will keep surfacing over time.
I’m contemplating getting a tattoo. I think J thinks the idea is a little silly. I’m 38 after all. There’s something about making a mark to commemorate all I’ve gone through, some kind of badge, and a reminder of the fact that I survived it. It’s a little tough to think of something that’s meaningful to me and not cliche, though. I guess that’s why I’ve never gotten a tattoo before. Maybe that urge will pass, too. Today is the first day of my post BFN/IVF diet. I’m going to exercise every day, cut out sugar, and eat a low carb, healthy diet. I’m hoping to be able to wear my jeans comfortably again in a month. If I can’t be pregnant right now, I at least want to feel good about myself. I’ll dismantle my “injection station” and maybe I’ll get some semblance of a sex drive back soon. Maybe we will get our life back, and maybe soon – one way or another – a baby will be part of it.
The ducklings have arrived! The ducklings have arrived! I wasn’t able to get a good photo of them, because their mama got upset when I tried to get close. I TOLD J that the ducks would have their babies, but that they just had them later. And there they are.
I just got back from an appointment with my therapist, and I feel a little exhausted. She’s not actually my therapist. She’s really much more a psychiatrist who happens want to be supportive and have regular check-in sessions with you. J started calling her Dr. Ham&Cheese, because her name kind of sounds like that. Dr. Ham&Cheese specializes in helping women dealing with infertility. It’s great seeing someone who knows about the IVF process in such detail, and has seen so many women through it. But it’s tough sometimes not having an actual therapist/patient relationship. She’s very vocal about what she thinks I should or shouldn’t do, for instance. That’s usually not how it is with a therapist, at least not in my experience. I don’t remember being so aware of a therapist’s disapproval in the past.
Today, for instance, was the first day I’ve seen her since starting to taper off the Zoloft. She’s pretty clearly against my doing that. She’s convinced that it’s most important to treat the mother – that if she’s healthy and happy then the baby will be, too. She – and apparently a huge group of practitioners who specialize in helping women in the same situation – believe that an anxious or depressed mother can have more of a negative affect on her baby than one taking SSRIs. She believes that the studies about SSRIs and birth defects are very poorly designed and unreliable. She thinks it’s fine to be on SSRIs all through a pregnancy, but at the very least, that it’s pretty imperative for a woman who’s gone through IF (if she exhibits signs of anxiety and depression – and I, personally, haven’t met one who’s gone through more than one cycle who doesn’t) to stay on SSRIs through the anxiety-ridden first trimester.
I mentioned to her that there’s just no way to do a proper, controlled study on the affects of those drugs on a developing fetus. That’s J’s concern. She concedes that, but says that they DO know that depression has a negative affect. I just don’t know. I know I’m partly swayed by J and his feelings about the situation. He normally has a very laissez faire attitude about medications, while I’m the uber conservative one. I’m the kind of person to worry about what’s in my skin cream or dish soap while trying to conceive, and I used to avoid taking any medications at all if possible. (Boy, has that changed. Between my thyroid, IVF medications, and vitamin supplements, I now have to remember to take a HUGE number of pills every day. But I digress).
It’s really tricky for me to figure out. I have a deeply entrenched belief that any psychiatrist is going to always be pro-medication. During one session with her I said that sometimes it was hard for me to see – like she does- when my symptoms clearly indicate a need for an increase in dosage. I said that often that way of being feels “normal” for me. She said – and this really stuck with me – that my expectations for normal were very low. Ouch. Maybe they are. I don’t know. But I have to remember the source. As J says, “to a carpenter, everything looks like a nail.” Today I told Ham&Cheese that I was analyzing every symptom I’m having and wondering if it’s an indication I’m pregnant. She looked at me knowingly and said that was a classic sign of anxiety. What woman who’s gone through what I’ve gone through doesn’t do that to a certain extent, though?! You tell yourself not to, but you still do, right?
J actually just called as I was writing this. Of course, I promptly started crying. My confusion, worry about doing the wrong thing, lack of sleep, and stress of the two week wait were too much all at once, I guess. He was very sweet and said that his biggest priority is that I’m doing well, and that he thought IF ALL THINGS WERE EQUAL I might as well try to go off the medication, just to be safe. But that, if I really need it to help me through all this, he was fully supportive and wasn’t worried at all. I guess I’m just going to take it one day at a time and see how I feel. Obviously, it’s not ok for me to consistently wake up at 3:30 am and have nightmares every night, but hopefully that’s wearing off. Hopefully, I’ll adjust to this new dose and can reduce again soon if I get a BFP. But I’m promising myself to pay honest attention to how I’m doing. I think there’s a part of me that feels ashamed to need help at all. I know so many super strong women who have gone through what I have – and worse – without it. There’s a part of me that wonders what’s “wrong” with me that I can’t do this on my own. Am I really a “depressed or anxious” person? Should I really be on something all the time? Is my normal sub-par? I guess I don’t need to worry about that right now.
I told Ham&Cheese that I was scared, partly because I really feel like it might have worked this time. I miraculously feel hopeful and positive about this cycle (yes, I just knocked on wood, multiple times). I’m SO afraid of the steep plunge from the heights of hopefulness if it’s a BFN. I’m also afraid of feeling stupid and naive for hoping and believing. I guess I’ll be able to deal like I have every other time. But maybe, maybe, this time it’s different. Maybe there will finally be a duckling for me.
I’m sitting here in a progesterone induced stupor, trying not to feel anxious or guilty about the fact that I really feel too drowsy to do much of anything this afternoon. So, I thought I’d write a post.
A week ago, I was walking home from my therapist’s office. It was two days before retrieval. In the session we had talked about how I have a tendency to get ahead of myself and feel the need to plan/worry about things way before necessary. I was mentally skipping over this cycle entirely, and already hashing out the details of a future DE cycle. It’s just what I do.
As I walked home from her office (I’m incredibly lucky that this walk is through a beautiful arboretum) I remembered a walking meditation that has worked really well for me in the past. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I just repeat in my head “I have arrived.” It’s a really simple phrase and usually matches the rhythm of my breathing nicely. It’s too bad I don’t remember to use it more often, because for some reason it immediately brings me to the present. I am instantly reminded to look around and listen – to really pay attention to my surroundings and find something to appreciate – some kind of beauty. It’s worked when I’ve been doing dishes, or have been waiting on a crowded, hot subway platform. Repeating that on my walk home, I suddenly became very aware of the sound of the breeze in the trees, and the smell of the grass and flowers. I could hear all the birds chattering away. And the surprising thought that came to me was: our baby could be conceived this week-end. Wow.
I know I’m probably not alone in feeling like the possibility of actually making a baby gets buried beneath all the injections, fear, IVF lingo, and protective armor that go along with all this – especially after multiple failures. After awhile, we go through the motions, but can we really afford to hope? On that walk home, I was able to really let that possibility in. Yes, it might not work out, but for now I’m hopeful that it will. I’m hoping that my perfect little 8 cell embryo has burrowed in for the long-haul, and that it’ll become our baby. And if it does, I can tell her about the day I walked through the arboretum, listening to the birds and smelling the flowers, looking forward to her arrival.