So, it hasn’t sunk in yet – that I’m pregnant, I mean.  I’m not sure when it will.  I asked a pregnant IF friend of mine when it would seem real, and she joked, “Oh, at about 20 weeks.”  When I first got the call about the BFP, I was overjoyed and incredibly relieved, of course.  J and I were hugging, I was crying and smiling at the same time.  It was what you’d expect after four years of struggles.  I was surprised by the feelings I was having right after that, though.  I realized that I was a little anxious, and that I was focusing more on the odd way my body was feeling than anything else (crazy bloated, burping more than I thought possible for one person, nervous-making deep inside cramping, and boobs that seem to glow with pain).  What hit me is that I haven’t been nearly released from the clutches of IF yet.  I’m still thinking the way I did during my IVF cycles:  How is THIS hormone going to make me feel?  What weird side effects are going to crop up?  What time of day should I take which medication?  What should I do/avoid?  I want it all to go well, and I want to do everything right.

It hit me that what WASN’T in my head was that A BABY (OR BABIES) WILL RESULT FROM ALL THIS.  A baby who gazes around at everything wonderingly, who giggles when I tickle her belly, who grabs at my face with his clumsy fingers, who falls asleep on J’s chest.  I think it just takes time to get there after struggling with IF for so long.  I’m not concerned.  In time (God, Universe, Whatever-willing and knock on wood), this pregnancy will be mine.  Eventually, it will be about me and the baby/babies, and not about the RE, injections, and estrogen patches.  Eventually, we’ll have baby things around instead of a sharps container and syringes.  It’s just funny to realize that a transition does have to take place.

I think this transition has to happen for my family, too.  We’ve already told my parents and my sister.  They knew we were doing a donor egg cycle, and knew about all the other failed attempts.  Since they were so acquainted with this cycle’s schedule, there wasn’t any way to wait until the second trimester to include them (though I warn them repeatedly that things are far from certain yet).  I think right now they’re mostly relieved that we might not have to suffer anymore – that we might have finally reached the other side.  My mother said she is only just letting herself imagine being a grandmother.  She had just wanted me not to be in pain anymore.  The end of suffering was the goal.  Again, the end result of an actual baby was kind of lost in the struggle.

J’s family is different.  We haven’t included them in any of the details of our IF struggles, partly to save his mother (ill with MS in a nursing home) the worry, and partly to give me some privacy.  They were impatient for us to have kids, were worried about us, knew we were “doing our best” in some vague way, and knew not to bring it up.  That’s all.  My initial instinct was to wait until the second trimester to announce to them, but somehow it’s feeling wrong now to keep them at such a distance when friends – our supporters through all this – already know.  It seems wrong to hold them at arms-length, even if it means that they have to mourn with us if things don’t go well.

I’m excited to experience their relief and joy, almost more than with my own family, oddly.  It’s complicated and scary, though, because we’ll be telling them a lot at once – that we went through 4 rounds of IVF, that we ended up having to use donor eggs.  I’m a little intimidated by it all.  For some reason, I get all old-school when it comes to my in-laws, worrying that they think I’m a bad daughter-in-law when I gain weight or because I couldn’t produce a baby.  I worry that they’ll think less of me because we had to use donor eggs.  I don’t know where that fear comes from, because they’ve only been loving and supportive of me, and after all, we DID use their son’s sperm.

J was thinking he’d tell his father first, and can explain the whole situation to him then.  Then I can have the honor of telling his mother (his father will be there, too, because he’ll be holding the phone for her).  For some reason, it’s very important to me that J tell them how very hard I tried.  At the moment, we’re thinking we’ll tell them after the first ultrasound, when we know exactly how many critters are growing in there.  We’ll make it clear that it’s still very early, that they need to keep it to themselves, and that things are far from certain yet.  It makes sense to include them in that “inner circle” of supporters, the people who will be there for us if – well, just if.  They deserve that.  It’s just kind of huge.  Telling them will definitely make it seem more real.

Meanwhile, I’m going to focus on being positive and excited.  To continue to choose hope over fear…and to relish a blessed puke-free window of time.

– Patience

Whatever happens, however the second beta on Saturday goes, or how the subsequent ultrasounds look, I really, actually am allowed to say that about myself right now.  I can’t believe it.  There was a part of me that thought I would never get here – that for some unknown reason I was just doomed to be caught in that limbo forever.  I mean, really, I’m turning 39 on Saturday, and I’m pregnant for the very first time in my life.

I know we’re not nearly out of the woods yet, but I’m choosing to be excited and hopeful.  One of the reasons I decided to go with donor eggs sooner rather than later is because the idea of having a pregnancy with a little less fear was very appealing to me, especially after all we’ve been through.  I’m not naive, but I also know that my worrying about things ahead of time – my being afraid – won’t protect me or make a loss any easier to bear.  Now, let’s see if I can hold myself to that.  I’m really going to try.

J was incredibly sweet and comforting the whole 2ww.  He’s the most rational person I know, but still pointed out “good omens” to help bolster my hope.  He would patiently list the reasons we had to be hopeful as many times as I asked him to.  He actually had three amazing dreams during those two weeks.  In the first, we were caring for two brand-new puppies on our bed.  In the two more recent dreams, I told him I got a BFP.  It’s so funny that he – the scientist and empiricist- ended up having those dreams.

I wouldn’t have gotten here with most of my sanity intact without the help and support from some seriously generous souls – twitter-friends who listened to my obsessive symptom-listing during that awful two weeks, IRL friends who knew of our struggles and who let me know they were hoping hard for me, E who sent me a photo of her LONG-struggled-for baby girl for inspiration.  Without such a supportive community of people I definitely would have emerged from that torturous time with a LOT more gray hairs and a MUCH larger butt.

And I couldn’t have gotten here without my egg donor.  When I felt completely hopeless, I’d think of her and how “right” she seems for us.  Somehow that “rightness” made me believe this cycle could work, though I know that reasoning makes no rational sense.  I kept the card she left me next to my bed alongside the pictures of our embies.  Over and over I’d read her words, “My thoughts will be with you in the days and weeks ahead.  May your home be full of love and laughter!”.  It felt like a blessing.

– Patience

 

 

 

I don’t have time to write much right now, but I just wanted to say – WE HAVE A FROSTY!  One of our embryos made it to freeze.  That’s never happened to me before!  It’s huge, because it takes the pressure off this cycle a teeny, tiny little bit – just having one guy in reserve.  I’m also hoping it bodes well for the two embies we transferred.  Hopefully, (fingers crossed, knock on wood, salt over the shoulder, etc.) these guys like to hang around.  Getting that letter from the clinic today really made my day.  I feel like I caught a wave that I can hopefully ride a little closer to beta day.

Also, J had a dream that we had two tiny, grey, newborn puppies in our bed with us.  He said they were so tiny that their eyes were still closed and they were just sleeping all the time.  Then time passed and the puppies were older and cavorting around the bed.  One of them went missing, and J had to search for it with his flashlight (he’s such a guy).  It’s just so sweet that he had that dream.  It makes my heart hurt.  He’s going to be such an amazing, loving father.

Hoping, hoping, hoping SO hard.

– Patience

PS:  Thanks so much for all the advice about getting me through this 2ww with my head intact!

Ok, I began writing this post as a detailed run-down on what happened today at transfer, but I’m not really interested in that right now.  To sum up, we did a 3 day transfer of two stunning embryos – one 8 cell and one  7 cell.  The embryologist said they both look beautiful (I’m deciding that the 7 cell slacker has caught up to 8 cells by now, because he’s so relaxed and comfy in my ‘robust’ uterine lining).  I see tiny bubbles around one of them, but what do I know;  I’m not an embryologist.  The embryology lab is watching our other ones to see if any of them can make it to freeze.  I’m not holding my breath.  They did say they have about a 66% success rate with donor cycles at my clinic, so I’m desperately holding onto that.

What I’d much rather focus on is how to get through the next two weeks with my (and by extension my husband’s) sanity.  The problem is that after having had SO many failed cycles, there’s a huge part of me that believes I’m just doomed to be unlucky with this whole getting pregnant thing.  I need some serious strategies in place, and I need all your help.  To make this challenge even tougher, I work from home and have no actual plan to see anyone (other than my therapist, once) or do anything in particular for those two weeks.  I have some work to do, but I’m the only one driving that – no one will be breathing down my neck or checking in – and none of it is urgent.  I could have entire days of pajama clad despondency if the mood takes me.  Sounds deadly, right?  At least I’ve sworn off googling IVF and pregnancy related topics (yes, I’m sticking to that one, Tweeps).  But that sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?

In many ways, this 2ww is going to be tougher than my previous ones.  The first one was a serious long-shot, because we had such crap embryos.  It was hard, but the real pain was mostly just quick and brutal at the day of transfer.  The BFN wasn’t really a huge surprise.  I’m not going to go through all my many 2ww’s and BFNs, because that’s too boring and kind of a bummer…but this wait is especially tough because:

1.  We spent so much money on this donor cycle that it’s pretty huge if it doesn’t work AND we have no frozen embryos for another transfer.

2.  If I can’t get pregnant even with donor eggs I’m afraid that it’s going to be REALLY hard for me not to believe that it’s just impossible to impregnate me.

3.  My beta is 2 days before my 39th birthday.  I just don’t know that I have it in me to not have a TOTAL meltdown on that day if we get a BFN, and that would be really tough on DH.  I don’t want him to have to deal with that, because he’s a really good guy and it would kind of break his heart.

The stakes are just SO high.  I need a plan.  I want to focus on what’s going to distract me, make me laugh, and pass the time.

Currently, it’s actually helpful referring to the embies as buddies of mine who are hanging out with me, doing whatever I’m doing.  The Embies and I want something funny to watch on TV.  The Embies and I think we deserve some more milk and cookies.  The Embies and I got bored with “No Strings Attached” two-thirds of the way through.  Hey, I know it’s lame, but it’s kinda actually helping.

Any other mind tricks, games, distractions, super funny shows, etc. that have helped you guys.  Send ’em my way.  I could reorganize my sock drawer again, but that doesn’t eat up that much time.  I need help.  Seriously.

– Patience

They say IF and IVF is like a roller coaster.  There really is no more apt metaphor, except perhaps a never-ending session of cruel and sadistic torture.

So, I initially told the nurses at my clinic that, to avoid unnecessary anxiety, I wanted only general updates about the donor’s progress.  No follicle counts necessary.  Of course, the first nurse who called (not surprisingly, Nurse Dumb Ass from my previous post) ignored that note in my file and gave me follicle numbers.  There were 14.  When a different nurse called after the next ultrasound, she didn’t give me a total, but it seemed about the same.  She said it was looking very good.

I wouldn’t have thought to ask for no egg retrieval numbers, however.  And that’s what caused the biggest, stomach -in-your-mouth dip.  They ended up retrieving 32 eggs, which seemed crazy large – especially since that’s more than double the initial follicle counts.  So, there I was thinking that we had a ton of eggs, a nice, safe cushion.  For that half of a day I felt blissfully secure for once.  I should know by now, as an IVF veteran, that the IVF gods don’t like you to feel secure.  They see you relax and that’s when they zap ya.

Today I got the fertilization report.  Of the 32, 29 were mature, but of those 29 only 10 fertilized.  Since I had repeated fertilization problems with my own eggs (retrieving 7-9 usually, and 1-4 fertilizing) a surprisingly low fertilization report was really not what my fragile peace of mind needed.  Dh’s sperm had been tested, so what the fuck?  I was in a bad way just after getting that call – trying to make sense of it, imagining that there was another underlying problem that was going to doom the 10 embryos we have, etc.  Dh said he wasn’t going to let me off the phone until I popped a valium.  So I did.

The thing is, if they had just said things were going well during the cycle – no other information – and then told me that we had 10 embryos – or even waited until transfer day to tell me how many of whatever grade we actually had – I’d be skipping all this angst.  What good does all that information do?  Why do I need to know the number of eggs retrieved, since that doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of healthy embryos we end up with?  If there’s nothing you can do about it, the more you can be in blissful, hopeful ignorance the better, in my opinion (especially after having weathered 4 IVFs and part of a DEIVF).  I guess clinics give us all that information because we’re paying customers, and we need to know they’re doing their job, but I seriously think it does more harm than good.  I only know that 10 out of 29 eggs fertilized.  I don’t know any of the details about those eggs.  I don’t know if they were just harvesting those new eggs as a long-shot, but that the initial 14 were more likely to do well.  I only know enough to make myself miserable.

Hopefully all those extra eggs were just no-good latecomers who popped up to crash my good eggs’ party.  If I focus back on the initial 14 follicle count, 10 embryos aren’t too bad.  I’m just praying that we have some good, healthy ones in there.  I’m hoping hard that we have two blasts to transfer and a few healthy embryos to freeze.  But I’ll take any combination that gives me a baby.  Please, please, please.  I want off this fucking roller coaster.

– Patience

 

Ok, so there are two distinct voices in my head these days.  One is hopeful and excited about this cycle, and the other is wounded, jaded, and guarded because of the repeated failures of the past several years.  For awhile the negative one (let’s call her Nelly) was laying low.  The positive one, Penny, was blithely daydreaming and happily counting the days until transfer.  Now, not surprisingly, as we get closer to crucial days in the cycle, Nelly is acting up (the little bitch).

This is what they’re saying:

Penny:  There really is no reason why this DEIVF won’t work.  The problem was with was my eggs, and we’re not using them anymore.

Nelly:  Yeah, well, you can think that.  There wasn’t any reason to think an IUI wouldn’t work at the time, was there?  Or the first couple of IVFs?  Then, SURPRISE!  Suddenly you find out your eggs are crap.  Who woulda thought, right?  You weren’t even that old when you started ttc.  Who knows, there might be some other awful thing YOU JUST DON’T KNOW!  It might even be completely outside the ability of reproductive science to test for.

Penny:  But everything else has checked out fine, and they’ve been pretty damn thorough.  I’ve had multiple hysteroscopies and sonohysterosalpingograms (or whatever they’re called) PLUS TWO endometrial biopsies, for God’s sake!  My uterus has always looked great and developed a beautiful lining.

Nelly:  Yeah, that’s true…But hey, what about DH’s sperm?  They THINK it looks fine, and he had that SCSA thingie done, but they don’t REALLY know how to test sperm completely, do they?  Maybe there’s something wrong there that they don’t even have the capacity to understand yet?  You just never know.  I’m just trying to protect you from disappointment.  It’s important to keep these things in mind.

Penny:  But we had hope before and our odds of success were WAY lower than they are now.  Maybe even only 10%.  Now, with a PROVEN donor who also has her own baby, we have way more reason to hope.  It’s almost SILLY not to be hopeful.  Maybe the odds are OVER 60% with a donor like we have.

Nelly:  You know it doesn’t work that way.  There’s a 50/50 chance they’ll not stick NO MATTER WHAT.  It’s simply misguided thinking to hang your hat on irrelevant information.  It could JUST NOT WORK, and you might never know why.  It may be that 10 to 20 years down the line they’ll have the scientific knowledge for real answers, but it’ll be too late for you.

Penny:  But, I’ve paid my dues and put in my time.  It’s my turn.  It’s gotta work now.  I deserve for it to work this time.

Nelly:  You poor, irrational thing!  You know by now, don’t you, that there isn’t any kind of cosmic justice?  You’ve seen how other women have suffered repeatedly – good women who’ve done their best and struggled hard – women who you’d think would have suffered fuckin’ enough already and who DESERVED to finally have their baby.  There is no “DESERVE” when it comes to ttc.  It’s all randomness.  And sometimes randomness can be cruel.

Penny:  Well, fuck you!  I’m going to choose to be hopeful, anyway!  I’ll deal with the pain and disappointment at the time if it doesn’t work.  We’ll likely have some embryos frozen, anyway, so even if this transfer doesn’t work, we can easily and cheaply do another transfer.  It’s SUPER unlikely that I won’t be pregnant after two transfers.  And that can happen without too much delay.

Nelly:  Hmmm, I dunno.  It seems like odd, surprising things have popped up in your ttc history.  I wouldn’t count on having anything to freeze.  You’ve just had very bad luck, so it’s risky to hope for anything like that.  And you know, your donor might get in a car accident and not even be able to come do the retrieval at all.

Penny:  You’re just SEARCHING for things to worry about, now!  Why shouldn’t I focus on the positive, be happy, excited, and optimistic until there’s real, concrete reason NOT to?  I don’t have to be miserable ahead of time!  What good does it do me?  Why draw out the pain and suffering?

Nelly:  Well…ok, go ahead.  It seems pretty risky to me, though.  I just don’t want you to be devastated.

– Patience

I’ve been weepy the past few days.  I’m sure it’s partly hormones and exhaustion (Lupron, AF, the holidays, J’s family, 5 days of Southern food-induced constipation – that’s PLENTY of cause for tears).  It started in earnest on my cab ride home from the airport, and then I crumpled into a red-faced, teary mess when I got home.  It’s a good think J stayed down South a couple of extra days, because he would have been so worried to see me that upset.  There’s something about coming home to an IVF cycle that can really do a number on a girl’s emotional stability.  You’re away, distracted by other things, feeling like a normal person, and then the reality smacks you in the face –  YOU’RE INFERTILE.  It’s a tough one to assimilate, because no one ever anticipates ending up here.  When I was in that cab, a blanket of sadness descended on me: “My eggs are crap.  I’m not ever going to be able to have my own biological child.  It’s something most people take for granted, but it’s not in the cards for me.  EVER.”  It’s kind of mind-blowing.  I had this petulant 3-year-old-like thought, “But I have some GOOD qualities that might have been nice to pass on.”  You have to imagine it with a whine and a stomped foot for the full effect.

So, I thought I’d list the traits I’m sad not to pass on.  Maybe I can argue away some of that sadness.  It’s debatable which of these are inheritable, anyway, right?

1.  I’m sad not to pass on my eyes.  It’s one of the traits I like best about myself – kind of large, round, blue eyes with thick eyelashes.  I could have tried to search for a donor with similar eyes (we found one who looked more like me than the donor we finally chose), but eye color didn’t come near to trumping intelligence, temperament, and interests for me.  This is the most superficial of my regrets, but it hits me the hardest when I see other mothers with their children.  I scan the adult face and the small one, looking for similarities.  Of course, J’s eyes aren’t blue, so our kids could have easily ended up with brown, green, or hazel eyes, anyway.  It’s silly, I know.

2.  I have a passionate love for beauty and a sensitivity to it.  Now, I don’t know if that’s something that can be taught or not.  Maybe a little bit, but I think it’s also just part of my make-up.  It’s the ability to be really moved by things – a combination of words, a color, a photograph, a piece of music.  I guess that’s one of the qualities that feels most essentially “me”.  That’s something I would have liked to have shared with my child.  I really hope I still can.

4.  I have a strong sense of empathy.  It’s not always the easiest trait to have, but I still value it.  I think that can be taught, though.  J is pretty damn empathetic for a man, and our donor seems to be, so that’s reassuring.

5.  I love to dance and am pretty good at it.  I got this from my dad and my grandmother.  In the scheme of things, not so important, though.  I can teach my kid to enjoy dancing – that’s the important thing.

6.  I think I have strong drive to try to be a good person, to treat people well, and to try to do something worthwhile with my life.  Sometimes I’m more successful than others, and I don’t know how much real good I’m doing with my life right now, but at least it’s a drive that’s a part of me.  I guess it’s a sense of altruism.  Can that be taught?  Probably.

7.  I’m curious.  I’m interested in a lot of things and always like learning.  That’s definitely teachable.  I believe kids innately have this quality and then it’s unfortunately pounded out of them by peer pressure and crappy teachers.

When I look at it carefully, I think the qualities that I really value about myself ARE teachable qualities, or they’re qualities that my donor also has.  They’re things I still can share with my child.  And then there are the things – either serious or trivial – I’m happy NOT to pass on:

1.  Possible risk of infertility.  My cycles have always been irregular, so I’m not positive it’s only age-related.

2.  Sensitive, fair, delicate skin.  SUCH a pain.

3.  Hips and thighs that make jean shopping a pain in the ass.  Petite and curvy is not easy to shop for.

4.  Allergies and asthma.  J has asthma and food allergies, and so do I, so it’s good that we have a donor who won’t add to that genetic risk, at least.

5.  There’s a good chance my child would have ended up being a Cystic Fibrosis carrier, because I have two mutations – luckily minor and non-symptomatic (a surprise fun fact I found out when we first saw an RE – that’s a whole OTHER story).

6.  It wouldn’t hurt to give my kids several more inches in height than I have.

7.  A decent amount of anxiety and insomnia seems to run in my family.  It’d be nice to spare them that.

I always feel comforted when I read our donor’s profile.  Her temperament and outlook on life are very similar to mine, actually.  I believe she has a sensitivity to beauty like I do and that she’s constantly curious.  She seems to want to make a difference in the world (she’s an ER nurse), and to help people.  She seems kind, warm, and generous.  She’s maybe less tightly-wound than I am, which would definitely be a plus.  She even loves to read the classics, is interested in the arts, and is left-handed, like me.  All in all, I’m not giving up that much, when I really look at it carefully.  Will it matter that my child’s eyes are almond shaped instead of round, that he or she has olive skin instead of pink and white?  Not so much.  I’ll be able to teach my child to view the world with wonder and to live with integrity and passion.  That’s what really matters.

God, if only this will work.  Please let it work.

– Patience

A couple of years ago, when the baby-making journey had just started to become an out-and-out, tooth and nail struggle, I spotted a bunch of boxes in my in-laws’ guest room closet.  These boxes were labeled on the outside with marker, and appeared to be full of hand crocheted baby blankets, booties, and bonnets, stacked away gathering dust.  Seeing those carefully labeled and stowed boxes not surprisingly brought up a ton of complicated emotions at the time.  It felt wonderful to know that J’s family was waiting with so much love for the children we would someday have.  I was incredibly sad, of course, that we still didn’t have a baby to wrap in those blankets (ok, “sad” doesn’t begin to touch it, but you all know firsthand what I mean).  I was also thankful that J’s parents respected our privacy enough not to say anything about our continual childlessness (Other than J’s mother wanting us to drink holy water that one time.  That was interesting.  We declined, but looking back, maybe we should have given it a shot.  It probably would have been as effective as the 2 IUIs and 4 IVS…and a lot cheaper and less painful).  The months and years of failed attempts went on, and every once in a while I’d think of those items carefully, silently, and patiently laid away for us.

Then we arrive at his family’s house for this Christmas visit.  As I set my suitcase down I see a cardboard box made into a dog bed – with a baby-sized afghan wadded up inside to pad it.  I think I brought it to J’s attention in a sarcastic, joking kind of way.  I’m sure he didn’t realize quite how much it bothered me.  I’m not sure I did at first.  It rankled, though, and my discomfort about it grew in intensity as the days passed.  Every time I looked at it, I felt angry that someone used that blanket – the one meant for our baby – for the dog.  It felt like they gave up on us.  Like they wadded up our hope and trashed it.

J’s family (like most families) has a black sheep – his younger brother.  He’s an unemployed, sulky, self-involved guy who mopes around and mooches off of everyone.  As long as I’ve known him, he’s refused to contribute to anything (cooking or cleaning or any adult conversation).  He just shows up to eat the food other people prepare and then skulks off afterwards, leaving his mess behind.  This black sheep had recently installed himself into the room that contained those future-baby boxes.  I knew he had moved a bunch of things out of there when he made that room his unemployment base of operation.  I decided (not with any real proof, of course) that he was also the one who desecrated my baby’s blanket.  Now, that’s one DAMN good way to piss off an infertile!

There were other things that put the Black Sheep in my bad books this visit.  His shameless refusal to contribute to the family in any small way was particularly blatant this year.  And then he “accidentally” took and used my cell phone to call his girlfriend.  I’d have leant him my phone if he’d asked, but he just took it and then lied about it.  It made me feel really vulnerable and violated because of all the IF-related tweets, voicemails, and contacts on my phone (and then there’s the fact that he told me such bold-faced, unbelievable lie).  Despite all that, I don’t think my fury would have had the heat and laser-like focus it developed if I hadn’t thought he also did away with my baby “hope chest”.  I relished the glares I shot across the room at him, and I wouldn’t let him eat ANY of our best gingerbread men.  Take that, you Black Sheep Baby Blanket Desecrator!

Later on, J and I were actually able to take a look in the closet.  My love for my husband grew exponentially because he didn’t once try to tell me I was overreacting about the baby blanket.  Luckily, stacked up high behind the Black Sheep’s piles of junk were those same, familiar, precious dusty boxes – intact.  We peaked in them and saw the sweetest, most delicate white baby blankets and tiny bonnets, carefully folded in tissue.  It seemed that our hope chest was still safe, so I didn’t mind letting the dog use that one little blanket.  And I decided to spare the Black Sheep my most scathing wrath (which can be pretty formidable).  I downgraded him from “Mortal Enemy” status to “Seriously Annoying Loser Brother-in-Law” status.

It’s been a pretty emotional and exhausting several days.  I got to spend a lot of time with my little niece, which was great.  We baked cookies, drew pictures, and made Christmas decorations.  I kept myself together when she asked me and J if we wanted to have kids.  J very deftly started joking about something to keep the mood light.  She (who is 8) offered to babysit.

I also got to be with J while he visited his very old and ailing grandmother in the hospital.  He’s her favorite, so even though she’s not always conscious now and isn’t recognizing people, her face lit up when she saw him.  He spent a lot of time sitting with her and talking to her, very gently stroking her cheek with his finger.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude to have a husband who knows how to love so generously and so well.

Today I’ve been super weepy.  I was chalking it up to exhaustion and then I remembered I took my last BCP two nights ago.  Cycle day one is likely to be tomorrow.   And here we go…

– Patience

I’m waiting for my new charm pendants to arrive in the mail.  I got one that says “L’esperance me soutient” (hope sustains me ) with an anchor on it, and a tiny mother sea turtle pendant (thanks to Plum and Posy and Hint on Etsy).  The superstitious part of me feels like I have to mix things up this time so that I get a different result from all our other attempts.  Of course, the rational part of me knows that the shift to younger, healthy eggs is the one thing that’ll (hopefully) make the difference (I’m not a total wack-job), but what the hell.

The past couple of days I’ve become increasingly aware of my wish that there was something I could DO to help make it work this time.  I felt an itch to search “how to prepare your body for a DE IVF cycle” on the internet.  I was wishing there was some diet or tea or yoga pose that could push the odds in our favor.  I really think it’s that frustrated desire to help things along that gets funneled into my desire for these magic charms.  Believe me, I’ve had it rammed into my consciousness by now that this is completely out of my control.  The embryos will either stick around or they won’t.  It won’t really matter whether I get acupuncture, cut out sugar completely, meditate once a day or not.  They’re either healthy embryos or they’re not.  But being passive is just not fun.  I’m not very good at it.

I’m fine most of the time these days.  Still mostly hopeful and productive on other fronts.  It’s the moment when I relax in bed at the end of the day.  Then the fear and sadness creep in a little.  The knowledge that it might not work, the discomfort of it being out of my control.  I expressed this to J last night, and he was very sweet.  It’s interesting, because his response is often “We have to remember we’re doing our best.”  I guess that thought is comforting to him, but it does nothing for me.  It drives me crazy that our “doing our best” makes no difference at all in the end.  All we can do is wait and hope.

– Patience

 

My meds arrive today.  They’ll be here a little ahead of time, since I want to make sure I have my Lupron well before needing to fly for the holidays.  I’m a little stressed about having to travel with the meds.  It used to be that Lupron didn’t have to be refrigerated after you started using it, but I guess (because of the shortage) they’re now not made with preservatives, so they have to be kept cold all the time.  Luckily, I bought a soft lunch bag for a previous mid-cycle trip that I can fill with mini ice packs.  I’m not as concerned about security at the airport; I’ll make sure I have a letter and that everything is labeled.  I don’t exactly look like a shady type, so hopefully it’ll go smoothly.  I’m most nervous about dealing with the ice packs at J’s family’s house.  They don’t know about the IVF at all, so I’ll have to be sneaking ice packs in and out of the freezer and hope that no one will notice or ask why I’m doing that.  Not fun.  J tells me that I have nothing to worry about, but that’s his usual response.  Luckily, I’m less sensitive and stressed about cycling than I have been at the past, and VERY luckily, J’s family seems extremely respectful of privacy and boundaries.  Otherwise, that situation would cause me some serious anxiety.  Now, it’s just a little minor uneasiness.

Our donor contract has been completed and our attorney sent legal clearance to our clinic.  Yesterday, I got a list of all the meds our donor will be taking.  It’s crazy to see for the first time how much the IVF meds really cost.  Follitism is over $3000.  Menopur is about $1700.  I never forget how incredibly lucky I am to have had insurance coverage for most of my cycles.  It’s such a crazy, lucky accident that we happened to move to Massachusetts before even knowing we had to deal with IF.

It was strange hearing the guy at the fertility pharmacy talking about calling my donor to schedule delivery.  She’s so intimately connected to us, but we’ll never speak to her.  I’m starting to put together a little thank you gift for her.  It makes me feel really good to do this.  It makes the upcoming cycle real to me, and it feels good to express the gratitude and fondness I feel towards her.  I know I’m incredibly lucky to have found such a wonderful donor.  I can honestly say to our child/children that we searched through hundreds of profiles to find the perfect donor, and that she’s a kind, warm, smart, intellectually curious person we felt was the perfect person to help us make our family.  Her profile says that she loves to read, so I got her nice hardcopies of two classics (one my favorite book).  I’m also putting together a care package of treats for her post-retrieval time – an assortment of teas, cookies, and chocolates.  And a thank you card – unsigned, of course.

What a strange, sci-fi experience to go through, though.  The clinic nurse explained that when J goes in for his “donation” he’ll have to exit the clinic through a different passage, so that there’s no chance of their accidentally seeing each other in the waiting room.  The donor’s husband and baby will probably be there, too.  How incredibly odd to think that there will be half-siblings to my kids out there…

Every once in awhile my thoughts will creep to the possibility of this cycle not working.  The thought is just too  terrifying.  It feels like the precipitous drop off of a huge cliff.  I tell myself that we’ll cope with it the way we’ve coped with everything else.  I reassure myself again and again that I have the strength.  But there’s this nugget of fear buried in there – that if this DE cycle doesn’t work there’s a possibility that there’s some mysterious, unknowable, untreatable reason even egg donation won’t work for us.  Just some mysterious reason I can NEVER GET PREGNANT.  After trying for so many years and not once having (even an unsuccessful) pregnancy, it is really hard to believe it can ever happen.  Frankly, the thought of my becoming pregnant feels like more of a miracle than the story of Jesus’ conception.  Because of that, I’ve been thinking of the word “miracle” a lot lately.  It’s not a word that your average agnostic thinks of often, but I guess that’s what infertility does to you.

– Patience

 

About Me

My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for a little over three years now. We did three clomid cycles, two IUIs, and three IVFs. No luck. No baby. I have "unexplained infertility", but we seem to have a very low fertilization rate despite using ICSI. I recently had to quit a job (the second time this has happened) to make room for an upcoming IVF cycle, because I travel for work. It was daunting - and pretty depressing - to realize that the infertility was taking over my life in such a huge way. I decided I seriously needed some projects, so that I wasn't just spending my life waiting to be pregnant. This blog - documenting my attempt to not be a "Negative Nelly" - even in the face of PIO injections, endometrial biopsies, and yet another 2ww - is one of them.

About this blog

I'm using this blog to record my progress as I try out tools mentioned in Barbara Fredrikson's book "Positivity" along with stress management techniques I learn at the Mind-Body institute in my area (of course, with some random ramblings on the side). I started this blog to keep me at it, but also in the hopes that some of these tools might be helpful for other women coping with IF.

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