Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Prince is Pouting




I am still aglow from yesterday’s very positive retrieval/fertilization outcome.  I foresee myself staying that way straight through Tuesday, but am going to keep myself busy (can we say mani/pedi?) just in case.  There is only one potential wrinkle in my plan of basking in LaLa Land…The Prince.

Given The Prince’s relative positivity about this cycle, I really expected yesterday’s news to make him as ecstatic as I was.  I even thought that the news was so good and such a surprise that it might break down the wall he keeps up and he would show some excitement.  I WAS WRONG!  Not only was The Prince’s reaction not very positive, it bordered on the line of "freaking out." 

When I told him we had 12 fertilized eggs to work with, the first words out of his mouth were “Oh…that’s good…I guess we will have a second or third try if this time doesn’t work.”  (WHAT?!?  “If this doesn’t work?”  Where did that come from?) 

So, trying to steer the conversation in a different direction, I said “Come on…this time will work and we will just have potential siblings on ice for the baby we have this time around.  Positive Polly, right?” 

He said “I don’t think so.  Unless you want to wait three years or so, which isn’t really an option with your health condition.  Do you know how much it costs to have two kids in daycare at the same time?  I do.  It’s $3860 per month...for the discounted on-campu one.  We can’t afford that…unless you want to go back into private practice and try to make more money, which I don’t think you want to do.  I think we could give the extra embryos up for adoption, because it would be good to have more ‘me’s’ in the world (he said that with complete seriousness)…but we aren’t going to try for two kids….And we are only going to transfer 2 embryos…that hasn’t changed right?  We don’t have to do more, do we?  Because I don’t want to.  It’s bad enough…”

I cut him off there because…well…he was killing my buzz and I didn’t want to know what was “bad enough.”  With the hormones I’m on, he already had me crying.  I told him that he was being a jerk and that, even if he felt that way, he should really just let me be happy for a day or two…or at least until transfer….without having to stress out about my husband having a mid-cycle crisis.  I told him that he clearly has issues he needs to work out about all of this but he should have done that already…like any time over the last three years.  I chastised him for not seeing his individual counselor during this cycle, like he had promised me and our marriage counselor he would do, because his counselor would have helped him to work through these issues, or at least learn how to vocalize them in an appropriate manner at an appropriate time.  At that point, he did stop vocalizing his “freak out” session.  He went into Pouty Prince mode, and, for the most part, has remained there.

I’m not going to let The Prince’s reaction take away my happiness about this.  In fact, I am going to do what I frequently do in these situations…look at him as if he were a young child, learning how to feel emotions and express himself.  I'll just wait for him to work through his tantrum and “catch up” to "big boy emotions."  It is hard to be mad at a young child…you just pity the child’s struggles.  I’ll tell myself that he is like a slightly spoiled only child who is pouting because he learned that he is getting a new brother or sister.  That makes me want to say, “Ohhhh Honey, it will be okay” instead of “What the heck is your problem?”  I just wish, that for once, we were completely on the same page…mentally and emotionally…so we could enjoy the big milestones together as a couple.  The only time that ever happened was on our wedding day...when he completely surprised me with how amazing, emotional, funny and supportive he can be. 

The Prince’s pouting about haveing a great number of fertilized eggs (good news) is making me seriously rethink my “We’ve got a Situation” pregnancy announcement plan.  I’ve bought the T-shirt and, if he reacts as one would expect, it would be a great happy, humorous moment.  But what if he doesn’t laugh?  What if he doesn’t smile?  What if he says something stupid like “I told you I thought it was going to work”…or worse…starts quoting the costs of pregnancy statistics to me?  I’ve dreamed of the “pregnancy announcement” moment for years now…built it up in my mind and watched us come together as a couple in tears of joy.  I deserve that moment.  When I was going through shots, or sleeping on the bathroom floor because I couldn’t stop being sick with grief over another failed cycle, I kept thinking about how awesome the “pregnancy announcement” moment was going to feel…how it would all be worth it.  Now I’m thinking…he’s going to ruin this for me.  I don’t just want a certain reaction from him…I NEED a certain reaction in that situation…but I don’t know if he’s capable of giving it to me.  I know…you probably are thinking that I’m seriously jumping the gun here, but I’m a planner and I need a plan to avoid what happened yesterday from happening again on my happiest of occasions.  I’m believing wholeheartedly that this cycle is going to work…so I have to consider this issue.  Maybe not today…but sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Any advice on how to think about this/work through this situation?  I’m guessing there are some other “princes” out there like mine.  He cannot be the sole little boy in a big boy body.     


Friday, April 29, 2011

Eggstatic!!!

Tuesday's Throne

This morning was the longest morning of my life…or at least as much of my life as I can remember.  I waited and waited and waited and waited for the donor coordinator to call me with the status update- how many eggs were collected from the 15-18 follicles, how many fertilized, etc.  She had said that she would call this morning with that update and I anticipated that she meant late morning.  But then, morning passed and the call never came.

So at , I decided to call her.  Her voicemail message said that she had gone home for the day and would be returning messages on Monday afternoon.  Seriously?!?  When my transfer would either be Monday or Tuesday!  So, I called the fertility center’s main line and spoke to the office operator and then a nurse who was able to find my chart.  This is how the conversation went:

Nurse: Okay…so your transfer has been scheduled already for on Tuesday.

Me:     Okay…but do you have the numbers of eggs and how many fertilized?  I didn’t get any update today at all.

Nurse: Really?  Oh.  Sorry about that.  Let me see here….16 eggs, 14 were injected with your husband’s sperm and 12 fertilized.  So you have 12 embryos to work with for now and we’ll do the Day 5 transfer on Tuesday.

Me:     No.  I think that is the total number you are reading.  We did a split   cycle…sharing the eggs…and the donor only had 15 follicles, so that can’t be our numbers.  OH MY GOD!  Please tell me they didn’t accidentally fertilize ALL of the eggs with my husband’s sperm and forget to split them.

Nurse: One second…nope.  That is the split numbers.  Your donor did really well…over 30 eggs.

Me:     Are you really sure you have the right chart?

Nurse: Positive.  You have 12 so far…congratulations.  We’ll see you on Tuesday.


HOLY CRAP!!!  I am so excited and so scared that the phone is going to ring, telling me it was a mistake.  I guess the coordinator’s comment that “they don’t always count the follicles carefully during the scans” was a bit of an understatement.  (By the way…today pushed me over the edge.  Lots of you have recommended that I say something about the coordinator after this cycle is over and I really didn’t want to…but enough is enough.  Not calling me today, even though she looked at my chart long enough to schedule my transfer, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  But I’m setting my irritation aside for now so that I can just be ecstatic.)

I know that a lot can happen between now and Tuesday, but I have so much confidence that Tuesday…whether it results in a pregnancy or not…is not going to be a disappointing day in our journey…and that was something I was genuinely concerned about over the last week.  Instead, things went better than I ever could have expected…even with the donor’s usual response.  As Ants would say “I’m over the moon!” 

Thank you so much for all of your support, prayers, thoughts and good vibes.  I’ll check back in soon.  Right now, I have to go massage my face because I’m not used to smiling this big for this long, and it hurts. (Okay...so really I'm going to do a happy dance in the bathroom, but my face really does hurt).    


Thursday, April 28, 2011

100 Miles Away...But There In Spirit



This morning, an amazing woman we’ve never met will go to the fertility center, sport the awesome “cap, gown and booties ensemble” that I know so well, and will have her eggs removed…eggs she is giving to us (and another couple).  It is strange to know that this is happening…this monumental step in what could be the beginning of my happily ever after…but I’m not going to be there.  I should be so grateful that the hard part is being done for me but, instead, I’m feeling really sad that it’s not me in that room today.  I want my legs up in the stirrups (never thought I would hear myself say that).  I want to be surrounded by beeping machines and a flurry of release waivers.  I want to feel the lovely “sleep” wash over me as the anesthesiologist pushes the magic plunger.  I want to be physically close to those eggs, sending them love and willing them to find a nice sperm, settle down and get married (or at least fertilized) right away.  I want to tell the immature eggs to grow up and act their age like their brothers and sisters…immediately!  I guess I just want to be important right now…and I feel like I’m not.  I’m removed from this situation, and that makes me sad.

With that said, I am also filled with a million (okay maybe not a million…but many) happy emotions, as well.  I feel pride that The Prince has made the trip on his own this morning and is determined to show me that he can handle the tasks at hand (there we go again with the mastrubation puns)…I just need to give him more credit and have a little faith in him.  I feel gratitude, more than ever, for everything our egg donor has endured over the last month and a half.  I am humbled by her beautiful, kind and generous spirit.  And I feel joy that this leg of the journey is almost over.

I get sick on roller coasters (great transition, right?  Very smooth. Stick with me, it's worth it).  In fact, I have always gotten sick on roller coasters, ferris wheels, carousels, and just about any other moving ride (including swings).  Despite this fact, I have continuously tried…and tried…and tried to ride these things, believing that I would have “outgrown” my stomach’s violent response to spinning motions.  I am always…always…always wrong, and there are many unhappy people who have been on these rides with me in the past that will tell you just how wrong I am.  I tell you this because there is a point during these rides when I am trying so hard not to embarrass myself by tossing my cookies that my mind becomes incredibly focused…and I "will" the conductor with all my heart to please stop the ride.  For a long time, it seems as though my telepathic pleas fall on deaf ears and then…the magical moment occurs and I realize that he is slowing the ride to a stop...that I only need to hold on for a little longer and I can get my feet back on the ground and try to feel like myself again.  That is the exact feeling I have right now – after what seems like an eternity of intense focus on a singular plea that no one was answering, relief that the ride is coming to a halt and I am going to be on solid ground very soon.

You know what I don’t feel this morning?  Worried.  Maybe I’m too emotionally exhausted, or maybe there is no room for another emotion in my heart right now.  For whatever reason, even though I know that there are a lot of things I have no control over which could still derail this whole cycle, I am not worried or anxious.  It’s out of my hands right now.  I’m just going to jump right past thinking about how many eggs are going to be retrieved and instead focus my hope on this morning’s “The Dating Game – Embryologist Style.”  As many of you ladies have said to me in the past…it only takes one good embryo to make a baby.  So eye on the prize. 

And, litle eggs, if you can hear me from over one hundred miles away, please heed my earlier advice and know that the prize for getting this one right is a nine month stay in a luxurious uterus (recently redecorated in a fluffy pink lining which won the prestigious “triple stripe award”), with meals of your choosing, spa treatments, live entertainment (there's a prince who's a real comedian...even when he's not trying to be one) and all the love you can handle included for free.  So try little ones…please try!  I may not be there with you this morning, but I love you already.  Please try.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time For The Prince's Quest...



WARNING:  THIS PARTICULAR POST HAS LOTS OF DISCUSSION REGARDING THE MALE PORTION OF THE FERTILITY EQUATION, SO IF YOU ARE SPERMAPHOBIC, I WON’T BE OFFENDED IF YOU SKIP THIS ONE.

We FINALLY have our retrieval day scheduled!  The donor has 15-18 follicles that will be ready for retrieval tomorrow (Thursday).  I’ve developed a peace with the fact that the follicle numbers aren’t what I had hoped for…and I’ve immediately replaced my new-found peace with a new-found worry - can The Prince complete tomorrow's quest on his own?

The Prince’s “contribution” needs to be at the fertility clinic at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow.  Only, The Prince has to bring his sample in, as he can’t collect at the fertility center.  I’m sympathetic.  He has “performance anxiety” around me when under pressure, so I can see how being in a strange room, in a fertility center, knowing that hundreds of men use that room for only one purpose, could ruin the mood. 

The Prince and I (and our fertility team here at home) are used to our “home collection system.”  He makes love to a clean catch cup, and then I keep it warm from the time of collection to the time it gets to the clinic.  It can’t be jostled, and (most importantly) you have 15 minutes from collection to when it needs to be at the center.  The Prince will never take it to the center himself, as he gets embarrassed (which he promises won't be an issue tomorrow).  So, I end up taking it in for him (handing over a little cup of sperm is about the least embarrassing thing I go through each cycle).  I can’t tell you how many trips I’ve made to our fertility clinic (which is a little over 15 minutes away if driving at the speed limit), with a cup of swimmers tucked in my cleavage (the ultimate incubator), thinking about how I would explain the situation to a police officer if I were pulled over for speeding.

The plan was originally for The Prince and me to leave at 9:00 p.m. tonight, after he returned from teaching his night lecture, to embark on the two and a half hour drive to the hotel near the fertility center.  I was really hurt when he suggested that I sit out this trip and that he just go alone.  I already feel so removed from this situation.  I need to feel like I’m a part of the conception process to the extent possible.  But it has occurred to me that: (A) it makes no sense for me to spend 5 of 11 hours in a car, getting only a little sleep and missing a half day of work….which is what will happen if I go, and (B) my presence in the hotel room will likely have the same effect on The Prince as using the room at the fertility clinic.  The truth is, fertility treatments have taken a toll on our sex life that I just couldn’t have seen coming (bad choice of words, I know).  Even with the help of Viagara, The Prince equates sex with our unsuccessful baby-making efforts and the pressure is too much for him, so he doesn’t even want to try.  

I’m sad that The Prince will be taking on tomorrow's quest on his own, but I'm also nervous.  As I’m sure we’ve all been told the ideal is that our partners will have “exercised the demons” no more than 7 days before retrieval and no less than 4 days before retrieval.  I know that I haven’t been performing any exorcisms with The Prince during this time, so I have to hope that he’s been doing a solo act.  Only…I can’t ask because he specifically asked me not to.  Apparently, I make things much worse on him by micromanaging his physical end of things (who, me?).  I get it…I just also know that if I asked him today what the proper window was, he would have no clue.  He can’t be trusted to get this stuff right, as awful as that is to say.  It’s not his fault…it’s just who he is…details are my things not his.  But combine the need to be detail-oriented to the concept of masturbation, and you are asking for disaster.  So…The Prince's mastrubation timeframe is yet another thing I am just going to have to accept as being out of my hands (Dear God, will the awful puns never end?).

The Prince has another task tomorrow, too… a gesture that is SO important to me.  He needs to bring the donor’s gift, card and letter with him to the clinic.  I am terrified that The Prince is going to come back with that stuff sitting in his car, right where I will have packed it for him (so he doesn’t smoosh it into his suitcase).  My plan is to call him at 7:35, when “his deed” should be done (God forbid that I interrupt that…seriously) but he won’t be far away from the clinic, so he can turn around the car and bring the gift back to the clinic if necessary.  When I explained his task to him he said “What?  Do you think I’m incompetent?”  I said that I did not “but…” and then I listed off about six situations in the last month where he has forgotten to do something important and I had to call, or make an extra trip somewhere, to fix his oversight.  I hate to be a mother hen, and I try to pick my battles, but the truth is, I feel like pinching his cheeks and saying “My little man is headed into battle…good for you…,” as I pin a reminder note on his shirt.

I am just going to visualize all of this going smoothly…or me writing an update to you tomorrow about how amazing The Prince did and how my fears were baseless.  I am trying to have faith that when he really needs to, my prince can rise to the occasion (UGH!  It happened again…I'm stopping this post before it gets any worse).


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Slow and Steady Wins the Race...


Initially, I want to say hello to everyone who may be visiting from RESOLVE.  It is great to have you checking out my site.  Please feel free to check out past posts to get a feel for where my journey is at…and thanks for being involved in National Infertility Awareness Week. 

Next, I want to thank everyone who nominated me for awards over the last week.  I am so grateful and promise to address them in a post in the very near future.  However, knowing how amazing you all are, I also know that you will forgive me for putting my “venting” ahead of the awards just for right now, while I am in the thick of my donor egg cycle.  As an added bonus of procrastinating, I am finding a ton of new amazing blogs through the RESOLVE myth busting challenge, so I will have lots of recommendations for blogs to check out once there is a lull in my cycle madness.

And, as a final side note, I just wanted to give a heads-up to those of you undergoing intralipids.  I did NOT pee opaque white for a day or so, as the nurse predicted.  Without being graphic, things were different than normal, but nothing that would have sent me running to the doctor in a panic.  I would hate for any of you to call the doctor in a panic because your pee did not look like milk, as your doctor might think you are crazy.  As for the infusion rate, my IV drip lasted two hours, although the last 15 minutes or so was just the saline.  I felt none of the fatigue or flu like symptoms that my friends had complained of.  I hope that answers the basic questions that were posed. 

Now…back to it…****************************************************

Once upon a time, very early in my fertility journey, when I still believed that there was a chance that I could get pregnant naturally, timing was everything.  I spent huge chunks of time each month charting, peeing on OPK sticks, and trying to look pretty on certain days of the month to help things along from The Prince’s perspective.  Although my body danced to the beat of its own drum, I felt in control of the cycle’s timing because I was right on top of it, day in and day out.  And I mentally tried to push my cycles along, as if in a race...and as if I were capable of some Jedi mind trick on my own body.  Slowly, our RE took over the timing of my cycles…and I grew more and more impatient and worried.  With each injection, and ultrasound, and schedule change, I felt more disconnected from my body’s timing.  Now I’m in the midst of my donor egg cycle and I have no illusions that I control anything.  I am at the mercy of my donor’s body’s timing.  I don’t even know her medication protocol or what happens at her monitoring, so there is no relief offered for my poor Type A nerves.

For a long time, I was told that my egg retrieval would likely be Monday (yesterday), and that things looked great.   Then, the retrieval was bumped to “almost certainly Wednesday” (which would have been tomorrow).  Then, yesterday when I called to get the final okay on making hotel reservations for a Wednesday retrieval, I was told that the donor is still moving rather slowly and will not be ready for retrieval any time before Thursday.  She is going to come back today for another ultrasound and I will know this afternoon whether we are moving forward, or whether I am extending my wait even longer.  I was quiet on the phone with the donor coordinator (a first), and she (in her infinite compassion) said “There’s nothing to worry about.  I can tell you are worrying, but don’t!  She has 15 to 18 follicles developing and things look good…just slow.”  In reality, I was quiet because I was disappointed that we are back to that "15 follicle" range, when last Friday it had been "lots more than 15," and I was also stunned that I would have to wait even longer for the information I am so desperately seeking - How many eggs we will have to work with, How many will be mature, How many will fertilize and, in the end, How many beautiful little embies will be smiling (theoretically smiling) up at me (from their little petri dishes) telling me “We were so worth the wait, Mom.”

I am trying to be flexible.  I am trying to remember one of my favorite lines from my childhood books – “Slow and steady wins the race.”  (Perhaps this is the real reason that the turtle is a sign of fertility…not the hundreds of eggs it produces…but because it is frustratingly slow).   I’m also hanging my hat on every cliché and over-used expression I can think of – “Good things come to those who wait,” “A watched pot never boils,” and “If you build it, they will come.”  Oops!  Not that last one.  That last one is just a really awful uterine lining joke that I thought up and now can’t get it out of me head.  That’s right…I said it…my mind is so gone I am now writing “uterine lining jokes.”  Anyways, in the end, I am still waiting (albeit impatiently)…waiting for my miracle to arrive, in its own time. 


Monday, April 25, 2011

RESOLVE's Infertility Myth Challenge: Infertility is Nature’s Way of Telling You That You Aren’t Meant To Be A Mother.

Infertility Myth To Be Busted:  Infertility is Nature’s Way of Telling You That You Aren’t Meant To Be A Mother.

Approximately one year into my infertility journey, my aunt, who had recently found out about my struggle with infertility, said “Well, did you consider that maybe this is God’s way of telling you that you aren’t supposed to be a mother?”  That statement knocked the wind out of me and, as the ensuing dazed feeling wore off, I wondered how anyone could be so cruel.  I’m financially secure and responsible.  I’ve taken care of my younger siblings since I was a child myself.  What did I do to indicate that I would not be a good mother? 

Little did I know that I would hear variations of that comment over and over again during my infertility journey.  The wording would change a little.  For example, one friend (a mother of three) asked “Are you sure that infertility isn’t nature’s way of telling you that you aren’t meant to be a mother?  Maybe you just aren’t going to do well with messy diapers and no sleep.”  Another friend, who did not know about my infertility struggles, said “Infertility is a tool of evolution, and women who aren’t meant to have children can’t.  These women who make test tube babies are messing with nature and with the balance of life.”  Each of these comments felt like a knife stabbing through me, and I have heard from my fertility friends that I am not alone in having faced these cold comments and the psychological trauma that the comments cause.  Regardless of how these comments are worded, they all send the same message – if you have infertility, you are broken and the reason you are broken is directly connected to your inability to be a good mother. 

But people say lots of insensitive things in relation to infertility.  So what makes these comments any worse than the others?  I think that this myth is one of the most dangerous myths out there because it is so easy to believe.  All of us who have experienced infertility have experienced the dark days that come with it, when the pain is almost unbearable and we are left asking the question “Why?  Why am I unable to get pregnant and have a baby, the most natural act in the world?  Why has infertility chosen me?”  Combine the human desire to attribute reason to hardship, with the profound negative effect that infertility can have on a woman’s self-esteem, and it is very easy to see why many women with infertility struggle with the concern that they have infertility because they will be a sub-standard parent and they just don’t know it yet.  Even if we “know” that it is not true, sometimes this myth “feels” true…so whether the seed of doubt is being planted from the outside or from within, the very means in which infertility effects us as women makes this myth feel true.

Here is the good news…this myth is not true!  When this myth is applied to other physical conditions, it is apparent how silly the myth is and how insensitive it is for others to make these comments to women who are going through infertility.  No one would ever say to a person with diabetes that, “This is God’s way of telling you that you aren’t supposed to enjoy desserts.”  No one would say to someone who has suffered an amputation, “Maybe this is just nature’s way of telling you that you aren’t meant to have an arm.  Maybe you would do bad things with that arm if you had it.”  As with most debilitating medical conditions, infertility is indiscriminate.  Women of all ages, races, socioeconomic status and religion are afflicted with infertility.  And, like other physical conditions, how a person “may” behave in the future cannot be deemed the cause of a physical condition the person suffers from now.  To believe otherwise is irrational. 

Another means of debunking this myth is by looking at all of the women suffering from secondary infertility.  I have only had the pleasure of knowing a dozen or so of these women, but I can say, without equivocation, that they are wonderful mothers, full of love and patience.  Although I am working with a small sample size, I say with great confidence that no rational argument can be made that these women have been afflicted with infertility because they will be sub-par mothers.  They have already taken on the motherhood role and have managed it splendidly.

Further, although I try not to pass judgment on others, we all hear stories on the news, and in our own personal lives, about women mistreating their children…abandoning them, abusing them or worse.  It would seem that if God, nature, or evolution were going to weed out the candidates for motherhood on a merit-based system, every infertile woman I know would be a mother and there would be far less of these awful stories on the news. 

Women with infertility become personal assistants of sorts, juggling medication protocols, appointments, and large quantities of information.  We also become avid researchers and problem solvers.  We hone our ability to focus fully on the tasks at hand, regardless of any pain and emotional turmoil that we may be experiencing.  We support one another unconditionally, listening without judgments and expressing love and comfort to people we barely know, based solely on the bond we’ve developed over our shared experiences.  In short, infertility prepares us to be even more amazing mothers than we were already destined to be.  I am certainly not saying I would wish infertility on anyone, but my point is that having infertility is not a sign that you should stop pursuing your dream because you have been deemed unworthy of motherhood.  Infertility is a curse of sorts…but it is not a punishment.  We are not infertile because we will be bad mothers…we are going to be great mothers in spite of, and because of, our battle with infertility.

So, to those who would say infertility is nature’s way of saying you won’t be a good mother…I say, Myth Busted!



***For a basic understanding of infertility, go to: http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

*** For a little background of National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW): http://www.resolve.org/takecharge.*

*** For those interested in taking on the infertility myth challenge: http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/bust-an-infertility-myth-submission-guidelines.html 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Did They Put Happy Pills In My Intralipids?

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Today has been one of those “sun breaks through the clouds and birds fly around your head singing their sweet melodies, while flowers bloom under your feet” kind of days (cue Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good").  My alarm went off at and I thought “What do I want to do today?”  It didn’t take me long to have a response… Sleep in!  So…while I can’t indulge in that particular wish every day, I decided to take a couple hours worth of vacation time at work and sleep in, guilt-free, because that was my “pleasurable thing for the day.”

I went directly from home to the fertility center, for my intralipids.  I didn’t realize I would be in one of the procedure rooms, but that ended up being great because the temperature control in those rooms is awesome and the table/chair is actually really comfortable when you don’t have your legs up in the awful stirrups.  I even was able to stay dressed...completely dressed...no gown!  One of my favorite nurses went over the paperwork with me, explaining that research indicates that intralipids may help with pregnancy by attacking natural killer cells, but noting that there is no definitive study proving intralipids’ effect on pregnancy outcome.  The nurse explained that the intralipids, a little bag of milky white substance, was only about 100 calories…but 100 calories of pure fat from eggs and soy beans.  I was told that I would need to drink 80 ounces of water, at least, today and that I should be peeing opaque white urine for a day or so.  I’m really glad she told me that last part because the doctor probably wouldn’t have appreciated my late night call, inquiring as to why I was peeing milk.  After the paperwork was out of the way, the IV drip was started, the lights were dimmed, I was given a lavender eye pillow and was ordered to relax for a couple of hours. 

I did relax, eventually…but initially I called the donor coordinator for my update.  She was pleasant (I told you it had been a great day) and she said that my donor is definitely a split cycle donor – she has lots more than 15 follicles, it was just too early to be accurate before.  Because the donor has just really gotten the bulk of the follicles growing, the egg retrieval date has been bumped.  So now, it looks like next Wednesday will be the retrieval day, as they anticipate the donor will be ready for her trigger injection when she gets checked on Monday.  So, my schedule has changed and I still have to wait for another update, but I’m not freaking out about it.  I’m just so elated that I can stop obsessing about the number of eggs to embryo ratios.  And “lots more than 15” was a perfect way for the donor coordinator to describe it to me…because I can’t develop a chart of possible outcomes with “lots.”

After hearing our happy news, and listening to The Prince whine over the phone about how he wished the egg retrieval was still Monday (who was that, a couple of days ago, that was telling me to suck it up and roll with the punches because we can't control these things?), I put my lavender eye pillow on (they seriously make the intralipid infusion a spa treatment at my fertility center), and relaxed.  I dozed for awhile and then…a knock at the door.

My RE had come in for a surprise visit.  I joked that I hadn’t ever noticed how tall he was since I could never see over my legs in the air, and he joked that he hadn’t noticed what nice eyes I had…or that I even had eyes.  He asked me how I was doing.  But when I launched into how the cycle was going he said “That’s great.  But how are you doing?  How’s work?  Have you been doing anything fun outside of the joy of infertility?”  Myabe this doesn't sound like a big deal...but my RE is busy.  Super busy!  And I know that he had been doing procedures all this morning and that Friday is his only day of the week that he can go home early.  I was so moved that he came in just to chat with me.  We talked about books and how irrational humans are and about how he is disappointed that he won’t be the one doing my embryo transfer but he is so pleased that he will get to experience my prenatal ultrasound with me and The Prince.  Have I mentioned how much I adore our RE?

So anyways, I now have the whole weekend to rest, or clean, or go and visit with my husband’s family on Easter.  I smile every time I think about our egg donor and this cycle.  I’m sure the rollercoaster isn’t over yet, and I know there are still twists and dips ahead, but it really feels good to be sitting at the top, looking out and feeling like all is right with the world, at least for today.



Better to Bee Busy

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After my last post, I decided that I needed to do something to try to improve my perspective.  So, I took my infertility bible, also known as Eat, Pray Love, with me to The Prince’s doctor’s office.  As I suffered through the three hour wait, I fell in love with that book all over again.  Odd that a book about a woman who changes her life upon realizing that she doesn’t want to be a mother would speak to me, in my current situation.  But, inexplicably, I love the book and find that no matter how many times I read it, I always find something relevant to what I am going through in my life at that moment.

Today what hit me was the author’s discussion about how she throws herself so completely into things, mainly relationships, that she loses her own identity, and ultimately loses that which she is working so hard to create.  This describes my relationship with infertility perfectly.  So, how does she get beyond that?  Well, step one was learning how to experience pleasure.  She had to figure out who she was, what she enjoyed, and try things.  In the book, the author writes about starting each morning asking herself what she would enjoy doing that day.  What a lovely idea!  Now, obviously I cannot decide that I would love to travel tomorrow, and up and hop on a plane.  Not being a best-selling author, I have a date with a cubicle tomorrow…which would not be my first choice of what I would enjoy doing.  However, I am going to try to start asking myself, each day, what I could do that day if I was able to do anything at all.  I am suspecting that a pattern will emerge and that, slowly, I will start to relearn who I am outside of infertility.  And eventually, whether we are successful in our journey or not, I will at least have an idea of where to start to regain my sense of self.

Until then, my goal is to stay positive by staying busy…not busy on the internet searching adoption (thanks, Lindsey)…and not busy worrying about things I can’t control.  I mean truly busy.  I want to be cleaning, organizing closets, walking the dogs, writing (and not exclusively about infertility) and maybe even tackling some gourmet cooking when I am feeling overwhelmed about this cycle.  Tonight, when I was cooking dinner, while simultaneously doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, I felt good.  I didn’t think about the egg issue for hours.  Idle hands are the devil’s playground, but an idle mind is apparently his summer home.

My great infertility friend also came up with an awesome idea.  She posted on Facebook, to all of our IF community, that she would like them to support me in Busting an Infertility Myth, in honor of National Infertility Awareness Month.  I believe it is RESOLVE that is sort of organizing the Blogger Infertility Myth Busting event.  I’ll be writing more about that soon, but all of my gals here at home are hopefully going to give me some ideas about what major myths they want tackled…with the truth out there on the internet for the world to see.  It is amazing that she intuitively knew that I needed a project to keep me busy.  Even though this endeavor is infertility related, it isn’t all about me and my issues…so I think it counts as enjoyable busy work.  So thanks, J.S. 

Finally…I just want to thank all of you who are sticking by me through my numerous posts and ramblings during this cycle.  You ladies support me, give me advice and let me vent my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment.  It is very rare to find one person in your life who cares enough to fill that role…I have been blessed to find lots of you…all over the world.  When the negative me is pummeling the positive me…you gals gang up on the negative voice in me and kick the crap out of it (nicely, of course).  I can never repay your kindness, but if there is anything I can ever do for any of you, please let me know.  Need me to wear a billboard with your blog address on it for extra traffic to your site…I’m your girl (please don’t make me do that)!  But seriously, thank you.

Preview for tomorrow…my experience with intralipids and THE FINAL UPDATE!        


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tick...tick.......tick

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I wish I could say that I recovered from yesterday’s little meltdown and pulled myself back into the happy land I had been dwelling in for the last week or so.  But if I told you that, I would be lying to you.  I’m not happy.  I’m still worrying about Wednesday’s “update.”  I am still doing the math over and over, hoping that I’ve made an error and we are not looking at a real possibility of only a couple of embryos…or worse.  And I am counting the hours, minutes and seconds until tomorrow’s update.

I am being forced to realize that all of the counseling, all of the personal growth, all of the lessons that infertility has brought to me has not gotten me past the obstacles I put in front of myself.  Today I looked at how to prepare an adoption profile…because that’s what I do.  When things start looking bad for the situation I’m in, I mentally ditch it and move on to the back-up plan.  I am trying desperately to hold on to my hope for this cycle, and to break my pattern of “cut-and-run.”  But each tick of the clock makes me more impatient, and with that impatience comes frustration, and with that frustration comes the insatiable urge to give up on this cycle and prepare for the worst – a BFN on Mother’s Day. 

I am brutally honest in this blog.  I’m not one to let myself off easy in my “real life,” and I certainly haven’t pulled any punches with myself in front of all of you, the readers of these posts.  So, I can imagine that, not knowing how I behave outwardly, you may think that it is a good thing that I have not managed to become a mother, as I am a bit of a basket case.  I know that you might be thinking such thoughts, because I have a hard not letting myself buy into that negative thinking.  But I will say that I have always been my own worst critic and that people who know me in person would likely never believe that I am the author of this blog.  I am excellent at sucking things up and holding myself together as needed.  I just let it all hang out there with you gals.  I promise…I really am Mommy material…and the fact that I need so desperately to convince you all that what I say is true further evidences that infertility has done a real number on my self-esteem.

The Prince is having his cosmetic surgery this afternoon.  I am hoping that I will transition into “caretaker” mode and that will fix my current gloomy mood.  I thoroughly enjoy playing the role of a 50’s house wife…attending to my husband’s every need (at least for a few days)…and I just realized that I wore my poofy dress, pearls, lipstick and heels today, so I’m dressed for the part.  I cannot promise that this will be today’s last post, as this blog has become my refuge and I’m feeling like the storm is pretty brutal right now.  Hopefully, the next time I write I will be in full-on Stepford mode, and we can forget all about this nasty post.  Sometimes, a little denial is a very good thing.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Poster Child of Flexible Thinking Takes A Tumble From Her Pedestal

I feel like this cycle, even more than my other cycles, has been a lesson in learning to be more flexible.  But I also feel like I’m not a very good student.  I’ve been so proud of myself for adjusting from my initial attitude about using donor eggs.  I started out seeing this cycle as an admission of my own failure, but now realize that having a life growing inside of me is what I want, and it is okay if that happens in a way that I hadn’t anticipated initially.  Yep.  Lately I have been patting myself on the back, crowning myself The Poster Child of Flexible Thinking.  But then…today happened.

You may remember that the donor coordinator told me on Wednesday that I should call her today, between and , for an update on my donor’s progress.  So today, after staring at the clock for hours…willing the second hand to move faster… I called the donor coordinator at .  She answered my call by asking what I needed.  She had completely forgotten that I would be calling for the update.  I ignored the initial pang of irritation I felt, as I was still excited at that point…waiting to hear how great things are going with the donor.  Instead, the donor coordinator said: “It still looks like Monday may be our likely egg retrieval day.  The donor is doing well and has about 12 to 15 follicles developing.” 

I know…in a normal cycle 12 to 15 follicles is great.  But we are doing a “split cycle,” so we only get half of the eggs to work with, and some of those will inevitably be immature.  Of the mature eggs, some won’t fertilize.  And out of those that are left, some won’t divide properly.  That’s not great odds anymore.  In our donor's past cycles (in which she's had 25 eggs each time), the recipients (who were not splitting the 25 eggs) ended up with 7 to 9 embryos.  So...halve that for the split cycle (3-5) and halve that because she has half the follicles now (1-3)...and you can see why I am concerned.  This math occurred instantaneously in my head when I heard the phrase “12 to 15.”

Panicking, I asked the coordinator “What happened?”  She said “What do you mean?  It’s early still.”  I said “But she usually has 25 eggs, so shouldn’t she have twice as many follicles as she has now, since some of the follicles will be empty?” 

The coordinator (who has clearly tired of my constant pestering) said “Well we don’t always carefully measure all of the follicles and, like I said, it is early.  But 15 is a good number.” 

I wanted to scream “That’s easy for you to say.  You’re not the one pinning all of your hopes (and a large sum of money) on this cycle.”  But I didn’t. 

Instead I called my husband and complained to him.  The Prince told me to knock it off…that 15 is a good number.  I went through the explanation of everything I mentioned above, and he said “Whatever…it’s a good number.  You can’t plan your way into getting more eggs, so let it go.”  He wasn’t being mean, but apparently he has tired of my constant pestering as well.  Perhaps I should send The Prince and the donor coordinator to lunch some time so they can both get a break from me and my constant worrying.

I am so upset with this situation.  First, why would the fertility center not measure every follicle when there are two recipients who are waiting to hear how many follicles have formed?  It isn’t much of an update if “12 to 15” could mean “12 to 15” or “20 to 30.”  Second, shouldn’t the coordinator know if this is a normal number for my donor at this time…and whether the donor will show 12 to 15 now, only to have almost double that at retrieval day?  This is my donor’s third cycle.  Why do we not have a better idea of how long her cycles take and what is typical for her at this stage?

As I type this, a little voice inside of me is saying “What is wrong with you?  Even with only 15 follicles, you would still probably have at least 4 or 5 good quality eggs to work with, and you are only planning on transferring 2 embryos…not such bad odds.  And give it a rest with the donor stats.  Even with the same person, each cycle is totally different, remember?”  But that little voice is getting pummeled by the much larger and very unreasonable part of me…the part that had her heart set on having mature eggs to work with, based on the donor’s past cycles. 

Why can’t I take this news and say “It’s quality not quantity that is important” or “I know how quickly cycles can change and it is way too early to even react to this news because it could be meaningless” or “It’s so great that things are moving forward on the anticipated timeline so I don’t have to adjust my schedule.”  Why am I so rigid and controlling that I freak out about anything that falls outside of the scope of the fairy tale I’ve written in my head about where this cycle is headed?  I’m not just disappointed with the news from the coordinator…I’m really disappointed in myself and my very negative reaction to information that isn’t even that negative.  I know that we all have internal dialogue and we all have the ability to choose which voice we place our focus on.  So I guess I will just have to try to keep focusing on that poor pummeled whisper that is telling me I’m crazy to let this rattle me and to stop being such an obsessive worrier.  Perhaps that voice would like to attend the aforementioned lunch as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Princess and the Pea



In the story, The Princess and the Pea, the princess is tested to determine whether she is truly royalty.  Unbeknownst to her, a pea is placed underneath a stack of mattresses that she is given to sleep on.  The princess is so dainty that she gets a terrible night’s sleep because of the tiny pea…proving that she is a true princess.

I have a pea under my mattress, too…although not literally.  I feel restless and tired throughout the day, pretty much every day now.  I’ve been blaming it on the medication I’m taking this cycle, and that is certainly part of the problem.  But I think it is more than that, too.  I think there is something small, something I am not even conscious of, bugging me, and it is draining me of my energy.

Tonight I went to see my counselor for the first time since seeing my sister and dealing with her situation last weekend.  As usual, he forced me to “sit with my feelings,” instead of running from them or distracting myself.  When he asked “What do you feel,” my answer was surprisingly quick…I feel sadness.  I am getting more and more certain that this cycle is “the one” – my happily ever after.  And yet, the further I get into the cycle, the more I feel this weight of sadness hanging across my shoulders.  I’ve tried really hard to identify where the feeling is coming from, but so far, I just don’t have an answer.

Here are my latest theories:

  1. I am sad because I know that my pregnancy is going to cause people I care about a lot of pain.  I’ve been on the other end of pregnancy announcements and they hurt…no matter what.  I don’t want to hurt my friends.

  1. I am mourning the potential loss of my current identity as an infertile.  I know that probably sounds bizarre.  After all, I’ve been working so hard to get off the journey of infertility and on the road to motherhood.  But I identify with the infertile label now, and my life has revolved around IVF cycles and temperature charting and support groups for three years.  When that is gone, will I feel empty or lost?  I know that I’ll be pregnant, but what if I can’t adjust to that label?  Can you be a pregnant infertile? 

  1. I realize that I truly am a mother without a child, but there are many women out there who are not mothers, even though they have children.  I am sad for those children…especially my niece and nephew.  And, unfortunately, my mother falls into this category to some degree, too.  So, in a sense, I am sad for myself…for not having a real childhood or the mother I envision myself being some day.  I know I shouldn’t judge, especially when I don’t know how hard motherhood is…but I can’t help it.  It just makes me sad that so many children will never experience the love that every one of us “infertiles” is filled with.

Those are the best “pea” theories I have.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m not moping around all day in a depression while the most exciting fertility cycle of my life marches on.  But sometimes, when I am alone and it is quiet, I can’t help but feel that there is a proverbial pea in my subconscious.  It is distracting and obnoxious, and it is keeping me from fully enjoying what is going on around me.  Unfortunately, I haven’t proven myself to be dainty royalty…so no one is removing the pea for me.  I’m just going to have to dig it out from under the layers myself, or learn to live with it right where it is.



The Gift


How do you thank someone for giving you the most precious gift there is...the gift of life?  Obviously, nothing would ever be adequate...but wouldn't you have to try?  I've thought long and hard about whether to write this post...whether describing what I am presenting to our donor somehow becomes cheapened if I share it with anyone other than her.  Ultimately, what made me decide to share the information in this post was my memory of how this blog started.  I started writing "The Princess and the Pee Stick" because I needed to work through my emotions and feelings surrounding infertility and the donor egg process, without regard for how my thoughts and words were received.  I need to write this post because deciding how to thank our egg donor has been something that has consumed me for some time now.  I am still working through whether I am getting this right.  So, I'm putting this out there in hopes that, as with other issues in the past, this blog helps to reassure me and clarify my thoughts and feelings on this issue.

I've known for awhile now that I wanted to give our donor a small gift and a note, attempting to express our appreciation for what she is putting herself through to help our dreams come true.  The gift, as you might expect, was much easier to find than were the words for the letter.  But even deciding on a gift wasn't easy.  I had read on some egg donor blogs that, while they felt uncomfortable when the recipients bought them expensive jewelry, most appreciated smaller tokens of appreciation that were clearly from the heart.  I decided to get our donor a Willow Tree angel.  These wooden  and wire angel sculptures are about 6 inches tall, and are incredibly expressive, despite their lack of facial features.  I decided to give our donor the one I've pictured above.  She is the Angel of Gratitude.  I went back and forth for a long time trying to decide which angel to get, but when I saw her, I thought that she was the best fit.  She looks a little like me, a little like the donor, and she has blue flowers behind her back (and my donor's favorite color is blue).

When I went to the Hallmark store to buy the gift, I stumbled upon a "Thank you for being our donor" card...no kidding!  Who knew that they made such a card?  On the outside of the card, it says "What you did was amazing, beyond generous and kind.  You started a miracle.  You have given the gift of life."  And on the inside it says "How can anyone thank you enough for that?"

The card is great, but I wanted to personalize the message as well (we all know that I am not a "short and sweet" kind of girl...I'm a little long-winded).  This is my one chance to express my feelings to our donor, and I'm not going to be shy about saying what is in my heart.  I'm ending this post with the draft of the letter that I intend to put in the card because...well...I think it says everything I have to say today.

"Dear Donor,

Words could never adequately express how grateful we are for the amazing gift you have given to us.  For three long years we have gone through one failed IVF cycle after another, trying desperately to complete our family.  We know what a commitment it is, both physically and emotionally, to go through the process of injections and monitoring, and we really appreciate what you've done to help us reach our goal of raising a family.

We have come to view ourselves as a mother and father without a child and, until you came along, it seemed that our dream of holding our baby in our arms might never come true.  You have provided us with the chance to become the parents that we know in our hearts we are meant to be.  You are our angel of hope and, although we can never repay your kindness and generosity, please know that we acknowledge how truly beautiful and special you are.  Regardless of how this cycle turns out, we cannot thank you enough for your selfless sacrifice.  You will always have a special place in our hearts.

Wishing you happiness, health and joy always,

The Mother and Father-to-be."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Competing for the "Triple Stripe"

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Sorry I haven’t written in awhile, ladies.  I promise to catch-up on everyone’s posts as soon as possible.  I had no news to report over the weekend, as I was participating in Mind Games the entire weekend (playing and judging 30 board games in 40 hours…UGH!).  I managed to get through the games (with a total of 7 hours of sleep between Friday morning and Sunday afternoon)…and I didn’t cry or scream once…my hormones remained in-check.  The experience left me exhausted and sore, but it did keep me from obsessing over this cycle and, for that, I am thankful. 

Today I received good news (finally).  My uterine lining is AWESOME!!!  The highest measurement that my clinic gives is the “Triple Stripe” (when the two uterine walls are so thick that they touch in the middle, creating an image on the ultrasound that looks like three stripes).  “Triple Stripe” occurs at 12-13 mm.  After one week on Estrace, my lining is at 10-11 mm, and I have at least another week and a half on the meds, before transfer.  I feel like I should cut out a construction paper blue ribbon, or silver star, to paste on my shirt when I achieve “Triple Stripe” status.  I need something to acknowledge my entrance into the elite class of infertiles who are blessed with perfect uterine linings.  This morning, my nurse (who is all too familiar with my uterus) was very excited.  She said it was the best she had ever seen my lining look…from a size and quality perspective.  Yeah!  So, I’ll continue what I’m doing and weather the side effects for a little longer, knowing that I am already going into this cycle with a leg up on previous cycles.

All that I need now is an update on how the donor is doing.  The donor started her stimulation medication on Thursday, so it has only been 5 days.  My stimulation always took around 19 days, so I assumed it would be too early for the donor’s ultrasound to show anything.  But my nurse this morning confirmed that my donor was having an ultrasound and blood work today, and she said that I should be getting a call from the donor coordinator, updating me on the donor’s progress.  The suspense is killing me. 

In the meantime, because (so far) we are on schedule for a transfer late next week, my intralipid administration has been set up for this Friday.  This will be our first time trying intralipids and I’m oddly excited about doing it.  Who knew I would ever get excited about getting fat pumped into me through an IV? 

I think The Prince summed it up best in marriage counseling this weekend, when he said that he is confident about this cycle working for us because everything we are doing is different than what we tried in the past.  To him, “different” feels like “good” and it gives him hope.  He’s right.  Every aspect of this cycle is so different from our past cycles, so it feels like the outcome has to be different as well.  I haven’t felt this positive or excited about an IVF cycle in a long time.  I really missed this feeling.  It feels good to hope again.

*******UPDATE*******

I contacted the donor coordinator by email, after not hearing from her, and I said I wasn't rushing her but I just was wondering if we were going to get an update on our donor's progress after each of her appointments, or if we would only be told if something changed the schedule. 

Her reply - "The donor was in this morning for her first ultrasound since starting her medications.  She will return Wednesday and Friday.  Please contact me both days between 2 and 3 if you need an update." 

Irritated...but still desperate for information, I replied "Thanks.  I'll call Wednesday and Friday.  Was everything okay today, though?  I know it is still early." 

Her reply - "She has follicles developing.  They are very small.  Good night!!!"

Am I wrong in feeling like this woman seems abrasive?  The three exclamation points didn't help...but I guess it could have indicated excitement and not irritation (which is how I read it).  The last time I talked to her, she was so nice...but now we are back to normal again.  Am I being too sensitive?  I guess I'll find out how things are going on Wednesday.   Oh well...I'm not going to let it ruin my Hope High.




Friday, April 15, 2011

The Prince is Charming



Lately, the fertility meds have been kicking my butt.  I haven’t had the horrible pain I was in a few weeks ago, but I am achy, tired, bloated, and nauseated all the time.  I wish I could say that I suffer through all of this in silence, showing the strength of my resolve…but that would be a lie.  I whine…a lot. 

Normally, my whining sends The Prince running to the grocery store, work or the gym…anywhere but around me.  At best, I turn into the teacher on Charlie Brown and all he hears is “Wha Wha Wha Wha Wha Wha.”  But lately, he has been great. 

Yesterday, I sent him an email from work, complaining that I was so sick and so tired, that I just wanted the cycle to be over.  I expected the obligatory “Sorry” reply email, or no response at all.  But instead, The Prince immediately shot back an email saying “I’m so sorry that you feel so sick.  It won’t be much longer now and it will be worth it when it is all over.  I love you.”  That little bit of effort on his part made all of the difference to me.  Instead of being grumpy all morning, every time I felt really sick again, I would think of The Prince’s words and feel happy (and sick…but mostly happy).

I was also pleased that when I told The Prince about coming out on Facebook, and his mother’s and family’s responses, he didn’t get mad.  Instead he made a joke about how he’s sure that I am hoping that his mother’s supportiveness will rub off on him…and it is always good to hope.

It is very easy for me to get irritated with The Prince…and I do, a lot.  So I really wanted to put in writing today how much I appreciate his efforts this cycle.  I might need to look back at it during my hormonal rages and freak out sessions, to remind me how lucky I am.  But I am lucky, I have a good husband.  He’s going to be a great father to our child/children, and I have hope that he is going to be a great husband, too…he certainly has the potential.