Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Blessed Uterus

Sorry for the suspense, but it's been a busy week! Here's what happened:

I have no willpower. I finally convinced my husband a couple of days after the transfer that it really was in our best interests for me to start peeing on a stick, even though it was waaaay to early. Good or bad, I told him we would avoid a lot of stress and anxiety waiting until 12/26 for our beta.

So, the first day (and I think it was a mere 8 DPO, or something like that), I could have sworn I saw a very, very faint blue line on the test. My husband thought it too, but both of us refused to acknowledge that the line constituted a pregnancy. (I've heard that a line is a line, but when you have to put it up close to your eyes and tilt it to see even a shadow of a line, you begin to think you are just willing it there).

Over the next few days, it did seem to get darker and darker, but I still wasn't convinced I was actually seeing anything, and neither was my husband. Finally, on the fourth day, I saw an appreciable blue line! Unfortunately, my husband wasn't buying it. We actually got into an argument -- I told him I couldn't believe he was being so ambivalent about a positive pregnancy test! I made him go out and get a digital test for the following day.

The next morning, I got a "pregnant" on the digital in a very short amount of time. I woke him up at 5:00 a.m. to come look at the stick. Half asleep, he did a very cartoon-like double take when he looked at the test -- and promptly began to cry. We just stood there, in the bathroom, hugging each other. It was a very emotional moment.

The bad news is that I seem to have developed a rather painful post operative infection. I thought it was a UTI, and my RE put me on antibiotics pending the test results, but when they came back negative and I was still in constant pain, they made me come in for an emergency appointment. They checked everything and couldn't find a thing (no accumulating fluid in my abdomen, no enlarged ovaries, no acute pain on palpation, etc.). My white count was a little high, so they started me on new antibiotics (which they assured me were completely safe). I'm glad they couldn't find anything acutely wrong (OHSS, ectopic, etc.), but I wish I knew what was causing this pain. It's making me a little nervous.

In any case, I'm ecstatic and my beta is on 12/26 -- I will hopefully have more info then!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The full story later, but for now...



Monday, December 10, 2007

Drumroll, Please...

Ok, so I've recently found an online buddy group for women who have my same IVF cycle. I have to admit that I have somewhat neglected my blog in favor of posting there -- not that anyone there reads my blog, or vice-versa, but I hate having to post the same thing twice...

In any case, here's the update: I eventually reached the point where I was able to do the abdominal shots myself! I am so proud of myself -- and it made the shots easier as well (it gave me more control of the push). My retrieval went without incident this past Friday, although the post-retrieval pain was a lot more than I had anticipated. I ended up with 9 eggs from 10 follicles. Of those 9 eggs, 6 were mature enough to be fertilized.

On Saturday, we received a call from the embryologist, who told us that of the original 6, only 4 had actually fertilized. He basically said if we wanted to transfer all 4, we had to let him know right then and there, and the transfer needed to take place on Sunday instead of Monday! This was kind of a curve ball for my husband and I -- we had only anticipated transferring 2, the transfer was going to take place on Monday, and now we were basically being told there was this transfer 4 option, but we had to decide now and we had relatively no information upon which to make our decision! The embryologist spoke very broken English and was having a lot of trouble explaining things to us. I hung up the phone in tears.

After I calmed down a bit (and I realize that some of this was attributable to the hormones), we left a message for our RE. The nurse called us back and explained things to us a little more clearly. Then the RE and the embryologist called us back via conference call and answered the rest of our questions, which is great, but is probably what they should have done in the first place. What we ultimately decided to do was wait until Sunday -- if all four made it to Sunday, we would plan on having the transfer on Monday as planned. If we still had all four, we would transfer two and freeze two. If we had three or less, we would simply transfer what we had left. If all four did not make it until Sunday, we would plan on going in on Sunday afternoon to transfer what was left. It didn't make sense to us to just freeze one, so we might as well go for it...

Well, we were on pins and needles on Sunday morning when the phone rang. We were told by the RE that we had 3 good embryos -- a 4-cell, a 3-cell and a 2-cell. The fourth embryo had failed to divide. He basically said to have a light breakfast and head on over for the transfer of the remaining three that afternoon for a 2-day transfer! The rest of the morning was spent making phone calls, doing some quick pajama shopping, and making last minute preparations for a week of bedrest.

When we arrived at the clinic, we were surprised and pleased to learn that all of the embryos had divided again -- we now had an 8-cell and 2 4-cells! We also learned that they were all grade 1 and 2 (our RE grades them from 1-4 based on quality, with 1 being the best, 4 being the worst). We were originally disappointed that we only had 3 embryos left, but I guess it's quality, not quantity!

The transfer also went without incident, and right now I'm actually looking forward to a week of bedrest. It's so hard to remain cautiously optimistic (emphasis on "cautiously") when I have so much hope...!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Shots All Around!

"I'm on my way home from work."

"OK. I just have a few last minute things to take care of at the office. I will meet you at home at 5:30. We can change out of our work clothes and then do shots."

Anyone walking by my office during this exchange would probably have thought my husband and I were getting ready for a Friday night on the town. A couple of shots of Patron, then we're off to dance the night away! Sadly, not that dancing the night away has ever been our lifestyle, but the shots we're speaking of are more of the take-a-deep-breath-and-close-your-eyes-and-hope-you-don't-feel-the-pinch-kind.

I haven't posted for a while, so please forgive me if this turns into a long and rambling summary of the past couple of weeks. We started the Lupron shots as planned right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Not pleasant, but tolerable, especially once I numb the area with ice. (Seriously folks, if I have the time, I'm preparing to author a composition entitled "Ode to Ice -- I Could Not Have Done It Without You.") I began the letrozole the night before my family arrived for the holiday. That's when the crazy vivid dreams and searing headaches started. Now that I'm off the letrozole, I no longer have the dreams, but the headaches remain...

We started the stims (Menopur and Gonal-F) last Wednesday. I was determined to give myself the shots, since they are in the stomach and I knew I would have to adjust the "push," depending on how the medicine burned. My husband got the Gonal-F pen all ready, and I just stood there for about 20 minutes, poised and ready to go, but I just couldn't do it! I had tears of frustration in my eyes when I finally handed the pen over to him.

Then came the Menopur, which my husband had to mix. I'm sure it didn't help to have me looking over his shoulder, criticizing his technique every step of the way. The sterile solution was leaking out all over the mixing needle, and I suggested that he start over from the beginning. Not wanting to waste any (very expensive) medication, he followed my advice (mistake no. 1), and replaced the mixing needle with the injection needle.

Upon noticing the HUGE air bubble in the needle, I refused to let my husband inject me. After trying multiple times to remove the air bubble by injecting and redrawing the medication from the vial, he shooed me away, saying something about not being able to concentrate with me leaning over his shoulder, leaving me to my own devices (which consisted of Googling keywords "injection air bubble embolism death").

After watching several Internet videos demonstrating the injections, my husband realized he had accidentally used 1.5 cc of sterile solution instead of 1 cc. In a panic, he telephoned the on-call nurse (which we probably should have done from the getgo). She talked him through it, and we were able to complete the evening's injections. Unfortunately, as a result of repeatedly redrawing the medication to remove the air bubble, he ended up injecting me with a REALLY dull needle. I guess you live and you learn.

We finally have the injections down, but I'm still a wimp when it comes to needles. The only thing more unpleasant than the shots are the side effects from the medication. I've been walking around for the past four days in what feels like an unrelenting hangover. Between the headaches and the fatigue, I just want to take a really long nap.

I had my monitoring appointment yesterday, after my first 3 days of stims. I have seven measurable follicles, consisting of one 12, four 10s, a 9 and an 8. My RE didn't care about the side effects I was experiencing from the medication, only whether or not I was experiencing abdominal discomfort. Since I'm not having any, they increased my dosage of Gonal-F (one of the more expensive medications). I'm still on track for a December 7 egg retrieval.

Finally, I checked my horoscope this morning. I'm hoping by putting a link to her site here, Susan Miller won't be too upset that I quoted from her forecast. It was just too fantastical to not share:


It's like she wrote this specifically for me! I normally don't believe in all this, but I need all the help I can get. How remarkable would it be if this came true???

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Husband, The Poet

My husband is usually a man of very few words. He's an accountant, not a poet or a writer, but he wrote this the other day and it really touched me. It came from the heart and has given me so much strength that I am posting it here with his permission:

Our Unborn Child

Our unborn child is searching for us
We know how that must seem
It’s nothing too mysterious
We see her in our dreams

She’s got curly blonde hair
Just as beautiful as can be
And it’s through this poem I want to share
How much she means to me

Almost a year and a half has gone by
And she still hasn’t found her way
Sometimes I find I just want to cry
But somehow I know it’s going to be okay

We’ve found the path that leads to her
It’s lit bright so now we can see
For strength we’re relying on each other
And that’s exactly how it should be

I anticipate that moment in life
When two now become three
Me, my baby and my beautiful wife
Adding our own branch to the family tree

Friday, November 16, 2007

Teacher's Pet

I had my Lupron scan yesterday, followed by our injectibles class. I was feeling a little uncomfortable, as our "usual" nurse wasn't there. Our friendly, wry, Wanda Sykes-esque nurse was replaced by, well, let's just call her Bubbles the Clown. She was a very large woman, all smiles, way too chipper, and very close to annoying when she told us that she was terrible with names, but could "recognize an ovary anywhere." That's quite a feat to me, considering everything on the screen looks like gray matter. In any case, in that gray matter she managed to find 10 follicles on the right, 15 on the left. When we asked if that was "normal," she spoke to us like were were preschool students:

"How many babies do you want?"

"One."

"That's right." (She is now holding up one finger for those playing the home game.) "One." "Then one follicle is all you need."

Somehow I don't think we're ever going to get an answer to our question regarding what is or is not "normal."

Following our lesson in numbers by Nurse Bubbles, we were ushered into another room for the injectables class. Another woman in the class told us she was a physician, so that gave me some added level of comfort knowing that there was an M.D. in our midst who had chosen our RE over everyone else available in the Southern California area. The nurse was a little miffed when she learned that no one had notified us that we were supposed to bring our medications to the class -- she wanted us to be able to lay everything out on the table so she could point out what everything was, what it was for, and to generally answer any questions.

That was when my husband, bless his heart, pulled out his spreadsheet. Now, my husband is an accountant, and I usually tease him about the fact that he has a spreadsheet for everything. This one contained all the medications, when each one starts, the method for administering (including body part), size of the needle, extra notes, etc. Everyone "ooohed" and "aaahed." The nurses even asked if they could make copies. My heart secretly swelled with pride.

My husband had his opportunity to apply what he learned in class yesterday when we began the Lupron this morning. I have to admit, I did lose some sleep over this last night. As it turned out, it really wasn't so bad, other then some significant burning I felt after the fact. I came to realize only later (by way of a "DUH" email from my husband at work) that he was so nervous he accidentally swabbed the injection site with rubbing alcohol AFTER giving the injection! Hopefully, this can only get easier...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Down the Rabbit Hole

Monday was our mock transfer, along with some additional blood work (and I think some other procedures thrown in for good measure). I had a bit of a meltdown on Sunday night – in reading through all the consent forms, I formulated a huge list of questions I had, and realized that I didn’t feel educated enough about what my RE was doing to go through with the procedure (unless and until our questions were answered). My husband saw my panic and offered to call the RE’s office the next morning. At first they told him that the doctor was “very busy” and likely would not have time to answer our questions. I think the anger and frustration must have been radiating out of the email I sent my husband from work in response, because he emailed me just a few minutes later to tell me that there was no problem, we were going to be seeing the doctor just before the procedure anyway, and he would be happy to answer any questions we had.

We were in a bit of a rush to get to the RE’s office, forcing us to eat in the car. This was a mistake, because they gave me the half Xanax and Motrin on a full stomach. Seriously – I found the procedure more than a little uncomfortable and I don’t think the medication kicked in until we were in the car on the way home. Other than that, things went pretty well. They wouldn’t let my husband in the surgical suite, which was kind of a bummer, but he was a little busy in the other room with a magazine and a cup ;) It was also kind of neat to see everything (some of it in color!) on the video monitor. So THAT’s what my cervix looks like…

The doctor met with us before the procedure, and was very patient with our list of questions. With the spotting, he told us that we wouldn’t know if it was something to be concerned about until he performed the examination. Also, we were confused because the literature said we’d be doing ICSI, and I didn’t understand why (my husband does not have any issues with his swimmers, and this is our first IVF attempt). Apparently, my RE uses ICSI in about 95% of his IVF patients – I guess it’s more mainstream now. It gives us a better chance of more viable embryos, which is fine by me (and believe me, I’ve also read the risks of ICSI, so please don’t think I’m going into this blindly). The rest of our questions mainly surrounded discrepancies between the literature he gave us and the information in the consent forms. Turns out, the literature was a little outdated and he said they were in the process of revising everything. He was very impressed that my husband and I had gone through it all so thoroughly (although I don’t know what he expected – I am an attorney and my husband is a CPA – how could we NOT read every single word?)!

I felt so much better after our questions were answered. My husband had kind of an emotional epiphany after all was said and done, and wanted me to know how brave he thought I was and how much it meant to him that I was willing to go through so much for the sake of our family. It was a strange thing to hear. First of all, I never thought of myself as brave – I feel like such a wimp when it comes to pain. His response was, “Bravery is not about not feeling afraid – to me, being brave is being afraid of something, but going through with it despite your fear.” Also, all this time I’ve known my husband wanted children, but I didn’t realize exactly how important it was to him. I always thought that I wanted a baby a little more, and he was simply indulging me and being supportive by deciding to do IVF. I’ve felt a little guilty for that and for the fact that the anatomical problems lie with me. I feel so much better about everything knowing how he feels and I have to say it is bringing us closer.

UPDATE: We just got back my husband’s sperm analysis results from Monday. Turns out, he does have a slightly abnormal morphology plus low stress/penetration (we never tested for this before). So, I guess it’s a good thing we’re doing ICSI!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Big Box O' Medicine

The big Box O' Medicine arrived on Tuesday. I came home from work and caught my husband on the Internet watching educational videos on how to administer injections. I asked him were all the medication was, and he showed me the new "medicine drawer" in the kitchen (where, incidentally, we used to keep the cat medicine -- he said he took out all of the cat stuff, but I'm going to become really worried if he puts on a finger condom and tries to rub my ear...). He basically said the drawer was off limits and he was going to be in charge of the medicine -- that's fine by me, but after begging for a few minutes he finally let me see what was inside the drawer to take the mystery out. Holy crap! I couldn't believe the vials and the disposal containers and sharps and pens, etc. We even had to make room for some of the stuff in our refrigerator. It's now becoming VERY real. Significantly, there was a very large bottle of Darvocet sent to us along with everything else. I know Darvocet is a pain medicine, but it's making me worried -- seriously, what's the Darvocet for, and why do I need such a big bottle???

The Darvocet also sent me spiraling with several other questions relating to pain issues. I had contemplated the injections being painful, but what about the actual procedures? I hadn't really thought about it. I have the mock transfer on Monday, with the actual retrieval and transfer in December. Can anyone tell me what kind of pain I can expect?

On another note, we've decided that we were going to be more open in telling people about what we're doing. I've told a select group of my close friends at work, and people have been mostly supportive -- I've had some strange reactions, and it's been a little confusing (for lack of a better word) to some people, but it's a relief to not have to make up stories about why I'm going to have to leave all the time for doctor's appointments and procedures. My immediate family has known about this since the beginning, and my husband is finally going to tell his. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will be supportive as well.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Clueless in California

I've been obsessed with FIRE lately, so not much time for blogging. We are about 1.5 miles from the Santiago fire in Irvine, California -- luckily, the wind has been blowing in the opposite direction, and we are not in any danger (knock on wood). So far, just stinky and smoky air (they actually passed out dust masks at my husband's work). My prayers are with those who have lost their homes, with those who have been evacuated and do not know if their homes are standing, and with the firefighters who are doing so much out here right now...

The nurse at my RE's office called me back the other day. We spent quite a bit of time going over my schedule, what happens next, upcoming appointments (my first one is on Nov. 5!), and how to contact the pharmacy for the medications. Basically, my husband and I have to come in for an ultrasound and blood work on Nov. 5, another ultrasound and a class on administering injectibles on Nov. 15, we start the injectibles on Nov. 16, and another ultrasound on Nov. 26. The scheduled retrieval day is December 7. Did I mention my parents will be in town, staying with us, for Thanksgiving? Nothing like a few hormone shots to spice up any family gathering -- it's going to be a circus!

Just as the nurse was about to hang up the phone, I mentioned the spotting again. She basically said that they couldn't know what was going on until the doctor examined me, which was going to happen on November 5 -- she blew me off again (this is the short version of the story -- I really don't have the strength or the patience to repeat it again here). Exasperated, I came home and talked to my husband -- he said we are not leaving the RE's office on November 5th until we have an answer to our satisfaction.

A few days later, we received the cost breakdown in the mail, with our payment due dates. There were no surprises, but it still gave me palpitations. I asked my husband, who is a CPA, if he would like to take care of the money aspect of it, and he jumped at the chance. Apparently, he wants to feel more involved in this process than simply being the "sperm and shot guy." It's perfect -- I don't care if I ever see those bills (math is not my strong suit, and money issues have always caused me huge stress). He's already started to make his IVF file, and he can make charts and spread sheets until his heart is content. It's a huge relief for me.

A few days after that, we received a packet in the mail. This one contained about 30 pages of consent forms, pamphlets on IVF, a medication card from the pharmacy listing all the medications and the cost, and a chart that was highlighted in different colors with different start dates for different medications. I looked at the chart and started to have flashbacks to my high school trigonometry class. My husband looked at it and decided he didn't like the RE's chart, and wanted to make his own. He has made it his mission to not only administer the injectibles, but to take charge of all the medication. I basically just have to show up and bare my ass (or whatever other part of my body gets injected --we haven't gotten to that part yet). I am absolutely thrilled that he is becoming so involved in this.

Speaking of medications, we had a good laugh at the medication card sent by the pharmacy. It looked like a takeout menu written in some strange language. If not for all the blogs I've been reading, the names of these medications would not have sounded the least bit familiar. I have no idea what any of this is for, what we're supposed to order, do we call them, or do they call us, etc. "I'll have the Lupron entree with some Gonal on the side." (Seriously, don't laugh -- I'm clueless...)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Huh?

Why, oh WHY, do symptoms of pregnancy mirror symptoms of PMS?? What kind of cruel joke by Mother Nature is that? Seriously -- the wait would be so much easier to deal with if, rather than sore breasts and moodiness, the telltale sign of pregnancy was, say, a cramp in your big toe, or blue mucous...

Yes, with everything else going on, I am still disappointed that I am not pregnant. The good news is that my husband and I have wholly re-committed to each other and to our upcoming IVF cycle. And that's a good thing.

So, I've been having that mystery spotting again. When I called my doctor last month (after spotting for 9 days), the nurse called me back and left me a message -- she basically said to call again next month if it happens again.

Well, it happened again. In a panic, I began taking my Vitamin B Complex again (after the nurse had told me not to take anything other than prenatal vitamins while TTC) and, surprisingly, the spotting stopped. If it's not a big deal, that's fine -- I just need some medical professional to tell me WHY it's not a big deal so I don't need to add the spotting to the list of all my other stressors in preparation for the IVF cycle.

So, I called my RE this morning, promptly as instructed, to let them know I was officially on CD1. I was told it was time to begin birth control pills. Now, I know they have told me this before, but it kind of slipped past me the last time. BIRTH CONTROL? Huh?? Will someone please explain to me how this works?

To make matters worse, when I went to the pharmacy to have the prescription filled, I was told that my new insurance from my new job doesn't cover the prescription -- they would have to send and authorization form to my RE, and they for sure would not hear back before tomorrow. They looked at me blankly when I told them I had to start TODAY, and I ended up just paying out of pocket. I guess it's really just a small drop in the IVF bucket.

I'm still waiting to hear back about the spotting. The receptionist says she put the proverbial note in my chart, they were "really busy" today, but Dr. Google has given me no insight, so I am forced to reluctantly consult with a less available professional. I just don't want to begin the cycle unless and until I can reasonably be reassured of the integrity of my uterus...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The "F" Word

Fertility… Fidelity… Futility… I don’t really have anything to say on this – just that in rolling these words around in my head they all seem remarkably similar. It actually makes more sense talking about INfertility and INfidelity, at least in my life these days, but then I couldn’t use my “F” word and come up with a clever and witty title for my blog entry ;)

In any case, just when I thought I was safe (after all, I have so much on my plate these days it would only make sense to put the IVF issues on the back burner), infertility once again reared its ugly head. My husband and I had a really good weekend. Actually, it was a phenomenal weekend. We’re really making strides. I have a lot of hope for our marriage, but I’m just not THERE yet. We also spent a lot of time talking about our December IVF cycle. We decided to keep everything on schedule and, as it gets closer, make a determination as to whether or not we’re ready. We just want to be in a good place before we set off on that adventure. Not just because of what it will entail for our relationship, but the stress issues alone may be enough to warrant waiting. It made us both sad, just the thought of putting it off, and we haven’t made any decisions yet, but it seemed right that we were talking about it. Here’s the kicker – I asked him, “How would you feel if somehow we were able to conceive naturally this cycle?” (Like I said, we had a REALLY good weekend.) He said, “Well, I think that would be a wonderful, wonderful miracle.” I can’t reconcile the fact that we’re in a place where we can still hope for the miracle of natural conception despite the odds and our infertility issues, but we can’t commit to our IVF cycle because we’re not “there” yet. Technically, the ball is in my court with all of this, but I guess I’m not quite sure where “there” is. Now I’m rambling…

Anyway, strangely enough, we had our joint counseling session yesterday and our therapist asked us about our planned IVF cycle. It was interesting because we had only mentioned it once, during our first session, and it hadn’t come up since – now he was bringing it up right after my husband and I had the long discussions about it over the weekend. Normally, I appreciate the directness of our therapist, and I realize he doesn’t have a medical degree, but he was so ignorant of all the issues surrounding our IVF cycle. The discussion went something like this (and I’m only including the relevant portions):

“Is this the first time you’re going to be on fertility drugs? You haven’t done any cycles before?”

“It’s not just fertility drugs. I’m going straight to in vitro fertilization.”

“Interesting. And they never put you on fertility drugs before.” [This was a statement, not a question.]

“It would be pointless. My fallopian tubes are broken. My eggs are good [knock on wood], they just can’t get fertilized.”

“I don’t understand.”

“One tube points due north, and the other one is a tangled birds’ nest. We have no way of knowing where the egg goes once it’s dropped. I have the option of having surgery, but there are fewer guarantees with the surgery than proceeding straight to IVF. Even then, there’s less than a 50% chance, which decreases exponentially, especially once I turn 35.”

“How old are you now?”

“34. According to my doctor, a ‘solid’ 34.”

“Well, it’s not like your chances will suddenly drop off once you turn 34.6.”

“Tell that to my RE.”

“How old was your birthmother when she entered menopause?”

“She going through it right now. She’s 50.” [Sorry, folks – I left this minor detail out of my description of our meeting.]

“So you have another 16 years. What are you worried about?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“People have babies well into their forties all the time. Look at [insert name of various celebrities I was too irked to remember here].”

“Yes, but not necessarily with their own eggs!”

“Well, in any case, it won’t kill you to wait a couple of months, will it?”

“Well…”

“It’s not like you’re going to have to miss any work, are you?”

“Okay. Just so you understand – starting in mid-November, my husband and I will have to take classes to learn how to give me hormone shots…”

“…I thought you said you weren’t going on fertility drugs…”

“…They are to increase production of my eggs. I will have to be monitored by ultrasounds every few days, after which I will have to go in to have my eggs surgically harvested with a gigantic needle. Then they will be implanted back in me after a few days, and I will then have to be on bedrest for the better part of a week.”

“And it costs what? A few thousand dollars?”

[Laughter and snickering from my husband.]

“Try again.”

I’m not sure what it was about this whole exchange that set me off – I’m still trying to figure it out. But I keep replaying it over and over in my head and my gut reaction to it, whatever that may be, remains the same. I’m sad and frustrated and angry and confused, and I don’t know what else. I’m also feeling guilty and selfish that, in spite of everything else going on, I’m still thinking about the baby situation all the time.

A few weeks ago, I thought it would be a miracle if my husband and I could resolve our issues and get through this difficult time. Now, for the first time, I see that there is hope for us and for our marriage to be stronger than it ever was before. Is one more miracle too much to ask?

F*CK.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Meeting

I know it's been a while. Meeting my birthmother was such an incredible experience, I needed to sort a bunch of things out in my head before posting. We got to our hotel Wednesday evening(not last Wednesday, but two Wednesdays ago -- I know, it HAS been a long time), and I called her to see what time they wanted us to come over. I spoke to her husband, D. We spent some time tiptoeing around each other ("What time do you want to come over?" "I don't know, what time do you want us to come over?"), and ultimately decided to come over around 11:00 a.m. -- it wasn't too early, but it was late enough that we could leave after lunch if things weren't going well. I spoke with my birthmother, B, long enough to tell her how excited I was. She sounded remarkably nonchalant.

We arrived very close to 11:00 the next morning (my husband and I are nothing if not punctual). I had everything planned out -- I had picked up a card and stuffed bear for her before we left on our trip and, on our way to her house, I got a big balloon that said "Congratulations, It's a Girl." I figured it would be a good icebreaker. In any case, nothing went as planned, because they were waiting for us by the window, and ran outside as soon as we pulled into the driveway. I didn't know how I would feel at this very moment, but giving her a hug came naturally -- she and I both cried and our husbands both kept their distance (looking a little bewildered).

We spent a large part of the day just talking and staring at each other. We compared habits and idiosyncrasies (it turns out we both have the same Flintstone toes -- my husband couldn't believe it and kept taking photos of our feet). I was very close to asking her about the state of her uterus ("Which direction do your fallopian tubes point?"), but decided against it at the last minute. In the short time I've known her, which has been primarily through email, B has come across as a very unemotional and maybe even "hard" woman -- I found out when we met that she had actually been counting down the days and that it was taking everything she had not to burst into tears.

I told her of my journey and my search and she told me of her family. We went out to lunch together, and dinner, and spent some time just walking around the lake by her house, just talking. There were some awkward moments of silence where we just started at each other across the table, but those moments were few and far between. Overall the day was a success. We did talk about seeing each other again, maybe out in Louisiana for a crawfish boil with her family (as it turns out, my birth family is Cajun and my adoptive family is Jewish -- I am probably the world's first Cajun Jew!). We will play it by ear. Even if I were never to see her again, I think we both have closure now. We both have this very special day.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Going Back to Dallas

On Wednesday, we left for Florida to meet my birthmother (I say Wednesday because I’m not certain of the Internet access I will have once I get there, and I will likely have to do all my blogging offline and post later). I brought my husband with me. So far, it’s been a little emotional – back and forth between the anxiety I have about meeting her and all of the issues going on between my husband and I. I don’t regret bringing him, though – if we can manage to set our own issues aside, I can really use his support right now. This may even bring us closer together. As a safety net, he also told me if I feel uncomfortable at any time, he will be on the next plane back home. I have a feeling this will work out.

The plane ride was nothing short of remarkable for me – this is probably going to be difficult to understand, especially if you are not adopted, but I’m going to give it a try: I was born in Dallas and adopted by birth. I currently live in California and grew up in Florida, where my adoptive family lives. (I know – it’s a huge coincidence that my birthmother lives there now). I’ve never really been to Dallas, other than to change planes when flying to and from California. I have more souvenirs from the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport – little things to remind me of “where I came from.” I would always wander around the airport, looking for someone who bore some familial resemblance. It struck me today, again wandering around the airport, that this was the first out of I don’t know how many times where I didn’t have that weird feeling. The irony was that I was on my way to go see her. It gave me goosebumps.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this on the plane the whole second leg of the trip. It was kind of overwhelming. I made some mental risotto (which, I’ve recently discovered, is a very effective meditation tool – kind of like counting sheep). I guess this journey has officially begun…

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Risotto Therapy

First, on the fertility front -- I am rapidly approaching CD1 (not even venturing to think there is even a remote possibility that I am pregnant this cycle -- that would be too cruel a twist of fate). I have had spotting consistently now for 9 straight days. It's kind of alarming -- I told my doctor a while back how I would frequently have spotting not quite early enough to be ovulation, and not quite late enough to be implantation -- he brushed me off. Now I've had this for 9 days and if it weren't for the fact that the past two weeks have been the most emotional of my life (am I kidding myself to think that my mental state is affecting my cycle?), I'd be pounding on his door demanding an explanation. My husband kindly offered to stop his self-flaggelation (I am of course speaking metaphorically) long enough to take me to Urgent Care, but I politely declined. So much for my new Type B personality.

Having a desperate need for an outlet over the past two weeks, I decided to try my hand at homemade risotto. I absolutely love to cook, but I can honestly say that, to date, nothing has been so therapeutic or offered me as much peace as my risotto experiment. It is not only a comfort food to eat, but to actually prepare. Now, if you've ever made risotto before, you know the amount of attention it requires -- you can't just passively put it on the stove and leave it. There are certain steps involved -- you need to saute the onion, saute the risotto, add the white wine (or vermouth -- I've discovered that it's much more resourceful to save the wine for drinking) until it is absorbed, and then gradually add several cups of chicken stock, a ladle-ful at a time, until each is absorbed by the rice. It is a very slow process, requiring a lot of patience (which I typically don't have), but the delightful smells that fill the kitchen (particularly at the moment of adding the white wine or vermouth) and the ritual of the preparation, have an extremely calming effect. Over the past couple of weeks I have made every possible variation -- risotto alla milanese, risotto with green apple and gorgonzola, spicy risotto with red snapper, chicken and basil risotto, risotto with proscuitto and sun-dried tomatoes, and risotto with spicy Italian sausage. I am obsessed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Silver Lining

Before I say anything else...I've only been here for a few weeks, in my little corner of the Internet, pouring my heart out into what I thought was an apparently readerless blog (thank you, Ms Heathen, for putting it so succinctly). A few of you peeked out from behind the curtain, letting me know that you were there, and I felt a wonderful (yet slightly strange) sense of community. Then Monday happened. I didn't really know what to do or where to turn, but my instinct led me here. I cannot even begin to tell you how much your support means to me. I never expected it, least of all from (and here's the word that seems almost blasphemy to use) strangers. (As a side note, I want you to know that I have spent time over the past several days reading all of your blogs -- you are truly a remarkable group of women and I feel honored to be a part of this community). You have all made me feel connected where I would have felt so lost, and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for reading, thank you for indulging me (I guess one doesn't really expect a post like that in a blog about infertility), and thank you for being there.

I think I need to be careful what I wish for. My husband was never a communicator. He was always the "manly" man -- beer and football, didn't like to talk about his feelings, didn't like to share, etc. I always wished something would happen to serve that cathartic purpose of tearing down his walls and allow him to completely open up with me. I didn't expect it to be this.

The past week has been really hard. Looking back, it's hard to believe that it was me -- I'm certainly not strong enough to go through that and be sitting here five days later posting an Internet blog about the experience. In the past five days, we have been to a marriage counselor, several sessions of individual therapy, and spent countless hours on our own talking about what happened, our entire relationship and marriage, and everything else you could possibly imagine. The lines of communication are not only open, but flooded. We have learned more about each other in the past five days than in three years. I am exhausted.

My husband is also not living with me right now. Our marriage counselor calmly suggested that I was not ready for him to come home after I told him I could not be in the same room with him for more than two hours without wanting to throw something really heavy at his head. (My apologies to all of you out there who thought I was handling this with dignity and grace.) We have since decided that we are moving towards him coming back, as a start, with certain rules in place. We will then see where it takes us. I have decided that I am not ready to throw in the towel today. It might be tomorrow, but not today. He doesn't know that yet, and I have no plans of telling him at this very moment (I am honestly not trying to punish him -- he is working so hard, I do not want to take his incentive away). We will see where the cards fall.

I have been going through all the stages -- grief, anger (okay, not anger -- try volcanic rage), depression, bargaining, and I have found a new one -- inappropriate humor. My mother was not amused when I told her we would still be following through with our IVF cycle in December -- I told her I didn't know where my husband and I would be with our relationship, but at least we wouldn't have to be in the same room to conceive a child. I thought about having to sign those consent forms for custody of the frozen embryos -- something I would not have thought twice about before all this happened, but now who knows what I will feel if and when that time comes?

I am feeling a lot of pressure to resolve issues quickly. In two weeks, we are supposed to be flying across the country to meet my birthmother for the first time, and to go to a friend's wedding -- both things I dread doing without him (although I could and would if I had to). Then there is our December cycle. I know I shouldn't be thinking about all of this right now. I feel guilty that I'm even talking about IVF when my husband is not even residing in the same house. I know we need to be putting our marriage first and working through this -- we need to figure out where we stand as a couple before we bring children into the picture, and all of that is still up in the air. If I could only find a way to put my biological clock on snooze until this is all over...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Open Letter To The Woman Who Called Me At Work Monday

Your “apology” is not accepted. Your behavior – not only in sleeping with my husband two years ago, but in purposefully and deliberately researching where I work for the sole purpose of tracking me down two years later to inform me of the affair – is nothing short of disgusting. That you would even dare to assume I would be na├»ve enough to thank you for giving me that information, let alone treat your veiled “apology” as anything short of a malicious attempt to get back at my husband by destroying his marriage, is incredible to me. You are the most selfish person I have ever known.

My husband told me everything. He cried. He
sobbed. He answered every question I asked. He knew how important it was for me to know each and every detail and, as difficult as it was for him, he looked me in the eyes and told me the truth. He told me of meeting you on your business trip only a few weeks after he and I were engaged to be married. He told me how you went out for dinner and drinks and how you told him all about your abusive husband of the past 15 years. He told me how he listened, how he felt sorry for you, how at some point it became less of a business dinner and more of a date. He told me how you asked him to come back up to your room, you were afraid to be alone in a strange city. I don’t, by any means, hold him without fault, but it was a game for you – and I’m willing to bet this was not the first or the last time you have preyed on someone like my husband. Tell me, do you win by luring the man out of his happiness and into your own miserable world? Are you able to convince yourself that all men are horrible creatures, not just your own husband, when you get a man to cheat on his wife or girlfriend for you? Do you hate yourself that much?

It was somewhat comforting for me to learn that my husband has been suffering with crippling guilt over the past two years – he does deserve that. What he didn’t deserve was your blackmail – your telling him you would find me and call me immediately if your husband ever found out. Think about it –over the past two years my husband has sent you pictures of us, our wedding, our home, trying to convey to you how happy we were so you would leave him alone. What have you sent him? Pictures of your family, your children, with your husband cut out of the picture. Have you ever seen Fatal Attraction? Do you know how psychotic that is???

I can understand your husband’s rage when he found those photographs in your email account – he was probably suspicious of a different, more recent affair when he found those emails. I’m sure he questioned, how dare you bring your children into this?? I can fully understand your husband’s need to confront my husband – to acknowledge the affair was two years ago, but to demand that my husband never call or speak to you again. My husband agreed to stay away from your family and your husband agreed that you and he would stay away from ours. I applaud the way your husband handled the situation, and cannot even imagine what he must be going through – it must cut very deep to learn that your wife of 17 years has been chronically unfaithful. I don’t believe that your husband knows about the subsequent harassing phone calls you made to my husband at work, or to me at work, for that matter. Your statement to me on the phone when I asked why you were calling me, telling me that you were doing this for your husband, was disingenuous at best. After all, it’s been two years – why now?

It’s out in the open now, and you have no more leverage against my husband. He no longer has any reason to continue to correspond with you, now that I know everything and the threat of you telling is over. Stay away. I don’t know if our marriage will survive this, but that is my decision to make. It is empowering to know that we have only been married a little over a year and that we don’t have any children to stay together for – if we do stay together, it would be purely for the right reasons, and it will all come down to just us. We will be that much stronger as a couple – all in spite of you. If we don’t stay together, rest assured that it will not be due to your misguided act of vengeance.

I only wish you everything you deserve.

Rebecca

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Break

I always said I wasn't going to make apologies for not writing for a while -- I will write when I have something to say. Unfortunately, I have so much to say right now, and I somehow can't find the words. I guess it's a bit of a personal tragedy, completely unrelated to the whole infertility thing, although in light of the situation I think we might be putting IVF on hold for a while. Only time will tell. Regardless, I will be back soon -- hopefully with words...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

It's All In The Timing

First, let me say, I don't think I have a single reader -- not a single one! I have told no one about this blog (at least not yet) -- it's kind of my guilty little pleasure. I have a number of other blogs that I do read regularly, and I have to admit I am a little jealous at the audience and support they have. At the end of the day, though, I like my little corner of the Internet -- I invite anyone who wishes to come and visit for a while, but I really enjoy not having the responsibility of having an audience. So, that being said, I will continue to write about what I want to write about -- enter at your own risk...

I recently decided to start meditating again. I bought a meditation program specifically designed for fertility, and I have yet to stay awake to listen to the whole thing. Still, it's a start (although the focus is on positive, not negative energy -- maybe I need to change the name of my blog). I've decided (as you could probably tell from my last entry) to transform my my "Type A" self into a "Type B." It's been a struggle -- but I think I at least hit the "A-" mark this week. The clincher was yesterday. I forgot to wear my watch to work, which is something I have not forgotten to do since, well, forever! It was hugely disturbing to me, not constantly knowing what time it was. Maybe it was my subconscious making that extra "Type B" effort for me? I managed to get through it, and I think I may forget to wear my watch on purpose for the rest of the weekend...

Today is the day my husband and I go to that fancy little hotel on the beach for our last ditch effort at conceiving naturally before IVF (I guess technically we would still have one more cycle after this, but the timing this time could not have worked out more perfectly). My chart is looking good, I ritualistically peed on a stick this morning and, again, the timing would be perfect. The only problem is, I have a nasty cold (which I think I caught from my DH), and the whole TTC thing is the last thing I want to do right now! It really is more romantic than it sounds, though -- my husband is voluntarily giving up a weekend of college football for this...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Skinny Bitch, Big Pants

I've decided that, in honor of the upcoming Human Science Experiment (that's what it really is, isn't it?), I need to stop eating like I'm pregnant and drinking like I'm not.

I've gained a little over 30 pounds in a little over a year (since my June 2006 wedding). I think part of it was the emotional roller coaster I've been on, and part of it was the thinking that I'm going to be pregnant "soon," so it doesn't matter what I eat -- I will lose the weight after the pregnancy. Well, soon turned into not-so-soon, and I can no longer fit into my pants. (If I keep going at this rate, I'm going to be wearing maternity clothes before I even have a right to be wearing maternity clothes!)

So, I went to the mall yesterday, resigning myself to the fact that I need to buy some bigger pants. I stopped off at Barnes & Noble to see if they had any books on women's health -- particularly things I can do to get my body ready for IVF (everyone's always talking about this book and that book on the message boards -- I figured I needed to weigh in -- no pun intended).

Instead of finding any books on IVF, I found a book called Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman (two skinny bitches whom I am guessing have no medical training whatsoever). To quote a reviewer on amazon.com, it would not have sold nearly as well had it been called A Foul Mouthed Diatribe on Veganism. While I disagree with the message of the book (meat is bad, aspertame is evil, the USDA doesn't give a sh*t about our health), something about the style of the book really resonated with me. It basically came down to this -- I'm not in college anymore, my metabolism isn't what it used to be, and I need to stop eating crap -- period.

I decided that I need to get my body in the best shape it can possibly be in, in preparation for our December IVF cycle. I'm going to be healthy. I'm going to cut out the crap, the caffeine, the alcohol. When I am pregnant (knock on wood), I am going to allow myself a little more leeway (if the baby wants me to eat a box of Twinkies, who am I to argue?). I just figured this is the least I could do to increase my chances of success (after all, this is an investment). Who knows, maybe the big pants I just bought can double as maternity pants in the not-so-distant future...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here We Go...

This past weekend, my husband and I decided we are going to wait until December for IVF. I have to admit, I had a little bit of a meltdown about the whole thing, finally coming to the realization that we were one of "those" couples (or, more accurately, that I am one of "those" women -- it's my tubes that are completely f*cked up -- I should probably change the name of the blog to "My F*cked Up Tubes," but it doesn't quite have the same ring... but I digress...). I think the main issue for me was that, after hearing how there are about three months of increased fertility after an HSG, I really wanted to try at least another cycle on our own even though it was less of a blockage issue and more of a "one-tube-is-tied-up-in-knots-and-the-other-points-due-north-so-we-don't-even-know-where-the-egg's-gonna-go" issue. The earliest we could have gone in was October, due to the necessary month lead-in time (my RE requires that I go on the pill for a month prior to the procedure to get me on their schedule). That leaves November and December. November was out because my family is coming to visit for Thanksgiving (and having to be on stress-free bedrest while my family is visiting is pretty much an impossibility), leaving only December. My mother offered to cancel their trip to allow us to go forward in November, but I told her not to worry about it. I wouldn't have accrued enough leave time until December anyway (which really is true, so it does work out better).

Today being the first day of this cycle, I called my RE and reported to them (it's a very strange thing -- they told me if I remembered nothing else, to just remember to call them on Day 1). I told them how we wanted to go forward in December. I actually spoke to the nurse (the nicest nurse I've ever met -- we'll just call her Nurse Nice for now) who performed my first ultrasound there. She also happens to be the IVF coordinator, and I have a feeling we're going to become pretty intimate over the next several months. She welcomed me to the IVF program and gave me the schedule. On or about December 7 will be my egg retrieval. The week of December 9 will be the week I will have to take off work following the transfer. Between mid-November and my first Beta, I will have to do all sorts of unseemly things, like repeated vaginal ultrasounds, allowing my husband to give me hormone injections, etc. I was instructed to call at the first day of my next cycle just so they can keep tabs on me. It was that easy...

So, I requested time off work from my supervisor for "surgery." I felt really bad (and still do) about being less than honest with him, but it was so much easier than trying to explain my endeavor, especially not knowing how he would react. I'm thinking of just telling people I'm having plastic surgery. If they ask where, I will tell them they can figure it out on their own upon my return. That should keep everyone entertained for at least a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, my husband (who really is my favorite person), has decided we will go away next weekend. We will focus on nothing but making the most of this cycle on our own -- our plan is to get a hotel room, and do nothing but stay in bed and order room service (among other things). At least we won't be able to say we didn't try...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

There Should Be a Support Group

Just a little background…

I was adopted at birth and finally found my birthmother online. I am going to meet her in person for the first time in September. In fact, at one point (before all this infertility crap), I had toyed with the idea of creating a blog to memorialize my search. It’s a little strange to me that I ultimately decided to trash that idea, but now I’m contemplating putting a blog out there relating to my infertility (I still choke on that word!) – it’s so much more personal. Maybe it’s because I was such an open advocate for adoptees’ rights and in the adoption community. Infertility is such a private issue, and so difficult to talk about. In any case, the irony to me is that my birthmother was so fertile she had sex once, as a young teenager , and became pregnant at the drop of the hat (which, lucky for me, resulted in my adoption). I have not been so lucky.

I have always wanted to be a mother. I think part of it is the adoption thing – Freud would have a field day with this, but the idea of having a child of my own flesh and blood to raise and to love – well (and I’m not exaggerating here), it’s what I want more than anything in the world.

In the interests of time, here’s how I got here…

My husband and I actually talked about kids and a family on our first date. In fact, he brought it up. My mother admonished that those conversations are much better for a third or fourth, or ninth or tenth date and that he would probably never call me again. He did, and I married him.

Flash forward to June 2006, which is when we were married. I stopped using birth control right before the wedding and the plan was not to actively try to get pregnant, but not to actively prevent, either. I was secretly hoping for a honeymoon baby.

After about 3 months, we decided it was time to actively try. I joined fertilityfriend.com, learned how to take and record my temperature every morning and have “well-timed” intercourse. Romantic, huh? I soon discovered the OPK test, and became addicted to peeing on a stick. Then I started buying early pregnancy tests. Then I started buying them in bulk. From Canada. I have a serious problem.

I make an appointment with an OB/GYN after about six months of trying. Since I am only 33 years old at the time (and not over 35) she says that they really can’t do anything until we’ve been trying for a year. I bring my charts for her to look at and she mumbles something and sets them aside – I don’t even think she knew how to read the charts. BUT, because I am having some mystery spotting between periods, she sent me for some blood work and requested an endometrial biopsy (which I backed out of at the last second – none of my online friends at fertilityfriend were going – why should I?).

My wonderful husband, in the meanwhile, after convincing him that yes, there was something definitely wrong – we couldn’t be more meticulous about recording temperatures, peeing on a stick and having well-timed intercourse, agreed to go for a sperm analysis. He got the same story I did – there was nothing that could be done until we’d been trying for at least a year. He told them that we’d been trying for a year. Have I told you how much I love my husband? In any case, his tests came back completely normal.

Flash forward (again) to a little over a year after we’d been trying. I was finally ready to see someone who would be aggressive about treatment. I had a new job and new insurance and it was time. I marched into my doctor’s office on the pretense of “establishing new service” and demanded a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist. Asshole that he was, he came through. I had my first consultation with my new (and somewhat famous) RE on my birthday – that had to be a sign, no?

First of all, I’ve never been to an office where the staff was so, well, nice. I don’t know if it was the nature of the work they do, or the fact that most of their patients are self-pay, but…wow. I had an ultrasound (normal except for a small fibroid and a retroverted uterus, both of which I new about) and we immediately set out for starting what is known as “Level 1” testing. I had CD3 bloodwork done (funny – turns out my OB/GYN didn’t know the blood tests were supposed to be performed on a specific date) as well as an extremely painful test known as a hysterosalpingogram (HSG).

When I dropped off my films at the RE, the receptionist said, “The doctor will call you in a few days and let you know the next step, or he will call you in for another consultation.” My husband agreed that the latter would probably mean that this whole process was about to get really expensive.

We got the call a few days after that. We needed to come in for another consultation to review my films. The good news is that we were able to rule out problems with my hormones (meaning I have good eggs) and with my husband’s sperm. The bad news is that I have one fallopian tube that looks like a twisted bird’s nest, and another that points due north. The doctor attributes it to possible scar tissue formed from laparoscopic surgery I had for acute appendicitis when I was in college. He gave us three options: 1) Do nothing and continue trying on our own; 2) have another laparoscopic surgery to see what’s going on down there and try to repair the tubes; or 3) bypass the tubes completely and go directly to IVF.

We knew what our decision was going to be before we got in there – it’s not like we were just having random sex and taking the wait and see approach until now. I also didn’t want to have possibly unnecessary surgery to repair something that might not even be the problem. Looks like we’re doing IVF…