Monday, July 14, 2008

This post talks about my religious views, which may very well be different than your own.  I welcome comments about infertility, spirituality, family but NOT about why your religion is better than mine.  So please, bite your tongue and move on.

My parents are religious.  I admire their devotion and discipline.  They are Hindu (I am too, but not a very good one!)  They pray every morning before they eat anything, they do fasts and special pujas (prayers) for each of us.  But, after this last attempt, I asked my mom to stop praying that I get pregnant and instead pray for my health and happiness.  Two reasons...

First, it has made me uncomfortable for a while - it doesn't seem like I should be praying for a specific outcome that I want.  I try to pray for God's will and the strength to see it/get it/deal with it.  Except for a few other times (transfer day, many days during the 2ww, often at 3am) when a prayer for "please God let this embryo make it, let me hold our child, please please please God" bursts out of me.

Second, how do we move on if we are still praying for me to get pregnant?  I feel like I need to punish myself with the truth that I WILL NEVER GET PREGNANT until I really accept it. Because, although I think that is true, clearly I don't accept it.  If the road to acceptance is paved with anger, bitterness, envy and other nasty things then I may be on my way.

(Third, yeah I know I said two.  I meant two for them, three for me.  Anyway, third -  I feel kind of pissed off at God right now.  I try not to.  I don't believe God sits around saying "You, you're diabetic.  And you - you'll be lonely.  And you there - years of infertility, a heartbreaking miscarriage and then nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada." )

My mom, being my mom, said she understood and then stopped eating any meat products.  I do not believe she saw a PETA ad that really hit home.  

She then told me that my aunts and uncles decided that my request didn't apply to them , so they would continue to pray on her behalf.  Clearly she, and they, are missing the point.

My dad actually told me that he had made a promise to do a specific puja for a year, which also involves me wearing a necklace around my neck that had been blessed.  I took it off the day of my BFN.  He wants me to wear it and actually seemed annoyed when I said nope, I was done.  I did not make that promise, and even if I had I am pretty sure I'd break it.

I want to be a good daughter, really.  Because they have asked me to,  I have done more prayers and mantras and even fasts than I ever should have.  Each because "Auntie So and so said 3 of her nieces got pregnant after doing this puja" or "Hanuman Puja never fails - never!" (except for me).  The astrologers told my mother I shouldn't wear diamonds and after a lengthy argument I took off my engagement ring.  At first I thought "Couldn't hurt, might help."  Then I just couldn't bear to say no to them, to tell them none of this will work.  I am saying it now.

I wonder if part of the reason I am taking a hard line with them now is that I know it will speak to them - it's a way I can make them hear me.  I also wonder if I am doing it to make myself listen.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Infertility is a bear

Well today it is officially over.  I know it's been over and I have been trying to cope.  But now it really is.  JD contacted Shady Grove to refund our Shared Risk money.

It has been a roller coaster the last few weeks.  Despair, obviously.  Followed by a sudden determination to throw myself into adoption mode, ordering birth and marriage certificates and agency information packets.  I started drinking caffeinated beverages and non-virgin cocktails.  I stopped all supplements and anything remotely good for me ("You think you got me, broken down body?  I'll show you how it feels to break down!").  Then I started thinking of traveling, taking up running, anything I could think of that I couldn't do while doing IVF or being pregnant.

My mantra was "Fake it until you make it."  So I worked, socialized, smiled, and basically did everything I could not to implode.

I must say I was doing pretty well until we had our exit interview with our RE, whom I love.  I had a dream the night before that was strange.  In it I had a pet bear, full-grown.  It was sleeping in our bed, annoying my husband but cuddling with me.  OK, it was laying on me and was very heavy but still it was warm and soft and I dug it.  All was okay until the bear threw up in our bed.  JD was not amused and I decided I'd better put the bear in it's kennel in the basement.  As I got a treat to lure him downstairs JD got up and opened the front door.  I knew it would happen just before it did - the bear ran outside.  I ran after it.  Just as I got to him on a street corner a kid came by bouncing a ball, attracting the bear's attention.  I had a leash on the bear by this point (a Haltie for you dog-owners) but clearly it was NOT to going to stop a determined bear.  I remember thinking "Christ, whose bright idea was a Haltie?  The bear doesn't have enough of a nose to put it over."  Followed shortly by "Jesus, he's a full grown bear WTF was I thinking?"

Interpretations?  Anyone?  Beuller??  Let's take an informal poll:

Option One:
I take it to mean Bear=Stopping IVF.  I thought I had come to terms with it, the weight of it.  But, with the exit interview pending, my subconscious was letting me know this beast was about to rear it's ugly head.  And I'd realize this thing could cream me.

Option Two:
JD had a different interpretation.  He said the bear was infertility.  That I had gotten cozy with it, learned to manage the weight of it.  The dream revealed it was too much for us.

OK, so back to our story...

The RE went over the cycle like always.  Great embryos he said, best chance of getting pregnant yet (better than the time I got pregnant!).  He went on to say "I know you guys are making the decision to stop for a variety of reasons (emotional, financial, etc) but I don't think, medically, that you should stop.  I think we can get you pregnant.  You are only 37.  If you stop trying now it could be a different ballgame in a year.  Certainly you won't qualify for shared risk again.  And we'll get you all the sample meds we can."

Wow.  It took my breath away (not my tears unfortunately).  I mean, at this point we are costing them money (especially if they give us some meds).  It would seem if they didn't think we'd get pregnant, or thought probably not, it would be in their best interests to give us the heave-ho.  So "wow".

And so I want to keep trying. And I want to be a fair and loving partner to my husband who is done done done with this.  I know JD was upfront with me when he reached the end.  I know he has a 50% say in this.  I know we did the last last-ditch cycle.  I know that I could probably do this for 3 or 4 more years because I can't imagine (still) givcing up on having a baby.  And I know we could do 7 more and be right here, just the 2 of us. But good God I want to keep trying. 

And, paradoxically, I am a little teeny bit relieved it is over. I don't even like to admit that.  But it is true, just a tiny part of the truth.

In the end I left it to him.  I never asked him to change his mind (although I asked him to wait a few days).  I keep reminding myself that the marriage is more important that children.  I think this because I don't want to be a single parent, I don't want to bear anyone else's kids.  I see this child, the child that is slipping away, as an expression of our love and commitment to one another, of our marriage.  Can I damage the marriage in order to have the child?  Yes, if I knew we'd have a baby.  He'd forgive me, mostly, if that happened.  But I can't guarantee that.  And I shouldn't betray his trust, I gave him my word.  I don't want him feeling resentful and angry that I didn't keep it.

But I am feeling resentful and a little angry.  Maybe this is the second stage of grief, or maybe the question becomes can I forgive him?

Thursday, June 5, 2008


It occurs to me that although I have described my feelings as hopeless in the past, that was incorrect.  The reason I know that is that my heart feels like it may disintegrate, really just crumble away.  And I think what was holding it together, tenuously, was a small amount of hope. Why is losing that little bit of nothing killing me?

I can't be in my car without the tears seeping out, really do anything that involves solitude and time to think.  Apparently I spent a lot of time and energy thinking "What next, what can we do differently.  What meds, what protocol, what therapy will get us pregnant" because now that I know there is nothing more,  I have all this empty space in my head and my heart.  It feels cavernous and dark and I don't know what to put back.  I am so tired, I feel I have nothing left in me.  I spent half of last night wondering "What have I done that is so wrong?"  Why us, we've tried, really, to not be selfish, to think of others, to take what is given us with some grace. We have prayed and tried and tried again.

I cannot believe this is where the dream ends.  We have waited so long and I can't believe that our children will never come. That we won't be comparing feet to see if they got my side of the family's.  That I won't look into hazel green eyes in a caramel colored face, somehow a perfect reflection of us both.  I'll never feed a baby at my breast, never feel a flutter or a kick, never deliver a baby.  I'll never have a child with my husband.  I'll never be able to say "Clearly, they get that from you." 

I've avoided anger and bitterness so far but I am SO angry now.  I feel cheated and betrayed, not only by fate but by this stupid body.  This body that couldn't hang on to the baby it was blessed with and that somehow cannot create another.  What good are all the girl parts if they can't do their only job?

Seriously, how am I going to get through this?  I can't imagine looking backwards on this time, I can't imagine crossing over, even surviving it.  I hurt so much I can hardly stand it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spoiler Alert

First, my HPT yesterday was negative.  My beta was scheduled for Monday which is 16 days post 3d transfer.  I called to see if we could move it, which they did, to Friday.  Then, as she hung up the nurse said, "But if it is negative you still have to take your meds and be retested Monday."  Huh?  I went to sleep at 7:30 last night and wish I could have slept until Monday.

Second, Sex In The City made me angry.  Really angry.  As you have probably heard Charlotte is pregnant with a miracle baby.  Her explanation?   She guessed that adopting let her relax enough to get pregnant, just like people say.  I know my target audience feels my pain.  I could not believe my ears.  There are SO many problems.  Did these writers not know any people with infertility?!  OK, so Charlotte's happy ending in the series was an adopted baby girl. The scene when she got her referral was beautiful and touching.

So why get her pregnant?  Is it because adoption is not enough of a happy ending?  Because real perfection is a biological child?  

And what the hell is up with that explanation?  Are you kidding me?!  Why not "We don't know how it happened", "I was impregnated by the Holy Spirit", "We did another round of IVF" or "We used donor eggs/sperm"?  Maddening.

Anyone know Michael Patrick King's email?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This is God...

Proof Positive that I am going to hell, this CRACKED me up.

My friend Elizabeth shared the best quote ever, which I apply both to the aforementioned woman and that crazy family in the midwest, pregnant for the 18th time...

"Ma'am, it's a vagina.  Not a clown car."

I Wish My Boobs Hurt

It has been a tough couple of days.  Of course the 2ww is by definition agonizing, but this time I am having such a hard time being hopeful.  I feel downright pessimistic.  And then guilty for putting negative thoughts out into the universe, and into my uterus.

Found out yesterday that none of the other three embryos made it to freezing.  I then spent an hour lamenting the fact that (in my funk) that means none of the three we transferred made it. Talk to JD (my new blog name for husband), who is also sad.  He points out we had no intention of pursuing another FET so maybe God is just being kind and saving us from deciding what to do with them. Humph.  Then he calls our RE, who says it has no bearing on whether we'll get pregnant or not.

Apparently 50% of cycles have something to freeze, period.  No matter whether they are successful or not.  He says firmly there is no correlation, that essentially we selected the best embryos to transfer and so left the worst and that makes it difficult to ever figure out what it all means.  He does say if you get pregnant on a cycle that also provided frozen embryos then a subsequent FET is more likely to be successful.  Also agrees with JD that these are the best embryos we've ever produced.  This is mildly comforting to me.

I move on to lament a complete and utter lack of pregnancy symptoms.  I know, I know.  Still.

I go to Costco and buy a 4 pack of HPTs.  I try to figure out when I can POAS with any degree of accuracy.  Also try and figure out what day PO I am.  Do you count the ER day as Day 1?   Who the hell knows (if you know, please tell me).

I haven't done it yet.  But I want to.

On the upside I did find a very cute new top at's rather blousey (sp?), may work as an early maternity top.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thanks, I'm Glad to Be Here

Thanks, all of you, for your welcome.  It's nice to know you all are out there.

It's funny, I didn't really realize it had been 7 IVFs until I started writing this stuff down.  That's not a number I ever thought we would get to.  In fact in one of my first conversations with a veteran IVFer I remember being slightly taken aback that she had tried 6 times before adopting.  It hadn't even occurred to me it could NOT work.

So here is a brief synopsis:

We started out at GWU.  We loved our doctor, not so much the staff we interacted with.  

IVF#1 was here - 8 eggs retrieved, 7 fertilized, 2 transferred (see story below).  BFN.

FET#1 was at GWU also, 2 frozen embryos transferred.  BFN.

We were pretty crushed, and angry over the first transfer. We took almost a year off.  We then moved (with our remaining frozen embryos) to Shady Grove.  We decided to try transferring the last of our frozen embryos, so that was...

FET#2, last 3 frozen embryos transferred.  BFN.

We then spent a couple of months getting qualified for shared risk.  I had one high FSH at that point so I was happy to qualify.  Especially since our insurance covers nothing.

IVF#2 was our first whole cycle with Shady Grove.  I think we only had 4 embryos, only 2 of which looked decent so they transferred both,  BFP!  Miscarriage and D&C at 13 weeks.

We bought into the idea that because of the pregnancy/miscarriage we would surely get pregnant again quickly.  SO we did 2 more cycles in succession...



And that brings us up to date.  Looking back, I know the miscarriage (being so close!) in a strange way kept us going.  I mean SGRF got us pregnant with the first IVF.  So now we had trust in them and we knew I could get pregnant.

After the last 2 cycles we kind of realized it may not happen again.  My husband  had had enough.  He is ready to adopt.  Intellectually I agreed but it absolutely destroyed me.  I was crying in my sleep and just so sad.  We agreed to try one last time.

I took 4 months preparing.  I had a laparoscopy for endometriosis, started working out, cut out artificial sweeteners and caffeine, having acupuncture, started eating mostly organic and taking supplements.  I didn't want to look back and think "Man!  If I had taken wheat grass juice maybe that would have made the difference.  Maybe I screwed up our opportunity to have a child."

Hearing the embryos looked so good I think helps.  Obviously it is encouraging, but also if these little guys don't take then I think I could say "It really wasn't meant to happen."  God, I don't want to say that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

They were compacted!

I called the RE's office to get the whole poop on the embryos' cell counts.  The three that were transferred were all 8-cell (yea!), and two of those were compacted (huh? Accompanied by Scooby Doo like shaking of the head).  The nurse (and Dr. Google) says that means they were about to divide again.  At which point they would be morulas.  The others were an 8-cell, a 6-cell and a 5-cell.  I don't know what they've done since or how many got frozen.

So definitely the best embryos we have ever produced. Maybe the wheatgrass (ack!), zinc, fish oil (ack! ack!), acupuncture and working out helped.  Or maybe I am being led down the primrose path yet again.  

It is Day 4 s/p 3 day transfer...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In the Oven

Well, I am now 2d status post 3d transfer.  Yesterday we reported to the clinic to learn we had 4 good embryos (Grade I) and 2 others they volunteered no information about.  Interestingly, the doc greeted us with "Well, it looks like you had another good cycle."  It seemed rude to point out that we do not have a child, just 7 good cycles under our belts.

I was glad I bit my tongue when he apologized for keeping us waiting.  "Not everyone had the good results you did, and it always takes longer to break bad news than good."  It was a good perspective to have.  I have tried several times to talk myself into seeing the silver lining (at least you can pursue IVF, at least you have a husband you can lean on, at least you have gotten pregnant I add at least you have always made it to transfer, although there were some very close calls).

We thought about transferring all 4 because, as you have no doubt realized, this is our last try and maybe we should just cover all bases.  But the kind RE convinced us that transferring 4 increased the rate of triplets by almost 100%, from 8% transferring 3 to 15%.  But it only increased our pregnancy rate by a few percent. Funny, when we started we were petrified of having twins.  Now I think, hey we could make triplets work!

Once that decision was made, my feet in their all too natural position and my belly covered in goo the mild panic I feel at the time of transfer briefly broke through my pleasant valium induced haze.  I think I suffer a form PTTSD, post traumatic transfer stress disorder.  

My very first IVF cycle, nigh on 3 years ago, was a great one right up to the time of transfer.  I didn't really understand how it was supposed to go and that ignorance was bliss for a few minutes.  45 minutes later, when a second doctor tried to cram a catheter through my bloodied cervix and many more people had crowded into the room, all "reassuring" me that this was not the way it was supposed to go, I had an inkling that this was a disaster.  They tried with my bladder full, partly empty, and empty. They paused to let my cramps die down.  They brought in a different doc, a different ultrasound tech.  Finally they breached the cervix and transferred the embryos.  2 perfect Grade I eight cell guys.  Who, I realize now, never had a chance in hell.

And I kick myself for trying to be so cooperative, for gritting my teeth and saying I could take it, thinking that I had to be calm and cooperative if I wanted that baby. The me of today would say "Get the fuck off me you morons!"  And "Why didn't I have a mock transfer that you say you always get prior to the real transfer, what makes you think a bleeding and cramping uterus is a good place for those embryos, put them back in the lab, see if they make it to blastocyctes and give my poor beat up cervix a couple of days to recover."

Instead innocent me smiled, said Thank You, and was truly surprised I didn't get pregnant!

Since then I have had several mock transfers, a cervical dilitation and a stitch place in my cervix at the time of each egg retrieval.  Transfers still hurt a bit for me but only for a second and they take one or two minutes tops.  And the new and improved transfers involve no bleeding or cramping!  Once all 3 were safely ensconced we came home and both slept for 4 hours.  And so we are once again in the purgatory known as the 2 week wait.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lucky Number 13

I've always been a liberal arts person.  I avoided math classes as long as I could in college.  So maybe what doesn't add up to me makes sense to you.  They retrieved 13 eggs from what I thought were 11 follicles.  Eh? Well, who am I to question. 

Before the ER the doc came over and said she knew I didn't have many follicles but she would get as many eggs as she could.  Immediately I thought "Great, we are going to have 3 eggs and who know if any of them will be mature?"  She mentioned using a special needle that allowed her to flush the follicles as well as aspirate.  I guess it worked and for a brief moment I was ecstatic.

But the problem with repeatedly failing is you learn to anticipate the failure.  So I am waiting for the call from the clinic to tell us how many were mature, and how many fertilized.  Is it good or bad that it is almost noon and I haven't gotten a call?  I imagine some poor nurse putting off making the call because somehow none of the eggs were any good.  I try to replace that with a visualization of a lab tech struggling to count so high as the number of our fertilized eggs...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tonight's the Night

Well, tonight is trigger. I am worried. The right ovary is producing nicely - 9 follicles, several good sized ones. But the left has apparently given up hope altogether. 2 lousy follicles.

My RE and nurse have been trying to be reassuring. They say this is a pretty good response, similar to my last cycle. Should I remind them my last cycle did not get me pregnant? On a happy note my E2, which was practically non-existent early on (74 on Day 3 of stims) is surging, 1500 something yesterday.
As if the cycle itself is not stressful enough I have home issues. I love my husband, and he is a good guy. But let's face it - he is DONE, DONE, DONE with IVF. And has been since last fall. I think the only reason he agreed to one last cycle was his fear of me imploding with grief. But it is becoming increasingly clear that he has checked out.

This weekend I had monitoring about an hour away from where we live (the local office isn't open on weekends). He hates going, and this weekend he didn't. What is weird is that his coming along doesn't really make it any easier or more fun for me, although he does usually do the driving. He isn't a hand holder, distract you with a joke or a good conversation kind of guy. He is more barely awake, reading the paper, slightly grumpy kind of guy. But I was really resentful of him sleeping while I got the dildocam and bloodwork.

So what's a girl to do with all this stress? Well this girl has been undergoing acupuncture. I have only done it for one previous cycle and I did get pregnant that time. Anyway, I have been for 4 sessions. The last couple of sessions have involved the normal stuff and a bonus - she fills my belly button with salt, places pieces of burning moxa in it until it starts to scorch me, and repeats multiple times. I lay on the table with my belly exposed, tendrils of smoke curling up to the ceiling, like a giant human pipe. And I was impressed with the guys in college who could smoke weed out of a soda can.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Start at the End

Tonight is the first night of Ganirelix,  on Day 8 of stims, in the 8th year off of birth control, in the third year of IVF, in the 7th IVF cycle (two of those FETs).  As you can see, we have been through this a few times.

What sets this cycle apart is that it is the last cycle.  Really.  And going into it knowing that is weird.  It simultaneously adds incredible pressure that this go well. And it is kind of, somedays, a relief to know we'll finally be getting off this fucked up ferris wheel.

And what had become rote is suddenly overcharged with emotion.  I actually cried in my RE's office for the first time.I did pretty well over the last few years trying to stay sane.  I didn't track my hormone levels, or my specific response to meds, or do EPTs (much).  But I feel this final cycle allows me to be as crazy as I want to be.  And man, do I feel crazy.