Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grey: more complex colors

Hi All,

This is Grey. Thanks again for your support through our journey. You truly provide sunshine. I hope we reflect this back to you.

My feelings right now are a collision of contradictions. I'm so happy deep down, yet angry and anxious. Our current situation has me feeling like a most precious tree is blooming after a long winter after losing so many others and all I can see is the trouble around it. I want to protect it. I want to protect them, mother and children. I see our recession and crime (arson, armed robbery and worse) tattered neighborhood, careless, cell-phone using or texting drivers (as a bike commuter myself, even more so, saw someone eating a bowl of cereal with milk once too, between their knees driving downhill, no kidding). I want our children so dearly, I'm happy, but I'm angry at the world too. Why was this so hard? Why is the world so filthy, incompetent and careless when there are babies? Especially THESE babies! I know the data says one now, but we continue to believe in the other.

I don't want to feel like this. The anger is new. It is different than the depression of the last several months (years). It's more alive, but destructive. I think of Sugar Beat and it resets. Clarity sets in. We've had good news. I love you in there. I would do anything I could to help you from out here. I think of my nephews and nieces and what they mean to me and what they have taught me. I remember I need to stay warm in my heart or there is no point to being a parent. I need to stay good for you.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sugar Beat

Fetal heartbeats. Something every IFer and RPLer waits for with baited breath following a BFP. Despite 3 yrs on this journey and 2 previous pregnancies, Grey and I have never seen a heartbeat. That magical moment that so many people gush over has been completely foreign to us. So when we were told to schedule an ultrasound for 6w3d, we didn't think much about it. Even as the date drew closer, we focused on distraction and burying ourselves in work.

Last night the reality of the following day hit us like a ton of bricks. Neither of us slept well, making for an interesting day in general (thankfully, I managed to not pass out in lecture, despite the repeated attempts).

By the time I picked Grey up to head to the clinic this afternoon, despite feeling like I was about to lose my lunch, I was a wreak. All the "what ifs" and worse case scenarios were playing through my head. Somehow we managed to not only get to the clinic, but park without me losing it. And then it was up 10 floors to the all familiar waiting room, the whole time me bracing myself for bad news.

Only this time, there was no bad news. Instead there is a mixture of good and "hmm" news.

The good news: We have a heartbeat. A strong heartbeat at 113 bpm with the embryo measuring at 7.4 mm. I honestly thought that after all these years Grey and I would tear up when we saw this. Instead we could only stare at the tiny flicker that appeared on the screen.

The "hmm" news: There appears to be a second sac. The ultrasound tech zoomed in and out, focusing on different levels, but couldn't get any more information than the fact that there may be something else there. Initially our IVF coordinator/nurse told us that it was likely a vanishing twin and told us to schedule a second ultrasound for 2 weeks from now. Then we ran into Dr. Smile on our way out and she told us she wants us to come back next week for a follow up.

Needless to say, both Grey and I know that we're both suppose to be elated, but I think we're in shock. After the appointment, we went to a local coffee shop to process. After a disjointed and absentminded game of checkers, we both realized how out of practice we were with getting good news. Hopefully sleep will remedy.

On a good note, Grey has decided on a name for our embryo: Sugar Beat. His reasoning is that it has both a heartbeat and is sweet. That and the fact that he recently was introduced to the classic song from Seasame Street.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two words: Puppy Bowl

It's no secret that next Sunday, Feb 3rd, is Super Bowl Sunday. And depending what part of the US you reside in, this day will be received with the same amount of fanfare as any of the other major holidays (in some cases, more).

I don't have anything against the Super Bowl or the NFL. I spent some of my formative years in football country, where the high school quarterback was considered a local hero, we were required to learn the high school fight school in music class in 4th grade and junior high gym class mandated a full quarter of playing football so that we could all learn the principles of the game. Hence football should be in my blood, but to the disappointment of so many around me, I really would prefer spending Football Sundays outside, curled up with a good book, or even watching a matinee.

So you can only imagine my excitement when I learned of an alternative activity for Super Bowl Sunday. Last night I was curled up with my latest copy of the New Yorker, when I came upon a brief article titled "Dept. of Cute: Puppies!" Immediately I began reading aloud to Grey, causing him to put down his book and flip open his laptop to investigate. Upon watching the 20 second clip of Marta, we were sold. Seriously, how the hell have we not heard of this!?!?

Next Sunday, while millions of Americans pack the bars or open there homes to watch grown human men strut around in Spandex and toss around a pigs-skin, Grey and I have a date with a bowl of popcorn, some beer/ ginger beer and streaming Animal Planet. In the meantime, Grey has hidden the checkbook and I am forbidden from driving within 20 miles of an animal shelter/rescue organization. Instead, I'm practicing my "OMG he/she is SOOO cute" face.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Practicing the art of denial

I've been dreading this post. Holding off for about as long as I could. Partly because I know how annoying it can be to still be in the trenches and to see posts like this. Partly because I know that there really isn't anything to be done.

Following our betas, Grey and I have entered the infamous 2 week wait between the BFP and first ultrasound. For the past three years, I've read countless stories of women tearing their hair out from anxiety and worry. I won't go into specifics (mainly because it's cruel to judge anyone for their behavior while in a stress-induced state), but needless to say, the theme of this period being a nerve-wreaking one always comes across loud and clear.

Grey and I have another level of anxiety to add as we have never made it past 5 weeks. With my first pregnancy, the second beta launched us into the dreaded beta rollercoaster, ending with an ultrasound that revealed a too-small sac and then a D&C. With my second pregnancy, despite the betas climbing, I had massive amounts of cramping and bleeding that ultimate lead to a completed miscarriage. The memory of blood following a BFP is still very clear to both of us.

I've been nervous. Despite the fact that there's been zero bleeding, I've gained a sense of smell that rivals that of a bloodhound and that I can't stay awake past 8 pm, it's hard not to worry during this time.

I spoke with Dee about this during our last meeting. Granted, she thought I was handling things incredibly well, viewing me as being the calmest I've ever been despite my protest that it was simply the calm before the storm. After talking about ways to maintain balanced thinking and visualization, she ended by suggesting a last ditch effort in moments that I felt completely overwhelmed: denial.

Denial is a coping mechanism that is truly a double-edge sword. Everyone experiences denial at some point. For me, denial usually sets in following news of loss or crisis, allowing me to work through the shock. Usually this is temporary, with me moving rapidly into the other stages of grief, either anger or depression. But that's the thing; I'm not use to using denial as a tool for to get through anxiety. Blame it on my chronic melancholy state, but not tackling things head on is foreign.

So, this week has been one where I've been practicing. In general, I've been able to focus more on visualization or balanced thinking. But in the moments where I'm hit with a wave of anxiety and can't drop everything to meditate, I've been putting myself into a state of denial. Denial that there ever was a BFP, denial that the betas existed, denial that anything out of the ordinary is going on. Luckily, with classes starting this week and the final fellowship application due, I've had some help.

Ultrasound is on Monday. Four more sleeps.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Episode 18: When to seek help

Episode 18 of Bitter Infertiles is live! Click here to listen.

This week, we tackle a very difficult topic: how to preserve one's marriage/relationship while dealing with infertility and loss. Our special guest this week is a woman who's become an authority on the issue, CDG. Her story is a powerful one and how she has handled suffering divorce and infertility and loss is truly inspirational. Go listen.

On a personal note, I've talked extensively about counseling, both individually and as a couple. I've talked about it openly because I know how taboo all of this is. Too often, when someone suggests counseling, the individual or couple will see this as an attack. The truth is, I didn't realize I needed counseling until I was so far down the rabbit hole. Dee and I spent so much time working on getting me to a calmer, more positive state that it's only been recent that we've been able to dive into the underlying issues and being repairing things.

But the other truth is that neither Grey nor I thought we needed counseling until we were in the middle of it. Initially we figured we would pursue it to help us get over the last loss and to help us prepare for adoption. It wasn't until we were recovering that we were both able to look back and realize how much we needed help. Because before then, we were in survival mode. David has literally opened lines of communication that I never knew existed, resulting in a deeper and more intimate understanding of my partner and my relationship. Something that I never would have found as I didn't know where to start looking on my own.

The reality is, infertility and loss are traumas. And like any trauma, we need help to recover and heal. There is no shame in seeking help to do this (frankly, I believe it takes a lot of courage and strength). And it's important. Too often, I've watched bloggers describe how their relationships are dissolving; how they and their partners are becoming roommates. And then literally a sentence later they'll write about how they assume everything will be better once the baby is born or they become pregnant. Such a red-flag and my heart breaks for them because I know how much more difficult life becomes with a newborn. And if you're not okay prior to the baby arriving, it's very likely your relationship won't survive.

The truth is, no one embarks on marriage with the idea that they will divorce. But, like any relationship, marriage requires work. And infertility and loss are traumas that turn relationships upside down and inside out. Surviving it requires more than assuming the status quo; it requires opening the lines of communication and actually addressing what's broken. It's hard work for sure, but the benefits are ultimately amazing, as you may find that your relationship actually becomes stronger and more resilient. That instead of fighting this battle alone, you are fighting as a team.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Honing empathy

Empathy. A word so many of us know and yet many fail to master on the first attempt. To be empathetic means you have to practice, being mindful of those around you and learning how to read body language and gestures. We're not naturally wired to be empathetic. Part of this has to do with survival and maintaining one's own sanity. Another part is that being empathetic means you have to take risks and open yourself up to be hurt or attacked. It's a hard thing to do, but something I believe is ultimately rewarding on so many levels. Empathy allows us to form relationships, to strengthen bonds. Empathy allows us to resolve arguments, seeing a situation from the other party's point of view and working towards a resolution. And, ultimately, I believe that empathy is important for our own happiness.

The past week has been one where I've been observing the world around me. This has to do with the fact that I refuse to analyze (= freak out) about symptoms or lack there of. But it also has to do with a number of posts from other bloggers and conversations with women from this community. Keiko's recent post left me with a heavy heart. The fact that she is struggling because she has fears with this pregnancy but is feeling like she has to separate her hard-won pregnancy from her experience with infertility resonated with me on so many levels. Other posts from two NICU moms were equally hard, as their pain and frustration is so very real, yet something I know I can only barely understand. Conversations with MissConceptions and HRF and a post from Sass have had me reflecting about post partum and thinking about the realities of a newborn (amazing, yet completely overwhelming). And then there's been the posts from those who are still trying to find their path to resolution. From Trisha, Tutti, Toni, and so many others as they unapologetically share their stories, their hopes and their fears. This recent post from Jo really drove home the fact that though infertility and loss are terrible, life-altering and painful things, none of us are cursed nor have we brought this upon ourselves. And then there's been the ongoing conversations with Mo.

A big part of me reading and reflecting on all of these posts and conversations has to do with how important all of these women (and so many more in this community) have become in my life. Yes, infertility brought me to finding them, but the connection I now feel is more than just infertility and loss. When they hurt, I hurt. When they're scared, I'm worried about them as well as holding my breath for reassuring/good news. And when they are attacked, I'm ready to take fingers.

But another thing (mainly with bloggers that I don't know well outside of their writing) is that I emphasize with them. With the NICU moms, I have no way to be able to fully understand the frustration, stress and sadness that they are feeling. But I can feel that frustration, stress and sadness in their words. And know that even if I can't fully understand, what they need most from me is not understanding, but someone to reach out and say "I'm sorry."

This past week, the Bitter Infertiles received their first negative comment. I won't go into specifics here (nor will I speak for Shelley or Mo) as this is something we will address and discuss more on the podcast. But I will speak from my end that I viewed the comment as written by someone who was coming from a place of great pain and frustration. That to me, it seemed that she was directing all of her anger about infertility at us because she felt is was the only safe thing to do.

Immediately after reading the comment, I thought of a recent email response Lori had sent me about responding to hatred and one-sidedness. The entire email is a gem and I will be posting what I've learned from Lori soon, but it was this part is filled with so much wisdom.
I say go beyond it to the whys. The people who are hateful and one-sided are stuck and you may never change their minds or their hearts, especially by returning fire. The only way to turn around a hateful person is to walk alongside her, in her shoes, so to speak, and respond to her from a place of empathy. Even then, you may get hatred back. But it wouldn't be about you, but about her. . . . Seek first to understand, then be understood. 
As tempting as it is to defend myself and my recent news (and all the pain, blood, depression, anger and bitterness that both Grey and I have experienced to date), I find that instead I'm pausing and reflecting on the author of the comment. Thinking about where she is coming from and what must be happening in her life that she would write this. That maybe her marriage is suffering from all the stress of this journey, in a similar way that mine did. That maybe she feels isolated and unable to talk about what she's living with. That maybe she doesn't see a road to resolution or is stuck regarding what steps to take. That maybe she has been told fertility treatments are the only option and she believes she can't afford them. That maybe there's been so much loss and pain, that she no longer has hope.

And I wonder, if she was given an outlet; an opportunity to share her story in a place where she felt safe, if those things would change.

I'm not naive. I learned long ago with Angie that some people are simply too broken for empathy to work. That they will suck you dry. But Angie is also an extreme case. And even if you get burned in the process, nothing is truly lost for trying to reach out.

I'm learning. Learning to be more empathetic and mindful of those around me. Learning how to be unapologetic (this is the hard part) about sensitive at the same time. And learning that just because someone continues to direct anger at me, that I don't need to attack them, only put distance and defend myself. That is by far the hardest thing.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

For the love of lovenox

Brief update, all. Beta #2 = 469. Doubling time of 31.48 hrs. Grey is almost recovered from the shock of all of this (poor guy, this cycle has been hard on him) and we're preparing to get through this next week. After 2 miscarriages, both of which happened during this time, I'm cautious. But I'm still maintaining the attitude that I am doing everything possible to make this work. Balanced thinking; not for the faint of heart.

Back in October, following the APA panel that revealed I probably have Antiphospholipid Syndrome (can't diagnose formally until after 3 miscarriages and all have to be after 8 weeks . . . bastards), Dr. Smile and I talked about me starting Lovenox. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this medication, it's common name is Enoxaparin (commercially known also as Xaparin and Clexane), which is a low molecular weight heparin. The purpose of this is to inhibit the formation of clots and is also believed to help with substaining a pregnancy. Hence Lovenox is commonly prescribed, even to women how have not been diagnosed with APS.

Grey and I weighed the risks of the medication (none to pregnancy, but I am now wearing a medical alert bracelet in cause I get into an accident) and decided that adding this medication made sense.

What I wished someone had warned me about was how painful this injection is.

Let's go back to Dec. 31, 2012. After feeding the cats and changing the Vivelle dots, I prepped my stomach for the Lovenox injection. As this one is subQ, I didn't think anything of it, so I did what I always do with subQ: clean area with alcohol wipe, pinch the skin, insert needle in dart-like motion, and inject.

Immediately, I doubled over in pain. My belly was on fire and the pain had caused my vision to become blurred. After what seemed like an eternity (read 60 secs), I was able to see again. Shaking, I capped and disposed of the needle and sat down on the floor until I could move without shaking. I then spent the next 30 minutes trying to figure out what I had done wrong.

Later that night, I noticed this.

Considering I've NEVER had a bruise that big (which completely freaked Grey out) and because I didn't want Grey to be wrongly accused of beating me, I figured it was time to do some research.

As a reminder, SQ is filled with lots of great information about administrating medications (among many other things), so I was slapping myself for not visiting the site before I started these injections. I do have a few additional tips to add, but first I wanted to give you the video.

Couple of additional tips.

1) Prepare a reward for yourself prior to doing this injection. For me, this is a tall glass of good orange juice (no concentrated stuff).

2) Ice the area. This is especially true for those of you who ice prior to any of your other injections, as you will be inserting the needle slowly.

3) As mentioned in the video, inject slowly. I've actually started singing "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" while I am injecting, as it slows me down. Whatever works, right?

4) Have gauze pad ready and apply light pressure after you have slowly removed the needle. Do not rub in circles, as you will make any bruising much worse.

5) After cleaning up, indulge in your reward (trust me, you've earned it). In general, I found it takes about 60 secs for the burning sensation from the medication to subside. Enough time to drink my juice and think about breakfast.

6) If bruising is still bad, contact your RE. Keep them updated about any problems you are having with the medication.

To date, since slowing down the injections, I only have a series of pin-sizes bruises. Definitely not attractive, but much more easy to manage.

Anyone else on Lovenox? Have you found a way to cut-down the stinging or do you have any tips?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons

UPDATE: For those of you who haven't seen Belle's post about cat videos, go read. Then grab your fuzzy ones, plan for at least 10 minutes of petting, then try these YouTube videos.
-Winter Birds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-bEtoNzGHY
-Winter Birds II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdtJggQORBI
-Video for Your Cats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbReLxokgeQ

Please note: you need to sit with them, otherwise it won't work. Hence the reason my laptop is no longer my own.

Proof that I know nothing at all

At one point, I thought I had all of this figured out.

Initially, this first bit of false confidence came when I was 18 yrs old, convinced that I could tackle anything and everything that was thrown at me. Little did I know how beautifully and often I would fail. And it would take me even longer to figure out that failure was necessary.

Later it was when I started graduate school. I never fathomed that I would be my greatest opponent.

It happened again when Grey and I started this TTC process, with me assuming that achieving pregnancy would be the easy part.

Then came last December, where I was convinced that I just needed to become pregnant.

The final one came this last June. Following the Hail Mary FET, I really believed that our dream of biological children had died. That treatment had failed tragically and that it was time to move on.

By now, you all know the events of the past 6 months. From therapy, to exploring adoption, to seeking a second opinion, to a potential diagnosis, to deciding to do a final round of treatment, etc, etc.

Everything moving along, everything working better than expected.

Then we hit our first hiccup.

It's no secret that Seattle shuts down at the first hint of snow. 2008 was an absolute disaster on this level, with basic services coming to a halt for 2 weeks (in some areas 3 weeks) simply because the city couldn't figure out how to clear the streets of snow.

So, when the forecast called for 20% chance of snow, Grey and I strategized how how we were going to get to our clinic, which is located in a neighborhood named "First Hill."

It was then I decided that we should move the first beta to Friday, thinking I had eliminated our problem.

Within the next 48 hrs, our roof began to leak, we discovered that one of the morons we lived with had vandalized the door to the roof in an attempt to access it (thankful they failed, otherwise I'm convinced they would have also fallen off the roof), lights started going out around the building and Grey managed to catch the flu. To deal with the leak, we had to arrange for a contractor to come out Friday morning for an inspection, meaning my home was going to be invaded around the time that we could be getting beta results.

Grey and I spent the next hour at the coffee shop going back and forth about whether to test or not. On one end, knowing ahead of time when giving both of us an opportunity to grief prior to being invaded. On the end, we were nervous. After all, we have been through so many BFNs at this point, it's hard not to account for the emotional fallout. We finally agreed to hold off on testing till Friday morning.

And then as soon as we walked through the door at home, Grey changed his mind.

I need to state for the record once more that I hate HPTs. The whole experience is positively nerve-wreaking for me, resulting in a shaking (and more times than not crying) Cristy. So the idea of testing so early made me dread what I would find, with me trying to reason that it was still early and a BFN didn't mean anything. I was sure we'd see nothing. With the way our luck had been going, I couldn't fathom a different outcome.

So when we saw those 2 lines, all I could do was stare while Grey burst into tears.

On Friday, despite an exploding bus that shut down the interstate for hours and the fact that the computer system was down at our clinic, we learned my first beta was a robust 163.1. Progesterone level was 62.89. For the first time since November, I allowed myself to breathe a sigh of relief.

Both Grey and I are still in shock over this. Yes, I knew logically that this could work, but none of this good news really sunk in. Sure, we're happy (please don't misunderstand), but what we're also dealing with is anxiety. Since the news on Friday, we've both been having flashbacks to where we were last January, with the D&C being on Jan 11, 2012, and then again with March. In truth there are moments where we both have been struggling to not allow fear to take over as this time has been the period where everything we hoped for has literally died.

Beta #2 is tomorrow. And I'm in full distraction mode.

Come on guys. Grow.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Just" culture

A few days ago, Grey and I were sitting at a Pho shop enjoying a casual lunch. WIth the spacing of the tables in this shops, it's hard not to overhear conversations. So when the two women next to us started complaining about society and asking in less-than huffed tones "what do people want?" it was hard not to listen.

Honestly, I can't remember all the details (because most of the conversation was complete gibberish), but what was clear is that both of them wanted a simple answer/solution to tell everyone they ever came into contact with so that they would be happy. And the entire time, they kept dropping one word.


Little did they realize (among other things), that this simple, four-letter word that can convey so much damage.

It's no secret that we live in a "Just" culture. Everyone is familiar with "Just do it" (side-note: very few are aware of how much Nike has profited from this slogan), but it's not difficult to find "just" attached before other phrases. "Just take the first step," "Just find a way," "Just quit," "Just believe."

As ALIers, we are all too aware of "just" phrases. "Just relax," we're told, with each failed cycle. "Just try X." And my all time personal favorite "just adopt."

These past two weeks, S.I.F. has written a series of elegant posts exploring adoption. I personally think she's done a wonderful job tackling very difficult topics and really encourage everyone to read these, regardless of how you view the process or your stance of each of the issues. But what I found most powerful was how she completely destroyed the idea of "just adopt." In her essays, she outlines quite clearly how each circumstance involves so many variables, making this process so much more complex than 95% of society realizes. That there truly is no "just" in this process.

Reflecting on this post made me realize how pervasive "just" has become in our society. Being as hurried and stressed as we all are, "just" has become a way of quickly dealing with emotions and complex issues. Too often, we try to simplify things so much so that we can hurry up and tackle the next issue. I'll admit, I am incredibly guilty of this mindset. In moments of frustration, I've barked at people to "just do X," so that I can focus my attention on more pressing or more pleasant things. Hence, "just" has become a convenient tool for silencing others at inconvenient moments.

There's another level too: "just" is typically used by those who were incredibly lucky and had things work out fairly easily. We all know these people, as they are quick to offer advice and will arduously defend their actions even when it becomes clear that they truly have no insight.

There's the problem though with both courses of action, though. Mainly that both outcomes are ones that simplify complex issues, while belittling others in the process. It's one of the important lessons I've learned over the past few years and has forced me to rethink not only how I think about my path to expanding my family, but also more about how I interact with people on a daily basis.

The reality is, we need to reanalyze how we use "just." "Just" can most certainly be used to motive, to encourage, to compel people to take action. There's a lot of positive that can come from "just." But when "just" is used to shut people down, feel superior or to simplify a situation that clearly requires thought, there's a problem. "Just" in these cases becomes a weapon, meant to silence and shame.

The question becomes, how do we change this? One thought is to become aware of "just" in our daily lives, taking a moment to really analyze what our intentions are with using it. Does a particular topic/individual frustrate us? Make us nervous? Are we steamrolling the conversation as someone else is talking about difficulties? What's the goal of using "just" in that moment.

Another thought is that it's time to start countering "just." Too often, why "just relax" or "just adopt" get thrown around is because the suggestive party doesn't know better. After all, with infertility and loss being so taboo, why would they change? But that ends when you speak up. When you say "actually, it's not always that easy." Or "are you sure that's the full story?"

Or, if they're really obnoxious, you can try my personal favorite: "Huh, I'm really glad that worked for you, but my doctor, you know the one that went to medical school followed by 4 years of residency and followed by 2 years of fellowship, seems to think more is going on. But I'm sure you're right, I'm just not trying hard enough . . . ."

What are your thoughts? How do we begin reversing "just" culture?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Episode 17: Russian adoption ban

Fresh off the press, Bitter Infertiles Episode 17 is live! You can find it here.

Warning on this episode: There is a pregnancy announcement. I won't say who (you'll have to listen), but if this is a trigger, PLEASE do not torture yourself. Skip ahead to 37 mins 45 secs to listen to the rest. No guilt. Do what you need to do to keep yourself in a good place.

This episode, our special guest Miss Ohkay, helps us tackle the recent ban on Russian adoptions. It's a heart breaking topic, but one that I think everyone needs to be aware of. Miss Ohkay has a wonderful post about this that really outlines the history of this issue as well as gives valuable insight from the perspective of someone who has gone through this experience. A definite must read, regardless of whether you plan on adopting or not.

In addition, I want to take a moment to draw attention to posts from SIF that are tangential to this topic. Find them here and here. Granted, none of this is light reading, but I think what she's bringing up is something that needs to be discussed. I'll write more about it soon.

Finally, our rant this week is on the all important topic Kimye and the recent news. It took me several days to recover from that rant, so go listen so you can laugh at my expense.

Monday, January 7, 2013

When doubt sets in

5dp5dt = Depression and doubt have set in. Like many others who have been on this road, I'm struggling with the 2 week wait. Whereas the initial first few days post transfer were filled with joy and reassurance that things WOULD work, I'm struggling to remain positive and not give in to the doom and gloom.

Okay, before I go any further with my bitching, I need to point out that I officially have ZERO idea what's going on with my body. Unlike my early years in this TTC process, I know better than to symptom watch. Especially when hopped up on progesterone. I also know better than to compare cycles to one another, as what may have worked for one may not work for the other.

Here's what I do know:
1) My boobs are swollen (definitely a side effect of the PIO) and hurt when touched. Grey is loving every second of it.
2) My ass hurts. I've tried the heat pads, massaging the area and even warming the oil. Nothing helps except for time and moderate exercise.
3) My body and I hate Lovenox. Outside of the fact that I've managed to give myself a bruise that covers almost one side of my stomach (I think I hit a blood vessel), the burning sensation from the medication is painful. Lupron occasionally gave me some discomfort, but this is every fricking time.
4) Finally, I have the usual weird feelings in my uterus. Ranges between filling heavy to a warm sensation. Before anyone gets overly excited, I promise you I've had these with every IVF/FET. Comes with the territory.

All of this fuels the doubt and depression. Granted there are moments where I'm able to forget and just move on with my day. But other moments, I find myself once again fighting back tears and trying to keep the negative thoughts at bay.

I've said before that I've really been working on being present and balanced in my thinking throughout this cycle. I know logically that I've done everything humanly possible to make this cycle work, from therapy, to religiously adhering to the drug regiment, to even taking a new approach on my outlook. And so far, it's worked amazingly well.

But I also know that this is the stage where everything goes up in smoke. Where implantation either fails or miscarriages happen. Yes, yes, I know: different protocol, different doctor, different cycle all the way around. When stressed, old habits die hard.

Beta #1 is on Saturday. 5 more sleeps until we know for certain whether our beautiful snowbabies decided to take up residence in my ute. There's been some pressure to test early with hopes of giving me some relief (Grey has even offered to pee on things). Problem is, I have such negative associations with HPTs. Add in the fact that I know a BFN will make adhering to the twice-a-day injections very hard and I'm tempted not to tempt fate.

Argh. Someone slap me.

Friday, January 4, 2013

One, two, three

Wednesday January 2, 2013 was the day Grey and I had been preparing for for the last 6 months. Our one, two, three day; transfer day. With each passing day of this cycle, we've both had moments where we've reflected aloud the difference between now and a year ago. Both of us remembering all the pain and the failure; both of us finding solace as we've confessed our fears.

But this time around has been different. Sure, the fear most certainly exists (there's really nothing I can do to erase that), but hope has been more at the forefront of our minds. So much so that we've allowed ourselves to dream of a future where all of this works. It's a strange place to be.

In addition to our mentality, there's been some obvious differences with this transfer. First off, the transfer was scheduled for the afternoon. In the past all of my transfers have occurred in the morning, meaning I've been on pins and needles the night before. This time around, because of an afternoon transfer, we were allowed to be more relaxed. Secondly, the drug regiment has been different. In the past, I would be throughly suffering from the effects of the antibiotics (i.e. constipation, bloat) and dealing with morning rituals of removing Crinone (sorry for the TMI, but I've got to go there). Instead this time I've been dealing with injections. Granted, my butt is sore and the Lovenox injection stings for about 30 mins- 1 hr after administrating, but outside of a couple of moments of panic from both of us, I've been feeling better.

Anyway, Wednesday. A beautiful sunny day in Seattle, with warm temperatures and clear views of both the Cascades and Olympic Mountain ranges. Mt. Rainer was out in it's full glory and everyone in the city was acting like the water had been spiked with Valium. Our day started out with both Grey and I trying to out sleep one another. That last until about 9 am, when Jaxson and Daisy decided that breakfast could no longer wait (and they still haven't forgiven us for that one). After getting breakfast, administering shots and showering throughly, we packed our bags with all the necessary materials for the day (Valium, water bottle, comical reading and Eeyore) and put on our socks. Grey and I both received socks for this FET. I'll post a photo of his soon (Kokopelli riding a bicycle; thank you Amy!!), but mine from Trisha definitely stole the show.

First appointment for the day was acupuncture for both Grey and I. Seeing as both of us have been so run down, I figured it would be beneficial for both of us. Initially Grey wasn't too happy with me, as I was leaning on him heavily to do this appointment with me. Since he has been the one giving me the PIO shots, he had this image in his head of the needles being similar and he wasn't keen on the idea of being in pain. But the end result was a more balanced Grey, with the acupuncture actually fixing some issues. He admitted the whole experience wasn't what he was expecting with the tiny needles that he could barely feel and it was good to see a lazy, post acupuncture smile grace his face immediately when he emerged. We'll see if he goes back (I promised no more pushing).

After acupuncture, we had an hour to kill. So our next stop was a local Pho shop to indulge in some veggie Pho as well as to begin filling my bladder. Seeing as I have difficulty drinking vast amounts of water, this ended up working on perfectly. Plus it meant one last trip for Grey later on as in the past I've forced him to pickup Pho for me after transfer. Needless to say, instead of begging and whining while on bedrest, instead we got to spend a few moments together enjoying a late lunch.

Finally, it was time to go to the clinic. I had made a point of burying my phone in my purse so that I wouldn't be obsessing about phone calls from the clinic, but the whole hour before the transfer I was holding my breath. After a year of this process, I'm all too aware of those devastating phone calls on the way to the clinic and my heart breaks each time I hear these stories. So instead, I focused on Eeyore, petting the knit stuff toy. When we arrived at the clinic, we were ushered back into the lab area and told to take a seat. Mo sent me this book for my birthday, so as we waited for the nurse to come get us, I read aloud to Grey and anyone within earshot. Laughter really is the best medicine.

It didn't take too long for the nurse to find us to bring us back to the transfer room. Immediately, Grey noted that the set up at the new clinic was very different from the old one. Instead of going down to the bowls of the building, we were only a few steps away from the waiting room. In the transfer room, the set-up looked less clinical and more comfortable. On the wall was a TV, which we learned would be used to project images of our embryos. I was immediately greeted by an ultrasound tech, who insisted once she checked my bladder that I needed to let her know if I was in any way uncomfortable. The embryologist came into the room and after introducing herself proceeded to grin from ear-to-ear and tell us about our embryos. Both Grey and I immediately teared up when she handed us this picture and announced that they were gorgeous.

I didn't get a grade from them, but I remembered that when they were frozen they were 5AB and 4AB. The thing that took my breath away though was to see that they were already hatching! The embryologist told us that given where they were at, she expected that they would implant within the next 48 hrs. For the first time in a very long time, I was speechless.

Dr. Smile came into the room shortly after that and we immediately had a discussion about PIO. The night before, I had had a moment of panic when I realized that I was on 1 cc of PIO while most other protocols call for 2 cc. Dr. Smile was quick to respond to a frantic email explaining that they normally don't do more than 1 cc unless the patient is over 44 yrs or has had a history of multiple miscarriages. There is a risk of complications with more PIO, from forming abscesses to other side effects, but she was also more than happy to work with me and increase the dosage. After a quick back and forth, we decided that I should have my progesterone levels checked on Friday morning, as it would allow us to determine if this needed to be done. Reaching this agreement, we proceeded with the mock transfer and prepping the embryos for transfer.
UPDATE: Turns out my progesterone levels were on the low end: 18.95. Dr. Smile likes to see them greater than 20 (>20), so I'm upping my PIO amount to 2 cc's daily. I'm so happy I asked AND that they were willing to accommodate me without question. 

Overall, the whole process took 10 mins. With Grey and I both watching everything on the ultrasound screen (and me being so excited that I could actually see what was happening), our two embryos were quickly transferred and I was instructed to sit under a warm blanket for 10 mins. Life is hard sometimes, huh?

Before we left, we scheduled my blood draw today, scheduled our first beta and got a long talking-to from the nurse about how important it is to continue our meds until they have results from the beta. I'll admit, there have been times I haven't been as good about this, but I've also learned this cycle that by giving up control and following their instructions, amazing things have happened. It's officially PIO or bust.

The past few days I've taken up residency on the couch. Between bad TV, a good book and a lot of knitting, I haven't really moved. And, for the first time in years, I've actually been enjoying it. In the meantime, Grey has given the embryos multiply talking tos, instructing them to burrow into that ~11 mm thick uterine lining, to grow, go through cell division and start producing hCG. I must say, they've been pretty convincing arguments.

Overall, I'm at peace. I know that we're early into the 2 week wait, but as I told Dee yesterday, something has changed this cycle. There's no one thing I can put my finger on, as both Grey and I have been utilizing all the tools we've acquired from both David and Dee over the last few months. But, it's noticeable. Instead of being in fear, I'm at peace. Sure, there's a chance all of this will result in a BFN, but I'm choosing not to deal with that until we cross that bridge. To go there means I will be living in the pain earlier than I need to and frankly I'm done with the undo stress that comes from being cautious. I chose to instead to live in the moment, being as naive and happy as possible.

Beta #1 is on Saturday 1/12/2013. So much time between now and then. May hope bloom.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Episode 16: Fertility 101

Happy 2013 everyone!! As 2012 has officially been deemed a difficult (= shitty) year, my continued wish is that 2013 be the polar opposite.

To kick that off, I'm please to announce that Episode 16 for Bitter Infertiles is live! Click here to listen. Ladies, this episode is one aimed at those new to the TTC journey. In other words, remember that annoying couple at Christmas dinner/office holiday party/New Year's eve bash/insert-uncomfortable-moment-here who is convinced they are infertile after only 3 months of TTC? After you finish rolling your eyes, email them the link.

But, not to dispare, this episode is not solely for the newbies, with plenty of moments where Mo talks about her favorite subject (hint: it has to do with peeing on things), Shelley gives a run down about forums and Toni Weschler and I proceed to laugh like a maniac while we talk about baby dust.

Happy listening!
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