Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Adventures in eating

This morning I ran to the corner store next to my office and got one of these.  Because THIS is what my body was demanding.

To say my diet has a been a little skewed these days would be an understatement.

The list of the only things I want to eat:
  • Real pasta with marinara sauce (Chef Boyardee notwithstanding)
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Potato chips
  • Toasted sandwich bread with mayonnaise and a thick slice of tomato
  • Tuna sandwiches (I know, I know)
  • French toast with bananas and walnuts and vanilla creme fraiche from one specific local restaurant 
And that's really about it.   All washed down with water or iced tea.  Viking picked me up a McDonald's Fillet o'Fish the other day that I thought would hit the spot, but really didn't.

The good news is that my doc ordered a 1 hour glucose screen for me, because of my borderline A1c numbers.  The better news is that I passed it, so for now, this diet  - better called "the foods I can choke down" - isn't technically killing me.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Brutal honesty, and the great genetic crapshoot

The other night I woke up at about 4 am with just a tremendous amount of anxiety.  Of the OMG, What have we done variety.

This time it was about the donor.  Did I choose wisely?  Should I have waited to find a Jewish donor? What if I bear a child who is so clearly not of my blood line?  What if I give birth to a baby that just looked like they dropped from the sky?

Then I had to breathe.  And then I was ok.  Sure, finding a Jewish donor would have been awesome, but would also have added months - and probably another $10K -  to this process.  I turned 43 this year.  I just didn't have it in me to wait.

I reminded myself that my donor was lovely, and thoughtful, and artistic.  Just like my one living Niblit, who thoughtful, lovely and artistic, AND who is heading towards being a 6 foot tall amazon blonde. 

And then I worried about my generally awesome, but some what old-fashioned parents.  Would they treat this child differently because they wouldn't be able to see themselves?  Would it even matter?  My mom often calls Niblet and Viking "frick and frack" because she is just so clearly OF him. Some of her facial expressions are uncannily HIM.  On the other hand, the Nibble is such a mini-me in her words, the cadence of her speech, her love of arts, how she moves.  Is all this nature or nurture?  How much of this hinges on genetics?  Will I ever truly know?

I know not just in my brain, but deep in my heart that so much of what has made the Nibble an astounding kid is our love for her, and the way we have raised her.  The way we talk with her, the ideas we expose her to. 

The Viking and I often note to each other that Niblet is exactly why we want to do this again.  We could never replicate her.  But we do honestly feel like whatever little person we would be lucky enough to raise would have all of the potential to thrive with us as parents. Simply put, we enjoy it.

But I will be honest.  At 4 am I made a wish:  I hoped this baby I am gestating (yes, I am acknowledging it and the potential for it to love) comes out looking like the Viking. Just like the Nibble did.  The donor and I have similar eyes and we're both brunette, but she's hardly my twin.  What your baby looks like is truly a genetic crap shoot.  It's a little exciting.  But I am pretty sure that for many donor egg mothers, it's also a little terrifying.

A second baby is the same for any expectant mother.  Different, with the potential to be a completely unique fully-formed human.  For me, a little bit of the familiar might come as something as a relief.



Monday, June 12, 2017

detachment

I wonder if there will ever be a day when I'm getting an ultrasound when I don't get up on that table and expect to see a dead or very sick baby...

For now, we live to see another day.  I am 8 weeks 3 days, measuring on target, with a normal heart rate. 

I still feel awfully disconnected from this baby.  And I mean, specifically, the baby, who is starting to sprout arm and leg buds.  Not the pregnancy, I mean, there's no more *forgetting* I'm pregnant, what with the ever present nausea and narcolepsy. 

Part of me wonders if this is because somewhere deep in my psyche I worry about the lack of a genetic connection to this little bean. But, another part of me recognizes that staying detached from your tenth consecutive pregnancy is a probably fairly normal response. 

And now that I think of it, I used to call the Nibble "the parasite" when she was in utero.  Viking HATED that by the way, even though it wasn't said with a shred of malice.  Honestly, that's just how pregnancy feels to me, like this alien being is sucking your life from you.  I know I'm not the only one.  Well, I said it again a few days ago about this baby, and he reprimanded me again.  Dude, when you carry a baby you can call it anything YOU want.  I'll just be standing in a corner laughing at your inability to function at all.

Truth be told, when my one living daughter was born, I was completely numb and sort of disconnected as well.  Almost a full day of labor (22 hours), a fourth-degree tear, and a fever scare had her taken from me and wheeled away from observation for at least an hour. The hormone crash and PPD that ensued wasn't pretty.  I recall a very specific day, when she was about 10 weeks old, that I truly felt in my bones the love I had for her.

Anyways, in other news, I had vials of blood taken this morning, including a really early glucose tolerance test.  God, I hope I pass, if only because the only thing I could choke down yesterday was a giant vanilla milkshake. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Crushing on my new OB

So this is your 10th pregnancy, and you only have one living child?  And nine of them were with your own eggs?  Ok.  Whoa.

Dr. W is awesome.  Maybe the many years of Dr. Cuddles has made me never expect a warm OB, but I found Dr. W to be surprisingly good-natured.  And, oh man, it's so nice to talk to a doctor and say things and not have them look at you like you're an alien. 

The good news is that she doesn't think that my A1C number makes me particularly high-risk.  The better news is that she does view the five million D&Cs I've had as potentially making me high-risk, and she has a monitoring game plan off the bat.  And she's also moved to get me in for a NT screening before the end of the first trimester to ensure we're not looking at another Omphalocele. 

I feel like I'm in good hands. 




*Because they encouraged me to, I counted chemicals.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Medical Records

I usually get to work about a half hour before anyone else will even consider it.  I like the quiet.  I especially like being able to copy a million pages of confidential medical records without anyone seeing me at the copier.

Last night I remembered that I see the new OB Thursday and promised to bring my medical records.  I know I requested for my current RE's office to mail them everything they had, but not sure whether that file will encompass everything that came before them.  So I dug out the last 5 years of records, and tacked on the stuff related to my pregnancy and birth with Niblet.

The amount of paper I'll be hauling in with me is just ridiculous.  And sort of jumbled, since I was often seeing more than one doctor at a time.  And I see now that I don't have any of the records from Dr. K (who recently passed), which would mostly include the management of miscarriage number 5.

Oh well.  This is where my blog, with its Reproduction Road - TTC Timeline is pretty damn helpful.  I can cut and paste an edited just the facts version of it onto a word document and head into a new doctor's office like a champ.  Most of it I can recite by memory, but some of the dates get fuzzy.

It's been 5 long years, after all.


Monday, June 5, 2017

the comfort of feeling ridiculously uncomfortable

My constant nausea and narcoleptic like fatigue is all that's getting me through this experience with a shred of sanity. 

I curl up in bed at night with a fresh-scented bar of soap to keep me from wanting to hurl.  I am nodding off at my desk here at work, right now as I try to type this post. 

All of this takes the edge off.  I mean, sure, it's quite possible that when I head to my new OB's office on thursday we will see another dead baby on an ultrasound screen.  I mean, it's me right? 

But the fact that I feel terrible is by all reasoning, keeping the hope alive.  And stopping my mind from wandering to the terrible, anxious places it can go. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

can I sleep now?

I have an appointment with Dr. W.  Next week, when I am exactly 8 weeks.

Dr. W is an OB with a perinatal group. She has seen everything. She also handled the pregnancies of two women I know who had issues with their cervices (cervixi?).  Both women went on to deliver healthy term babies.  That's the kinda care I want.  So it's like I'll be getting the care of an MFM who also delivers.  I'll take it, for as long as this pregnancy lasts, since there's no way I can even fathom making it that far.

In the meantime, with that huge hurdle jumped, I am tired.  So so tired.  I have to stay wide awake for the next five hours, at least, as I shuttle Niblet to her ballet's dress rehearsal and then function as the backstage dance mom.  Where I will probably be overseeing about a dozen children, with lots of "don't wipe your hands on your tights" and "use the bathroom now if you have to" and bobby-pinning loose buns and the like.  In other words, I can't curl up and take a nap.

I recall being this tired with the Nibble, when I was a spry 34 year old, so I am going to tell myself it's not because I am a desiccating person over 40.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Now the real work begins

So, aside from the point at the appointment where my blood pressure skyrocketed to 140/82 (fuuuuuckkkk).... We have a viable embryo. Measuring 6 weeks 5 days (and I was 6+5 walking in the door). With a heart rate of 125bpm.  There's also no sign of any clot or bleed or SCH, so the bleeding scare from last week is being chalked up to the unknown.  I could feel the Viking's posture relax behind me as I stared at the monitor.

Now I need an OB. Or MFM. Or someone who isn't over an hour drive to see me regularly. Generally the RE would release me between 8 and 11 weeks but since I'm out of state we all agree that finding someone local would make life easiest for me. I think realistically I have one more scan at this office, but the sooner I can transition out the better.

Right now I'm on an amtrak to NYC for a day of meetings, then rushing back so I can ferry the Nibble to her ballet rehearsal. Somewhere during this day I have to get myself a new doctor. Ideally Dr. W, the MFM who delivers and has saved many an asherman's friend of mine from incompetent cervix. If not her, then perhaps Dr. M, a lady who I hear is kinda mean, but competent. After a year of Dr. Cuddles, I have pretty thick skin.

I could still miscarry, I'm just approaching 7 weeks now. But I think it's time to make the move.

Friday, May 26, 2017

bread. and more bread. and a little rice too.

So, whether I'm carrying a viable pregnancy or not, my current eating habits are, umm troubling.  Here's my confessional:

I feel pretty sick.  (Yay?)  I mean, this nausea is intense. Getting out of bed in the morning is a slog, I'm queasy and lightheaded.  And my appetite, well, it's the appetite of a pregnant person.

For the past few days, I've been eating really tiny meals, the problem is they're all really tiny starch based meals.  Rice.  Bread.  A muffin.  A little gnocchi with butter last night, because I have reverted to the taste of a 5 year old.

See the problem here?

My nutritional counselor had advised that I put myself on a gestational diabetes diet as soon as I am pregnant, just to be safe.

Uh, yeah, that hasn't been going so well. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

we wait

Shocks of bright red lead to... nothing.  Blood never even touched the pad I was wearing last night, and there was nothing but the brown streaky remains of whatever last night's event was this morning.

And here I am again.  Waiting for an ultrasound, probably tuesday.

Why not go in today or tomorrow, Justonemore?  Honestly, it won't be conclusive.  Today I'm 5+6, tomorrow I'm 6+0.  Both days sort of on the cusp of when you can see something good.  Tuesday I will be 6+5, and there will either be a baby with a heartbeat in my uterus, or there won't be.  If I learned tomorrow that things didn't look good, say, there was an empty gestational sac in there, well, what good would this do me?  I would still have to go to Jury Duty on Friday.  This weekend would still be a Memorial Day Holiday Weekend where I have Monday off. I am still home with my family.

If I saw I had a SCH, well, I would be told to lay around with my feet up.  Well, after this scare, I will do that one way or another.

No, I am just going to keep to my schedule as planned. All that's different is that I'm headed to my tuesday ultrasound much more solemnly than I might have.  The blood has forced me to face that I am for now pregnant - and later may not be - head on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No peace.

I was wrapping up work around five pm and getting ready to go teach a Zumba class (where I wouldn't have gotten my own heart rate up, promise).  And went to the bathroom, and wiped and there was the bright. Red. Blood.

It's about 2 hours later, almost 3.  Still bright red, not hitting a pad, but it's there about half the time when I wipe.

Of course there's nothing to do but to wait. Will it get heavier. Will I need to go in for an earlier ultrasound (nurse wants me to do this of course).   Could be a sub choroionic hematoma. Could be a miscarriage. Only time will tell.

Here I am again.  Trying to accept with my rational mind that high betas are meaningless. A properly implanted intrauterine gestational sac is meaningless. Waves of nausea are meaningless. A pgs tested embryo is meaningless.

I can't have normal. I can't have peace.

sometimes I forget....

Sometimes I forget I'm pregnant.  I've gotten really good at this disconnecting thing.  It is much easier to say goodbye to a pregnancy when you aren't convinced that it will result in a screaming infant.

There was actually a screaming infant at my house this weekend - PBFAW brought both of her babies and her husband over.  Did I ever mention that her husband worked with us as well?   In any case,  Viking, myself and the Nibble used the Sunday to come to grips with the fact that we all have to say huge teary eyed goodbyes, they are moving.  Across the country, to Portland.

I am thrilled for them, and dare I say, a little jealous.  They both will continue working in our cause, but for way more chillaxed organizations (I mean, it's Portlandia, they have to be, right?)  They will have her brother and SIL in close proximity.  They won't have to deal with crazy toxic honcho boss.  Maybe they will continue to have crazy bosses, but at least they will experience new kinds of crazy bosses, right?

Any way, the visit resulted in me spending a fair amount of time holding a four month old.  Man, they're tiny.

And I just didn't tell her about my news yet.

Perhaps because it's not newsworthy?  She told me she was pregnant with her second baby when she was five weeks pregnant, out of concern and some deep rooted understanding that I needed to hear it from her and not someone else.  But me, well, I can't even say the word yet.

But.... it's starting to smack me in the face, at really inopportune times.

Yesterday I am driving to a meeting and the Beatles come on.  Nice.  Let It Be.  Oh, Jesus.  I am crying.  No.  I am bawling.  Like tears are streaming down my face and someone can see me at this red light.  

And then there's this morning, when a wave of nausea strikes, as I finish a little of the milk left in Nibble's cup before we get ready to leave the house for school.

I have an ultrasound scheduled for Tuesday May 30th.  I will be 6 weeks 5 days.  No questioning can result from waiting this long.  There will either be a heartbeat, or there won't be.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
And there will be an answer, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Oh, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Oh, let it be
Won't you let it be, let it be, let it be 

 Whisper words of wisdom, let it be



Songwriters:  Lennon and McCartney

Thursday, May 18, 2017

fucking scans (update in comments)

So yesterday my betas more than doubled, to 3,449.  I got a message that I had to come in for a scan on friday.

Nope, impossible I said.  I live over an hour away and can't get Friday off of work (see toxic boss, who holds mandatory staff meetings from 10am to eternity on fridays).

So I get them to agree to allow me to do the scan locally.  Gee, thanks for letting me pay over 200 bucks out of pocket.

So here I am, forced to get a scan at exactly 5 weeks 0 days.  These early scans are complete bullshit designed to take habitual aborters like myself into the land of the insane.

You know what I'm gonna see on this scan?  In a perfect world, a gestational sac and the beginnings of a yolk sac.  In a possible world, just a gestational sac because the yolk sac can take a day or two to even appear, maybe until 5 weeks 3 days.  If  we assume my hcg is still climbing normally, I would expect that maybe it's around 5,000 today?  So we will be able to rule out an ectopic pregnancy, and that's about it.

I really didn't want to have to start getting ultrasounds until I was well beyond 6 weeks.  To say they're triggering is an understatement.  I was instructed that I needed to get this one and then I could hold off for two weeks.  Fabulous.

Gah.   So check this out: this morning I drove downtown to my office, got here around 8:45.  At 10:30 I will drive back north to the suburbs for an 11:30 scan, then when that's done back downtown to my office.  THEN I get in the car and drive back north toward the suburbs to get the Nibble in order to driver her back down AGAIN for her ballet rehearsal downtown.  Four blocks from my office.  Up I-83, Down I-83, about 6 times in one day. 

I forgot how much fucking driving I have to do when I am knocked up.  Being raised a New Yorker, this driving across the region fifteen times a day is painful.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Stress dreams

And so begins the moment in early pregnancy when your subconscious has decided that you better fucking acknowledge to yourself you are pregnant, because if you don't, you're still gonna have those awful dreams where all of your teeth are falling out.

Fabulous.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

when work is toxic

I tend to believe sometimes the word toxic is bandied around too easily.  The toxins in our food and air....the toxic family members...that Brittany Spears song from the 90s...

But the thing is, when it comes to people, well, it's often it's real.  When you walk around your office with a feeling of dread, and anxiety, because some of your bosses (and yes, I have more than a handful of bosses, despite being a boss of sorts myself) might say something that makes you feel even more dread and anxiety, that's well.... toxic.

I have one boss - the big honcho boss of my organization, actually - who has always raised my blood pressure.  I've mentioned her in this blog before.  When I suggest that something is black, her immediate reaction in a room full of people is to say I am wrong, but of course it's white justonemore, what are you some kind of moron?  About a month ago I spent a good deal of time stressed out that I would be required to attend a meeting in Atlantic City on the day of my FET and that I would have to explain my reason for being out, HIPAA be damned.  She makes no bones about believing in our mission to the point where she made many sacrifices on the family front.

Well, I am not the current subject of her ire for the time being, but I just learned a much-loved colleague is.  This colleague (like everyone it seems) sometimes supervises me.  So my sometimes-supervisor came to talk to me today, and spent a good hour crying in my office, about how she loves her work, but feels like she is between a rock and a hard place with our boss.  And to be honest, she is.  Their relationship has deteriorated to a real point of no return, and I don't think my beloved colleague has any real choice but to take her considerable skills elsewhere.  Not a fun thing to do when you're looking at four years until retirement eligibility.

And when she dried her eyes and left my office, I felt my blood pressure rise, and the bile build up in my stomach.  I am going to miss this colleague.  Maybe she will be here another year, but I am definitely going to lose a supportive friend.  Not to mention PBFAW may never return to our office now that she has two young children.

And I deeply want the opportunity to mother another baby - I mean, you have to want it to endure this hell known as pregnancy after loss after loss after loss.  But man, I am in what is quite possibly the least supportive environment in the world to embark upon this journey into the realm of the insane. (And yes, there is a decided lack of sanity in choosing to set yourself up for another bout with PTSD).

At some point, if this crazy plan works, I am going to be forced into some kind of conversation with honcho boss. I say this because I am assuming that if this works I will start to grow a baby and as small as I am, I will certainly start to show. Honcho boss will either:
a.  Tell me I'm crazy because I'm too old, or,
b.  Tell me I'm crazy because it's apparent to anyone that I already have a hell of a time juggling my job and Niblet.

This unsolicited conversation won't go well.  Now, let's be clear, I give less than a single fuck about what this woman thinks of my personal life.  But that doesn't prevent the dread in my bones, and the bile in my stomach.

In some ways I am happy that I am an RPL survivor.  I know beyond any question that stress has never killed my babies.  Chromosomal abnormalities, a fucked up situation where an egg was fertilized by two sperm, and a random shitty birth defect led to the stack of rings on my finger,  Stress?  Nah, I am not going to let the stress mess with my head.

But man, it sure feels awful.

we live to see another day

We live to see another day is pretty much all I can say about my beta results.  They're high, 1,530 at 13dp5dt, or roughly 18dop.  The neurotic traumatized basket-case in me, with a tiny but clear voice  might ask, too high?

So now I go back.  The clinic is also testing my TSH, something that was never done by my OBs or REs in the past.... which is a nice touch for an RPL-er, though my thyroid has never been identified as a culprit in the past.  In any event, the numbers have to start doubling.  Baby steps.

I just re-ordered another supply of estradiol, progesterone and syringes + needles.

This morning I chatted with my parents about everything and anything that didn't have to do with pregnancy. I will be seeing them in a few weeks.  If this thing sticks I can always tell them then.... or not.

Breathe.

Monday, May 15, 2017

waiting

And now we've arrived at the sloggiest portion of pregnancy after recurrent loss, the repeat betas.

This morning I trekked out to a clinic, only to find it didn't have a stat lab to get rapid results, and then had to trek even farther out to the suburbs to another clinic. 

A nice little elderly Russian phlebotomist whispered a warm "good luck" after looking down at the lab slip. And wrote me out lab information for the next two visits, because my doctor is out of state and they need extra information and nothing is ever easy.

Now I wait.  Then I get a number, ruminate for hours whether it is a good number or bad number, and then wait some more.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Disconnect

My mechanism of dealing with pregnancy after RPL is what I'll call "actively disconnecting" (I'll have to ask my therapist one of these days if that's a real thing).  It's just two fun steps!

Step 1.  Checking in on your pregnancy every few hours:  This can involve peeing on a stick, or feeling the cramping in your abdomen, noticing your superpower level sense of smell or really feeling your exhaustion.  Vomitting or wretching, if you're really lucky (I don't usually get this lucky until I am about 6 weeks along)

Step 2.  Ignoring the fact that you're pregnant:  You can throw yourself into editing a colleague's memo.  You can stay connected to work on the shared server, even though you've taken a sick day to stay home with your sick kid (poor thing has an ear ache).  You can make comforting, nutritionally pointless meals for her, like grilled cheese sandwiches, while you wait to take her to the doctor.

Sometimes the effort to disconnect is thwarted, like, when your boss asks you to fill out a doodle poll for an upcoming staff meeting in NYC.  Hmmm.... would I be scheduled for a first ultrasound that week in May?  Or, can I attend that overnight conference in early June if I have to self-administer PIO shots?  Cause, I'd really rather not.  But will I even be pregnant?

I hate it when the practicalities of pregnancy, along with the necessary questions about its longevity impede upon my ability to pretend that I'm not pregnant at all.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It's time for the fun game...

Is it implantation bleeding or a miscarriage? Ready, set, go!

Protection

I was just checking in on my instagram feed and found a beautiful photo my formerly pregnant best friend at work X 2 (PBFAWX2) posted of her son, now two months.

I've been a neglectful friend this past month.  While I started out rocking the being a helpful person thing really hard (taking her daughter while she was in labor, visiting the family, delivering soup on cold days), these past few weeks I have fallen off the face of the earth for her.

I could say it's because of the cycle, the monitoring appointments out of state, the FET.... but honestly it's the baby.  Maybe it's the drugs, the PIO, the estrace, prior to that the lupron, but I've just had this intense feeling that I need to stay away for a bit.

All of that was heightened a few minutes ago.  I looked at this adorable little guy and needed to close that shit fast on my phone.

Maybe it's the HCG that's building up in my system.  (Yes, the line is progressing).

Those stacking rings I wear?  Well, I actually ran out of them, and took to wearing a random one in order to accommodate my recent chemical pregnancies.  (Who needs a manicure?)


Yesterday I ordered three more.  One to replace the one with a square, one to represent the Nibble (to wear on my pointer finger) and one to represent this current pregnancy.  To be added to either the middle or pointer finger at whatever point its conclusion falls.

I feel, well, pretty vulnerable right now.

Viking is there.  Another close friend who knows is a text away.

But nearly everyone in the world (save a few readers) who know me by my face in real life are in the dark about all of this.  That includes my parents and some of my closest friends.  And almost every one of my co-workers, who I am quite bonded with.  The IVF cycle, the FET, and now, these lines on a stick. All of it is a hidden life.

My closest work colleague, who I have been training to take up all of my research work should I ever need to be out for a length of time, thinks I'm dying.  No seriously, he knows I had some sort of "procedure" a week ago, and with my stories about insulin resistance and many doctor's appointments, I am quite sure he thinks I have some horrible disease.  He's also only just about to turn 30, and I know beyond any question that can't even begin to imagine what I've hidden these last five years.

I hate keeping secrets from my parents, in particular.  But I know it's for the best.  They know I have chosen to embark on a donor cycle, but I have kept all of the details from them.  They love me, but I also know that they can internalize my stress to the point where we are all falling apart, and then they're actually more stress on my plate.  I need to keep them distanced from this for the time being, to protect us both really.

And PBFAWX2.... well, she knows that I had been planning to do this.  Get pregnant via IVF and another woman's egg.  And she was incredibly supportive of the plan.  She would probably be thrilled to hear the details.

But the last time I gave her any details about a pregnancy we were both pregnant, she with her first, I, with what would be my fifth consecutive loss.  When she told me she was pregnant, and was so excited to be pregnant with me, I had to have the uncomfortable conversation.  The one where I truly wished her well, told her everything would be just great, and that she would be an amazing mother.  But also stated explicitly that she should not expect to have a joint office baby shower with me, or plan on us being out on leave together with our babies.  Because the odds were high I would not be pregnant for long.

It's not that I don't think this current pregnancy can stick.... actually, I am about as hopeful for it as any pregnancy in the world really.... but I can't share it with her.  Not yet.

Monday, May 8, 2017

#8

Ahh, we are now back into the fun of this blog, where we have had visible but faint lines on wondfos for about 36 hours and wonder when they're going to darken. 

Part of the issue is the bullshit of counting  ___days post 5 Day transfer (as of this post, I am now 6dp 5dt).  What the fuck does that even mean in line terms?  I'm sort of used to seeing a clear dark line around 10 or 11 dpo, so I don't know what to make of these meh sort of lines.  Viking can see them, so that's nice.  I am trying to prepare him for a chemical pregnancy, because I am so out of my comfort zone of knowing what something should look like at this stage.  He of course doesn't want to hear anything coming out of my mouth right now with regards to peeing on sticks, and I can't say that I blame him.  It's as awful a topic as anything. I know I'm pretty damn early, since my clinic doesn't even have me getting blood labs until next Monday.  A darker line on a fucking stick would be a little comforting (and yes, I know, the amount of water I drank, fruit I ate, dye on the individual test, whether mercury was in retrograde or whether my cat took a piss on the left side of the litterbox, I know, I know, you can't judge a pregnancy by the lines on a stick because the concentration of hcg in your urine isn't an exact science).

So yeah, I'm technically pregnant.

I guess I need to find some more stacking rings on etsy.

Away we go.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Still doin' what I do....

Last night my daughter's public school held a pretty spectacular fundraiser.  And yes, in keeping with the fact that I refuse to believe that the following things will doom a pregnancy that isn't already doomed: I drank a beer, ate a few mini tuna sashimi tacos (because they combine my two favorite things in the whole wide world) and danced my ass off.  In heels.

And I might as well admit on this confessional that I did all of this "call the tww police" stuff after being something of an asshole and peeing on a stick at 4dp 5dt.  Why?  Because I was crazy tired yesterday, and fell asleep for nearly two hours in the middle of the day.

 There was a faint line.

(There is still a faint line today).

Friday, May 5, 2017

Chipper pessimism (I mean pragmatism)

Dear IVF Coordinator,

Good morning!  This question isn't coming from pessimism (it's more from pragmatism).  If my beta is negative the week of May 15th, how soon could I start the process over again?  Could you explain the next steps and timeline to the next FET?  I'm asking because I am trying to get my work  and vacation calendar in order for the summer.  Thanks!  (And stay dry!)

Signed,
Justonemore

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Why no one should take fertility advice from me

So, I am in my TWW, or really 10 day wait because this was a transfer of a 5 day blast, and trust me, I will be peeing on a stick in about 7 days so that I don't need a grim nurse to tell me I have to go through this bullshit all over again.

While this is my first IVF, I think I can say I've bounced into this drill pretty quickly.  And I'm ready to jump into it again if need be.  But let me make a list as to why I am the worst person in the world to seek TTC advice from:

1. I am incredibly negative - Noooo, really?  Actually, I don't think it's negativity, it's pragmatism.  Look, there's a 65-ish percent chance that this first FET will work.  That leaves a whole lotta room for error.  I think anyone with a background like mine who goes into their FET assuming they will be pregnant two weeks-ish later needs their head examined.

(Do you see why I am not cut out to be a fertility life coach?)

2. I do all of the things during the TWW that ladies on the interwebs freak out about.  Sushi?  Fuck, I had a salmon and avocado roll yesterday.  It was DELICIOUS.  Coffee?  Are you fucking kidding me? 

Look, I have been pregnant five million times, and none of these things killed my babies.  I think if you can't get pregnant and you look to cut caffeine, that seems like a reasonable reaction.  But I am already on a ridiculously restricted diet per my nutritionist - about 1200-1300 calories a day.  It's been three months and I've lost a whopping 5 pounds.  Why?  Because I'm small, and already fit, and losing ten pounds is a fucking slog.... but I digress.

3. My stress relief doesn't look like your stress relief.  My readers know, I have the loveliest acupuncturist in creation.  She needled me and held my hand through about 4 of my pregnancy losses.  But you may have noticed, I haven't discussed her recently...

When I made the decision to move towards DE, I also made the decision to start "fresh" (as if that's possible for a 42 year old recurrent miscarrier).  But I really looked at what I could realistically do to keep myself sane, given my loaded work schedule, Nibblet's loaded extracurricular schedule, and the fact that I am cycling out of state. 

Something had to go, and it was acupuncture.  Getting appointments used to be a stressful experience.  Lying on the table was also a stressful experience later on, after my TFMR.... it wasn't my acupuncturist's fault, she would tell me to visualize a pregnancy, and unfortunately, I would visualize the day my world collapsed and my daughter was diagnosed with an omphalocele spanning the entire length of her torso.  So that wasn't working for me.

What does work for me?  Dancing.  Zumba.  Hiking.  Romance Novels. 

Now, I'm not going to be an asshole about this.  The doctors told me to quit the zumba and the ballet, so I will quit the zumba and the ballet.  I will walk the Nibble to school every day.  I've downloaded more trashy novels on to my reader.

The Viking's reaction to all of this has been sort of comical.  I was painting my nails in bed last night, and he says, "Should you be doing that?  Is it safe?"  (Deep breath justonemore).  "Yes, it's safe.  Plenty of manicurists and hairstylists get pregnant.  I am not drinking Sally Hanson Fast Dry nailpolish.  The embryo should be quite fine."

On the other hand, a quick google of "is nailpolish safe during the TWW" will get hundreds of hits.  Many of them, posts by women who seem to be quite sure that the "toxins" of the nailpolish are bad for a developing baby.  Never mind that the embryo in my uterus is a cluster of cells about the size of a grain of sand.  Maybe smaller, I can't remember.

Do you know what the doctor who performed my transfer said?  Well, aside from telling me to not exercise heavily, she said THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO.  WHAT I DO WILL NOT AFFECT THIS OUTCOME.  IT WILL EITHER WORK (YAY!) OR NOT WORK (BOOOO!).

And if it doesn't work, we have three embryos left. And the second FET has an 85% chance of working.  See.....I am focusing on the positive. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

Calm before the whatever

Well, first I have gotta report that Viking is THE BEST at IM injections.  No, seriously, we could make some serious cash if he attempted some mildly illegal side-hustle offering to inject infertiles in need. He's that good.  (Icing the injection site ten minutes prior, then massaging and lying on a heating pad ten minutes post helps too).

My office is eerily quiet because everyone but me and one of my staff are attending an enormous conference out of town and won't return until Thursday.  It's a perfect week to get some embryos implanted, cower then hide and pretend that I'm not going to be a lunatic.

The FET is scheduled for tomorrow at 2pm EST.  I'll take the next day off to hibernate a bit....though I wish I was better at self-pampering.  So far, Wednesday includes: Volunteering at the Nibble's school for an hour, getting my A1C rechecked, then visiting my disapproving nutritionist to hear all the way that lupron blew my weight loss plan.

Somewhere in that day I should eat a nice meal (fuck you dietician) and browse around a thrift store.

See ya on the other side.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thar she blows

Well, my lining measured 9 and showed a triple stripe, so we're off and running.  The first FET of my life will be next week, Tuesday May 9th.  That means....

Progesterone in Oil (PIO) injections start tonight.

Oh how I've put off thinking of this. I'm hoping that the build-up in my mind (and yes, I've been conjuring images of whales being harpooned) makes the shot feel like a pinch.

"Thar she blows" I said to Viking, waking up this morning.  We stayed up late last night watching freedom fertility injection videos.  Some couples just watch porn.  We watch women getting stabbed in the ass (excuse me, the upper quadrant of the buttock).  By really big needles.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Falling into the trap

The other day I was looking at the calendar and planning out the next few months' worth of Nibble dance rehearsals, performances, visits to my Mom and Dad.... and I fell into the trap. 

What if I have to self-administer PIO shots that weekend?

What if I'm knocked up and feeling gross when I'm summoned for Jury Duty at the end of May? (Of course, in my City, who doesn't feel gross sitting in Jury Duty)

Would I get to switch to suppositories by the time I'm set to enjoy a relaxing trip to PA?

Will I get to teach a few zumba classes at the end of the school year?

And on and on.

And then my rational brain kicks in and smacks me on the head and says, DA FUCK JUSTONEMORE.  Don't do this to yourself.  All of this is your brain fantasizing about another pregnancy and you know that is a terrible thing to set yourself up for.  Just keep stabbing yourself, go forth to your lining check tomorrow, and stop imagining a future.  Because the last time you imagined a healthy pregnancy, you ended up ready to check yourself into the nearest psych ward.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Local infertiles just got even unluckier

I read the news yesterday that Dr. K, the only RE I ever saw locally with a shred of compassion, died at age 61.

Dr. K performed my last D&C on Good Friday, 2015.  She honored my request to have it done under ultrasounds guidance, as per the Asherman's A-lister way.  The scarring never returned.

She was a huge booster of fertility preservation for cancer patients too. 
Oh man, my heart is heavy.  Had her clinic allowed satellite monitoring, I would have absolutely cycled with her.  Trust me, I begged them.  Her clinic had a donor egg program that was strictly anonymous, and therefore a no- go for us.  But besides the irritation of lengthy travel, it would have been nice to have this angel in my corner.

I often told local women to go see her, despite being affiliated with a health system that doesn't have the best SART stats for IVF.  Her clinic took on the worst patients, unlike Babies Guaranteed - who kicked me to the curb the minute my FSH jacked up.  She offered kindness and hope to me when I was at my lowest.

Rest in Peace Dr. K. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Whatever happens the Nibble is the best

This cycle has been surprising to me in getting me to think more deeply about my relationship with my daughter.  Now eight, she's in a word, incredible.  A Harry Potter-reading, dancing, singing tornado of smiles cut by the usual tantrums.  She's a joy.  For reals.

It's weird putting yourself through the torture of an IVF cycle and potential pregnancy - that you know will be joyless - when your house is already filled with a fuckton of joy.  You step back and look at yourself and go "why did I sign up for this again?"

We never set out to give her a sibling per se.  As an only child myself, I've always been pretty confident that she would be fine as an only child too.  Based on how I've seen her interact with younger kids, I think she'd get quite the kick out of life being a big sister to another baby in the household, but good god it's not like I want her to have to experience the responsibilities of motherhood at such a young age.

I carry so much grief and trauma from the past five years.  I am fairly certain that whatever the future holds, I'll still be a walking basket case in need of a lot of  self-indulgence and dance classes.  If I am ever lucky to mother another baby I'm sure I will still be heading straight to my therapist.

But it's interesting....This whole donor egg experience is so high stakes - the cash laid out, the injections, the gloom - and yet, at the end of the day, I do know we will be fine.  We have the Nibble. I believe she's the only tethering me to sanity in this sea of craziness. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Stabbiest.

You know, I knew that IVF drugs would suck, but I had no idea that roaming around the grocery store that I don't usually shop at, and not finding the shredded Parmesan that I ordinarily like to buy, would make me burst into tears.

Jesus.

And the weight gain.  I perused about 50 blog entries about the weight gain, so there's no need for me to add to the litany of anecdotal research on the topic.  But can I just say FUCK ME.  This is ridiculous.  Who eats about 1300-1400 calories a day and gains three pounds in two weeks?  This insane person who evidently cries all the time, that's who.

I keep telling myself if this FET doesn't work well, it's ok, I have three more PGS-screened embryos on ice.  But fuck me, I can't even bring my brain there right now.  I mean, sure I am expecting this whole thing to not only fail, but fail spectacularly.... like maybe I will get a BFP and carry another doomed baby for 10 weeks.  That seems like something that would happen to me.

The only thing in my experience that eliminates these negative feelings is dancing.  A particularly ass-shaking zumba class, or even better a ballet class where I'm turning fast across the floor.  Those things get me out of my head.  And I will have those crutches for about two more weeks.

Which makes the coming weeks even more ominous.  I've been told in no uncertain terms, no zumba after transfer.  And with some uncertainty, no ballet.  Well I don't meditate.  And yoga?  No.  I've never had an edorfin rush in my life from yoga, it's not about to start now.  Walking.  I can walk to oblivion and yeah, I'm sure no one ever thinks about life or dead babies when they're walking.

Sheesh.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

stabbier

Injecting yourself surruptitously in your parents' bathroom isn't as hard as it may seem.  Turn on the shower, take a deep breath, swipe the needle, the lupron container and your abdomen with an alcohol swab... carefully measure the syringe.... plunge that fucker into your lower abdomen and say a prayer of thanks that you aren't using the harpoon like needle of a PIO injection.

But maintaining your composure on lupron, well, that's another matter entirely.  Your eyes water all the time (thank god the pollen count is high on this early spring week). 

Then you find yourself on a message thread about your facebook feed.  Remember how three years ago today you were involved in a high-profile, exhilerating campaign that resulted in improving the lives of thousands of people?  One that you were key to developing?  Oh, you didn't want to remember this week?  Could it be that you miscarried for the third consecutive time this week?  Yeah, that must be it.

The stakes are so much higher now.  We've spent so much money, I am stabbing myself on a nightly basis and feeling a little like an angry lunatic.  And there is still a very high chance that it won't work.  Any of it.  That a micrroscopic, likely genetically normal embryo will be implanted into my uterus OF DOOM in a few weeks time, and it will still die.

Sigh.  Fucking lupron.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

stabby

Well, we've now done a few nights of the (relatively easy) lupron injections.  Yeah, for the uninitated in IVF, these are like the easiest injections you will ever do, the needles are pretty small, like insulin needles.  I can't say I'm jumping for joy with happiness about how I am feeling on leuprolide - there's a reason I've heard it referred to as "the Devil" by women on babycenter.  Yeah, I feel a little on edge right now, but I suppose life could be much worse.  I could be on progesterone injections... oh snap, just a few weeks until then.  Let me get back to ignoring how shitty lupron injections are.

I'm headed to NYC for a few days with the nibble and without the viking on Saturday night, so I get to hide in the bathroom and stab myself with (the albeit tiny) needles for four nights in a row.  Nothing but fun times ahead.

It's not helping that work is insane right now.  Nonstop for both Viking and myself.  I was hoping to take Niblet on an outing to DC tomorrow to meet up with a pack of family members who are in town but I have to cancel because there just isn't enough time in the day.  And she did spend all last weekend with said family (side note, my husband's side resembles the Children of the Corn). I know there will be tears, but you know what kid, mama's under a teensy little bit of stress right now, so maybe we can both hold it together, ok?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

off to the races and back into hiding

Well, away we go, I start Lupron injections on Sunday night.  Then about a month from then, I have a tentative transfer scheduled for May 2nd.

My next few weeks will be all about hiding.  Hiding needles and their hazardous disposal container from my parents and the Nibble when I'm with her in NYC on spring break.  Hiding the needles once again from my co-workers when I have to fly to upstate NY so the 15 of us can live in a cabin together for a research staff "retreat."  I don't even wanna do trust falls with these people, nice as they are.

Then there's the zumba classes I'll no longer be allowed to teach after transfer, doctor's orders, that will require some sort of lie.

Then there's the girl's weekend getaway with some of my oldest friends that I may skip out on.  I will either be not pregnant and sad, miscarrying and sad, or roughly nine weeks pregnant and an anxious wreck.  And in that third case, I will also be hiding self-administered PIO shots and coming up with creative reasons why I'm not drinking/getting a massage/doing all the things that girls on girls' weekends do.  While it could be pleasant and fun, it could also be stressful as all fuck.

Gah.  I know millions of women have survived IVF but all of my old anxieties are flooding back. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

window into the mind of the wretched

Wowzers, we have four embryos on ice, that's pretty amazing... But all of this has been way too easy- at least for these past few months, so I'm sure we are just due for some tragedy.  No one with a history like me walks out of this experience with anything but tears, right?  I am waiting for the call where we learn the lab's exploded with our embryos.  Or, something will go wrong with implantation.  Yeah, it won't come as a surprise when I develop an immune reaction to pregnancy.  Or there's the possibility of ectopic, I mean I've never had one of those, and women like me don't walk around with two functional tubes their entire lives. Surely a life-threatening pregnancy is next on the list.  On the more mundane end of the spectrum, I could always develop issues with my lining because that would be a new frustrating curveball....Hmmm.... gestational carrier isn't an option for us, so, wow, this is really it.  I mean, sure, it's the bees knees that we get four IVF attempts, but wow, four rounds of lupron and PIO with never a living baby, well, that's a pretty horrible proposition, but it's also pretty possible given that I am a walking lightening strike.  A catalyst of doom.  Speaking of doom, yeah, there's my cervix.  Four D&Cs and a couple of hysteroscopies should ensure that even if I'm successful my pregnancy will fail because, you know, my cervix.  But yes, at the end of the day, it's a nice exercise, going through these motions like a woman who thinks they will hold a baby.  I guess I need to find an MFM now, someone who will be kind when I lose my next pregnancy.  Keep smiling right? Surely it's better than curling up in fetal position and crying every day, I mean, who the fuck has time for that.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PGS results are in.

We have four normals.

Somewhere in a lab, sit four microscopic frozen embryos created from the DNA building blocks of a woman I actually do feel *some* inexplicable connection to, and the Viking.  In early May, one of them will be implanted in my uterus and I will try to grow a baby.

And if that baby doesn't stick, I can try again.

Breathe.

you get what you get

A few weeks ago when Viking and I were driving back home from the clinic, I looked at him and said, "You know, we could be in a position where we would be selecting an embryo by gender." 

It floored him.

"What would you want to do?"

"Well, I don't know... maybe a boy to balance things out?"

"Maybe..."

I'll be honest, I'm not even sure about the ethical position my clinic takes on this topic (I know clinics vary).  And who knows what we would get in terms of healthy embryos, hell IF we get healthy embryos....

I'll admit, when I allow myself to fantasize about babies, they tend to be girls.  Man, girls are hard, I am already dealing with body-image issues with 8 year old Niblet (AND HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT).  But girls are what I know.

When I look at my donor, I imagine the features of her potential female offspring, would a baby girl of mine have her large brown eyes (which greatly resemble my large brown eyes?)....then sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to raise a small boy, one who maybe looked like his dad.... And then, once again, I think of Niblet, the perfect composite of us both.

And then I think about how much of this process has sucked the joy of the unknown out of me.  The unknown is generally a dark and destructive place, you know, because it's where my babies die.  So far, of my babies that have been lost, most have been girls.

But what if we had one spark of normalcy, in a potential future pregnancy.... what if I didn't know what fertilized embryo was going to be implanted in my body?

This is where I'm headed on the issue, for now.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

crazy twists of fate or universe or coincidence or whatever

So bear with me as I write out the insanity of the last week:

First, my religious friend at work discussed in the prior post, well, the day after our hug, her 21 year old daughter is in a horrifying car accident.  Her jaw is broken, her kidney punctured, and she was put into a coma because of a brain bleed.  I am happy to say that she is finally out of the woods, with a lot of pain and a wrenching recovery ahead, but she will pull through.  I just can't believe that my friend had to experience this, quite literally the day after I was discussing maternal grief.

THEN, I get a call from the husband of my Pregnant Best Friend at Work (PBFAW).  Can you take our first daughter asap (she is now 17 months)?  PBFAW is going to need an emergency c-section and our family isn't here and Baby J knows you.

So, friends, I rush to the hospital and when I get there PBFAW and her husband are already in surgery and a nurse brings out Baby J.  Who thankfully doesn't take one look at me and scream at the top of her lungs.

I take her home instead of her day care, because 1) she has a wicked cold, and 2) It will be much easier on her Dad if I have her and he either picks her up from me or I drop her back off than to have a 6pm pickup deadline at their daycare.

You guys, I had a baby in my house.  For like, 8 hours.  I read to her, explored my SO NOT CHILDPROOFED house, fed her, changed four diapers (girlfriend can eat, let me tell ya).  Except for the moments of what the fuckery when I drag a high chair down two flights of stairs from my attic, with a toddler in tow, and then try to ram her into it to eat lunch, when OMG her thighs are stuck and I am pulling and pulling and can't get her damn leg out of the chair and she now officially HATES me, I think I did rather well. And Princess the cat handled things well too.  (I've always been a little worried about the potential cat baby dynamic in our house).


I even got her to nap for two hours.





That night I brought her back to the hospital to her mom.  And met her brother.  Who looks exactly like her.  And tried to hold my shit together in front of PBFAWs aunt, who arrived earlier in the day to help.

Can I tell you about PBFAWs aunt?  She has one living daughter, a beautiful 20 year old.  And one child that died at birth - she carried her to term, but the baby never survived the open neural tube defects she was born with.  And PBFAWs aunt also carried another baby, one that never made it to term. She was aborted in the second trimester after she learned that the baby was carrying the same defects.

I have met this woman a handful of times, she is lovely.  But I have no idea if she knows what I know, or if likewise, PBFAW ever told her my sad sad fertility tale.  All I know is that there was a moment in time when the two of us - by some crazy twist of fate - were standing in bittersweet awe over the bassinet of a squalling newborn baby boy.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Anger management and deep breathing

Three days ago day I walked out of a depressing staff meeting (is there any other kind?) and just had this hopeless angry wave of emotion come on me.  Outta nowhere.  And then I was angry and sad about being angry and sad and these vicious cycles just continue to momentarily fuck me up. But then I get back up...

Well, one close friend at work who knows why I get the way I get, and who is ultra-religious, tried to school me a bit.  She's not religious in the judgey fire and brimstone way, screaming SIN at unsuspecting heathens like me.  Instead, she is deeply troubled by my lack of faith. And pointed to my right hand:

I know I have never experienced what you've been through, I only know what my aunt went through (insert story of a woman who lost five million pregnancies and had a natural miracle birth in her forties).  Those rings make you angry.  You carry this anger because you haven't been able to achieve what you want to achieve and I think you need to stop wearing them.  I see how you look when you're upset, and you start twisting them and staring at them.

I took a very deep breath:

The rings aren't about achievement L. They're about grief.  They aren't just pregnancies.  They're babies.  My babies don't have graves, I have nowhere to honor them.  They don't exist to anyone but me.  I can't go to a cemetery and mourn them.  The finger on my right hand is all I've got.

She didn't have a response. It's ok.  We hugged and I think I did a fairly decent job of schooling her right back.


Then, at an out of town conference yesterday, another coworker walks up and says, "I saw you talking to L and looking so upset, I want to talk to you when we leave this conference and make sure you're ok."

Breathe.

Oh, it's ok.  I was just having a bad day.

About two hours after that, ANOTHER colleague walks up to me at said conference.  This one has the exhausted glow of a woman who has had two babies in the span of time that I've lost 7.  Her babies are 5 and 2.

Are you ever going to have another?  You'd have such an easy age-gap compared to mine - mine are always arguing about sharing toys.

Breathe.

Not sure.  Maybe.  Who knows.

Finally, yesterday was day 7 of my embryo development.  I hadn't received a report and was absolutely convinced this game was over before it started.  Because a few days ago I got a message that one embryo was biopsied at day 5, but I had nothing on the other ones, other than two were potentially arresting.


I emailed my IVF coordinator:  I'm checking to see if there's bad news because I haven't received any follow-up report from the lab....

Ten minutes later comes the report from the lab:  Five embryos have been biopsied and are frozen.  PGS report will come from my genetic counselor in 2-3 weeks.


BREATHE.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

My donor

I've said before that she's pretty.  She is, really pretty.  Some of her adult pictures had the gloss and sparkle of a beauty pageant contestant.  What drew me to her first were her childhood photos - I'll be honest, they resembled me.  Big brown eyes, brown hair, smaller lips.  One of her baby pictures looked so much like the Nibble it took my breath away.

But what sealed the deal for me was her artistic ability, and a general gut feeling that she wasn't an alien.  A skilled violinist, from a musical family.  She painted all of the artwork that hangs in her house.  She loves reading and going to antique stores.  Yes, this is the stuff of internet dating nightmare, and I'm surely not the first person to note the absurdity of reading online profiles.  But yeah, when she came on to my clinic's website I had the intense urge to swipe right.

Her willingness to go through the legal hurdles, and frankly, the emotional intelligence of some of the questions she raised with her attorney made me even more convinced that well, as far as choices go, I made the best one for me.

The other day my clinic's coordinator messaged me:  Your donor was so touched by the card you wrote her... would you allow her to know whether her eggs result in a pregnancy?  This isn't something we ordinarily do with anonymous donors, and it is up to you.

I didn't hesitate.  Yes, you may let her know if her eggs result in a pregnancy for me.

I spent a good eight hours a couple of weeks ago absolutely panicked that my donor would change her mind in the future about being open to contact from her genetic offspring. Well, I think I'm over that fear.  I feel deep in my gut that whatever the future holds, we've got the foundation for something.  I don't know what to call it. Trust, maybe?

Viking and I had a long talk last night.  He admitted never really getting why I thought I had to click with an online donor profile.  And honestly, plenty of people do anonymous donor egg ivf where the clinic's doctor chooses their donor, so it's not that farfetched for him to feel this way.

I am sickeningly aware that this woman's eggs may never result in a living baby that could ever reach out to her.  It's a cold stark reality for me.  But however this crazy train rolls along, I feel very very calm right now.  In this, at least, we made the right choice.

As far as I know, as of tonight, all eight of our fertilized balls of cells have made it to day 3.

Lightening doesn't just strike twice

I don't believe I wrote much about our latest visit to a new genetic counselor.  She was by far my favorite (third time was the charm I guess), because for once I sat before someone who didn't roll their eyes everytime I tried to get a word in edgewise.  She also referred to Celine as "your daughter."  Thank you so much for that GC number 3.

I asked if she *ever* had a patient before her with a history like mine, and she said, "sadly, I have."  And she didn't elaborate.  But she absolutely believed that given the near impossible odds of experiencing a partial molar pregnancy and a Giant Omphalocele something else was going on.  And thank god, she understood the severity of our daughter's, what a difference that made, no judgement at all for your heartbreaking choice justonemore.  Unfortunately, it's not something that can currently be tested for, and I am making the right decision - in her eyes - to take my genetics out of it.   "AMA women are at higher risk of aneuploidy, and some of your losses reflect that.  But something isn't right even at 40 to have a loss history like this.  And I don't actually believe bad luck is all that's happening in your case.  You're right to turn to donor eggs to try to take whatever it is out of the equation."





Thursday, February 23, 2017

I guess I forgot to mention

Our donor had her retrieval earlier this week and the Viking went in to give his fresh semen sample.  We were given a batch of 8 of her eggs.  So far, using ISCI, they all fertilized.  Now we wait to see how many make it to PGS.  In other words, we wait to see whether I will have any embryos to work with.

I'll be starting birth control soon.

We're all in from this point on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How do you thank someone for hope?

Below is more or less the note I wrote to my donor, to be given on the day of her retrieval, rewriting from memory.  It took six drafts to say properly, in a way that wasn't mawkish, in a way that wouldn't scare this lovely woman from us in the future if we ever reached out.  I could write endless pages to her, why we chose her, how we ended up needing her eggs..... but I chose to leave it simple.

From what I see, lots of donor egg recipients offer tokens of their appreciation.  After a lot of consideration, I decided against jewelry - even though I found a really cool tree of life pendant -  and went with two small items, both in the comfort category:  a set of really beautiful handmade aromatherapy soaps that I got at a craft fair, and a set of drawing pencils with sketchpad.  The donor had noted in her profile that her favorite downtime activity was painting, that all of the art work in her house she painted herself.
 
02/20/2017

This is a difficult note to write, because there aren't words to express the gratitude that we feel for your generosity.

The road for us to get this point has been long and hard.  I want you to know that regardless of the outcome, you have given us an enormous gift:  Hope.  Thank you for giving us hope.

I hope that you have an easy recovery from your retrieval.  And I truly wish for you all of the best in anything you choose to do in the future.

Sincerely,

Intended Mother




Friday, February 17, 2017

Time for some laughter

Scene:  Walking out the clinic's office into the parking lot, Viking  - a giant bear/lumberjack of a man for your visual - has just done his part....

V: "(In hushed tones) That was crazy."

J: "More insane than the last time you contributed to this operation?"

V: Yeah."

J: "Was the porn at least good?"

V: "Well, this time there were magazines.  And there was a cute girl with a gap in her teeth on one of them"

J: "I'm glad she was there to help."

V: "But the room was SO SMALL.  It was, like, a bathroom.  And there was a robe in there, but there was no way I was gonna put it on.  And it was tight in there.  I could barely move.  Seriously, I know I'm big but who could fit into such a tiny room?  And there were all of these empty specimen cups on a shelf, and I took off my messenger bag, and of course I knocked them all over, and had to pick them all up, making a huge racket.  And the guy outside was probably like, "Wow, he's really going at it in there"'

...And there was a CD player in there, why was there a CD player?"

J:  Mood music?  Maybe people bring their own CDs?  Like Barry White?"

AND SCENE.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"We've done what we could"

Legal agreements have been signed with our donor - who remains anonymous and is currently open to future contact by her genetic offspring, if they so desire, on her terms.

As Viking said, "we've done what we could."  From what I've seen, clinics have far fewer options for open donors that don't require shelling out $30K for an agency to find the donor for you.  We felt lucky to find the donor pool we've found in our clinic.  At this point we have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

It's not airtight.  I worry about the future - the possibility that if I was able ever to bear a healthy child, they might hit a wall in a search for their genetic family tree.  But then I remember that our DNA will be on Facebook in 20 years, given where genetic testing and ancestry.com is heading.  Then again, maybe I'm just a natural-born worrier who can worry her way out of a pot-of-gold.  Fuck, unicorns trouble me, with their pointy horns that could poke your eye out.

I'm wired this way.

Now I can go back to worrying about producing 8 embryos with Viking's sperm, PGS testing them, and finding a few healthy ones.  Because surely I will miscarry one of those suckers.  It's what my body knows how to do, right?

We head to the clinic tomorrow, to deposit a sperm sample, talk to a genetic counselor about DOOM and then lay out $14,000 for a package that includes 8 eggs.

Ugh.

Maybe I'm due another trip to my therapist.

Monday, February 13, 2017

And then we move backwards? Maybe? (Updated)

The donor is now unsure about future contact.  Reviewing the terms of the legal agreement I've had drafted up - with her attorney who I am paying for - she is now, I guess, realizing that the contract is being put into place to ensure that she allows any future offspring to contact her (when they reach adulthood).  She's also struck out the language about registering on the Donor Sibling Registry because it's too much of a lift to update her medical information with them and she's "worried she will forget."

Fuck.

A little bit of family law for y'all.... so, she is definitely willing to execute a clinic's consent form to be contacted in the future, BUT, that particular consent form also allows her to back out of the agreement if she changes her mind.  THIS is why I had a lawyer draft a separate contract with the donor in the first place, because that form is not enough to protect the rights of any child to identify where they came from.

This is hugely worrying.

And believe me, I am trying to be empathetic to her qualms.  It IS a huge mental leap to agree to contact with your genetic child (if THEY request it).  It's also a huge mental leap to know how you will feel about something in 18 years,  God, I get it.  I thougt that because she wasn't a young woman fresh out of college (she is in her later 20s) that she would be a surer bet for agreeing to put it in writing.

ETA: it's also understandable from a legal perspective, that she doesn't want to be held liable for breach of contract if some event in her life makes her want to not disclose her identity. Viking also noted that she could be in breach of contract if she merely forgot to update a donor sibling registry medical questionnaire. Which could be frightening on her end. We are sympathetic.

You have to know why I am so intense about this: After meeting with our counselor, Viking and I were so on the same page that "open to future" contact had to be on our list.  Not that we cared about future contact for us.  It's for the child.  Yes, to a great extent, it's me projecting "what may be" on a kid that isn't born, I know.  But the counselor we met with functioned as a sort of proxy for this child, and their rights, and believed so strongly that like cases of adoption, the child has the right to know where they come from.

Jesus.  This is a nightmare troubling development.  What I want is to cycle, to be a mother.  But once again, OMG, I am being put in a position to roll the dice on the comfort on my potential unborn offspring. What if moving forward with this donor means that they may never be able to learn where they came from if she changes her mind?

ETA: On the other hand, for now, she has signed a clinic consent where she agrees to contact.  And our contract will have her be available for medical emergencies.

All of this has really driven home how important it is to review these clinic agreements with a lawyer, to really understand what you're signing.  I want her to understand what I hope for my child.  I want her to understand that she's not consenting to ever be the mother of this potential child.  It's really a predatory industry, isn't it? 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

It's happening

Viking and I are headed back to the clinic next week.  The donor we've chosen has started stimming.  Viking will be providing a semen sample, some blood, we'll be talking to a genetic counselor (futility) and we'll be signing lots of scary documents and locking down eight of our donor's eggs.

It's mind-numbingly real.  Viking will be headed back to the clinic sometime the week of the 20th when she undergoes her retrieval, to provide fresh sperm, because you guys, they will be making our embryos with fresh eggs and his sperm. 

Our embryos, yo.  This is insane.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Maybe

My pregnant best friend at work (PBFAW) is now almost 36 weeks.  Her first daughter is 16 months.  She has no idea that I've had two chemical pregnancies during the period where she's been growing a whole big new beautiful baby.

Today we hung out at the home of our mutual friend, the one and only woman who I have chosen to share all of this with.  Mutual friend has trudged through IVF (own egg) and from it she now has a beautiful son.  But she is the chosen one, because like me she didn't talk about it.  NO ONE at work knew what she went through, and I have chosen her as my sorta IVF spirit guide because that's the thing I get most hung up about.  Hiding this bullshit from the world, and particularly my nosy office.  Which wants my all of my fucking time.

(Full disclosure:  some of you, my readers, actually *know* me.  I am not an anonymous voice out here in the wilderness, but a living breathing person, with a face and a pitch in her voice, and a supposedly energetic laugh.  I walk through life assuming you read my words, and yes, you are welcome to discuss whatever you read here with me.  Just never around my daughter).

The Viking doesn't really appreciate what kind of emotional energy I spend keeping my shit together around pregnant women, love them as I may.  Or their babies.  When we visited the therapist together, he got a glimpse of it.  The therapist gently tried to get him to understand why I view all of my losses as babies, and how much grief I am immersed in.  He remained steadfast in saying something along the lines of:  I feel helpless dealing with my wife's grief, and I feel like if I grieve, we're both gonna be in a lot of trouble. So I'm not going to grieve.  He just can't do it, even though the grieving is an incredibly isolating part of my personal existence. 

Any way, back to brunch: PBFAW was in a lot of pain, and being a fitness wannabe yogi, I was able to give her some gentle stretches that gave her a lot of relief.  And of course all I could think back to was Niblet.  How pain free that pregnancy was, how fucking beautiful, how slender and fit I was, how the only time I really wanted her out of me was around 37 weeks, when I was a walking house at 5 feet tall and could no longer see my feet.

Those were good times, and the only way I can survive the next few months is to imagine myself maybe, just maybe, recreating myself again.  As a woman who brings life into the world.  I beyond sick of my body functioning as a living graveyard.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

never-ending wait

Time is slowing down in this alternative reality I live in, where my facebook feed is filled with breathless anxiety, while I am stuck.  Literally stuck.

Our attorney has drafted a contract with the donor, and I am waiting to hear back from my clinic on whether she will sign it.  We visited a social worker/therapist to get a required report on our understanding of all of the ways in which this process is well unusual and delicate.

Actually, Viking and I both found the talk with her surprisingly helpful.  I'll write more on that possibly in another post, because really, thinking through the details of how to unfold your child's origin story is an essay unto itself.  The main takeaway, for both of us, was that the origin story of our child should belong to them.  So it's critical for us be mindful about who we tell, who we don't tell, and how we allow it to unfold.

But other than that, I'm sitting here a little anxious.  After so many years, it could be happening, and I feel like the biggest pieces are in stasis:  Putting down the FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS we have scraped together for the eggs.  Getting on the fuckton of drugs that I will need to be on to eventually undergo a FET.  It's all a little more than overwhelming.

And then there's the fact that I am probably the most delicate snowflake imaginable right now.

Twins Bey?  Really, thanks, I needed that. 

Between George Takei presenting a heartwarming story a few days ago on facebook, featuring a "family who beat the odds" in choosing to carry their little girl who was struck with Celine's birth defects.... and the nice women in my support groups who are sprouting miracle pregnancies, I am wallowing in more than a little bit of unhealthy self-pity right now.

Who am I kidding?  I would probably be best off hiking into the wilderness for a few days.  I don't think I would be triggered by trees and squirrels, right?

Sigh.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

The quiet violence of perpetual loss and longing

Sometimes I like to tell myself that the way Celine's life ended - via a D&E that was proceeded by an injection to make her heart stop beating - was the least violent way to end it.  That surely being hooked up to feeding tubes and breathing tubes, and experiencing the potential pain of a heart that was malformed and a belly with none of her organs inside of it would be a more painful way to go.

My miscarriages, with the exception of one blighted ovum and a series of chemical pregnancies, are mostly notable for their lack of blood.  They were all missed, silent, and dealt with by the quiet efficiency of a surgeon's hand.

But there's a toll to be paid, even when you haven't experienced the dramatic bursts of blood that characterizes the few miscarriages I've seen portrayed on screen.  And for the record, I know women who have experienced those losses first-hand.  Fuck if people don't diminish their grief on a daily basis, even when the action of their loss was bloody, potentially life-threatening and clearly visible to a bystander.

I've been diagnosed with PTSD.  I've written those words now many times.  When a soldier returns home from a battle field it's so easy to imagine the cause of their trauma.  Sure, I'll grant that Americans don't like to imagine the carnage of war, most of have have been too far removed from it, particularly since the days when images were televised in the Vietnam-era.  But we certainly try to portray the accuracy violence and gore of battle on TV or in movies and the most popular shows on netflix and amazon are notable for blood.

For women who experience the trauma of repeated pregnancy losses, though, there isn't exactly a booming media market portraying our stories.  So sometimes, the violence is quiet.

No one can give you anything other than a blank stare when you attempt to casually relay to someone that you've lost five or six or seven babies.  And I can bet money that no one wants to even imagine it, let alone see it portrayed somewhere.

It's a really weird life to live.  Every day, you wake up and accept that you have experienced trauma.  That without a shadow of a doubt you will be triggered that day.  You won't know when, you won't know how, but goddamn, you will experience it.  You will look like a completely normal person, you will put on some make up and nice clothes and do your hair and you will smile, and as a result no one in your day-to-day life will ever see or understand the violence that's been perpetrated on you.

I'm writing these words for anyone who will read them because people have to know....  If you live this double life, I am honoring you, as fully as we would honor any soldier.  You did something enormously brave:  You tried to bring a life into this bat-shit crazy world, and in the process you ended up with a lifetime of grief and trauma.

I see the violence around you.  I can't make it better but I can acknowledge it.

I see you.

Friday, January 20, 2017

I've gotta secret

My therapist/grief counselor and I had a lengthy talk about what I think will be near the top of the list for the most difficult aspect of a future IVF cycle:  the Secrecy.

My PBFAW (pregnant best friend at work) divulged her latest soon-to-arrive baby at 7 weeks.  Read that:  SEVEN WEEKS.

Oh my god, what must it feel like, to be so confident that nothing can go wrong, that you are comfortable with your colleagues knowing?  I didn't even come close to sharing the impending arrival of the Nibble until around 12 weeks.  And that was because the Viking fucking outed me at a party where I wasn't slamming down the gin and tonics (thanks Dude).  And Whoa.  I am sitting here imagining how I hide a pregnancy - if I am so lucky - until a 20 week anatomy scan.  I'm sorry fashion mavens on bbc boards, but oversized sweaters and brightly colored scarves are not the answer you seem to think they are.

Then there's all of the other secrecy.  The shots (lupron probably, and progesterone), the monitoring, the scans the blood draws.  I've done this before (well, without the shots), and I can probably do it again.  But I've also gained a higher profile in my office since my last later loss at 11 weeks, because well,I've gotten very good at my job.

And then there's the nibble.  Hiding all of this bullshit from her.  God, good luck to me, she's nosy as all fuck and quite the detective, unsurprising given her newfound love for Nancy Drew.

Yeah, it's times like this that I wish I had the luxury to quit my job.  Now, I don't personally know anyone who ever had this option, not in the circles I run in, but strangely this is a phenomenon, maybe on the upper east side of NYC, the women who eliminate their stressful careers to cycle?  God Bless em, every one.  I am seething with jealousy, but hats off to you sister.

I have been feeling anxious about all of the work that maybe won't get done in all of this.  My concentration skills have fallen to shit as it is with the insanity of the logistics of DE, but I am fairly sure the lead-up to - and potential for - an actual pregnancy - will make me a pretty crappy employee of the giant mission-driven organization I work for.  My therapist was actually a bit helpful here:  You've given them enough.  

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Yeah, let's slow down here.  OK, one step at a time. 

I've got a secret step one:  Withing the next few weeks I will be signing a contract with a talented anonymous egg donor who has beautiful big brown eyes, and will lay down fourteen thousand dollars to purchase eight of her eggs after she undergoes an IVF cycle.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Speed of light

In April, I will reach the official five year point of being on a ride from hell.  Five fucking years of pregnancies and dead babies.  You know, I am cute as all fuck but I can't believe to impress upon any of you how much younger I was before I was haunted by the unimaginable haunting of dead babies.  Not to mention physically wrecked.  Do you know that I am seeing a diabetes counselor in a few weeks because my blood sugar - and weight - won't go down?  This is sort of embarrassing for a fitness instructor, but I am positive it's because of the goddamn hcg that's been coursing through my veins for too many weeks to count.  Ok, scratch that, I can count, it's up to 53 weeks now.

I just want to be a fucking normal person, who has an embryo implant in her uterus and 9-ish months later, holds a baby. With all of that said....

The donor will agree to future contact with her genetic offspring, should that offspring desire it.  So our decision is made.

(Now, I should note that in virtually every DE blog I read, something goes wrong here, and the couple is back at square one.  I have no reason to believe that anything will go right in this process, so that could be us too in two weeks.... but for now at least, we have chosen a donor).

 And here is point where everything seems to move at the speed of light. 
  • Saline sonogram?  Check.  Uterus is still shockingly normal, fibroid and polyp free.  Cervix is good too, nice and long, except for some sort of cyst like thing (that better not be hpv or cancer or any other bullshit that I am sick of).  Did I mention I have to have a follow-up Pap?  Sigh.
  • Psych Consult?  Scheduled with the Viking in about two weeks.
  • Lawyering up?  Check.  I'm about ready to sign a retainer agreement with an attorney, in order to eventually draw up a contract with the donor.
  • Local monitoring?  Check.  Found a clinic that isn't BABIES GUARANTEED (THANK YOU JESUS, SINCERELY AN AGNOSTIC JEW).
So, what remains on the list?
  • Finding an OB (getting closer)
  • The money (getting closer)
  • Going in for another trip to the clinic including: a follow-up exam, a fun porn-room excursion for the viking,  and another fun talk with a genetic counselor about how "Really, Justonemore, you just are the victim of an unusual number of lightening strikes, you have nothing to worry about."
 What's not on the list but helpful to my peace of mind?  I talked to Mom.  She is supportive.  She fundamentally gets how I ended up here and why I am choosing this path.  She's unsure about how it would all play out,  it's a brave new world after all, isn't it, but her support is making this a million times easier.



Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Choice

Aaaaaannnnd now we come to the post that has been looming for some time.  The donor.  How to choose.

There are a million ways to start here, but I'll dive in.

If I'm lucky enough to ever experience the joy of giving birth again (and I am skeptical that this is even possible), I plan to be honest with my child.  Age-appropriate honesty, but yes, I am in the camp that wants my child to know where they came from.  And be able to reach out to this incredible human being with questions if and when they arise.  A donor who is open to future contact, is therefore, pretty high on my list.

I want Niblet to know too, and our closest family members.  But that's it. My fertility novel is kept pretty close to the vest, primarily to protect the Nibble.  But also because it is, frankly, an exhausting story to tell.  If the Viking and I embark on this final frontier, we will have traveled a very long road to get here - from the partial molar pregnancy of the innocence of my thirties, to the point where my biggest (and most treatable problem) was Asherman's Syndrome, to the soul-sucking world of recurrent miscarriage, to the PTSD-inducing awfulness of Termination for Medical Reasons, to the out with a whimper losses of repeat chemical pregnancies...all these miles and seemingly endless mountains to this.  Donor Egg IVF.

This very long intro is my way of saying that sometimes, I, myself, can barely believe what I have been through.  And the last thing I want is to after years. of. this. bullshit. is to have to talk to people about how I birthed a red-headed, freckled baby with green eyes.  SO, with all of that said, I am seeking a donor who bears some physical resemblance to me.  She doesn't have to be as short as me (true story, I was attracted to my husband because he can reach high shelves), she doesn't necessarily need my exact eye color or hair color, but honestly, a nice-looking, medium complexioned, brown-haired, brown-eyed woman who tans easily would really make my life just a teensy bit easier.  Niblet looks like a swedish meatball - all blond hair and hazel eyes and jesus she's tall, and for the first two years of her life I couldn't see any of myself in her.  But I'm there. Her sweet dad likes to say she "got her pretty from her momma."  It's sort of true.

Now, for women who have had failed DE cycles, there is only once choice that matters.  The proven donor, that donor who has cycled before, cranked out as many eggs as can be imagined, and her eggs have resulted in babies.  Preferably more than one.

I used to think talents were a crap-shoot, until we discovered that Niblet is a beautiful dancer with natural musicality.  Like her mother and grandmother before her.  So, yeah, I won't lie, a little artistic ability would be awesome, it is, apparently, inheritable.  So if it's a toss up between the donor who played violin for 23 year and won competitions, versus, say the hypothetical long distance runner and track star, I'm gonna choose the musician every time.

So here I am.  With a donor who recently joined my clinic's roster, who is currently being screened by them.  She has brown hair and brown eyes.  Not a freckle on her. Her eyes in her childhood photos actually resemble mine as a kid.  She is very pretty, actually, probably more WASP-ishly pretty than my admittedly straight-outta-the-shtetl prettiness.  She has played violin for 23 years, her mother in fact, is a music teacher, musicality reportedly runs in her family.  Her answers to the standard questions were sharp and articulate and didn't raise any extreme red flags.

Tomorrow I travel to my clinic early in the morning, for an exam and a saline sonogram. I have also reached out to a lawyer to discuss what a donor egg contract would look like.  The viking and I have $15K in a home equity loan, but we would likely need to pull together a bit more if we want to work with more eggs.  Which I think we do. I have six thousand in savings at my disposal.  I know how lucky we are.

We would be doing a FET.  There's no way in hell I can do a synced cycle, and I am pretty sure I want to PGS those embryos anyway.

This is getting so real that I barely feel any emotion at all, I can't afford to.

Move along, nothing to see here, just a potential last-ditch crazy effort to fill a long-empty room in my house that currently doubles as storage.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Another New Year

Well, away we go. 

Thinking about how I am gonna get my $hit together these next few months is already giving me hives.

So. Many. Appointments. While holding a demanding full-time plus job.

I spent a few days last week rusticating at the Ocean, and it was quite needed.  No work, no emails, no blogging, no babycenter or other forums.  Just the Viking and the Nibble and I hiking at a National Park and swimming in the hotel's indoor pool (thanks Groupon!)

But now reality is smacking me in the face:  I still want a baby, despite the speed at which I'm aging.

So, today, I got back into to my office before 9am, cranked out a bunch of emails and work-related edits to all kinds of written reports I supervise, then shot off an email to the Donor Egg Coordinator at my clinic.  Can I get my day 3 testing done tomorrow at a local clinic?  Can I schedule an exam?  Who can I call about the required session with a therapist/social worker, since I am out of town?

My hats off to all you who who are IVF cycle veterans.  Jesus, I am pretty good on the organizational skill front, but this requires a whole new level of upping my game.  Cycling at a clinic that's about 2 hours away is no joke.  Part of the issue is that usually this stuff all gets scheduled after you pick a donor.... but we are still trying to figure that piece out (for another post).

All of this while attending to Niblet's schedule:  Bi-weekly Dance classes, talent show auditions, play dates, doctors' visits, an 8th Birthday party in less than two weeks that I haven't even begun to figure out apart from "Let's invite up to ten friends to our house to eat cake in the playroom and watch a movie."

I am clearly insane for wanting to bring another helpless little person into our already chaotic lives, right?