Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dangerous games

I’m officially obsessed with hcg levels. Despite every caveat I’ve read on every webpage I’ve visited that’s said “you can’t read much into hcg levels in early pregnancy,” I’m doing the opposite. I’m trying to read all I can into my two hcg levels, and trying to predict what Thursday’s level will be (assuming everything looks okay). I have set up levels in my mind that will make me (somewhat) happy, and those that will terrify me to my core.

It’s an emotionally dangerous game.

Interestingly, though, despite most doctors’ insinuation that you can’t glean anything worthwhile from early hcg levels, it appears that at least a few studies have found links between early hcg levels and the long-term (or at least first trimester/20 week) viability of the pregnancy. For example, one study seems to have found that, for IVF patients, those women who did not have a level above 100 at 16 dpER were most likely not going to have a viable pregnancy at 13 weeks. (For women whose pregnancies were not viable, the average hcg level at 16dpER was 56 and at 18dpER was115.) And, the average hcg for women who had viable pregnancies at 13 weeks was 169 (16dpER) and 401 (18dpER), respectively, for singleton pregnancies, and 348 (16dpER) and 798 (18dpER), respectively, for multiples.

Another study found that women with hcg levels greater than 200 at 14 days past embryo transfer (they didn’t specify in the part I could read whether it was a 3-day or 5-day transfer) were much more likely to have viable pregnancies at 20 weeks than those who did not. (Of course, this study also found a 19% miscarriage rate with their IVF patients. A frightening, if not altogether surprising, number.)

What I found perhaps most interesting about these articles, though, is that they really squared with the experience I had with my miscarriage. (Granted, an n of 1 is anything but statistically significant, but whatever…) My first beta level was taken somewhere between 18-20 dpo and my level was only 125. (I’m not sure exactly how many dpo it was, because that was in the days before I charted, and it was the month before I got the ovulati*n monitor—ahhhh, remember those naive days?) And, while the number did more than double between the first and second number, had I been armed with this information beforehand, I think I would have known better what such a low beta at almost 5 weeks portended and not been quite as surprised when beta #3 dropped back down to the level of beta #1.

Of course, since I’m far more jaded than I was way back in the day, I’m hardly taking these articles to mean that everything is going to be just fine. I know better. I’ve watched as far too many women—irl and in the blogosphere—who have run into problems that had nothing to do with these early beta numbers.

And, that’s why this is such a dangerous game.

Speaking of dangerous games, hubby and I started playing another extraordinarily dangerous one this morning. It’s called the “start talking about what life might be like next April assuming everything goes according to plan.” We found ourselves wondering over breakfast whether my mother would indeed be willing to take on some of the daycare responsibilities (as her mother did for my brother and me when I was little), and wondering where we’d have to cut down on expenses to make ends meet.

And this game is more terrifying than the first because it means that hope has officially taken up residence in my heart and is measuring for drapes. I can’t escape her now. And we all know what that means. On the one hand, if everything does go according to plan, it’s wonderful. But, if it doesn’t…well, then it’s just devastating.

Two more days until beta #3… Two + weeks until we could even hope to see the heartbeat (I think)… And eight weeks until we’d be out of the all-important first trimester.

I’ve never wanted to fast forward through the rest of the summer so quickly in all of my life…

Monday, July 30, 2007

The difference a few months makes *Updated*

First, if you haven’t already, please send some love to JJ, who just got some bad news about IVF#1. JJ, I'm thinking of you and I'm so sorry.

And also please send some love to Carrie who just got some bad news at her ultrasound on Friday and could use some support.
_________________________________________

This weekend I was down in DC for a friend’s wedding. As you know, I love going back to DC. I love seeing my old friends and visiting my old haunts. It’s funny how much of a difference a few months makes, though.

Last time we went to DC, I found myself really missing the person I used to be before all of this IF nonsense and really enjoying the fact that most of my DC friends were decidedly not in the kids phase.

This time was different, for both some obvious and some not-so-obvious reasons. For starters, we were there for the wedding of one of our friends who we all had wondered if he’d ever get married. He’s a great guy, and he really wanted marriage and kids “some day,” but was sort of your prototypical “toxic bachelor.” He loved to party and drink, and never really dated too many women all that seriously. And, at the time, of my core group from DC, hubby and I were the only ones trying to get pregnant and even really thinking about kids.

But this time, even though only a few months has passed, so much has changed. First, that J got married and looked so genuinely happy and in love was so wonderful to see and was really a sign that things were changing for all of us. It really felt like, this weekend, he entered a different part of his life. I definitely got the sense that this was “it” and that he was ready to move on, with all that that entails.

Also, a couple we’re friends with, who got married just three months after us but who weren’t sure they’d ever have children, have recently started trying. And that definitely put a slightly different feel on the weekend—there was more talk about babies and having children than ever before in this group of friends.

And, of course, there was Thursday’s positive beta. I really had prepared myself to go to the wedding and be really upset that our first IVF hadn’t worked. And, it was truly wonderful to have to steer clear of the wine, and I barely missed having to bypass my favorite old coffee shop.

And so this trip to DC just felt different. While I will always miss DC because I had such a wonderful time there in my 20s, I felt like I was looking at it through new eyes this weekend, if not exactly through the rose-colored glasses I might have once thought would have accompanied a positive beta.

On the train on the way home from DC, I was just sitting and listening to my iPod—which I had deliberately loaded up with songs I hadn’t listened to in forever—and trying to sort through everything I’m feeling right now.

And as I was poking through my library (which includes the most eclectic mix of music from the Foo Fighters and the Black Crows, to Led Zeppelin to Joni Mitchell to Benny Goodman to Emimem to classical), I stumbled upon Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” (I actually think it was Judy Collins who did it first, but either way.)

And I can’t explain why, but that song really spoke to me. I found that it encapsulates how I’m feeling about everything—about the loss of innocence that IF has brought and about the slight nostalgia I have for the hope and pure unadulterated optimism I used to have when hubby and I first began this journey to parenthood. And, most of all, about the lens through which I’m looking at this pregnancy news, and why I have to qualify every statement with an “assuming everything continues to progress well…” because I can’t quite let on—even to myself—how excited I am.

And so, I’ll leave you with the words. And, of course, I’ll be sure to update this post when I hear back from the nurse with the results of beta #2. Please keep everything crossed that the number looks great.

Both Sides Now

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere,
I’ve looked at clouds that way.

But now they only block the sun.
They rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.<

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way.

But its just another show
You leave ‘em laughing when you go.
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
Its loves illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way.

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed.
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
Its life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.
_________________________________________________

HUGE sigh of relief. I just heard back from the nurse--my beta level is 1,224, which is a doubling time of just under 2 days. Step 2--check.

Now what are the chances I get through an entire day before I start worrying about step #3 (Thursday's beta)?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Confession

Because I can’t lie to you, I have to confess that I did break down and POAS yesterday morning before the beta. And, I had a post that I desperately wanted to share with you, but literally right before I hit publish, I panicked. I was like a deer in headlights, and I couldn’t move.

I can’t fully explain what my problem was exactly. I guess just that I was panic-stricken that the HPT was wrong, or that the beta would be pitifully low or something. I guess the real deal is, I’ve gotten two and a half positive tests in my life. And, well, as you know, none has resulted in a real, live baby. So, I both didn’t want to jinx it and could barely believe it was actually true and that the tests were right.

Now, I know what you’re saying: how is it that you had 2.5 positive tests and only one miscarriage, but never had a baby? That doesn’t add up? And, what the hell is ½ of a positive test?

Good questions all.

Here’s the deal. The second month after we began TTC—back in the day when I POAS beginning at, oh I don’t know, 2dpo—I got a very faint positive. I could hardly believe it! I stared at it in all kinds of different lights and got all excited.

Then, within 10 minutes, the second line disappeared.

Curious, I thought. Does that mean I’m pregnant or I’m not?

I of course called the help line, and they said a line means pregnant, no matter what. But, being the skeptic I am, I bought about a million more tests. All BFN.

I count that has my half-positive. It wasn’t a “real” positive, and it was never replicated. And, the line was supposed to stay put for 24 hours, which it didn’t.

Then, there was the infamous miscarriage in March/April of ’06. We all know how that went.

And finally, early last August—almost a year ago exactly—I took a digital hpt (after the disappearing positive, I turned only to our friend the digital) and it clearly said “pregnant.” Again, hubby and I were thrilled. We got all excited and toasted and were so happy to be moving forward.

Then, the next day, I took another. BFN. AF came two days later. And I never figured out if it was a chemical pregnancy or a false positive, though we still suspect the former.

So, as you can tell, my track record with HPTs is less-than-stellar, and my faith in them is almost zero. So, I needed the beta to make it more real.

Of course, because I’m greedy, I got the beta, and now I’m saying, “I just need to get past the point we did in our last pregnancy. I need to get to the first ultrasound. Then it will feel more real.”

I guess the challenge, for all of us, is that, after so much disappointment, it’s so hard not to assume that somewhere along the way there will be more. I hope with everything I am that there won’t be. And, I have more hope right now than I’ve had in a long, long time. But, I’ve got to tell you, I’d give anything for a little nausea or something like that right now! Something that made me feel somehow different and more this feel more real.

None of that is to say we’re not thrilled. We are. I can’t tell you how fortunate and blessed we feel that at least one of our two sticky buns has implanted. As hubby said to me last night, “you can’t have a baby without first getting pregnant. So, while it’s scary to think that this might not work out, we have to let ourselves get excited about this important first step.”

So, as Sarah said in the comments last night, here’s to what’s already happened; here’s to the first step. And, here’s to the hope that there will be more to celebrate in the future.

But, most of all, here’s to my cyclesistas Serenity and JJ. Ladies, I’ve got everything crossed for your betas on Saturday and Monday!

_________________________________________
PS--a huge and extremely heartfelt thank you for all of your kind words, well-wishes and support. I never cease to be amazed by the capacity of support of all of the wonderful women in this community, even those going through much more difficult times than I. You're my strength throughout this journey, and I'm more and more convinced everyday that starting this blog was the best fertility-related decision I ever made. Thank you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Well, smack my ass and call me Judy!

I am SO sorry for keeping you waiting! You've all been so wonderful for checking up on me and sending me vibes! I was waiting to get the results from my beta this morning and didn't get them until just a little while ago (in the middle of a 3-hour marathon meeting). I'm about to run into another, but before I do...

...my beta was 281.

!!!!!

I'm of course petrified and paranoid and thrilled all at once. But, I think that's a decent number, so for now I'm cautiously optimistic.

My next beta is Monday, and I already can't wait. Since I am so paranoid, please don't congratulate me just yet. Just wish us luck and hope, hope, hope along with us that our sticky buns are around for the long haul.

And, more than anything, THANK YOU for your support. I can't express how fortunate I feel to have found such a warm, caring, and compassionate community!

More in a bit!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

D-Day minus 1

I don't have very much interesting to say or report today. I'm feeling pretty much the same way I was feeling yesterday. That is, generally pessimistic and scared. So, rather than dwelling, I thought I'd solicit advice on my current dilemma. Here's the deal:

My beta is tomorrow morning at 8:30am. Do I take an HPT first thing in the a.m. just so that I have some advanced warning about whatever the result is from this cycle--and so that I don't have to get the results, good or bad, smack in the middle of the work day? Or, do I just hold out and field the call from my RE when it comes in, fear be damned?

I'm really torn. On the one hand, if it's negative, it might be good to be expecting it, rather than getting the call and having to put on a brave face in the middle of the day. On the other hand...well, I guess I don't know what the other hand is. I guess that I've held out this long, so I might as well just wait it out.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

7 dp5dt

Warning: An excessively negative and rambling post follows! Read at your own risk.

A week ago today, our two little sticky buns were transferred back. Those of you who told me that I wouldn’t see symptoms yet, I know you’re right. But damn do I wish I had a few to give me some hope that this worked.

And, I hate being negative. Hubby is trying to keep my spirits up, but I just am having such a hard time. I mean, at this point, I feel like I’ve been through so many cycles that were just bright red NOs (literally) that I can’t envision a situation where the clinic calls me Thursday with anything other than an “I’m sorry, but…”

And I want to be able to picture it. And, up until this point, I feel like I’ve always been able to. I’ve been able to imagine what getting a positive would be like. To imagine crying with relief and joy. Of telling my parents. Of waiting on pins and needles waiting for each subsequent beta. Of seeing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

But right now, I really can’t. Instead, I find myself prepping for the call. Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. And just somehow fearing deep down that this is going to be yet another disappointment. And wondering if we’ll ever get to cross over to the other side?

And I know I won’t take a BFN well. I mean, I know that I’ll deal with it, because what’s my other option, really? But where will that leave me? And it breaks my heart to think of how disappointed hubby is going to be if it doesn't work. He's being so cute--saying good night to our sticky buns when he tucks me in at night and begging them to hang on tight. And, I'll feel like I've let him down if this doesn't work, and I'll feel like I've caused him pain.

And I just fucking hate that this is what IF has reduced me to. I want to believe. With everything in my heart I want to believe that this is it—that this is going to be our time in the sun. But I just can’t get there.

That’s why I haven’t even had the urge to POAS. On some level, I want to relish the next two days when there is still the possibility of a pregnancy. And I almost feel like our beta is coming too quickly: Thursday--14 days past retrieval, 9 dpt.

We leave for a friend’s wedding in DC on Friday morning, and I’d almost rather not know at the wedding. I’d rather be left blissfully unawares with the little shred of hope I’d have left. I don’t want to be able to drink. And I don’t want to be able to have coffee again. And I just desperately want to move forward. This is basically our last chance to have a baby before our 33rd birthday. 33! When we started trying, we talked about having three kids before we were 35. What a fucking laugh that turned out to be. We’ll be lucky to have one before then.

And I’m just SO ready to move on to the next step. I want to worry about betas and ultrasounds. Not that I want to worry, but I want forward progress. Like Dianne, I feel so very stagnant. I’m stuck in TTC hell and I just don’t know how to get out.

And now, if this cycle doesn’t work, we’ll be able to say we’ve tried everything. And that nothing has worked. I’m not saying we’ll stop; I’m nowhere near that yet. But, we’ll have tried naturally, IUIs, IVF—everything. There will literally be nothing new to try. We’ll be left just to hope against hope that one of those things has a different outcome in the future than it’s had in the past.

Argh. Hang on, sticky buns!! Please?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

5 dpd5t

Here I am, five days past day 5 transfer, and can I tell you that I haven’t given a single thought to taking an HPT? I know what you’re saying, “That’s so great!” Not really, tough. The reason I don’t feel the urge to POAS is that I just can’t envision a scenario where this actually worked.

Isn’t that pathetic.

It’s not that I don’t hope from the bottom of my heart that our two little sticky buns are nestling in. I really, really do. I want this more than I’ve wanted anything. It’s just that I don’t have a single non-PIO induced symptom. (And, trust me, I’m looking.)

Granted, I don’t know what a non-induced PIO symptom would look like. Nausea, perhaps? Cramping? I think that’s it, because I’m pretty sure everything else (sore breasts, tiredness for example) can be tied directly to progesterone...or to a lack of sleep.

In other news, what a complete waste of space that work retreat was! Ugh. I’ve got to tell you; if you’re going to take people away from their homes and families for three days and two nights—over one weekend day—you’d better absolutely f’ing knock my socks off with the retreat festivities. Needless to say, they didn’t. It was about 1% scintillating and captivating conversations about where we are and what we could do better as an organization; about 49% mind-numbingly boring presentations; and 50% horrifying “team building” exercises.

Here’s my question to you all, am I the only one who thinks that charades and karaoke among colleagues is a terrible idea? I mean, I refuse to do charades and karaoke with my closest and dearest friends and family. So, in front of colleagues? Come on people!

And, it’s not just that I don’t want to do it. It’s also that I don’t need to see our tone-deaf CFO singing “My Way” after three too many beers. Really, I don’t.

And as I mentioned the other day, I did have to room with the co-CEO, one of my bosses. I should have mentioned that we’re a really young office and the co-CEO is basically my age (she’s 35). And we do get along well. But, I’m 32, damnit. If I have to go to a horrible three-day work retreat, I’d like to be able to watch trashy TV on my own in my room before I go to bed and not have to worry about looking weird in front of the CEO, you know?

I know what you’re thinking—how did I do with the PIO shots? Well, that’s a whole different story. After I wrote my last post on Wednesday, hubby gave me my nightly shot, and it didn’t go well. We hit a nerve or a blood vessel or something, and it freaked me out. It just felt weird and hurt and left me a little sorer. And, it made me panic about giving the shot to myself. So I took hubby up on his offer to drive over and give me the shot both nights.

I’m a terrible wife, I know. But thankfully I have the greatest hubby ever.

Needless to say, we looked like quite the pair of IV drug users sitting in the back of a Starb*cks parking lot shooting up.

And all we could think was, “man, I really hope we’re pregnant after all this.”

*sigh*

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brrr….

Brrr…It’s cold in here. There must be some embryos in the atmosphere.*

We got a call today from one of the nurses from my clinic. And, it turns out they were able to freeze two blasts. !! Wahoo!

Honestly, I’m stunned. I’m thrilled, but it seems almost wrong. Like they must have me confused with someone else.

But I’m not going to let my mind go there. I’m going to be really happy about our two nestling embryos, and our two waiting for their turn. I feel on some level like that takes some of the pressure off this 2ww, you know? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I desperately want my two little sticky buns to nestle in for the long haul. But, this is surprisingly good and comforting news. And I’m just going to hope for the best.

In other news, I have to go to a three-day work retreat tomorrow where I have to room with the Co-CEO (yup, that would be one of my bosses). So, that’s going to make getting my nightly PIO shot quite the challenge, no? Hubby has offered to drive to the retreat every night to give me the shot (because he ROCKS), but that seems crazy. It’s 1.5 hours each way for a two-minute shot. Ugh!

Any other ideas? Has anyone ever given themselves the PIO shot? If so, how did it work out? Any thoughts are welcome! I’m seriously out of ideas…

*Bonus points to anyone who gets this reference. ☺

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hang on, Sticky Buns!

First, thank you so much for all of your positive thoughts and well-wishes since the fertilization report! I sincerely appreciate your support--more than you know. :-)
________________________

So, here they are. I know all embryos are beautiful, but aren't ours cute? (I'm kidding...)

The transfer was remarkably easy and quick, considering they just put two early human lives back into my uterus. I mean, I think the whole procedure took about 15 minutes--including the "name and social security checking." Isn't that crazy?

In a nutshell, we got there a little early and they took us back to get changed, etc. About five minutes before the transfer the doctor came in to tell us how things looked: all 8 embryos are still fighting (which is amazing to me), but it sounds like at least a few of them aren't looking great. And there were definitely two that apparently looked far better than the others. So, the doc recommended transferring both, both of which seemed to be graded "B".

They weren't too clear about what the grades of the embryos were, but I saw one that seemed to say 2bc, and the other definitely had a B involved, although I can't remember the full grade. Either way, I don't really know what any of that means. I'm guessing it's good, but not as good as A. (I know, I know. I'm pretty quick, huh?) The doctor said I shouldn't get too focused on the grades. He said they were "good" and that grading embryos wasn't a "science."

Really? Because it all seems awfully scientific to me, what with the lab coats and fancy machinery.

Hubby and I asked a few questions about the risks of twin pregnancy, etc. The doctor explained them, most of which we already knew. And, we ultimately just decided to go with the doctor's recommendation to transfer both blasts. (Apparently if they were both As, he would have recommended transferring one.) After all, he knows more about this than we do, and we would certainly feel blessed with either a singleton or twins.

After the five-minute "how many do we transfer" conversation, they brought me into the OR and showed me the embryos on a TV screen. It was so strange. I mean, this is the first month (other than our miscarriage) when we KNOW where we stand. We know that we have two blasts, and now we've seen them.

Anyhow, we find out tomorrow if they'll be able to freeze any of the remaining 6 embryos. My clinic freezes only embryos that pass some marker of quality at day 6. The doctor thought there was a chance we'd have two or three, but he was definitely non-committal.

If he's right, needless to say, we'd be THRILLED!

But, for now all I'm worried about are our two l'il sticky buns that are (I hope) nestling in for the long haul. And, I have to say that, given how this cycle started out, we feel very fortunate to be where we are. B grades or not, these little embryos have been working their asses off for us this cycle, so we have high hopes for them.

And now we wait...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fertilization report

I only have a minute, but wanted to update you. I just got off the phone with the nurse who gave me my fertilization report. Of the 10 eggs, we have 7-8 embryos. (7 solid and one that they're "watching.") So, I'm scheduled for a day 5 transfer (Tuesday), though I'm on call for a day 3 transfer. (I guess if a bunch started to arrest or something, they'd bring me in on Sunday.)

To say we're thrilled would be an understatement. But, at the same time, I'm finding myself really nervous. Like somehow two bits of good news in a row means that the other shoe is going to drop or something. I know, I'm mental. But I guess that's what IF does to you. It's hard to endure almost 2.5 years of bad luck and bad news and NOT think that way, I suppose.

But, for now, I'm happy. I feel so oddly proud of my 7-8 embryos or something. And I know they won't all make it, which makes me kind of sad, actually, but I'm trying to keep my spirits up, to hope for the best, and I'm looking forward to Tuesday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fancy that

Retrieval was today—all in all it went well. It was definitely pretty intimidating, though. Big hospital, OR, anesthesiologist, etc. Yikes. I was pretty nervous. They had me hooked up to some machine that lets you hear your heartbeat, and as more and more people came in (the embryologist, nurse, doctor, etc.) the more you could hear my heartbeat go up. But, then I drifted into a nice, deep sleep. And didn’t wake up or remember anything until after everything was over.

And apparently the first thing I said when I woke up was, “when can I eat?” I was starving. My retrieval wasn’t until about 11:30, and I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight.

I have a one-track mind, what can I say?!

Anyhow, the nurse came over to tell me how many eggs they got. I was expecting 5-6, but hoping for 7-8. You know what they got? TEN! Wowzers. Take that, Smirky. Or shall we call you pessmissivo.

I guess, I’m glad that he didn’t get our hopes up and then disappoint us, but I’ve got to tell you that I feel a little like that was a lot of worry for something that turned out to look not nearly as dire as he was intimating.

Unless of course 5 of them are immature…but let's not go there...

Anyhow, I’m just happy. That’s more eggs than I thought we’d get, so hubby and I are pretty excited. Fertilization report tomorrow! Now I’m off to relax and smoosh with my dog. Fingers crossed that we get more good news over the next all-important 3-5 days.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Support

Please go over and show some support for Kristen at the Sticky Bean Preconception Journal. She lost her baby today at 11.5 weeks and could use some love.

Stims watch, Day 13

That’s right folks, today will be thirteen days of stims. You may remember that back on on June 27th, when I started all of this, I said, “I think it’s going to go really fast from here on out.” HA! What a joke. I took a few days off this week and cleared my schedule figuring my retrieval would be over the weekend and my transfer would be during the week or next weekend. What a joke that’s turned out to be! I went in for another scan today. The biggest follies look like they're ready to go (18mm), but depending on how my E2 looks, Smirky says he wants me to do one last night of stims and trigger tomorrow. That would mean I’m looking at a Thursday retrieval and a Tuesday transfer (assuming a day 5 transfer). So much for that big Tuesday meeting.

Do I never learn? You just can’t plan this stuff…

Anyhow, my E2 level on Saturday morning was over 1,000, so I guess that’s good. Sadly my follie count is still not great. The right ovary has started to kick in, but the follies that are growing there are measuring about a week behind, so the chances of getting a mature egg out of ‘ol righty are slim to none. Helas…

But, despite the ups and downs, it looks like our IVF cycle is indeed on, and that (fingers crossed) we’ll get 5-6 eggs. That's good, though not great news. Of course, there’s still a long way to go from here, but I’m glad the stims part wasn’t a total bust.

Anyhow, I’m as sick of talking about this as you are of hearing about it. Thankfully, a little while back, the lovely and talented Sarah at For the Flavor—who just hit the 20-week mark! Hooray!—tagged me for the Polarity meme. And, because I’ve been so cranky, it seems fitting to list 10 things I can’t stand. And perhaps listing the 10 things I love will help me find a little bit of optimism again. So, thanks for the tag, Sarah!

10 Things I can’t stand:
  1. INFERTILITY. (Though, I’d happily list this all ten times.)
  2. Traffic-especially traffic caused by rubbernecking. If we’d all just drive there would be no traffic! It’s infuriating.
  3. Slurping.
  4. When hubby doesn’t hit the trip meter when he fills the gas tank. I know, I’m a freak. It’s my thing.
  5. The sound that cardboard makes when it rubs against itself. (ack! It wigs me out even writing about it. I HATE it. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.)
  6. Bugs. All bugs. But the greater the number of legs, the worse it is.
  7. When someone I love has his/her feelings hurt. It absolutely breaks my heart.
  8. Waiting on line. I’m so type A.
  9. Having my picture taken.
  10. Horror movies. The good ones freak me out too much, and the bad ones…well, they’re just awful.
20 things I love:
  1. Misha’s coffee. It’s the greatest coffee EVER. I lived around the corner from it for years and even got a job there while I was in grad school to support my habit. It’s that good.
  2. Gerber daisies. They’re my favorite flower (and my tattoo).
  3. Ratatouille—both the new movie (which is so cute! And the dish. Mmm…The French family I lived with used to make it for me all the time and it was my favorite.)
  4. Chocolate sprinkles. Hubby mixes them into my ice cream (for even sprinkle distribution, of course) and it’s so delicious.
  5. Getting pedicures with my girlfriends. It’s what I miss most about living in DC—my friends and getting together with them for silly girls days. *sigh* I miss them all terribly.
  6. Having someone brush my hair. If I were rich, I think I'd have someone wash and style my hair everyday.
  7. The Four Seasons Maui. We spent a couple of nights there for our honeymoon and it’s like the most relaxing place on earth.
  8. The Little Prince. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. We have two halves of my favorite quote from the book engraved on the inside of our wedding rings.
  9. Trashy magazines (think US Weekly and People) It’s my thing…I love them.
  10. The way hubby tucks me in every night before we go to sleep. It’s so cute—he tucks the covers around me and fluffs my pillows and gives me a kiss good night. He’s too cute.
So, there you have it. And, if these ladies are up for it and looking for a fun distraction, I tag Amy (Waiting for…?), Amy R (So when will you have kids?), and CAM (Infertility Diary).

Saturday, July 07, 2007

My right ovary has flown the coop...

Just a quick update before we head up to hubby’s brother and sister-in-law’s house to see their new baby (*sigh*). I went in for another b/w and ultrasound, and we’re still where we were at the last update. The left ovary has 5-6 follicles, the biggest of which is 16mm and the smallest of which is about 8mm, with the majority falling between 12-16mm. (I would have expected more growth in two days, no?)

Unfortunately, nothing is going on in the right ovary. There are still a bunch of 8mm follies. I guess they’ve stalled out? It really pisses me off, too, since I’m a righty and all.

In any case, Smirky continues to be somewhat pessimistic. He’s still talking about the possibility of canceling and converting this to an IUI, depending on how the next two days go. It would be our choice, of course, but not a fun choice to have to make.

So, here’s my question of the day: is Smirky just ridiculously pessimistic, or is this a pathetic response? (Clearly my right ovary is pathetic, but I mean would getting 5-6 eggs mean that IVF isn’t really worth it?)

Hopefully my E2 level has risen appropriately at least. I’m just waiting to get a call back from the nurse this afternoon to find out what I should do next.

Also, on a semi-related note, has anyone ever used Ganare1ix before? When I injected it last night, I got this nasty red rash, that has since gone away. But, it’s left in its wake two spectacularly ugly red bruises. Yikes. The other shots didn’t really give me any problems, so I’m wondering what I’ve done wrong. (I asked Smirky and all he did was smirk and say, “It’d be hard to do it wrong.”)

Nice. Thanks for the helpful advice.

Man I wish there was a future's market like hubby described yesterday so we could figure out the odds of IVF even working at this point, given that we basically only have two shots at IVF in total and we want to make sure we give both of them our all.

Good times, really.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Guest blogging...from hubby's desk

Hubby wanted to get into the blogging game, and had a great idea about how we could leverage the power of, well of betting really, to predict our success each cycle. So, the post below comes to you from the desk of Mr. Sticky Bun. (We couldn't think of a clever nickname. He thought of Dough Boy--you know, sticky bun and dough boy--but then he thought you'd picture him, well, you know, doughy. So, for now we'll continue to call him hubby.) Enjoy!
__________________________________________________________________

So Sticky and I have a problem: we want to handicap our cycles to figure out what our odds of success are, but despite our best efforts our doctors and nurses just won't play along.

Sticky: Hmmm...4-5 follicles at 12mm on Day 9. What does that mean for this cycle?
Dr. Smirky: (Smirking) I really can't say.

Typical.

Ah, but would Smirky and his medical brethren be so silent if they had some skin in the game? Might they be more inclined to venture a guess if there was some money in it for them?

Here is the idea: an Iowa Electronic Fertility Market.

The Iowa Electronic Markets is a nonprofit futures markets operated by the University of Iowa. It's a "wisdom of the crowds" kind of thing, where people buy and sell contracts in certain outcomes (for example, political elections). Right now in the US, Slate is using this approach to predict the Democratic nominee for president: http://specials.slate.com/futures/2008/democratic-presidential-nominee/

Why not take the same approach with fertility patients? People could post their medical histories and up to date stats and people with the best knowledge of fertility medicine would buy and sell contracts based on whether they thought the women would get pregnant that cycle, within six months, within a year, etc. And, as an added benefit, we infertiles would have the benefit of lots of data on our chances of success each cycle. For instance, posting data from a poor ultrasound or bloodwork might lead to a drop in the number of people betting on us getting pregnant this cycle. But, if the cycle turned around, the odds would go up and we'd see that data change in real time.

Fertility doctors (and would be fertility doctors) get to feel the rush of matching wits and to make a little money on the side and the rest of us get some candid predictions for a change.

Who's in?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pulling myself back up...

I have a feeling that today’s post is going to be a bit all over the place, so I apologize in advance, and try to bear with me. ☺

First, I’ve been thinking a lot about my post from yesterday; about why I reacted with so much anger towards my friend. Really, I think it comes down to the fact that my feelings were hurt, by my friend, but really by IF more broadly.

As for my friend, in hindsight, I’m fairly convinced that she knew she was pregnant when we went to dinner. I don’t know for sure, and probably never will, but that night, while we had the conversation about her cycles being irregular, it was a strange conversation. Such a strange conversation that I remember thinking, “there is more going on here that she’s not telling me.” I even mentioned to my friend L after the dinner that I was just certain that there was more to the story—that it really wasn’t like her to not track her cycles better and use ovulation kits, etc., and that I just wasn’t convinced she didn’t really know when she was ovulating. B is a planner by nature, and she had done EVERYTHING by the book. Started her prenatals three months before going off the pill. Nixed all caffeine and alcohol long before they started. Went to the doctor for a full pre-conception visit, etc. It would have been wildly out of character for her to not track her LH to ensure she was timing everything optimally. Or not to test regularly to see if it worked.

So now I know—or at least I think I know—that “more to the story” was that she had just recently found out she was actually pregnant. And it hurts me to know that she kept it from me. And I do realize how spectacularly unfair that is of me. If she wasn’t ready to tell, that’s her call, not mine. But, for better or for worse, by holding out so long to tell, she has put distance between us, at least for now.

I also realize I'm partly to blame for that distance. I haven't been above board with everything we've been going through. But, frankly, because of the way she was going to try to announce her news, I can't help but feeling that I was right to think she might not have been the best person to empathize with our struggles...So, I think my reaction yesterday goes well above and beyond a mere pregnancy announcement.

For instance, her not telling me stings a little more than usual because, when she started trying, and when she knew we were having such a hard time, we had a conversation about it. And I told her that I really hoped she’d tell me when she was pregnant. That, even though it might be hard for me to hear (or for her to tell), it would hurt me more to know she kept it from me.

And now, that’s how I feel. I’m sure that wasn’t her intent. But, again, for better or for worse, our feelings aren’t always logical, predictable, or fair.

Of course, having said all of that, the real problem actually has nothing to do with B. The real problem is that my feelings were just hurt because I feel—again—like I’m left to navigate this field of IF hell all on my own. Another friend has proven to be super-fertile. (I don’t have a single friend who hasn’t been so far--every single one who's tried has gotten pregnant in less than four months. Most in only one or two.) And it just hurts. I feel more isolated and alone with each pregnancy announcement. Not that I want people to have trouble—I wouldn’t wish this on anyone—but it was certainly easier before some of them even started trying.

And of course the timing this week wasn’t great either, with all of this IVF news…but that’s not her fault. She couldn’t have known.

The good news (good?) is that, for some reason, I’m feeling slightly more at peace today. I have felt downright frantic for the past few days—with the poor E2 levels, the poor scan results, the upping of the meds, the pregnancy announcement, I’ve just felt out of control. Today, I feel less so.

I wish I could say that it’s because my scan went really well this morning, but that’s not it. Unfortunately, I only have about eight follies brewing, and only about four or five of them look good (about 12mm). The others are closer to 7-8mm each.

So, I’m left in limbo for another few days. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to continue with IVF, if for no other reason than I want to get as much data from this cycle as possible—on my follies, from the fertilization report, and from the number of embryos that result. Beyond that, I can’t say I have much hope that this cycle will result in a real, live baby, though. As much as it pains me to admit that…

But again, for some reason, I feel less desperate than I have for the past few days. I’m reasonably hopeful that, whatever happens with this cycle, we now know more and can start me on a higher dose for the next round. Sure, I wish (and hope?) that we don’t need another round, but I don’t feel like my world will come crashing down if it comes to that. At least right now I don’t…

So, that’s the update. I’m waiting for a call back from the nurse, but I assume that I’ll stay on the same doses of gona1-f and men0pur for at least another few days. So, I guess what I’m hoping for right now is that something good comes of all of this!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

So glad I cancelled THAT dinner!

First, thank you so much for your support over the last few days. I know it's sounds cliche, but I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to vent and get thoughts and advice from people who so fundamentally get what I'm going through. I feel so fortunate to have found this community, and thank you SO very much for your support!

I don't have anything new to report on the ovaries. I go back in for another u/s and b/w tomorrow. And I'm hoping with everything in me that things look better. I had a bunch of 4-5mm follies last time. So, I'm hoping for the same number of 10-11mm follies this time. I *think* that would put me back on track. So, taking JJ's lead, I'm trying to coach my ovaries. Let's see if it works!

In other news, lest you think I’m just a paranoid infertile who fears non-existent pregnancy announcements that she is convinced are lurking around every corner, it turns out I was dead right about this friend. She’s pregnant.

Yup, that’s right. She was trying to plan a dinner to announce the blessed news in person—the day after her nuchal translucency scan.

Oh yeah, did I mention she’s thirteen fucking weeks pregnant? And that that means that she already knew she was pregnant when she took me out for dinner for my birthday. Which means that she flat out lied to me. We had a fucking conversation about how they’d been trying since November, about how her cycles were still not really regular after going off the pill, and it was hard for her to know when she was ovulating, etc.

Either that, or it’s not going to be a problem at all because she was already fucking 6 weeks pregnant.

And, to be honest, I don’t know what I’m more angry about—that she didn’t tell me in May and instead concocted a story about how they were kind of struggling, or that she waited 13 weeks to tell me and tried to plan an in-person surprise.

Or maybe I’m still ticked about the “we’re losing the baby race” comment from months ago. Because, frankly, I’ve never gotten over that. And that, combined with this, tells me that she’s not even trying to see any of this from my perspective.

And yeah, I know that it’s partially my fault because I haven’t been fully keeping her in the loop. But, you don’t need to be a rocket scientists to do the math that 2.3 years plus one pregnancy plus zero children doesn’t quite add up. And that it might call for a little more consideration on her part.

Humpf. More evidence that fertiles just. don't. get. it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Desperate and deflated...

I have to say that I’m so sick of being blindsided by IF. She really never ceases to amaze me with the depths of bad news we can get from her.

Needless to say, I’m feeling particularly crappy and hopeless after yesterday’s scan. I just don’t think there’s much hope for this cycle. Smirky did indeed up my meds—I’m now on 2 amps of Men0pur (150iu) and 300iu of Gona1-F. I have such mixed feelings about the new doses. On the one hand, I’m happy that Smirky doubled my dose—it tells me that he’s serious about trying to make this cycle work.

On the other hand, I’m so, so upset that he had to. I think I know what such a slow response to the meds portends, and I just feel so deflated. And I really didn’t think I could feel any more deflated than I already did after 2+ years of infertility, a miscarriage, and 4 failed IUIs. But, just when you think you’ve hit bottom, IF swings her ugly mug around just to say, “Oh, sweetheart, it could get SO. MUCH. WORSE.”

So now all I can think about is the chances of this cycle getting cancelled (high). And that we’d have to wait out another whole month and start up with the evil, horrible, rotten, no good, very bad BCPs. And, can I tell you how much I don’t want to get back on the merry go round…particularly if I don’t even have the chance to finish this ride?!

Ugh.

And the other thing is that I still don’t feel anything happening in the ‘ol ovaries. I know I just upped my dose 12 hours ago, but I was really hoping for some ovarian fireworks to assuage my fear. None so far.

I can’t say it enough, I just feel so deflated. I feel like a broken record, because I always seem to be surprised when things don’t go exactly right, but it just never occurred to me that my ovaries wouldn’t respond to the meds. Never. I thought we might run into other problems, but not that.

And, here I spent all of this time worrying about “oh dear what will we do if we have too many embryos.” I feel so foolish. Now I just desperately want to produce enough eggs that we’ll get two good embryos out of it. I desperately want to be able to move forward. And that’s just how I feel…desperate…

As always, Dr. Google is cold comfort. He tells me that slow responders have lower IVF success rates. So, here I am. CD7 and already my chances for this cycle are lower. Like I needed any additional help with the bad news.

ARRRGGGHHH!

PS--is there a scenario where being a slow responder doesn't indicate diminished ovarian reserve? I just need to know if my ovaries have started to pack it in...at fucking 32.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fuck this

Yup, that’s how I’m feeling right now. I went in for my monitoring appointment this morning and there is basically nothing going on in the ovaries right now. I don’t know if this is because my eggs are indeed drying up or because he was just way too conservative with my dosage. Here’s how it went down today:

First, I got my blood drawn. I told the nurse that I had started spotting, and she said that was probably no big deal, perfectly normal. (I NEVER spot mid-cycle.) Okay, good. No worries.

Then, I go in for my ultrasound. When Smirky comes in, I told him about the spotting, and he gave a very strange look. I asked, “is that normal? Is it good? bad?” He said, “well, it’s not normal, and it’s not good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. It probably just means that your E2 is still low.”

Awesome. Fucking Day 6 of meds.

He starts the ultrasound. There is still some “fluid” in my uterus (hence the spotting, I suppose). And, he pokes around the ovaries and basically sees nothing. A bunch of 4-5mm follicles. He says they like to see a handful of 10mm follies at this point.

So now I start to worry. “Is this bad?”

“Well, it’s not good. It could be that we started you out too low. I started you on a low dosage because of your age, etc. But, it could be that you’re not responding well and we might need to cancel this cycle.”

“Um…so, I need to worry, then? This doesn’t sound good to me.”

“Don’t worry yet. I’ll let you know when it’s time to start worrying. We’ll probably up your dose again tonight, and if things kick in just a little late, then things could be fine.”

Could be fine. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkk.

So, I don’t know about you, but I read that to mean that, chances are, things are going to suck this cycle. But there’s a chance (a small one) that we can salvage it.

I cried the whole way to work. I’m about to start crying just typing this right now. I really, really, REALLY don’t want this cycle to be cancelled. And for poor response nonetheless. Fertility g*ds, PLEASE, can ONE FUCKING THING go right for us?!? Please?

I just don’t know what to do. I’m waiting to hear back from the nurse right now. I expect my dose of both gona1-f and men0pur to be upped. But now I’m even more convinced that my eggs are drying up. So, I need help.

They started me on 75ius of men0pur and 150 of gona1-f. And that’s clearly doing next to nothing. So last night they upped me to 150 of men0pur.

What were your protocols like? Is it the terrible sign that I think it is that I don’t have a bunch of little follies growing at this point with that dosage?

Oh, and to add insult to injury, the insurance stuff is a NIGHTMARE. It’s not fixed. And I have less and less hope that it will be. Oh, and I think I broke my toe yesterday.

All in all, I’m having an awesome fucking July so far.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Stims watch, day 5

First of all, let me just say that, while I don’t think the sub-q shots are that bad, it’s not a great time of year to have a growing number of tiny bruises along your stomach. And, because I’m doing the gona1-f pen and the meno*pur, I have to do two a night right now. (Soon to be three a night when I start the Ganire1ex.) So, pretty soon I’m going to be out of spaces to jab myself. Stupid IF.

I went in to get my bloodwork done this morning and I guess my E2 wasn’t as high as they would like. It was 77.9 (and at this point they like to see 100-200), so they upped my meno*pur to 150iu. They left the gona1-f as-is. I don’t really know if that’s good, bad, or indifferent, but of course, I’ll bet you can guess where my mind went.

I have to go back in tomorrow for more blood and an u/s. Hopefully I’ve got a bunch of follies growing I the ‘ol ovaries.

It’s funny, I’ve been so obsessed with the ethical side of IVF, I never got around to getting worried about not producing enough eggs. I was always really worried about having too many embryos. How naive, right? But, now that we’re in the thick of it, I’m now officially scared of not creating enough eggs.

I may come late to the game, but I get there eventually.

In other news, it looks like I might be able to let go of that guy I told you about the other day. It’s great news for my team (and for my own mental health), but now I’m starting to feel horribly guilty for having to let someone go. I mean, it’s the right decision, but what a horrible thing to have to do to someone. Ugh. Sometimes I hate managing.

Right, so that’s the other thing--man am I ever crabby on these meds! I’m on the verge of tears all of the time. And I feel really vulnerable. I was supposed to go to my friend’s house yesterday for the day while our hubbies golfed together. I hadn’t heard from her about the time, so I was convinced she just didn’t want to hang out with me. (She’s my best friend from college. We lived together in college, studied abroad in France together, moved to DC together, moved up to New England together with our hubbies…if she wanted to avoid me, she’s been doing a pretty bad job for the past 14 years.) Anyhow, she wasn’t trying to avoid me. We were both just busy. But that my mind immediately went there tells you where my emotions are these days…and that’s not typical for me at all. I can usually pull my sh*t together better than that.

Anyhow, at this point I’m just really looking forward to moving forward. I never thought I’d be looking forward to retrieval, but I kind of feel like this stims process is kicking my butt a bit…

Thankfully, hubby has been letting me play with his fabulous new i*Phone, which provides a nice distraction! (I so want one of my own now...)