Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A few days later, Atomic held my wedding ring as they wheeled me into the OR for a D&C. He later told me that the sight of me on the gurney, being wheeled away from him, nearly made his heart stop with fear.
After the miscarriage, we received many loving messages from friends, family, and colleagues. Many people gave me hope that we might conceive again quickly. The first pregnancy primes the pump. Your body knows how to do this now. Only one, in sharing her own miscarriage experience, warned, "You know, it could take a while to get pregnant again. It took us a year." I didn't like hearing that at the time. I wanted a new baby NOW.
I had naive hopes that we would conceive again right away. After a few months of trying, I downgraded my hopes to a pregnancy before my original due date. That day came and went, along with my 39th birthday.
We found out my ovarian reserve was low. And that I have a funny shaped uterus. And that I had scar tissue from the D&C. And that I have a dip, kind of a quasi-septum. And that I have adenomyosis.
We tried intrauterine insemination. It worked, and then I miscarried again.
More milestones: The one-year anniversary of when we found out I was pregnant. One year since we'd told our relatives. The Christmas that was supposed to be at our house because of the new baby.
On Monday, Atomic's heart leapt again as he held my wedding ring and saw me wheeled off on a gurney for a second time. Only this time, it was to retrieve the seven eggs that maybe, just maybe, will make our dreams come true.
We don't know whether this IVF cycle will work. We don't know whether, at this moment, our six fertilized eggs are growing, or whether they are healthy, or whether they have the right number of chromosomes in the right places, or whether they will nestle in and stick to my uterus, or whether any of them will grow and become a baby.
What we do know is that one way or another, when the time is right, and regardless of whatever milestones have passed, we will be parents.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
- The ovaries need to respond to the drugs and grow some follicles
- The follicles need to mature
- There must be some eggs in those follicles
- The eggs need to be of decent quality
- There's got to be sufficient sperm to fertilize them
- The eggs need to fertilize
- The fertilized eggs need to divide and grow for a few days in vitro without falling apart
- The embryos must attach to the uterus
- And stay attached
Friday, January 26, 2007
Slow and steady, and an airflow chassis, win the race, my friends.
As Sister Ignatius* used to say, festina lente.
We'll amble on down to the clinic again tomorrow and see what's cookin'. As my good friend Cecil once said, "time's a wasting, speedy."
* I did not make that name up. Sister Ignatius was my high school Latin teacher. Mean old crosseyed coot. She changed my life and I will never forget her.
P.S. Happy Birthday to my husband, who is wonderful and loving and amazing and is having kind of a crappy birthday because he's sick.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
I'm getting a little weary of this.
Please, my dear little dozen, please get nice and plump by 11:30 tomorrow so I don't have to keep stabbing myself eleventeen times a day.
Wouldn't it be nice if this actually works? This IS all going to be worth it, right?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
At first glance, it may seem strange to talk about the right to intentionally end a pregnancy on a blog documenting my pregnancy losses and obsessive attempts to start a pregnancy. And, given my fertility issues, one might think that reproductive rights are not something that will have any impact on my life going forward. But one would be wrong.
First of all, my age and egg quality issues present the very real possibility that I will conceive a fetus with severe genetic abnormalities. After all of this heartache, we could conceive and then find out that I am carrying a fetus that would not survive, or that would be horribly disabled. And we might find that out relatively late in a pregnancy. That possibility haunts me. I honestly don't know what decision we would make in that situation, but the important thing is that it would be our decision, and ours alone. We are the ones who would have to live with the consequences, either way. The thought that some government regulation could prevent us from making that decision, or require us to travel to a different state, or require us to sit through some horrid video and lecture while our hearts and spirits are utterly broken, or dictate how the procedure should be done, is nightmarish in the extreme.
Second, we are going to have children, one way or another. And I want them to have the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. I got to finish college, join the Peace Corps, go to law school, move across the country and have a wonderful life and a great career. I got to make all of those decisions for myself, and now I am reaping both the benefits and the consequences of those decisions. I am a more responsible and empathetic person because I got to make those decisions for myself. I want my children to have that, too.
Decisions about becoming a parent are the most difficult, and consequential, that most people ever make. I have shed more tears over these issues than I have over anything else in my life. And even though I have been increasingly open about discussing our fertility issues, it is essentially a very private matter. It is an area where goverment intrusion simply does not belong.
Third, limits on reproductive rights affect women who are struggling to have children as well as those who are struggling not to. I know of a woman who has suffered many miscarriages who discovered, once again, that her fetus had stopped growing. Her doctor told her that the pregnancy was not viable. However, the only hospital in town was a Catholic hospital, and they would not perform the D&C because the fetus still had a heartbeat. She had to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic in a nearby city, run a gauntlet of wackos and dead fetus pictures, and sit through a state-mandated lecture on how fetuses feel pain and how adoption is great, only to discover that by the time the D&C was performed there was no heartbeat after all.
The medical profession calls every pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks an abortion. I have to admit, it was jarring to see my 10-week miscarriage labeled on medical forms as a "missed abortion." But the uniformity of that term underscores an important point. Every abortion is a sad event, and it doesn't matter whether it happened spontaneously, or because the fetus was not viable, or because of the circumstances of its conception, or simply because the parents were not yet ready to be parents. Every pregnancy loss has its own story. There cannot be a one size fits all resolution.
This life is hard enough. I am grateful for the freedom to struggle honestly, to make mistakes, and to try again. Let's not allow anything to interfere with that.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
We have officially unleashed the hounds. I'm injecting myself three times a day: 300 IU of Follistim in the morning and, in the evening, 150 IU of Follistim and 150 IU of Menopur. The shots don't really hurt, and the little gizmo they give you to shoot the Follistim is really cool.
The Menopur is much less high tech, much more mad scientist. I have to pop a huge-ass needle on the end of the syringe, draw the fluid in from the vial, squirt it into another vial (this one filled with the powdered medication), draw it all out, squirt it into yet another vial (also with powdered meds), switch to a smaller needle, flick out all the air bubbles, and then inject it.
Since I'd already done an IUI cycle with injectable meds, I went into this just brimming with confidence, despite the fact that I had to start the injections on Sunday and the injections class wasn't until Tuesday. Oh, sure I know how to mix and inject the Menopur -- no sweat! And the Follistim pen? I'll just figure it out. I'm pretty good a following directions.
Hubris, hubris, hubris.
I'm really glad I didn't skip the injections class, and not just because they gave out Follistim pens in swanky zip-up cases. It turns out, I was, um, doing it wrong.
My doctor had instructed me to inject 150 IU of Menopur each evening. On the little vials of Menopur, it says "75 IU FSH, 75 IU LH." I assumed that 75 + 75 = 150, and thus I should inject one vial.
I assumed wrong. For reasons that are not quite clear to me, 75 IU of FSH and 75 IU of LH = 75 IU of Menopur. I was supposed to inject two vials each evening.
My doctor said not to worry, I probably hadn't messed things up too badly. My pride, however, is quite sorely wounded. I guess we'll see on Friday when I have my next ultrasound how well things are going.
In the meanwhile, I've got a nasty cold and a fever and I feel like dog poo.
Did I mention that this was fun?
Monday, January 15, 2007
And so we still have a long, long way to go before we reach the promised land of freedom. Yes, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt, and we have crossed a Red Sea that had for years been hardened by a long and piercing winter of massive resistance, but before we reach the majestic shores of the promised land, there will still be gigantic mountains of opposition ahead and prodigious hilltops of injustice. We still need some Paul Revere of conscience to alert every hamlet and every village of America that revolution is still at hand. Yes, we need a chart; we need a compass; indeed, we need some North Star to guide us into a future shrouded with impenetrable uncertainties.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
So, last night, I called the clinic's answering service and said, "Ok, I'm on Day 1. Now what do I do?" (Nothing like having random strangers, like answering service people and accidental blog readers, knowing exactly when your period starts!) The nice man took a message and said the clinic would call back this morning.
The phone rang at 8:20. "Yes, you should come in for your Day 2 bloodwork and scan. We have an 8:45 appointment open." At that point, we were still in our pajamas. The clinic is across town, in a touristy area on the other side of what, on a weekday, is often gruesome downtown traffic. It's normally about a half hour trip, all told. "Ok," I said. "We'll be there."
I am, fortunately, well practiced in multitasking, and despite the early Sunday hour, I managed to avoid brushing my eyeballs and putting my contact lenses on my teeth. I'm not sure Atomic fared as well, but somehow we managed to dress ourselves and get in the car.
And then . . . wow. There was nobody on the roads. It's Sunday morning, 8:30 a.m., and this ain't too much of a churgoin' town. We made the trip in 15 minutes flat.
The scan showed 4 little antral follicles -- not great for a normal person, but pretty damn encouraging for someone with scrambled eggs, and significantly better than the lone follicle I had on day 2 of my IUI cycle.
So, tonight I start injecting myself. Two different meds, three times a day. I feel good. I feel ready, mentally and physically. I'm prepared for disappointment, but hopeful nonetheless. Let's see what happens.
Friday, January 12, 2007
- The last few minutes on the treadmill after your ipod has run out of juice (average duration: 16 years);
- The meeting with the client who can neither shut up nor get to the point (and for the one client who might possibly be reading this, NO, it's no one in your department);
- The first few weeks of pregnancy (that's as far as I got, so I don't know if that changes); and of course,
- The 2ww. That's the two-week wait - the time between ovulation and the pregnancy test or, in my case, the time between ovulation and the beginning of an IVF cycle.
I feel like I've been waiting eleventy million years to start IVF. I'm finally near the starting line. We're ready to go, just waiting for the drugs and a new cycle to arrive. Tick tock, tick tock. Are we there yet? How 'bout now? Now? How many more minutes?
The weird thing is that even while time is creeeeeeeeeeeeeping by, it's also flying by. (That's the non-linear part.) That's been especially true this week.
The part of Time that is heading toward IVF is moving extremely slowly. Meanwhile, a sort of jet stream of Time in which I was to prepare for a Very Important Hearing, update my blog, do a bunch of stuff for the Rangers, track down the status of the fertility drugs I ordered from the UK, keep social engagements, locate and throttle the deadbeat neighbor who hasn't paid his HOA dues, water the plants, and do whatever else I was supposed to accomplish this week, seems to have slipped by in a nanosecond. It's gone, all gone, and so many things left undone.
After chasing my tail all week and suffering the interminable wait for this great experiment to begin, I think I'd like to try a new approach. For at least a few minutes, after I publish this post and before I have to schlep to the airport to pick up the drugs that the courier company didn't deliver because of (I'm not kidding) "technical difficulties," I will do nothing.
Take that, crazy non-linear Time!
P.S. Nothing has been postponed until tomorrow. We ended up babysitting tonight.
Monday, January 8, 2007
Saturday, January 6, 2007
The other is to guess the answers to the following questions:
1. What does FSH stand for?
(a) ferrous sulfate and hemoglobin
(b) follicle stimulating hormone
(c) free silly hats
(d) fresh spring hyacinths
2. How many eggs are girl babies born with?
(a) about a dozen, give or take
(c) 2 million
(d) 8 million
3. Which food product do experts recommend avoiding if you are trying to become pregnant?
(e) all or none of the above, depending on the expert
4. Which of the following states are among the 12 that require insurers to cover infertility treatments?
(d) New Jersey
(e) both (b) and (d)
(f) none of the above
5. What year saw the lowest number of children adopted in the U.S.?
6. True or false: Human eggs hatch before implantation.
7. What is the average cost of a single IVF treatment?
(d) $16, 200
8. Which of the following treatments has a track record of success in treating women with diminished ovarian reserve?
(b) high doses of clomiphene citrate
(c) chanting "ugga bugga" over a set of rabbit entrails
(d) laparoscopic surgery
9. Why do IVF cycles get cancelled?
(a) not enough follicles developing
(b) too many follicles developing
(c) ovarian cysts
(d) your check didn't clear
(e) any of the above
10. Essay: How many reproductive endocrinologists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Explain.
Answers will be posted in the comments section on Wednesday.
Friday, January 5, 2007
I've always thought of myself as a good bargain shopper. I seldom pay retail for anything. My heart swells with pride when someone compliments me on the sassy DKNY blazer I bought at the local Goodwill for $4.99 or the adorable two-tone suede pumps I snagged on sale at the Shoe Pavilion.
Nope. Sorry. They don't cover IVF meds.
Ok, what about the meds that are the same ones you use for IUI?
Ok, what about the progesterone I'll need for after the procedure?
It's not like we're going to have to sell our house and live in a van by the river. It just sticks in my craw that this stuff is not covered by insurance. Public employment is supposed to have such great benefits. It's really too bad that I'm infertile instead of being in need of a sex change -- yes, Virginia, that's covered, but not IVF. And I'm one of the lucky ones. In all other respects my coverage is good. There are folks out there who need really necessary stuff like HIV meds and insulin and can't afford it.
And if you think this is a rant, just wait until the children I hope to have are ready to go to college . . .
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Yes, we've done it. We've bellied up to the IVF bar and plunked our money down. I hope the gonadatropin cocktail goes down easy.
Monday, January 1, 2007
For most of my life, the solstice barely registered on my radar. Especially the winter solstice, eclipsed as it always was by the crazy Christmas season. I knew that Christmas was really an excuse for Christians to continue the ancient solstice rituals, but I didn't have any sense of the meaning of the solstice itself.
Maybe it was my getting to know some practicing pagans, or maybe it was the lyrics to a particularly wonderful Nields song, but a few years ago I came to a spiritual understanding of the meaning of winter solstice. I was at a low point, very lonely and wondering whether I would ever find a partner with whom I could share my life. It seemed hopeless. I stood in my kitchen, in the dark, and looked out at the garden. I thought, "Damn. It's so dark, so early. I hate winter. I hate my life. I hate the cold and the rain and the dark."
And then I thought, "But this is as dark as it gets."
Six months and one day later, I met Atomic, the love of my life. And it has never been that dark again.
The winter solstice holds that promise for us every year. It tells us that there is a limit to suffering, and reminds us that our darkest point is also a turning point, the moment at which we begin to turn toward the sun. I'm putting my faith in that promise.