Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rock Bottom

I just got out of the shower. One of those showers where you sit on the floor of the tub sobbing for 20 minutes (because god knows you can’t take a real bath and cook those embryos).

I tested today. Big fucking negative. It’s a bit early, I know (9dp3dt), but let’s face it, not so early that it isn’t a reasonable predictor of my imminent failure. And my most reliable symptoms (primarily breast tenderness) are fading away. Just like my embryos.

I wish my heart would just break for good and get it over with. How can I just keep hurting like this, over and over again, year after year? How can I take this much pain? At least when a loved one dies you eventually get past it, right? I don’t know how much more of this I can take. But I don’t see how stopping will make it hurt any less.

I feel so trapped. I wish I could somehow escape this nightmare, run away and find a new life and a new body and a new me. I wish I were 15 years younger, thin and sexy and healthy and falling in love, with my whole future full of dreams and possibilities in front of me.

I wish I could just stop caring.

I wish money weren’t such a big part of this.

I wish I were someone else.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bed Rest for My Busted Ovary

This week has sucked, big time. Sunday morning, right after I left the doctor’s office from getting blood drawn, my left ovary started to really hurt. You remember Low-Performing Lefty? My super-wussy ovary that totally fell through this last cycle? The one that apparently could produce only itty bitty follicles (though many) while Righty was going on to fame and glory? Yeah, that ovary.

I should have turned the car around and gone back for a sono. But you know how it is—I practically live in doctor’s offices, and I just didn’t want to go back. By the time I got home, a carload of groceries in tow, it was really hurting and I was starting to freak out. I managed to get the perishables away before I collapsed into bed, trying not to cry.

Here’s the thing. I’ve had pain like this before. JUST like this, though on the other side. And it landed me in the emergency room alone overnight with an ectopic pregnancy. (Story HERE for those interested in me crying a lot.) So while my rational side was saying that, four days after a 3-day transfer, there was no fucking way it could possibly be an ectopic pregnancy, the less rational side of me was thinking that there was no fucking way I was going to call my doc, who might send me to spend the day in the ER.

And the pain eased up quite a bit once I lay down on my right side, taking the pressure off Lefty. Which was totally not how an ectopic feels, so I felt safe enough in waiting it out. I figured it was probably a cyst or something that had burst, and the worst was over.

But that doesn’t mean I was fine with it. The thing is, I was out of work all of last week, and had been on bed rest for three days (two required by my RE, one precautionary on my own initiative), and Sunday was going to be my day to get things done, ease back into the real world, and get ready to get back to the office. And I REALLY wanted to get back into the office. Staying home is so isolating, and it makes me really insecure.

By Sunday evening, when J finally got home, the pain had eased a lot. A day in bed will do that, I guess. So I figured I’d call my nurse in the morning and see if I had to go in for a sono. I was feeling good enough Monday morning that I confidently told the nurse that the pain was gone, and both she and my RE agreed that it had probably been a cyst and I didn’t need to go in.

But on the way to work my ovary started twingeing again, and by the time I got there it was truly aching. By 11:00 I gave up, called my RE, and took a cab home to get my car so I could go in for my sono. Can I tell you how much I HATE going all the way to work, only having to turn around and go back? Especially because I’m trying to keep a low profile about all this, and I’ve already been out a week (with a couple of days working from home), and I don’t want people wondering if I’m dying or something. (“Something” being the endless speculation I imagine, during my more paranoid times, my co-workers engage in about whether I’m pregnant.)

The good news is this: From the sono we learned that my ovary isn’t twisted, it’s just HUGE (twice the size as Righty) and has fluid around it. From the bloodwork I’ve now learned that it isn’t bleeding, which was one concern. But it is seriously hyperstimulated, and I am on superstrict bed rest. So superstrict that this has been my first chance to even write about it (unlike many of you Carrie-Bradshaw-like cuties out there, I can’t type in bed—I require my ergonomic keyboard, carpal tunnel brace, etc. or I end up seriously hurting). In fact, since Monday afternoon, all I have done is lie down and try to sleep, or sit in my recliner (all the way reclined) and try to watch TV.

I am such a bad patient. I am bored out of my fucking mind! And my body, my poor poor body, needs to be UPRIGHT for god’s sake! Do you know what it does to your digestive system to be laid flat all the time? HEARTBURN! Do you know what it does to your brain to be parallel with your body for days on end? BRAIN FUZZ! Do you know what it does to your muscles to lie there limply for a week straight? ACHING RESTLESSNESS! And I really should have just given in and bought stock in Gatorade. Ugh. Who’d have thought I’d ever get sick of Gatorade???

And so much for keeping a low profile at work. I’m floating the whole “stomach flu” story (not for my boss, of course, but for those not in the know), but how many times a year can you use that one? (“Stomach flu” is my new code at work for “miscarriage.”)

I hate being stuck in the house like this. I feel totally disoriented and exposed at the same time, restless and worthless and paranoid. I just want to be able to go to work every day and do my job like a normal person. I feel like a circus freak. Me and my massive ovary.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Party of Five

So me and my four embryos have been on bed rest yesterday and today. That’s right, FOUR embryos. You know your doctor is desperate when she suggests that you put back four, and you know that you are desperate when you say that’s exactly what you were thinking.

Am I worried about triplets or quads? Frankly, not a bit. I’m worried about a big fucking negative, or (even more likely, in my opinion) another very early miscarriage. We seem to have no problem producing embryos and blasts, but they tend to crap out during the 2ww, or soon thereafter. So, given my history, I’ll be lucky if more than one of them makes it past blast, and if any of them actually develop.

That being said, I’m glad they’re inside now. Part of me wonders (the loopy mystical part of me that seems to be popping up more and more lately) if my embryos will be more likely to develop inside me than in a petrie dish. You know, maybe they’ll just be happier with an honest-to-god uterus surrounding them and the sound of my hearbeat nearby.

Sigh. See what this process is doing to me?

Ah well, on to the 2ww. May it be a less crazy one than usual. (But don’t hold your breath.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Down to Six

This cycle sucks. Six of my eggs fertilized (thanks to ICSI). Just for some perspective, in my last cycle at this point I had 12 fertilized eggs. And please note that I still didn’t end up with one that was good enough to last.

It’s looking like we’re going to do a 3-day transfer (which I’ve never done). I feel like I’m going backwards. This is so discouraging.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Disapponting Eight

Well, it looks like I was right to be concerned about this cycle. Our last three cycles have yielded 11, 12, and 13 eggs. This cycle we came out with 8. Not the end of the world, but certainly not the blockbuster performance I was hoping for. I know, I know, it only takes one. But consider this--even with 13 eggs I still don't see a baby sleeping in my nursery. So 8 just reduces the odds of a great outcome.

Anyway, I'm disappointed. Not frantic or suicidal or anything. Just tired and let down.

Shit, speaking of tired, I just realized that the one thing that was different this cycle was arguably just that: exhaustion. So maybe my work-crazed July had something to do with my wacky response.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted as the fert. reports come in. Thanks for all the love and support, sweeties.

The Harvest

In about 5 minutes I leave for The Harvest, and I'm really worried. I used to get really nervous and scared about the procedure, but I've done it a few times and I know what to expect. No, what I'm scared about this morning is the results.

This cycle has not gone as well as the others. My right ovary exploded immediately into HUGE follicles, while lefty got all shy and wimpy with tiny follicles. We tried to wait for lefty, accepting the fact that we might lose a few of the frontrunners on righty, but lefty never really caught up. So now I'm worried that (a) I'll only get a few good eggs from righty, because the beauties will be lost, and (b) that I'll only get a few frontrunners from lefty.

So I'm worried that I've crapped out on this cycle already. And this was my first absolutely perfect cycle on my part. Every shot taken exactly on time. No pill forgotten.

Ah well, I'm off to face the giant needle up the zizi. Wish me luck. I'll give you numbers today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sometimes You Just Gotta Bitch

Can I whine? Is it all right if I take time out of your busy day to just break down and bitch? Because I am at the end of my rope. And the end really isn’t all that close.

1. I hurt. I hurt all over. My back hurts because I had to spend all performing the Great Flea Eradication. I did things I’m not supposed to do: I vacuumed a lot, and moved furniture, and spent a lot of time bending over at odd angles and picking things up. So my back hurts like hell. And my legs hurt as well, which is probably just as an extension of my back pain.

My ovaries hurt. I think I’ve got another 5-6 days to go before The Harvest, and I’m already so achy I just want to cry. I’m at that point where my ovaries jolt if I take too jarring of a step, or when I sit down, or when I stand up to stretch. And I have a long way to go. And I just remembered that this will only get worse after The Harvest, at least for a week or so. And of course the cramps cause more back pain, and more leg pain. Also my feet hurt. I think they’re swollen or something. I had to take my sneakers off under my desk just to give them freedom.

2. I’m exhausted. I worked (and stressed) my ass off in July with the promise of release in August. Release in the form of sweet sweet sleep, total relaxation, and satisfaction in a job well-done. But I seem to have forgotten how to sleep. I can do it for a few hours, then I wake up and there is just no way to get back to sleep. I know its hormones, but that doesn’t make it any less maddening. By the way, I seem to sleep just fine at my desk here at work. Can barely keep my eyes open.

3. The Bitch Queen is in residence. Not constantly, mind you. Just often enough to take me by complete surprise; she’ll takes over my body when I least expect it, then leave me standing in whatever verbal mess I’ve created, defensive and insecure. Nice, lady, real nice.

4. And as always, in typical I-can’t-believe-I-call-myself-a feminist fashion, I feel like I could live with all of the above if I didn’t look like shit. It seems like every cycle the bloating is worse. I am wearing pants that, a year ago, I had to wear with a belt. And my belly is pushing so hard against the waistband it’s leaving permanent marks on my skin. Let’s face it, I look pregnant. How humiliating. I’m on my last “hide the belly” outfit right now (I only really have 3), and I don’t even know what I’m going to do for tomorrow. Hide under my desk, maybe. That seems like a good solution.

Sigh. If I wasn’t already so overly fat, I’d invest in some serious chocolate for tonight. (Actually, if I had the evening on my own, I’d do it anyway, but I can’t indulge in anything food-related without J feeling like he has to match me bite-for-bite, or eat even more than me, and he’s got much more of a weight problem than I do. So I don’t like to encourage him. Probably better for me that way, anyway.)

Anyone else out there feel my pain? What’s your worst IVF/ART symptom?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Test Tube Babies and Women’s Lib

Today, on my triumphant return from Big-Ball-of-Stress-Land (the not-so-fun theme park where I spent my July), I want to give a shout out to kick-ass women all over this land, and one woman in particular: this world’s first “test-tube” baby, Louise Joy Brown, who turned 30 years old last Friday. In the three decades since Brown was born, 3 million babies have arrived with the help of in vitro fertilization. About 500,000 of them were delivered in America.

I remember the phrase “test-tube baby” from my childhood. I guess I was 6 when Ms. Brown was born, so I wouldn’t have heard about her. But of course she wasn’t the only one, and for a long time “test-tube baby” was just a freakish phrase for a freakish concept. (In fact, I’m pretty sure I thought the baby was grown outside of a uterus as well.) And when I heard the phrase “test-tube baby” as a child, it never occurred to me that anyone was making a baby in a test tube in order to solve infertility, to give someone the child they so desperately desired. It was more like when they cloned Dolly, the sheep. I just thought the test-tube baby was some sort of scientific experiment. Infertility wasn’t a concept I really thought much about. And I never thought to link that crude phrase to much-later awareness of IVF.

So last Friday, when I was listening to NPR as I got ready for work (my morning routine), I was surprised to find myself teary-eyed when they talked about Louise Brown’s birthday. I realized that this first test-tube baby paved the way for my own path right now. Or I guess her parents paved the way, as Louise herself had little choice in the matter. But 30 years ago, while I was climbing trees and eating dirt and digging a hole to China, some desperate and brave couple (and some amazing doctors) were creating life. And maybe they weren’t thinking about it in these terms, but in doing so, they created hope.

I have a love/hate relationship with IVF. I imagine that anyone who’s gone through more than a couple of cycles feels that way. (Sorry ladies, but those who get preggers on the first try just don’t count.) IVF has taken over my life. It has hijacked my body, ruined my sex life (or maybe that was already ruined), exploded my debt, eaten away at my vacation and sick leave, and toyed with my heart. It has raised me to new highs and crushed me down to never-before-seen lows. It has fucked with my soul.

But I am grateful to Louise Brown’s parents for dreaming so big.

I have a bloated gut, and parts of my ass still are numb with random stabs of pain (PIO shots). I have taken out a second mortgage. I have a half-gallon sharps container so full I can’t fit another syringe in it. (I love this sharps container and can’t bring myself to take it to the doctor for disposal. It’s not my first, but it’s the biggest one I’ve ever filled.) I’ve had so many miscarriages that, last week, I told the Court that I wouldn’t be available for any arguments the first two weeks of September due to a “medical procedure”––I literally built in time for my cycle to end in another miscarriage.

But I am grateful to Ms. Brown’s doctors for taking the chance. I am grateful for that tiny embryo that fought its way through to survival.

Today, I love IVF. Maybe I’ll be cursing it tomorrow, but I hope I can remember this feeling. And even if I never bear a child, I hope that I will never regret that I took the long shot, that I gave it my all.

I know Louise Brown’s mama wasn’t thinking of me when she gave herself daily shots, or when they first cut into her to harvest those eggs, or during that agonizing two-week wait. I know she didn’t do it for me. But I thank her nonetheless.

At the same time as I’ve been struck with these musings, I’ve been watching Mad Men. And all I can think about is how frighteningly well it portrays a woman’s role in the early 1960’s. How can it be that this was only 45 years ago? How is that possible?

Two things on this show have struck me hard. First, we’re one episode in on Season 2, and it already is clear that infertility is going to be the plotline for one of the characters this season. We mostly know her husband, who is one of the ad men in the office, but there was a scene between him and his wife that nearly broke my heart. They’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year now (the show jumped a full year-plus between seasons), and she was telling him about everyone around her who’s pregnant. At one point she said, “It’s like they’re all in this club, and I can’t join.” I wanted to invite her to join our blogs. But alas, no internet for a girl in 1962.

(By the way, this show is so eerily accurate for its time that I forget it wasn’t filmed in the 1960s. J will tell me, “you know that actor is on [whatever other TV show].” And for a minute, I’ll be totally perplexed, because they must have been really young when they filed Mad Men to be on TV now! This has happened three times. It’s like I can’t get it into my head that it’s a new show filmed right now by now-time actors.)

Anyway, I find that I’m totally psyched about this plot line. First, I actually trust this show to treat the issue properly. Unlike darling Charlotte, I don’t think this chickie’s going to get preggers just because she adopts a baby, or goes on a vacation, or some other such nonsense. But more importantly, the show makes me feel lucky. Imagine facing fertility if you were a housewife in the early 60s. Your entire purpose would be to have children. No job, no other source of self-respect or esteem. Nothing to do but sit at home and wonder what you were doing wrong. And imagine having no medical support. No IVF, no Dr. Google, no blogland. Yup, this is going to be fun to watch. Because no matter what, I’m going to feel lucky.

Aside from the infertility plot line, I also just freakin’ LOVE this show, because I love thinking about what it means to be a woman today. Back then (when my mom was starting high school), women were secretaries and teachers and nurses. Back then they were harassed and mocked and ridiculed. (I found it really interested that I wasn’t all that offended by the sexual harassment when it was all titillating flirtation between cute ad execs and cute secretaries. But when one of the girls got fat and that became the object of harassment, I realized how horrifying it all was.)

I’m not saying things are perfect for women now. I mean, one of my concerns about Hillary was that this country just wouldn’t vote for a woman to be President. (I did vote for her, however, so back off.) And sometimes my heart aches to think about how long we will have to wait for a woman to take that mantle. And we’ve only got one woman on the Supreme Court, the most powerful body in the land. We’re more than 50% of the population, but we can only have one of nine Supreme Court spots. Sheesh!

But think about this. No one suggested that I couldn’t accomplish anything I set out to accomplish when I was in school. I make 3 times what my husband makes and he’s not threatened—he’s so glad! I appear before the second-highest court in the land (don’t get excited, there are many second-highest courts in the land), as an equal (often superior J) to my male opponents. And if any man tries to grab my ass at work, I can sue the pants off him.

So yeah, I love Mad Men because it makes me think about what it is to be a woman today. Women’s Lib—YES! GRRR.

I’m driving J crazy. Because he loves the show too. But apparently the show isn’t ALL about women and how far they’ve come. And he’s tired of me crowing about it.

Am I the only one out there watching this show? Is anyone else out there on a woman-high right now?

Okay, I’ve written enough. I’m posting