Friday, August 27, 2010

What I Did For Summer Vacation

This next week will be spent playing hard with my kids and getting them ready for school the following week. Tania, who despite my best efforts remains the baby of the family, will be off to kindergarten. Since it's nearly back-to-school time, here is my essay on What I Did For Summer Vacation:

I spent my summer vacation doing drugs and getting medically assaulted. Lots of people saw my increasingly public privates. It was no fun and I didn't even get knocked up. The end.


Well, that's the end for the summer but my battle drags on. I finally got to talk to my doctor and the plan is to do the long Lupron protocol again for the next IVF cycle. This time, though, I'll be on higher doses of stimulation meds from the beginning. Since I'm already on The Pill, things could move along very quickly assuming I don't have another cyst to mess it all up. Also, we found out hubby doesn't get insurance at his new job until November, so we'll still be on our COBRA insurance.

The perinatology clinic finally called me back to schedule a consult. Yay! That appointment is scheduled for the 8th. Now I have to go through stacks and stacks of medical records and research so I can throw around some medical terminology, sound really knowledgeable, and maybe even get taken seriously!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blog Noir

Thanks to everyone who stuck around to read and comment during my ongoing blog noir period. A blog noir is defined as a "black blog" with bleak subject matter and a somber, downbeat tone. It's a genre employing heavy shadows and patterns of darkness, marked by a mood of pessimism and fatalism. Like film noir, it emphasizes cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Ha ha! Just kidding about that last bit. I have no sexual motivations at all, as my poor hubby can attest!


What a week it's been since I got that BFN. The bloody hell of Endometriosis + Hyperhydrosis = Disgusting. And it necessitates frequent wardrobe changes. That, combined with being forced to act in the real world as if nothing is wrong makes me feel like an actress in a dark drama. I am not a thespian, so surely my performance is unconvincing!

I wish I could bust out of this dark period, but it's proving very difficult. More than a week after my negative beta, I still have not heard from my doctor or anyone at the clinic regarding a plan for another IVF cycle. I've called every day for the past three days and gotten no response. How annoying do I have to be, people? I started taking The Pill again since I'm sure that's what they'd tell me if they ever bothered to call me back. Why don't they? Now I'm all worried again about getting kicked out of the cost-sharing program. Being on this program reduces financial anxiety and instead increases anxiety about getting kicked out due to "poor response" or "low yield of embryos". Aaarrggh!! Also, the perinatology clinic was supposed to call me back about setting up a consult. I called them twice already and haven't heard back from them yet, either. I'm so frustrated!

It's not all shadows and darkness around here. We all went to a free concert this week (KT Tunstall) and will go the State Fair tomorrow. I have an adorable new neice who arrived safely almost two weeks past her due date (way to worry your aunt, Kaiya!). Hubby started his new job last week and will get a paycheck next week - yes, an actual paycheck! It'll be the first one we've seen since April, so a celebration is in order.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Other Website is a Happy One

I checked the other day to see if the old website I designed for a college class is still up. It is. It's a much, much happier website than this one. It covers my time at college in Hawaii, teaching in Russia and China, traveling the world, getting married, and having my first baby, who was born alive :) and is now seven. The pages of the site are subdivided under the lyrics to a song - Pretty Good Year by Tori Amos:

Maybe a bright sandy beach
Is gonna bring you back [Hawaii]
Maybe not so now you're off [Russia]
You're gonna see America [travels in America]
Well let me tell you something about (China) [China]
Pretty good year [wedding and baby]

That's where my happy website ends. As I looked at it, I realized what the next lines of the song are . . .

Well what's it gonna take
Till my baby's alright

Now that's just disturbing, is it not? Still, it was nice to reminisce about great adventures in happier times. One line I wrote while in Mongolia stood out to me: "If I'm depressed in the future, I'll just think 'at least I don't have to live in Mongolia' and I'll be immediately cheered up." I tried it and it does help. A nomadic Mongolian woman has little hope or support if she is infertile or has high-risk pregnancies. This is true of women in much of the world today and certainly for almost all of the history of the world. Here and now there are resources and options, though I don't know if even that will be enough to help me.

Camp of nomads on the Mongolian steppes

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Q & A's Q & A

Welcome August ICLWers! I am looking forward to finding some fabulous new blogs to follow this week.

The short version of my story is on the sidebar. Since I've very recently received more crushing bad news in the form of a failed IVF, I am rather depressed and not up to posting anything creative or amusing just now. Instead, my hubby (Q) and I (Annie) will entertain your curiosity if you have any questions for us! It's a Q & A for Q & A.

Next month's ICLW may be more fun. I expect to be hitting 100 posts soon and will be doing a giveaway, so make sure to stop by then!


From Mrs. Gamgee: If you could travel anywhere, for any length of time, and money was no object, where would you go?

I should say some exotic expensive place I've never been, but actually I'm really missing Hawaii right now. I lived there for a year, right across the street from a gorgeous beach. I could really use some of that tranquil beauty and peace right now.

From thepunkrockmom: As far as questions go, hmmm, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Right now I'm hooked on mint chocolate chip ice cream (but I'm back to running again, so it's OK!). Being limited to only one thing though, even if it's your favorite, would soon become torture.

From Jrs (who, btw, just got some great news so stop by her blog and tell her congrats!):
Does your husband's name really start with Q?
Yes, we really are Q & A.

How are you doing?
Honestly, I'm having trouble finding joy now, even though I do have a lot to be thankful for. While hope isn't quite dead for me yet on the baby front, I'm worried about how life will look when it is.

Is there anything I can do for you?
I always appreciate it whenever anyone prays for us, especially since I don't believe my prayers make it past the ceiling!

What do David and Tania like to do for fun?
They like biking and going to the beach. Today David is being an FBI agent and his specialty is X files. Tania is very girly and likes dancing and dolls. Sadly, they do not like practicing the piano, but I force them to do it [evil laugh].

What silly things are they up to these days?
Last week we had a very successful lemonade stand. While I was teaching them about marketing and making change, a police car came driving past. He passed our stand, turned on his lights, flipped around, and stopped. Luckily, he only wanted a cup of lemonade. You may have seen in the news lately that a little girl's lemonade stand in Oregon was shut down because she didn't have a business licence. I'm glad to say my kids still have clean criminal records.

What are some of Q & A's hobbies?
Hobbies have fallen by the wayside lately, but Q likes woodworking and hot rods (he doesn't have one, but likes to dream). I like running and also piano and painting, though I haven't done either lately.
From cowgirltn: Have you ever run a marathon?
No, and I don't think I ever will. I would like to bike across America someday, though. I biked all the way across Iowa once - 500 miles in 7 days. Loved it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Geriatric Obstetrics

The other night I dreamed that the nursing home where I used to work was adding on a maternity ward. All the old ladies were having babies thanks to scientific advances in the field of geriatric obstetrics. Obviously, the interpretation of this dream is that I feel like everyone but me is having a baby. I know it's not true, but it certainly feels true.


For now, I'm trying to keep busy and have fun for these last few weeks of summer despite the unsuccessful IVF. Next week I'll be able to talk to the doctor about the plan going forward. I'm also working on getting an appointment with a perinatologist so we can get a second opinion on our case before we do another IVF. It feels silly to be calling the perinatology clinic since I'm Extra Super Infertile, but I want someone to take a fresh look at my case.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Strike One

Forgive me for going incommunicado this past week. I have been too depressed for words. On Thursday of last week, just five days after my embryo transfer, a Sense of Impending Doom descended and would not disperse no matter what I did. It was far too early to tell whether the IVF had worked or not, yet somehow I knew that my little embryos had died. It's finally official with today's beta.

When Jeremiah died, I felt death come for him but dismissed the feeling as silly paranoia. When Miles died I knew it but didn't want to believe it. When I called the clinic they were very dismissive of my worries, but a few days later my worst fear was confirmed. Even with my last loss - a very early loss cruelly termed a "chemical" pregnancy - I felt the same unshakeable and crushing darkness suddenly descend just before I got the beta results showing I was pregnant. It's a macabre sixth sense. Have I developed such an intimate relationship with death as to feel its cold hand accutely even when it comes to snatch something so tiny as my embryos?

I feel like Death has me in, well, a death grip. It stalks and kills any small hopes I try to cling to. It makes me despair of ever escaping this darkness. It follows me wherever I go. It leaves me dark shadows where laughing children should have been.

Since my doctor is gone this week, there was no discussion of how to proceed from here. I suppose the plan is to plow ahead and do IVF two more times. Sure, maybe I could actually get pregnant, but then what? It's hard to see much hope in this. I feel possessed by death such that every new life that tries to grow in me is already infected with death even before it really has a chance to begin.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fun with Math: PIO Shots

For the past few days I've been doing Progesterone in Oil shots. Yes, all by myself!  Because the progesterone is in a sesame oil base, it is not only thick and difficult to inject, but it also contains fat. While I was on my two days of post-transfer bed rest, I decided to figure out exactly how much fat I will be injecting into my backside before the pregnancy test:

1 T of sesame oil contains 14 grams of fat, therefore . . .
1 cc of sesame oil contains .946792 grams of fat
There are 12 PIO shots before the pregnancy test

That means I'll be getting as much fat as there is in a Snickers bar, but with none of the satisfaction.

Hmmm...how would you prefer to plump your posterior? A:


Or B:

(This represents the actual amount of oil I'll inject into my booty by beta day)


That's a rhetorical question if ever there was one!  "A" is looking pretty good, but sadly Snickers has not been shown to increase the odds of successful pregnancy. If it did I'd have half a dozen kids by now. Of course, if I actually get pregnant again I will be delighted to continue with the PIO shots. For now, I'm choosing C: Both.  Mmm-mmm...bootylicious!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Lovenox Dilemma

I posted before about my Lovenox dilemma: whether to start it now or wait until there are (hopefully) rising betas. Quite a few people shared their experiences and comments, so I thought I'd write about how it all shook out. I called the perinatologist and she said she wouldn't prescribe Lovenox until rising betas, which is what my RE had said. With my terrible pregnancy history, this makes me nervous, especially since I know a lot of doctors have patients start from transfer or earlier if they're doing IVF.

Of course if I'm not able to get pregnant even with IVF then it is not an issue, but in optimistic moments when I think I really could get pregnant, I've wondered about getting some Lovenox on the black market and using it before the pregnancy test. It is easy to do, but that option would also would make me very nervous, especially in light of the fact that prescription drugs may have played a role in two of my siblings' deaths.

It sounds morbid, but my sons' deaths pull me in one direction on the Lovenox dilemma

and my siblings' deaths pull me in the other direction.
If I could get the drug from a doctor or even just someone I know and trust, I would do it. Getting it from a total stranger is just too risky not only because it may have been improperly stored, but also because Lovenox is an expensive drug and there is more incentive for unscrupulous people to try selling expired, damaged, or even counterfeit Lovenox. I just can't go there. For now, all I can do is make sure to take baby aspirin religiously. So that's where I am on the Lovenox question and I hope I won't regret it.

Right now I'm just hoping for happiness ahead and also missing these four people that I love. They all died young, tragically, and very suddenly - there was no time for goodbye. In the cases of my sons, there was no time for hello either. Is it any wonder I want so desperately for my weeping to be turned into dancing by bringing home a rainbow baby?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Tale of Two Embryos

The last two days have been the best of times and the worst of times. The best part, of course, is that I had two embryos transferred - a 5 cell and an 8 cell:

The other two embryos fragmented/arrested so there's nothing to freeze, but at least I got my two to transfer. Here they are after transfer:

The last few days have also been quite rough because I've not been feeling well at all. I started feeling awful the evening before the transfer (bloating, all-over aching) and have been feeling horrible ever since. Being optimistic is difficult when everything hurts. It's finally starting to let up now, though.  I suppose it could be very mild OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome), though I've actually been losing weight - three pounds in as many days. I don't feel like being up and about even if it were allowed, but being in bed for two days creates a lot of pain of its own. I'm unaccustomed to the couch potato lifestyle and the inactivity has made me terribly sore.

Hubby has been taking care of the kids and the house. He also gives me a massage when he can, although his motives may be less than altruistic. Since he is being denied sex for a period of weeks, giving me a backrub is all the action he can get right now. Works for me.

It's now Day Two of bed rest and I'm bored out of my mind. Any suggestions of amusing movies, websites, youtube clips, etc. would be most appreciated!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Embryo ICU

The embryologist called this morning to say that of the twelve eggs retrieved, six were mature.  Four fertilized, but two did so later (not sure how this is possible with ICSI?).  The plan is to transfer the two frontrunners tomorrow and watch the two laggards a little longer to see if they're good enough to freeze. 

It's so wonderful to know that we have embryos growing, but strange that they are growing in a distant lab and not in me.  It feels a little like when my first son was in the NICU after he was born.  He was in the hospital for five days but I was discharged after one.  I felt terrible leaving my tiny baby there.  He should have been OK, but somehow my body hadn't worked right and he hadn't been able to grow properly.  I should have been able to take care of him and give him everything he needed, but instead I had to leave him in the care of others.  And now again, my body doesn't work right.  My embryos have been left in the care of others.  I actually wish someone else could continue growing them for me for the next nine months, but tomorrow they will be in my Womb of Doom.  Please pray they survive.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Carton of Eggs

Egg retrieval went very well this morning. It was much easier than I'd imagined and I enjoyed the drugs very much. Best of all, we got a dozen eggs of which we hope at least seven will be mature. And, yes, I do feel silly for freaking out about my follicle count last week. Praying that one (or two!) of these will become a rainbow baby and bring vibrant color and light to my family again.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No Cornflakes Girl

Today hubby made me chicken ovums for breakfast. Tomorrow I get nuthin' - no cornflakes, OJ, or even water after midnight tonight. We have to be at the clinic at 8:30 tomorrow and egg retrieval is an hour later.

Last night's trigger shot went surprisingly well. I thought maybe I should follow Rachel's advice and have hubby do it, but he's a needlephobe and was not keen on the idea. He was present for moral support and did the countdown for me to stick the needle in. Thanks hubby! Those 1 1/2" needles are very intimidating compared to the cute little half-inchers. It was helpful that the nurse had drawn a big target on my rear in permanent marker so I knew right where to stick it. I got some 25 guage needles a few days ago, so I used that instead of the 22 guage. It didn't hurt at all! Hopefully I'll be saying the same thing about PIO shots in a few days' time.

I just cannot believe this is really happening. It's a little terrifying - not the retrieval itself, but what can happen because of it. The thought of not getting pregnant is scary and so is the thought of getting pregnant. At the same time I am quite looking forward to tomorrow. It'll be nice to be free from anxiety for maybe ten minutes while I'm unconscious!

Things are getting kind of gross
And I go at sleepy time
This is not really happening
You bet your life it is

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Verdict is In

Today's ultrasound showed that my small follicles had all grown a dramatic 3 mm in just one day. Predicted mature egg yield now stands at 7, so I'll actually be having my eggs harvested! Previously it looked like we'd get maybe five which is a borderline number - great for IUI but not enough to justify IVF.

Thanks for all the encouraging words in recent days. This week has definitely been manic-depressive with all the wild ups and downs. I assure you I'm still seriously so sane, though. It's just that I get scared stiff sometimes when I think of all that's gone wrong in the last few years, and all the things that have to go just right to get a rainbow baby. The nurses yesterday and today were decidedly more cheery and that helps. Today's nurse even got me another prescription for Follistim and Menopur so I can get them now while I still have great insurance. That way I have a stockpile in case this cycle doesn't work. Strategery.

Still stimming tonight and tomorrow morning, then one more ultrasound and I'll trigger tomorrow evening. It'll be my first encounter with the big needle and I'm a bit apprehensive about it, but I'll get over it. I intend to do the deed by myself, although obviously rear shots are logistically more difficult than belly ones.


So that's where we stand. Retrieval should be Wednesday and I'm assuming we'll do a day three transfer on Saturday.

It has nothing to do with the topic of trying to get knocked up, but I'll leave you with an amusing anecdote involving a sexy babydoll nighty: After dinner this evening, my five-year-old daughter came into the kitchen wearing a babydoll nighty she'd found in my closet. "Mommy, why don't you ever wear this?! It's beautiful!" Pretty funny. Although it is sad that a sexy babydoll nighty no longer has anything at all to do with trying to get knocked up :(