Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I hate needles

I hate needles. I know, everyone says that. But I really mean it. I haven't had a tetanus booster since I was about 10 because each time my doctor suggests I get one - which she does every time I see her - I say, "Next time, I promise." Next time, my ass. A few years ago I had the brilliant idea of regularly donating blood as a way to get over my needle fear. Lets just say I didn't get many cookies or glasses of juice out of that deal. And when I had surgery last summer, the thing I was most anxious about? The IV. They were about to cut my abdomen open and muck around with my internal organs and I was worried about a poke in the hand. Pathetic.

So you can imagine how much I enjoyed yesterday's injection training. The nurse took us into one of the consultation rooms, where laid out on the table was an alarming assortment of syringes, needles, alcohol swabs and little glass vials. I considered bolting, or fainting, but did neither. Instead I calmly affixed needles, loaded syringes and practiced jabbing them into a pin cushion made to resemble skin (a skin cushion?). I was composed. I asked questions. I took notes. And I didn't cry until after we had left.

As we walked back to the car, J played at being strong. He was all optimism and we-can-do-it-ism. But when I employed some questioning techniques not likely condoned by the UN, he caved and admitted he was freaked out, too. At least it's not just me.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

My life for the next 8 weeks

We got our calendar. Our IVF calendar. The calendar that tells us what the next 8 weeks have in store. It tells us when we have injection training (next Monday), when I start giving myself shots of Lupron (on 2/19), when I start stims (10 days later), when I have appointments for blood work and ultrasounds (too many to list). And it tells us -- albeit approximately -- when egg retrieval and transfer will happen. These are the big dates. The dates I will circle in red.

We got our IVF calendar. And it's hanging on the fridge.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A question of freezing

Cryopreservation is not something I've given much though. I always assumed it was a concern for the rich and eccentric. How wrong I was. When you do IVF you have to decide whether or not to fertilize all of the eggs they take out. Fertilizing them all gives you (by far) the best chance of success. But, in many cases, doing so leads to more embryos than you want to put back in. What do you do with the remainder? The choices are to freeze them or destroy them. Easy choice, freeze them, right?

But that doesn't get you out of the moral/ethical woods. You can choose to freeze them forever, but that's not exactly practical, so eventually, you have to decide what to do with them. Of course, one option is to use them down the road. Handy if your IVF didn't work or if your IVF did work but you want to expand your family. But what if you don't need them? What if your family is complete or you just can't bear the thought of another round of IVF? What then? Then you have to decide their fate: private embryo adoption (not easy from a legal perspective), donate them to science or destroy them.

These were the decisions J and I had to tackle as we went through the informed consent process yesterday. Lets just say neither of us made it through dry-eyed. I will tell you straight out that I'm pro-choice, but believing people should have a choice and actually making the choice are two very different things. My scientific training tells me they're just cells. And maybe that's true in the biological sense. But they're more than that. They're potential. They're physical proof of our union. Mine and J's. They represent everything we've been working toward. How could we just throw them away?

There's no easy answer. There's no right answer. I just hope we'll know what to do when the time comes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The dog ate my mortgage papers

When we got home from our weekend away we found an envelope of mortgage papers sitting on our doorstep. Right on top of our soaking wet doormat. (Have I mentioned how much freakin' rain we've had?) From the looks of it, they had been there a while. I extricated the papers from their soggy wrapper and spread them out on the dining room table to dry. With luck they'll dry out fine and I won't have to call the mortgage company and request another copy. Sort of a dog-ate-my-homework kind of thing.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy birthday to me

J took me away for some much-needed peace and quiet this weekend. It was so peaceful that it didn't even occur to me to fret about the fact that I'm turning 35. And that's saying something.

View from the lodge


View from our snowshoes

Friday, January 20, 2006

Purchase and sale

We signed the purchase and sale agreement today. Despite its name, the purchase and sale does not mean we actually purchased the home. I think it just means we're going to purchase it. The actual purchasing doesn't take place until the end of February. I suppose then we'll have to sign the "Really Going to Purchase & Sale." No wonder you need a lawyer to buy a house in Massachusetts.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My own private Discovery Channel

Yesterday I had a hysteroscopy. I'm not going to describe the procedure in detail except to say it involves a camera going where a camera should never go. Not much fun. The upside was that on a TV monitor in the procedure room I got a live-action, full-color tour of my uterus. How many women get to say they've seen the opening to their Fallopian tubes? (Then again, how many women want to see the opening to their Fallopian tubes?) It was just like watching the Discovery Channel. Except with pain.

The good news from all of this is my uterus is in fine condition to accept an embryo. The bad news is my blood test from earlier in the week showed that my FSH level is higher than is good. FSH is a hormone that essentially measures your reproductive age. So while I'm turning 35 (gasp!) on Monday, as far as my ovaries are concerned, I'm several years older than that.

Happy freakin' birthday, ovaries.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Warning: Do not take this if you are trying to become pregnant

That's what the sticker on the package of birth control pills said. How ironic that in my quest to get pregnant I have to start with something that will make me decidedly not pregnant. 'Tis the trickery of medical science. I popped the pill as instructed by my doctors, as I will for the next 21 days.

It's been over three years since I've taken a birth control pill, and it occurred to me as I swallowed it that J and I have spent more time trying to get pregnant than we spent trying not to get pregnant. It's the great irony for all us infertiles: if we knew then what we know now, we could have spared ourselves all that contraception anxiety from our younger years.

Speaking of anxiety, today we write the first of several big fat checks. Not for the IVF (that comes later), but for the house. A nice 5% deposit. As I ponder the ridiculous quantity of zeros on the check, I keep waiting for the wave of fear. Regret. Anxiety. Something. But nothing's coming. I feel good. I'm excited.

Ad it feels good to be excited about something.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Let the poking begin

I had my first IVF-related appointment this morning: a poke in the arm for some blood work. It's appropriate that the IVF process should begin this way, since the next 10 weeks will be full of poking. Bloodwork, daily injections, ultrasounds (and not the nice kind you see them give smiling pregnant women on TV. The ultrasound device we're talking about is wand-shaped. Can you guess where that goes?) Not to mention the number of times they'll say to me, "We're just going to thread this through your cervix."

Oh, joy.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Life decision #3: Let's fill this place with kids!

That's what J and I have been trying to do for the past 3-1/2 years. After countless cycles on Clomid, abdominal surgery to remove an endometrioma making its home in my right ovary and two fibroids enjoying life in my uterine wall, followed by three failed IUIs, we've finally decided to take the next giant step offered by medical science: IVF (that's in vitro fertilization for you uninitiated). It's a terrifying prospect, but the carrot at the end of the long IVF stick is a 70% chance of pregnancy. I'll take it.

Treatment starts next week. From start to finish it's about a 10-week process. The tough stuff will start at the end of February. And when do we close on that house? The end of February. Now, where did I put that Gortex?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Life decision #2: Renovation

Did I mention the house is a bit, um, dated? Well, it is. The same family has owned it since it was built in 1956, and while they took good care of it, they didn't do much in the way of modernizing. Pink laminate counter tops in the kitchen. Scrolly rod iron railing on the stairway. Pink and brown tiles in the bathroom. Dark wood paneling in the den. The whole works.

Now J and I are not what you'd call do-it-yourselfers. When we moved into our house in Seattle, our big home improvement project was to attach a dryer vent. A $5 dryer vent we picked up at Home Depot. And we were impressed with ourselves.

So, what is it that makes me think we can handle a remodel? I can't honestly say, except that I know we will rely heavily on well-paid professionals. I know we will ply our family and friends with promises of cold beer and hot pizza in exchange for their help. I know I'll check out and scour every home improvement book in the King County Library. Will it be enough? To finish the remodel, undoubtedly yes. To keep our sanity? Well, I'm not making any predictions on that one.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Life decision #1: Relocation

J and I live in Seattle, but we have always said we wanted to move back to the East Coast where we grew up. We even established our 5-year-plan, the plan being we would move back in 5 years. That was 6 years ago. Well now it looks like moving back is in fact what will happen ... at least eventually.

We're buying a house. In Massachusetts. We didn't specifically set out to assume another mortgage, it just sort of happened. You see, my uncle is a real estate agent in the town where I grew up. Over an innocent (albeit wine-filled) Christmas dinner at my parents' house, I happened to mention a house for sale in a neighborhood I like. He agreed to show it to us that week. He did, and I was hooked.

J and I talked long and hard about the house with each other and with my family. We looked at pictures, envisioned floor plans. My dad used his secret lawyer superpowers to find some background on the house. We arranged for my parents to see the house the next week. But it was all theoretical. We weren't ready to buy a house 2500 miles away, were we? And when we put in an offer, somehow it was still theoretical. But with each counter offer it became more and more real. And before we knew it - a mere 8 hours from when we put in our initial offer - we had an agreement. An agreement. Oh, boy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

When it rains it pours

And I'm not just talking about the 25 consecutive days of rain we've had here in Seattle. I'm talking about my life, of course. Nothing like making several major life decisions all in one week to make one want to layer on the metaphorical Gortex.