Monday, May 29, 2006

No vacancy

That's the sign J says I should hang on my magic uterus. My beta this morning was 1232. Dr. Google tells me that's a doubling rate of just under 41 hours.

When she called with the results, the nurse told me "you are still very much pregnant." Of course, J and I aren't comfortable using the p-word, but I have to admit it was nice to hear.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The long exhale

That whoosh you just heard was the sound of me exhaling the breath I've been holding for the past 3-1/2 years. My beta today came back at 364. I made the nurse repeat it to me four times just to be sure. I don't think I've stopped smiling (or crying) since. My next beta is on Monday.

Thank you all for your support. It has meant the world to me.

Hope is the thing with feathers

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all.
--Emily Dickinson

I just got back from my beta and hope is alive and well. Damn it.

But here's the thing. J and I are skipping town in a matter of moments and are going someplace the Internet can't find us. I'm going to try my darndest to get online to post the results and also to check on the other Friday betas. But don't worry if you haven't heard from me. I'll update you as soon as I can. Promise.

Meanwhile, huge congratulations to Momo!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Magic parts

J loves to have his back scratched. It's one of his very favorite things. Last night after a scratch so sublime it gave him goosebumps and made the hair on his arms stand up, J told me I have magic hands. I said I would gladly trade them for a magic uterus. A magic uterus and magic ovaries. And if I had a magic uterus and magic ovaries, I could live without magic Fallopian tubes. I wouldn't want to be greedy after all.

Tomorrow is beta day. It's amazing how abstract this whole process has seemed. But tomorrow it becomes real, one way or the other. Obviously I'm hoping for one way much more than the other.

My thoughts will be with my cycle sisters Momo and Amy. Hoping you both receive wonderful news.

(And if you haven't already done so, go send your well wishes to Kris. She's had one topsy-turvy week.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

What's done is done

Now that I'm firmly rooted in the second week of my 2-week wait, I keep coming back to this one thought: by this point, in all likelihood, my embryos have either implanted or they haven't. Whichever it is, it's already done. The die has been cast.

There's a surprising sense of freedom in this knowledge. There's nothing more I can do but wait. I can't influence the results, either for good or for bad. The answer to whether I'm pregnant is already out there in the universe somewhere. I have no idea why I find this comforting, but I do.

Maybe it has something to do with Christmas. I love Christmas. I love the presents. I love the anticipation. But when Christmas morning rolls around and I'm sitting there in my pajamas sharing a cup of coffee with my family, I no longer want to open any of the presents. I'm content to just look at them under the tree. The promises they hold mean so much more to me than their actual contents.

This not knowing is like a present under the tree: my hopes and dreams wrapped up with pretty paper and a bow. I may get good news at my beta on Friday, I may get bad news. But right now, right now I can still believe in the promise.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Untold stories of the ER

There we were in the pre-op room just before retrieval. I'm lying on the bed trying not to pass out after the anesthesiologist tried -- multiple times -- to insert a very large IV needle into the ridiculously small veins in the back of my hand. J is sitting in a chair next to me trying to keep me entertained and distracted. He's good at that.

Now, before I tell you what happened next, I should admit that I'm the one who takes on most of the research responsibilities when it comes to our reproductive health. I ask most of the questions when we're talking with the RE, I consult Dr. Google to fill in the gaps, I read message boards, I gather wisdom from all you in bloglandia. J does a pretty good job of keeping up and asking his own questions, but apparently he wasn't entirely clear on how this whole retrieval thing works. Because moments before I'm wheeled into the retrieval room, here's the question he asks:

J: So, let me make sure I understand this. They get the eggs by, um, going up the hole that's already there, right?
Me: You mean my vagina?
J: Um, yeah. That hole.

That's my J.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

No frosties

My freezer is a wasteland. I have such good intentions when it comes to freezing, but it never seems to work out. I'll make a big batch of Bolognese sauce and then freeze the leftovers. We'll buy a box of fresh peaches at the farmer's market, slice them up and pop them in the freezer for smoothes.

But we never make those smoothies and we never smother a plate of spaghetti with that leftover Bolognese sauce. And months (heck, years) later the stuff is still there encrusted in freezer burn.

So maybe it's a blessing that none of our remaining embryos made it to freezing. They'd just get buried behind the meatloaf, ice cream cartons, and bags of peas until we forgot they were even there.

Or not.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's day

This is the closest I have ever been to being a mother.

We transferred 2 8-cell embryos today. Some fragmentation, but the doctor said they look "nice." We'll take nice. J and I are feeling overwhelmed and a bit emotional, but happy. Very happy.

We have 5 other embryos (1 7-cell, 1 6-cell, and 3 4-cell) that they'll try to take to blastocyst and freeze. They weren't particularly confident that any would make it, but we're crossing our fingers anyway.

Say hello to our little embryos.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Fertilization report

Whew. One more hurdle cleared. We have 7 embryos. Of the 10 eggs they retrieved, 8 were mature and were ICSI'd, 7 fertilized. Seven! What an improvement this cycle has been over last cycle. We're feeling very grateful.

We're also in love. Seven tiny embryos in a petri dish a few miles away. We're in love with their potential, with everything they represent. I didn't know you could feel this way about a cluster of cells. I so hope they make it.

We're scheduled for a 3-day transfer on Sunday (Mother's Day, wouldn't you know?). We'll go to 5 days if we can, but I won't be disappointed if we don't make it to day 5. I'm just happy to have made it this far.

Now go give some love to my cycle sister MoMo if you haven't already.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Double digits

I'm back from retrieval. They got 10 eggs. We were thinking it was going to be more like 6 or 7, so we're pretty pleased. I would go so far as to say I'm a bit giddy ... but that may be the drugs talking.

Thank you all for your well wishes.

**And for those of you who were checking in on me earlier today .... I actually composed this post hours ago and thought I posted it. Apparently I didn't. Chalk it up to those drugs again!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ready. Aim. Fire.

I trigger tonight. Retrieval is scheduled for Thursday morning. Despite my previous complaints about this cycle, I'm so grateful to have made it this far. And of course I'm completely anxious about how things will go from here on out. I've never done a retrieval. I've never had to wait for a fertilization report. Never stressed about whether we would do a 3-day or 5-day transfer. Never done a transfer, for that matter. The two-week-wait I've done, but not with stakes this high.

I'm grateful to those of you who have gone before and shared your wisdom here in bloglandia. I've soaked it in. And thanks to those of you who stop by on your travels to offer encouragement. It helps more than I can say.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blood and tears

The nightmare phlebotomy continues, now new and improved with the addition of tears. Yes, tears!

There I was sitting in the chair at the doctor's office trying to distract myself. The tourniquet was around my arm. My hand was in a tight fist. I was looking out the window trying not to yelp in pain as the phlebotomist dug around for a vein. And then without warning, I started crying. And not just some minor sniffling, mind you. The floodgates, they were open.

The nurse, understandably, was alarmed so she removed the needle. I blubbered something about all the hormones raging through my body. I felt bad that she probably felt bad. I tried to do one of those breathing exercises I was taught, but I was way past the point of "in through the nose, out through the mouth." I was very aware of the woman getting her blood drawn in the chair next to me who must have thought I was an absolute freak. I was worried my doctor would walk by and see me that way and conclude I have absolutely no business being a mother what with my obvious emotional instability. I managed to calm myself down before the phlebotomist went in for another try. No luck hitting a vein that time either and the weeping began anew. This went on for 3 tries and still no blood.

And the whole time I'm wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm not a crier. I'm especially not a crier when it comes to physical pain. I never did figure it out while I was there. It took a conversation with a non-IF friend later in the day to understand. She said, "Don't you see? The blood draw is an allegory for everything you've been through. It was never supposed to be this hard for you to get pregnant, and it's not supposed to be this hard to have your blood drawn." She said it just like that. She's very smart.

It wasn't the physical pain that upset me -- although it did hurt like the dickens -- it was the cumulation of everything I've been through up to this point. Add to the mix a splash of hormones and a shot of anxiety about what's to come and you've got a potent cocktail of emotion. All it took was one too many stabs in the arm to let it loose.

But, the crying did get me somewhere. After three failed attempts (one in each arm and one in my hand), and with seemingly no end to my crying, they finally called in the nurse who actually knows how to do a blood draw. She got it on the first try. And she's now the only one in that place I'll let come near me with a syringe.

In less dramatic news, things still look good. I go in for another ultrasound tomorrow. Will likely trigger Tuesday night for retrieval on Thursday. They better not need any blood for that.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Day 8: Steady as she goes

Day 8 ultrasound today and things are looking pretty much the same as they did on day 5. Seven follicles measured and a bunch of smaller ones. Doctor mumbled something about being "encouraged." The nurse who left me a voicemail later in the day didn't tell me my E2 level (which is making me a bit crazy), but said "things look good." I go back on Monday for my next ultrasound. J and I are allowing ourselves to feel cautiously optimistic (especially since this day 8 beats the pants off last cycle's day 8), but I know we're not out of the woods yet.

The hardest part about my appointment this morning was not the wanding, but the phlebotomy. Surprise, surprise. My "good" arm is still totally bruised from Wednesday's bloodletting, so after a fruitless poke in my other arm, they moved on to my hand. Good thing a blood draw from your hand doesn't hurt. Oh wait, yes it does.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ode to my favorite phlebotomist

(On the occasion of him quitting the clinic)

Oh, gentle phlebotomist, where have you gone?
Alas, you answered the call of another clinic,
And now as the needle approaches my bare arm stretched long,
I am left to feel nothing but panic.

Oh, gentle phlebotomist, you were the best I ever met.
Your hands steady, your aim true,
And with your trusty tourniquet
You never left me black and blue.

Oh, gentle phlebotomist, your replacement has not your skill.
She pokes and pricks, and digs some more
She stabs and jabs and roots until
Both my arms are tender and sore.

Oh, gentle phlebotomist, where have you gone?
I long for your trusty syringe, your surest touch.
And each time my blood I get drawn,
I miss you so very much.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lucky number seven

My day 5 ultrasound revealed seven follicles -- three on the left, four on the right. Now, I know some of you (most of you?) would be disappointed with that tally, but seeing as it's twice as many follicles as I had at this point last cycle, I'm not feeling so bad about it. Not to mention the 10 other follicles that were too small to measure. Given the gobs of Follistim I'm on, who knows what potential lies there. And then there's my E2 level -- it's actually not bad. My clinic likes to see an E2 of about 100 on day 5 and mine came in at 105, so I'm right on track.

I just might have a cycle here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

When does the fun begin?

Day 4 of stims and I feel good. No worse for the wear. My same old self. And I'm not at all happy about it.

Where's the tenderness? Where's the bloating? Where's the my girl parts are so swollen it hurts to sit down feeling? I know it's early, but shouldn't I be feeling something? Anything? If only an inkling? I've never wanted to feel discomfort more in all my life. Because the discomfort is a sign it's working. If I don't feel pain, does that mean my ovaries are still napping? That they missed their microdose wake-up call? Like me, are my ovaries snooze-aholics?

Physically I feel the same as I did last cycle when I managed to pop out a measly three follicles, and that scares me. I want it to feel different this time around. Tomorrow is my day 5 ultrasound, so we'll find out for sure. Pain or no pain.

Now, wake up ovaries! Wake up!

Monday, May 01, 2006

It all lay before us

I live in a cozy little neighborhood. It's the city, so houses are small, lots are small and everyone is tucked in close together. Saturday afternoon I sat looking out my living room window watching a new couple move into the house across the street. They were a young couple and they'd gathered a bunch of friends to help. I watched them make endless trips out to the Uhaul parked in front and then emerge with Ikea furniture and hand-me-downs. It was raining pretty hard (this is Seattle after all) and I thought it must suck to have to move in that weather. I'm sure they were cold and wet. But then I realized it didn't suck. They probably didn't care that it was raining, they were just so excited to be moving into their first house.

I remember that feeling. I remember moving into this house--our first--six years ago. It was a mirror image of what was happening across the street. The group of friends. The Uhaul. The Ikea furniture. (Thankfully not the rain.) I remember feeling so hopeful. We were starting our lives together. The world was as it should be and it all lay before us.

That feels like a long time ago now. I'm not sure I remember the person I was then. Infertility changes you, we all know that. I'm not as bold as I was then, not as brazen. I don't feel so entitled. I'm a bit worn around the edges and certainly less carefree. But I do have better furniture.

A few weeks ago J went out with his 22-year-old cousin who was passing through town on a spring break trip. J showed him the sights and took him out for beer. When he got home that night he sighed "I wish I was 22 again." I knew what he meant. He wanted to go back to a time when we were blissfully unaware of how hard life can be. He also wanted to go back to a time when he could drink a six-pack without consequence, but that's not really the point here.

Maybe these changes in attitude have nothing to do with infertility. Maybe it's just part of getting older. Certainly world events in the past few years have contributed. But it's hard not to pin it all on infertility. As if every injection, every procedure, the surgery, monthly failure after monthly failure all chiseled at that optimism little by little. You almost don't even realize it's happening. Until you look back. Until you see the unchecked joy in the faces of the couple moving in across the street.