Monday, August 28, 2006

The obligatory calendar post

Some of you have asked about timing for IVF#3. And since I keep forgetting myself, it's probably best to get it in print.
Aug-31: Suppression check
Sep-02: Start Microdose Lupron injections (10 units twice daily)
Sep-04: Start stims (525 units* Follistim + 75 units Menopur); continue Microdose Lupron
Sep-08: Day 5 monitoring
Sep-11: Day 8 monitoring
Sep-16: Retrieval +/- a day or two

* Yes, I'm a Follistim whore. I simply can't get enough of the stuff. No, OHSS is not in my vocabulary.
I'm still resigned about this cycle, still in self-preservation mode, but I'm ready to get started. I'm ready to start moving forward again. Which is good, considering the train starts rolling on Thursday whether I'm ready or not.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Duck and cover





Super-heated wind roaring up to 300 miles per hour. A landslide that covered 23 square miles in debris. Scorching pyroclastic flows incinerating everything in their path. A cloud of ash that circled the globe.

That was the Mount St. Helens volcano in May 1980. We saw the evidence of that violent eruption this summer -- 26 years later -- while hiking in the area. The side of the mountain was ripped open. An ever-growing lava dome protruded from the crater like a big steaming wart. Trees lay where they fell all those years ago like matchsticks. And yet, there was life. Wildflowers, crickets, birds, deer. Death and destruction were returning to bloom.

Don't think the poignancy of all this escaped me. I can see the lessons here: all wounds heal, life is resilient, from pain blooms hope. Blah, blah, blah. The mountain is a cliche that smacks you over the head like one of those cheesy inspirational posters -- the kitten clinging to a tree branch that implores, "Hang in there!" Granted it's a breathtaking cliche, but a cliche none-the-less.

They estimate that over 7000 big game animals (deer, elk and bear) and nearly all smaller mammals died in the blast and its aftermath. But some rodents and frogs miraculously survived by burrowing underground and waiting it out. And that's the real lesson here, isn't it? Mother Nature can be one cranky bitch sometimes, and it's best to just scurry and hide until it all blows over.

That's my approach to IVF#3: duck and cover. It's a different approach than I've had for my previous cycles -- IVF#1 was about newbie excitement, IVF#2 was about fear of failure. For IVF#3 it all boils down to self-preservation, and that keeps it simple. There's less anxiety, less stress. All I have to do is remember to keep my head down and trust that some point it will all be over. One way or the other.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On the wagon

We drove to Portland (Oregon) this weekend to visit with some friends. They're not friends we see often, and they're only peripherally aware of our IF status. We wandered around the city all afternoon engaging in many, many hours of small talk. It occurred to me that it's hard to make small talk when the things going on in your life aren't, well, small.

Wine with dinner -- at a fantastic Peruvian restaurant. Peruvian! Who knew? -- helped the conversation flow a bit more easily, as it is apt to do. And I can assure you, I enjoyed every last drop. Not only because it was priming the small talk pump, but also because I knew it would be some of my last for a while.

J and I agreed that as of today we would jump back on the wagon in preparation for our next cycle. We would have started the abstention sooner, but my lovely husband has a standing pub night with the boys on Tuesday nights and he wouldn't want to have to drink water all night while his friends downed microbrews. Imagine the horror! The embarrassment! The ridicule!

So, Chez Sube is a dry house these days. Nothing more exciting in the fridge than seltzer water and Follistim. Add a twist of lemon and you've got yourself a tasty little IF cocktail. Yum.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Trying again

We've known all along we would try again. Even in the midst of our intense sadness after learning the baby had no heartbeat, we knew we'd try again. I can't speak for J on this one (he's the optimist in the family), but for me, doing another cycle isn't about hope. It's about obligation. It's something I feel I have to do. Not because I believe it will work, but because I can't give up. The fear of not trying is greater than the fear of trying.

So, we'll do another round of IVF using the same microdose Lupron protocol as last time. I'm on BCPs now and my suppression check is scheduled for sometime in early September. I don't actually know the date. All my meds arrive by mail tomorrow.

I don't feel hopeful. I don't feel positive; nor do I feel particularly negative. I'm just? Resigned. All I hope is to make it through this with some semblance of myself still intact.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Group hug

How wonderful to read all your stories in response to my last post. I'm struck by how important this community is to all of us. No matter how we arrived in bloglandia, it's obvious what keeps us here. You ladies are the best.

(A note to Jess: I wanted to visit, but can't find your blog since your blogger profile isn't shared. What's the url?)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why we blog

Thalia's excellent post the other day about pregnancy blogging got me thinking about why we blog in the first place, why we expose ourselves in this most public of forums. I suspect our reasons are varied and common at the same time. Here's how I came to be a blogger.

It was late last year, when after countless Clomid cycles, abdominal surgery for fibroids and an endometrioma, and two failed IUIs, I began to realize I might be in this game for a while. And it occurred to me that someday in the distant future, when the rawness had faded, I might want to look back and remember this time in my life. I'm not sure what surprised me more, the idea that I might forget what IF felt like or the idea that I might want to remember.

But I picked up a pen, found a notebook, and started writing anyway. I was very disciplined and wrote an entry every day. For 3 whole days. And then I'd had enough.

I found having only myself as an audience was entirely unsatisfying. What was the point if only I would ever read it? The fact that pen and paper don't have a spell checker was also a definite issue. And then there was the problem of getting hit by a bus. I pictured J and my mother going through my things, coming across my journal and saying, "Oh? What's this?" The thought of them reading my blabberings was simply mortifying. I immediately burned my journal.

All the while I had been lurking on blogs. Blogs have spell checkers, so I decided to give it a try. I made a few cautious posts, but I didn't tell anyone about my blog and I didn't advertise my blogger profile. I was content just knowing my words were out there; it didn't matter whether or not anyone actually read them. It was the getting outside of my own head that was important. Annie Lamott explains it better in this passage from her wonderful book Bird by Bird:
"I understood immediately the thrill of seeing oneself in print. It provides some sort of primal verification: you are in print; therefore you exist. Who knows what this urge is all about, to appear somewhere outside yourself, instead of feeling stuck inside your muddled but stroboscopic mind, peering out like a little undersea animal -- a spiny blenny, for instance -- from inside your tiny cave?"
I existed outside myself. And after living with IF so long inside my own brain, it was a relief to unload into the ether.

But then one day it happened. I got a comment. I don't know how that first reader ever found me -- it was certainly through no doing of my own -- but I was floored. If seeing my words in print was primal verification, knowing that someone had read them and was moved to comment was exhilarating. It gave me the courage to delurk on blogs I had been reading, and that led to more comments on my own blog.

I didn't go into blogging wanting to be part of a community, but that's become the most rewarding part. Now I'm not only outside myself, but I'm part of something else. Something nurturing. And something that drives me to actually proofread and edit my posts. So now I'm not so worried about being hit by a bus. At least as long as I'm wearing clean underwear.

So why do you do blog? Is it for the camaraderie? For the attention? Or the cathartic release? Did you read IF blogs before cautiously starting your own, or did you jump in with both feet? I'm curious, how did it come about for you?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Assvice

I love my family, I really do. And I've told you before what a great source of support they are for me. But nobody's perfect, especially family. Here's a sampling of the advice I got on my recent trip to the East Coast.

From my sister-in-law: You just need to keep a positive attitude.

From my cousin: You just need to move back near family, and then it will happen.

From my brother-in-law: You just need to put on the Jimmy Buffet, drink a few beers, and let the passion flow. (Yes, he really did say "let the passion flow." And let me tell you, coming from my brother-in-law? Ew.)

I don't think they actually believe the advice they're dishing out. It's that they just don't know what else to say. They don't know how to make it better. And they want so badly to make it better.

It's hard for the people who love us to watch us go through this and to feel so helpless. In the case of my family, they want this baby almost as much as we do. But more than that, they hate to see us in so much pain. The physical pain and the emotional pain. My Dad always tells me right before I'm to have a procedure, "Oh, Sube, I wish I could take your place. I'd do it for you if I could." And he would, except for that little bit about him not having ovaries.

So the assvice is the only thing they feel they have to offer. Misguided? Yes. But it comes from a place that is precious in its own right.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Normal

Our baby was normal. That was the result from the karyotyping. I know this can be considered good news, but all it does is break my heart. We would have had a beautiful, normal baby with all its precious chromosomes intact. It occurred to me afterwards that my RE surely knows the sex of the baby. I've decided I won't ask, since no good can come of me having that information. I'm pining enough as it is.

I did ask our RE, if it wasn't a genetic abnormality that caused the miscarriage, then what did? Bad luck, he said. Bad luck? Bad luck is when the car in front of you gets the last parking spot. Bad luck is when you get a bad piece of sushi. Bad luck is missing a sale at Nordstrom because you're entertaining out-of-town visitors. Bad luck is not your baby dying before it ever got a chance to live.

I would have been in my second trimester by now. I try not to think about things like that. I try not to think about how I'd be starting to show, starting to tell people. About how I'd be eyeing maternity clothes and daydreaming about what the nursery would look like. Instead I'm thinking about my next cycle. About ordering drugs and submitting insurance claims. About shots and procedures and nightmare blood draws. I just feel so cheated.

(You might have noticed this post has a decidedly different tone than my last entry. I did warn you that the emotions come raging back from time to time. Welcome to one of those times.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Terra firma

Whew. I'm back at last. It's been a whirlwind few weeks. Work has been crazy busy. Life has been crazy busy. And to think it was only three weeks ago that J and I fell asleep to the sound of loons calling to each other across the lake. It feels like a lifetime.

And what about that trip to the lake? It was lovely. For the most part. I could have dealt with a bit more alone time (no, not that kind of alone time, thank you for asking), but the distraction of family was welcomed. J and I spent mornings lying in bed listening to distant thunder, or on nice days, lounging on the deck sipping coffee. Afternoons were wiled away reading, going for walks, and when it got hot and muggy, swimming in the lake.

And every day at 5:00 it was happy hour. Coolers hauled down to the beach were filled with snacks, beer, wine, and in our case Nalgene bottles brimming with icy gin and tonic. We'd sit around and chat and drink and snack until the sun fell behind the trees.

I thought I'd spend much of my time at the lake thinking. Thinking about important things like what had happened and where we were going. To some extent I did, but not as much as I thought I would. In part that was because there were always people around -- J's family in the cabin next door, my parents staying with us for a few nights, my sister-in-law and her kids coming to visit for the day. There wasn't much time to think. But it was also because I needed a break from all that thinking, all that emotion. It was nice to set it aside for a while.

I feel I'm on more stable ground these days, but there are still times when the emotion comes back without warning and with a vengeance. There's a distinct undercurrent to my life these days and I feel fundamentally changed. In spite of that, I catch myself laughing every now and then. And there are moments where I (amazingly) feel happy. I don't understand how that happens. How the call of loons, the lime at the end of a gin and tonic, the embrace of family can take you from despair to comfort. I don't understand how it happens, but I'm grateful it does.