Saturday, September 30, 2006

Speaking of poor decisions

My beta is tomorrow.

I've done a good job of remaining upbeat and cautiously hopeful all week. But in these final hours my confidence is failing me. I'm convinced I'm experiencing PMS symptoms.

So, what am I doing this afternoon to keep myself entertained and distracted? A trip to the movies? Nope. Some time at the spa? No. Shoe shopping? I wish. A poke in the eye with a sharp stick? Getting closer. Spending the afternoon babysitting the world's most adorable 1-year-old? Bingo!

What the hell was I thinking?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Simplifying

In the coming months, J and I will undertake a cross-country move. We're leaving our beloved Seattle in favor of my home town in Massachusetts. Our plan has always been to move back closer to family. We bought a little fixer-upper a while back and are due to break ground on a remodel soon. Timing our move has been a challenge complicated by our reproductive adventures. But come hell or high water, we're moving before the end of the year.

In preparation for that, we've begun all the random home improvement projects that need to happen before we put our Seattle house on the market. You know, the stuff you probably should have attended to years ago but never did? The other weekend, for example, I cleaned out the pantry.

And thus commenced the great Wheat Thin massacre of 2006.

Our house is where Wheat Thins, and their brethren the Triscuit, go to die. I'm too embarrassed to recount the precise number of unopened, expired boxes of crackers that met their demise in the recesses of my pantry, but suffice it to say it could keep a small nation in kitschy hors d'oeuvres for a good long time. And I can do nothing but blame it on my mother. She always has a box of Wheat Thins in her pantry, and now I feel compelled to always have one in mine -- what else to serve to unexpected guests? Except, we never do have unexpected guests in want of a Wheat Thin, and we never eat them ourselves. But that doesn't stop me from buying them. Compulsively.

The other thing we did that weekend was sort through and pack up boxes and boxes of books. We're trying to simplify, so we decided to sell certain titles to a local used book store. I added most of my general IF books to the pile (with the exception of Alice Domar's Conquering Infertility; I still have two copies of that one). It's a stack of books that used to enjoy residence on my bedside table. I'd pour over chapters on charting your cycle, acupuncture, foods to avoid when you have endometriosis, what to expect from an IUI cycle, an IVF cycle.

I added those books to the to-sell pile because I realized there's nothing they can teach me anymore. I've charted my cycle. I've done acupuncture. I've had surgery for endometriosis and fibroids. I've done IUIs. I've done IVFs. What's left? I'm not saying I'm an expert (although I'm more of an expert than I ever wanted to be). It's more an indication that we're reaching the end of our road. It's like selling back your college textbooks at the end of the semester. We've done our research, we studied hard, we took all the practice quizzes. Now all that's left is the final exam.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

PIO: Pain no more

There are not many upsides to being an IVF verteran. But one of them is learning how to handle your shots. What scared you most before your first IVF gets hardly a thought by the time you're on your third. And I'm proud (and somewhat depressed) to report that J and I have mastered the PIO shot. Yes, mastered. No pain, minimal bruising and a daily butt massage just to keep the spice in our marriage.

For those of you struggling with PIO shots or the idea of PIO shots, I thought I'd share what works for us. The patented Sube Method requires help from a friend. It won't work for you brave, brave ladies who do the shot yourself. But then, if you can manage to do the shot yourself, you clearly don't need my assvice.

Pre-shot:
Place a warm heating pad on your rump for 5-10 minutes. It's best if the heating pad has a removable foam insert that you can wet. Wet heat works better than dry heat. Meanwhile, have your hubby warm the oil by holding the syringe in his hand or under his arm.

Shot:
Here's the secret: do the shot laying down. This was a huge revelation for us. All last cycle we did it standing up (er, that sounds naughty) and it was definitely hit or miss: sometimes painless other times hurting like the dickens. The key is to lie on your stomach with your feet hanging off the end of the bed. That makes it really easy to keep your butt muscles relaxed even if the rest of you isn't. Then tell your hubby to plunge away (er, again, naughty). The more confidence he has the better. Being tentative only makes it hurt more.

Post-shot:
Get your hubby to rub your butt to distribute the oil, then apply the heating pad for another 10 minutes or so.

Voila! Pain-free (or mostly pain-free) PIO shots.

Monday, September 25, 2006

In want of resolution

I just scheduled my beta blood draw for next Sunday. That's six days and counting for those of you playing along at home. Friends invited us to visit them at their lovely island home that Sunday, but we politely declined. No matter what the results are, it will be an emotional day. They don't need to be witness to my blubbering and/or sobbing. I'm not exactly a pretty crier. Besides, they're 5 months pregnant. Need I say more?

The thing I've realized about next Sunday is that we'll have an answer -- am I pregnant or not -- but what we won't have is a resolution. And it's a resolution I so desperately want (well, okay, it's a baby I so desperately want, but that goes without saying, doesn't it?). I am so ready to get off this IF roller coaster, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

If the beta is positive, we'll be thrilled, of course we will. But we'll also be terrified. We know all to well that a positive beta doesn't necessarily mean a baby in nine months. It's merely the first of many hurdles and from that moment on the anxiety will be off and running at full speed. As an IFer, there's no resting easy after a positive beta. As an IFer who's had a miscarriage, there's really no resting easy after a positive beta.

Nor is there resting easy after a negative beta. I don't think I've blogged about this yet -- it's hard to see it in writing -- but this is most likely our last cycle. My eggs seem to get crappier by the day, and more than that, I just don't think we have the emotional fortitude for another cycle. So I don't know where a negative beta would leave us. But I do know it would mean many many more months of soul searching and grieving. Not exactly a speedy resolution.

After my miscarriage, I told myself that I just needed to get through one more cycle. To just hold on long enough to make it through the shots, the monitoring, the procedures, the beta. I didn't think about getting through the aftermath, be it positive or negative.

But there's no turning around now. We must forge ahead trusting that someday this will all be over. Someday J and I will be sharing a cup of coffee on a quiet Sunday morning and we'll think back to when we were on the roller coaster. The pain will still be there, but it will be duller. The rough edges will have softened. We'll feel grateful to have moved beyond it even though we know it will never entirely leave us. And with any luck, we'll sigh, take a sip of coffee, and then go make breakfast for the kids.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

First and ten

For those of you who understood the 4th and long football analogy from my last post, here's another: we got the first down.

Two of our four embryos were of "excellent" quality. The RE said they looked even better than the embryos from our last cycle, which was (if only for a short time) a success. Sadly, the other two embryos are not progressing nearly as well and it's unlikely they'll make it to blastocyst stage to be frozen. We're disappointed about that, but mostly we're giddy. Two excellent embryos! Better even than last time! Considering we weren't sure we'd even have anything to transfer, that's exceedingly good news.

So this morning (day 3) we transferred one 8-cell and one 7-cell embryo. The picture is a bit wacky, but aren't they just lovely?


Beta is on October 1.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fragile

There is good news. The retrieval went well. Mostly pain free, except for the three tries it took to get the IV in place. And they got 13 eggs. By my standards, that's pretty impressive.

And then there is bad news. Of the 13 eggs retrieved, nine were mature. Of those nine, only four fertilized. The rest were too "fragile" to make it through the ICSI process.

Fragile. How ironic. It's a word I've thought of often over the past few months. I never used to think of myself as fragile, but as disappointments have piled themselves on one after the other, I feel more and more so. Is it possible that my eggs inherited my emotional state?

We're scheduled for a day 3 transfer on Tuesday. J, ever the optimist, reminds me we're still in the game. I know he's right. I just wish it wasn't 4th and long.

Friday, September 15, 2006

30-second post

I triggered last night. Retrieval is at 8:00 am tomorrow morning. I'm nervous. Go figure.

More details tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Day 10: Fun with cysts

I have a paraovarian cyst. It's a cyst that lives on the outside of my ovary and it's really no big deal. But it looks just like a follicle and shows up every time I have an ultrasound. And every time the wandmaiden pauses on the cyst and we all say hello. Just to remind ourselves that it's there. Today's ultrasound was no different: say hello to the paraovarian cyst, and then count and measure follicles.

But today the wandmaiden focused in on one particular follicle and started to measure, and I said, "Hey, isn't that the paraovarian cyst?" She stopped, moved the wand around a bit to get a different view, and said, "Oh, yeah, it is."

How sad is it that I can now distinguish my paraovarian cyst on an ultrasound? Instead of using the phrase "I know it like the back of my hand" I really should be saying, "I know it like the outside of my ovary."

Paraovarian cysts aside, I have 7 follicles that are greater than 14 mm (the point at which my clinic thinks they can reasonably expect a mature egg) and 8 others that are greater than 10 mm but less than 14 mm. My E2 is at 1513. We're doing one more day of stims in the hopes that some of the smaller ones will catch up. Another wanding is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Is it day 8 already?

Dear Internets,

I've been laying low this past week. You may have noticed? It's not that I don't love you. I do. But sometimes you demand more of me than I am able to give. Remember I told you about my need for self-preservation? Well, that manifested itself last week in a compulsion to ignore all things bloggy and focus instead on all things ice cream. The ice cream helped, and I'm better now. Thank you for asking.

Day 5 of stims came and went last Friday with little more than a yawn. Per usual, the bloodletting was a bear. And unsuccessful. An unsuccessful bear. They never did manage to get my blood, despite digging around in both arms for a good 20 minutes. But no matter, the ultrasound showed 14 promising follicles.

Today was day 8 of stims. And day 8 was lovely because it featured an (almost) painless blood draw! One poke and a little bit of digging, and presto! there was blood. I can't remember the last time I had such an uneventful blood draw. It made me so giddy I wanted to kiss the phlebotomist. But that would have been inappropriate, so I didn't. Instead I just made googly eyes at her.

My ultrasound showed 12 follicles between 9 and 14 mm. The wandmaiden assured me that was good. Last cycle at this point I was flirting with a mere 6 or 7 follicles, so 12 sounds downright gratuitous to me. My E2 came back at 859.

I'm scheduled for another wanding on Wednesday (day 10 of stims). I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Wish me luck on the blood draw. Until then, kisses.

Your BFF,
Sube

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pleased

These have been grumpy days. There are no two ways about it.

I'm frustrated that we have to do another cycle. I'm angry. I feel so very put-upon. I've made that abundantly clear in my posts over the past few weeks. To the point that Thalia wondered in one of her comments if there wasn't any joy at all? Nope. Not much right now, I'm afraid.

So how is it that there's this new little flutter in my chest? A slight lightening of my spirit? Why is it that when I take a look around, things don't seem quite as grim as they did before? I can only conclude that I have somehow, against my best efforts, managed to find some hope. Well, crap. What am I supposed to do with that?

At my suppression check today I had no cysts. I had one large-ish follicle at 8mm, but they weren't concerned about it. The wandmaiden counted 17 antral follicles. Seventeen! I don't remember exactly how many I've had in the past, but I know I'm not usually in double-digits territory. My RE said he was "pleased." Not pleased enough to lower my outrageous Follistim dose, but pleased nonetheless.

And somehow, though I cringe when I say it, I'm pleased too. Heaven help me.