Sunday, April 29, 2007

Out again

I'm pretty sure this cycle was a bust. A blood test tomorrow will likely prove it. I'm having a hard time even feeling disappointed ... this is what happens, right? You shoot yourself full of drugs and time everything as well as you can and follow directions and take your prenatals and wait thinking this time might be different, only it isn't. I'm beginning to doubt the presence of any eggs at all. I think my ovaries were just blowing bubbles on the ultrasound or something. Stupid feckless organs.

This time is different in one way, though. This time, I'm going to ask the nurse to check with the RE to see if he has any big ideas about how we should move forward *now*, instead of having any surprises sprung on us this month when we're trying to order the injectables and only have a short window of time for appointments.

Live and learn.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How do you know what's normal ...

... when normal isn't normal for you?

I'm having some abdominal pain today, 36 hours after the trigger shot, but I don't know whether that's to be expected with 6-8 eggs bursting out all at once. Called and left a message for the nurse but haven't heard back yet.

Work this morning is supposed to involve crawling around on the floor with a group of preschoolers. Since I can only bend gingerly at the waist, that's going to be ... interesting.

ETA: The nurse called back. Cramping is normal. It may last 2-3 weeks. If it gets bad, I should "cut back on my activity level."


Monday, April 16, 2007

Quick update

The good trend continued at this morning's ultrasound. This time around our doctor is happy with the number, size, and "symmetry" of the follicles. What looked like a systemic problem last time now looks like it might just have been a too-low dosage of the injectables.

Of course, that means we're just right back into the cycle of waiting and hoping... but at least it looks like there may be justification for that hope again.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

It's back

I have to admit that I spent the last couple of weeks almost totally convinced that this cycle was going to fail. It was bad enough that twenty-four hours after the ultrasound, the cautiously good news had not sunk in at all.

But today I have caught myself feeling hope several times. It feels kind of battered and bruised, but it is back.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cautiously optimistic

Today's ultrasound showed six promising follicles and one probable dud.

My RE seemed pleased, and said this cycle looks much better than the last one: "You *can* be nudged."

If I understand him correctly, if the decreased ovarian reserve were severe, we would have seen about the same response as last time despite the higher dose of medicine. Last time, though, SF and I had thought we understood the response was pretty good, and we were completely blindsided by the news that it wasn't. I seem to have developed a wariness about our doctor's optimism -- maybe he's only optimistic because we haven't uncovered the next problem yet.

But if you don't have that kind of optimism, what do you have?

And will it be a little bit easier whatever happens this time, now that I have thought for days straight about worst case scenarios?

Just as an aside ... I think it was the student doctor's first ultrasound of this kind. (ouch!) My RE explained to her what the ovaries and the uterine lining looked like on the screen, and I had the astonishing realization that I knew what we were looking at before she did.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Checking back in ...

I checked out there for a few days ... my period came literally as I was writing the previous post, and the doctor was able to fit us in on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. The ultrasound showed a couple of small follicles, but both small enough not to worry about.

I started injections on Easter -- an auspicious time, as my RE pointed out, to start fertility treatments.

No real stress since then, save for a few minutes of puzzlement when we couldn't tell for certain that I'd got the full shot volume out of the Gonal-F pen. (The button doesn't go in as smoothly or as fully as on the Follistim pen. I haven't noticed bruises this time like last time, though I don't know whether there's a difference between the pens or whether I just got better at giving the shots.)

So ... yeah. No real reason not to post, other than just that I sometimes get tired of thinking about it all the time.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Power

In college, my roommate and I marvelled at the power we had to control our periods using only the power of our minds. If we wanted them to come, they didn't. If we didn't want them to come, they did. The Power carried us through vacations, formal dances, exams, you name it.

In spite of all of the other madness surrounding infertility treatments, I have not lost The Power. I finished this month's round of birth control on Sunday night, and I really, really, really wanted my "visitor" to arrive as soon as possible so as not to make the ultrasounds conflict with Easter weekend. We're now at Maundy Thursday and she's only phoned to say she'll be here ... sometime soonish ... probably.

I am, of course, completely freaking out about getting the ultrasound scheduled at the proper time. If you ever think trying not to have a baby makes you an expert at period math, just wait until you're trying to have one. If regular period math is like arithmetic, this is like statistics and probability, and it never leaves your head:

"If it starts today, then the ultrasound must be Friday or Saturday, if they even do them the Saturday before Easter, but if it doesn't start until tomorrow, I need to call as soon as possible, because maybe they'd be able to fit me in before the holiday, but what if the blood lab isn't open, and if it starts Saturday I need to get ahold of them that morning because Monday will be the only day possible for an ultrasound, and what if it's one of those ones that starts with spotting and how do I figure out what's day one in that case because if we miss it everything will be messed up and wrong and we will never have a child and it will be even more all my fault than it already is."

Jeez ... maybe I shouldn't be surprised she hasn't shown up. I wouldn't want to visit me, either.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

One week later

The absolute, complete, utter, and perhaps naive shock is starting to wear off. Last week's visit to the doctor is still the first thing I think of when I wake up, but it's ceased feeling like a punch to the gut so much as a chest-tightening, "oh ... right" as the memory returns.

I keep finding myself sitting still for too long, living too much inside my head while the dishes pile up in the sink and the laundry remains half done. Our house is still a mess from the drywall, which needs one more day of work to be finished. There's stuff everywhere because we've no place to put it when it can't go where it belongs, and each time I look around I worry about having spent the money on repairs.

We can't bankrupt ourselves to get a baby, but at this point, every option is expensive: IVF, donor eggs, adoption. Among other belt-tightening measures, SF and I have challenged ourselves not to go to any restaurants until May 1, to help both budget and waistlines, but it all feels a little bit like pishin in the ocean.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Pulling it all together

I went to see Ira Glass last weekend, and he talked about how they put stories together on This American Life. It's the same as putting together a sermon, he said: draw your listeners in with an anecdote that leaves them wondering something, give the facts, and then tell what it means -- make some larger point using the story you've told.

I realize I haven't been doing that in these blog posts. It's tough -- when you're still in the middle of the story, you don't know what it means yet. We're still not sure what kind of story we're in, though I for one am hoping for a feelgood romantic comedy, and not Ben Elton's "Maybe Baby." ... Though Hugh Laurie and Adrian Lester can stop by our story anytime they want, I'd rather it didn't end in SF and me, still childless, trying to patch up a broken marriage.

Sometimes,though, you get glimpses of ideas even from the vantage point of the middle. Driving to work today I noticed a larger theme to this past week. Whether we chose it consciously or stumbled on it, I don't know. I mentioned the Great Big Sea and Susan Werner songs. SF and I also went to see "Meet the Robinsons" over the weekend. Besides having me trying to snif back tears ("Stupid *snif* Disney *snif* movie") over the stuff about unwanted kids, it also offered one more piece of advice:

Keep moving forward.

One way or another, that's what we hope to do.

Monday, April 2, 2007

"Let it go, let it go ...

... This is smaller than you know
It's no bigger than a pebble lying on a gravel road
Let it go, let it go
Got to leave it all behind you
Give the sun a chance to find you
Let it go"

--Great Big Sea, "Let it Go"

The doctor's news last week felt like a kick to the stomach. My breath completely left me. I could think questions, but I couldn't make my voice work to ask any of them.

Then I got sick again. I cried and cried Wednesday morning, and my head never cleared up afterwards. It felt like I had a blanket wrapped around it with the ends stuck in my ears. And I had a conference about babies and children to attend for three days starting that afternoon. So I tried as much as possible not to think about it all.

Now, five days and an era later, I still can't quite make my words work to talk about it here. This blog post has been sitting unfinished for days. I was about to say it is going to remain unfinished yet again and post it as it was, but --

-- that's a copout. So ...

Let's start with what I know.

1. This isn't fair. None of it is fair. It isn't fair to me, and it certainly isn't fair to SF.

2. Other people do have it worse. This does not justify feeling guilty for feeling bad about our situation.

3. I still have not learned to handle uncertainty. I can sell most any certain thing to myself: we will have our own child; we will use an unknown egg donor; we will ask a friend or family member to donate; we will adopt; we will remain childless. But I cannot easily hold all those ideas as possibilities in my head. Contrasting the ones we'd prefer with the others hurts.

4. I love a lot of people to whom I am not genetically related. I have no reason to believe a baby should be any different. Thus, the problem is getting past the idea of not passing my genes. Which, let's face it, must not be great or we wouldn't be in this sitch. But -- never seeing what happens when you mix my face and my husband's. No "he has your eyes," or "she has your hair" ... That hurts.

5. I have a husband who, my mother tells me, would eat glass for me. (I told her I hope he doesn't.)

6. I wish our doctor had prepared us more fully for this possibility. He told us at the outset of treatment a year ago, "I don't see you getting to the point where you're trying IVF." Now we're at a point where IVF with my eggs may not even work.

7. Music helps. Great Big Sea's lyrics remind me that I have a choice about how much to let this control how I feel about my life. Here's another, one that looks forward instead of dwelling on the present. Coincidentally, it started to play on my computer just as I typed "Here's another."

And some would say
That time has passed me by
And some would say
That the wells have all run dry
Some would say
That's how its meant to be
So some would say
But I beg to disagree

Cause I know good fortune waits for me somewhere
I will have my portion I will have my share
I'll keep my feet in motion til they carry me there
I will have my portion I will have my share

Cause I do believe
There's a harvest in the field
I do believe
There's truth to be revealed
I do believe
There's treasure to be found
And I do believe
There's enough to go around

I know good fortune waits for me somewhere
I will have my portion I will have my share
I'll keep my feet in motion til they carry me there
I will have my portion I will have my share

Cause somewhere there's a blessing and it bears my name
and soon or late, it's coming to me just the same
Can't wait to see
What's set aside for me
With every new sunrise
I'm gonna keep my eyes wide open

--Susan Werner, "I Will Have My Portion," from her new album The Gospel Truth

8. One way or another, I have to remind myself, the uncertainty will not last. Each month tells us better where we are. And the months will pass.