Monday, May 31, 2010

My First Time

December 2009 - Cycle #13 (Memorial)

Professor's SA? Check.
Slackie's HSG? Check.
Clomid CD5-9? Check.
Weekly acupuncture? Check.
Gettin' our groove on whenever the mood strikes? CHECK!
Positive OPK? FAIL.
IUI? Missed the window.

So, best laid plans and all... ah well. We never quite figured out what went wrong. Maybe it was the generic brand OPKs, maybe it was just a coincidence of timing and a short LH surge. Whatever it was, I never got a positive OPK and when they brought me in for an ultrasound to see where things were at - we'd missed it. Now, we did at least have the comfort of knowing that we had been grooving throughout the window of opportunity, so maybe, just maybe...

And a few days after Christmas, maybe became YES. In spite of the failure of "the Plan", my period was late for the first time ever, so we picked up a home test, and lo and behold, it was positive. I called the clinic and they ordered the standard bloodwork, which also came back positive.

Once again, not sure why, but I was strangely wary of being excited. I knew I should be all Glowing and Joyful and Hallmark Moment, but I could only manage Cautiously Pleased. It seemed too good to be true that we had succeeded on our first full cycle with the RE. Already the doubt was creeping in.

When they called with the results of my third round of bloodwork, the nurse admitted that they were "concerned" that the numbers were not going up as they should, and they wanted me to come in for an ultrasound. I've done my homework on this infertility thing, and I could think of plenty of reasons for the low numbers (some of them scarier than others).

The ultrasound showed one small sac, hunkered down in just the right spot, but it was too small. So the verdict was wait and see, bloodwork every two days and another ultrasound one week out. Fast forward one week, bloodwork not improving and second ultrasound shows very little increase in size and no other development. Diagnosis: blighted ovum.

Blighted indeed.

I was a freaking hot mess. I think I went the whole week without showering, but I'm not even sure. I was so sad and angry and scared of what this meant for the larger picture. I never once thought of it as losing a baby. It wasn't a baby to me yet. It was an empty sac, never was and never would be anything else. I was sad for me, and angry that my body still hadn't gotten it right. Angry that we were going to have to wait untold weeks for this to resolve before we could start again. Angry that it was turning out to be so much harder than we thought it would be. Angry that so many girls and women could get knocked up so easily when they didn't even want to, didn't even like the person that knocked them up. The Professor and I adore each other and we just want to create a child that would be part of each of us, a reflection of just how immense our love is.

In the midst of all this, my BFF called to tell me she was pregnant. Two weeks behind me, her due date is my birthday. They'd been trying for six months. And I felt nothing but pure joy. I cannot describe what a relief it was to feel nothing but happy for her. I've read so many blog posts and tweets and statuses and comments from infertile women who were devastated when their close friends announced pregnancies, who eventually shut themselves off from their own social circles because of this. And I was scared that I would feel the same anger, resentment or jealousy towards my friend. But I didn't, and I still don't. And I'm so grateful for that. I eventually told her about my infertility and miscarriage, and she has responded exactly the way I needed her to. She never pushes me for updates or offers assvice, she just sends me little notes to say she's thinking of me. Just like she always has. If I send her an IF update, she offers encouragement or ass-kicking as appropriate. She doesn't see me any differently than before.

I took the misoprostol first thing on the next Saturday morning. I had stockpiled my supplies of maxi-pads, heating pads, Vicodin, water and audiobooks and settled into bed to wait. The Professor kept tabs on me, keeping me fed and hydrated and generally comforted. The whole thing took about six hours, after which I relocated to the couch to watch videos and feel sorry for myself. I didn't take the Vicodin until late that night when I just wanted to sleep. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected.

I spent the following day on the couch, just resting and recovering. My uterus felt like it had run a marathon. I had no abdominal muscle tone, couldn't suck in my gut to save my life. To top it all off, turns out my plumbing doesn't take well to Vicodin. Monday, I went to work like nothing had happened. No one in my office knew we were TTC, and I hadn't bothered to tell anyone about the pregnancy. Before work Tuesday, I went in for the post-misoprostol ultrasound. All clear. By the time I got to the office, I had crashed. I could barely drag myself into the building, much less think straight enough to work. I walked right into my boss' office, shut the door, sat down and started crying. I told her I had had a miscarriage and needed to go home. She told me to take as much time as I needed, and I did. We haven't mentioned it since.

By the time the bleeding stopped, my heart was healed. Really. I was only impatient to get back in the game. We had a follow-up consultation with the RE, and he professed himself very pleased with my response to the treatment in spite of the outcome, and agreed that we could go again once I'd had another period.

Perhaps, if we had seen something in that sac, a heartbeat or even just a fetal pole... something... it might have felt more like a baby, it might have taken longer to heal. But we didn't see anything, and that made it so much easier to bear in the long run.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

2WW Routine

The Infertility Doula wrote a post about how she handles the Two Week Wait, and asked the question - How do you cope with the 2WW? It's an excellent question, and is the experience that binds so many of us together no matter what path we take to reach that point. So here's how I cope (or not, as it often goes).

I've actually just started my 2WW and if it goes the way of the others, I will be cautiously optimistic for the first week and then get progressively more scatter-brained through the second.

My PMS symptoms are identical to pregnancy symptoms (sore boobs and nausea) with one exception... we'll call it intestinal regularity. My one pregnant 2WW I was unbearably constipated, whereas usually I go to the other extreme about 5 days before my period. TMI - I know, but that's the symptom I watch for, and that's the thing that sends hope spiraling every month. I also get what I call hamster-brain, where I can't stop my thoughts racing and spinning.

So yeah, about 5 days out, I lose hope and sink into a mental hole at which point I am certain that I am irreparably broken and this will never work. This makes the Professor so mad - to hear me talk about myself this way. He gets very stern with me and then very sweet and reminds me that it's US that matters. Two days out, I cave and use an HPT, which inevitably comes up negative. We have a phrase in our house, "Stick says NO".

Sometimes I get so far down, that when my period does turn up, I can't even face going to work. I lose all ability to focus, and spend way too much time staring into space. Brooding. I feel defeated, but determined, so I head back to the clinic. Then Hope, that bloody little beast, shakes itself off and hops back up on the twig.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


December 2009 - Cycle #13 (cont'd)

After 21 years of close encounters with speculums (speculi? specula?), my HSG was the first time I was ever tempted to pick my foot up out of the stirrup and kick the practitioner in the teeth!

It was my misfortune that my fertility clinic isn't permitted to perform the HSG in their facility, but instead must send their patients to the hospital to which the clinic is attached. So, rather than sitting in the plush, cozy clinic waiting room with the gourmet coffee and the original artwork, the Professor and I sat in hard plastic chairs in a narrow hallway in the hospital basement. And instead of the usual middle aged, well-practiced nurse confidently wielding a pre-warmed speculum, I was confronted by a somewhat awkward 16 year old boy (OK maybe he wasn't 16, but he was WAY younger than me) who may well never have held a speculum before in his life and certainly had no idea what to do with the one he was trying to use on me.


He eventually called a nurse over and she gave him some pointers, but I kept wishing she would just take over for him. At any rate, speculum finally in place (if not comfortable), he then proceeded to experience the same difficulty with the cervical catheter.


More advice from Nurse Sidelines and a call for delivery of a different type of catheter, and lo and behold! I'm curvy on the inside as well as the outside! You gotta bend that thing before it will go anywhere!

I suppose in the end it was all worth it, because Dr. Babyface did at least know how to read the images - all clear, structurally speaking. One more hurdle cleared!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

13 is my Lucky Number

Cycle #13 - December 2009

OK, well, we should have known better than to think we could get lucky so quickly. No biggie. We did see an improvement in my luteal phase, so we just need bigger guns (as it were). The next step was to be Clomid/IUI and before we were cleared for that I needed an HSG, an ultrasound and some bloodwork. The Professor needed an SA. And only 5 days to get all this done if we don't want to sit this cycle out!

Deep breath.

The SA is admittedly a touchy subject for most men. And I can totally see why - both sexes have so much invested emotionally in the ability to reproduce. Fear of failure as a representative of your sex is not gender bound. Neither is the courage to face your fears. I'm sure the Professor was nervous, but he boldly went where he needed to go. My hero! Needless to say, the text he sent me when they called with his results was freaking jubilant.

Super-Sperm (cue triumphant music)!

Higher than average in every factor: quantity, motility, morphology. He aced it! He was so very brave and so very relieved... as was I. At least now we only had my issues to overcome! I even felt a little guilty over this huge advantage we'd been given. So many other couples have so much more to fight.

For my part, the ultrasound and bloodwork all came back clear. All that remained was my HSG. That's for another day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beginning Again

Cycle #12

After 10 months and 11 cycles TTC, my midwife sent me straight to the fertility clinic. Why didn't I talk to her sooner? Good effing question. We were just so sure that each cycle would be our last...

At this point, I accepted that we were going to need help. I started getting acupuncture before we even got to the RE. The Professor was taking all the recommended "manly" vitamins to give his boys an extra advantage. We began to discuss the possibility of one or both of us having a "problem". And we resolved to do everything in our power to overcome it.

The day we went for our first consult with the RE, I printed out my cycle spreadsheet and took it along with all of the other forms they had us fill out in advance. After 20 minutes of conversation, question and answer, and a review of my spreadsheet, we got a preliminary diagnosis. Luteal Phase Deficiency. Barring any other issues, this was imminently treatable! No problemo! Easy-peasy! As we began to discuss treatment plans, I felt it. I ovulated right there in the office. The previous day OPK had told me it was coming, and there it was.

The RE handed me a prescription for progesterone suppositories to begin that night. We were off and running. For a good twelve days, until my period showed up early.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In the Beginning

Cycle #1

The Professor and I were married in 2008 and decided that, come the New Year, we would start trying to expand our family from two to three. Three months out, I had a pre-TTC visit to the midwife and started popping prenatal vitamins and some extra vitamin D (when we discovered I was severely deficient).

In January 2009, I felt the thrill of a new adventure as I finished the last of my birth control pills and tossed the empty package into the bin. I think I may have even waved cheerfully good-bye to it. We decided that since I'd been on the pills for so many years, we shouldn't really try too hard that first month (I hear you laughing) and I am mildly obsessed with spreadsheets, so in addition to my monthly expenses sheet and my daily calories sheet, I started a cycle tracking sheet.

For the first time in 21 years, I ovulated (almost right on schedule). I will admit to being a little surprised. To my immense relief, age seemed to have mellowed the pain to the point of being bearable without medication. My period, when it arrived, was nothing to write home about.

Cycle #2-5

We were so blasé, so confident, so very naive. We were fully committed to maximizing our chances. I was carefully tracking and recording every detail of my cycle. We didn't get our groove on every day, but we came damn close! I was even feeling guilty for accepting my new job when I was sure to be taking maternity leave before the year was up.


Cycle #6-11

I know how old I am. In spite of the Professor's many assurances to the contrary, I was beginning to be concerned about how many months we'd been trying, given my age. I kept seeing references to the suggestion that women over 35 should see their doctor if they hadn't conceived in 6 months of diligent and purposeful intercourse.

But around cycle #6, I started to notice changes in my body. I had put on a few pounds, my hair had suddenly gotten much curlier than usual, my skin was beginning to break out and my periods were getting heavier. We decided that the birth control pills were maybe only just clearing out of my system. Maybe that was why I wasn't pregnant yet?

Because of my fanatical tracking, I knew we were nailing the timing and every month we were just certain that we'd finally done it. And every month, we were wrong.

In the midst of all this, my boss announced her pregnancy and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and shortly thereafter underwent a mastectomy. That's when I started having the heart palpitations.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dad's Biggest Fear

My father's biggest fear from the time I left home home for college was that I would get knocked up before I found a husband. Funny, huh? He actually begged me once (after the Professor and I shacked up) to "please just don't get pregnant till you get married". Oh how I did laugh!

Diagnosed at the age of 15 with severe dysmenorrhea (with the expectation of eventual endometriosis), ovulation was so painful that it landed me in the ER repeatedly, and my periods were so painful, heavy and extended that I missed school each month and eventually became anemic. Treatment prescribed was good old birth control pills, and suddenly my life was changed.

I tried to go off my pills once in my twenties and landed right back in the ER. So back on the pills, and back in the game. Never a late period, never an "uh-oh" moment.

I used to joke to friends that if I ever got knocked up, they would know it was immaculate conception. Not far from the truth, and not so funny anymore.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet the Players

Hi! My name is Slackie O. and this is my husband, the Professor (he's wicked smart).

Nice to meet you, too!

We are two not-quite-as-young-as-we-used-to-be professionals, living our version of the high life. We met in college in 1995, shacked up in 2000 and made the whole thing official in 2008. We've seen enough of the world to know just how good we've got it.

As the side note says, we've been enjoying our glamorous and misspent youths. We were fans of dinner out, the latest gadgets and geekery, impromptu vacations and immediate gratification. Not so much fans of societal expectations, and not in much of a hurry. Two only children, determined to do things our own way, we still dig in our heels against any pressure from parents and friends. Childish perhaps, but hey, there's something to be said for self awareness.

We are that couple you see in the grocery store late at night, giggling in one aisle and then snuggling in the next. After 15 years, we're still THAT couple, that are clearly so crazy about each other, that can't quite keep their hands off each other, that kinda turn your stomach because they're just so damn cute.

Sorry. We like to think of ourselves as lucky.

The main reason we decided to make the whole thing official was that we reached a place where we felt like adding our child into the mix was finally right for us. That we love each other so much, that creating a new life together is the best way to express it. Up to that point, we hesitated to do anything that might undermine our relationship. Now, the potential benefits of expanding our family outweigh the risks to "US". We're a little less childish and a lot more confident in our relationship.

We are now coming to terms with the possibility that it might only ever be "just us", but we're still hoping for more.

And I'm sorry, but no, I will not watch my mouth!