Sunday, December 9, 2012

Uncharted Territory

We had our first ultrasound late last week. One little inhabitant with a heartbeat, measuring exactly on target. This is a first in our four year journey. There were more than two people with tears in their eyes at the clinic that morning. I swear the nurses came out of the woodwork to congratulate us. It was so very sweet.

I have to admit, it was just a little bittersweet to see that there was only one. We will not be doing another cycle for any reason. We are done, and there are no freezer babies. If this little one makes it, he/she will be an only child. It's hard to explain... we are both only children and I think we are feeling the pressure as our parents begin to age. I suppose a sibling is no guarantee of shared burden or support, but it just seems like it would be nice to have one.

I had blood work done as well and they are beginning to wean me off some of my meds already. I will have one more blood draw in two weeks to determine the next dosage reduction and will be off all meds entirely sometime between Christmas and New Year's. SO SOON!

As my midwife requested, I sent her an email after the scan to let her know the details. She was also very excited and told me to go ahead and call for an appointment. Sadly, I will not be having another scan, probably until the NT scan with my midwife in January (I think).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good, Bad & Ugly

GOOD: Beta #3 came back over 4,300 which means it continues to more-than-double every 48 hours. The clinic is very pleased, so they don't need any more bloodwork. Our first ultrasound will be late next week.


BAD: I have had three asthma attacks in eight days requiring my rescue inhaler. My midwife told me about 30% of pregnant women with asthma will see an increase in attacks. Once again, I am the "lucky" one.


UGLY: Lots of spotting this morning... all brown/beige. No cramping. I called the clinic and the nurse assured me that this was quite normal and as long as it stayed brown and there were no cramps, I should try not to worry. Easier said than done. It seems to have cleared up. Here's hoping it stays that way.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Results Are In (or Holy Shit! I'm Actually Pregnant!)

There you have it!

12dpD3t - BETA#1 (106)
14dpD3t - BETA#2 (272) YAY!!!!!! More than double in 48 hours. I'm finally starting to think this might just be OK. Definite improvement over my only other BFP ever, at any rate.

That first beta saw the fastest blood results ever at one hour and ten minutes from draw to call. The blood processing lady was actually standing at the door while the tech drew my blood and whisked it away for immediate processing. One hour and ten minutes later and my RE called personally. He gave us a due date at the end of July and told me to stay on all my meds and go for my second beta in 48 hours. The really funny thing was that the nurse called three hours later to give me my numbers. She had no idea my RE had snapped up my results and called me personally.

I will admit to being somewhat in shock. And still half convinced that it will all go wrong somewhere. But RIGHT NOW... I am pregnant.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

PSA: Stopping vs Quitting

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT an announcement of the outcome of our cycle (beta results in a few days). It is simply a subject that has been weighing on my mind in recent weeks.

Apparently, it has to be said. Stopping is not the same as Quitting.

It is a subtle difference, but an important one. Quitting implies action ceased due to frustration or fear of failure. Stopping implies action ceased due to desire, an educated decision or strength of conviction.

I knew going into this DEIVF cycle that it would be our last, no matter the outcome. Our hearts and our wallets are exhausted. This was part of our decision making process going into the cycle... do we have the reserves to get through even this one more? We decided that we did, but that it had to be the final attempt. Half way through the cycle, I had the realization that indeed, I do not have the heart to do this ever again. In the card we wrote to include with our gift for our egg donor, I thanked her for giving us the opportunity to find peace no matter the outcome. And that is just the thing. This cycle represents our limit. We can move into our future knowing that we did everything we could. We will not look back and regret stopping here. Of course, a negative result or another loss will be heartbreaking without question. But we can find peace.

In this community, those few of us who resolve our infertility journey by choosing to move on child free are often rather frightening to those still in the trenches. They see only "giving up" without the release of a future that was chosen. They offer support in the form they themselves still need: encouragement to keep trying, keep looking for answers, get another opinion. It is well intentioned, but misplaced support.

What we really need, when we reach this point, is for the community to wish us peace with our choice. We need respect for the strength it has taken to make that choice. We need to not be ignored, just because our situation makes people uncomfortable. We also need to remember that resolving this journey without a child does not invalidate the years of struggle and the experiences we have had. We can be a resource to those still struggling. We can be an inspiration to those who are questioning their reserves.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making PIO My Bitch

I am happy to report that the PIO shots continue to go smoothly and (very nearly) painlessly. They hurt about as much as the old GonalF injections, which is to say, not much to speak of. I can honestly say I'd take the PIO shot instead of a flu shot any day! I also tend to bruise if you look at me too hard, but my backside remains unmarked.

Since this is notably unusual, I thought I would share our technique as best I can. Keep in mind, neither of us is a medical professional and your doctor may have different instructions for you. Below are the instructions our doctor gave us.

1. Warm the PIO to body temperature by tucking the vial into my bra for about 30 minutes pre-shot.
2. Swab the top of the vial and then the injection site with alcohol.
3. Using the larger needle, pull out the syringe plunger to 1cc (my dose) and insert into the vial.
4. Push plunger in completely and then draw the dose into the syringe, taking care to eliminate any bubbles.
5. Switch to the smaller (injecting) needle and push the plunger carefully until a bead of oil appears at the end of the needle.
6. I bend over the back of a chair, resting my ribcage on the chair back and my elbows on the table, putting all my weight on my left leg for a right-side injection (or my right leg for a left-side injection).
7. Prof uses one hand to pinch up the flesh in the target area and the other hand to work the syringe.
8. Needle goes in all the way, and quickly.
9. Prof maintains the "pinch" with one hand and shifts his grip on the syringe to be more stable/steady.
10. Pull back on the plunger. If blood appears in the syringe, pull the needle out and reinsert in a different spot. If the plunger resists and there is no blood, proceed with the injection (maintaining the "pinch" at all times).
11. When the full dose has been injected, remove the needle and apply pressure with a sterile gauze pad.
12. Massage gently, stroking outward from the injection site to disperse the oil.
13. Apply a band-aid (just in case). The band-aid also helps me remember which side was done last.

PSA - Never reuse needles and always dispose of them in an approved sharps container.

In discussing this with Prof, we've decided that confidence on the part of the person wielding the needle goes a long way to minimizing pain.* Don't hesitate! Get the needle all the way in quickly, in one stroke, then keep the syringe steady (no wiggling). While injecting, push the plunger in slowly and evenly. Prof takes nearly 10 seconds the push through the 1cc dose.

*If the person doing the injecting needs some practice to build their confidence, an orange makes a good target (just use water in the syringe). This will provide an opportunity to work on quick insertion and maintaining a steady hand while managing the syringe one-handed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

And Then There Were None (UPDATED)

The clinic called on Day6 to let us know that none of the remaining six embryos made it to blastocyst. As such they are not viable and will be discarded. I knew the quality wasn't great, but it was a severe shock to realize they are all gone. I spent the day crying on and off. I know they transferred the two best on Day3, but I now have serious doubts about their chances.

Prof said that as disappointing and worrying as it is, at least this is a clear end. If this cycle works, it works. If it doesn't, we are done. We don't even have to worry about whether or not to do an FET. He is right on that score, but that doesn't make it hurt any less today.

UPDATED: For the record, there is not really a concern with the donor's egg quality. She was a proven donor with a highly successful previous record. We do not have any idea what went wrong.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Transfer (and Correction)

Transfer went smoothly - two eight-cell embryos! You gotta love those high-res ultrasound machines - and seeing the little white bubble left behind when they pulled back the catheter. I was instructed to take two days of couch-rest (no cooking/cleaning or other exertion) and we got a little picture to take home.

It turns out, since we had fewer than 10 viable eggs they used ICSI on all of them. All eight that fertilized were still growing at the time of transfer, though the embryologist did say some of them were growing slowly and wouldn't be expected to make it to freeze (he didn't say how many). He will call us later this week to let us know the final stats.

We have also started the PIO shots and I am happy to report that so far, it does not hurt one bit. Prof has lots of IM injection experience from the days when he helped care for his Dad, so I'm guessing that helps. Dare I hope this will continue to be the case?

So now, we wait. Of course my RE is one of those who like a little extra time before beta, so it will be nearly Thanksgiving before we have any real results. We are still debating the wisdom of POAS (I am pro and Prof is con). I am remarkably calm for now and very much aware that if this going to work, it will work and there's not much else I can do. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just the Facts (UPDATED)

After a certain amount of drama resulting from storm-related issues, our donor took her trigger shot and our retrieval is done!* My original medication calendar has been revised so many times that they had to write me a new one from scratch. It has been... a roller coaster of a week, but for the moment there is hope.

Prof went by himself to drop off the swim team (a first in our ART adventures). Afterwards, he said the crowd in the waiting room was particularly bizarre. So bizarre that he thought perhaps someone slipped some LSD in his coffee.

The nurse called a few hours post-retrieval to let us know that we got eleven eggs. They will do ICSI on half and let the rest fertilize naturally (or as naturally as possible when floating in a petri dish). Don't ask me how they "half" an odd number of eggs...

Welcome to my sci-fi life.

Nine of the eleven eggs were mature.
Eight fertilized.
We are scheduled for a Day3 transfer.

*You wouldn't believe the amount of tension and relief deceptively encapsulated in that single sentence. Really, I should get some kind of award for understatement there.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I'm so scared that this will be another one of those cycles, where just enough goes RIGHT before it all goes wrong... leaving us feeling like we really should dig just a little deeper and give it another shot. Funny. It only rarely occurs to me that things might only go right, and then that little voice says, "Yeah, sure. I've got a bridge you might be interested in as well."

This time last year, I was processing the fact that my ovaries were out of the game. We spent nearly three months debating the decision between walking away and getting on with a childfree future versus one last hurrah with donor eggs. Ultimately, the whole point of moving to donor eggs was to reach a place where we wouldn't feel like we should have done something more.

I'm afraid of the cycle failing, but being left feeling like there's more we could try.

Monday, October 29, 2012

One Step Closer

We had our lining check and YAY for another 10mm triple stripe! My ovaries may be slackers, but my uterus is a very diligent worker. We are expecting an update on the donor's progress any day, at which point we will have a better idea what the rest of the calendar looks like. Of course, like any IVF cycle, things will remain flexible and tentative until the last minute. Naturally, this has served as a wake-up call to the hamsters in my brain and my anxiety has suddenly exploded. Until quite recently, I was calm and unconcerned. Today, I need more information like a junkie needs a fix. I am ready to crawl out of my skin for lack of information. I also feel like I have a massive reserve of energy that needs to be targeted to some sort of "productive" project. Like a crochet blanket, or perhaps building a second bathroom on our house. With my bare hands.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

We also had our IM injection instruction "refresher". We did have the verbal instruction a year and half ago, but as we never made it to retrieval in an IVF cycle, we have never had an opportunity to put it into practice. THUS. Prof had to perform a practice injection in the presence of the nurse when my lining check was complete. Neither of us was expecting that. I mean, we knew we would have to do a PIO injection at some point, just not right that moment.

The nurse did a dry run so we could see the process and drew the targets on my hips. I was surprised how high up and how small the viable area was. Not much room for site rotation in those little circles... I was having a really hard time refraining from vomiting and/or running from the room in a panic with my pants around my knees. The nurse then turned it over to Prof and he did the actual injection (with saline only as it's still too early in the cycle for actual PIO). He totally nailed it! I barely felt it. That great huge needle, all those nerves... and it was much less painful than a flu shot.

I've seen so much talk about the trauma of PIO injections. The huge needle, the excruciating pain... I know that once we're dealing with oil instead of saline the after-effects will be more troublesome, but at least I've conquered the fear of the giant needle itself.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I had to go back and review my notes from the mock cycle to check if the side effects I'm seeing now are a repeat of those I had previously. Good news? They are. I'm so glad I took notes!

The crazy thoughts and fears, the bloating... all down to lup.ron. And lo and behold, now that my estrogen is rising, the crazy is fading fast (though not the bloat... sad trombone). Knowing the crazy for what it was made it SO much easier to ride it out this time. I've really been surprisingly calm so far, though a little more diligent about my meds schedule than I was during the mock cycle. I am also loving the smaller estrogen patches y'all. I am now sporting four of these little transparent beauties and I barely know they are there! I love them even more for having been covered by insurance...

We have not yet received an update on our donor, but she is stimming now. We are hoping to get an update in the next few days. Trigger should be sometime next week and at that time, Prof will get his appointment to drop off our swim team on retrieval day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 Creme de la Creme

Just a quick heads-up... the 2012 Creme de la Creme is open for submissions! Please note that there is a new deadline this year - so get yours in while you still can.

I did.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Feelings and Numbness


Hope of finally seeing a BFP and a heartbeat.
Absolute certainty that this cycle will not work.
Terror at the notion of telling our parents, either way.
Stress and anxiety stemming from our busy season at work.
Relief that our busy season at work wrapped up on Saturday.
Happy that BFF(H) is pregnant and NOT suffering secondary IF (there was some concern).
Disbelief at the pregnancy announcement from the couple whose wedding we attended in August. Who am I kidding... disbelief isn't really the word.


What if DEIVF works for us and we actually get a take-home baby?
What if DEIVF doesn't work for us?

I keep remembering BFF(B) asking me how I felt about all this. I still don't know... I somehow just don't. Either way, I just want to get on with my life. I really need to start remembering my mouth guard at night. My lips are numb from clenching my jaw.

Cycle Update

My lup.ron shots are under way. The crazy kicked in pretty fast this time, but I've been riding it out better knowing it for what it is. I will start estrogen later this week and if it goes like last time, that will make me feel much better in no time. I'm not sure what's going on with our donor, but I'm assuming all is well or they would call us. I know they will call when they schedule her retrieval, but that is quite a ways off still.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Paying Our Dues (UPDATED)

We handed in our payment for our upcoming donor egg cycle today.

First thing this morning, we went to the bank to get a cashiers check for the clinic. It should be noted that I NEVER go into the bank. I normally do everything either online or at the ATM, but this had to be done in person. Due to amount on the check, we had to provide the payee name. I deliberately did not look at the teller when I handed her the form. When she handed us the transaction receipt, I didn't see the processing fee so I asked her which account she took it from and she just waved a hand and said, "Don't worry about it". It was only five dollars, but it was a nice gesture so I thanked her and we left.

As we got into the car, Prof mentioned that he always seems to get that same teller when he goes to the bank and they always chat. I commented that it was nice of her to waive the check fee and he told me that he was looking at her face when I handed her the form and "she went soft around the eyes when she read it".

All of our paperwork has been signed and delivered.
Our cycle is paid in full.
My meds have been delivered.
My mid-cycle monitoring has been scheduled.
I start my shots in a little more than week.
We will know our results by American Thanksgiving.

UPDATED: By some minor miracle, my insurance covered all of MY meds for this cycle except the Lup.ron (which is only $200). They weren't covered for the mock cycle, but they are this time. And switching the estrogen patches to a different brand in order to get a smaller patch meant they were covered too - nearly 60 patches for just a $35 copay. I hope these are signs of good things to come and not the universe trying to soften the blow.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

Our donor got her period and we are both on BCP now. Yes, it IS pretty weird to think that she is somewhere across town gearing up for this cycle and she too is hoping we get a take-home baby. We have a tentative calendar. I take my BCP from today and start my other meds in October. We are targeting to transfer in early November and hope to know the outcome by American Thanksgiving.

Since this will be our first time doing a transfer, it will also be our first experience with PIO. I have already been informed by the nurse that I will take my PIO in the AM and progesterone supps in the PM. Not either/or. It has to be both. I am pushing to have those reversed as I would much prefer to do the PIO in the evening when I can sulk on a heating pad afterwards rather than rushing off to work for the day. She did say she would ask the doctor.

We have updated our families and they are suitably excited. We aren't giving out specific information like exact timelines. I just don't want to feel like I need to send out a newsletter every time we have an appointment or a call from the RE. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm having some trouble managing my father's expectations. He is just SO excited...

I also told my BFF (once again, just the basics). She kept asking, "How do you feel about this?" Honestly, I didn't even know how to answer that. Anxious, excited, hopeful, scared... mostly disbelieving and a little "blank" inside. Clearly I'm protecting myself from a negative outcome. It's just that it's still so hard to imagine anything working for us. She said to me, "It will feel more real when you see the positive." I replied that I think maybe it would feel more real at 24 weeks. I could tell from the look on her face that she gets it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Match Made

We have an egg donor.

We received the profile last week, sat with it over the weekend and accepted it today.

As I've mentioned previously, our clinic's donor program is strictly anonymous so the information we have to go on is pretty minimal. She is in her mid-twenties and very healthy and her family medical history is outstanding. We do have slightly more detail than that, but I don't think I'll be posting it here. The donor program coordinator (who has met her in person) says that her body type and general appearance are a good match for mine, though we would never be mistaken for one another.

That's all I need to know.

This is so surreal. I feel like I'm living in a sci-fi novel.

Friday, August 17, 2012

No News

We still have not heard from the clinic about donor profiles. Haven't even heard anything about WHEN we might hear something. Just waiting. Impatiently. Tap, tap, tapping my fingers...

Tripped and fell headlong into the deep, dark, I'm-Going-To-Be-40-In-A-Month hole this week. It's been a rough week. I'm going to refrain from spewing the full depth of the darkness here. Suffice it to say, it's not good.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Seeing Red

At last! I finished my course of Prov.era last Wednesday and finally got my bleed this Wednesday. When I called the clinic to report in, they told me they had a call out to the donor they chose for us and were waiting to hear back from her.

I start back on the BCP tomorrow and wait for the clinic to call me with a donor profile. If their first choice says yes, it could be days. If she declines, who knows. Hurry up and wait!

Friday, July 13, 2012

And Now, For Something Completely Different

For my next trick ladies and gentlemen, I will fail - completely and utterly - to bleed. Or I should say rather, I HAVE failed. For the first time ever (excepting the nine weeks I spent harboring the blighted ovum). When the lovely nurse declared my mock cycle a triple-striped success and gave me the go-ahead to peel off the patches and stop with the shots, she told me I should expect to bleed within a week, two at most, and if I didn't bleed after two weeks to call in for further instruction.

Instruction, in this case, meant "Go to the lab and get lots of blood drawn. Immediately." Two hours later, I had my blood drawn while fully hydrated for the first time in my memory (read: after 8:00 am). Turns out that was a mistake, and my choice of a black sweater that morning was not. Yes, I had been hoping for a bleed. But not from a vein.

Another two hours (HOW did they get those results so fast, I ask you?!) and the nurse called to tell me that I am not pregnant and will not be bleeding without further assistance. Here's hoping seven days of Prov.era will get things going.

This is uncharted territory for me. Somehow, I feel more helpless now than I remember feeling in the whole of the last three and a half years. I can't even bleed right anymore. I can't feel like this is a good sign.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blast From the Past

And not in a good way. Y'all remember Dr. Hate? The RE who schooled me for being distressed because I only had one follicle and wonky E2 levels on my last official IUI before getting pointed to IVF... and then dismissed my concerns with "It only takes one."

I saw her today while I was out picking up lunch. GUT PUNCH. She landed a big fancy new job and her office is very near mine.

It took every ounce of restraint I possess not to slap her right there at the cash register. I'm sure she didn't even recognize me, but just seeing her made me go all hot and ugly words started bubbling up in my throat. It made me wonder if she has any idea how much loathing there is for her in the world (because I know for a fact that I'm not the only patient she talked to like that).

Yeah, I know... holding onto that anger is not healthy and I really need to let it go, but DAMN.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ticked Off and Triple Stripe

One more to-do ticked off the list. The mock cycle is complete, right on schedule.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me mention that my E2 blood work earlier this week came back way too low. The ginormous estrogen patches weren't having enough impact, so they added little blue estrogen tablets to my protocol (not to be taken orally) which had the unusual side effect of blue cervical mucus. Good times here in SlackieLand!

The emotional roller coaster evened out quite a bit with the decrease in the lu.pron dose and the addition of the estrogen, though the headaches continued undiminished. I was doing OK until Thursday when I had to increase the number of patches to four and ran out of unused belly real estate. These things are ridiculous! They are perfectly round and about three inches in diameter. As a result, I had to place them higher on my abdomen than I liked and BOY was that a miserable sensation! Every move I made caused the patches to pull and pucker and it was driving me batshit. There was an awful lot of pouting on the couch last night.

This morning was the Big Reveal - my appointment at the RE to check my lining and see how I responded to the mock protocol. When the nurse walked in and asked how things were going, I kind of exploded about the patches. Oops. I felt like she was humoring me a bit, but when I pulled up my shirt and showed her just how big these patches are... she agreed that they were ridiculous and suggested I request a smaller brand when I refill (which, you bet your boots I sure will).

The good news was that I managed to grow a lovely triple stripe lining just under 10mm, even with my earlier sub-par E2 levels. So the mock cycle was declared a success and the nurse let me pull off all my icky patches right then and there. YAY!!! In other way-to-start-the-weekend news, Prof's emergency swim team got an even better report than the crew he dropped off last year when we tried IVF for the first time with my eggs. Smiles all around!

So - the Plan is that I call the nurse coordinator when I start bleeding next week (uh.. didn't I just do that LAST week?) and she will present us with one or two donor profiles to review. I'll go back on BCP and stay on them until our donor starts stims. When the time comes for our real DEIVF cycle, I will start the estrogen patches and the little blue tablets at the same time. Otherwise, they are happy with my plan.

NOTE ABOUT PATCH ADHESIVE: There has been much commentary between here and Twitter regarding the removal of the patch adhesive. The ones I have are less sticky I guess, since after two days most of them started to release on their own even though they were meant to stay on four days. The silver lining is that my Purp.ose facial cleanser got all the sticky bits off with no scrubbing or struggle at all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mocking Me

Wow. Real life does occasionally just take right over, and that's not always a bad thing.

I suppose I started my mock cycle with BCP at the end of May. We met with the DEIVF nurse coordinator last week to get the rest of the mock cycle calendar. I added Lup.ron and baby aspirin to my regimen last weekend. Did YOU know the baby aspirin is NOT shelved with the actual baby medicines at the pharmacy? I didn't. Estrogen patches start next week and the calendar for those is crazy complex - it's a good thing they wrote it all down for me...

Prof has to drop off the emergency swim team next week and I have a uterine lining check at the end of June. If my lining looks nice and cushy, I stop the meds and have a period. If not, we tweak the doses until they see that triple-stripe Holy Grail. THEN I stop the meds and have a period.

That done, I will restart BCP and we will be presented our donor profile to approve. The DEIVF nurse coordinator says the donor will likely want to start stims with her August period, so we will be moving forward directly.

As updates go, that all seems so cut and dried... just the facts. The rest of the story is that Lup.ron SUCKS. Obviously, I knew it would though I've never taken it before. The shots themselves are nothing really. Tinier needle than any I've encountered thus far. I've read enough accounts of others' experiences with it, but oddly enough I haven't had the symptoms I was expecting (headaches, hot flashes). Instead, I'm getting super bloated, exhaustion AND insomnia and some pretty intense depressive incidents. I cry at the slightest passing breeze - seriously, every little thing brings tears to my eyes. So yeah... not a fan.

I just turned down the opportunity to attend a professional conference mid-July because I'm afraid of being away from home and being forced to socialize. I'm also contemplating skipping out on a destination wedding in August for the same reasons. I know this isn't necessarily healthy. At the same time, I just want to cocoon myself for the duration.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Survey Says...

We had to complete a psychological evaluation before being approved to match with an egg donor. Apparently, the ethics committee thinks that's only fair since the donor has to pass one in order to be approved to donate. As frustrating as it is to submit to evaluation in order to be approved to even try (you adopting parents know what I'm talking about and then some), I was also a little glad to get a glimpse of how our donor would be evaluated, though I know there are different sets of questions for each of us.

The appointment was scheduled for two hours, but it ended up being more like two and a half. We decided that the first "test" must have been the bad directions we were given to locate the office. We arrived at the correct reception area only to be greeted by a sign telling us to alert the desk downstairs where we checked in that the office was un-staffed and they should let someone know we were waiting. This is in spite of the fact that our instructions specifically said to pass by the downstairs desk without stopping and proceed directly upstairs. The girl at the desk downstairs was equally confused and didn't seem to know our evaluator at all, nor were we on her list of check-ins for the day.

We did eventually get checked in and our evaluator called us to come back to the testing room. The first part of the appointment involved filling in about 350 scantron bubbles. The idea is to rate each statement either False, Slightly True, Mostly True or Very True. We did get to stay together and we had a good giggle over the questions, identifying control questions and speculating about some of the issues the test was designed to highlight. If they had cameras in that room to video us, it must have been entertaining! We each took turns doing hushed impressions of our hidden evaluator. At one point, my Hidden Evaluator noted, "Subject is a terrible snob."

After we finished filling in the bubble test, the evaluator came back in the room and asked us questions about our personal backgrounds and family histories. When she said we seemed quite well adjusted, Prof high-fived me and said, "Alright babe, we fooled her!"

She also told us a little about the process the donors go through, as she is the evaluator for them as well. She described them as falling into two basic categories. One group is young health/medical professionals who do not want children of their own, have an understanding of what infertility patients are suffering and see their own eggs as "going to waste". They tell her they aren't using their eggs, and someone who wants/needs them might as well benefit. The second group is young mothers who are so happy and grateful for their own children that they want to give someone else that same gift. Either way, the financial compensation offered by our clinic is low enough that the money is not a significant motivator for any of the potential donors.

The results took longer than than they told us (three weeks instead of one), but we finally heard back last week. We are officially cleared to move forward. One more box checked off!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Ignore...

.. the fact that you were the result of your mother's one successful pregnancy

.. your weird menstrual cycles and crippling abdominal pain

.. the total and complete lack of any oops/uh-oh moments in all those years of haphazard BCP use

Don't ignore the signs. Learn more.

National Infertility Awareness Week

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Step One: Remove Cat From Bag

We did it.

We've now told our parents about our infertility, our diagnosis and our treatments. We've told them about our decision to pursue a donor egg cycle. They were unanimous in their excitement and support of the choices we have made.

And exhale.

My Mom's initial response was "Well you know, I had to take fertility pills to get you!" Uhhhh... I have no memory of this, though she insists she told me years ago. I was born when she was only 27. All I could think was... even if we had tossed the birth control in our twenties, we might still have been unable to conceive without assistance. I suddenly feel a lot less guilty for waiting.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Other "Other Side"

Mali has a great post on transitions and the concept of success/failure within the ALI community. Specifically, as these apply to those living without children after infertility. As someone recently weighing this option against my current path to DEIVF (and fully aware that this may yet be my ultimate outcome), I appreciate her continued presence in this community.

Go read her post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Small Step

We had our Donor Egg consultation and I gotta say... we are pretty psyched.

The donor egg program at our clinic is a very small program that uses exclusively local anonymous donors. Because of this and due to the fact that this is not a large metropolitan area, they do not offer photos of the donors. Instead, our RE meets all potential donors personally and tries to make the best possible visual match after considering all of our stated preferences. He then presents the best match/es to us for approval. I continue to waffle about how this makes me feel... a little nervous at times and totally unconcerned at others. Prof actually prefers NOT to see a photo because he worries that the donor's face will stick in his memory where he doesn't want it. In the grand scheme of things the lack of photos is not a deal breaker, mostly because we truly trust our RE and I believe he will have our best interests in mind when selecting which donors to present to us.

When filling out the donor requirements form, we realized we're actually pretty flexible on the vast majority of physical options. First thoughts say the donor should look like me, but the more we thought about it we realized that even with my genetics in play, there is a surprisingly wide variety of physical traits that could express. As we considered the physical characteristics represented in each of our families, we realized that height, hair and eye color could be almost any combination and still fit in.

So, our only hard criteria are: college educated, proven fertility, light skinned Caucasian.

First step is a psych evaluation followed by a repeat of my HSG and some blood work that has expired. The whole process should take 3-6 months. The most amazing thing about it all is how peaceful I feel.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Points of Discussion

I thought that for posterity and the benefit of anyone else who is struggling with deciding between DEIVF and childless/free living, I would post a list of the points that Prof and I touched on during our week of daily discussions.
  • Feeling that we are "tempting fate" and we will land on the bad side of the statistics again.
  • Fear of being unable to protect our child or sufficiently control the environment.
  • Fear of allowing child to supplant spouse in importance.
  • There is NO GOING BACK.
  • We don't want to raise children in our current location... this means a probable move out of the country.
  • We need to seek out more parenting success stories to balance out all of the negatives we see.
  • We are no longer afraid of living childfree since we've been doing that all along, so it feels safer.
It seems like a lot of "negatives", but the point was really to address our fears so that we could move forward. One comforting thought we tossed around was the acknowledgement that it is easier to conquer your fears when you have someone else to be brave FOR.

Somehow, the act of airing these concerns and writing them down took a lot of their power away. They are all still there, but they are no longer holding us back.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Where Did YOU Start?

To all of you who have done DEIVF not using a known donor, how did you find your donor?

Our clinic has an in-house anonymous donor program that is very reasonable with no waiting list. We will probably go this route, however... it's uber-anonymous since our town is kinda small, so they don't offer any photos of the donors. I understand the reasoning, but this means we will have no way of knowing to what degree the donor resembles me beyond a description of height/weight/hair/eyes/skin.

I'd like to know what my options might be for finding a donor outside of my clinic, but there's a lot information out there and I don't trust it all implicitly. Did you use an agency you feel you could recommend? Any good links you could share would be appreciated.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm a Donor Too

I donated all of my leftover Meno.pur to a couple who had no prescription coverage. I was so excited to know that I was helping someone else towards a shot at their dream and so relieved that the meds wouldn't just be going to waste in my closet. Still... it was surprisingly hard to drop off the boxes,  smile and walk away casually.

I've been holding those meds for months now, knowing I would never use them. I told Prof later, that it felt a little like giving away my "blankie".

God please, I hope their cycle works.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why Didn't We Do That Sooner?

I suppose the truth is, we did it when we were ready in our hearts and not before. Thank you so much for your comments and tweets of support. It was an intense week, but a decision has been made and an appointment has been set for next week (OMG how fast did they get us in?!) to start the DEIVF process.

I just need my job to lay off with the crazy stress so I can actually soak this in...

Monday, March 19, 2012

One Week (Points to Consider)

I hate those stick figure collections people splash all over their rear windows, but yesterday they served a valid purpose. Prof and I went out for a coffee and pulled up behind one of these on our way home. Prof sighed and said, "I think about the kid thing all the time". Which got the conversation started. By the time we got home, we had acknowledged that we BOTH think about the kid thing pretty much constantly. To distraction. I knew he thought about it too, but somehow I didn't realize he thought about it as much as I do.

To recap, we have established that we are NOT afraid of:

  • Using Donor Eggs to conceive
  • Losing our relationship to Parenthood

And lo and behold, our thoughts and fears are still running along the same lines:

  • Kids are expensive and we're just making ends meet as it is.
  • DEIVF kids are even more expensive. Where does that money come from?
  • This world is an ugly, scary place in which to launch a tiny little loved one.
  • Our lifestyle would have to change dramatically (like you have NO idea how dramatically).
  • How do parents get it all done?
  • What if we hate being parents?

I think that last one is the real question here. The thing we're really afraid of discovering about ourselves after it's too late.

There's a piece of this puzzle that we can't see yet. I've seen a million and three comments about how everything changes once that baby arrives... specifically how new parents' attitudes toward their own offspring took them by surprise. Without any offspring of our own, we can't see the shape of that puzzle piece to know how it's going to fit into our existing picture.

So standing in the kitchen and tossing all of that out there, we came to two conclusions:

  • If we don't do this because we're afraid of A/B/C, then we let the fear win and that's not our style.
  • We're not getting any younger and this isn't going to get any easier by postponing it. We need to make a decision and move forward one way or another.

So Prof has proposed an idea. We will have a brief discussion about our thoughts on the subject every evening this week. Next Sunday, we will make a Plan. We even shook on it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ongoing Debate

I have reached a point where I accept that no matter what our eventual decision, no matter what our eventual outcome... there is no possible future in which I do not always carry with me some sadness and some resentment regarding my experience of infertility and my perceptions of the fertile world at large. I'm not saying I will be mired in grief and depression for the rest of my life, but this sadness and resentment is part of me now, sort of a household item. I'm looking forward to the time when it's packed in a trunk in the basement, rather out on the coffee table in the living room though.

If someone could wave a magic wand and guarantee that if I had sex with my husband, there would be a baby... I would do it. So why am I debating whether or not I still want to pursue further assisted reproduction, when I know that the treatments aren't my hang-up? Good question.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Letters to a Young Poet

I wanted to share a handful of quotes from Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet that have stuck with me over the years, and some of which repeatedly come to mind when I am in a difficult place. Perhaps I should re-read the entire book...

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

“We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it.”

“Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words” 

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

[The following is my favorite passage of the entire book. I have written it out by hand a number of times to reinforce my memory of it and I refer back to it whenever I am feeling suffocated by my fear of change.]

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don't know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In Which I Apologize

For not posting more often and in greater detail about the mental contortions I am going through in the process of considering donor egg IVF versus choosing a childfree future. I feel like there are so few of us in this community who reach this branch in the road, that I ought to do a better job of representing the experience. Suffice it to say that things are difficult to articulate. And all very repetitive at any rate.


My BFF came for a visit at the end of February. We hadn't seen each other in over a year and it was wonderful. I had been a little nervous because she told me last Fall that she and her husband were going to start TTC#2 in December and I was dreading a surprise announcement. To be honest, I wonder if they are trying again so soon after their first because of what she's seen me go through. She is only a couple of years younger than I am and she's no dummy. I was worrying needlessly.

We went to breakfast her first morning here and had long heart to heart about where we are/aren't with treatments and I gave her a quick rundown of the realities of donor egg IVF and some background on our consideration of a childfree future. As always she was interested, respectful and supportive. We also talked a lot about her experiences as a first time mother, all cards on the table. She didn't have it easy and unfortunately, she didn't have anyone nearby to provide a reality check, so it was probably harder on her than it needed to be. I feel sad about that... only that I couldn't be that supportive outside observer because I wasn't there day-to-day.

Her second morning here, we were sitting at the dining room table with our morning coffee and chatting. She took a deep breath and told me she'd been laying in bed thinking while she waited for me to wake up. She had decided that she wanted to talk to her husband about donating her eggs to us after she was done with Baby #2... if we would want them.

I almost fell off my chair.

I suspect my immediate response was a little lackluster, if only due to the shock. How fucking cool is THAT?! Realistically, it will probably not be feasible. But damn, she's awesome. I've talked to Prof about it and he is open to the idea, so why not feasible? Well, she is already 37 and she still wants to get Baby #2 first. That could put her at my current age before she's ready to start. Her husband may not be OK with it and that's totally his prerogative. Since we aren't blood relatives, there might be actual medical/biological impediments - I have no idea. My clinic might not go for it for any number of reasons.

But she had the idea. All on her own. She was already like the sister I never had. If I got pregnant using her eggs, we would be even more like family than we already are. It would amazing.

You know what? Even if I don't get pregnant using her eggs... it's still amazing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How Do You Say...?

It was only meant to be a quick tweet to let @IVFandMe know that I was feeling the same way she was. I'll be honest... since stopping treatment, I've filtered the number of Twitter accounts I normally see in my feed to about 15. I just can't handle any more than that. So, I forgot how many Twitter followers we had in common and suddenly we're in the middle of a whole discussion and I am reminded that once our words leave us, they are open to interpretation. Don't get me wrong, no one was upset. They were all trying to be supportive and encouraging, but the thing that startled me was just how frustrated I felt when I realized that only a few of the tweeps who joined the conversation appeared to actually understand where the original comment was coming from. And to be fair, perhaps that was just MY misinterpretation.

But it only served to highlight the point I was making in the first place.

I have reached a place where I'm not sure how I fit in amongst my IF friends. Like @IVFandMe said: Still infertile but no longer trying, no more treatments, no foster/adoption, no baby loss from which to recover. Facing the rest of my life stretched out in front of me childfree by circumstance. I am by no means alone, but let's face it. MOST of us in the IF community end up with a child one way or another. I feel bad that I have a hard time providing much support to the rest of you because I'm still working so hard to wrap my mind around my current reality and I don't know when it's going to get any easier.

I hate to come across as ungrateful for the support, but I'm not looking for sunshine and platitudes. Don't worry, I don't feel like I "gave up" and I know that even those of us who go on to hold our babies remain infertile at heart. I know I'm not alone. But the struggle I am facing right now is entirely in my head and I'm the only one that can fight it. I definitely feel like the odd man out and I'm having trouble seeing much point to being here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Overworking It

We have officially had too much time to think about this, and we're not done yet.

Our debate between Donor Egg IVF and living child-free is not centered around our comfort with using a donor. It is centered on whether or not we want to be parents.

Let me be clear, we are both uncertain. As in nearly all things, we are in complete agreement, on the the same page (even the same sentence). Our synchronicity is alarming, and not a little counterproductive at this point. This is not a situation where one of us wants to move one way and the other is pulling in a different direction. We are standing together at this intersection, hand in hand, and scared to move for fear of getting it wrong. I mean, the scenery at this particular intersection isn't that bad and the traffic is manageable...

My thoughts, feelings and desires fluctuate wildly by the hour. I am not exaggerating. If we stop now, say no to donor eggs and proceed child-free... are we robbing ourselves of a beautiful future or saving ourselves a lifetime of heartache? There are so very many things that could go wrong, and at any number of points in pregnancy or childhood. Admittedly, most people never have to confront these nightmares in person. But let's face it, we've had it rammed home again and again and again over the last three years... We are NOT Most People. God knows there are no guarantees that "overcoming infertility" means living happily ever after.

First thing in the morning, when I've just woken up but am still exhausted from a crappy night's sleep and I'm already running late only ten minutes into my day, I think there's no way I would survive parenthood with my soul intact. Same thing goes for Saturday afternoon and there are more household chores than I have energy to tackle with Prof tied to his desk working against a deadline, much less the thought of childcare. I can't even keep the dust bunnies out of my own bedroom, I'm not fit to be someone's mother.

Child-free is the path of least resistance. It is the default future should we fail to act. Is it somehow more acceptable if we didn't necessarily "choose" that future? If someone came to us and told us we had reached the end of our road and we would not be able to have children no matter what, we would be fine. It would be a relief to be off the hook and able to walk confidently into the future. Sometimes I feel like I'm focusing on the crappy parts of parenthood, just so I can convince myself it's OK not to want it, to make it hurt less to not have it.

On the other hand, when I get a moment to pause in my day and note some of the more amazing things in the world (like fireflies and spring blossoms and the first snow of the season), I think how incredible to see all of those things again through the eyes of child. When Prof starts rattling on about something science-y, as he is wont to do, I think what fun he would have explaining our world to a little one. When BFF(B)'s youngest comes running full speed to where we are chatting in her kitchen, just to ask for a hug before tearing back to the living room to play again...

If we had conceived on our own shortly after ditching the birth control, we would have been nervous but thrilled. And we would have rolled confidently into that future, certain that there was nothing we couldn't handle together. There are times when I imagine our possible child and I feel like my heart (my literal heart, not my mind or my soul) is swelling to the bursting point with pain because I might never meet him/her. It's an uncontrollable, physical pain that brings tears to my eyes no matter where I happen to be.

Infertility has stolen our innocence, our dreams, our confidence. It has also given us a bond even stronger than we imagined we could have, it has made us thrive as a team in ways we should be proud of.

One of our primary fears for a successful pregnancy is what effect it will have on our relationship. And before you ask, yes of course we considered that before we ever threw away the birth control. But this is what infertility does to you. It makes you question every little thing in much greater detail than you ever have before, in a constantly repeating loop. Our marriage, our relationship, is so incredible, even after infertility. If we can grow closer and stronger through all of this, why should it be any other way with parenthood?

The whole genetic link factor really doesn't matter to me (I suppose I should say MY genetics... I want Prof's genes represented). I see donor egg as something like baking a cake. Except at the last minute, I have realized I'm out of eggs and have to pop over to a neighbor's house to ask for a few of hers. It's still my recipe, I'm still the one baking the cake, I still get to call the end product my own. One of my personal fears, and it's not a small one, is what if my DE teenager decides I'm not their "real mom"? What if they decide they need to try to locate that "real mom", difficult though that would be with an anonymous donor? What if, in my child's eyes, those genetics end up being really important? I feel like this is just the merest tip of the iceberg that adoptive couples face.

*Light Bulb* Any good books on adoption that might help me process this particular fear?

Are you now as confused as I am?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Obligatory New Year Post

I hate New Year's Resolutions. I feel strongly that any project worth committing to shouldn't need a special calendar date to launch, and most resolutions just end up making us feel like failures anyways. With that in mind, for the first year in I don't know how long, I have decided to make a few resolutions of my own. These should be fairly easy to keep, they will make my little world a better place and if I slip up... I won't have to feel TOO bad. In 2012, I am committing to:
  1. Talk to my parents every Sunday.
  2. Send my Grandma a card and a photo at least once per month.
  3. Take at least one photo of Prof and myself per month.
  4. Get myself a new job title, one way or another.

There. I've written it down. Now I just have to do it.