Sunday, December 4, 2011

Trusting in the Process

Doing a frozen cycle is an exercise in trust. It is definitely a more convenient way to (hopefully) make a baby in the lab--there is close to zero monitoring. As opposed to a fresh IVF cycle, where you are in the doctor's office for bloodwork and ultrasounds starting with a baseline and then repeated every 3-5 days, then every 2 days, then every day until retrieval, a frozen cycle has just two appointments besides the initial consult--a lining check, and then the transfer itself. There's no surgical procedure. There's only one blood draw before transfer. You aren't constantly checking to see how your ovaries are brewing up potential eggs for potential embryos.

This is kind of relaxing, because you get to skip out on feeling like you live at the clinic. I haven't watched my mileage on my car climb higher and higher because I'm driving all over the place for early morning blood draws and hot dates with the intravaginal ultrasound wand. I can, other than the lovely injections in the morning, pretend that I am a relatively normal person, living a relatively normal life. It's a nice way to do a cycle, for the most part.

What's driving me batty (and working against my attempts for zen acceptance) is I have no data. This is probably a good thing, as I tend to obsess over my estrogen levels and my follicular growth (how many have I got? how big are they getting? what might my retrieval haul be this time?). I have a notebook that I bring to all my appointments and use to keep track of my progress. It's really helpful, because I can go back and compare my cycles to each other and where I was and how I'm doing this time. It's also a little unhelpful, because I can go back and compare my cycles to each other and where I was and how I'm doing this time (because that doesn't necessarily mean anything as every cycle is very different, sometimes because of the medication protocol and sometimes because the human body is a freaking mystery of inconsistency). So, for this frozen cycle, it's good that I can let go of all that a little bit. That I can eliminate my driving need to feverishly jot down everything on the ultrasound screen before the screensaver kicks in. That I can stop obsessing on my data, as there's really and truly nothing I can do to control any of it (as much as I try).

The problem though is that I have NOTHING to go on, and so I am trying hard not to obsess about my lack of data. Once I have my lining check, I have one piece of information--my endometrial thickness. It should be apparently around 7+ mm at the check and be trilinear--three lovely stripes of beautiful, plushy lining. Oh, and an estrogen level that is cryptic because it's not based on the number of follicles that are developing. Other than that one appointment, there's no inkling of how it's going. Injections go on for a month before the actual transfer, and to have no way to measure the progress except for that one dinky lining check is really activating my trust issues. Can I trust that everything is going fine in there? Can I trust once I've had my lining check that everything will continue to be fine? With frequent ultrasounds I could see growth, I could see estrogen levels climbing. I had something to be grateful for each doctor's appointment. I could really follow my new philosophy of celebrating each day for whatever positive thing I could find--even if it was just I have follicles developing. I am in the dark here. I have to trust that my lining is getting more and more inviting each day that big, fat, 1.5 inch long intramuscular needles go into my increasingly fatter behind. I have to trust that the embryos, when they are loaded back into the Mother Ship, are going to see my hot new lining and want to stick around. IN MY LINING. But, until the transfer comes, it's blind trust. I can visualize my uterus getting cushier and rosy with excellent bloodflow. But I don't have something concrete to hang on to. It's surprisingly hard to get over.

It's hard to trust that something good is happening, and that something good can happen with our transfer. I want to believe that this is our time, that this is it for us. I want to believe that it is possible to get a "You're pregnant!" call without it being "I'm so sorry, you're pregnant but..." I want to believe that the miracle can happen to us, and that our long and painful journey is finally over. But I know that's not necessarily the case. This isn't something I can "earn" through doing all the right things. If it was I'd have a baby on my Christmas card. I work hard for everything I do, and infertility is just one of those things where that does not matter at all. I can eat all the right things and do all the wacky things that I do to make my body as ready as possible, and it can STILL not happen. But, at the same time, it could. And maybe, just maybe, because I don't have anything to obsess about, because I don't have the stress of finagling constant appointments around my teaching schedule, and I don't have the stress of having to take time off to recover from the surgical removal of my eggs, maybe this will work. Maybe a different approach will be the jolt my system needs to accept an embryo properly and for keeps. All I can do is trust in this unforthcoming cycle process, and be grateful that we have this opportunity to give it a go with two beautiful frozen blasts.

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