Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

So, Needles Are Kind Of Important

I dislike traveling with needles. If I can help it, I avoid it at all costs. Something about receiving injections on a hotel bed, the inconveniences of needing a refrigerator for some meds and a freezer and microwave for others, and just the whole I'M ON VACATION, AND INJECTIONS ARE NOT RELAXING thing. But, this summer, we have vacationed with needles, twice.

The Maine trip made me feel like this wasn't actually that big of a deal. It was Lupron, which is a nothing shot. I mean, it's still sticking a 1/2 inch needle in your belly yourself while not actually being medically certified to do so, but all things considered it's low key. I felt pretty confident about it. It turned out just fine.

The Vermont trip, though, that was a different story. I had to pack supplies not quite as minimal as for Lupron (sharps container, alcohol swabs, insulin needles, lupron vial). I had to pack supplies for Lovenox and PIO (progesterone in oil). Lovenox is easy--they're prefilled syringes. I'm on 40 units, and the syringes I got are the coolest. I don't mean to get all excited over a syringe, but these look cool with their circular yellow plunger and their boxy body, and then when you push the plunger all the way in, the barrel of the syringe locks over the needle for safe disposal using a crazy spring-loaded mechanism. SO COOL:
The Needle of the Future! Cyborg Needle! 
The PIO requires an arsenal of supplies. The vial of thick, oily hormone; the shot glass I use to warm it in very warm tap water so it is easier to draw up, the ice pack I use to make sure that I don't feel that 1 1/2 inch needle in my butt (I checked with my nursing staff and they said icing before is just fine and it won't interfere with absorption, since it's going in your big ol' muscle and if you massage and heat after it's especially fine); the butt heater whose original purpose was a neck heater; the alcohol swabs; the gauze; the medical tape (because apparently I am allergic to the adhesive in the little round bandaids and I get horrible hives from them, so if I have a bleeder we use just plain tape); the sharps container.

What? You say I'm forgetting something? Something important? OH YEAH. You need the 3mL syringe with a 1 inch, 18 gauge needle for draw up and a 1 1/2 inch, 22 gauge needle for injecting. That's kind of important, as you can't just rub your butt with PIO and expect it to get where it needs to go. It needs to be violently introduced into your system to do its magic.

Apparently, when packing for Vermont, and getting all the supplies in the bag, I used the packing list above. Because when we were sitting in one of the many cozy sitting rooms at the gorgeous inn where we stayed, catching up with Bryce's dad and his wife before heading out to lunch (which is an ordeal in itself: finding reliable GF food in a new area), I spaced out while we were talking about all the poisonous critters that live in Texas, where they're from, and all of a sudden I must have thought, Scorpions, black widows, rattlesnakes, fangs, needles, OH SHIT!!! NEEDLES!!!

Yup, that's right folks, we were 5 hours away from home in the beautiful green mountains of southern Vermont, and I realized I FORGOT THE NEEDLES. Oh holy jeezum. I was a mess. I got a deer-in-the-headlights look, interrupted the story by staring at Bryce in a panic and saying, "I FORGOT THE NEEDLES. OH SHIT, I FORGOT THE NEEDLES. OH MY GOD, HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET NEEDLES?" I ran to our room and checked, and sure enough, NO NEEDLES. Ladies, I have to say, I am never ever ever going to take injections on vacation again without having someone else check that I packed EVERYTHING. I immediately dissolved into tears. It was bad enough that I had spent my 24 hours of modified bedrest getting ready for a car trip and packing, something that was OK'd by my medical team but still felt less than relaxing. Now I was singlehandedly responsible for the inability to deliver the serum of life to my little babylings, that were supposed to be hatching and attaching RIGHT NOW, and without the PIO they'd surely die. Because without PIO my body doesn't even remotely do what it's supposed to. (Honestly, even with PIO it hasn't had the best track record.) I was devastated.

Luckily, Bryce was not on a bazillion meds that mess with your ability to handle setbacks, so he was like, "Go to the front desk and ask about a pharmacy. They have to carry needles at the pharmacy. And then call our doctor's office." I of course did it the opposite way, texting my lovely doctor with a panic emergency text and then asking the front desk about pharmacies. We were so, so, so lucky that I discovered this little omission in the early afternoon, and not later when the pharmacy was closed and the doc's office was closed. I shudder to think what would have happened if I realized it at 8:30 in the evening, when we do our shots.

The innkeeper was just wonderful, a soothing British lady who could make the vilest of curses sound warm and inviting. She let me use their phone to call both the Rite Aid 10 minutes away and the clinic in Buffalo, since cell service was spotty. Rite Aid could fill a prescription for syringes, and the wonderful IVF nurse who reminds me of Paula Poundstone was able to fax over a prescription. I called from the pizza place we ended up going to, that had THE BEST gluten free pizza I've ever had, and there was just one more hiccup. They had the 3mL syringes. But they didn't have the dizzying array of gauges that the specialty pharmacies do. They had 20 gauge needles only. Well, I figured, It's just one up from the draw up and one down from the injection. It will be a little harder to draw up and a little ouchier to inject, but that should work. I had them fill the prescription with the 20 gauge needles. (In case you're wondering about gauges, the higher the number, the thinner the needle. You need a thick, strawlike needle to draw up the viscous progesterone in oil, but you DO NOT want to inject with that one! You need a thinner needle so you can stand to be punctured over and over in your posterior.)

The 20 gauge was fine--it was a bit more difficult for Bryce to draw up, but it worked. And it was a bit pinchier, but so subtly so that I barely could tell. CRISIS AVERTED. It only took about 3 hours of complete panic until those needles were in my hands, and the combined efforts of about 8 people, but we managed to not completely ruin our cycle just one day after transfer. AHHHHH.

I also cannot stress how important is was that Bryce kept his cool and didn't freak out when it was apparent I'd made a horrible mistake that could cost us everything. I am forever in awe of his ability to keep calm and carry on when I am a blubbering, screaming, banshee of a mess. He is such a grounding force, and I am so grateful for his cool in the face of disaster. In that moment I knew that he will be awesome throughout any childbirth craziness. Somehow we have this unspoken rule that we can't BOTH be disasters at the same time. I don't know how we manage, but we do! (He told me later how scared he was and how horrifying that whole situation was, but I really appreciate that he kept that locked up in the moment...)

The rest of the vacation went smoothly after that -- the 8:30 injection time we'd picked because we thought it would be most convenient did cause a bit of a snag in dinner plans and we had to go up to our room during dinner to take care of business both nights, but whatever. Small price to pay for a uterus that will hopefully keep my babies in this time.

Vermont was beautiful, and relaxing, and by the end we definitely looked like we had been on a vacation -- not a frazzled face in sight:
We went to a Grandma Moses exhibit at the Bennington Museum, we went to Bennington Potters and got to see how they make all that beautiful pottery, we went to the Olallie Daylily farm and ogled end-of-season lilies and picked the last of the blueberries, we had delicious meals, we had a good visit, and on the way home we stopped at the Robert Frost House in Shaftsbury, where he wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," apparently on a hot June morning. Ha. It was good times, and I spent a lot of it reassuring myself: "You are pregnant. You are nurturing these babylings. You are pregnant." and just sending lots of warm, inviting energy to my babies. I hope they are listening. I hope they are burrowing. I am refusing to examine every little feeling and trying to just feel warm and inviting and let what's going to happen, happen. Easier said than done, especially when I seem capable of creating my own disasters. But, all's well that ends well.

My advice to you, should you vacation with needles:
1. Have your partner in reproduction double and triple check that you packed everything.
2. Check that you have everything again when you get to the hotel/inn/B&B.
3. If you forgot your needles, know that gauge can be flexy... you can go in the middle and it will be ok in a pinch. (ha, ha, in a pinch...)

I am so happy and grateful that we were able to take a very scary situation and make it work. There's always something every cycle, and this was a doozy! Between the retained embryo in the transfer catheter and the PIO needle disaster, I am hoping that all the drama is over and it is smooth, smooth sailing from here on out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Transfer Day--Getting Loaded

Well, it's here! As I type this, two beautiful, fully-expanded, thawed, and assisted-hatched blasts are finding their resting places in my cushy uterus. I am fully loaded!

The day went pretty smoothly. We managed to get out the door on time and on the road to Buffalo. I tried to manage that careful balance of a full, but not TOO full, bladder on the way. Didn't quite work, as we had to stop at the rest stop so I could empty and try refilling again, a bit less robustly. So hard to execute when the drive is an hour and fifteen minutes! Apparently I did just fine though, my bladder was a lovely backdrop for the uterine magic that followed.

I faithfully took my 10mg of Valium in the car (no I was not driving), which actually did make me feel very relaxed and peaceful. Our transfer was supposed to be at 10:00, but they always run a bit late, so I waited until 9:40 to take the valium. Voila, it was exactly 30 minutes before the procedure. Having done this so many times before does have certain advantages, I guess.

This time we did not cart our beautiful Buddha statue into the office. I don't like to bring the same totems in twice, or at least not in the same combination. So Buddha stayed home (he's kind of unwieldy anyway), and I just brought my rose quartz heart that an infertility friend sent me last year, I wore my rose quartz earrings my best friend gave me a year or two ago, I wore a turtle necklace on a leather thong that my mom gave me for Christmas from the Gonandagan visitor center (a lovely fertility symbol that was 100% new to the mix), and I wore my Arms of Strength Alex + Ani bracelet that my mother in law gave me. I did not wear orange underwear. I did not wear a special shirt or color. I wore a heathered light brown t-shirt and a linen skirt, earth tones. Maybe subconsciously I was trying to ground myself.

We got into the examination room and surprised the nurse by not really having any questions. Really, there aren't many questions I have left. Then, we saw pictures of these beautiful, awesome embryos. They were fully expanded, 3-D looking, and had had assisted hatching already. I didn't know you could do assisted hatching on blasts, but apparently on frozen transfers you can. When they are thawing, the cellular material is all in the middle as it starts to re-expand, and so safely away from the zona pellucida (shell), so they can do their helpful magic and give a boost on the escape route to get to my lining, without harming the integrity of the blast itself. Pretty darn cool. While we were waiting for the picture, I was like, "oh wow, these are embryos 24 and 25." The nurse breathed in sharply, and Bryce later told me that her face looked shocked and a little sad. I guess she figured out why we have no questions about post-transfer stuff.

It was tough, because Bryce felt a bit disconnected. It was still just as exciting to see that flash on the ultrasound of the embryos coming home, but strange to not genetically be a part of it. This is going to be very interesting to see how this all plays out. I feel badly because he feels so extraneous. At least at this point in the game. He knows that that will change as we get further into the parenthood process, but at the time it is stinky.

After the swoosh of the embryos, our doctor removed the catheter that had held the embryos and gave it to the embryologist. They always have to double check, in case an embryo gets stuck in the catheter. Which has never happened to us. Until today. She came back and said, "One retained." We were so surprised! Usually you just here "all clear" and go about your business. But one stubborn little guy was hanging on to the catheter. Our doc reassured us that this happens from time to time, and purely anecdotally, it's a good sign. "This one's extra sticky!" he joked. They did a second, shallower transfer to get that blast where it needed to go without disturbing the other one.

And then it was over. They don't have you lie on the table anymore. I could immediately get up and get going, which is SO WEIRD. We drove home, got some lunch, I took a nap, and then went to acupuncture for a "securing" treatment. Lots of "beautiful baby" points.

And now...we wait. I take gads of medication and we wait. We're leaving for a mini-vacation to Vermont tomorrow and I am a little stressed out. We have to leave wicked early so we can have as much time with Bryce's dad and his wife as possible, and all the packing and the logistics of getting all these needles in a bag and having enough of everything is making me cranky. I just want to relax. Soooo, I kind of reserve the right to be like, "I don't feel so well, I'm going to hang back in the hotel room." I am on that antispasmodic still tomorrow (three days of 3x/day terbuteline to help with implantation somehow), and the benadryl is in full force. Not to mention the PIO tiredness. Bryce did find a pill case with boxes for each day of the week -- I can fit everything in there but the fish oil and my prenatals. All the estrace, the benadryl, the last day of terbuteline, the vitamin E, it all fits. That's helpful for packing, but it just makes a physical statement of how much pharmacology I'm stuffing into my poor body right now. No wonder I'm tired and cranky.

I feel pretty peaceful other than the stress of travel. I feel good about these little embryos hanging out inside me. They looked beautiful, and they looked much different than any of other embryos that we've had so far. Fuller, more developed. Not sure if that's the donor sperm component or what, but it's encouraging at the very least. Here we are again, off to the races. I'm totally loaded and hope to stay that way for the long haul. (perhaps I should rethink my phrasing on that one.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Luxury of Not Fearing

It amazes me when I see or hear of people who apparently have no fear of anything bad happening to them, especially where babymaking is concerned.

Even now, when I am trying so hard to maintain a positive attitude and love my body despite all its perceived failings, it is hard for me to contain my fears about this next cycle. They lurk in the background, trying to whisper their way through my carefully constructed defenses. Since the baseline shenanigans, everything has been right on track--our lining check was this week and while I was "borderline" -- over 8 mm (which I thought was just lovely but apparently their bar is set higher) but only just, I passed. My estrogen was good enough, my lining was good enough. Not quite good enough that I don't have to split my evening dose of estrace between orally and shoving it where the sun don't shine, but that's a small price to pay for optimal landing pad conditions for our beautiful thawed-out babylings that hopefully will come to stay next week. I have new drugs in my protocol -- the Lovenox is on board, and an anti-spasmodic is getting added to the mix the day before, of, and after transfer -- and that makes me feel somewhat comforted. I feel like there are so many variables changing that when we do receive our positive results we won't know if it was the donor sperm, the Lovenox, the antispasmodic, the fact that it was a frozen... there's just too many elements up juggled in the air (or down in my uterus). But, we don't really have time to waste. And when we do receive those positive results (see? see how positive I'm being? please pat me on the back now...), we will be so happy...and so terrified. I don't want to even put into words all the fears we have, and given our history you likely know many of them. Or have lived them. It will be hard not to worry about making it past that 6 1/2 week mark I can't seem to pass, it will be hard to be in uncharted territory and get to heartbeat, then get to the anatomy scan, and all of those benchmarks. The lack of privacy by my own hand has us in a position where I will have to share with some people at least when I am in early stages of pregnancy, and it will be hard not to feel like I am jinxing myself.

Other people don't seem to have this fear.

This post originally started with an anecdote my husband came home with last week, that was really eating him up. A friendly acquaintance from work was imminently having a baby. The situation around their pregnancy was already maddening to us: he was 40, she was 42, they hadn't really thought about kids and then decided, hey! why not? AND THEY GOT PREGNANT IMMEDIATELY. I mean, all the power to them. I can't really hate them for their uber fertility and casual flippancy about the whole thing. Or maybe I can, just a little bit. But...it gets worse. Bryce came home in a tizzy, the same day as my massage disaster, and took his phone out.

"I hate to make you madder, but THIS is what I've been getting all angry about today. Just look at THIS."

He showed me a video on his phone, of a man on a motorcycle, his wife riding behind him and videotaping the ride.

"Do you know what sucks about this?" He said, practically spitting the words.
"They have a motorcycle and you have a secret desire to go riding on the open road with me?"
"Ha, nope. HER WATER JUST BROKE. He is driving them to the hospital ON A MOTORCYCLE. His pregnant wife, who has now lost some of that lovely cushiony amniotic fluid, is now bouncing along, unprotected, ON A FUCKING MOTORCYCLE."

Ohhhh.

Yeah, that sucked. What the hell? What is WRONG with people? How could you take that risk, so many risks that I refuse to get on a motorcycle at any point in my life, much less pregnant and in labor, with your unborn baby? They were both smiling and thought this was the best thing ever, so cool -- "This baby is going to be born on wheels!" was the caption. SO NOT COOL. The blatant disregard of any forethought that anything could possibly go wrong in this scenario was all over that video. And, of course, it didn't. They got there safely (although I'm sure he had to go home and swap the motorcycle for a car for the carseat, not so thinking ahead on THAT one, were they?), the baby was born safely, everything was hunky-dory. It blows my mind. (You know what else blows my mind? How a 9-months- pregnant lady even fit on the back of the motorcycle...)

And then, the next day, I received THIS in my mailbox:
WTF. SO many things wrong with this.

I can't imagine ever doing this. I can't imagine, being solidly in the first trimester, and announcing a pregnancy to the world on a magazine. (I mean, there's a lot about their particular situation that I can't imagine doing, but this INCREDIBLY EARLY announcement to the world is the one that stands out right now...) 

Things wrong with this picture: 
- It's 8 weeks past their wedding. Even though I don't watch their show and don't have cable in part because of the explosion of reality TV, even I knew that they KISSED for the first time on their wedding day. This is no pre-wedding baby. This pregnancy is at most 8 weeks along. 
- In fact, it's 6 weeks along at the time of print. Because in the article, which I felt compelled to read first for some reason (maybe because I knew it would fuel my fury), she says that they got pregnant two weeks after their wedding. 
- Just let that sink in for a moment. They announced their pregnancy to the world AT SIX WEEKS. Anyone who has ever had a miscarriage, a chemical pregnancy, fought to get pregnant at all, will understand how crazy that is. 
- And then, she's SIX WEEKS pregnant and all the pictures have hands on the belly. She could have been skinny enough that a little bump is slightly evident at that early time, a time when your baby is THE SIZE OF A SESAME SEED. I know this because I have lost two little sesame seeds and have never gotten to know what comes next or graduated to fruit. But I'm pretty sure that at six weeks there's a bit of bloat but no need for all the handsiness. Every single picture in this shoot has her hands beatifically placed on her minutely curved belly (that I swear is either photoshopped, clever wardrobe choice, or a burrito at lunch), or both their hands cradling this wonderful, exciting, sesame seed
- They got pregnant two weeks after their wedding. BAM! Just like that, first time they had sex, first cycle where sperm was in the mix, and BOOM. Baby. Magic.

HOLY JEEZUM. So much, so much could go wrong. But they are totally unafraid. They don't even talk in the article about the possibility that things could go awry so early, because they are so confident that it will and they probably will not know it any other way. Why not when you're 24 and your mother is infamous for her fertility? It's like the people who announce their pregnancies on facebook via pee stick or ultrasound of a gestational sac. I have had both of those, too, and I don't seem to have that baby. Many things could go horribly, tragically wrong. But, somehow, for these people: the motorcycle-delivery-run-people, the announce-my-pregnancy-in-the-media-at-six-weeks, the announce-my-pregnancy-on-facebook-ridiculously-early-non-famous-people, somehow it all just works out great for them. 

Let me clarify--I do not wish ill on these people. In a way I admire their complete disregard for the horrid twists and turns fate can throw in your path. But mostly, I'm horribly jealous. Sometimes I feel like only people who have never known that particular brand of tragedy can be this cavalier with something so precious and possibly fleeting. It doesn't seem fair. It seems like the largest of luxuries...to live without the fear of something going wrong in the baby department. It's almost like mocking--"Look how EASY this is for us. What's wrong with YOU?" 

I feel a little like I'm living somewhat on the edge, what with this deciding to just believe that this is going to work this time. That to me, that seems as reckless as the motorcycle or magazine cover, because if it goes wrong, it could very well shatter me. But who are we kidding? If it goes wrong, with all the new things on the menu and the new ingredient in the mix, not much will stop me from being shattered. So I may as well infuse as much hope as possible into this cycle, because it won't change things if it works out or doesn't, and it will make the time leading up to it a whole lot more pleasant. Just don't expect me to ride to the hospital on a motorcycle. Or see me on the cover of People when my pee stick is still damp.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Not To Say

A while back, I decided that massage needed to be part of my self-care during this time of infertility. I needed it for stress relief, I needed it to release the pain and tension I carry in my shoulders and neck. And I needed the right balance--a masseuse that provided work on those evil knots that can cause me migraines, but also provided relaxation so I didn't feel like I was paying for an hour of torture. 

Over the years I have found a few of these wonderful people -- and then something inevitably happens to make that fleeting. I found a wonderful masseuse at the place I did Fertility Yoga--and then they jacked up their prices and I could no longer afford her. I switched to a franchise massage spa, something I felt a little off about but once you were in the room with your eyes closed it didn't really feel all that different from anywhere else. No candles or fancy furniture, but really, all you need is a massage table, some gifted hands, and soothing spa music. It took some trial and error to find the masseuse that was a good fit (this one was too light, like being massaged with a feather duster; this one was too painful, like an hour of knuckles in knots; this one talked wayyyy too much and never turned the lights down...), but then I found her. 

J was amazing -- chatty at the very beginning, then just let me bliss out while she applied the perfect balance of pressure and light touch. She somehow got into my knots without making me tense with pain, and she worked miracles on my neck and skull. Who knew you could have tight muscles in your skull? 

But alas, J lived in Buffalo and was commuting to Rochester, and after this past long and frozen and snowy winter, she'd had enough. Circumstances converged so that she left and went back to where she lived, which was good for her...and so sad for me. 

J recommended someone that had a similar style -- and I gave her a try. It took some talking through pressure and hot towels vs no hot towels (hot towels please!), but then the last two times I went were fantastic. I left feeling good. She talked, but just at the beginning. Which is what I like. I do not want a therapy session when I'm being worked on, and I do not want to concentrate on anything but being semi-conscious, feeling the stress melt from my muscles. 

Well, I guess she felt more comfortable with me this last session, and she wanted to know more about the "procedure" that I was undergoing. It is so hard to be vague about infertility, because people immediately jump to something like cancer--"I am going through some medical difficulties," "I am in medical treatment at the moment" etc etc. She pushed a bit because she felt it would help her give a better massage and be sure she wasn't doing anything that could be bad for whatever situation I was in. Understandable, and it's not a bad idea for your therapeutic people to know why the stress is so high or your glutes have knots in them (from years of PIO). It IS a bad idea if they handle it poorly. 

I was determined to be relaxed, so I didn't really address this so much, but next time I am going to have to say, "I do not want to talk about trying to have a baby, pregnancy, or babies at all in here." 

Here is a LIST of what you should not say to a woman who just told you she's been trying to have a baby for five years and is prepping for her 10th IVF transfer: 

- Do NOT say, "Well, when you're done with all this IVF and if you don't end up pregnant, I just know you and your husband will have a drunk wine night and BOOM! Miracle baby. You hear that all the time." Yeah, I hear that all the time too. And it is NOT going to happen for me. If it did, I would gladly eat my 10 gallon hat that I will buy for the occasion. (I did tell her that with one tube and me not ovulating on my own and issues with our sperm, the miracle whoopsie baby was not likely.)

- It is okay to tell the infertile woman your own experience with miscarriage, however, DO NOT then say, now that you have a healthy baby, that those miscarriages were "meant to be," inferring that there is a reason for everything and saying that obviously the timing wasn't right for those babylings since they were at a young age first and with an ex-husband second. Maybe you feel that way, but my miscarriage and freak ectopic loss were decidedly NOT meant to be. I desperately wanted those babies and will forever mourn them. I'm not sure you would say the same if you didn't have a healthy child at home. I appreciate your experience, but the editorializing could go bye-bye. 

- It is okay to tell the infertile woman that it took you a year to get pregnant with your child and that was hard, not as hard as "all this you're dealing with," but hard. It is NOT okay to then go into detail on how you found out you were "finally" pregnant. How you went to a family party and felt a little off, so only ordered a sprite, and then got a pregnancy test but ripped up all the packaging and hid it so no one would know in case it was negative, and then stuffed said pee stick down your pants, went inside your house, said hi to your boyfriend and immediately went to pee on it, then came out with a funny look and your boyfriend thought you were mad at first until you showed him the stick, and OH MY GOD you were so ecstatic that this moment had finally arrived. Thanks. I appreciate the brief commiseration on how hard it can be to get pregnant, albeit while having sexytimes in the privacy of your own bedroom and not in an OR with a host of 5 people looking up your hoo-ha, but to tell me your pregnancy test and announcement to your partner story? REALLY? I will never have the opportunity to come out of a bathroom and share that news. That news comes from a telephone held in a sweaty hand and with a pit of fear in my stomach that it will be bad news again. I cannot relate to this one bit, and shouldn't have to listen to it.

- Do NOT continue in this line, then telling me all about your pregnancy. ALL ABOUT IT. This one requires no explanation. I don't want to hear about a pregnancy that ended in a baby 18 months ago from a person I don't really know. I just want you to rub my back so I can try not to think about how pregnancy keeps eluding me and focus on how maybe this will be the time it finally doesn't.

- Do NOT tell me a story about how you didn't want to know the sex but your boyfriend did, and so he found out when you went to the bathroom and kept it a secret the whole rest of the pregnancy, but bought some gender-specific clothes and things and hid them, and then you had to have him move them out of the nursery so you could clean and nest and not run into them, but you just KNEW that they were in the house. This goes along with the last one. Don't tell me details of your pregnancy. Especially not ones that remind me that I have onesies of both genders hidden throughout my house, that have been hidden for years, that I bought in hopes that a baby might fill them and then my husband hid after they were left empty time and time again so I wouldn't come across them and have a bit of a breakdown. Your story makes me sad. 

- This one's for the future: do NOT keep asking me "how it's going." If I want to share that, I will. I am not completely nervous for my next appointment because she has just become one more service provider that I will have to tell if something goes wrong. OF COURSE, this time nothing's going wrong, so I don't have to worry about it, but the list just keeps going and going. 

Probably I could have just condensed this to "DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY, ANY PART OF YOUR PREGNANCY. EVER." Especially since the more she talked, the more I felt like she felt she was the same as me in some way, that the suffering of 11 months of pee sticks before that magical positive that brought her baby home is somehow in line with years of infertility treatments and the constant questioning of "Is this ever going to happen?" The very real planning for other pathways to parenthood because even after all this, IVF is not a magic wand. Maybe she just felt really comfortable and like she could unload all of the very complex feelings around this pregnancy, but that's not really my job when I'm in nothing but my underwear under a soft sheet on a massage table. And it's definitely not my job when the WHOLE REASON I'M ON THAT TABLE is to help me forget my reproductive woes, to rub away the stress not being able to pee on a stick like a "normal" person has given me.

Not relaxing. I can only hope that next time is better, after I say "I don't want to talk about this." Even if I am gloriously, terrifyingly pregnant. I just want to float away from the world of pee sticks and gender reveals and morning sickness (and needles and ultrasound wands and the dizzying schedule of medication on the fridge) when I'm on that table. So, next time... DON'T. Just, shhhhhh.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stocking Up

Stocking up -- something you do for winter, in preparation for a disaster, to bolster your pantry in anticipation of lean times. You can stock up physically, and you can stock up emotionally. This year, much of my strategy to have a lovely summer, a (relatively) stressfree summer, both in terms of school and my emotional wellbeing surrounding our infertility treatment, has involved stocking up. And it's working pretty well on all fronts, if I do say so myself.

Stocking Up For Summer Financially
Those of you who are teachers know -- summer is a glorious time. But it can also be a stressful time financially. Most teachers are 10 month employees. For the uninitiated, that means that our salary is spread out from September to June (or August to May or whenever your area of the country starts and stops), and those months of July and August (or June and July or whatever) are unpaid. Unless you teach summer school or summer programs, and even then by the time the payroll comes in it is the second month of summer into the school year. There are options for addressing this pay desert, and they differ by district. Some districts give you the option to receive your salary spread out along 12 months. My district is not one of these. We can either have our salary divided into 20 equal paychecks from September to June on the 15th and 30th (I really, really hate this new pay schedule, as sometimes it is well over 2 weeks between paychecks and payday could be a Friday, or a Wednesday, or any day, which is slightly unpredictable and makes for icky planning even though technically the checks are bigger, which also means more taxes taken out at once), or we can have 19 smaller paychecks and then a bigger paycheck for that 20th end-of-year one, that will ostensibly carry you through the summer. I don't do that option, because with all the health insurance for both of us and the Union dues and the retirement system (all wonderful benefits), my smaller check would stress me out. I would rather move money into a savings account myself throughout the year than have the district hang on to my money. Something I finally decided to do this year, but late in the game. The first stocking up strategy was to automatically transfer a nonstressful amount into a savings account with every paycheck, so I'd have a stash of cash for summer. Unfortunately my math was hideous, and so I've had to rely on the kindness of Bryce to cover the rest. I did make it into August though! Progress. Next year will be better (although next year hopefully I am on maternity leave into summer and maybe a wee tiddly bit into fall). 

Besides money, I stocked up on nonperishable essentials. I decided this year that starting in April, when I still had my normal cash flow, I was going to stock up on toiletries and stuff that usually makes for expensive shopping trips in the summer. I would have loved to stock up on nonperishable food essentials like pasta, condiments, and rice, plus nonedible items like toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, etc, but our basement is an unholy disaster and we don't have the space yet to store such treasure. My dream is that soon we can rip out these ghastly, salmon-colored, poorly constructed cabinets that line two walls of our basement, somehow address the water issues in our basement (unlikely while we're receiving inches of rain per week), and set up nice heavy-duty open shelves for storing canned goods, dry goods, and toiletries. Alas, not this summer, but it's coming! The toiletries thing worked amazingly, though. We have these very deep (almost too deep to be useful) bathroom cabinets, and I filled them full of my shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioning treatment (a must for curly hair), leave in conditioner spray (do you sense a theme?), anti-frizz cream, moisturizers for body and face, eye cream, face wash, razors... a lot of things that tend to jack up the price of my summer runs to the grocery store or the red bullseye. That really, really helped this summer! Next year I will add sunscreen (we go through a lot, but that's a good thing) and vitamins/supplements to the list. I am ridiculously proud of myself for thinking ahead in this manner, because it makes me so happy to shop my cabinets. It's a relatively easy way to take some of the financial strain out of the summer. 

Another bonus was that while we are effectively doing two cycles this summer, we've already paid the bulk of the monies. We chose the package deal at our clinic, and paid for everything but ultrasounds and medication up front. For the entire year. That includes the fresh cycle(s if you include the canceled disaster in April), the two frozens from that cycle, ANOTHER fresh cycle, and any frozens from that. We just have to finish it all by May, which is a little stressful as that doesn't actually seem that far away. The frozen medications cost between $100-200 depending on how much Lupron is needed, a far cry from the $3000+ for a fresh, but my FSA and some lovely medication donation action helped with that. The ultrasounds are covered by my insurance, which makes me feel incredibly lucky. A $15 copay every time we go in (a lot for the fresh, barely anything for the frozen) is a far cry from the $2200 I used to pay for a frozen. While it was stressful to drop all the cash in April, it is ABSOLUTELY LOVELY to know that there are no giant medical bills looming in the future. I sincerely hope we do not have to do another fresh cycle, because that will change that with the meds. But, thinking in the now, this frozen is basically paid for. And so is the hopefully unnecessary second frozen we have available. 

Stocking Up for September
Another strategy over the summer that I'm proud of is stocking up to be ready for September. Someone once told me that her very wise mother never went in to get ready for school in the last week of August, that week before school. She went in earlier, got all her stuff done, and was able to have an ACTUAL WEEK OF VACATION, without any stress about "am I really ready? Am I good to go for September 2nd?" weighing her down. Seeing as how this last week is both my transfer and a trip to Vermont to visit with Bryce's dad and his wife, it would be a wonderful gift to myself to actually accomplish this. So far, I am in really good shape. I've gone in for between 3-6 hours for four days so far, and I've been dedicating oodles of time at home to organizing my units, planning out recurrent structures of my classes, and updating materials. I am going in ONE MORE TIME on Monday, and then I'm done. I may putter a bit next week at home with materials, but then after next Friday, I'm not even doing that. It is a freaking miracle that, for the most part, my classroom is all set up with my files for students and my copies for the first two weeks of school are pretty much done. My biggest goal has been to stock up on organizing my files and my materials in a way that works this year, so that I am not fighting the Paper Monster all year. I did a horrible job of this last year. I want to start the year organized and have everything easily accessible and even copied ahead of time, since I've been adjusting things all summer. My not-so-secret ulterior motivation for this is so that, when we are successful, I am all set for my maternity sub to come in. Everything is clear, everything is sequential, everything is ready for someone else to pick up and take off with it. And, should anything happen that would result in me going out early (bed rest, twins, not that I want to plan for those possibilities but it can't hurt to be prepared), I do not have to stress about it. I am so psyched. Now, can I keep this up throughout the year? THAT is going to be the challenge. But I have a better foundation than I've ever had. 

Stocking Up on Hope
Lastly, I have been working on stocking up emotional reserves. Filling up my pot of hope. Taking very good care of myself so that I am feeling good about this transfer, and hopeful for the possibilities it brings. I am doing some training on myself to try to lessen the negativity that I (understandably) keep feeling, about everything. I have tried very hard this week to not say or think anything negative about my body. Maybe a joke here or there, but that's it. Such as at lunch with a very fitness-conscious friend who was asking about the whole gluten-free thing, and I said that obviously a lot of chocolate and ice cream and assorted goodies like that were gluten free while I did a Vanna move with my hand alongside my body, but that's kind of true. Gluten free (not by choice) does not necessarily a skinny person make. And, you know, there are lots of different bodies out there. Since puberty, mine has never been a super slender one, and that's ok. I am trying to embrace my womanliness, and channel a little more of Mindy Kaling self-confidence. Take my husband's complete and utter adoration of my curves as a pure compliment and not a sign that I'm looking fat. I slip up every once and a while, but overall I am doing pretty well with this attitude adjustment. I am also doing a better job of saying "when I go on maternity leave" and "when this works" and, within reason, planning on being pregnant. Not in a crazy way where I am setting myself up for a shattering (although that may not be possible to avoid in the unlikely event that this goes awry), but in a positive way, a hopeful way, a loose way. I am really good at holding tight to things, grasping onto possible outcomes so hard that a snap is inevitable. I am feeling positive, I am feeling looser, I am trying to fill myself with love before that scary period where I could be pregnant and where in the past I have rarely actually been. The past does not necessarily predict your future. It's not a bad idea to bolster up my reserves for a difficult time that could not be timed any worse. However, thanks to my stocking up on getting ready for school, I am totally ready for the time I will be preoccupied with what is hopefully happening inside my body. I do not have to worry about school so much. I am filling up on relaxation and nourishment and hoping that it will carry me through this next possibility for success, this beautiful new opportunity to become parents. 

I don't feel like I am stocking up for disaster. I am preparing for the positive. I am doing work now to make this September the best ever, on every possible level. I am gearing up for a year that will be so much better than the last, with all the things that are within my control. I am slowly gaining traction in letting go of the things that are beyond my control, and embracing what is, right now. On what little and big things I can do to make this world a little kinder on me than it's been. 

I can't resist ending with a picture of a giant tiger swallowtail that graced my enormous Joe Pye Weed plants that are now over seven feet tall. This butterfly somehow found my flowers, and then had a field day filling up on nectar, just flicking fuzzy pollen-drunk bumblebees off when they got too close and concentrating only on doing what was nourishing for it in that moment. It was just a beautiful sight, a beautiful reminder to concentrate on what's important and flick what annoys you off to the side. My mascots this summer seem to be insects!




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Is Pandora Trying to Tell Me Something?

Today I was spending quality time with my Special Class English curriculum and diligently filing my units into binders using an inordinate amount of page protectors and realizing that I vastly underestimated how many papers make up my literature, parts of speech, and figurative language units. SO MUCH PAPER. To make this not entirely mind-numbing, I had some music going on our engineer-wired music system that pipes our music library, Pandora, radio, and Google Music throughout our house.

I thought it was kind of hilarious that my 80's Pop station played the following songs in order:

Sweet Dreams (are made of these) by the Eurythmics
Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
Under Pressure by Queen

Those three songs pretty much sum up my mindset right now.

Overall, I am feeling pretty positive about our upcoming cycle, now that things seem to be back on schedule (whatever that means anymore). I keep having daydreams about what it would be like to hold my belly full of baby, instead of my belly full of Chipotle; of holding that baby in my arms with Bryce holding both of us; of having an actual tiny human in our little room upstairs that is begging to be used. I feel like the closer we get to go time the more I can see these things again. I can dream it without feeling stupid and duped. The dreams are sweet.

I have always considered "Don't Stop Believin'" to be my infertility anthem. It was a favorite on my playlists, when I had such things for waiting periods and when cycles went wonky. Other songs became sad after being featured on such hopeful playlists that resulted in nothing but tragedy--I still have a hard time with "What a Wonderful World/Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, and "I Believe in Miracles" by Hot Chocolate just about sent me into a nervous breakdown a year or so ago. But "Don't Stop Believin'"-- always gold. Always makes me feel that anything is possible, that there's hope out there for us. Even though technically it's all about a couple from New Jersey. Details. It has a habit of cropping up on the radio or Pandora or whatever when I really need it. Because I kind of need someone to remind us to not stop believing that this will happen for us every once in a while, and to bolster me up when I start feeling that way again but am a bit wavery.

And yet, despite all this positivity, I still feel "Under Pressure." I want to make sure that I'm doing the right things, and I keep messing up. Sunday night we were reading on the couch after a delicious grilled dinner and a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and I realized it was 10:30. OH MY GOD, I FORGOT MY LUPRON SHOT. I rushed and jabbed the measly 10 units that wreak such havoc on my system and my mood, and tried not to freak out. I mean, at least I remembered at all, right? But really, WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME!? I have never nearly forgotten a dose before. Screwed up doses, sure, but not forgotten. Wait, that's not right. I just had a flashback of having to drive back home after getting within a mile of my school and realizing I forgot my lupron shot, a year ago and when they were in the morning. So it's not really that crazy, but combined with the nearly forgetting my estrogen pill yesterday and just in general the dizzying array of things I am putting in my body... I feel the pressure and I am doing a miserable job with keeping up with things. But, who wouldn't:
- 400 IU Vitamin E
- Prenatal including 2000 IU Vitamin D
- 2 fish oil gels
- estrogen, 1 pill morning and night (until tomorrow when it gets ramped to 2 pills)
- lupron between 6-9 pm (I am on DAY 29 of this...only 6 more days to go, lord help me and everyone around me...)
- baby aspirin with a full glass of water sometime in the middle of all this

It's not a ton of shots, but it's a lot of pills and I can't seem to remember everything anymore. I am dreading the start of PIO. I get to lose the lupron at that point, but I have never hated anything like I hate the PIO. But, it's necessary for the making of the FutureBaby, so in my ass it goes.

I also feel under pressure to keep up my positive thinking and pretending like this cycle is going to be THE cycle. Hard to do after 9 no-gos. My "new" strategy: I am talking like this is actually happening. I have Bryce joining in on the "let's trick the Universe with reverse psychology" tactic (I assume the Universe doesn't read this blog...). We both bounce off each other with statements like, "Oh no, if we got pregnant this time, what would we do? That would be CRAZY. So overwhelming. We just wouldn't know how to deal with that!" And hope that whatever is out there is like, "Hmmm, they fear this pregnancy thing, so we shall give it to them!" (I realize how completely insane this logic is.) We also talk as though a baby is actually coming to this house, and pregnancy is inevitable, because even though there is a hint of truth in that "what would we do with good news?" statement, we're just going to go with THIS IS HAPPENING. Because why not? It's hard to keep it up sometimes, and it feels a little silly, but we're trying.

I feel under pressure to make my body super healthy, and I've been working out via yoga, pilates, yoga/pilates blend, walking, and hiking a lot, with the results being somewhat less lumpier midsection, pants that fit better, apparently Achilles Tendonitis, and added pounds on the scale. I need to get rid of this pressure. I need to accept that this is where I am and love it. Harder done than said. The yoga DVD I did yesterday said that it's super important to accept your body as it is and do things to improve its functionality, but that self-acceptance is at the core of yoga. Ok, I will try. I will try to duck out from under the pressure I put on myself (for pretty much all of the above) and accept that I cannot fight the meds that add the pounds and this battle is best for a better day. I can keep going for healthy, but I can't be mad at my body for being flubby. That's kind of where it is and where it will be for the moment.

Apparently those songs have brought up a lot of emotions and concerns! So is Pandora trying to tell me something? Or was it just coincidence that caused me to reflect (never a bad thing), considering that songs that followed included "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and "Sunglasses at Night?"
Maybe, maybe not. Now it's playing "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake, another song that always makes me think of our infertility journey. I mean seriously, go look up the lyrics. It's ridiculous. Everything but "on my own" makes sense. Crazy,creepy sense of humor, Pandora. Way to get into my brain, intentional or not.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Back on Track!

I have been cranky and fearful since I effectively flunked my baseline. I have been sitting, wondering how in the eleven baselines I've now had, not until THIS one has my estrogen been elevated. Why now?

I think it is a curveball thrown to remind me, to keep trying to teach me, that no matter how many paper plans I have on the fridge, no matter how many dates are in the calendar, it is all an illusion of control. My estrogen was just where it needed to be yesterday when I had my repeat bloodwork, and no one could tell me why that happened. "It happens a lot, we just called someone else with the same issue yesterday," the IVF nurse who sounds like Paula Poundstone said. "We don't really know why." So, instead of asking what my estrogen level was and obsessing further, I took her hint and let it go. Why obsess about something without an answer when I can move forward and get all excited at our next try?

That's a good question, because, as many of you probably know, it is REALLY HARD TO NOT OBSESS about pretty much everything. I have a bloggy friend who decided, when she was pregnant with her last cycle after a string of cruel losses, that she was going to forgo the Beta numbers. She just wanted them to say "Looks good" and leave it at that. (Later she went back and asked for them out of curiosity, but the self-control to wait until then!). She took the numbers away because the numbers are stressful. I was just saturated in admiration for this woman, because I'm not sure I could do that but it seemed like such a Zen way to go about it, to trust in your body despite all the betrayals, to let your peace with the process guide you instead of those numbers that are so easily compared to other numbers and can cause a dizzying whirl of questions like, Why isn't it higher? Should it be lower? Does this mean multiples? Is it doubling/tripling at a good enough rate? She let it go. And not that there is a correlation here, but she's sneaking up on her third trimester.

I am a big fan of tracking my cycles and writing everything down. It gives me a semblance of control, it gives me power. I like to be as knowledgeable as possible so that I can advocate for myself. There have been times my obsessive note-taking has worked in my advantage. And you can't ever say that I am not in the know about my case.

But something has snapped lately.

My infertility notebook has been pretty sparse for the last couple of cycles. At my previous clinic, they had the numbers on the ultrasound screen for each ovary when you stimmed. At my new clinic, they don't do it that way (they take an individual shot of each follicle..that's a lot of photo paper!). And I decided not to care. I asked how many and roughly how big, but I didn't have any more exact info. And it was okay.

When I received my call that my estrogen was naughty and we'd have to shift everything a week, I was so upset that I blatantly didn't write down any of the shifted dates. I knew the new transfer date, but the lining check and when to start estrogen and all that stuff? Did not write it down, did not commit it to memory. I mean, WHY if it could just get screwed up like that for no apparent reason? Why bother until I knew these actually were the new dates? (I didn't know if your estrogen could totally screw up your cycle and cancel it, but I wasn't taking any chances.) Now I have the new dates, but I know that these dates are also flexy. I don't know what's going on lately with my canceled cycle in April and my messed up baseline now, but I do know that it appears the Universe is not whispering, but shouting at me...

LET IT GO!!! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, LET IT GO. 

It's just so hard, despite all the experiences that should be teaching me to live in the NOW. Tomorrow hasn't happened yet, so don't waste energy worrying about it. IT'S SO HARD TO EXECUTE WITH ANY FIDELITY. But I get it, and I hear the message. I need to trust that what's going to happen is going to happen and nothing that I do really has any influence. I can worry, but it won't make a positive or negative outcome any more likely. I can obsess, but again, for what good? Better to let go. To see the dates on my calendar as flexible goals, not events that are set in stone. To try to release the fear that this cycle won't work and instead just go with the thought that what happens, will happen, and if it could be the positive that sticks this time, wouldn't that be awesome. I am no longer going to catastrophize (ok, I'm going to try REALLY HARD not to), because not that I believe that what you think becomes your reality (in that case I'd be pregnant 80 billion times over and have a summer house in Maine) but because when I think, "what's the worst that can happen?"...the worst tends to happen. So maybe I'm afraid of being pregnant. Oh my, what would happen if we actually got pregnant this time and made it past 6 1/2 weeks? That would be CRAZY. Or, instead of trying to use reverse psychology on the cosmic fabric of things, I just BELIEVE EACH DAY THAT IT'S TRULY POSSIBLE until (hopefully not) faced with irrefutable evidence to the contrary. 

My calendar is back on track. Now let's see if I can get my mindset on a good track, too. Not necessarily to will something into happening, but to just celebrate each day that we get closer to transfer, enjoy my valium, and then feel each day of being PUPO that it IS possible, it IS happening each day, and not sit there fearing that day in September when the Call of All Calls comes in. I'm going to try for no more fear of what may come, and just stay rooted in what is here, now, and how it is going to get us to our goals. (And in trying, also attempt to not stress myself out that I'm not trying hard enough to let go, because that's also counterproductive.) 

Now that I have let you in to the incredible neuroses that is my subconscious yet again, please wish me luck with this whole letting go thing. It's hard after so much pain, but not impossible. Let it go, let it go, let it go. (Apologies if I have now put a certain Disney song in your brain, it really was unintentional...)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Baseline Day Rollercoaster

While driving on the Thruway to Buffalo, I noticed a grasshopper on my windshield wiper. The gorgeously green little guy was hanging on for dear life, facing insurmountable obstacles to stay rooted to my car and not fly off and become splat on someone else's windshield. I exited the Thruway for the local highway, exited to normal, 35 MPH streets, and watched as the grasshopper tested the change in air speed, made a choice, and flew successfully away. That's some serious tenacity. I have noticed these beautiful bugs on my side view mirror before, clinging for dear life as I zoom at 60-75 MPH down the highway, making me teary eyed and hoping against hope that the little critters make it, and every single time so far, they do. They just hang on despite all odds saying that they should become an unsightly smear in someone else's field of vision. 

It was an excellent reminder of how I feel, going for another spin on the merry-go-round, taking another hour and fifteen minute drive for a twenty minute appointment whose only purpose is to check that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IS HAPPENING. That's all baseline is, a monitoring that your body is in complete and total stasis, the Lupron is doing its nasty little job, your estrogen is low, your lining is thin, your ovaries are quiet. It's kind of anticlimactic, but as some of my friends know, there's always something that can pop up. A rogue cyst, a body that decides now is the time for estrogen to rise on its own, leftover tissue from a previous tragedy that just doesn't want to leave. You actually want to hear the words, "I'm seeing nothing" when it comes to your ovaries, your lining, your hormone levels. A little strange. Baseline is the beginning though, even though I've been on Lupron for weeks already and so feel that this cycle is underway. NOW it's underway. NOW I have to make like a grasshopper, hang on despite what feels like gale force windshear against my back, know that if I just keep rooting myself to my foothold that I could get my chance to fly away from all this, successfully. 

I had a few concerns for this baseline. A few questions about the cycle that is pretty much just like any other frozen transfer we've ever done, except for the fact that the ingredients are different, there is definitely a sense of mourning, but also a sense of hope that's a little stronger than what we've had more recently. A new twist on things means a chance to have that smoking gun, a chance for that change to be THE change. I wish it didn't mean losing my husband's genetic material, but we are both in that "this sucks, this is sad, but it's also really hopeful" place right now. Not that the pain doesn't rear its ugly head from time to time, like when I was looking to pick a Lupron-fueled fight last night because I had to get up early and drive all that way by myself, and I howled, "I have a right to be resentful! I have a right to feel that it's unfair that it's MY body that's constantly pushed and prodded, I'M the one who has to be at these appointments, and YOU can choose not to go!" Oh no. Nonononononono. Even though this was the case before we decided on DS, the words took on a more sinister meaning once they flew out of my short-fused, cranky mouth. I regretted it instantly. And sure enough, they hit their unintentional mark. "You know, not for anything, but I'M NOT A PART OF THIS AT ALL anymore. I know it sucks that your body is the one at all the appointments and the one getting blood draws and wanded ultrasounds, but AT LEAST YOU'RE A PART OF IT STILL." I felt horrible. It was true. I said, "But you're a part of it! This isn't a time when you'd be a part of it anyway... but you are definitely still a part of things!" And, my wonderful, wise, hurting husband said, "Yes, I know I'm part of the NEXT set of things, and I can be there for you. But it still hurts that for THIS part of things, this cycle, I'm not needed at all. I'm not necessary." I felt horrible. Because while I need him, technically speaking if he didn't want to go to any of the appointments, he doesn't NEED to. I want him to want to, and he does, and it's OUR baby we're making here, but for this part, before the double lines, before the wait for the Call of All Calls, it's true. He's on the other side of the glass, an incredibly invested spectator more than a participant, if you take it down to bare bones. I apologized, I acknowledged his hurt, I suggested maybe coming to the future monitoring appointment in addition to the transfer might help him feel more connected, but that comes with sacrifice. It's a kinda-sorta inconvenience for me to drive out to Buffalo, but I'm not working right now. It's not a big deal. He has to shift meetings, shift hours, and so we agreed that I'd go alone to these two FET prep appointments. I kind of regret that now. If you are out there doing a DS cycle, how do you help your husband to feel like he's needed, like he's essential even though physically he's not anymore and you both know it? It adds a layer of complexity that we did expect but is proving to be sad and more difficult than we had prepared for. 

My questions, once I got to the appointment and the grasshopper was safely back in the air and my lining and ovaries were confirmed to be quiet, were nearly answered before I asked them. 

1) May I please have more Valium for transfer day? They gave me 5mg last time. The purpose initially is only to relax your cervix and uterine muscles for an easier and cramp-free transfer. But, I can't feel the anti-anxiety effects of Valium at 5 mg. I'm sure my cervix can, but my brain can't. At my previous clinic they did 10, and it gave me a floaty-yet-grounded feeling where I was present in the room but much, much calmer inside and out. I feel that I need the 10 this time, because at this point I need to relax my mind every bit as much as my lady parts. I used to be super excited and cry out of joy when I saw that flash of light on the screen that meant our embryos were home. Now I am anxious and cry out of fear for having the responsiblity for these little clusters of cells and hope, that seem to do great in the dish and then die an unceremonious death inside my uterus. So, uh, not so exciting anymore, more terrifying, and I really don't want to feel that way as our babies are entering my body, especially if this time it seems that they have a better chance of actually becoming babies. But, lucky for me, the doctor handed me the script and it already said 10--he said, "we want you nice and relaxed for this transfer." OH THANK GOODNESS. I felt a little funny asking, like I'd seem like some kind of druggie or something... "Please, sir, can I have more drugs?" So it was lovely that they were psychic and already predicted that I might need a little extra numbing this time. 

2) May I please change my pregnancy test date? I had been thinking on this problem for weeks. I have been really upset that my test date is the first day of school. It's the teachers-only day, but still...I'd have to miss half the day to go home and wait for the Call of All Calls and I wouldn't truly be present for the rest of it, because how can you be while you're waiting for THAT CALL? Plus, if it was bad news, I'd have to immediately face fresh new students the next day. Not such a great idea. I had been thinking about peeing on a stick. As a general rule, I do not POAS because I have never, ever gotten good results when I didn't already know it was going to have two lines or triumphantly exclaim "PREGNANT." POAS in my experience does nothing but muddy the waters. HOWEVER, since now I know that I could feasibly test up to five days prior to their later test date thanks to the lovely June Bleed Experience, I really didn't think it would be bad to POAS say, two days before. Of course if it was negative I would still have the ability to think it was just low and a mistake and the blood would tell me, and if it was positive I wouldn't fully trust it without a number attached to it, but the thought of receiving this news the day before students was hideous. Those of you who teach know--the first day of school is an epic marathon. I don't believe in the No Smiles Until Thanksgiving nonsense, so my face hurts from all the smiling and warmth I have projected all day, my voice is sore from talking in the caring-yet-firm, sort-of-stage-voice that I've put on the shelf all summer, my feet are unused to all the bustling about on the hard, unforgiving linoleum floors, and I am just exhausted. The thought of the normal exhaustion paired with the possibility of "I've been crying all night and had some ill-advised cocktailery" exhaustion... not a great idea. Even if it's GOOD news, I will need a couple of days to perfect my poker face. Because there are a lot of people whose greeting to me in September is going to be, "ANY GOOD NEWS?" I have lost all sense of privacy around this issue. Sooo, at the urging of several loved ones, I suggested they move my test date up at least a day, pleaseandthankyou. It was no problem at all. I love how easygoing these people are! 

UPDATE:
So when I began writing this, I had confirmation on ultrasound that my lining was thin and my ovaries were quiet. I hadn't yet received my call on my estrogen results, but I have never had an issue with estrogen levels on baseline day. UNTIL NOW. Ringy dingy, your cycle's all FUBAR'd. 

The only question that still matters is the Valium, because my transfer date has shifted. No longer do I have to worry about testing around the first day of school, because now my test will be when school is well underway. At least a week or so. So I'll need to take at least a half day within the crucial first days of school. AWESOME. Ten baselines, this was my eleventh (thank you, canceled cycle, for making my numbers all wonky), and NOT ONCE has my estrogen been an issue. What the hell? Why now? Why is my body fucking me over at every turn? I don't understand. I haven't been eating pounds of edamame. I hate soy milk products. I've been drinking coffee. I've been doing my Lupron shots faithfully, within the 6-9 window (give or take 10 minutes), but not at the exact same time because that's a little hard unless you're a recluse who never leaves the house, you know? WHAT WENT WRONG? Ohmygod, what if this gets canceled? 

Stop. Breathe. Be the grasshopper. Try not to think about the fact that this now royally screws up the mini vacation at the end of August with your father-in-law and his wife in Vermont, which starts on what is now transfer day. Try not to think about how recalcitrant your body is. Try not to cling to dates and timeframes and the treatment calendar on your fridge that is now completely defunct and needs to be replaced and maybe burned because it symbolizes order that your reproductive system is completely incapable of. Try not to feel utterly, hopelessly frustrated and like this is some kind of shadow over this next possibility. Try not to think about hiring an exorcist. 

It's hard, so hard to be the grasshopper. To figure out what to cling to--not dates and schedules and plans that are just meant to be disrupted, but possibilities and flexibilities and the belief that we will be parents and it will happen its own time, in its own way (to quote a guided meditation from Ruth Naparstek that really I ought to start doing soon because otherwise I might get a little too tightly wound...). To believe that someday I will fly free of this everloving shitstorm that is my infertility journey and not feel so mired in the muck, so hideously unlucky, to work so hard for something so precious that ought to just come a tiny bit easier. I was hoping today would be the start of this cycle, and it's not. I have to wait another week for bloodwork and hope that it comes back with more favorable numbers so I can start putting fake estrogen in my body (!?!). Get this show on the road. Get a step closer to the possibility of pregnancy and parenthood. One step forward, two steps back... but still moving forward as best I can, against the wind, trying desperately not to splatter. I'd far rather fly away, finally successful, and finally free.