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!
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.