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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy Anniversary, a Month Early

We are strange people. We have two anniversaries -- one on 10/23 that commemorates when we got legally married at our favorite Mexican restaurant, just a Justice of the Peace and two friends in tow, and another on 10/31 that commemorates our actual wedding ceremony in our backyard. This year, our fifth anniversary, we found ourselves with a choice. We could celebrate on our actual anniversary (usually we do something quiet at home for the 23rd and then we do something fun and more out and about for the 31st), especially since Halloween is on a Friday this year, but that is smack dab in the middle of our next attempt. Our other choice: we could take this weekend, a beautiful, last-weekend-in-September, and celebrate our beautiful five years together as any other couple NOT in the throes of infertility would. Out at a restaurant, with a cellar wine and maybe a glass-of-champagne apertif for toasting, without any thought to what time we need to get back for shots or feeling crappy from shots or wondering if this glass of wine or that sugary creme brulee is lowering our chance of success.

So we did it this weekend.

It was an absolutely beautiful day yesterday, and I want to end on how gorgeous the day was, and how amazing the dinner was, and how nice it was to celebrate our anniversary together, somewhat unfettered by infertility.

But, it was only somewhat unfettered.

It started with my morning chores--I wanted to do fall garden cleanup, while I can still bend and sweat and be out in the sun without worry that the drugs are making me photosensitive or worrying about raising my internal body temp too much or realizing that you bend with your uterus. (It's true--weird but true. It's almost impossible to do anything without your uterus being in on the action, which I never ever thought about until all this nonsense.) My butterfly garden has been awesome this year -- plants are reblooming that I don't think are supposed to, my annuals are having a rejuvenation and there's gorgeous deep purple heliotrope exploding all over again, and the deer have managed not to decimate my sedum. My other gardens? This fairly wet summer with all the heavy rains really did a number on them. My coneflowers went insane and are now this cricket thicket that is a lovely microcosm of wildlife (goldfinches! crickets! katydids! strange flying insects I've never seen before! bees!), but they look hideous. Like I'm trying to recreate the briars in Sleeping Beauty or something. I have to be kind to myself, because every year at this time it becomes sort of a Garden of Death, but I like to keep the dead coneflowers around because the lovely goldfinches hang out in there and eat the seeds (completing the vicious cycle of more coneflowers than I know what to do with, and I think next spring there will be an aggressive culling...). Those pretty golden songbirds greet me in the morning when I go to school and in the evening when I return, and they just make me so darn happy. So, if it doesn't look so hot right now, SO WHAT. But still, as I was cleaning that up and yanking out the insane cherry tomato vines that are now producing rotten, mealy, and cracked fruits that litter our patio and back driveway, I kept thinking, "Ugh. Gardening's supposed to be your thing, your activity where you feel like you can actually sustain life, and look at this mess. This year even THAT is suffering." It didn't help that as I was trying to harvest what few decent tomatoes were left, I had brought out one of our beautiful big white pasta bowls from Crate&Barrel, a store we don't have up here, and I DROPPED IT. It shattered all over the place. Now we have only one. Who uses just one pasta bowl? I guess it could be a server of sorts, but that kind of took my lingering, looming feelings of personal failure and magnified them. I'm not even on the drugs yet, what am I going to do when everything is amplified by insane hormonal peaks and troughs? I am a wee tiddly bit worried about that.
The butterfly garden, in its fall glory. 

I got over it though, and in the end everything was cleaner, and looked much, much better. And I stopped muttering swears under my breath as I cleaned house, and I didn't even turn into a whirling dervish when I was cleaning up hosta sticks and discovered that maybe I should wait until a good cold snap to do that, because of all the beautiful (but not when they're IN YOUR FACE) spiraled spiderwebs in between them. Including one with a half-dollar-sized orb spider in it that barely missed becoming a hair ornament. EW EW EW.

So then we went to lunch, and while we were sitting there, Bryce mentioned that he needed to set me up for my class. That present that he got me for my birthday, the membership to Writer's and Books? I finally grew a pair and took a class over the summer, and I LOVED it. It's good for me to have dedicated time to just write, and not necessarily about all...this. There's another class this fall that I'm looking forward to, but it's on a weeknight from 7-9. No worries, I thought. I'd be busy and tired from school, but it doesn't start until October, so the September insanity should be calmed down and I should be in more of a groove.

EXCEPT.

Except as we were talking about it, Bryce was like, "Wait, what time is it?" and I was like, "7-9. So you won't see me in the evenings on that day, but no worries! You'll have you time!" And then he just stared at me. "How long does the class go?" he asked. "I don't know, it's at least six weeks or so though." And then he stared again. "From 7-9? For six weeks? Um, what about your shots?"

FUCK.

Yup, that's right, this last cycle we switched our PIO to evenings, which was an AMAZING thing convenience-wise. It was awesome. No worrying about getting up hyper early and trying to get Bryce to be semi-conscious for the sticking of the 1 1/2 inch needle in my derriere. No worrying about being late to school. But, we did them at 8:30 pm. Right in the middle of class.

I teared up. What the hell? Why must infertility interfere with EVERY ASPECT of our lives? This cycle, where there's all these fancy new pieces in play, where I don't want to mess with ANYTHING and do it all 100% by the book, and now it looks like I can't take this class that I was really looking forward to. Unless somehow I could take my shots at 6ish, and Bryce would have to get out of work in time to do that, and he'd have to come home and then go to the gym some nights, but if that's even remotely going outside of what's normally recommended then I DON'T WANT TO DO IT. I am too good at finding ways to blame myself for failure. I don't want anything that can make me feel like I messed with something for my own convenience and so maybe, some cosmic force thinks that my top priority is not motherhood but something else, and so no wonder I have no baby. (This is exactly the insanity my brain is capable of. Is this true? Probably not. Would anyone sane ever think that my priorities are out of whack? NO. But my mind is able to twist just about anything into a reason why we can't get pregnant. I won't even let Bryce trap chipmunks because I'm worried killing them would translate to bad karma. Help!)

But, we'll ask about the timing of the shots, and maybe it's not a big deal. And if it is a big deal, there will be other classes. It's just that this one looks awesome.

The rest of the day was good -- I sat outside and read a book for school while Bryce tinted walnut for the bookcase he's building us upstairs, and I started getting ready one step at a time for our fancy dinner out. I had a dress in mind, that I wore last December after our failed DE FET and when I was feeling quite chubby, so I was pretty sure it would fit. I washed my hair and did that first, then I put on my makeup, a variation on what I wore for our wedding (kind of pinup-lite, with red lips and black-linered, neutral-shadowed eyes). I was feeling HOT. And then I went to put on my dress. OH HOLY JEEZUM. It didn't fit. And then my second choice didn't look so great. And then I started to panic.

"Okay," I thought, "No worries, we're in a Sin Bin so I can feel fine wearing nice jeans and a sexy top. Yeah, let's do that." (A Sin Bin is a private room for two off one of the dining rooms upstairs in this restaurant, that a long time ago used to be an, uh, all-in-one, whatever-you-want pitstop along the Erie Canal.) My jeans fit fine, and I figured I would wear my ridiculously old stiletto "barbie shoes," high heels that look like they're out of the 1970's that I absolutely love but that are less than stable on the tootsies, and a black top. Except the one I had in mind seemed a bit short and tight and roly-poly looking. So I put on a shirt that I wear to work, that has a lightweight black cardigan and an ivory-and-black printed shell that's sewn in (lovely for the busty ladies, no worrying about accidental overexposure). Except it didn't feel particularly sexy. I dressed it up with the heels and some nice jewelry, but I felt fat. and I felt like I really can't pretend that I don't need to go up a size, or at least find some shirts meant for ladies who have all the right curves in all the right places, and maybe a few extra thrown in. BLAST YOU, INFERTILITY! It is SO irritating, because I can honestly say that I don't eat any more than I used to. If anything, I eat less. I am very careful about what I put in my body, and I have been really good about exercising. I have another week and a half for busting my butt at the gym before I can't do it anymore (at least vigorously) thanks to the hysteroscopy and then being on stimming medications, but I do have little windows. And I can always walk. I just don't get why my body insists on expanding this way. It seems unnecessarily cruel, and the fact that I'm doing everything I can and it makes no difference and everyone keeps telling me that "this isn't something to worry about" is all, all frustrating. I didn't want to buy new clothes due to expanding size unless they had elastic waistbands and pouches for a baby belly. I don't want to spend money on clothes right now, but I honestly think it will make me feel better to have clothes that don't make me feel like a stuffed sausage, and more choices that make me feel good about myself instead of reminding me that I am bigger than I was last year. Argh. The weird thing is some of my pants fit, and some don't, and they're ALL THE SAME SIZE. So frustrating.

The good thing is, Bryce finds me ridiculously sexy no matter what. And maybe even a little more so when I've got more to, um, hang on to. So I have to try to quiet the angry, self-hater in my mind and listen to my husband who tells me, FREQUENTLY, that I am beautiful, I am sexy, I am HOT. Eventually I felt that way when we were on our way out to dinner, but it was kind of a wake-up call that I should really get more clothes that make me feel more comfy in my own skin. Since all this extra seems to not be going anywhere, and with a wonderful cocktail of femara, follistim, PIO, and benadryl...I don't think that's changing anytime soon.

SO, now for the purely beautiful part. Dinner.

We had our Sin Bin, so we could be as silly as we wanted and didn't have to be all formal and stiff for the sake of other diners. (Not that we always keep that in mind, but it was nice to not have to be even a little aware of others.) We toasted our early anniversary, and how amazing it is that five years have gone by in what seems like a really long time (like we've never NOT been together) and also just like yesterday (I remember so clearly everything about our wedding day, from the insane howling wind, to the last minute decision that we'd be ok outside and it wouldn't rain, to feeling so insanely lucky to be promising our lives to each other). We ate baby spinach salad with shaved goat gouda, gala apples, marcona almonds, and apple cider ginger dressing. We saw a little beetle that was coming in to the old building, hanging out above our heads, and named him Bertrand Francois Dubois. He oversaw our romantic evening without doing anything unpredictable or disturbing, so all was good. We had the most delicious beef tenderloin with bordelaise sauce, cheddar potato gratin, and swiss chard. We drank our dusty cellar bottle of 2005 Phelan Segur St. Estephe wine. It couldn't have paired better if we tried. We laughed, we talked, we managed not to talk about infertility barely at all. (I'm pretty sure there was a brief detour in one conversation, but it was expertly diverted and there were no sad eyes, no tears at dinner). We hung out for about two and a half hours, luxuriating in our delicious foods and yummy beverages, savoring all these moments. I hate to call it this, because so far it has failed to live up to its name, but dinner was my "last hurrah" before this next cycle. Now starts the cutting back on the sugar, on the coffee, and no alcohol. But last night, in the little candlelit Sin Bin, it was all deliciousness without any thought to prepping for yet another cycle.
A little blurry, but all fancy'd up and ready to go enjoy our anniversary
dinner together. God, my husband is devastatingly handsome.

It was beautiful to have a night to celebrate that was free of the things that would interfere in late October. Free of drugs, free of restrictions, free of that specter that could all too easily bring the tears on. Was yesterday totally free of fertility-related frustration? No. But the evening was fertility-free, romantic, and relaxing...and in the end, that's all that really matters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Open House

Ah, Open House. The sweatiest of teacher nights. A night of smiling nonstop, of trying not to get ambushed, of hoping you sound as intelligent and awesome as you just know you do every single day in front of middle schoolers, and then realizing that parents make you inexplicably nervous and tongue-tied.

First, the parents. Every year they seem to get younger and younger. (It's not at all that I get older and older.) Subtly, a little infertile twinge from standing in front of a room of people who are now your age, some younger, some not that much older, but much closer to your age group than they ever were before. And they have 13-14 year olds. And you have...cats.

Then, every year, there are the really bizarre parent-child-lookalike things. Every year. A parent walks through your door and you're like, "HOLY GUACAMOLE, you look just like Johnny!" (Johnny's name has been changed. I have no students named Johnny.) Bizarro, really strong genes, a cosmic ha-ha. Except.
Except when that happens, I mourn a little more that our kids will be missing at least one of our genetic components. At least for right now that's the case -- we're mourning Bryce's genetic loss, but we also still have those frozen embryos from the donor egg cycle so it's not 100% out of the question that we could have children that don't have my genes. Or we could have one of each, if we manage this on our next try and then go back for a sibling with the embryos we have in the freezer. Or, they could decide it's completely my lining's shenanigans causing our woes, and none of this donor nonsense was needed. (Unlikely it's just one thing, but who knows.) Regardless, now those freaky parent-child double situations are a little stabby poke between my ribs, because in all likelihood no one will say that about our children. And then, this year, one classroom that I was in was flabbergasted by how UNLIKE the child the father was. They couldn't stop talking about it, even this morning. Which set me off a bit, because sometimes that's how genetics work, and sometimes genetics have NOTHING TO DO WITH FATHERHOOD. Or motherhood. It is so hard not to be sensitive to comments like, "He looks NOTHING like his son. Is he even the REAL Dad?" Yes. People still say shit like this around me. They get temporary amnesia about the incredible intricacies of my incredibly unsuccessful family building attempts, and forget things such as that the phrase "real Dad" is HORRIBLY OFFENSIVE and INACCURATE. But whatever. I made my snippiness known. I just wish there was one of those Men In Black memory-wiping wands for phrases like that.

Sometimes you see unexpected people at Open Houses. People like, say, administrators you had four years ago when you were in a different building, who knew about your babymaking efforts then and hopefully aren't feeling horribly sorry for you now (or worse, looking at your larger profile and wondering if you are still carrying the baby weight from that mythical baby you just haven't made yet but may as well have from the way your body's flub has redistributed and gathered around your midsection thanks to fertility drugs and questionable coping mechanisms). They may not remember, but you do and can't stop thinking about a time you tried really hard not to cry in their office as you explained you had to be out AGAIN for an IUI. (Yup, four years ago, when IUIs were still all the rage, and I had a hard time coping with all the appointments. Ha HA ha ha.)

Sometimes that unexpected person is the school psychologist at one of the buildings you taught in a few years ago, when you were doing donor egg and were completely at the mercy of an anonymous angel and yet annual review (IEP meetings) schedules had to be made and you embarrassingly had to reveal that you were undergoing procedures with unspecified dates attached and so could you please have your meetings as early as possible, in March? And then when he looked all concerned when you said, "I'm having some medical procedures and I'm not sure when but I'll be out and/or unavailable for parts of the day and it could span a few weeks depending on how things pan out, but March should be safe so I don't have to reschedule later," you realized maybe it would be a good idea to make sure he didn't think you had cancer. So you said you'd been doing IVF for some time and then he actually wanted to know more details, and that was sort of refreshing, so you launched into an explanation that later you felt was a LEETLE bit too detailed for someone you see everyday. And then the donor egg cycle happened and you didn't get pregnant. And then you came back in September and you did a FET and you didn't get pregnant. And then in winter there was a meeting with special ed and school psychologists about behavior plans and you were late from lunch and had to sit on the stairs and he stood up and said, LOUDLY, "Jess, do you need a chair? ARE YOU PREGNANT?" Good times. This person totally means well. And his job is to ask about feelings and make sure people are coping well, but sometimes at school I can't have people asking me all the time if I'm ok. (I know, tricky tricky, because it can be isolating if no one asks if you are ok, but constant asking is too much. Because lately, all too often, the answer is NO. I AM NOT OK.)

Well, I ran into the school psychologist at Open House, and right before my first presentation of the night, for my Reading class, a class I am ridiculously passionate about and normally speak really coherently and intelligently about, but for SOME STRANGE REASON I sounded like a nervous person who had possibly done a boatload of speed right before, he asked me all about how things were going. NOT WELL, I said. He asked, and that is super nice, but it took a lot of energy not to get really upset. I think my poor performance in my first presentation was in part due to this conversation and in part due to some intense staring I received from the audience, a phenomenon I haven't had before. But maybe the staring came after I sounded slightly insane and maybe under the influence of drugs that had my heart racing. I wasn't, I'm on NOTHING but prenatals right now, but man I was sweaty and fast-talking and shaky. Anyway, the conversation went along the lines of this:

"So, still nothing?"
"Yes. Still nothing."
"Are you still trying?"
"Yup, I have surgery in a couple weeks and then we do another frozen transfer, but they have a good plan."
"So there's a plan?"
"Yup, some somewhat experimental, cutting-edge stuff. They're hopeful."
"Oh wow. Are you hopeful?"
"Well, I guess if they are I can be, right? It gets harder and harder though. This last cycle was my 10th transfer. I'm tired."
"So, when do you decide if you're going to continue or not?"
"We bought a package, and we will go until we run out of tries or they tell us to stop. Whichever comes first."
"So like one more time?"
"NO. Actually, it could go through the summer." [this is where I vomit a bit into my mouth]
"OH WOW. WOW. How do you do this? How do you do [gestures around the halls] all this and do ALL THAT?"
"Good question. I DON'T KNOW. Seriously, I really DON'T KNOW ANYMORE."
"You're amazing."
"Thank you. I hope so. I'll take your word for it."

And I headed up to give my presentation. Can't imagine why it was shaky/sweaty/red-faced/tongue-tied after all that deepness.

It's kind of my fault...I could have just said hi and then made like I had to be somewhere, stat. I didn't have to verbal vomit my sorrow all over him. But he asked. And I kind of feel like, if people ask, they must really want to know. And the funny thing is, he did. I probably gave him more than was necessary, in the halls of my middle school on Parent Night. And it probably sent me into a funk way more than it did him. He might go home and be like, "That poor woman," for a short period of time, before bed in conversation with his wife. But it has spun in my head for over 24 hours.

I don't know what to say anymore when people say "I don't know how you do this." Because I don't know how I do it, either. School is kind of like a haven for me. I can usually shut all this off like a switch and perform all day long, being Mrs. T, goofy teacher. A teacher of reading that can take a conversation about nonfiction features for an article on the plight of the Monarch butterfly and suddenly have it turn into a really meaningful conversation about ISIS. A teacher of resource room who, when quizzing for the vocabulary quiz, has kids come up with sentences for the word "tedious," and when one student says, "It's probably tedious for you to clean up after your dirty little kids," is able to say, "I don't have any dirty little kids. I wish. I have dirty little cats," and NOT CRY. I can have a student in my English class who is working on his personal narrative about his name and himself, when discussing family traditions of middle names, look at me like I'm crazy when I say, "If I had a daughter I'd probably use the middle name Rose after my grandmother, because she means a lot to me" and exclaims, "You don't have a daughter?" Like that's some kind of weird anomaly. "Nope, I don't have any children." I say. WITHOUT CRYING. And when he says "Why not?" I say, "Because sometimes you don't easily get the things you want most." WITHOUT CRYING. Because I am playing the part of a person who is not living out a personal tragedy in her off hours. Because this week is different from last week and the week before, when I failed at that acting job and got messy all over my off periods. BUT I DID NOT CRY IN FRONT OF STUDENTS. And honestly, I don't know how I do it. I compartmentalize. But I don't know how I KEEP doing this. Especially when I am slapped in the face with HOW LONG we've been doing this, and how MASSIVELY UNSUCCESSFUL we've been. When I see a student in one of my English classes whose older brother was in my class two years ago, and I'm STILL not on maternity leave. Maternity leave is not even on the horizon this school year.

Open House is hard enough without all this added in. I do it, somehow, without crying. Without accidentally saying something stupidly inappropriate about my lack of children, when how many children you have and what grade they're in seems to be the universal opener for many teachers. I put a picture of me with my husband over the summer on a boat in Maine up on my smartboard. He's not the same kind of cute as a picture of our babies would be, but he's darn handsome and that's the slice of my personal life that I can share. Someday maybe my kids will grace the Smartboard. Someday I'll go to Open House and either be pregnant or toting pictures of my baby. Or maybe, next year, I won't be at Open House at all. My long-term sub will be. I'll be home spending precious time with my hard-won baby, snuggled on the couch with my little family that once seemed so impossible, and so far away. And that will be the best Open House EVER.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Digital Sticks SHOULD Say

Let's talk digital pee-sticks, now that I am far enough away from my own unsuccessful bathroom shenanigans to laugh a bit about it.

Digital sticks are a lovely invention if you are actually pregnant, because there is no question of the result, and it is awfully nice to see your hopes and dreams reflected in bold lettering... PREGNANT. There's no interpreting the darkness or thickness of the lines, you either are, or you aren't. It's like the best kind of affirmation.That said, you'd better make sure you are actually pregnant when you pee on one of these.

Because if you aren't, seeing the equally bold lettering saying NOT PREGNANT feels like someone shrieking it in your face. Maybe in a stereotypically angry German accent, like Frau Farbissina in Austin Powers. It's a little a lot jarring, and tends to deliver the message in what seems to be an unnecessarily harsh way.

So, on the day I got my test results and was surprisingly more okay than I would find myself in 24 short hours, a friend of mine, who has been wrung out on this fertility journey and is now navigating the emotionally fraught adoption journey, stopped by to bring me coffee and hugs. I told her about my pee stick drama a few days earlier, which led to a discussion on digital tests.

We decided -- maybe it shouldn't say NOT PREGNANT. Maybe it should be a kinder, gentler message. Maybe it should say, SORRY, NOT NOW. Or TRY TRY AGAIN. Or something that's a little more supportive than NOT PREGNANT. And maybe PREGNANT should come with a little extra, too -- a CONGRATULATIONS! Or YOU MADE IT! Or even WOO HOO!

But then we got thinking, because of the dilemmas of people who pee on these sticks hoping for the opposite (even though this has never been my experience, there are people out there who are fertile at less than ideal times). Maybe there should be a switch on the side. If you actually are hoping that you WON'T be pregnant, you don't really want to be congratulated. I would imagine that if you are sitting on that toilet, hoping and praying that nothing life-changing has happened and crossing fingers and toes that the powerful little pee-soaked stick will deliver the correct message of relief, you wouldn't want a congratulatory message if you are conflicted and it feels more like some kind of sentencing than a long-awaited joy.

So, if you don't want to get pregnant, NOT PREGNANT could be... CONGRATULATIONS! Or WHEW! And PREGNANT could be UH OH. Or TOUGH DECISIONS AHEAD. The switch would help the stick know what kind of platitudes you're looking for for each outcome.

My point? Maybe the digital stick should be more like a Magic 8 Ball. Still clear what the answer is, but a little more mystical, a little less harsh, and with options depending on your hopes and where you are in life. Maybe it's a bit much to ask of a little piece of disposable computer programming, but I think a kinder, gentler stick would be an amazing invention. There's got to be someone out there who can make this happen!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Little Triggers

This is Spirit Week at school -- every day you wear something different, usually something comfy, in the name of Homecoming Spirit. Yesterday was Pajama Day, my favorite of the days. Although all my cute pajamas are highwater, so I wore the most drab cozy clothes I had, apparently. A teacher actually said to me, "If that's what you're wearing to bed, your husband must have complaints." I clarified that that's what I wear BEFORE bed, and what I wear TO bed is no one's business! Har har. Also, every time it's Pajama Day I have a horrible feeling on my drive in that I've screwed up and it's not actually that day, and I will look awfully schlumpy and be the only schlumpy one. Thank goodness this hasn't happened yet, but it's only a matter of time, in my twisted little head. Only I could stress about PAJAMA DAY.

Today was Twin Day. I found myself in a fix -- I hadn't planned ahead enough to find a twin, and no one had asked me, and the people I would ask were pregnant. (So many pregnant people at school right now...) So while it might be funny to stuff a ball under my shirt and dress like a twin, that's just not appropriate. So, I wore a T-shirt that I have seen many staff and students wearing and knew that somewhere, in the masses of people young and not-so, I would have a twin.

The T-shirt was part of a fundraiser for a student who passed away last year from cancer. The front says "Crush Cancer" and the back has her name held in a heart made from hands. She was a high school student and even as she was dying she ran fundraisers and raised money for our local children's hospital through concerts and special events. This shirt has a lot of meaning behind it, and sure enough there were a handful of them in the halls.

I had a training at the other middle school this afternoon, and to beat the buses I left a bit early and grabbed a luxurious mid-day coffee on my way. The cashier at the coffee place asked me about my shirt, "I'm new to this town, and I keep seeing it."

I tried my best to explain it, that it honored a student who had passed away from cancer who fought all the way to the end and thought of others the whole time through her fundraising efforts. I hoped I spoke well, because the community I teach in is tight and I was sure someone who knew this amazing young lady could possibly be nearby. I always choke up when I talk about it, because HOW CAN YOU NOT?

As my latte was being made, a woman that was sitting at a nearby table with a laptop brought it over, open with a picture of two girls in a tree, and said,
"Here's a picture to go with the story. My daughter was good friends with her. Here is her beautiful face."
And she started to cry.

I felt terrible, because my shirt was a reminder of a terrible sad moment that I imagine you never really get over. The death of a child is horribly unfair and just...wrong. I apologized, and she said,

"I don't know why this is making me so sad. I mean, I know, but I haven't been this sad about it in such a long time. Sometimes things just bring that up again, you know?"

"I know. Actually, I know." I said, tearing up as the woman explained how as an adult, you can sort of understand loss, but how heartbreaking it was to try to help her teenage daughter understand the loss of her close friend, and to see the pain and devastation that continues to haunt them.

It stuck with me.

Because while I did not personally know this young lady, and I am not grieving the loss of my friend, or a daughter, I know what it is like to have a trigger suddenly bring you back to a moment of pain and loss that overwhelms you and make you cry in a coffee shop. My loss is different from grieving a person in particular. I am grieving all the people that might have been, I am grieving the loss of the past five years trying to make this happen and failing epically, I am grieving the loss of the person I was before I constantly had to bounce back from heartbreak after heartbreak. But it is still a loss, and these moments happen for me, too.

For me, it is a pregnancy announcement I wasn't expecting. It's a poorly handled infertility subplot in an otherwise hilarious novel. It is a kind word in the middle of the day from another teacher, telling me how heartbroken she is that this still isn't working out. It's a moment of silence in my car thanks to my broken radio, that lets my mind wander to a landscape of grief that's way too easy to access right now.

Most of the time I can be ok, but those triggers come and all that pain bubbles up and through the cracks where I'm trying to put things together again. I felt so horribly bad to have been an inadvertent trigger for this woman who had suffered a loss of a beautiful soul, because I know how a moment like that can suddenly turn...where you're having a perfectly fine day, you're all patched up, and then something unexpected takes your breath away and puts you right back in that moment that's only slightly scabbed over.

Being in public helps, because I can't just keep sinking. I have to be a normal human and be a person who my students can rely on. I was sad in my car today at a stoplight, and a busful of middle schoolers in front of me waved frantically and then got so excited when I waved back. That'll bring you out of a teary slump.

I think I will feel better when I have dates in front of me. Right now everything is a little ambiguous. I know I'm finally on the Pill, and so a hysteroscopy will be happening sometime in the next three weeks. I know that most likely, my transfer will be in late October. It might get pushed to November depending on the Femara/Follistim balance, but whatever. I give up trying to plan on this nonsense. Every single cycle has had some kind of snafu. Once I have that plan in my hands I will feel so much better, even if I look at it only as a rough outline. Which is not to say that these moments when the floor gets pulled out from under you unexpectedly won't continue to happen. I'm sure it will. I just hope that every day I am a little more equipped to get back up quickly, to wipe the tears away and smile, to focus on the hope ahead and not the piles of sadness behind.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Not Towel-Throwing Time Yet

Consultation. Let's talk about the consultation, since I fear in letting my darkest flag fly at a dark time I have left people worried. There is hope, and the consultation went reasonably well, even if I am still feeling sad and exhausted. I am on a very, very slow upswing, but the upswing is there.

Our doctor was amazing enough to do our phone consult on his own time, on a Saturday afternoon. Which was perfect and so appreciated, because the official time was 11:30 on Monday and we were unsure of if we could both be conferenced in and I was worried that if it ran late I would be late for my 7th period class and there's limited cell reception in my brick beast of a building and probably the only reliable and truly private place to have this call would be in my car, plus if anything was upsetting it would make it hard to make it through the last two periods of my instructional day. So hurrah for Dr Fabulous who consistently goes above and beyond. 

Bryce had a few questions he wanted to ask, but the most important one was, "Do you feel comfortable with telling us that this will just never happen, because if it seems that this is an unlikely path for us but you feel we want to keep going, we want you to know that the kindest thing if it looks unlikely is to just tell us concretely." I both appreciated and was terrified of this question. I mean, I knew if there was a "promising new protocol," that there was still hope, but I am both hoping for and terribly afraid of being told that unequivocally, I will never be able to get pregnant and stay that way. Seems an odd thing to hope for in the tiniest possible voice, but if it's not going to happen I'd rather know and mourn that and move on rather than keep toiling in this uncertainty of no answers. I'm also terribly afraid because it's my biggest fear that I am just not physically capable of pregnancy, but if we're being completely honest, if that's true I'd rather not be dicked around for the sake of feelings. Which we definitely do not have to worry about. The answer was no. It is not time for the throwing of towels, we are not at an impasse, it seems that maybe we're at the point in the swordplay where someone says "I'm not left-handed either." There's still a little glimmer of hope. 

Unfortunately that hope lies in the fact that now the belief is that our biggest culprit in our ongoing saga of implantation failure is my uterus, more specifically my uterine lining. Therefore, this new protocol will address that lining. The question was asked, "Why are we just doing this now? How is this different, because I had a really lovely thick lining (over 12 mm!) with the fresh cycle and THAT still didn't work, so what's the difference?" Here is the difference, apparently. The difference is that when you are doing a fresh cycle, you get a thicker lining, yes. But if you are like me and have really high estrogen levels during ovulation induction, that can actually hamper implantation. So the ultimate sweet spot is if you can stimulate the lining through your ovaries, not oral estrogen support, but your focus is on the lining, not the eggs. This way your lining gets nice and thick and your estrogen doesn't go into the danger zone, which is apparently 3,000 plus. I went flipping through my handy dandy notebook, and was like, hmmm, but my estrogen last fresh cycle (the 12mm cycle) was 2553 at the last monitoring. HOWEVER, that was before one last 300 dose of follistim, a few days before retrieval and the application of the HCG trigger shot (which boosts estrogen levels, so much so that if you are in danger of OHSS they use a lupron trigger shot instead, which I didn't even think was a thing but then again, this is why we are with this clinic...they do crazy, cutting edge stuff!), plus with the Ganarelix to hamper ovulation, my levels were probably in actuality well over 3000. OK. There seems to be an answer for everything, which is not a bad thing! 

The uncoupling theory came up again, which made me sad because that was what we were originally going to do with the first fresh cycle, the one with Bryce's embryos, and because we were so frustrated by the canceled cycle in April, we decided to just do it all at once in June. Which now I think was a mistake. We were just so gung ho, but I think especially given the fact that it was my hardest egg retrieval recovery ever, I didn't give my body enough chance. I should have listened more on that one. We (me) were a bit hardheaded on that one. BUT, at the same time, those embryos weren't blasts on day 5, they were morulas, so maybe they wouldn't have frozen well anyway. Who knows. It does no good to look back at the past, what's done is done, but it's an interesting line of thought (although not a particularly constructive one). 

I asked if there were other patients with our hideous rate of failure who had gotten pregnant. The answer was yes, not a lot, but yes. We are not considered candidates for gestational carrier although at this point other patients have begun exploring that route. For us, between the legality issues in NY and the importance of pregnancy to the medical piece of things, that's not an option we're willing to pursue. If we get to the point where I am not doing the baking, I think we feel far more comfortable with domestic infant adoption than we do with the the intricacies of gestational carrier in our state. But, luckily for us as we are not comfortable with that path, it wasn't on the table. 

However, here is the new plan: 

- I go on the Pill after starting a period. (Hallelujah, my body gave me a scare by taking its sweet time, but it did actually do what it was supposed to do and started shedding that failed lining today.)
- During the Pill cycle, I go spend a morning at the Catholic hospital in Buffalo to have another hysteroscopy. It never fails to amuse me that these surgeries take place in a Catholic hospital, given the Church's stance on IVF. It was a nice hospital, though, and this will make sure that I haven't gone and grown anymore fun polyps that could screw up this protocol that is going to get me pregnant, and I will once again become acquainted with Zlorg the Destroyer. More fun alien invasion of my uterus pictures! Also, they will do a scratch biopsy to further up my odds while I'm under the influence of general anesthesia. I lose one day of school to this, maybe an additional half day but hopefully just the one. 
- After the Pill, I will actually start Femara, I drug I've never taken (anyone familiar please weigh in), but think is somewhat similar to Clomid? 
- After Femara, I start Follistim injections. I guess the combination of the two ensures that my estrogen will be made by my body, and it won't go too wacky. The goal is maybe 3 follicles, not the 20+ I usually generate in a stim cycle. They don't want my estrogen too high, just high enough to make a nice cozy lining.
- During the injection time, I drive back and forth to Buffalo for monitoring. Let's hope this Polar Vortex craziness I keep hearing about is a stupid hoax and I don't have to worry about snow in October. 
- Once my follicles are ready for trigger and my lining is fantabulous, I take the handy dandy trigger shot and ovulate those suckers. One of very few times in my life I actually get to ovulate like a normal female human. 
- Transfer takes place a week later, when a normal 5-day transfer would take place. 
- I repeat everything we did in this last protocol -- the vitamins D & E, the benadryl 3x/day, the Lovenox, the turbuteline. Except I take the turbuteline a few extra days, through early implantation, to effectively paralyze my uterus and keep it from contracting during this time against my will. (Because, embarrassingly enough, the only time I am blessed with orgasms in my sleep is when I am explicitly NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE THEM, and then they are followed by crampy pain that pretty much makes me feel like the embryos are doomed. This happened this time, and they think the turbuteline will help prevent it.) I tolerated the turbuteline just fine for three days, I'm sure it will be fine for a couple more. Only I could have an experience that normally would be an amazing boon and have it be something horrid. WTF, body. 
- Progesterone in Oil again, which actually wasn't so bad and I only got prickles down my leg once. Bryce is amazing at this shot and I am just grateful I don't have to look at the 1 1/2 inch needle that gets skillfully plunged into my posterior. 
- Monitoring of my levels during the wait (estrogen mostly) to make sure I don't need anything extra. 

Sounds like a good plan to me. Get my levels where they need to be, get my lining where it needs to be, paralyze my obstreperous uterus so it can receive and not reject those last two blasts waiting in the freezer that I just know are as beautiful as these last two. I will enjoy the next week of having a bit of wine and a margarita on Friday, but having been out of practice I found the margaritas were not my friend and maybe just one is just fine for now. Enjoy some coffee for a couple weeks (the doctor said up to 200 mg a day was fine, which is like one cup of coffee, but I think for my own peace of mind when I'm building a lining NO COFFEE), and then that goes away too. I have plans to do my best to work out and shed a few of these fertility pounds that keep piling on, but I can't stress too much about it because between the hysteroscopy and starting the meds it will be difficult to squeeze in, plus school is swallowing my weekdays, but I will just do my best. A huge stress reliever is also the fact that we've already paid for this package, and so there is no more big chunk of money getting expended. Very surreal. I actually feel like the clinic is losing money on us right now, so although I know there is a fair amount of personal investment in us, there's also motivation to stop amortizing our cycles into the cheapest ones they've ever provided. That financial piece is really so helpful. It would be so much more overwhelming if each failure meant a ton more money flying out the door (and down the toilet). 

There it is... keep it together for the next few weeks, try to get ever more positive, give our baby/ies another chance to come and stay for keeps. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

All The King's Horses and All The King's Men

Wednesday, actual beta day, was a better day than Thursday. Thursday was kind of a rock-bottom sort of day.

See, I take the afternoon off of school to receive my results, and occasionally I take the day after off, too, if it is bad news. But I felt ok on Wednesday, and the first full week of school is a colossally bad time to take time off. You are still getting to know your kids. And my kids need a lot of TLC this year. I love them already, but there are a lot of challenges throughout my day and this year is going to be a toughie. Introducing subs so early doesn't help, so in I went. Early, because I felt it would give me time to feel ready for the day.

I was not ready for the day.

I got going in my classroom, organizing my plans and materials and getting ready to go to my new first period study hall. (This is a new thing this year--I have always had first period free, which is great because I can be totally ready for the marathon that is 2nd and 3rd, plus it gives me flexibility with bloodwork or late arrivals due to shots and whatnot. Not having first free anymore is giving me agita.) To do this, I had to bring up my SmartBoard files I had meticulously created and edited the day before, since everything is taking a fair bit longer this year than in the past for some reason, slides needed to be shifted and I needed to reconsider what I could actually get done in my paltry 40 minutes. While I waited for the beta call, I got prepared so I wouldn't have to worry about the rest of the week.

Except as I was bringing them up, a wonderful para stuck her head in with an expectant look and said, "And?" And. I shook my head no and teared up a bit, but she actually started to cry and looked just...stricken. "NO," she said, "that can't be. That is so tremendously unfair." You're telling me. I filled her in on the hopefully magical new protocol, and put my "But here's the silver lining" face and attitude on. It sucked, but it would be ok.

And then I brought up my files and NONE OF IT SAVED. I had 15 minutes before I had to be in this new study hall, and I was woefully unprepared. And it just broke whatever tiny facade of normalcy I had managed to paste on into a zillion, billion pieces.

I sobbed. I sobbed until I couldn't breathe or talk. I kept trying to pull it together so I could go to the bathroom and wash my face, but it took ten whole minutes, and I'm fairly certain I looked insane walking through the halls before first period to get to the faculty bathroom. And then I lost it again. I lost it good. I was a dripping, sobbing, incoherent disaster. (Have I mentioned at some point on Tuesday I scratched my cornea? It's all good now, but I was so worried I was going to rupture it from all the crying.)

Another para came in and immediately took charge -- "What can I do? Where do you need to be? I can go for you while you get yourself in a better place." So she set me up in the air-conditioned faculty lounge next door (the bathroom was sort of more private but also completely airless and swampy), and went to take care of my study hall.

Then came the march of people walking into my personal tragedy that I could no longer contain. I made a science teacher cry. I looked completely and totally insane. And I couldn't go home, because I could salvage my plans falling through but the thought of writing it up for a sub or feeling exposed as a horribly disorganized mess who couldn't keep her files straight made me want to throw up. I didn't want to go home. If I was at school it would force me to at least be somewhat human for part of the day. If I went home I would have all day, by myself, to wallow and watch sappy movies and feel massively, horribly sorry for myself.

So I didn't.

I had variations of this same complete meltdown about three times throughout the day, once in between classes and twice after school. But I taught all my classes, and either my students were too kind to say anything about my frog eyes and crack-my-face smile attempt at masking the incomprehensible sorrow lurking dangerously close to the surface. One child nearly was my undoing, one incredibly sweet and sensitive young man who came up to me 2nd period and showed me that his sentence for the word of the day crucial was that it was crucial for him to remember his great-grandfather, and that he was very sad. (Did I mention Thursday was September 11th and so a very, very sad day to begin with, and also all week there has been mourning for a local police officer who was shot in the line of duty? Lots to be sad about.) Then he said, "I noticed that you are very sad today, too. Are you sad, Mrs. T? Are you sad about September 11th or something else? Because I'm sad too but you look sadder." OH GOD, I COULD NOT TAKE THIS INCREDIBLE ANGEL OF A BOY. "I am sad, and it is something else too, but you don't need to worry about that. I'm so sorry you're sad today too." And then he gave me a little questioning look and then threw his arms around me and gave me a hug. It took all of my powers of I am at school goddammit and I cannot lose my shit in front of my students to just have a tear or two roll down my face in that moment. What a complete and total sweetheart.

Once the classes were done though, I didn't have anything left to hold it together with. And in the morning, my sobby, gaspy mantra had been, "I (hic) just (hic) can't seem (hic) to put the (hic) PIECES TOGETHER (hic) AGAIN any(hic)more!" It didn't get better as the day went on. I felt worse. I felt irreparably broken. I felt lost. I felt completely devoid of hope.

At the end of the day I really let go when two of my friends separately came to talk to me and let me know how sorry they were because, obviously, things hadn't worked out. AGAIN. I just couldn't stop crying. I didn't think it was possible to cry this much. I said things that I have thought but not necessarily said out loud. I said that I feel that I just shouldn't receive any more embryos because my uterus would just dispose of them. I said that my body is so dysfunctional and sabotaging that I can't believe that this will actually happen. I said so what there is a brand new protocol that is promising? Don't we always have something brand new and promising? Isn't there always a magic fix, and isn't that magic fix always a dud for us? I said that I felt responsible for my own personal genocide. I said that I feel broken and like I'll never be fixed. That I feel empty and like I'll never be whole. That I have serious doubts that this is ever, ever going to happen for us.

And then I cried my way home, fearful that I was not ok to drive the 12 minutes from school to home but knowing I couldn't just stay at school, and I had managed to stay at school past anyone else in my hallway (or possibly anywhere). Because I knew going home I could totally fall apart, and as messy as I was, I knew I could go lower.

Obviously, I made it home.  And I collapsed on the couch. I tried to sleep but I couldn't. I just cried, gut-wrenching sobs as I wandered the house like a living ghost. I saw my beautiful baby buddha with my poor, gorgeous embryos laying on the book in his lap, and cried and cried and cried. "I'm sorry," I whispered as I looked on our amazing quality embryos that yet again did nothing once they entered the death trap of my uterus. "I'm sorry I killed you."

Logically, do I know that's completely ridiculous and not at all constructive? Of course. But I am really having a hard time emotionally with this absence of a pregnancy. We are marching closer and closer to that point where we just can't do it anymore. Where I just can't physically or mentally handle another one of these devastating voids and the self-blame and horrendous sorrow that comes with them.

I cried and stared and was completely useless all evening. I toyed with calling in sick for Friday, and decided not to. I wouldn't kill myself trying to get in early, but I would go and I would resemble a human-like-substance and I would try not to feed what I felt were sure to be rumors that I was losing it and had had a massive nervous breakdown at school. I did not want to be a sad sap forever. It was almost the weekend and I could sad sap it all the way until Monday, when I would have to turn on the actress in me and be a functioning person again, at least on the outside.

I am better now. Each day after Thursday has gotten a little bit less dark and twisty. I do not feel like I am broken at the bottom of a well without any means to get back up, not that I really wanted to anyway. Which is how I felt on Thursday. The world is not an insurmountable place today. But I am still not ok. As I told Bryce yesterday morning as I left for work and he asked me how I was, "If OK had a scale from 1-10, I'm a 2." Which was a massive improvement because on Thursday, if ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE had a scale from 1-10 I'd have been -10. By the end of the day I was a 5 or a 6. Until we sat near some incredibly adorable small children at our Mexican restaurant we go to (and all I have to do to ruin the day there is order a margarita when they know we've been cycling, no conversation necessary), and I felt that gaping raw hole opening up in my chest again and dropped back down to a 2. But that's probably how things will go for a while here. Up and down, down and up.

All Friday, all I could think of was that line from Humpty Dumpty. "All the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't put Humpty together again." I have felt not only like I can't get all the pieces back together, but like some have crumbled to dust and will never be found again. Which is not to say I can't find some replacement pieces to fill in the gaps one day, but right now... even when I'm better than Thursday but nowhere near a truly okay OK, I still feel fractured and broken.

All is not lost. A few pieces are coming together, as we had our phone consult today and had many questions answered. More on that another time as this is probably too long already. I feel some hope. They haven't lost hope yet, so I suppose I should rally and start the process of getting back up. But it's hard, so hard. This is the worst yet. It shouldn't be surprising, 10 cycles of IVF tends to wear on a body and soul. All these NOs and short-lived YESes are cumulative. I am just so lucky to have amazing friends, family, supporters, and most of all, Bryce. Bryce has been amazing. I feel horrible because I can only imagine how it must feel to hear me say all these terrible things about me and my body and how awful everything is right now, because I just mean all of this. He is wonderful. We are wonderful. I mean, it could be better, we could be celebrating instead of mourning AGAIN, but he is keeping me from falling completely apart. He makes sure I have tea and hot scented bathwater and wine (although no wine Thursday, wine would have been a supremely bad idea on such a sad day) and my neck heater and lots of hugs and kisses.

So there's glue. I thank everyone who has listened, who has sent notes of encouragement, who has hugged, who has helped me have a reason to not lie in bed all day. It helps to feel love when you feel like such an epic failure. When you feel like your bad news is letting everyone down who has sent good thoughts, intentions, or prayers your way. When you feel like maybe the issue hasn't been the embryos but your uterus all along, and this is all your fault, your fault, your fault. (Yes, I know, completely not constructive, but this is my truth right now, and in order to move on to more constructive thoughts I have to let these run their course.)

May I find a new piece with each new day. May I willingly accept more glue with each new day. May I start to believe again that I can do this, that the new plan is solid, that all is not lost, that I can give ourselves at least one more chance, that this is not all my fault, that I am not embryo kryptonite.  I know I can put myself back together again, even though Thursday I did not at all think that was possible. It will just take a little time, and a lot of love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

So Much for Faint Lines

Well, it would appear the digital stick was right.

It's definitely a no.

I have to say, peeing on a stick Sunday took a little of the sting out of today, but not a lot. I was still hoping that this time would be different. I am still feeling incredibly rejected and like a freak. Why won't babies stick to me? What the hell?

BUT, they have a crazy plan in the works. I think they called it a Conversion Cycle? Anyone heard of this? It was "borrowed" from another fancypants clinic that collaborates with mine.

Basically, you go on the Pill once a period comes (I am actively willing it to come any second now... The power of Period compels you! Now that I know you suck, the least you could do is bleed when I want you to!). Then, you start a stim cycle. YUP, A STIM CYCLE. Because stim cycles produce better, plusher linings. So there will be follistim in my near future... yay. Then they trigger you and you do a transfer according to a normal calendar, but with your body having done a lot of the prep in a quasi-natural way. They've had some great success with it with implantation failure people apparently (why I'm just hearing about it now is interesting though).

So more shots. More driving an hour and fifteen minutes each way, more missed school, more feeling fat and fluffy, more wear and tear and my poor body. Not a whole lot of downtime to go nuts and get some of this PIO flub off me, but there was a groupon for the gym I used to belong to for a 2-month membership. Maybe it's kismet. Maybe I can make this work. I just keep thinking, my poor body.

Baby, you are so loved and I wish you would just figure out how to get to us. We are working so hard to bring you home, I just wish I knew the secret. It's not lack of love, dedication, or sacrifice. That's for damn sure.

On to the next adventure.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

To Pee or Not To Pee, That is the Question

Do you pee on a stick before your tests?

I did twice at the very beginning, and both times it was negative and threw me into a funk before the phone call even came. I decided peeing on a stick was a bad idea.

Then I actually got pregnant, and I peed on a stick for novelty of doing it (because I knew what the result would be). But both times it wasn't right, so while I got to pee on a stick and have it be positive, that's about all I got.

After that, I decided there is no point in peeing on sticks.

Except...

Except that my new clinic tests two weeks from transfer, not two weeks from what would be retrieval. Soooo, peeing on a stick on a day that could have been your test day at a different clinic could actually yield pretty confident results.

Last cycle, what with the early bleeding and the beta 5 days early, well that just kind of solidified it for me. I was like, if they can test with bloodwork 5 days early, surely I could POAS three days early. Right?

Here are the reasons why I justified it:
- Waiting 14 days post transfer is torture
- If I peed on a stick, I could alleviate the nerves a bit.
- If it was positive, I could actually have that experience of going to Bryce, stick in hand, and whispering, "Guess what? I'M PREGNANT!" I could regain some normalcy that has been gutted from this area of my life and have a little private moment that doesn't involve a phone call.
- If it was negative, it would give me some extra space to come to grips with it before the phone call confirmed the bad news. (Or surprised me because the stick was wrong, although in my experience the stick is never wrong.) I'd have to take shots for a few days knowing they were for nothing, but I could fall apart a little more conveniently, on a weekend.

Pretty good reasons, eh?

I had a stick in the back of the closet, leftover from an insane moment where I had a negative test but I didn't fully believe it and so before I had a ton of wine to drown my sorrows, I wanted to pee on a stick. In case it was all a big mistake. Because a generic CVS pee stick is so much more accurate than a blood test. So, I wasted one stick and had the other one, a little pink blur at the back of our bathroom closet, haunting me.

So I used it at 5:30 this morning. First pee is supposed to be the most potent pee. I had hidden it in my box of pantiliners (ironic and kind of brilliant, right?) next to the toilet, sort of in plain sight so that it would be overlooked by Bryce if he happened to get curious about the zillions of pantiliners that have always been next to the toilet. I even tore the edge of the packaging a bit so I wouldn't have to do much when early in the morning I had my chance to be sneaky and get my good news.

Because of course it would be good news, because I've been really tired and actually nauseated the past few days. There had to be so much HCG running through my system to cause that, so I was ready for a clearly positive test and then a beta on Wednesday that would reveal a number high enough to solidify twins as a clear possibility. I was crampy and full feeling. I know, only the blood can tell you if you're pregnant, but despite being faked out by my creative body many times before I was sure.

The stick was a dud. No lines anywhere, not in the special circle that meant pregnancy, not in the control box that just meant there was pee. The stick was plenty wet, I was covered in pee. It wasn't user error. Although, I have to say, I suck at peeing on sticks. I get pee EVERYWHERE. I don't know what's wrong with my technique, but it sucks.

So now I had a problem. I had peed on my only stick. It was inconclusive. So, what did this mean? Did it mean that the pee stick gods had spoken and I should just walk away from the stick peeing? Or did it just mean that my year old store brand pee stick was no good? Should I go get more and find out for sure, or let the uncertainty sit until Wednesday's blood test?

I went with "go get more." I went to get gas for my car, and across from the station is a Walg.reens, where I wouldn't run into any students or parents and it wasn't very busy. I don't know why buying pregnancy tests as a 38 year old woman seems dirty, like buying condoms when you're 18. I felt surreptitious. Not just because Bryce had no idea what shenanigans I was up to, but because I felt like I was cheating. I decided to screw the double pink or blue line tests, and go for something more concrete. E.P.T. makes a digital test that doesn't dick around -- it either says PREGNANT or NOT PREGNANT. You could not be more clear. Plus it was touted as the earliest test you could buy. Today I am 11 days post 5-day transfer, so I figured I was good to go.

I stuffed it in my purse (after paying of course) and went straight to the bathroom after admiring Bryce's paint job on the shelves he's building for the top of our stairs. I didn't want to be too suspicious. I peed, (pee everywhere...seriously, is there a trick to this?), and waited while the hi-tech stick flashed an hourglass at me. I had a sinking feeling, one that had blossomed in the pit of my uterus since this morning's dud test. And then I looked.

NOT PREGNANT.

It felt like the digital display was shouting it. Like it should have been followed with, "SUCKA." I just stared at it. Ok, any chance it could be wrong? Very, very, very slight. So much for surprising Bryce with good news today.

Here's what's going through my head:
- Oh holy jeezum, this is just never going to happen for us.
- That extra sticky blast wanted to stick to the PLASTIC CATHETER, but not to me. Maybe it used up all its stickiness on getting retained upon transfer.
- Oh no, the donor sperm isn't magical, is it my death uterus after all? Is there something we don't know yet, lurking?
- Bryce must be so disappointed in me. (I know logically this isn't true, but it feels like he should be.)
- What did I do wrong?
- If we hadn't gone to Vermont, would I be pregnant now?
- If it hadn't been the first week of school, would I be pregnant now?
- Am I somehow undeserving of a baby? Is there some secret out there that I'm not in on?
- Is it mistake that we're using my eggs again?
- Why does this keep happening to us? What the fuck is going on?
- How soon can we get started again?

A little sick, but we are on a time clock. We need to do our next frozen (thank goodness we have two still in the freezer) as soon as humanly possible, because our package is up in May. And unless there is some light shed on why we are unsuccessful and it's not something that can be helped, I want to just plow on through. I don't have space for any more breaks.

I wasn't going to tell Bryce, I was going to hold it myself, because I was only going to share if it was good news and I was so sure it was good news. Again. But I was just so sad. I didn't want to ruin his day, too. Plus we have to keep doing shots at 8:30 at night through Tuesday so we can keep to the beta on Wednesday. Maybe it's wrong. And maybe my garden will magically weed and stake itself.

I felt horrible, disrupting our Sunday this way. I am completely overwhelmed with school, it sucks the life out of me (and it was SO HOT last week and I felt like crap). I just wanted some good news today. I feel a little on the numb side. Logically, I know that this was our first try with the donor sperm, and that doesn't mean that anything new is wrong, it just means that we fell on the other side of the statistics. AGAIN. Or does it? I am feeling so frustrated. I am feeling so dysfunctional. I am feeling like a big fat failure. I'm not going to lie, I feel pretty hopeless in this moment.

So was it a mistake? Should I have not peed on that stick? I have the luxury of moping today, and while I still have a half day on Wednesday for receiving my news in the privacy of my home, maybe I can distribute my pain over the next few days and try to find a little hope again. I'm so sorry I don't have good news, again. It really seems like there is just never going to be good news. I could use a hug.