Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh, 2011...You Were a Stinker

I remember New Year's Eve 2010. I remember sitting with Bryce, saying "Good riddance, 2010! You can go away and leave us with a much better year!" See, 2010 had us losing our beloved greyhound, Doc, to organ failure. It had failed IUIs and a failed IVF that had been touted as our silver bullet, but wasn't. My job at the time was not the steadiest thing in the world. We were stressed out and full of disappointments. 2011 had to be better.

Hmmm. Now 2011 is coming to a close and I can't honestly say it was a better year. It started with our second failed IVF, with worse quality than our first and a raging case of OHSS. I spent the first three weeks of 2011 recuperating (first from egg retrieval, then from OHSS, then from the tapping procedure to remove fluid from my abdomen from the OHSS). I didn't go back to school until after Martin Luther King Day. And I wasn't pregnant. We did another injectible IUI as a stopgap before our third IVF over the summer. I stimmed for a maddening 20 days (that's a lot). I not-so-secretly hoped my ovaries would take off and we'd be converted to IVF. It didn't happen, of course. We had our best sperm sample ever, almost "normal" perameters for IUI. But we didn't have a miracle.

We got ready for our third IVF. We switched doctors and had a new protocol. I didn't work over the summer so we'd have a better chance. I transferred to a new teaching job. I spent time over the summer boning up on Earth Science and Integrated Algebra to prepare. We had our best cycle ever--best egg haul, best quality, best fertilization rate, best embryos. We transferred three. We got pregnant. Our numbers were low. We were the miracle for a short time--numbers that shouldn't have gone up did. But it wasn't time for our miracle. The pregnancy was ectopic and surgery, same-day surgery, was scheduled. I lost my tube. I lost my pregnancy that wasn't mine to keep anyway. I lost my belief that we could truly be the miracle. I missed the first week of school. I started my new job a little broken and behind the curve.

Meanwhile, our dog became a bit destructive and a lot anxiety-ridden. My ability to handle anything went out the window. We realized that we had made a mistake--our loving greyhound that we'd adopted in 2010 needed more than we could offer, given our current situation. He needed more space to run, more time with owners who weren't single-mindedly pursuing parenthood, a better family match altogether. I needed a household free of additional anxiety and responsibility so that I could handle everything else on my plate. We both saw re-adopting Kayak to a better family for him as heart-wrenching, but it was a particularly hard failure and loss for Bryce. It was absolutely the right thing for everyone (he's very happy in his new home, even though he's been renamed Ranger, which I don't particularly like but he's not my dog anymore so whatever). But it was more loss, more sacrifice. Not too long after we lost Kayak my cat started to lose hind quarter control and strength, mysteriously. I started meds for our bonus frozen cycle. As transfer day grew nearer, my beloved cat declined inexplicably. I had a beautiful transfer, smooth and seamless. The next day I had to euthanize my cat. I spent days sobbing. I think it was before blood contact and so it's unlikely that my emotional state influenced the outcome of our cycle, at least from a logical standpoint. Still, it was a negative. No dog, no cat, no baby. No miracle.

2011 was not stellar. There are definite positives, though, and it wouldn't be fair not to acknowledge them. Bryce's job is steady and he excels at it. My new job is fulfilling, challenging, and while no teaching job is particularly steady in this climate, I feel decently secure. We did get pregnant for the first time and we did enter into an upswing on our fertility trajectory. We have a great rapport and trust with our doctor. We have strangely more reason to hope than ever. We have a new cat who is infusing energy and coziness back into our home. We have happiness, and health, and prosperity. We are not looking to make a life-altering decision regarding treatment; we are still in a place of possibility.

Despite the positives, it still feels like 2011 had an inordinate amount of loss and suffering. I can only hope that 2012 is more cooperative. Maybe our miracle will come just in time for the Mayan Apocalypse. Ha. Ha. Ha. We can only hope. I don't think it's too much to ask that our lives stop resembling a horrible country song where all is lost, slowly and with a thousand cuts. It's time for a change in direction. Are you listening, 2012?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Losing Control

I am a control freak. This should not come as a surprise, as I have been pretty open about my need to try to control the things I can't for, oh, forever. So many people who I've met on the infertility journey--either in person, online, or through books--have said virtually the same thing when it comes to control issues and fertility. Infertility is this maddening entity that refuses to acknowledge hard work and perseverance. You can put amazing amounts of effort into your treatment to try to impact the results, but in the end you could do everything possible and infertility will still laugh in your face and refuse to give up that baby. But still, you do things to try to alter your odds in some way. It's a compulsion, an obsession.

I have been a ritual person throughout our (many) attempts. My best friend has said, "You're sounding pretty witchy, don't you think?" Yup. Some stuff has been one step shy of casting spells. I have good luck charms, things that make me feel like in some small way I can influence and appease the cosmos. I have my elephants, my owls, my red candles that must be snuffed, my vision board, my orange underwear, my good omens. This last frozen cycle was, in theory, a spectacular good-fortune magnet. It snowed the morning of our transfer (frosty goodness for my frosty babies!), it was a full moon (super fecundity!), it's still The Year of the Rabbit (good cosmic alignment for reproduction!), and when I took the baby elephant lid to my elephant teapot out of the freezer the morning of transfer, it survived the thaw crack-free (effigy intact!). Everything was lined up just so. I couldn't have planned it better.

But, oddly enough, it didn't work. I did all those things, I had the happy coincidences of snow and full moon. I wore my orange underwear and my orange shirt (giving the owls a rest). Did it matter? No.

I feel like I'm losing control (control I never had in the first place, blah blah blah). It makes me wonder if any of this makes any difference. It actually makes me wonder if some of my adherence to these rituals, to these good-luck charms, is harmful in a way. At first I thought it gave me something to focus on besides my follicles and my lining. Somewhere to put my energies and make me feel as though I have some level of control. But I don't. I did all kinds of stuff when we were pregnant with the ectopic and I wanted a miracle so badly--but whether I lit candles or not, that baby was still rooted in my tube. Nothing I did or didn't do would have changed that, as much as I desperately hoped it could. And for this last cycle I tried to loosen up a bit, to have my charms and rituals but not get too bent out of shape if a candle was blown out instead of snuffed, or I forgot to wear my orange underwear. Looser was better, but it still ultimately mattered not.

So maybe this loss of "control" is a good thing. Maybe if I let go of this notion that I can influence the process I can be truly relaxed and give in to the possibility that my pregnancy will happen in its own time. Regardless of my efforts. It's hard, because my fear is that all this stuff does help and letting go of it will result in total disaster. That's pretty conceited of me, actually. So far the rituals haven't worked out so well for me, so maybe this is the change I need. The fear is also that I really can't improve my chances--that making a baby, even in a lab, is purely chance. So many variables go into success--the right genetic material, the ultimate uterine lining, the environment and blood consistency for implantation. The hormone cocktail and balance. The emotional component. It all has to be just right, which makes it miraculous that anyone ever gets pregnant. But maybe that's it--just the perfect mix of variables, independent of everything else. I focus so much on making everything perfect, when so many of the successful cycles I hear about were anything but (like a single-embryo transfer that was 4 cells on day three that is now a third-trimester pregnancy).

I'm ready to give letting go of any semblance of control a try. I'm ready to let go and let nature (with a hefty dose of medical assistance) do its thing. Screw the candles and the orange panties. I'm going to attempt to put my faith in the process, and the process alone. Can I make it through a cycle without bringing the elephant into the surgical room and buying more onesies for a phantom baby? I think so. (No promises on the onesies.) I'm going to see where that takes us on this leg of the journey.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

This award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers, all in the spirit of fostering new connections. Liebster is German & means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’. The idea of the Liebster award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers.

Thank you to Mel from Believe In Miracles for nominating me for this award!

Here's how to spread the Liebster Love:

  • Copy and paste the award on your blog
  • Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you
  • Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
  • Hope that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers

The blogs that I nominate for this award are:
Write, Baby, Repeat
Mommy Mahem
Que Sera Sera
The Princess and the Pee Stick

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Good Reason

Well, another cycle has come and gone and left us empty handed. Empty-womb-ded. I found out earlier this week that our frozen bonus cycle, our last-ditch 2011 attempt, our supposed Christmas miracle cycle, was not to be. Negative, negative, negative.

Let's do some math. That's 4 transfers without a viable pregnancy. That's 10 embryos that have gone into my lovely plush-lined uterus and not stayed to become babies. Well, to be fair, we did have one embryo that stayed in the wrong place for a few weeks and left not via the septic system but via laparoscopic surgery. So 9 embryos that have completely rejected me and one little lost one. And now I am definitely not convinced that little nugget didn't crawl up my tube to escape what seems like my completely unwelcoming uterus.

Do I sound like I'm taking this personally? I am. How could I not? How could I not feel like it is a very personal rejection when the last two embryo transfers have been absolutely textbook-perfect in quality, and my lining has looked perfectly good on the ultrasound, but still they run screaming away? Still they don't burrow? Why do they just wither up and drift away instead of doing what they are genetically programmed to do?
There is no good reason. I wish there was. In a sick way I wish there could be an aha! moment, something easy and fixable that could be the reason. But there's not. It appears we are just colossally, horribly unlucky. There is no other explanation, at least not that I know about.

And so I am left with a horrible feeling. This time when I got the call, and I heard the hesitation and the downward tone to the nurse's voice, I was totally calm. Oh. It didn't work? I had two beautiful blasts in my well-prepared uterus and they didn't take? Awesome. Literally, verbatim, that is what I said. Two cycles ago I was incoherent with sobs and snot. I couldn't even breathe, let alone have an intelligent conversation regarding my failure. Sorry, failed cycle. Hard not to refer to it as my failure. Old habits are hard to break. I was devastated that it hadn't worked as second time in a row. But now, with our fourth disappointment, I am sadly getting used to rejection. I can just absorb it and thank the nurse and then slowly leak tears less of abject sorrow and more of frustration and anger.

Because I am pissed. More than being very sad this time, I am just pissed at the unfairness. I am pissed that people have unplanned pregnancies all the time and I could not plan this more. I am pissed that I have to buy more feminine supplies. I am pissed that we have to stay in a holding pattern, saving up the money to throw at another chance when we know full well we could come up tails again. I am pissed that I have to take time off later this school year for the procedures I was so hoping I was finished with. I am pissed I have to reorder medications for my Injection Closet for another fresh round of IVF. I am pissed that 2012 could come and go and I could very likely still NOT have a baby in my arms. Likely it will be 2013 before we have a chance to welcome a new life into this world. Yet again we will have a Christmas card with no baby, with just self-indulgent pictures of us because we have no one else to be into (and I refuse to go the way of the cats in Santa hats card). It makes me want to throw something that shatters against the wall.

How many times will this take? We don't know. Because there is no good reason for our repeated failure, because we are still being told that this is absolutely possible and probable for us, we will keep on going. I will pick up the pieces, the angry, angry detritus scattered on the ground, and throw my energy into my next cycle. I will figure out how to approach this next cycle so that I don't lose my mind in the process. We will mourn the loss of this dream and look forward to the promise of another. It just gets harder and harder to do it without an increasing bitterness in our mouths. I can still hope, I haven't lost that yet. But my ability to hope indiscriminately has been damaged. My ability to believe that this will actually happen sooner than later is damaged. My faith in my body is irreparably damaged. But not totally destroyed, as I trust it enough to attempt this again. Fifth time's the charm? Let's hope so.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Tribute to Rocky

Rocky, snuggling in a basket. He was an awesome snuggler.
I lost my cat on Saturday. More than that, I lost my friend, my companion, my baby. Losing a pet is always hard. But when your furbabies are the ONLY babies you have, losing a pet is devastating. And Rocky was special. All kitties are special, but Rocky truly was an amazing cat. He survived a lot, and he helped me to survive just as much. I like to think that as much as I rescued Rocky when he was a tiny, 4-day old kitten, he rescued me. I would like to tell Rocky's story, to honor his life.

Rocky came into my household while I was married to He Who Must Not Be Named. In fact, in a sick way I can thank that person because it was he who had decided that we would foster cats and he who brought Rocky and his mom and two sisters into our house. (What I didn't know then was that the person who had inspired him to want to foster kitties, as I had wanted a cat and pleaded to no avail up until this point, was his "Friend." His "friend" he had a three and half long affair with during our hideous marriage. But I digress.) Rocky was unsteady, he was a little scrawny. He had to fight to get a spot at Mom's buffet. But he was a fighter. I immediately fell in love with this little black and white bruiser. He was named Rocky (not by me of course) because of this trait. Later I liked to think of him as Rocky Raccoon, like in the B.eatles song.

Rocky grew to be my buddy, coming up to bed before Voldemort and snuggling with me before he was kicked out. And then he would cry at the door wanting to be let in afterwards. He was so sweet with me, but when he had to go to Adoption Days at the petstore he changed completely. He sat in his crate and yowled and hissed and growled and swatted and was a devilcat. It was like he didn't want to be adopted. It was like he knew that he was already home with me, and he was going to do everything in his power to stay. Which worked, because the nonprofit that sponsored the fostering labeled him "unadoptable" and said that we could do home visits with potential owners but that he was no longer welcome at the Adoption Days. Score one for Rocky and me. I wanted desperately to keep him, but He Who Must Not Be Named was not on board. He kept him on the online site for people to choose a cat. And then one beautiful day he agreed--Rocky could stay. I was so happy.

But then, probably months before all the infidelities were revealed and I (finally!) decided that a husband who will cheat on you in addition to treating you in abhorrent ways needed to go, I got a nasty surprise. Rocky had not been removed from the online cat adoption site. And a woman was interested in him. My ex-husband told me that she would be coming to see Rocky and might leave with him. I was devastated. I cried, I screamed, I felt so betrayed. It was a definite dick move. Rocky was MY cat, it was obvious. It was incredibly hurtful. So, when the lady came over, I was sniffling and sobbing quietly the whole time. I pet him and he came over and sat in my lap. The lady asked, "Why are you adopting this cat out? He's obviously your cat." And I quickly (and with much venom) said, "I'm not looking to adopt him out." Needless to say, she left. Probably thinking my husband at the time was a big fat asshole from the looks she gave him. Rocky was mine again!

Fastforward to the demise of my marriage. I found out that in addition to the three and a half long affair, which I had suspected and accused him of but was told NO NO NO and so buried my untrusting badwife thoughts, he had been sleeping with a married friend he worked with for three months or so. I confronted him with the evidence (there were many, many disgusting emails) and kicked him out until I could figure things out. And when he decided that he was coming back to the house and I couldn't do anything about it, I moved out. And took Rocky and my other cat (who now lives with my mom due to an unfortunate ability to get along with Bryce's cat, Abner) with me. And contacted the nonprofit cat adoption agency. And my fears were confirmed--my cats had never been adopted officially, even though I was told Rocky was. I immediately set up plans to go adopt them officially as Rocky was still on that freaking website. When I went, as Voldemort's wife (I was trying to avoid drama, haha), the people there were so confused. Apparently they had no clue he was married and thought he was going to propose to the "friend" any day. They had no idea I existed. So much so that they congratulated me on my "New" 5-year-and-change marriage. Argh. But, the silver lining was I had my Rocky, safe and sound and away from that horrible situation.

While I was living at my mom's house, Rocky suffered another setback. While I was student teaching (awesome timing for a divorce, by the way, while you're paying to work with no guarantee of employment in your future that's not $80/day with no insurance...), Rocky was up on the loft bedroom ledge and fell. Twelve feet. He shattered his right forearm in 17 places but still managed to drag himself to the bathroom to curl up in front of the shower. Which is where I found him when I got home. He was unresponsive and yowled when I tried to pick him up, but I had no idea he was so badly hurt. I rushed him to the emergency vet after calling Bryce, who I was dating (but for mere months) at this point. They took him out of the carrier and his front leg just dangled. It was horrible. They showed me an x-ray and let me know that he would need either reconstructive surgery or amputation. I was horrified that my cat was so hurt, and horrified that with negative income and bills out the wazoo for my divorce I was faced with a significant vet bill. I found a vet who assured me that cats do very well with amputation, and I bit the bullet and had the surgery done. I had to help my friend, and he was suffering. Rocky bounced back amazingly well from the amputation. He could jump up (the first thing he did when he wasn't high on meds was jump right back on that ledge, yikes!), he could catch flies with one paw, he could beat the crap out of my other cat. He was SuperCat! He walked like Quasimoto, but who cares? He was better, he was healthy, he was fine.

Rocky did well acclimating to my new house when I moved in with Bryce. Unfortunately, previously being around someone with a horrible temper who liked to yell and throw things seemed to make Rocky skittish around men. And Bryce is an unusually tall man, but a very gentle man, but it meant to difference to Rocky. He did not like Bryce. He would run and hide. He would hiss and swat. We did everything we could to try to fix the situation, and we did discover that Rocky could tolerate Bryce better when he was sitting (I guess his shadow made him feel like a predator was swooping over him?). While this bothered Bryce, he loved Rocky. Rocky was a part of our family. He was still a snuggler, jumping up on our bed and snuggling with me before bed. Because he still cried at night he was always (gently) removed and put downstairs at bedtime, but we had lots of snuggles. He let me hold him like a teddy bear when I napped on the couch. He came and deposited himself on my stomach for love and comfort when I experienced every single one of my disappointments and losses related to fertility. Over the summer he stayed next to me when I was on bedrest from my surgery to remove my ectopic surgery. He loved going outdoors for supervised time in the sun, and was the only animal of ours to figure out that if he pushed on the back screen door that he could get it partially open (if he'd had a second front leg he'd totally have escaped outdoors). He loved watching birds. He was a catnip addict--he went crazy for the stuff, rolling in it and eating it and hallucinating along the patterns of our oriental carpeting. He had a whole vocal range--I'm convinced he was part Siamese. He yowled, he meowed when he was looking for you, he meow-purred when he found you and was content. He had a lot to say.

Last winter I wrote about how Rocky had a psychotic break of sorts. I think this is related to what finally did him in. It came on with no warning--all of a sudden he was running and hiding in the basement, and it was like he didn't realize he had lost his leg years before. He acted like he was being hunted. He acted weird and aggressive. We took him to multiple vets and nothing physical was wrong with him. We made him a little rehabilitation ward in my back office, with a fancy new cat tree and cat beds and space all to himself (this was after the Pro.zac experiment failed miserably. Abner is a great cat on Pro.zac. Rocky got so stressed with the pill-taking that we never could tell if it would have worked on him, so we ditched it.). Slowly, over months, he came out from under the desk and could be found on the cat tree, watching the birds. Eventually I could bring him out and he wouldn't hide in the basement. By spring he was back to normal. It was weird, but over. I didn't think about it again.

Until, about 5-6 weeks ago, he started acting weird again. He started licking the air or the floor or whatever he was on where his leg used to be. He started seeming increasingly unsteady on his back legs. And he lost nearly 2 pounds in two weeks. Bryce went on a business trip and when he came back he was very concerned--Rocky looked awful to him. I was terrified--what was happening to my cat? I took him into the vet again. He had nothing physical wrong with him other than a slight UTI (I think from being too unsteady to confidently get into the litterbox). He got an antibiotic shot and I said I'd take him back in two weeks for x-rays if he didn't improve, since those could show a tumor possibly. A week and a half later Rocky was so unstable and starting to flop over and not support himself so well. He was still skinny, but he was still able to do stairs (although very, very carefully) and jump up on his favorite chair. I brought him in early for the x-rays. They showed nothing. I was told that a neurological problem or brain tumor wouldn't be visible on anything but an MRI, which would cost at minimum $1700. And not actually help Rocky, just tell us what was wrong. Maybe. They told me to try a second opinion. I decided to see how he did over the next week. Rocky declined further. He would wait at the bottom of the stairs and yowl until I came down to help him in and out of the litterbox, because he would fall on top of his own mess otherwise. He was falling off his chair. It was time to get a second opinion. A friend of mine who is a vet came over and observed him, and found a spot on his spine that was painful. Rocky's reflexes were really off on his back legs. He had one leg that had no sense of place in space. Something was terribly wrong, but again nothing but an MRI would show what. And with all of the medical bills we have and are facing if our frozen is unsuccessful, we just can't afford an MRI for our cat. She suggested that we put him on crate rest, keep him from jumping and moving around so much. She was worried that Rocky would further injure himself, and if it was a disk issue then maybe it would get better with rest. I tried it. But, like everything else, it couldn't help Rocky get over whatever mysterious ailment was robbing him of mobility. He lost control over his back legs. He fell over more and more, and needed to be washed off regularly because he would either not make it into the litterbox or fall into his mess and drag himself through it. He would come out for snuggletime on a towel on the couch with me, and never once try to get off. I would put him on the floor to see if he could support himself, and he would stay upright for a second and then flop. Twice I found him sitting in his crate, which was encouraging, but then he couldn't move from that position. It was awful. And a week into the crate rest he lost his mobility and independence so much that he would just lay on his side and meow, and even with me carrying him to the litterbox and supporting him he couldn't go.

I sobbed for a week between calling my friend for a veterinary favor and making the decision to let Rocky go. I knew it was coming. I just couldn't believe it. How could this be happening to us? How could my amazing little baby, my beloved cat, be leaving me so suddenly and with no explanation? His quality of life was pretty awful. I had to let him go. But I was so angry. I'm still angry. Why can't we catch a break here? Why must 2011 be the WORST year yet? Why must I lose a pregnancy, a dog, and a cat all the span of months? I cried tears of sorrow for the loss of my cat. I cried angry tears at the unfairness of it all. I brought him into the vet for euthanasia. I took pictures of Rocky snuggling on the couch, and I took pictures of him outside because Bryce thought he would like one last sit in the sun. It was cold, but he watched some birds and seemed to be happy out there. Rocky hated the car, so I decided to hold him and put him in the carrier when we got to the clinic. He was so cozy. The vet agreed with our decision and they catheterized him. Unfortunately, Rocky was a fighter to the end. It broke my heart, because he had spurt of energy and was clear-eyed--his body was broken but his mind was sound, and he did not like what was happening. I felt like I betrayed him. In the process of things he bit me, and miraculously kicked the leg with the catheter so that the medication didn't all go in. Which was horrific because he needed a second shot. They had to take him back to catheterize another leg because his veins are terrible (like mine!), and said to prevent it happening again they'd give him the shot in the back room and then bring him out so we could say goodbye before it was over. But because he already had some medication in him he went much faster and was gone when they carried him back in. It was so awful. I wanted to hold him as he passed, I wanted it to be gentle and loving. And it wasn't. It was clinical and he was alone. And when he came in he looked nothing like he did when he was alive. And that haunts me. I am trying very hard to not see his dead eyes anymore. And the timing--there is never good timing to put your cat down, but in this case the timing was particularly horrible in our cycle. And I felt guilty for that being a factor in things.

I am comforted by knowing that I did the right thing, that he had no kind of life at all and was in steady decline with no hope of recovery. He likely had a spinal tumor or a brain tumor. An MRI probably wouldn't have done anything but confirm that he was going to die and there was nothing we could do. I set him free, to the big catnip mound in the sky. I hope he knew how much I loved him. He was so special to me. And now I have a giant hole where my kitty, my precious furbaby once was. Abner is a great cat and he is working hard to be snuggly, but he's lonely. Sometime in the near future we will get a friend for him. We were talking about getting a third cat before Rocky was as sick as he got, so I don't feel like it would be a betrayal to get one so soon. I want another cat who has the spirit of Rocky. A fighter, a lover. A cat who wasn't taught to hate men. A cat that will be a friend to Abner. A cat that will be a friend to our new baby, when he/she arrives hopefully sometime in 2012.

Goodbye, Rocky, you were amazing. Your spirit lives on in some kitten out there, and we will find it. Thank you for everything you were to me. I honor your life now and always. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Trusting in the Process

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

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

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

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

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