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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Shuffling Off to... Buffalo (Baseline Adventures)

So, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Buffalo lately has been in the news. As in, buried under seven feet of snow and with a wall of lake-effect nastiness just settled on the south side of the city in particular. The photos are extraordinary. The news coming out of the area is insane -- collapsing roofs, travel bans, the NY State Thruway closed from Rochester to the Pennsylvania state line.

My clinic is in Buffalo. I live in Rochester.

My baseline was this week -- I was waiting for my period to come after stopping the Pill on Sunday, and then I was to call in to schedule baseline for Day 2 or Day 3. It HAS to be Day 2 or Day 3, because Day 3 starts my regimen of Femara that precedes a three-shot cocktail of Follistim, Solution X (yes, it sounds like I should transform into Spiderman after taking this, but really it's just low-dose HCG), and Lovenox later this week. The IVF nurse I spoke to last week felt that I should get my period by Wednesday (but I knew it would likely be Thursday), and so baseline would be Thursday or Friday (but I knew it would be Friday or Saturday).

So imagine my surprise when all of a sudden, Buffalo is being buried, LITERALLY BURIED in feet upon feet of snow, very quickly, and it is shutting everything down. The storm started Monday, later in the day, and just sat all week, through Thursday. I wasn't so nervous, because I thought it would be okay by the end of the week, but then things just didn't stop. And the Thruway, really the only way I knew how to get to Buffalo, remained closed. I had been worried about the winter and traveling to Buffalo because the Thruway frequently closes due to blowing and drifting snow, but I had no idea this would be so bad, so early, and for so long.

Just to get a sense of how to get there without the trusty boring expanse of highway that is the I-90, I called my office on Wednesday. AND THEY WERE CLOSED.

How does an IVF clinic flat out close, unexpectedly? What if there were transfers or retrievals scheduled, things that are timed ridiculously carefully? What happens to your cycle if Snowpocalypse happens right on top of it? Of course, conversely, what happens if you literally cannot get anyone into the office because the city's in lockdown, in part due to orders from the government and in (larger) part due to the sheer force of nature?

I'm not gonna lie. I was a little terrified. And I felt horribly selfish, because here all these people are stuck in houses with snow up over their doors (seriously, google "Buffalo Door" and see all the insanity that's out there), trapped in their houses, unable to leave, worried their houses are going to collapse, and all I could think is... WHAT HAPPENS TO MY BASELINE??? The thought of cancelling due to snow and doing the cycle a month later made me nauseous. And then I made me nauseous for not being more compassionate and thinking all about us and our reproductive woes.

Well, the office wasn't really closed. There were a handful of people there, and my doctor was in surgery with a battery-drained phone, which is why he didn't answer my panicked text right away. (Just so you don't think I'm a completely terrible person, I did start it by inquiring if he and his family were okay and safe before making it all about us and our cycle...) There were staff members who lived on the north and east side of Buffalo, which has been largely unaffected. Lake effect snow is THAT crazy -- my office area got 6-8 inches, while just a few miles south and west, there's literally SEVEN feet, not including the drifts that are much, much higher. Living in Rochester we see the weirdness that is lake effect -- bands of heavy snow less than a mile from sunshine, but never to this extent.

Thursday, the phone lines were back up, and more staff had been able to make it in from all around the area. Which was good, because Thursday was Day One. Due to the weather and other considerations, they wanted me to come in Friday, so that if for whatever reason Friday didn't work out I could still make it Saturday. A Day Two baseline is preferable to Day Three, I guess. But there was still the problem of getting out there. The nurse I spoke to said that 104 to 78 would be best--it was all north, and I'd avoid all the snow. The Thruway was still closed until 3:00 on Friday, and even then all Buffalo exits were closed to traffic, it was just to clear the hundreds of truckers stuck in the area and to clear vehicles from the roads so they could clear snow. So, I would have a new adventure. Apparently my doctor's wife made it just fine the day before, in about an hour and 45 minutes.

I gave myself 2 hours, planned to leave at 6:50 a.m. and hurriedly set up sub plans Thursday evening. I would have to take a full day, because a half day is four periods and I'd have to be back in my 5th period class by 10:44. HA HA HA, I seriously doubted with an 8:50 appointment that was going to happen. So, full day for me. (I felt kind of guilty about this as I basically got a three day weekend the week before Thanksgiving, but spending 5 hours in my car and getting accosted by The Wand ON DAY TWO when things are a horrorshow made me feel far less guilty.)

Let me tell you, it did not take me any hour and 45 minutes. I don't know if the time I left had anything to do with it, or the fact that this is the most reliable corridor to Buffalo from Rochester right now, but the traffic was awful. And it's a local highway with stoplights and frequent drops from 55 to 45 and even 35 miles per hour, which is no fun. I knew the two routes I needed (well, three, as it's 104 to 78 to 5, and my clinic is on 5), but had no sense of time or distance. Incredibly, there was very little snow. A dusting along 104, and then it got to be more as I headed into Lockport--at one point it was snowing and there was maybe a 1/2 inch across the roads, but that was a tiny snippet of the drive and lasted maybe 10 minutes. It took me, however, 2 hours and 20 minutes to get there.

I was late. Which was scary because bloodwork is supposed to be done before 9 so that the STAT order can go to Lab Corps and they can get same-day results. Of course, it turned out Lab Corps had no way of picking up blood samples due to their location, so it was fine and couriered to Sisters Hospital, where I enjoy my hysteroscopy and HSG experiences. I had my baseline, despite feeling rushed and stressed and late (and having the receptionist tell me as I was 5 minutes away that she'd check to see if I should still come, and I was like, "UM, I'M COMING, I'm just giving you a heads up...").

My ovaries were quiet and had lots of nice tiny antral follicles, which we sort of need for stimulating but don't need for the cycle other than to create that fabulous lining. My uterus looked good -- thin lining, even lining, no clots. I have had the worst cramping I've had since I can remember this time, and was scared that had something to do with the scarring or some other abnormality that I'm developing, because why not? But, our doc said he didn't see anything untoward and then gave my uterus a bunch of ego-boosting compliments. "I'm encouraging your uterus! I'm trying to get her to continue behaving nicely!" he said, which was hilarious. Humor is needed when you're having a baseline ultrasound and you know you are bleeding all over the place and can do nothing about it. It is the most awkward ultrasound ever.

The drive back was uneventful, and took a little less time -- 2 hours and 10 minutes. I don't know where this hour and 45 minute estimate came from, but it must have been from the very westerly edge of Rochester because that was SO not my experience. I was home by 12:20, and had the afternoon to take a short nap, eat a leisurely lunch, and go visit my grandma. My estrogen call came in on my way to the nursing home, and it was a lovely, low, 22. I was so relieved, because last time my baseline was inexplicably all messed up when it came to the estrogen level and I really didn't want any odd delays this time. Git 'er done. Whew, first hurdle cleared.

First hurdle cleared despite a catastrophic weather event, interesting travel arrangements, missing a whole day of school, having epic cramps and bleeding all over the table (gross), and an office that was partially staffed. Not bad, not bad. I was terrified it was going to be bad and I wouldn't get there, and the worst did not happen. I need to chill a little bit, expect more good things, I think. (Or, maybe it was good to have low expectations and then be pleasantly surprised at every turn...)

We're off. I take the Femara tonight, I get started on this next piece of things. I prepare for our last blasts that we know are blasts. (Those 2PNs make me nervous as we have no idea what they could turn out to be.) I am hoping for a change in our horrible luck. I am trying to accept things for what they are in this process and attempting to not stress too much about missing school or anything else. At this point, it is what it is. I give in to the process.

Also, I am hoping for relief for those in Buffalo who don't live where it's 8 inches of snow, who are still buried in monster drifts, hostage in their homes, and hoping their homes' structural integrity holds up through the heavy snow now and the melting and flooding that is expected. I can't imagine what it must be like for those in the areas most affected. It gives a little perspective to my own worries for this week.

Always an adventure, one way or another. Never a boring moment.


  1. Apparently, I need to give your universe a couple messages as well! Like lake effect snowstorms need to be on hold until your cycle is over! I'm glad all worked out to have your baseline and that you got positive news! Let's keep this rolling all the way through!

    1. Thank you so much! My universe doesn't like to listen to me, so any cajoling on your part is greatly appreciated. Seriously, I hope this was the big snow dump through the holidays... Ha, ha, ha. Yes, I am thrilled about the positive baseline and the uterine compliments... I would love to see that roll on through this whole cycle and beyond. Thanks for the cheerleading, friend! :)

  2. What a crazy story--but how fun will it be *when* this works out and you'll have such a great story to tell. I'm so glad that everything looks good so far. I'm always nervous for my baselines, even though they're generally fine. And yes, I hate those early ultrasounds, and this sounds particularly gross--I'm glad your doctor has a good sense of humor. And I'm sure he's seen worse. Alright, so, we're rooting for a nice think lining and a clear landing pad for those blasts. I'm also sending encouraging thoughts to your uterus, I am also urging her to continue to behave nicely. My thoughts are with the Buffalonians, and I hope your next drive to your clinic will be uneventful! Thinking of you!

    1. Thank you for the *when*... :) It is a good story, I agree. Thank you for the continued uterine encouragement, I will take all I can get! I don't have to drive to Buffalo again until the first week of December, so we'll just have to see what the weather throws at us then. Hopefully just cold and sun. A nice clear Thruway. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Oh man I was thinking of you when I saw the crazy snow the Buffalo area was getting! I'm glad that you were able to finally get to your appointment and hopefully the snow and rain stay away from your area for a while.

    1. Thanks, lady! I am so lucky to be out of the danger zone and have the clinic be out of the danger zone, but it definitely did put a kink in things last week. Thanks for the good weather wishes to make this process a little less stressful.

  4. I just came over from stirrup-queens and wanted to say that I hope your cycle goes well! I live in Syracuse so I also know what lake-effect snow can be, but am grateful to not be in Buffalo! It definitely does help to put things in perspective. Hopefully the weather is wonderful when you head back next week.

    1. Thanks for stopping in! Seriously, Buffalo put both our cities to shame with this lake effect monstrosity. Thanks for your well wishes, I appreciate it!

  5. How did I not think of your clinic when I saw that on the news?!? What a nightmare...but sadly sort of par for the course for you. How come the universe never throws you a bone, dang it?!? Anyway, I am glad you were able to make it, albeit late and enjoy a leisurely afternoon off from work. (I've been away awhile and am trying to catch up on blogs as if I was here all along. So I read from where I left off forward to the present and try not to look ahead at post titles along the way. Sorry my comments will all be so delayed!)