Saturday, January 31, 2015

This is the Way the World Ends

Yesterday morning was rough. I woke up starting at 3 with terrible heartburn and the need to run to the bathroom. It continued through 6:30, when I brushed my teeth and found myself puking for 20 minutes. I am not a puker. Great, I thought. How am I supposed to drive to Buffalo feeling like this? Bryce was frantically looking up "vomiting" and the various meds I'm on, and was concerned I was hyperstimulating. Not outside the realm of possibilities since my estrogen was 1643 on Wednesday, and if it doubled it would be towards OHSS range.

But I did it, I drove across the western portion of the state with plastic bags in the car and my giant water bottle and toast with honey that I could only eat a little of.

The ultrasound was good--the fluid was miraculously gone. I mentioned to the doctor, one I hadn't yet seen this cycle, that we had a new plan--that we were going to forgo transfer if things looked crappy on the lining side, but that we wanted to do a retrieval and salvage something from this cycle as it was our last, for a good several years if at all. It had just all been too hard, and lately especially seemed to be challenging for new reasons. We want to get a baby in our house, and we're just not so sure this is going to be our ticket. He got it. He looked at my follicles and they were a little bigger than yesterday, but I needed another couple of days to be ready for trigger. This was Day 15 of stimming.

I somehow made it home even though I felt terrible the whole way, and crawled into bed at 11:00, where I stayed, totally comatose, until 1:40. I felt like I had a fever so I took my temperature, and it was near 101. Great, I thought. Nothing to help eggs along like a fever. Crap. 

I fell back asleep and woke up at 2;15... still no call. Unusual, as calls usually come no later than 2:12 in my experience with this clinic. By 2:30 I called them, because often the IVF nurse department is gone by 2:45, 3:00, and I didn't want to fall asleep and miss them, not get my instructions in person. And what I got was this:

"Your doctor is rerunning your bloodwork, I haven't called because we're waiting on the results." (Oh god oh god, the last time my bloodwork was rerun I was pregnant and my values had dropped from 2000 something to 200, and they thought it was a mistake but it was really the end...) "Initially they came back at 200, a significant drop. We'll call you when they're in, but it will probably be a doctor who calls." Hmmm, I thought. So much for OHSS, I must have a stomach bug.

I just laughed. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, I thought. I refuse to believe this until it's true. I refuse to believe that my last cycle is going to go out like this. 

Well, I could refuse all I wanted but it was true. My values plummeted from 1643 to 208 in a matter of two days. The doctor who called said that there was likely no fluid anymore because the estrogen had dropped so much. Stop all meds, yada yada yada. And then he said, "I just wanted to call you with good news." To which I replied, "Everyone does, but no one ever gets to. You are in very good company."

And then I hung up the phone.

That's when everything cracked into tiny tiny little pieces as I howled and wailed and sobbed uncontrollably. I called Bryce and was completely incoherent. "HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?" I screamed and cried. "How do we get NOTHING?!?" We had already adjusted our thinking to take out the possibility of a final transfer. And now we couldn't even retrieve any of those eggs to stockpile for later. All I could hear running over and over in my head was Gene Wilder, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, yelling, "You get NOTHING! You LOSE! Good DAY, Sir!"

And so it is over. No more shots, no more shoving pills where the sun don't shine, no more hoping for a change and being met with nothing but disappointment. We are completely devastated. Not because we did not know this was coming...something has changed this year that I cannot seem to make a lining and I cannot get to transfer. This is two cancellations in a row due to poor lining, and the second time in a year that my estrogen dropped inexplicably. My body is tired. I am tired. We are tired. It would be a relief if not for the COMPLETE AND UTTER lack of closure.

I am so excited for all of the next steps. For a process where you don't have to wonder IF you'll bring home your baby, IF you'll ever be a parent, but WHEN. It may take a fair amount of waiting, but we will be a family. This other nonsense has brought us nothing but pain. It's been cruel. It's only ever given us fleeting glimpses at what it might look like to be successful. (Another wailing cry on the phone with Bryce... "Is this all we get? Is one ectopic pregnancy and a fleeting 6 weeks of pregnancy all we'll ever have of that experience?") It's a hard pill to swallow.

We did IVF, and we did it HARD, and it FAILED us. Medical technology can be amazing, and my facebook feed is full of proof that it works for a SLEW of people, but it did not work for me. That is hard. We did all we could and were left empty handed. Do I regret how long we did this? Not exactly. If I had a time machine I would go back and try to convince myself that this will lead to nothing good, but when no doctors could tell us why and all of our second opinions thought it was possible, why would we have stopped? We still have no answers. But now, now...faced with how poorly the last few cycles have gone, it's over. Five+ years of this, 13 IVF cycles, 10 transfers, 27 embryos, 7 IUIs... DONE.

Once we mourn this horrific end to a horrific journey, we can throw ourselves 100% into the adoption process. The registration is on my computer, just waiting to be filled out. We can be parents. We can be a family for a baby, and have a baby for our family. I just wish we had been able to go out differently.

Is this so much worse than a negative test? Yes. It is. A negative test would have meant there was hope for a good outcome but then it came to its final conclusion of no hope. Even the retrieval, that would have given us hope for the future. Maybe it's a not so subtle message that this is never going to work for us, that I will never again be pregnant, that the maternity clothes rack in Target that tortures me every time we go is just not for me. (The good news is there's way more aisles for babies, and that is still for us, so I can look at those and not be sad anymore. It's coming for us.) Actual closure would have been nice.

While Willy Wonka ran through my head, Bryce had T.S. Elliot running through his. From "The Hollow Men," which is appropriate given how we're feeling:

This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

And so this part of our world has ended, and we are burnt down to ashes in a quiet flame that sputtered and whimpered as it consumed one part of our dream. We so look forward to rising like a phoenix from that sad little ash pile, ready to start a new adventure in our dream of parenthood.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dragging Along

I went for another ultrasound today, in hopes that my lining was better and the fluid was gone. Monday's ultrasound still had fluid, although an arguably lesser amount, and the lining was thicker, which was encouraging. So instead of cancelling me for the fluid, they had me come in today.

I brought Bryce, because I was sure it would be bad news, cancellation, done, done, done.

But it wasn't, not exactly.

The fluid is still there, aggravating everyone involved to no end. Again, it looks like less, but it's THERE. Fluid present = no transfer. Also, my lining wasn't great. It was thicker, although hard to measure thanks to the fluid bubble, but I am missing that trilinear pattern, the three glorious stripes of a plush lining just right for implantation. This is not good. My ovaries, however, are practically bursting with follicles. My estrogen was up to 818 on Monday, and today we were betting it was somewhere in the thousand range.

They still won't cancel me though, even though this is not a lining conducive to pregnancy. I feel like it's a delay of the inevitable, that a three-stripe lining is not going to magically appear suddenly after all this time. Today is Day 13 of stimming, and if a good lining was going to be there, shouldn't it be there by now? The doctor's thought is that we keep going, I start the Ganarelix to keep me from ovulating, and I go back on Friday to see if the fluid's still there and the lining's still crappy and THEN we decide.

I feel like this has been a week of purgatory, of in-between-ness to the extreme. And it has been exhausting. Every day I go to Buffalo, I get back late morning, and I think, "I'll do some schoolwork." And the schoolwork just languishes in my bag as I vegetate on the couch, waiting for my call, reading my book, napping, and staring into space. I just can't function like this.

We have choices. We can pull the plug ourselves. We could end this at any point and say we're done.

We can transfer even though it's not ideal conditions. Once we trigger, the clock starts on the 2PNs. They have to thaw them, and they can look at my uterine lining after trigger to see if the trigger and the start of PIO has changed my lining, but once they're thawed they're thawed. We either have to transfer or refreeze if any make it to blast. And I just don't know how I feel about transferring embryos to a uterus that is subprime. We looked up the importance of the trilinear lining pattern, and it's significant. Without it, the chances of a pregnancy occurring SEPARATE OF OTHER FACTORS is around 7%. Not great. With it, it jumps to nearly 50%. (Incidentally, we googled something like "trilinear lining" and the second result was a post from this very blog, which was somewhat amusing but not at all helpful as if I had the answers I wouldn't be googling in the first place!) I feel like transferring to my uterus in its current state is equivalent to a compassionate discard, where you put embryos in when you know they won't likely survive, to avoid being the one who said "DISCARD THEM" to the lab. I don't want to go out like that.

We could just accept the cancellation and leave the 2PNs and our blasts in the freezer, to sit and wait for a few years while we go down a different path to parenthood and save them for a possible sibling. Then we have chances, my body can rest from the hell I've put it through, and maybe we can experience both the joy of adoption and the joy of pregnancy. Although maybe after the joy of adoption we won't want to look back and go through this again. Maybe it's just delaying the choice we don't want to make now. Who knows. (Do you? Do you know from experience? Please share with me...)


We came up with a somewhat crazy alternative, assuming that Friday is bad news for my lining. We take advantage of my copious follicles and robust response in one part of my reproductive tract, and we do a retrieval. We fertilize with our frozen sperm sample if they like that idea and we see if we get blasts. Then we freeze them, and we have more chances for a sibling later on, when I'm in my early forties, when my eggs are likely not as good as they are now. I never have to do that part again, I have banked embryos for later when I'm healed from this, and maybe we can create our family in a multitude of ways. AND, then this cycle isn't a total bust. There's a purpose for it. If it's just cancelled, it feels like the difference between trumpet fanfare and the fart of a balloon slowly letting out air. I don't want the balloon fart. I want to feel like this cycle DID something.

Because I just can't do another cycle. I can't. I am miserable. I continue to cry my way through my injections, I am useless for school this week and feel like a part-time teacher (I will have taught 2/5 days this week), and I just want to be done. I even almost forgot my shots Monday night--I was an hour and 45 minutes later than my usual time because I JUST FORGOT. That doesn't happen to me. I took it as another sign that I am just done.

I don't want to put off my family anymore. I don't want to wait six months, and do another cycle, and put adoption on hold AGAIN. I don't want to start up the adoption process and then do a FET right when we may be having homestudy sessions in our home. So we commit to building our family through adoption first, and maybe last, but we have embryos waiting for a sibling. I didn't want to have embryos hanging out there, but I think I can live with them hanging if they're there for a later purpose, and they're not holding me back from becoming a mom, from bringing a baby into our home and our hearts, from starting the family we've coveted for five freaking years.

And the retrieval? It may seem crazy. But the IVF nurse didn't seem to think so. And no doctor has called me to tell me I'm batshit crazy for thinking of this (really, Bryce thought of it first). Is it putting myself through another surgical procedure? Yup. But I'm willing to do that if it means being done, feeling a sense of closure and yet also hope for the future. My estrogen today was 1643, and I have at least two more days ahead of me. May as well make it work for me. I have to realize that the "haul" will likely be less, considering that I wasn't stimmed for retrieval and so it wasn't so aggressive. But it seems that I've developed quite a few follicles anyway. I'm a little worried that I did the complete opposite of Egg Boot Camp, but that I was in a cycle in November/December, so not drinking, and then off in late December/early January (drinking, coffeeing, etc.), but I've been good since being on the meds. And I didn't drink like a rockstar in the in-between times, so I think I'm okay. It's unnervingly spontaneous. I kind of like it and hope it works out okay for us.

So, it's like every day I'm given a temporary reprieve. I expect to be cancelled, but I'm not, just delayed. I am super uncomfortable, and I am very tired. But I just keep on going, like a glazed-eyed Energizer bunny. Because I can see that finish line. I may not get there how I wanted, but I can start a new race once it's done. And I am VERY much looking forward to that.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: I Had No Idea

I don't know why, but I take a certain point of pride when someone I work with finds out my personal hell outside of school and then says, incredulously, "I had NO IDEA that you were going through this."

In a way, I feel it is a testament to my ability to compartmentalize and do a damn good job at school despite my personal world getting shredded into tiny little bits of shattered dreams and hopes, every single day. It happened Friday, when a teacher I've taught near since September had a torrent of loss thrown at her as she rescued me from the student bathroom where I was sobbing from frustration and feelings of impending loss and feelings of cumulative emotional stress. It happened last year, when a teacher I worked with at my 9th grade split position who knew my story asked how things were going in front of my guidance counselor and assistant principal in a break during annual reviews, and both of them were shocked by the depth and breadth of my saga.

But, because I've been putting up this front for so long of "I'm coping, I'm fine, my baggage is safely stowed and invisible to your eyes," I find that there are huge cracks forming in my facade. And when the dam breaks, I find that my story comes pouring out like a flood of sorrow. And there is power in sharing that story and realizing the sheer accumulation and devastation of all the things that have gone wrong for me, not so that I can be told how strong I am but so that I can let it go, share the weight of this hell, and maybe even gain more allies and support along the way.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Things Are Tilted Up

It's hard to say things are looking up, that things are going well, so I've decide to say that things are tilted up. We are in a more positive place than we were Thursday, and my mental state is a bit better today than it was yesterday.

I received my call around noon today, and my estrogen has more than tripled from its pathetic dropped value of 71 to a whopping 234, in just two days. This is good. It's encouraging. I was completely steeling myself for the Cancellation Call, and instead I got what I had prepared for justincase, yesterday--come in Monday for ultrasound and bloodwork. The thought is that since the estrogen is good now, the lining should be better and the fluid should be moving on out. Unfortunately, he keeps asking if I'm bleeding or anything, and I am not. I think he'd prefer it if I was bleeding because maybe that'd be the fluid disappearing. It could reabsorb, right?

So now I feel a bit of a reprieve, because at least my bloodwork is doing well. I also kind of feel that same sense of foreboding, because fluid on Monday could end it. Keep on sending those virtual love notes to my uterus--I have appreciated each and every one and they seem to be working some hoodoo magic.

After my day on Thursday, where I pampered myself and tried to make myself feel better after receiving questionable news, and pretty much failed to produce lasting results, I feared Friday may not be such a great day. Mostly because I was feeling pretty distraught over the possibility of cancellation, and that my only previous experience with fluid led to that outcome, after two ultrasounds. I also have been nursing a cold/virus/bug thing all week. I felt so crappy that Bryce opted me out of a birthday celebration I was supposed to go to Friday night. I really wanted to go, but I knew it was best if I didn't. 1) I was a DISASTER on Friday during the day, 2) My higher meds dose was part of the culprit and also had me very sleepy and crappy feeling, and 3) If I was at the verge of tears on Thursday, and then continued that way on Friday (which was definitely the case), who wants that at a celebration? I didn't want to ruin it. Oh, and 4), Bryce was like, "You have to take care of yourself. And if that means staying in and vegging out and having a quiet night, then you need that." He is so wise, and I love him so for how he knows just what helps in these situations. So I didn't go.

Friday morning was fine, I had to tell people that it didn't go so well, since it was obvious I'd gone to Buffalo and I work with so many different teachers and support staff that it's impossible to keep it under wraps. The first few times were fine, but then it got tearier and tearier. By midday, the tears were BARELY under the surface, welling up, threatening to spill over. I made it all the way through 5th period, so more than half the day. Unfortunately, adding to my issue was a disciplinary situation that came up in my absence that had me feeling majorly betrayed in the trust department by one of my students. And all the calls surrounding that situation, plus having to call about the little blue pills which we apparently could not refill but need more of after today, and being reminded again that "bloodwork only" on day 9 of stimming IS NOT A GOOD THING for your cycle, I was a disaster by 7th period. I teach a resource room that is at capacity and filled with some very strong personalities and challenging situations, both behavioral and learning related. I needed my shit together for this class.

And, for the first time in, oh, I don't know, EVER, I completely lost it in front of my students. The tears were in my eyes as I furiously blinked them away and tried to get us started, and I went to open my mouth, and it all came pouring out as I managed to say, "Excuse me" and point at my teacher's assistant who luckily is excellent and immediately took over the class while I left to sob in the bathroom. Unfortunately the closest bathroom is a student bathroom, and so not so private.

Why was I so very sad?

Because, as I knew Thursday and realized over and over again every time I had to tell someone else that things didn't look so great for this cycle, if this cycle is cancelled, I don't think I can do another one. I CAN'T KEEP DOING THIS. I want to finish it out, I want to come to resolution by using up all my embryos, but now I am faced with a new problem... WHAT IF I CAN'T? Like, physically? What if, as Bryce has so eloquently put it, we have been trying to run the marathon all these years, and once or twice we ran a 5K, but we've ALWAYS made it to the starting line. Now we can't even do that? Now it's in question whether or not we can even make it to transfer? What's with the fluid? What's with my body totally not responding to any new protocol or medications I'VE TAKEN BEFORE JUST FINE, now, when all we want to do is finish? It is frustrating. It makes me insanely sad, because I didn't want to end with the 2PNs so we didn't end on a stutter, an unfinished sentence if they didn't produce anything to transfer. And now I, I am the stutter... it's my end of things that is causing hurdles to transfer. I don't think I have another protocol in me, another cycle, another go-round of driving to Buffalo and waiting for calls and jabbing myself with needles and feeling like shit and then being heartbroken prematurely. I cry every time I inject myself lately, and not just because the Lovenox has been particularly awful this time around (despite using a friend's trick to wipe off the needle with an alcohol wipe to remove any medication residue that could sting). I cry because I'M TIRED. I cry because all I can think is MY POOR BODY. And I cry because emotionally, I JUST CAN'T DO THIS AND FUNCTION LIKE A NORMAL PERSON ANYMORE. It's not just the cancelling on social events. That I have done over and over again, and while I fear that after a while it is isolating and I am isolating myself, I have had to do what I needed to to take care of myself. But, this is the first year where I have been an utter disaster AT MY JOB. Where school has always been a safe haven in a way, where I could hone my actress chops and be Perfectly Normal Human-Like-Substance Teacher, who puts her everything into the day (evenings too, thankyouverymuch governor of NY who thinks we all suck) and can shove all this shit under the rug for those hours at more. I had my first breakdown in school in September, after my FET negative with the DS embryos. But that didn't involve students. Yesterday, yesterday I could not teach my class and was eternally grateful that I have wonderful people who I work with who pick up the pieces I leave behind and so I don't feel like I've left my class in a lurch entirely. I CRIED IN FRONT OF MY STUDENTS. I can only imagine what they may have said to parents when they got home. OH GOD, they're all going to think I'm having some kind of mental breakdown.

And I guess I am, in a way. I cried for the rest of the day and into the evening. I feel such a sense of loss, realizing that this may be my last shot at ever being pregnant and it's so touch and go. Thank goodness today it's more go than touch, but Monday could switch it all around again. It's all down to my lining and that dastardly fluid.

But, I did discover amazing support in someone I didn't really know before yesterday. I was trying to pull myself together in the bathroom and splash my face and failing miserably, sobbing into the rough bark-like paper towel substances they dispense in institutional bathrooms, when an English teacher came in that's new this year. A third-trimester pregnant English teacher. I have had limited interactions with her because a) I don't share any kids with her team, save a couple of guided study hall students, b) she's split between our building and another one, and c) she's a posterchild for beautiful, hugely pregnant women and so I don't typically seek her out. Well, apparently my loss. She immediately swooped in and ushered me into her classroom, which had both privacy and tissues, and let me just sit there and bawl.

And then... it just all started pouring out. It started with me just blurting out "I've been trying to get pregnant for over five years" in between sobs, and then she gasped and tried to cover her stomach with her hands, and I said, "No no no no, you're fine, you know, life goes on, just not for me." A bit dramatic but definitely my truth, so whatever. And she just listened, as I poured out my whole long sad sap story, from the very beginning, with the whole freakshow heartbreaking ectopic experience and then the heartbreaking miscarriage that followed the next summer, and the slew of negative pregnancy tests and now I couldn't even get to TRANSFER. And then I had to explain a lot, because apparently words like "2PNs" and "transfer" and "follicles" and "cancellation" don't mean the same thing to people who haven't lived this particular life. She shared that she had had four losses in one year and that it nearly destroyed her, so of course I would be upset, of course. And I felt terrible, because I had seen her as a nice person who was pregnant with her third child and had kind of dismissed her as anyone that I would seek out specifically to befriend. But I should have thought of that when she told me in passing the other day that her two children are 5 and 6, that maybe that gap wasn't entirely on purpose. I HAD JUDGED HER FOR HER BELLY. It wasn't overt, I wasn't hating on her, but I had just decided not to go out of my way to reach out, despite being two doors down. And this woman, this incredibly compassionate and hilarious woman, she said ALL THE RIGHT THINGS. She did say I was super strong, the strongest woman she knew, and usually I kind of resent that a bit, because I didn't ask for this particular hand and I don't necessarily think I'm all that strong, but it wasn't pandering and it wasn't patronizing (which is how that can come across sometimes). She let me verbal vomit my grief all over her gorgeous baby belly. And somehow we talked about pee sticks, and I said I had a stash in my closet and I only pee on them when I know I'm pregnant, which has been YEARS but now I've decided to pee on them before the call, because Fuck You, Call, you don't get to tell me what I don't already know. And then I started sobbing all over again, because I sputtered, "and now I'm probably NEVER GOING TO USE A PEE STICK AGAIN..." and kind of wailed out the last syllables like a four year old child. Her response? "When this baby is out, we will have some crushed fermented grapes, and we will BURN THOSE STICKS! No! No! Better, we will SHIT on those sticks!" Holy jeezum. I was a little taken aback at first, and then I started laughing hysterically, and I said, "Oh, I LIKE you!" Because someone who can tell a virtual stranger that shitting on pee sticks is a more fitting revenge than burning them is my kind of lady. (Although the actual logistics of such an endeavor make me a bit queasy, so this is probably a theoretical stick-shitting.)

Consider the lesson learned... don't judge a person by their seemingly beatific pregnancy. She was a bright spot in an otherwise horrific day.

I spent the rest of the day prepping my sub plans for Monday, justincase, and THANK GOODNESS because I need them. Which is hopeful.

To end on a funny note and not a my-god-this-woman-is-totally-losing-her-marbles note, we had to refill our hilarious little blue pills today, paid out of pocket due to insurance issues. Who knew they were $39/pill? So, we went to the pharmacy together (I couldn't keep a straight face last time and fled to the yogurt area), and requested the refill. Because my last pill is tonight that I have on hand, I had to blurt out, "We really need them by tomorrow" when they asked when we wanted to pick them up. Which, in retrospect, probably looked really funny. Like, "She can't wait? It's got to be by tomorrow? Jeez!" The guy handling our refill was taking it all in stride. We could pick them up in 20 minutes. I detected a bit of a smirk, real or imagined (pretty sure it was real). When we came back to pay, we got the same guy, who immediately got the prescription before Bryce could say what it was. Oh, this was after we weren't paying attention and he called us over and Bryce yelled, "Oh, we're UP!" and then dissolved into hysterical man-giggles over his terrible pun as we approached the cashier's desk. Yeah, we're super inconspicuous. As we got rung up, the pharmacy guy said, "You have a good night now, guys." Which was definitely smirky because it was THREE IN THE AFTERNOON. Oh, har de har har har. (Little does he know where those little blue pills are going... it's not nearly as fun a night as he's imagining...)

So, the wait is on. Wait, wait, wait. Monday will bring either really good news (lining up to snuff! fluid gone!) or really heartbreaking news (cycle cancelled! you are THROUGH, my friends!). I can only hope for a positive ultrasound, for more forward movement, for a way to get to resolution without feeling like my chair has been ripped out from under me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Good News Would Be Awfully Nice Right About Now

Everything was looking great up to today. My estrogen had risen much more appropriately than the last cycle that was canceled under this protocol--it went from baseline 27 to first bloodwork-only monitoring 80.

So I wasn't super nervous about today's monitoring. I felt like I was off to a good start, although I'm not super uncomfortable from the FSH drugs. I had some sense of worry leftover from the last cycle, but was confident today would look good.


Guess what's back? My fricking enemy, fluid. Little bubble of fluid at the top of my uterus. And my lining is thin. Hard to say how thin because measuring with the fluid is cheating, but 6.2mm is not what they were hoping for. And fluid? Forget it.

I was told whilst stirruped that they were going to bump up my meds, hoping this was an "estrogen issue." I don't really know what that means, but I had to do a quick overnight-shipment order of the Follistim since I now have enough for tonight only, not enough for tonight and tomorrow. I was told it's not over, they think they can get that fluid gone with a more robust estrogen boost. So I was upset, understandably, but not super upset.

Okay, that's a lie. I cried my way down the 90. I can't BELIEVE the fluid's back and this freaking fancypants protocol is failing me, AGAIN. (Probably more body is failing me, again.) I can't BELIEVE I have about a 50-50 chance of getting canceled again. I can't handle this anymore. I don't know what to do, because I really, really wanted to get these embryos into a uterus and give them a chance, since we, you know, created them and all.

My solution to feeling overwhelmed and sad and frustrated?

1) Watch a movie on the couch covered with the Christmas Quilt made by Bryce's mom. Make it The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, because it's funny and heartwarming and people in their golden years don't talk about infertility or babies or anything. (Great movie, by the way...go watch it if you need a pick-me-up.)

2) Do something pamper-y. In my case, I had a situation where yesterday one of my students commented on my grey hair. Like, "I didn't realize how much grey hair you have! It's a LOT!" Then another students said, "We have to be nicer to her. Those grey hairs are probably from us." Gotta love 8th graders. Anyway, it prompted me to want to color my hair. And today, when everything is quickly sliding downhill into a steaming pile of shit, I decided I would GET my hair colored. Something I haven't done in around 10 years. If I have to feel crappy on the inside, I can at least look good on the outside. I just had to swallow the guilt at coloring my hair at a salon in the middle of the day when I should be at school (but I had to take the full day for the appointment in Buffalo, so why not?).

I felt a little better, until I got a phone call while my hair was being paint-brushed with permanent dye around my greys and I was getting a lovely preview of what I'd look like bald (surprisingly not unattractive, by the way).

It turns out that my estrogen DROPPED. It went from 80 on Monday to 71 today, despite 150 of follistim and 5 of the mysterious Solution X. That is NOT good. So they want me to do bloodwork only on Saturday.

I know what this means.

They are leaning towards cancelling if the bloodwork sucks. Because there's no point in making me drive out to Buffalo if my estrogen is still in the toilet. They know the fluid is there, and unless my estrogen goes up, then I am going to be low estrogen, thin lining, fluid CANCELED. Done. Finito.

On the positive side--the raise in my dosage could rescue the cycle, maybe. I could have great estrogen and then have to come in on Monday. Oh no, which means that I need to have sub plans ready on my desk just in case I'm out Monday. Arghh.

It's not over yet. I can just hear the fat lady warming up. I just don't understand this at all. Why can't I even get CLOSE to transfer anymore? What has changed? Why does my body suck so much? Why can't I just reach this resolution? If I get canceled, I am going to lose my mind a bit. Or a lot.

Please send virtual love notes to my uterus and my ovaries, that they may do what the frick they're supposed to do between now and Saturday. That should offset the telling-off I have been doing.

Ironically, as I got in the car to drive away from my hair coloring experience, the song that immediately came on the radio was "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. A song that once would make me feel really warm and happy inside, make me think surely it's a good sign. But now it just reminds me of how stuck I am, of how much believing I've been doing and how little that has done for us. I would like to believe this cycle can be rescued. I just want to move on to what's next. I just want to believe we can be parents, and not be stuck in this Sisyphusian hell.

Monday, January 19, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Stabby Little Moments

This week, social media has not been my friend:

1) A Pinterest feed from a newly prego acquaintance that I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to block (but have no idea how)... I do not need my feed clogged with a flood of "How to stay skinny/fit/gorgeous when pregnant" pins that raise my ire because while I'm all for being fit (even though it is a state that eludes me) and healthy, it seems that the 9 months or so is perceived as a huge hurdle, maybe even inconvenience, to the otherwise hotness that needs to be maintained and regained, stat.
2) A photo posted from a party had by ladies from my cohort at Fertility Yoga where they celebrated the at-long-last baby of one lady and all got together to celebrate...but only the mommies (favorite comment: "It's just like old times, except the very big difference that we're all mommies now!"). Except some of us aren't, but no worries because those of us who didn't "Make it" kind of fell off to the wayside by both parties--there's a camaraderie between the Other Side Moms that I can't connect with. Still painful, because it reminds me just how long I've been outside of this circle.
3) Posts that flood my facebook feed that by themselves are fine but en masse make me a little sad, not to mention comments like, "Being a mom is the BEST JOB EVER" that make me feel horribly inadequate since I think I have awesome qualifications but it's like I just can't seem to match my skills up just right to truly be considered.

Bryce had his own stabby moment today, WITHOUT the benefit of social media.

He ran into a coworker he hadn't seen in a while at the gym, who informed him that he and his wife were expecting a baby. All good, except for this gem: "Yeah, we started trying a few months ago, because we decided we didn't want to run into those problems you can have when get too old, and it worked!"

AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, on behalf of Bryce, on behalf of me, on behalf of whoever else this person may unwittingly say this to who is thinking on the inside, since it's not necessarily known on the outside, "Yup--there sure can be problems, and getting older doesn't help."

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Last One (or is it?)

I wasn't lying when I said I was at peace with our decision. Honest, I wasn't. I am at peace, and I know that this decision to use our frozens, be done with treatments one way or another, and start the registration process for domestic infant adoption wouldn't be easy but it was absolutely the right call at this time.

It's just really hard to be in this In Between space, now that I'm jabbing myself with needles 3x a night and my body is hopefully responding to the drugs and setting me up for a transfer. I think I can pinpoint why I am having such a difficult time.

This could be The Last Cycle. Or, it could be the Next To Last Cycle. And I won't know until days before transfer, maybe even the day OF transfer. That's a little difficult to prepare myself for, and while I am trying not to worry too much about what could happen, it's just kind of my way to prepare myself for all possible outcomes. Even though it's probably not very constructive. Strike that, it's completely not constructive.

I think if I knew for sure that this was it, the last cycle, I could feel a little less unsettled. It is striking to me how much loss I am feeling, for as much as I am looking forward to NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE. Every needle prick, every purple-green-gold bruise that blooms on my stomach due to the Lovenox, every moment where I realize I HAVE TO GET HOME TO STICK MYSELF, every drive to Buffalo... I am reminded that I am so sick and tired of this process and the (so far) inevitable disappointment that it brings. I work so hard to make this work, and I am rewarded with loss and pain and emptiness. So, I do feel a sense of GOOD RIDDANCE.

However, I can't help but hope that maybe this time things will work out okay. It is a tiny tiny incandescent bubble of hope in an otherwise dark place when it comes to treatment, that is being gradually shoved over with flickering hope for the adoption process. How can I not wish that this time will be THE time, as unlikely as it seems? We have changes in the protocol in the form of a little blue pill that is NOT estrace, that poor Bryce had to pick up yesterday and felt (real or imagined) disdain radiating from the pharmacy clerk. I've been reading up on this protocol, and there is an article here that talks about it (who knew it's been around since the 1990s???) although a slightly different variation than the one I'm on. It could be promising, but it's not a miracle cure. So my hope rises a bit because SOMETHING NEW, but then drops again because what if I'm one of the women for whom it doesn't work? Or what if it would take 3 cycles to get it optimal, and I have just this one? Or maybe two? My mind starts circling down a dangerous drain.

In no way does this make me want to do another fresh cycle. It just makes me sad because there will always be something new, always be a protocol that could possibly maybe work for us, because that's why we've kept going to this point. It hasn't worked. Could it work? Maybe, but our personal trending line says no, not likely. The temptation is always to try the next best thing, but after round after round after round after round after round of next best things and nothing to show for it but the incredibly aggravating size of our "medical expenses" folder for 2014 taxes, it's just not worth it. But I can mourn the loss of possibility, even if it is so small that it would fit a flea.

This is not to say that I wouldn't love to be proved wrong and have a successful cycle. I'm just so burnt on riding a positive train through the whole cycle only to be crushed at the end. I will still be crushed if I get a negative call in February. Especially if it is the Last Ever Call. That finality will be tough. But, also weirdly freeing.

Right now, it's just tough. 100% tough. I am doing a cycle in which I have very little confidence. It could be the last cycle, or it could be the second-to-last cycle and I have to go through this rigmarole again. The uncertainty, the not-knowing, is not pleasant. If I knew it was my last, last cycle, I think maybe I could prepare myself better. But I can't quite treat it like the final cycle, because we could miraculously get good embryos out of these 2PNs. It's such a crapshoot and it makes me nervous, the not-knowing. Or, I could get a call on Day 2 of growing them out and they could say, "It looks like we could have 3-day embryos but it's hard to say if we'll have blasts." We originally said we'd hold out for blasts, but now I am wavering. I know of an awful lot of cute babies who were 3-day embryos, or even 2-day embryos. Plus, these embryos were frozen on day 1, without vitrification, and the cohort that's gone before them has been disappointing. So... even though they being thawed and grown in a fancypants, state-of-the-art lab, they may have had a rough start and that's enough to stunt their progress. So is it cheating to do a Day 3 transfer? Delaying the inevitable? Or is it giving them a better chance? I DON'T KNOW. I am thrilled that we are doing these first because we have what we know are gorgeous blasts waiting in the freezer, and if these don't make it then we aren't left stuttering in the middle of a sentence that never ends.  I am, however, increasingly nervous about the thawing and growing-out days and my ability to stay sane during that time.

Of course, there's also the fact that I didn't even get close to transfer last time, but supposedly the blue pills should help with that, as well as my Femara-less protocol. We can hope that was just a crap cycle and this one will go without a hitch, all the way to transfer.

This in-between state isn't just for this cycle... it's impacting our movement on the adoption application as well. Remember how before we decided this was the end, that I was hesitant about putting energy into two processes at once? I guess I know myself pretty well. I am having a hard time dedicating time and energy to both processes when I'm feeling so sad about our losses. Everything I've read says that you need time to mourn your loss of a biological child before moving full steam ahead with adoption, that it's fairest to you and to the baby you are creating a family for, together. We've done so much mourning already--we have no chance anymore of a biological child who is 50/50 both of our genes. That's gone. If the 2PNs don't work out well, then we officially lose Bryce's genetic contribution, and while we've been mourning that, now it will be totally beyond the realm of possibility. Then, our last effort for pregnancy will be my genes and our sperm donor's genes... and if that doesn't work out then we will be done, done, done. So we're mourning piecemeal, one string of DNA at a time.

It does reaffirm how excited we are for a totally new process, for a renewed sense of hope in creating a family, for being equal partners in every way to fill the emptiness in our home and our hearts. That the genetic loss has already been underway eases our mourning process. In theory. In reality, I am finding that my feelings are pretty raw and sad now that we are really in the final throes of our dream to experience pregnancy as a couple. Still able to see the promise and the joy that can be ours through a different pathway, but it's hard.

So the application has been languishing a bit. I would really, really like to have it done before the end of January, and be officially registered by February. I would like an official start on this new adventure as the old one is gasping for its last breath. I have had friends who've gone before me say how helpful it was to have an optimistic new start in the works when they received their final bad news. They were still incredibly sad, but it wasn't a hopeless pit of despair. Things were in the works.

And if we're successful, by some crazy miracle? I don't apologize for my lack of positive thinking vibes on this cycle. I really do believe we have such a small chance for success, and it is somewhat easier to think of this as a step we must take to get to our family. Maybe it will bring us to our family, but more likely adoption will. But, if we manage to be successful, I will be happy, once I believe that  it's for keeps. And I will strangely feel guilty for wasting someone's time, even though that's totally not what we meant (or what it is). I also don't ever want to be used as an example of someone who started adoption paperwork and then got pregnant, see how that works? NO NO NO. Someone just (innocently/ignorantly) said that doing adoption paperwork results in pregnancy to us. NO NO NO. If we're successful, it will be because of the new protocol, and magical lining up of tiny little stars that are incredibly difficult to align. It will not be because we registered with an agency. It will not be because it was our last cycle (or second-to-last, argh), or because I felt not excited and so wasn't as stressed (who are we kidding? I'm totally stressed because I'm feeling such dread), or because I did or didn't cut out a single cup of coffee on my weekend days. It won't be because of what I did or didn't eat, or the earrings I wore, or the color of my underwear. It will just be a straight-up miracle of timing and conditions. And one I have a hard time believing will be for us.

So, as you can see, this is a tough spot to be in. I have my first blood draw post-follistim tomorrow, so we'll see if my estrogen does a better climb than it did with the combo femara protocol. We'll see if the bottle of hilarious little additions make a difference later in the week, when I drive again to Buffalo for ultrasound monitoring. (Incidentally, I had to drive on Friday to pick up their Solution X medication and get bloodwork, and the forecast was totally clear until 5:30 in the morning, when we had a lake effect snow weather statement. IT TOOK TWO HOURS to get there, in white-knuckle conditions, and I was completely late both to bloodwork and back to school. Yup, definitely taking full days off for monitoring this time. The weather and the thruway hate me.) I'm not sure what to hope for -- a swift end to this process that has been nothing but cruel, or an unlikely miracle. Maybe both, in unequal amounts. I just hope for a smooth cycle and no more surprises, I guess. I hope that what we're doing brings us closer to a home filled with giggles and gurgles and burping cloths, instead of the deafening silence we currently enjoy. Just bring us closer to family. Okay, Universe?

Monday, January 12, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Mourning in Home Depot

In the interest of getting all parts of our lives moving forward, after seeing The House (which has sold, thank goodness, and no longer haunts us quite so intensively), we decided we'd seriously look into selling our house in the near future so that we can find and buy our forever home. So, we met with a realtor, who (sight unseen) said that if we felt our kitchen was outdated that we should update it before putting our house on the market, that we would definitely reap the benefits of that upgrade. How ironic, that we may finally get a beautiful kitchen that works for us in this house right as we're saying goodbye.

Tonight we met with the designer in our local Home Depot, and gave measurements and picked out possible cabinet styles and colors and countertops and all that jazz, and then sat and stared into space while she drew up the schematics--well, sort of stared into space. 

Bryce was wearing this little hat (he has virtually no hair so his head gets cold and Home Depot is drafty), and he leaned back in his chair and yawned. For some reason, the way his face moved, and the way the hat was on his head, I could just see exactly what a baby would look like that had his facial features, a baby that was contentedly yawning in our arms just like he was (well, maybe not JUST like he was, as Bryce is now sporting a full beard and that looks kind of funny on a baby). 

I was suddenly completely overcome with a wave of incredible sadness. We have one questionable shot left of having a baby that has those features, with the 2PNs in February, and then that shot is officially gone. Which we knew, but somehow, seeing a little apparition of that baby-that-could-be in the middle of Home Depot really brought home the incredible loss that we are most likely facing, and how much mourning is buried inside me.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's Always Snowing in Buffalo (Consultation Update)

We have decided that we are master planners when it comes to driving to Buffalo in the winter. If it's going to be a super cold, super snowy, super windy day... that's the day we'll have an appointment that we planned weeks ahead of time.

Today it took me almost 7 hours to drive to Buffalo and back for our consult. Part was planning for bad weather, part was HORRIFIC roads due to bad weather, and part was that our appointment was late to start and then longer than expected.

But I would bet that you don't really care about the weather or the driving conditions so much in this post...

The consult went very well. We had my trusty purple notebook with our notes written diligently over sushi lunch, and all of our points to discuss and ask about. We started by catching up and chatting as friends, but I saw our doctor's eyes flitting to the list during this time, and hoped that phrases like "get this shit over with" weren't catching his eye early.

So, the reason for the extra month of Pill... hormone therapy to help my lining restart. The theory is that that last cycle sucked pandaballs because my lining was screwy from healing up from the hysteroscopy in November. That taking down the adhesions at the tippy top of my uterus was more traumatic than originally thought, and so that's why the fluid and that's why the lining failure.

Which led to me saying that the ultrasound didn't show any fluid, and how did we know another month would help, which led to the very frustrating fact that my OB/GYN did NOT send the ultrasound report over. So um, local monitoring is now out the window because I trust them not. (Maybe even birthing our baby, should we get there, is out the window...because if you can't follow up on a nonessential but still kinda important ultrasound communique, then can I trust you for the rest of my care???) I shared the details I remembered, but this wheedling of, "But everything looked pretty good last week" led to the BIG STATEMENT.

I started saying that we were feeling strongly that we didn't want any more delays, that we weren't going to do any more fresh cycles, that the frozens were it... and then I dissolved into tears. I was not expecting to not be able to deliver our statement on where we are with treatment myself. I passed the notebook to Bryce and he finished saying what needed to be said. He did a wonderful job, with sensitivity yet firmness. He's so good at handling things like this.

I'm pretty sure our doctor looked a little sad, but he understood. He said he knew this was coming ever since the hysteroscopy when I showed him the domestic adoption book in my purse. And then we had a conversation about how hard it is to have to be the ones to pull the plug on this endeavor. That to not have a definitive "this isn't working for you" decree from a doctor was really hard, because there's always hope but we've lost the ability to physically and emotionally continue down this path. We don't believe anymore. We can have some hope for these last two cycles, but it won't be easy, since it's like a death of a thousand cuts. And still, we are not being told that this is impossible. We are a mystery, because we've had good cycles and then we've had bad cycles but there's no consistency. We are NOT beating a dead horse, since that horse keeps changing in terms of protocols and genetic components. But we are too exhausted to keep hoping for a golden cycle when things are so murky. Pulling the plug ourselves sucks. We wanted to be broken up with first, in an odd but utterly understandable way.

After that was over, we talked protocols, possibilities, and all that jazz. And we're NOT doing another month of Pill. We ARE doing the 2PNs first. We ARE holding out for blasts, as much as that pains me because it really lowers the chances that we'll have anything to transfer, but stranger things have happened. It is entirely possible that we could have our last cycle in February. (Transfer will be first week of February, most likely.) Which, while a bit distressing initially, is wonderful. I tearfully shared that it could do me in to still be cycling in May, what with my birthday and Mother's Day within days of each other (and neither being particularly happy days lately). That we need closure, whether that's a long-awaited pregnancy or the finality of an end to this course of treatment.

As far as the scarring goes, he said that the amount was truly minimal and it is at the very top of the uterus. He said I am not at any risk for hemorrhage, rupture, or late miscarriage beyond what anyone else my age would face, and that age is only affecting genetics, not my uterus. That was reassuring. He explained if the scarring was more severe, or on the sides, that would NOT be the case, but that my location and minimal severity is not worth worrying about. Whew.

The final kicker for getting the cycle going now was an impromptu saline sonohysterogram, which I was SO not expecting and I am STILL feeling crampy and icky over, but it was totally worth it because it showed ABSOLUTELY NO abnormalities in my lining, no scarring visible, no polyps, nada. Everything looked great. Bryce's hand got squeezed quite a bit, because that is NOT a cozy test for me, but it was good to get that confirmation. I was scared it would show bad news, but I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe this will be a trend.

So, the new protocol is Femara-less, because we do suspect that didn't work out well for me given my AMAZING rise in estrogen from baseline to first monitor of 22-37. (Hint: that's pathetically UNamazing.) So we do the stimming FET protocol, but with Follistim only. If I get 5-6 follicles it doesn't matter because we're not doing anything with the eggs... so as long as I don't hyperstim we're good. Still Lo.venox, still terbu.teline, still PIO... but a slightly hilarious addition to help with bloodflow. A little blue pill typically prescribed to men. Apparently it's a vasodilator, which dilates the veins and allows for more blood to flow to the uterus, not just, um, other organs. Hilarious. Especially because my stepfather just retired from the company that makes this medication, so I feel a special kinship to it. And can't stop giggling. Because I am not so secretly 12 inside.

All in all, a good visit. A terrible drive, and some white-knuckle moments in the commute on the way home especially as the sun went down, but worth it. We are headed towards resolution of this leg of our journey. We are excited, maybe for a possible pregnancy but more for that finality. I didn't think it would feel so good (after the tears of course) to have an endpoint set. To accept that this may not end how we originally hoped it would. But that another pathway waits for us, one that we welcome with open arms, one that holds a lot of promise. So we are in a bit of a limbo, but leaning toward a new beginning. It feels right.

The last thought? A beautiful comment our doctor made, which just exemplifies why we love him so much and why we're willing to drive through snow tornadoes to see him. When saying we were at the end of treatment, that we couldn't do this anymore once the embryos were gone, he asked us if we were planning on shifting our focus to adoption. We replied that yes, yes we were, and we were actually pretty excited about it. His response?

"Good, I'm so glad. Because it would be such a shame to deny a child the privilege of having you for parents."

How can you not love that?

Monday, January 5, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Donor Gamete Inequalities

In thinking about the embryos we have left, our two DS blasts and our six DE 2PNs (day one embryos), I was also thinking about the incredibly different processes for the two types of donors. For the donor eggs, we had to go through a lot of hoops (psychological evaluations! paperwork! high cost!) but ultimately ended up with very little information about our donor--just a one-page profile sheet and we'll never have any more.

In contrast, for the donor sperm, we had to fill out information in a search field on a database and then purchase the sperm. No psychological evaluations, the cost was higher than I thought but a FRACTION of the eggs, and the paperwork was minimal. And we got TONS of information on our donor--we have voice files of interviews, we have physical descriptions and childhood photos, we have questions he answered in written form, and if our child is conceived from this material and decides that he/she wants to meet this donor and have a tete-a-tete in person, once, HE OR SHE CAN DO THAT because he's an open donor.

Now, I get the difference in cost due to the difference in the process to actually, um, extract the gametes. One is an incredibly involved process involving injections and surgery and time off work, and the other involves...less hardship than that, by far.

BUT...why didn't we need a psychological evaluation for sperm? Why is it so easy to get SO MUCH information? What does that say about male contributions versus female contributions? To be honest, it makes me mad, for my husband's sake. It devalues his role, his contribution. It says sperm is less important than egg, doesn't it? That we didn't need to sit and discuss the decision with a mental health professional in order to proceed, just click "add to cart?" Shouldn't the requirements for subbing in donor gametes for either player be the same, on the recipients' end?

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Husband Is A Genius

While waiting for our sushi lunch to come, I pulled out my trusty purple notebook and said, "Okay, let's get our questions/discussion tone set for the consult on Wednesday." Ha, see what I did? I waited until we had no choice! It was like a mini-car-hostage situation.

We have both been saying, "We have to get our questions and our statements down on paper for this appointment," but we have both been dreading actually doing it. Not quite sure why, other than that to put it to paper and prepare for a discussion that probably isn't what our doctor is expecting makes it all real and it's not really a fun conversation.

But, we did it. And in discussing, Bryce came up with a BRILLIANT idea. Just brilliant.

We have a statement we want to get out, to start. Basically, we want to make it 100% clear that there is absolutely no more fresh cycling happening. These frozen embryos are it. (We'd intimated this after my last surgery, the one with the scarring, but were at 90%, so didn't put it out there definitively. Now's the time to be definitive. NO MAS.) We also want to make it clear that the mode we're in is not, "OMG, this is the time for our MIRACLE! Do whatever it takes! If it takes another year, we're in, just GET ME PREGNANT!" It's more like, "GET THIS SHIT OVER WITH, because we are exhausted in every possible way and actually really excited about getting the adoption ball rolling, but we want this behind us." To clarify: This doesn't mean we wouldn't be thrilled to have a miracle occur. We are in no way saying that we want to destroy these embryos or not give them the best chance, but the time to go nuts and do experimental things that drag our resolution out, whatever that might be? NOT NOW. If you look at statistics for IVF success, there's this funny trend. Your chances go up for a certain number of cycles, and then after that? If you haven't been successful, your chances of being successful go down dramatically. Now, this isn't to say there aren't success stories after a zillion cycles. I know some of these people who have received their miracle (a phrase I actually hate, because what? I'm not deserving to also get a miracle from whoever/whatever's handing them out? What got ME blacklisted?), but I also know a lot of people who ended their treatment journey after many cycles without a sustainable pregnancy. I am no longer willing to keep trying for that golden moment. Even though technically we get a restart each time we do something drastically different, we've made enough changes without any significant gains that I just don't think it's possible. I can hope it's possible, but that's hard. I want to end this feeling of going in circles. We feel like we're actually further from parenthood, not closer, on this route. But, it could happen, and we'd be thrilled, but honestly also confounded. But happy. (And scared to death of a shoe dropping.)

After that uncomfortable bomb is dropped, which hopefully at this point is less of a bomb and more of a slightly awkward firecracker, we have questions. Mainly, what the hell do we gain by one more month on the Pill? I had my midcycle ultrasound and that pesky fluid is gone. What will change in the next month? What do we truly gain? Because if it's not significant, we want go time to be now.

Other questions -- what are all of the potential risks that I face and our baby would face if I got pregnant with the scarring? Are we nervous for no good reason? Lay it out there, bare bones, so we understand that either a) my situation is in an area where risks are minimal or b) my situation is technically risk minimal, but the risks we incur at low percentages are scary enough to give us pause. How is our protocol changing? Why, oh WHY, didn't that magical stimming FET protocol not work for me? And by not work for me I mean BOMBED HORRIFICALLY, rotten tomatoes thrown, no good at all? Boooooooos from the crowd bad. Why? Was it the Femara? Was it my estrogen level? WTF? We never really got answers on this previously. I actually really want to know what the estrogen levels were for the other women where this worked well, because I felt mine were WICKED low at the start. But what do I know?

And then, lastly, Bryce came up with his amazingly genius plan. We have been agonizing over these 2PNs. These six, one-day-old, frozen in our old lab, donor egg embryos. Six does not equal six to transfer. They have to be grown out, and it is a huge mystery as to how many, IF any, we will have to transfer when it's all done. We were saving these for last, as a last-ditch effort, because they are such a question mark. However, the thought of ending treatment on a cycle where I prepare my uterus only to have NOTHING to transfer? Horrible. Anticlimactic. A terrible way to end  what at that point will be 5.5 years of ART. Our 11th transfer. (Oh god, it sounds so awful when I lay it out there.)

Bryce's solution? Do those first. I looked at him crosseyed, and then he explained:

"If we do these first, they can grow them out and we'll KNOW how many. If it's close to all of them, then we end up using as many as we ethically can and refreezing the rest, knowing that's a gamble. If it's two or three, we transfer those and have the DS blasts left for another try. If it's one, we could mix with the DS and transfer three [Not crazy about this one, since then genetics are questionable and unknown, and we'd like to know for the sake of our child]. If it's none, then they thaw the DS blasts that morning and we still get a transfer, and we end with the good embryos. It's over. No preparing for nothing, no disappointing dud cycle, we get to end on a high note (sort of), but no uncertainty. And maybe we're done quicker and we feel relieved about that."

Brilliant. I can't use that word enough. Assuming they could thaw these DS embryos on transfer day after realizing the 2PNs have crapped out, it's perfect. We do not have a preference, DE or DS, the only reason why these embryos give us pause is because they're such wild cards since they're frozen on Day 1. But now... we can take that uncertainty out of the equation. No disappointing end to our cycling possible, other than a negative test possibility, which is a possible outcome for any cycle. Why didn't we think of this earlier?

I am actually really looking forward to having this conversation and then moving on it. I would love nothing more than to start meds in January and get going toward whatever outcome our last two (or however many) cycles will garner. Because I am SO READY to move on. I am SO READY to embrace another path to parenthood. I am SO READY for some hope and to eliminate my poor body from this equation. Wednesday cannot get here fast enough.

Oh, and my husband is BRILLIANT.