"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. "

29 December 2010

Putting 2010 to Rest

B and I are heading up north to my P's cabin for the remainder of 2010. Its a peaceful place to sit and do pretty much nothing except hike, cross country ski, sit by the fire, drink yummy beer and sleep.  I'm looking forward to a little quiet time after the holidays and a peaceful entry into 2011.

When I return, it will be just about a year since I started this blog. I'm sure I'll have some reflections to share and hope of the new year. So, with out further ado,  I wish you all a happy new year and I'll catch ya on the flip side...

28 December 2010

Fragile

N is a part of my support group and has become a dear friend. She's been through the infertility ringer like many of us veterans: IUIs, IVF, OHSS, multiple transfers, first trimester miscarriage.... But somehow she remains strong and carries on with us, thinking of next steps, as we all do, on our goal to parenthood.

About 9 months ago, N announced to our group that her younger sister was pregnant is her first child. And while she was anxious about how she might feel over the course of the next 9 months, it turned out that she grew happier and happier for her. I was so impressed with her selflessness during this time. I'm not sure I would have had the grace to be so happy.

Last week, on the day her sister went into labor, N sent me a text with such a happiness that her sister was about to give birth. She was giddy with anticipation. She even told me that her sister, while in the middle of labor pains, was asking N if SHE was doing ok and handling this well. And when she gave birth, N beamed with love and happiness for her new, beautiful, healthy nephew and the sweet consideration of her feelings by her sister.

But then 3 days later, I got a phone call from N that I wish never had to happen. It was a day before the holiday. I was at work. I saw the phone ring from her an I picked it up... and before I could say anything other than hello, a painfully shattered and terrified voice cried into the phone, "HE'S GONE! HE'S GONE! THEY TRIED EVERYTHING THEY COULD TO SAVE HIM AND THEY COULDN'T! HE'S GONE"

An imperfection, no reason, just awful, painful, gut-wrenching randomness.

And as sudden as this baby boy was brought into the world, he was taken, ripped away from the the family that so longed for him.  And forever, N and her family are wounded deeper than they've ever been before.

And I cried for her, there in my office.

The thing is, even if we achieve the first steps of what we have been so aching for on our own baby quests, pregnancy does not guarantee a baby. Delivering a baby doesn't even guarantee you get to spend your lifetime with that child. And I know that might be an obvious statement to many of you, but this experience brutally reminded me of that.

When I got that call, I felt for a few moments in time, a rip through the gingerly held together fabric of my life, the fabric that keeps me sane and in reality and moving forward. I can only imagine what N felt and still feels, let alone her sister and husband. Their fabric has been ripped wide open, shredded, and taken away... and my heart bleeds for them and hopes that they can eventually find a way to pick up those pieces and repair the holes...

Life is fragile.

We. Only. Have. Now.

22 December 2010

ICLW Welcome and the Holidays

Hello fellow ICLW'ers and welcome to my little corner in the infertility blogosphere. I'm happy you stopped by!

Currently, we're getting ready to start IVF#4 in the middle of January. Our story can be found here (or in tab at the top titled "Our Journey"). Its been almost 4 years since we've started trying to conceive.

Today, I'm just trying to find some peace and strength to get through yet another holiday season with no baby on the way or in my arms. I actually think I'm mildly depressed (I suppose many of us are that experience this). I didn't even decorate the house this year or participate in any of  my family's gift exchanges. If I'm not keeping myself busy with work and take time to pause, I get sad and anxious. And the holidays don't help that. I know its not the holiday's fault, but I think it they mark the passage of time, and you start to realize how long you've been at this, with no end in sight.

We are however lucky in the sense that we don't have any nieces or nephews on my or B's side, so we don't have to spend the holidays with a bunch of infants and toddlers. I am however starting to get anxious about that happening in the near future as others in our family are getting married or starting to talk about baby-making. For now, I'm going to pretend that none of that is happening, even though I know the chance is there for me to find out a sibling or an inlaw is pregnant before we are... and that's going to be a hard slap in the face. I know its not a race, but I will just be a reminder of something we continually fail at.

Speaking of reminders, I don't really even want to open all of the beautiful holiday cards from my friends. I cherish that my friends send them to me and would be sad if they stopped, but sometimes its hard to take, to see that whole stack of families with their beautiful babies staring at me. I feel like they are laughing in a way... mocking me for the joy that lives in their lives and not in ours.

Yes, I know.. the goal here is to learn how to be present and find joy in what you do have, but the holidays have made it a lot harder for me to do that these past few years.

Well, I just wanted to say hello to you  joining me for ICLW and thanks for stopping by! I'd love for you to follow me too, so join up! And mostly, I wish you all peace and happiness through this holiday season.

17 December 2010

A Single Teardrop

I treated myself to a massage for my birthday last month. The masseuse asked me why my body was in such knots. I told her we were struggling to conceive and that we had just failed our 3rd IVF cycle. She was glad that I came in. My body needed work, but she thought my heart could help with some healing too. She told me I should come to her for some reiki.

Now I knew about reiki and I've actually had a little done here and there, but only for a few minutes while getting a massage. So I was a little apprehensive of scheduling a full hour of someone placing their hands on my body with out really doing anything else other than that, quietly. Awkward, huh?.. But I decided my heart could use some healing, so I took her up on it.

And I'm glad I did.

I walked in the same room I had been in a few weeks prior for my massage. We talked about setting an intention of letting go and finding peace. And then it began. I got up on the table, and laid on my back as she placed her hands my upper chest and I tried to quiet my mind.

Its hard to quiet ones mind. I've dabbled in meditation here and there and have at times felt pretty good at being able to at least quiet my mind when I get anxious, but often when I am quiet, my mind just wanders. And this was no different. My mind bounced here and there and everywhere in the beginning... 

Here's a few snippets:

"The music she has on is nice"
"I hope that I don't fall asleep"
"I wonder what causes her to make those noises with her breath"
"I'm hungry"
"It's my Friday off. I LOVE having my Fridays off. I can't wait for my yoga class later and then a big glass of wine. Should I skip my yoga class and just go straight for the wine?"
"Hmmm... I am feeling a bit more relaxed... kind of like when I go to acupuncture"
"I wonder if I could learn how to do this? I feel like I have an intuition to calm people. Is that what it takes?"
"I could try this on B when he's anxious and can't sleep."
"I wonder if this could work on the puppy!"

And then, all of a sudden, my monkey brain quieted and focused, not by my own doing, but by some other force. It was like a fuzzy lens that was moving in and out and all around, just simply stopped focused...

...and into focus came an image of my baby, a few years down the road. It was a girl. And she placed her hands on ME. And she looked up at me and a clear, calm thought came into my head.

"My baby will heal me... my baby will heal me"

...and a single teardrop dripped down the outside of my left eye, down my cheek...

...and I felt calm and peaceful and clear of the past and confident and hopeful of the future knowing that my baby hasn't stopped its journey to me. My baby is STILL coming... as fast as my baby can...

09 December 2010

Releasing it to the Universe

We've had many heavy conversations about our next steps over these past few weeks, debating moving on to donor eggs, or trying one final IVF cycle with my body before moving on to a new option.

There have been moments where I am searching through donor profiles thinking if I could just let go of certain traits, for example, blond hair, or height, maybe this could work. The promise of such high success rates and the hope of feeling a baby grow in my belly is so attractive!

But I was also recently standing in the kitchen one night, during a pause in cooking dinner, with my back to the stove, looking straight at B, holding a towel in one hand and a spatula in the other, sobbing those heaving heavy tears..."I'm NOT ready to give up on my eggs! Not yet. I like me! I want "my" baby. I need closure and I don't have that yet"

Back and forth, around and around, letting it stir in my head, in my dreams, consuming and devouring my thoughts and energy...

And then last Sunday, we had brunch at our favorite Indian buffet with our good friends. I don't think the conversation was very baby focused, and in fact I'm having trouble actually recalling much of what was said. But on our way back home in the car, during a pause in conversation, I looked at B and calmly said, "Can we try one... last... time?"

And he decidedly confirmed, "Yes"

And so, with that, and a quiet release of the heaviness, our decision has been made.

One. Last. Time.....

Did you hear me, universe?

One.

Last.

Time.

07 December 2010

My First Award - Cherries!


Yeah! I got my first blogger award! My friend KC over at "You wouldn't even make an omelet with these stale eggs" gave this to me. Thanks KC! I'm happy that you chose me as a beautiful blogger with that little bit extra ;-) Now I need to pass on the love...

Here are the rules to the blog award:
1. Link back to the person who gave it to you
2. Pass it on to five or more other bloggers
3. Leave a comment telling them about the award

I have so many blogs I love to follow so it was hard to choose. But I decided to recognize the following bloggers as they have recently made me feel like I'm not alone in this. Thank you all!

Running Mamma at "More Room in my Heart"
Saige at "Return to Innocence"
Sara at "The Rocky Road to Motherhood"
Baby Bump Bound at "Waiting for a Baby Bump"
CGD at "Adventures in Infertility Land"

04 December 2010

My Brain

I'm still wading in my emotions right now and I want to come out. I want to be free of this journey but the only way to be free is to keep going through. But its really thick right now... and heavy. Its like a muddy sloppy trek through a thick dark forest and I can't see the end and I'm carrying a big pack filled with my gear that makes each step a struggle. The gear I carry with me is all the research I've done, all the statistics and protocol variations, all of the what ifs of cycles past and donor eggs of the future, all of the money spent and the knowledge of the money to be spent.

This journey can suck the life out of you  if you let it. Many of us who are multiple IVFers have found ourselves here, with a new set of sadness and struggles. We're past that point of the initial infertility shock and loss and failure. We're the veterans, the ones who's hope fades from time to time, who are past that shining star of the promise of their first or even second IVF.

I'm not saying our pain is any more than the pain of those who are successful on their first IVF cycle, let alone their first IUI, but I'm just saying we're at a different point in this journey.... Considering 4th, 5th IVF cycles, donor eggs, adoptions...

I think its different because we have to face the real possibility that we will never see our own biological child. (And I do know some face this without even attempting IVF... so please don't take this as anything other than one experience/perspective). That was not in view with my first IVF cycle 2 years ago, even our second... But now, its real. Its SO real that it hurts like hell. I've grieved that I can't conceive a baby the natural way, that I've made peace with. But now I'm grieving the possible loss of  my genetic child.

It makes me wonder how many of us are there? What percent of people make it this far? What percent are successful with their first IVF or with their first IUI? Am I the norm or am I the exception?

Anyways, B and  I spent a half hour at our clinic last night looking through donor egg profiles. It was a heavy night. It didn't feel right yet. It felt sad and strange and somewhat wrong. So I think that just confirms I'm not ready to make decisions yet.

We did however, lay out all the options the other night and here's what came out as when I tried to organize the mess in my brain.  Remember those old anti-drug commercials with the scrambled egg in a frying pan saying "This is your brain on drugs", well...

This is your brain on infertility:

For the math geeks in the audience,  I even calculated the probability weighted cost for each option (not pictured)

30 November 2010

Ramblings

First, I wanted to say THANK YOU! I have more than 50 followers! Yippee! Thanks for following my story. It really means a lot to me. And so do all of your comments. I love the blogging world for the community it has built for those of us walking this path. It helps me realize that I am not alone and that there are others out there who have walked this path before and have succeeded. And it gives me strength to keep walking and hoping that one day my dream will come true, in some form. So thank you, deeply from my heart. I hope that I have been able to support you as well.

Next goal... 75! or shoot, should I try for 100???

Secondly, thanks so much for helping me decide which blog post to enter into the Creme de la Creme contest. I asked you for your help last week and the clear winner for my entry is "The Hot Pink Paperweight". Wish me luck!

Ok, so where are we with our next steps, you ask? I'm still not sure. All I know is that I need to make a decision because this limbo is eating away at me. I feel anxious, I'm not sleeping well and I feel like I could scream at most everyone who is in my way or does something that irritates me just a little bit.

For the last week or so, we've been heavily weighing our options. They mostly come down to either  trying one last time with my body or moving on to donor eggs. We've considered adoption and its just not a door we want to open at this time. But as I consider these options, I get a little voice in my head that still doesn't believe that I'm here... I still don't believe that we've been at this for almost 4 years, that we've tried multiple IUIs, IVF, diet changes, immune testing, exploratory laparoscopy, yoga, acupuncture, 'not trying', 'relaxing' (and PLEASE, DON'T TELL ME TO RELAX)... And nothing has worked.

And so we are still here, still trying. But the tables have turned on us. No longer do we fit into the group that has a high likelihood of IVF working. We are now in that group of, "Yeah, you could give it another try, but a better bet with your money is adoption or donor eggs"... I'm sure like others of you who have been give the same talk, there's a part of you that is in shock, hurt, deflated, and then there's another part of you that just turns to stone, and doesn't believe, and doesn't understand really what this means.

And when you finally do get a small glimpse in your head of what this means, that this could mean that we aren't going to end up with a full genetically linked child, that we are going to have to grieve that loss and figure out how too and who to tell... well, I guess I can't just expect myself to make a decision and be happy with it. Either way, it sucks.

On one hand, we can try one last time with my body, but statistically we'd be throwing away a lot of $$ that we could be using towards the donor eggs or adoption. On the other hand, I don't want to regret not giving it one last shot, with a protocol that would be tailored to MY body and not a clinical trial protocol (like my last study), and with other methods that might help the potential immune issues as well... one... last.... try...

Anyways, I'm rambling, but it is a true picture of what is going on in my head. I only hope that I can sort it out soon and find my way back to peace.

23 November 2010

One Good Egg

The first month or so after a failed IVF cycle are filled with so many emotions and thoughts racing through my head that they really clog up my ability to find peace. I'm constantly battling in my head between next steps. Should we try one last time with my eggs? Should we look more into donor eggs? Or should we adopt?

These I guess are my new options. After my WTF appointment with the study doctor (RE #5), I had all of my records sent to my doctor here in town (RE #2 - IVF #1&2.. and who we'd go back to if we tried more). She's fantastic. I really like the way she communicates and thinks about these things. She's smart, knows the research well, lets me give her my thoughts on the research and she's honest. I had a follow up with her last Friday. We sat and talked for about a half hour about her thoughts. She said that while it is likely the protocol wasn't good for my body, and potentially it could have just been an off month for me, when the embryologist in the study mentioned that my eggs were 'spongy and grainy', it confirmed her thoughts as to why my first 2  IVF cycles failed. Once again... sucky eggs. Everything else looks just about perfect for my age, except my egg quality.

She would agree to try one last time with my eggs, but the chances of success, from her opinion are only 5%.  FIVE.... PERCENT!

Shit.

I've now entered into a whole new world. A whole new thing to have to grieve and figure out how to process and come to terms with.

On the brighter side, she said, donor eggs would yield about a 70% chance of success, which is very attractive, but we're not there yet. I've spent a few hours here and there over the past few weeks researching donor eggs, as it's never been on my radar before. Now that it is, I need to understand it before we can make a decision if this or adoption is the next best step for us.

So far, I've found the donor egg world is just SO overwhelming (granted so is adoption, but we've looked into that already somewhat and so are comfortable with that... to the extent we can be). I've found myself this past week looking at all sorts of people I pass at work, or in the grocery store, or at the gas station... worrying about, what if we pick a donor, and our baby looks like THAT!  Or what if our baby is ugly and I don't love it. I know these might seem like irrational fears to some of you, they also might seem very bitchy, but I assure you if you were in this situation, the first time you even let this idea of donor eggs enter your head, you'd go through the same thoughts. I know there are a lot of positives to this choice too, but I'm not there right now.

Currently, today, I'm really attached to my hair and my legs (figuratively AND literally ;-) )  They are two of my favorite traits and I really wanted to be able to pass those along to my child. Again, while this is not important in the whole scheme of things its something little that I'll have to let go of. Is this selfish? I don't even know. I'm so confused internally right now with the feelings I'm having. Is it important enough for me to possibly experience pregnancy and carry my child to do this? What about the donor, what responsibilities do I have to her? And then all the fears of, should this be the option we choose, and should it work, how do you tell your child and when and what will they think and ....?

My brain is spinning and I'm still trying to figure out a way in my head to do one last cycle with my body, even though logically, financially this doesn't make sense. But I'm an addict in some way. I think many of us who go through multiple IVF cycle are. We're addicted to the hope of maybe... just maybe... we'll find that one good egg. And our dreams will come true.

20 November 2010

I Need Your Help!

I'm going to enter the 'Creme de la Creme' contest that Stirrup Queens hosts every year. The idea behind the contest is to enter my best blog post into the pool of posts written by all of the wonderful bloggers in this infertility/pregnancy blogosphere.  If you didn't take time to read the 'Creme de la Creme' link above, it is, in short, a yearly award to honor moving, inspiring writing.

If you spend some time browsing through this world, you will realize how while we may not all have been writers at the beginning of this journey, something tragic has brought out this creative side. For me, I've really found a new part of myself that I'm really enjoying exploring, along with some great therapeutic writing.

So, this is where you come in!!! I need your feedback so you can help me decide which post to enter.

Here's a few of my favorites you can look at (yeah, there's a lot, as I looked through them I couldn't decide), or if you have another one that I didn't choose, please tell me.
Please leave your vote in the poll on the left sidebar by December 1st so I can meet the deadline to entry. I'd really appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

17 November 2010

Reminder to Self

Even though you are down,
Even though you feel like you are never going to achieve the family in the way you so desire,
Even though many days you want to just sit in bed with your dog and cry and sleep... (or drink ;) )

You are still able to find joy in other parts of your life
You enjoy being around other people
You can still make people laugh
You get excited about new challenges
Sometimes you even feel smart and can solve problems

Remember these joys on those dark days
Remember these fleeting moments of contentment and peace

And hold onto those feelings when you need them most
And know that the sadness will pass and joy will return

16 November 2010

Quantity vs Quality

Up until this week, because I didn't think it pertained to me, I had never really paid too much attention to the differences among the following words, describing conditions I didn't think I had: Premature Ovarian Failure, Diminished Ovarian Reserve, Poor Egg Quality.... What do they all mean? And what pertains to me? Here's a great link that explains the difference between Egg Quality vs Egg Quantity (POF, DOR). And now I guess its something I need to understand...

you see...

I had my "WTF" appointment at the end of last week with the RE who ran the study I participated in. He was nice and cordial but he told me pretty much everything I already knew after researching all last week about the drama that was my last IVF cycle. Basically, not only are my ovaries starting to fail (ie, Egg Quantity is diminishing) but ALSO, my Egg Quality is sucky. I think that I must have a lot more red dots than green dots (this makes sense if you read the link).

So now we have a real diagnosis, I guess, .... sucky eggs. My eggs are old. My eggs are too ripe. My eggs have rapidly declined from my first IVF cycle way back in the spring of 2009 when I got beautiful day 5 blasts with some to freeze... And only about 1.5 years later, I can't even make 2 eggs that mature and develop normally by day 3. Does this really happen that fast? Really? Part of me doesn't really believe it, but the other logical part of me says, maybe this is just something I need to accept and have as finally a true answer to our almost 4 years of infertility. Sucky eggs.... Suck.

But there's nothing that I could have done about it, right? I mean, maybe, but really, not a lot.  Can I blame the intoxicating substances in college? Can I blame the environmental toxins we live in and ingest on a daily basis? Can I blame the stress of an unpredictable childhood  (no need to divulge those family secrets...maybe someday if you're lucky ;-) ... Am I the 'canary in the coalmine' for what we are doing to our planet? Or is this just a random act of nature that has no real reason other than that some of us get good eggs, and some of not so much...?

I guess right now I'm ok with out a solid 'why' answer, or something to blame. I guess I'm finding more comfort in thinking that there's nothing that I could have done to prevent this, other than possibly trying to start our family earlier.

But I refuse to go down that path. I refuse to do the 'should have' dance. I refuse to make this about my fault.

Do I wish that I would have thought more about my fertility ages ago? Yes
Do I think that I would have listened to anyone trying to tell me that my egg quality declines as I get older? No

So now we have to sit with this new information and figure out what it means to us and our next steps, because we're not done.... oh no... I refuse to live a childless life! I will be a mother and I am NOT going to take this lying down...

(Although I wish I could have gone about being a mother that way... Yes... I went there)

We have another consult with my RE here in town on Friday to get another perspective. If anyone has stories of hope, please feel free to share. I'm struggling to find hope right now, even though I'm trying to be strong.

05 November 2010

Birthday Musings

Today's my birthday. 36.

I'm not sure how I feel about that number.

Yesterday I woke up and thought to myself, "Crap. Tomorrow I'll be 36. Crap. I'll be 36, my house is half unfinished, I have no savings account and I have no children." Not exactly where I wanted to be.

Birthdays are hard in the infertility world, as well as holidays, which are also just around the corner. They mark the passage of time and remind us that once again, one year later, we're still climbing this mountain, and the top doesn't seem to be getting any closer. They remind of us the lost time that we could have had to be raising our children and seeing the world through their eyes. They remind us of the due dates and what if's of failed cycles past.

But as I am reminded by many friends and family who know of our struggle, birthdays are also a time to reflect on the good and beauty we do have in our lives.  In that vein, here are a few special things that have happened to me this week.

First, I received a beautiful prayer shawl in the mail from my friend J.

J said that she felt helpless in wanting to be able to make things better for us but has learned a lot through this blog about being a good friend and listener. (I'm so glad that this has helped my friends and family learn about this struggle! That's an amazing benefit to opening up to everyone about this).  Anyways, basically the blanket represents all the hope that she has for us that our baby will come soon. When I'm feeing up or down or just need a hug, I can snuggle up in my beautiful blanket and feel all of my friends and family holding us, hoping and praying for us.

When I got the package and read the card, I fell apart... in a good way. I realized that I have a hard time accepting gifts and love from other people. I don't think I feel worthy of their effort, like, "Oh, no big deal, I'm fine! Don't worry about me." But I need to let others express their care, concern and love for me and B.  And I need to learn to let it warm me and build me up and give me hope. Because this struggle is bigger than any one person can handle alone.

Secondly, another friend sent B and I a letter after he found out about our most recent failed cycle and it was seriously the nicest thing anyone has said about us. It was a heartfelt, encouraging and honest letter letting us know that no matter what shape our family takes, no matter how we get there, we are loved and we are already adding to this world in a beautiful and inspiring way. I can't do the letter justice with out reprinting it here, which I think I'll just keep between B, myself and the author, but I was simply humbled by it. No other way to put it.  And yes, I feel apart, in a good way, when I read this too.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you both, and to all who have come out to comfort us recently and along the way! You brightened my days and helped me realized how much I need all of you in this.

So what do you ask does one infertile do to celebrate her 36th birthday? She takes the day off work, sleeps in late (9am!), makes a cup of (decaf) coffee in the french press with cream of course, sits in the sun on her couch with her dog and blogs. Then, she goes for an hour massage and after that, get's on a plane (and plans on buying a 7$ glass of crappy wine on the plane) with B to Washington, DC for a long weekend and a work seminar early next week.

I will find time today to revel in the good that is in my life. Thank you all for helping me see this.

P.S...If anyone has any suggestions of places to eat/visit in DC this weekend while we are there, say so! I'm kind of a food snob and B's a beer snob... just sayin'.

02 November 2010

Close but No Cigar

As election night is being analyzed on my TV, I have my own results to report.... We aren't pregnant.... anymore.

We had another chemical pregnancy, just like my first IVF cycle.

I'm really kind of numb right now and am not sure exactly why I'm not freaking out too much but I think maybe because we are already developing plans for our next steps, even though we're don't know exactly which direction to go.

Here are two things I do know:
  1. I was pregnant this cycle. I felt it in my body and for 3 days, it was bliss. I could feel my body reacting to the embryos, accepting them and encouraging them to stay. I was thinking finally, this hellish journey is over and we can move forward and release the heaviness that hangs in the air. 
  2. There is no other person in this world who I would rather have with me in this, and that's B. He keeps me grounded but lets me mourn. He keeps me focused but lets me think out loud. He keeps me comforted but lets me sob. I love you B and we will be parents. I know we will.
Today, I don't have much to say except that I'm taking this moment by moment since my thoughts change so much and so quickly.  During the day, I'm grateful to have a job that helps me focus on other things. I also feel like I have a lot of things to research and budgets to figure out and next steps to plan.

But all of that can wait for a while.  Right now, I need to crawl into a hole for a few days and regain my emotional strength and peace of mind. I need to crawl into a hole and mourn the loss of my 2 little embryos and feel them watch over me. I need to crawl into a hole and find a quiet mind so I can listen to what the world has in store for me.

I truly hope that our next steps are our last. I'm getting really tired of this.

The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Wait

I haven't been in the two week wait of an IVF cycle since late September of last year. At that time, it was my 3rd wait.  I had had one one fresh and one frozen that prior spring. This is my 4th 2ww and I know well how how my mind cycles through hope, sadness, peace and madness. But mostly, I hate that I have to go through this process.

For this post, I thought I'd collect some thoughts that go through my head during this wait so you can get a feel for the madness that is my mind during this wait. B always said that I'd never ever want to be in his head for a day, since its a scary place. But I feel like I could top his scary place right now.

Fear
  • I fear the decisions I will have to face if this cycle doesn't work.
  • I fear all of the sympathy from all of the people I know that will know that this cycle didn't work. I don't want to cry in front of them and I am uncomfortable when people feel sad for me. 
  • I fear what all of this has done to our financial stability.
  • I fear B and I will not have the same thoughts on next steps if this doesn't work and it will cause us some tension.
Control
  • Because I can't control this outcome, I try to control other things, like every aspect of B's actions. Sorry B! You know I love you. I will try my hardest to curb my controlling "remarks".
  • Because I can't control this outcome, I try to control other things, like what I eat, what I do to my body and mind. I try to will those embryos in my body to continue to grow and stick around by visualizations, meditations.... Come on, Kathleen, fertiles don't need to do this to get pregnant, do you really think that it will matter for you?
Anger
  • I'm angry at everyone. I was in Whole Paycheck Foods and people were just pissing me off. They were running like chickens with their heads cut off on a Sunday afternoon trying to get their grocery shopping in for the week and bumping into me as I slowly move through the world like a zombie. And I just wanted to scream, "YOU PEOPLE ALL SUCK! YOU DON"T KNOW WHAT I'M GOING THROUGH. BE NICE TO ME!!"
Hope
  • I think of those 2 little embryos and just dream of the what if, what if they both stuck! I hope hope hope that we have twins!
  • Thank god for work. I felt like a normal person today on my first day physically back at work in 2 weeks. Not only was my mind occupied with things other than googling success rates of day 3 4-cell embryo transfers (not good btw) but they actually missed me! Flowers, and a card and a gift certificate to a resaurant I want to try. It gives me hope that I will survive a letdown because there is more in my life than just infertility.
  • I hope that every time I wake up in the morning I will feel something: nauesa, tender boobs, cramps, anything.... something... (alas.... nothing)

26 October 2010

Meh

This is one of my favorite expressions, mostly because of B. Basically anything that comes out of his mouth that sounds remotely familiar or witty is from the Simpsons. Well, he does have a lot of wit of his own too, but the Simpsons are a huge part.  One of the many reasons he makes me smile and keeps me somewhat sane in all of this.

Anyways, Meh is just a perfect expression, for many reasons. It can be used in so many situations. Its the verbal equivalent of a shoulder shrug. Here's urban dictionary's take on it.

Most importantly right now, it describes how I'm feeling during this 2ww. Meh. 

Meh Meh Meh Meh Meh! (said really fast) (I guess there's a bit of anger behind that one too)

I'm sure some of you might be wondering how I'm feeling. Today I'm 5dp3dt (5 days past 3 day transfer). I have no real updates on symptoms. I know this doesn't mean anything, but I still feel a small sense of impending doom.

My beta is next week... Tuesday... Meh.

23 October 2010

2 Roses and Thank You


On the day after my retrieval, this past Tuesday, as I was sitting in my parent's office working from afar, my mom came home with these 2 roses for me. They were still a bit small that day, but started to open and blossom as the days went on. That morning, I had learned we only had 3 fertilized eggs sitting in the lab and I thought to myself, man, I wish she would have gotten 3 so I could focus on them as a representation of my embryos. But maybe, somehow,  subconsciously, whatever possessed her to buy these 2 roses, she knew that we would have these 2 surprise 4-cell fighters that are hopefully blossoming in me.

Today, I arrived back home in my own house after spending the last 2 weeks with my family in the city and burbs of Chicago. It was an amazing 2 weeks. I reflect on the quality time  I spent with my family, especially these last few days. My parents were so involved in the drama of the last few days that I truly think they have a whole new perspective on this journey and I know it brought us closer and gave them a glimpse of what B and I have been going through these last 3.5 years.

This morning, I even shared the art project, Yad Shniyah, with them before I left and I think it really helped them truly understand how the quest for a child is SO deeply personal and affects not only the couple or person who is going through it, but also many other people in their lives.

This also made me treasure how much support and love B and I have recieved throughout this journey and specifically in these last few crazy days. So I wanted to thank you ALL (fellow bloggers, family, friends, coworkers, lurkers... ) from the bottom of my heart for helping us find strength and giving us comfort. The journey is far from over, but for now, there is at least a moment of peace, before the end of the two week wait nears.

Much love to you all!

21 October 2010

The Last 24 Hours of My Life - SIMPLY NUTS!

I"ll try to recap the ups and downs of the last 24 hours

Wednesday, October 19th
1pm - Phone call from the clinic saying my embryos suck and didn't start dividing. Probably not going to be any transfer tomorrow. Call back early in the morning tomorrow, just in case (yeah right... pipe dream)

(work remotely try to keep my mind occupied)

2pm - Call B to tell him there's no need for him to come down to Chicago tonight for the transfer tomorrow  because its highly unlikely it will happen

(work remotely try to keep my mind occupied)
3pm - Cry to my mom. Why the hell does this have to happen? Are my eggs really that sucky? Do I have to face the music and try a different route (adoption, donor eggs ?)

(work remotely try to keep my mind occupied)

4pm - Get on the train to head downtown Chicago to meet my sister L, her husband (my BIL) and my dad for dinner before my dad and I go to the Blackhawks game. Sit in the train, looking at all of the passing towns, feeling isolated, alone, desperate but also in denial... No way are my eggs old. No way do they suck. There MUST be some explanation for this.
 
5pm - Sit down to dinner with L, BIL, Dad and a big margarita. Get a bit hug from L and try to not seem too down at dinner. Want to chug margaritas, but hold back on just one, because there WILL be beer at the Blackhawks game.
 
8pm - Blackhawks game starts. Big beer in hand, I try to focus on the game and not the tears that keep welling up in my eyes. Dad gives me some sad, comforting looks, and also tries to divert conversation to more fun things, like hockey (of which I know nothing, but try to understand). Wonder if I'll ever had my own child to do things like this with. Very dramatic. We make it through the game with only a few tears shed. They won, by the way.
 
11pm - Get back in the 'hoe (my dad's old Tahoe, that's still running, with almost 300K miles on it... He REALLY likes to drive his cars into the ground) and we crawl back to the burbs from the city due to the bureaucracy that is  the IL DOT. 4 lanes, down to 1 lane. Wednesday night. Took us 1.5 hours to get 30 miles. NUTS! This is one certain reason I don't live in the Chicago area.
 
Thursday, October 21st
1am - Fall asleep
 
7am - Alarm goes off. Call the clinic, like a good girl, get no answer, leave a message to call me back.
 
8am - Call clinic again, still no answer in the lab.Call the receptionist and tell her the situation. Get put on hold. She comes back to say the embryologists are all in procedures and will call me back.
 
9am - Wait
 
10am -  Based on the lack of hope I was given yesterday, I assume there's no transfer and I start packing, crying with my parents, thanking them for the last few weeks of their hospitality, love, comfort and for supporting me as we go through this.  Put the dog, the big ass suitcase, and all the extra crap I carry with myself into the car and head to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and a pumpkin donut. Mmmmm! I'm already starting to dream of the foods and drinks I'm going to indulge in because I'm not pregnant this month. Pizza, bottles of wine, good beer.... ah... comfort.
 
10:30am - Half hour west of my home town, a half hour in the opposite direction of the clinic, crying in my coffee and donut, driving and noticed I missed a call from the clinic. So I call the clinic back and they say, "Why aren't you here for your transfer?" and I say, "Because no one called me back after I tried to find out if magically my fertilized eggs started to cleave a day late." and they say, "Well, you definitely will be having a transfer today, so how soon can you get here?" and I finish with, "Hope to be there in under 2 hours".
 
10:40am - Call  B and tell him the craziness of what is going on. Tell him I have no real information on how many or what quality my embryos are and he can just stay put in Madison and get rested (He's suffering from the flu right now or some yucky stomach bug). Call my Dad to have him meet me at an off ramp about half way to take the dog out of the car and the lasagna that my mom made for me to take back home to B. Quickly do the 'drop off' and get back on the highway for a 40min drive to the clinic.
 
12pm - Arrive at the clinic, pop the Valium (thank god for that! I surely needed something to help me relax after the  morning I had. Oh, and btw, for those of you who aren't in the know, they typically give this to you at transfer as a muscle relaxer to help minimize your uterus from contracting when the transfer the embryos back in)
 
12:15pm - Get into the hospital gown. Talk with the doctor on staff at the time. Tells me we have 2 beautiful 4-cell embryos.They are a little behind in development, but they are developing, so there's hope! Cry a few tears. Walk into the transfer room. Feet up in stirrups and you  know the drill (or you don't and that's fine too).
 
12:30pm - Get back into the car to drive to my P's. Call B and tell him we're PUPO ("Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise") and for him to just relax and not worry about being here and get some rest and try to keep some food in his belly and I'll be home Saturday morning to take care of him.
 
2pm - Stop at the Indian restaurant to get takeout buffet. It's been our tradition on our last 3 transfer days to go straight to the Indian buffet. This was my compromise.
 
3pm - Stomach full, lay on couch and start this blog entry hoping to get a little nap in.
 
So that about sums it up. Its been a whirlwind tour. My roller coaster ride took a hairpin turn and then went back up. I'm just still in shock and can't really believe how this even happened, but I can't dwell on it. I can just sit here, rest, relax, dream of my babies in my belly and hope to god that they decide to hang out for a while. And if there is someone out there pulling all of these strings, thank him/her for this second chance.
 
But p.s. I am going to miss that bottle of wine I was planning on chugging tonight ;-)

20 October 2010

Over Before It Began

Yesterday we had 3 fertlized eggs. Today they were supposed to divide into 2 cells or even 4 cells.
Today we have none. They didn't divide. They stopped.

No embryos = No transfer = Not pregnant...once again.

I'm numb, angry, pissed, frustrated, confused, broken hearted...
They are still going to make me call into the lab tomorrow to see if maybe, by miraculous chance, they begin to divide... yeah... right.

The only thing positive I can come up with is the following: At least I didn't have to pay for this, well, other than time off work, gas and emotional pain and suffering.

Fuck.

Waiting IS the Hardest Part

Today, the waiting is killing me. It really IS the hardest part. That Tom petty song comes to mind. Along with the Simpson's episode where Homer is waiting for a gun. You know the one, right?

I'm waiting for a phone call from the clinic today to tell me if those 3 little embryos that were growing yesterday are still growing today and if they are, what time we will have our embryo transfer tomorrow. What if they aren't growing? What if my eggs really do suck. What if we don't get this chance?

I know, deep down in my soul that B and I will survive. We were ok before this IVF cycle and we will be ok after it, regardless of its outcome. And today, as I walked my dog this morning in the crisp fall air before sitting down to my computer at work, I felt my cloud of sadness from the past few days less than stellar results, lift just a little...It also could be the anesthesia finally wearing off ;-)

So I sit here and wait some more and focus all of my good energy on those 3 embryos and hope beyond hope that they make it back to me. I'll post something as soon as I know.

19 October 2010

An Early Phone Call...

... is never a good sign.

The nurse called and I could hear it in her voice: of the 7 eggs we retrieved yesterday, only 3 were mature. Luckily all 3 fertlilzed, but for the next 2 days I have to hope and pray that they make it to Thursday. Please let Thursday get here quickly with all of those eggs left growing!

I really do hate IVF today. I hate infertility and I hate that we're are here again. The waiting, the reporting, the lack of control. I'm finding myself in a negative sprial of despair. I hate despair.

18 October 2010

Retrieval

7

7 eggs

I'm not quite sure what to think of that right now.

I know a lot of things that could be said about this:
"Quantity over Quality"
"You only need one"
"Think positive thoughts for those eggs and hope they fertilize"
"I know a woman had way less eggs and she got pregnant"

But honestly it is a letdown. I had 18 eggs with my first IVF and 16 with my second. Granted I'm not pregnant, so that doesn't mean crap. And I was taking more meds for those cycles. (Because this cycle is a clinical trial, the protocol was fixed and so they couldn't give me more meds). But somehow I feel like this is a small defeat. I feel like its a realization that my body is older than I thought it was, reproductively. And that's a bit of an ego blow... a smack in the face... like, come on Kathleen... time's runnign out, so you'd better figure this out or give up.

Tonight I will try my hardest to get my negativity out of my mind and wake up looking forward to the next steps, knowing that I've done the best I can.

Whatever it is that you believe, please please pray/send good thoughts/energy to those eggs and sperm for a good fertilization report tomorrow!

Strangest Place I've Ever....

... given myself a shot in the belly....

(Oh, you thought that I was going to give you some deep dark intimate secrete of my life before IF, when I actually had sex for fun... sorry, not today)

... so back to the story. The strangest place I've ever given myself a shot in the belly is the following:

Lyric Opera of Chicago
Upper Balcony 1
Aisle 5
Row G
Seat 21
During the last song of the 3rd Act of Carmen
October 16th, 2010 at 10:40pm

The usher wouldn't let me leave in the middle of the show and come back in, and I really didn't want to miss the last half hour after investing 3 hours of time in this beautiful piece. So, my friend with me, who is a nurse AND an fellow 'sub fertile' said, "Hell, its dark, no one will notice, just do it here"... and so, at exactly 10:40pm, I lifted my shirt just slightly to expose an inch of my belly, uncapped the shot and bam... trigger triggered. Piece of cake.

Can anyone top THAT shot story?

16 October 2010

Trigger Day

Its here. Its trigger day...

I went into the clinic to get my last of the daily blood draws and ultrasounds. If you recall, I'm participating in a phase IV clinical trial for a new IVF med. Because the study is sponsored by a drug company, I am a lucky recipient of a FREE, all expenses paid IVF cycle. And with this, I become their lab rat.

Since last Sunday, I've been into the clinic every day to get an ultrasound of my ovaries which counts the number and size of the follicles that hopefully each will contain a mature egg at retrieval. I've also become a human pin cushion as they take blood daily to measure how my hormone levels are changing and to find the optimal time to pull the trigger.

Aside: For those of you who don't know, the trigger is a shot that tells all the follicles growing to mature and get ready to ovulate. This is needed because you are taking 2 other shots in the prior days. 1 shot to grow more eggs than the usual one and another shot to stop your body from ovulating until all of the eggs get to a similar size. Then about 36 hours after the trigger shot, just before all of those eggs would ovulate on their own (yikes, THAT would hurt!), the egg retrieval process happens. So, there's some crucial timing involved in these next few days.  

And today's the optimal day. I have about 10 big follicles growing on my ovaries with a few smaller ones behind. And all of my hormone levels look to be in the right ranges. So tonight, I take one last shot in my already slightly bruised belly and throw my hands up to the fates.

My egg retrieval will be Monday and then we wait for the somewhat nerve-wrecking updates... number of mature eggs retrieved, number that fertilized, number of embryos still growing on 1 day later, 2 days later.... and then on 3 days later, we'll transfer 2 of the best looking embryos back into me and hope at least one chooses to stick around for 38 more weeks. And then after that, hopefully we have a few good embryos still left growing in the lab 5 days later and they can freeze them for a subsequent cycle.

This is a very strange time in an IVF cycle for me. I feel odd. I feel like a freak. I feel like I'm walking around the world with the knowledge that my body is going through a strange, harvesting process, like I'm an alien experiment and everyone is watching. But no one would know if they looked at me. Anyone understand this feeling? Its almost like the feeling in that dream where you are at school or work w/o a shirt, or pants, or some crucial article of clothing on and everyone is staring at you, but you still have to go through you day. You know the one, right?

But there's no waking up of this dream into a world where I have all the right clothes on... into a world where I have a baby in the usual, have sex, miss your period and celebrate kind of way. And so I have to stay asleep in this awkward dream, and hope that when I do wake up, I still get that bundle of join in the end....

So send me some good egg maturing thoughts and I'll see ya on the flip side of the retrieval.

ps... My sister drove me to the clinic this morning and we joked in the car about maturing eggs... picture this... all of those eggs in my ovaries, partying it up, moving around, because they think they are 'so mature'... 'woo hoo!!! we're old enough to party now!" ... maybe that's why it gets so friggin uncomfortable in there over the next few days

12 October 2010

Family Affair

I love having all of my family around me for this cycle. Its what I'm going to focus on to get me through the anxiety and fear of IVF. Its also amazingly convenient that a few of them live a few blocks away from the clinic that I have to go to every morning to get my blood drawn and ultrasounds taken.

So here's many of the ways that my wonderful family is helping me through this:

First, I stayed with my parents in the burbs during the first few days of the cycle when I didn't have to be at the clinic every day. There my mom took me with her to the gym on her guest pass. She did a load of my laundry. We went to visit my grandma who I haven't seen in a while. And I also got to sleep in a very comfy new bed and had some quiet time to myself.

Now that I have to be at the clinic every day here on out until retrieval, I will be in the city with my sisters and brother. Each of them is contributing in their own way. My brother is letting me use his extra parking space so I don't have to pay a butt load of $$ every day in the city. My sister is letting me camp out at her apartment during the day so I can work remotely in a peaceful environment with an amazing view of the Sears Tower, across the street from a grocery store with a fantastic salad bar I can go to for lunch, and across from a chocolate factory (YES!!!) that gives me yummy smells every time I walk out the door. My other sister is letting me sleep at her place when she's away on a trip so I have a quiet place to call home base and lay my head.

Then, the day before retrieval, I'll move back to my parents place in the burbs so that B and the pup can come down and stay with me. Also, I will be able to rest in a space I know to be comforting after the procedure. I will stay there until after the transfer (assuming we make it to transfer... as you know, nothing is guaranteed in IVF) and then head back to my usual life up north for the remainder of the wait.

While this all may sound very complicated to you, its so nice to be able to live the city life for a few days and spend some good every day time with my family. No frills, no expectations, just living a daily life. I like that. Its comforting, warming ... and I hope, dear baby, that you can see, how much this family wants you to be here, how much they are willing to do to help you enter our lives... as fast as you can.

---------------------------------------------------------------
p.s - For those of you who understand cycle speak: after 4 days of stims (300u follistim, antagonist protocol) I definitely have a good number of eggs growing! I've got about 4 or so on each ovary that are measuring at  12mm-ish and then another 3-4 visible ones on each. So, hoping for maybe a good 12 eggs to make it out of retrieval! I don't get estradiol updates until later in the process, so I have no clue how they really are doing, but keep those fingers crossed. Today I started ganirelix and will be going in for b/w and u/s every day here on out. I really like this protocol better than the agonist (or long lupron) suppression one. It seems easier on my body and more in tune with my cycle rather than forcing something something. Hopefully the difference in protocol will do the trick. Oh, and all that other stuff I'm doing (metformin, yoga, acupuncture, diet changes, supplements, extra B-vitamins..... the list... its large!)

For those of you who want to learn what all of these protocols are, I found a good visual to help. Happy reading!

07 October 2010

Game On!

I was going to write about how hectic and unplanned this day was, and how I was missing the remainder of the seminar I was in that I had been anxious about but was actually enjoying and felt really bad about missing. I was going to focus on all of the things that didn't go how I thought they would go today...

But instead, I'm going to focus on the following:

What I learned today:
I learned that I am officially in the free IVF study! I learned that my blood work came back stellar and that I get to start stims.... TOMORROW!!!

What I did well today:
I used the tools that I learned in the seminar to help get my mind out of the usual spiral I go down in my head when I feel like I'm letting people down and worry about what people will think when I didn't do something I was supposed to do. With the help of a new friend, I focused on what I'm excited about and what a great opportunity I have with this cycle.

3 Things I'm grateful for today:
1) B...for bearing with my emotions, freak outs, crying spats and hysterical laughter. And also for what he will bear in the upcoming months. He is my rock
2) Zoe (my pooch)... for being a constant companion, mood lifter, and sympathiser
3) That I have this chance at an IVF cycle, free of charge, another chance to be a step closer to being pregnant.

How am I going to be the best IVF patient this time around:
I am going to acknowledge that I need to be selfish through this and take time for myself and B so we can go through this as mindful as possible. I'm not going to freak out about all of the details that I can not control. I am going to trust that my body will do the absolute best that it can and that no matter what happens, we will survive through this, and find something to be happy about.

-----

On another note, as I mentioned above, I was not hating the seminar that I was so freaked out about. There was not any more parenting talk than a normal day at the office, so I was able to handle it. And... it turns out the instructor had secondary infertility and was never able to conceive a second child. She shared this with me because I approached her before the class to tell her my background and fear after reading the parenting book for homework. She eased my fears and thanked me for being so open.

And I thought to myself, how crazy is that, huh? Serendipitous? The universe sure sends you things that you need at just the right time.

01 October 2010

Calm Before the Storm

In about a weeks time (give or take), I will be on my way to Chicago for my baseline appointment (for those of you not in the IVF-know, its a blood test and ultrasound to make sure you body is at its ideal state to start the "stims" which help to grow many eggs). And if things go well, I will be starting my belly shots the following day.

As I've alluded to in a previous post, I'm not really feeling much of anything about my upcoming cycle. I think this is the case for two reasons. 1) I'm not paying for it. This makes a world of difference becuase while there's a lot riding on this cycle, there's not $15K riding on this cycle. So that feels good. And 2) I'm excited to spend a few weeks downtown Chicago with my family. It feels more like I'm getting ready for a vacation.

I think its good that I'm not freaking out yet.  And I'm happy that I'm feeling calm.

But I'm worried that this is the calm before the storm. The calm before the ups and downs of blood draws and ultrasounds, checking to see how many follicles are growing. The calm before the egg retrieval, provided I make it to retrieval. The calm before the fertilization report. The calm before the transfer (Well, the transfer really is a calm, ... thank YOU Valium!). And of course the calm before the storm of the two week wait.

B and I decided not to do this to ourselves again after our 3rd transfer failed. We didn't want to go through the pain and hurt and shattered hope. Through having to explain to our friends and family that once again, it didn't work. And yet, here we are again...

I just hope that I can maintain some of this calm as I watch myself go through the next month of shots, appointments, updates... and hope.

So last night, I did what any good girl would do before an impending storm.... MARTINIs!!!

27 September 2010

Homework Sucks

I love when the world nudges you to rise above your emotional hangups and fears... (heavy sarcasm!)

Recall, if all goes well, I should be able to begin shots for IVF # 3 around Oct 10th or so. The week prior to this, I get to spend 3.5 days in a class on management called "Pathways". Has anyone heard of this?

I was actually looking forward to it. I thought it would be fun to get to know my fellow peers in management a bit better and also learn a different perspective on what I do so I can be a better leader. I'm sure its going to be one of those 'touchy feely' type ice breaker classes, with skits and such, that I haven't really done since girlscout camp, but I was still looking forward to it...

... until today, when I got our 'homework' assignment to be completed before class begins on Tuesday of next week. Here's the assignment: Read the first 6 chapters of the book "The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give to my Childern".

Really? Seriously?  You want me to read a book on parenting, and then discuss it with a whole bunch of parents, in a room, for 3.5 days, all while I'm trying to stay zen for my IVF cycle the following week?

COME ON!

Needless to say, I'm dreading being in that room now, fearing that I will just sit there and want to cry. Especially when former participants have told me that people really do open up in that class, to the extent that others have cried! But I really don't want to cry about this, not in front of the people I work with.

Please give me strength to make it through this class!

23 September 2010

Yad Shniyah

K is a close friend of mine. I found her on this fertility journey when I searched for someone in my area to help me put together a holistic health plan for myself, outside of the western medicine arena.  I googled a few things and her center came up on the top of the list. Turns out there was a woman, right under my nose who not only is an 'infertility survivor' herself, but also a counselor, a writer and an activist in the infertility, or as she likes to call it, subfertility world. In fact, the support group that I organize was conceived and born in her mind.

K has not only been a guide to me along this path but has become a dear friend. She's given me comfort when I needed to cry. She's helped me realize things deep in my soul that have, I'm sure, affected my fertility. She's never been judgemental in the path that I choose to follow through this, and mostly, she's a beautiful, emotional, loving and nuturing soul in my life that continues to encourage me and lift me up. She's one of my treasured bright spots in this whole frustrating journey.  I only hope that I have been able to give her back a friendship and support in a similar manner.

The other day, K and I met for coffee. She had emailed me a few days before saying there was a surprise she wanted to share with me. I was so moved by this surprise when she shared it with me, as was she when she first received it. I knew instantly that I needed to share it with all of you.  It's not perfectly happy, but it is amazingly real and I believe shows how deeply this disease can affect ones soul and how differently people choose to approach this and cope.

So here it is:  K received a package in the mail from a couple that she had met, only once, who themselves have journeyed down the infertility road. The package contained a letter and the item in the picture below. The letter reads as follows:

To family and friends – 

For the past 10 years we have been trying to have a baby.  Our lives have been full of hopes and prayers, doctors and appointments, tests and treatments, lots of talking and lots of silence, promises and disappointments.  We have paid with our time, our money, our sense of self, and our relationship.  Three years ago, our last doctor told us that our pursuit of a biological child had ended.    

As artists and collaborators, we have redirected our obsession from producing a child to making art.  This piece, Yad Shniyah, is our fourth piece directly related to our fertility frustrations.  For the past 3 years, we have been working on this piece as we process the verdict from the medical profession and figure out who we will be since we will not become parents.  

Yad Shniyah in Hebrew means ‘second-hand’.  Over the last 3 years we have been building this piece from second-hand clothes.  One of the cultural practices in Israel is for people to leave discarded clothing, usually in neat little stacks, washed, folded, and bagged, out on the street for anyone to take.

We would take the clothes, cut off the buttons, and remove the seams to get cloth.  We made a pattern, marked and cut, sewed, stuffed, and joined each doll.  We diapered and pinned each doll by hand.  

We made 1,111 dollies.  We are each keeping one.  We are sending one to each of our nine immediate family members; 100 go to other relatives, friends, and medical providers.  1,000 will be distributed randomly around the city of Jerusalem for strangers to find and keep.

You are getting this letter and dolly because you are a part of this process.  Some of you have been involved quite intimately, some of you were medical service providers.  Some of you we sought out and asked for your involvement and others of you showed up.  Some of you kept us in your thoughts and prayers, others of you may not have known what to do or say.  Some of you were supportive and encouraging, some of you offered unsolicited advice.  Some of you we think of as part of our extended surrogate family, some of you were not aware of what we were going through.  

All of you are people we would have shared our child or children with.  You would have been grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends.  You would have come to birthdays, holidays, weddings.  We would have told you about our children and would have told our children about you.  You would have been there for our successes.  You would have had a picture of our child on your desk, refrigerator, or ‘brag wall’.  Maybe it was a passing remark, a heart-to-heart, a professional appointment somewhere in the journey.  Maybe you gave us marital advice, medical advice, mental health advice.  

You may be reading this letter on the internet as one of the 1,000 who came upon one of our dollies.  You may have met our child at some point – at the playground, a school friend, a teacher, a shopkeeper, a scout leader, a college roommate, employer.  You would have had an influence on our child.  Maybe giving parenting advice to us, sharing in the anticipation of the pregnancy and birth, all of the ‘firsts’, maybe babysat, been a confidante, a friend.  Maybe they would have just heard about you as we regaled them with our stories.

We are sending these dollies out into the world just as we would have sent our child.


Love,
Rachel & Joseph

Gordon & Gordon Art 

Here's the picture of the doll in the package



So, what do you think??

You can read more about their art project here.

21 September 2010

Re-Post for ICLW

Once again, I've joined ICLW in hopes of making  more connections out there in the blogosphere. Here's a re-post from last month for those of you who are visitng my blog for the first time. Welcome, leave me a comment so I get to know you better and thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll continue with me along this journey.

Also, as a teaser to come back, I have an amazing post in the works that I hope to get up by the end of the week. I'll leave you with this.... its about a couple who struggled to conceive and created an amazing art project to help them heal. Its cathartic and beautiful... more to come...

18 September 2010

All Clear!

Just a quick update...

I had my SHG yesterday (a fluid ultrasounds that looks at the lining of your uterus to check for fibroids or any other things that shouldn't be there) and everything looked good, "picture perfect" as they say. I also had my final bloodwork done to check a few other hormone levels and those came back in the right range too.

So monday I will let the IVF study coordinator know the results and I'll likely be given the go-ahead to start my meds when I get my next period, in about 3 weeks.

The reality of a cycle is looming upon me. I'm not sure yet how I feel about it, but I do know that if things didn't come back clear yesterday, I would likely have been dissapointed. So that must mean at some level I'm excited. I guess I really should be, right? How often does one have the chance to do a free IVF cycle (for those of us in the self-pay world), huh?

I think I'm still in protective mode. I know the emotional challenges an IVF cycle can hold and maybe I'm just saving up my intensity for then.

.. or MAYBE, I've learned enough about living in the present moment that I'll be able to be 'zen' through this all... hmmmm... likely not, but hey, a girl can dream :-)

14 September 2010

The Crash after the Party

Shit...

I just watched the episode of Glee where the blond chick, Quinn, gives birth while the rival school is performing a version of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

I thought I could do it, but it made me cry, like I haven't cried in a while.

And I didn't turn it off. I watched it like a train wreck. 

Maybe I'm crying because of the anticipation of a potential upcoming IVF cycle that I've been pushing out of my view. Maybe I'm crying because I don't want to walk that emotional road, the road of what if's, potential due dates, of how am I going to deal with this if it doesn't work... the road of feeling guilty for what I've put into my body these last few days... the road of questioning if I've done enough to help my chances, of pulling the wool over my eyes in thinking that maybe I have some amount of control in this process.

I think I've been pulling away from the intensity of this journey lately, and its felt good. Its been freeing and I've been happy. But now all of the things that have been distracting me, like waiting for another cycle to come and go, and anticipating my sister's wedding and vacation planning and work.... all of those things are slowing fading from view and a looming cycle is staring me in the face. Even with it being a free cycle, its still intense. Regardless of the money, we still have a chance to create some embryos and be so close to being pregnant, finally, and its scary, especially after being here 3 times before.... 3 times!!!

What makes me think that this time will be any different? What makes me think that I can handle a 4th failure?

Or maybe I'm crying because my sister's wedding this past weekend was absolutely amazing and we had 3 full days of wonderful family fun, celebration, togetherness and I've been anticipating it for a while... And weddings make me cry, especially when I see all the hope and love and excitement about L & B's upcoming live together as Mr. & Mrs. And I think of the hope and excitement and future dreams and plans that B and I had 6 years ago. I feel the depression and anxiety of infertility setting back in as mourn the passage of time and the loss of something we've never had.

And maybe that's why I'm crying... I'm coming down from a high and I'm scared of the potential low ahead.

10 September 2010

A Wedding Wish

My sister L is getting married this weekend to her boyfriend of 11 years. Its going to be an amazing weekend. We're staying downtown Chicago and are starting the celebrations today with manicures and a bridal party luncheon. Tonight is the dinner rehearsal and then tomorrow's the big day!

I am absolutely thrilled for them and know that I'm going to be an emotional mess. It reminds me of my wedding and all the joy and hope that lifts you up that day.

Today I'm making a pledge to myself to make Infertility take a back seat and in fact, go lock itself in the trunk. I'm here to celebrate and fully be present with all of the celebration.

I of course have that little birdie sitting on my shoulder that is saying... "You should have been pregnant at this wedding. Hell, you should really be carrying around your baby, showing off your bundle of joy to your relatives and trying to figure out how to breast feed and get your picture taken with the wedding party"

But I'm going to tell that birdie to shove it.

And instead focus on the hope and love that this wedding brings. I love you L! I can't wait to see you walk down that isle and smile your beautiful bridal smile and dance into the night with your loved ones. I wish you guys a long life filled with love, laughter, adventure .... and babies... that come to you easily :-)

03 September 2010

Getting Ahead of Myself

I know I am getting ahead of myself with this post, but I had a realization tonight....and it made me feel like I had something in my hand that I treasured and it was just rudely ripped away.

If we are lucky enough to have a biological child from the plans we have decided on over the next few months, I don't think we'll go through all of this for a second child. I know, never say never, but it simply seems so daunting to start this journey all over again for a second child. So because of that, we'll be faced with adoption or having only one child. (Yes, I fully admit, this is only one scenario of how my life can go, but it is a possibility and It just kind of hit me tonight that it IS a possibility)

I'm sad. I may have to work so incredibly hard to have our first child that we simply don't have the emotionally and financial resources to figure out how to have a second.

I always dreamed that if we did have children, we would have more than one B and I both come from larger families. I want to hear that laughter of my CHILDREN playing with each other, and fighting about silly things and giving advice to each other and.... But there's a distinct reality that we may only have one.... If that!

So needless to say, I was freaking out last night at this new realization..

I think the point of this post is to show how it takes time to see how infertility affects your whole life. Even beyond potential success. Its not just that you are trying and trying and trying so hard to achieve your first goal, but it can affect your second, third and so on goals... It affects the timing of events in your life, it affects plans you had for retirement, it affects your dreams of moving to different places, of trying new things. It affects it because your life feels on hold and static yet ever moving/focused towards the one very large goal. And you feel robbed of other dreams. And yes, dreams aren't everything, and learning to live in the present moment is very important...

But you still have dreams.

And I know that some of you will say, go for your dreams! And as easy as that sounds, its just not the same. Yes, we can still find things to keep us here and happy in the moment and trying to find peace in our current situation, but this is a draining process, emotionally, physically, financially. And that constant drain still affects your dreams, even if you continue to try to achieve them.

P.s..... the reality of no children is still here too, lurking... but I didn't want to honor that reality today in anyway, shape or form

31 August 2010

Acceptance and Irony*

I think acceptance is finally setting in. After 3.5 years of this, I'm finally able to talk about it in a normal conversation. Here's my example:

Yesterday, I was walking the dog and my neighbor, who just popped out her third child was outside with her 2 older girls. I don't know this neighbor all that well, but we smile or wave in passing. Well, this time,  we struck up a conversation about their new addition and then she proceeded to ask me  if we have any kids.

Normally, this would have stopped me in my tracks, and made me feel inadequate and just respond coyly, "Not yet." with a smile on my face, mostly to be vague.

But this time, I just felt compelled to be as normal and as a matter of fact about it and said, "No, we don't. We've actually been trying for quite a while"

And she responded with a very genuine, "Oh! I'm so sorry. That must be hard. I will pray for you in church."

And that was it... I thanked her very much and there was no drama, no stupid comments like "just adopt" or "have you tried putting a pillow under your ass". It was a normal adult conversation about a struggle and I didn't hide. I didn't run. I didn't lie. I just was me... all of me..

So I guess I'm finally accepting this journey and weaving it into my full self.

*(The Irony part of this story has been edited out for confidentiality reasons... sorry!)

29 August 2010

Consultation Update

I traveled to Chicago last friday for an appointment with the clinic that is performing an efficacy study on a particular IVF drug. The study is in phase III of the clinical trial and if you know what that means, you'll know that they've already shown this drug to be effective as the one it is being compared to (daily injections of Follistim) and they now just need to validate previous results in an older population. And yeah for me, being "old" is actually a good thing for this.  What's more exciting is that if I get in I will have an all expense paid IVF cycle. (I'd rather that sentence read "an all expense paid trip to Hawaii"... or something like that. But alas, one has to accept where one is at in their life, right?)

And everything seemed to go well. I'm basically in! I fit all the criteria and pending a few more blood tests, semen analysis and a sonohystogram (sometimes called a fluid ultrasound), which I expect should go well, I'm IN!!! This means I could be poking myself with needles in early October! WHEEEEE! (Never thought I'd write that sentence either... lol!)

I'm feeling pretty calm about it all right now, but am sure as time grows nearer, my anxiety level and emotions get a little out of wack. We'll see.

So, keep your fingers crossed and pray that the rest of our blood tests turn out well and we'll be back in the cycling game shortly! I'll keep you posted.

25 August 2010

Thanks for Stopping By (ICLW)

For those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time due to ICLW (International Comment Leaving Week), ...Welcome and thanks for stopping by!

I thought I would used this post to recap about my last almost year of blogging so you don't have to wade through all of the prior posts. I'm copying another bloggers format, because I loved the way she did it.. just a simple Q&A, as if someone was interviewing me.

*********

Q: How did your blog get started and what is it about?
A: My header on the blog pretty much sums this up. B (the husband) and I are trying to concieve our first child and so far, after 3.5 years, many treatments and a lot of $$, we've not had luck. A few years back,  B and a few other supporters suggested that I journal in order to help me release some of the emotions that go along with this struggle. I tried and tried to write in an actual paper journal, but the words just didn't flow. Then one day, I thought, hey, maybe I'll try to type it out! Lo and behold, words come much quicker from my brain to the keyboard, than they do to a pen.

Secondly, I figured, this was a good way for me to communicate this journey to our friends and family without a) them having to ask me about it when they felt like they were prying (which of course they weren't, but I'm sure they still feel like it sometimes) and b) me having to feel like this is the only thing I talk about, ever. Here I can update everyone at once, and they can read it on their own terms. Its a win-win.

Q: What do you blog about  most?
A: As I said above, I mostly blog about the thoughts and feelings that swarm around in my head and heart as we try to figure out how to build our family. Infertility is a journey, as I'm sure you've heard, and so I simply write about it here. From techincal, medical info, to our next steps, to the fears and feelings in my head. Its all here.

Q: What do you like about blogging?
A: I LOVE the support I get from family and friends and I LOVE the comments! Its my favorite treat of the day, to see a comment from people and know they are supporting me or thinking of me. It helps give me fuel to continue down this road.

I also like the fact that this is a permenant record of a part of my life in the recent past. I don't ever want to forget what a life changing event this has been for me and B and maybe others in my life that have been touched by this too. I want to be able to look back on my posts and remind myself when I finally am a mom, to never ever take it for granted.

Q: Who are you?
A: I'm a lot of things, but mostly I'm the following; A wife, a best friend, a sister, a daughter, an actuary, a triathlete, a gourmet chef (in my head at least), a dog-mom, a vegetarian (ish), a wanna-be hippie, a wanna-be dancer, a yogi, a nurturer, an idealist, an encourager, a support group leader, a know-it-all (some may say:-) ... and a future mom.

Again, thanks for stopping by, and hope you come back!

18 August 2010

... but I'm Still Crazy

Even after my previous post, even after feeling good about understanding letting go, I still come home and nag B about having a beer.

I know, I know... let it go, but this is what infertility makes you become...

...a crazy woman who feels guilty and conflicted about every little thing that she puts into her body that is not 'fertility friendly'

...a crazy woman who thinks her husband should feel the same way, especially since we have a semen analysis coming up that will help us determine if we are allowed to be in the free IVF study (and of course beer affects that... RIGHT?!?!?!...).

... a crazy woman who understands what it means to let go, but doesn't always know how to do it.

Damn you, infertility!

17 August 2010

I Think I'm Beginning to Understand Letting Go

In one of my prior posts, I struggled to understand exactly what it meant to let go. I wondered if I was supposed to apply this advice from many to our baby journey. Did I have to give up hoping and trying altogether and just pray that a baby would drop out from nowwhere into my lap? Did I have to move on to adoption, which would eventually result in a child, even though I didn't feel at all excited about starting that particular journey?

When I pondered what it meant to let go, I usually had this pit in my stomach that I thought was encouraging me to stop trying for and wanting B's and my own genetic child.

Last Friday, I went to my favorite yoga teacher's class after work. She kicks my butt but also has a really peacful manerism about her that makes me feel bliss...while my butt is being kicked. Its a great way to end a work week, sweat out all of the stress taking hold in my muscles and open up my mind by trying to listen to what the world wants from me. As I was breating through a particularly butt kicking pose, I kept getting the image of my baby in my mind. I could see my freshly cleaned and diapered newborn curled up on my chest, nuzzled into fetal position. I could literally feel the warmth and aliveness wash over me. And for the first time when thinking this deeply about holding our baby, I felt peaceful and present, instead of fearful and full of sadness. I felt that this could be real... and I felt like I had let go of a lot of pain of the past.

And then at the end the class, as if on purpose, as we were laying in our last pose, the teacher read a passage, and guess what it was on... yup! you're right... it was on letting go.

I don't know if the universe knew that I needed to hear that particular passage that day, or if its just the fact that most of her readings really resonate with me on a regular basis because they are so applicable to all of lifes struggles. Regardless, I needed to hear it.

And here is what I took away from her thoughts on letting go:

I think letting go in this instance means that I need to release the pain of the past and the strong drive and desire to control every minute of every day when it comes to things that may or may not affect our ability to concieve. What has happened has happened. We've had 3 failed transfers.It sucks. Its painful and it was the hardest thing that I've had to go through yet in my life. And its over.

But that doesn't mean it needs to define me as I go forward. It doesn't mean that I can't consider IVF again in some form or another. What it does means is that I need to acknowledge the pain of the past, but know that I've been living my very best life that I can through this journey and forvive myself for the anger and jealousy and fear. These are all simply learning stages through this journey. I can "let go" and open up my mind and body to the present moment and let what is going to happen, happen. Even if I am making decisions about our next steps, it doesn't mean that I'm not letting go.

I think that is a very subtle point. Letting go doesn't  mean giving up all control or all decision making abilitites. It means releasing the emotions and weight that you carry from your past trials. That heaviness is destructive to not only you, but to those around you. Experience the sadness, know that it will come and go, but don't hang on too tight. Release the grip.

And in doing so, you can open up your heart and mind to the pureness of what is here today, of the warming images and little pieces of possibilites that give you fuel to continue.

Get it?

14 August 2010

Plans A, B & C

Can you still call it a plan A if you've already tried and failed at other attempts? If you have already exhausted plan A, B and C? Ok, so maybe its plan D, E and F... Whatever it is, we've got PLANS!!!

Over the past month or so, we've poured (ok, I... who am I kidding.. I've poured) over test results and research and second and third opinions. I've had countless vials of blood drawn. I've schemed to get as many of the tests covered as I possibly can by my insurance and I've spent way too many hours on the internet consulting Dr. Google. With all this information, I've even created a spreadsheet of possible causes, issues and next steps (maybe I'll add it to this post later...) And from this, a path, not necessarily clear, but a path nonetheless has formed. And I'm very excited to get back on the trail.

So here's the plan(s)....

Plan A: Metformin. One additional thing that came out of all of these blood tests other than the immune results, is that it seems as though I'm insulin resistant, which simply means that my body's cells do not process the signals from insulin properly and it needs more than the average person to get the point. Because of this, many things can happen in women, including PCOS, weight gain, among others... luckily I don't have those, but I do have hormone imbalances that are shown by adult acne (yuck) and oilier than average skin along with spotting before my period and throw in some anxiety for good measure. All of these things are signs that my hormones aren't working quite right. So Metformin, along with exercise and a low gylcemic index diet, helps your body re-sensitize itself to insulin. Then, the hope  is that the female hormone system should go back into balance. There's also lots of evidence showing insulin resistance is highly correlated with inflammation (not sure which causes which, but they occur very often together) and thus an explanation for implantation failure. So I started Metformin yesterday, as a pill at mealtimes, and I'l be on that indefinitely.

Plan B: I'm pre-screened to be in a FREE IVF study!!! Yippee! Its not the ideal protocol for me (too technical to get into here), but its a FREE cycle. So I'm going to attempt to make it through to transfer. Because it is a study being sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, I have to quite a few different hoops to jump through, the first of which is a final screening consultation with one of the REs running the study, which is occurring on August 27th. After that, if I pass certain blood tests, I will then be able to start taking meds and growing eggs and hopefully if I grow enough, I will make it to retrieval and we can try another transfer!!!

While I am excited about this study, I'm also cautious because 1) the FSH dose is lower than I've been on with my other two IVF cycles, so I won't make as many eggs and 2) there will not be anything else allowed into my body for help with the potential immune issues that I have. But its a free cycle and I might as well give it a shot, right?

Then, if neither of those work,... Plan C: We're going to try (and have to pay for :-( ) one last IVF cycle here with my local RE... with 2 twists...1) We'll add in some meds to help with the potential immune issues to aid implantation, and 2) we're hoping that we make enough good quality embryos to transfer into both me AND a gestational carrier (more on this in a later post)... AT THE SAME TIME!!! eep!

My thoughts behind this double transfer are as follows: We don't have endless amounts of money to continue with IVF cycle after IVF cycle. We're fortunate to be able to think about affording one more, however, we have to draw the line somewhere. Also, if we do use a GC, I'd like to be able to transfer a fresh embryo, rather than frozen, because the odds of implantation and a successful pregnancy are increased, thus being more cost effective. And finally, I want to at try some of the immune interventions at least once for me, but we simply can't afford to do 2 more IVF cycles, especially if we are going to pay more for a surrogate in the end... So I think that this double transfer is the most cost effective and highest probability of success in one shot. And yes, we would be THRILLED to have "twins"

I'm so excited to have a plan back in place. I feel at peace again and am more hopeful that I've been in a while. It worries me of course that the peace is really just a false sense of hope, because I'm putting up another wall or two in front of my future. But I find comfort in these walls.

And I'm going to need that comfort because this fall is going to be a wild ride! Get ready....

03 August 2010

My Baby Knows

Yesterday I found out that a person I know is pregnant from her first IVF... and it stings. I was so down last night thinking about how frustrating this journey is, how random it seems to be. How while I have new directions to follow, I still don't know the best path to take.

But sometimes it doesn't even seem that random. Sometimes I feel like I'm always getting the shit end of the deal. I know.... I'm just feeling sorry for myself. But thats a really hard thing NOT to do in this situation.

So just when you feel like all hope is lost, you have a dream that gives you some strength back.


Dear Baby,

Thank you so much for coming to me last night in my dream. I think you know that I needed to see you and that holding you in my dream will give me strength to continue on this journey. I can still feel how it amazing it was to hold you last night and show you to the world.

I can't wait to meet you and hold you in this reality too.

Love, Mom