Sunday, November 30, 2008
First, I am still in shell shock from Thanksgiving. It was, by far, the worst holiday I have ever experienced. I won't go into the details, but I will say that Mr. S's family was delightful. Mine, not so much. I spent the meal trying hard to ingest what lay on my plate, but not having the stomach to do so. It was dysfunction of the grandest proportions and as someone who desperately avoids drama and has worked hard at having a serene life and a home that can be looked upon as my ultimate haven, I was sickened by it all. Needless to say, I was happy to see it end. Sometimes, family is not all its cracked up to be.
Napa came on the heels of another grand disappointment. We were scheduled for our pre-IUI ultrasound Saturday morning and before we went in, I expressed a number of concerns to several people, including:
1. On cd 2, I had a follie that was already at 12. My fear was that my body, in all it's messed-up glory, had already managed to select a dominant follicle and that no amount of drugs could correct this. However, my NP assured me this was not the case.
2. Originally, my IUI was slated to fall on Thanksgiving day, but the clinic was closed. I asked the NP if there was any way to navigate around this (perhaps within a day or two) and after some calculations on a calendar and some changes in timing with my meds, she said it could be done and that we would instead have our IUI on the following Monday. Monday...four whole days later. I thought that was odd. I was worried that even with moving the meds around, we would miss ovulation. I indicated that rather than risking such a thing happening, I would prefer to skip the entire cycle. However, again, she assured me this would not be the case and being that I am not a medical professional, I deferred to her.
3. After asking for a higher dose of Menopur, the NP recommended that I do another round of C.lomid instead, as I responded so well to it previously. Despite my initial protest, I took her word for it.
So, I had questions and concerns that still felt unanswered. After this initial ultrasound, my fears compounded, but with everything else going on in my life, I couldn't dig deep enough for the energy to correct it. So Saturday morning rolls around and we meet with a doctor (a first in this clinic as we've always seen NPs).
And those suspicions of mine? Yeah. Every single one of them came true, including:
1. On 200 mg of C.lomid, I only had one mature follicle. ONE. No, I take that back, not mature, overripe (almost 26). I had 4 other follies around 12-13. The doc said the other ones would have grown more had my body not already chosen it's star.
2. Judging by the size of that beefcake, it is entirely possible that we have already missed ovulation. For the first time ever, we were instructed to go home and immediately have intercourse, despite the fact that this may drive his count down for Monday morning. But at this point, Monday morning is a bust anyway.
3. The doctor was just as confused as I was about the C.lomid prescription. This was, as I suspected, a step backward.
So here I sit, an entire IUI wasted. It is quite possible that all of this could have been avoided had the nurse practitioner not been more concerned about the convenience of her clinic schedule. I made it clear that if there was any question, I wanted the cycle canceled altogether and moreover, I learned after the fact that there was a sister clinic in another town that would have been able to take us on Thanksgiving day. But after all of the emotion I've invested in everything else, it's hard to find enough outrage to make a big deal about it at this point. I will go in on Monday morning, go through the motions, go on the magic speculum ride, but I believe I've currently found the cure for keeping my expectations low this time around. In a way, it's strangely relieving. This 2 WW will not register on my radar. But hope is becoming more elusive as every day passes.
I will face one more IUI after this. I will request someone else to preside over it and I will demand to be pumped chalk full of Menopur. One last try before January and believe me, when that arrives, there will be no questions left unanswered.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I should be spanked. I've been a very naughty ICLWer. I swear I'll catch up, eventually, but I've been so wrapped up in everything that goes along with hosting Thanksgiving at my house (read: HORROR, TERROR, and of course, the ever popular, family dysfunction, which is synonymous with the first two anyway). I don't know if it's the stress of the holiday or the truckload of C.lomid they have me on this month, but I am a pissy little beast. I practically threw a hissy fit when the lady at BevMo carded both of us tonight (even though Mr. S. was buying) and made me go back to the car to get my purse before we could leave with our stash. Do I look 13 to you?? I think I literally stomped back in, threw my license on the counter and muttered expletives loud enough for those within earshot to hear on my way out. When I said BEAST, I really wasn't kidding.
If you knew me, you would be certain I was possessed. I am generally non-confrontational to a fault (I will rarely send back food, even if it's discolored or ice cold-of course, this is also to protect me from the ever-common spit-in-food payback, which is a very real thing behind the scenes, people). I am often slightly tentative in my interactions and am never surprised to learn of my widespread reputations at all of my places of employment as 'the nice girl'. Yeah, I'm totally one of them, agreeable and all, except when I'm pumped full of 200 mg of C.lomid and have been caught in the middle of a week-long family power struggle over who will make the turkey and how it will be done, what the exact temperature and seasoning will be, and how the table will be positioned and how much butter will go into the yams, and so on and so forth. All for yet another holiday without the other person I've been so desperately waiting for. That symbolic empty chair will be there for me. Yeah, I guess I've been letting it get to me.
And I've been letting other things get to me, too. Never before have I faced the holidays with such heavy hurt on my heart. It would be just as well if we skipped December this year. January would be nice, too. Don't get me wrong. Since we were slapped with the label of infertile, the holidays have never been easy, but luckily, thus far, we have had small families that were comprised of only adults. Well, that is, up until this year. Mr. S's cousin, just now approaching his second year of marriage, will bring his beautiful newborn around and that is precisely when I'll wish that the holidays didn't exist at all. Sadly, that child will do only one thing for me at this point: remind me of my own, who would have been due just after New Years. Nothing good will come of it.
Instead of planning holiday decorations and shopping for gifts, I spend what's left of my mental energy on scheming how to avoid the pain at any cost. Asking around about who will be when and where so I can avoid them. I spend more preparation on this task than on the beautiful details I used to get wrapped up in, like making my own cards, wrapping banisters in holly. It all seems so pointless now. I mean, truly pointless. I felt silly decorating for the holidays before and now I wonder if I can even bring myself to see that Christmas bin.
And that holiday party? Yeah, that's not even a go. You see, a woman who got pregnant just a few weeks before I did and shouted it from the rooftops the second her pee evaporated from that stick will have her newborn there. I'm not really fond of her to begin with and she'll be standing there, holding what I've been fighting for for so many years. It came within a matter of months for her, with no afterthought. If I were to make an appearance, almost everyone in that room would shift their eyes at least once from her to me and I know what I would see. I would see pity-the exact emotion I want nothing of. I would be so happy to go away from all of this, take a vacation just long enough to see the holidays through. Yes, that would be lovely if we didn't need every last red cent for IVF now.
I would love to ignore my IF for even a moment's time. I would love to open up at least one present and not have the silent countdown of my baby's due date chanting in my ear. I know I talk about it too much, think about it too much, but not only does it not seem to lessen with time, but the numbers on that calendar only stand to emphasize it.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Me: 30-year-old chick in the SF Bay Area.
Us: Married for 8 1/2 years.
Our Great Big IF: Trying for 4 1/2 years and currently on IUI #6. IUI #4 was successful, so to speak, but ended in miscarriage. We have been diagnosed with male factor (low count and motility). You may hear me talk about my 'monkey sisters'. These are a group of amazing women who began as fellow IFers in a support group, but who I now consider to be my friends. The discovery of their friendship has literally saved my sanity from the death trap of infertility.
If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to check out my hubby's guest post below. I'll be following up on my commentary shortly. Welcome!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The following is a post by my husband, Mr. S. I'll add my thoughts on a follow-up blog in the near future, but in the mean time, here it is:
My wife mentioned to me that she posted pictures about a day in the life of an “infertile,” which contains pictures of things most men assume only exist horror movies, and raunchy pornos (or so I hear). So, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to introduce you to a day in the life of a male infertile. Side note: this was at a time where I was in a particularly bad job, and events took place about a year ago. Without further ado;
Today is the day where I get to actually lend a hand (ha!) in our reproductive challenges. I know this because my alarm goes off an hour earlier than it should. It should be an interesting day. Shelby reminds me that my appointment is at 7:30 AM and that she’s picking up my little soldiers at 10:00 AM. I silently hope that the fruits of my ‘participation’ are a lot of soldiers, instead of my usual ‘Army of One’. I roll out of bed, and get ready. Luckily for me, I don’t have makeup to put on, hair to curl, or whatever it is that takes you ladies so long to get ready. I’m out the door in 30 minutes. It is 7:00 AM; a half-hour should be plenty of time to get to my appointment.
Can You ?
Being someone who loves anything with a digital display and buttons, I love my tech gadgets. However, a cell phone can be a harbinger of doom. I’m convinced that it’s psychic too. It predicts my day. Is work going to be busy, annoying, light, or anything in-between? I know the answer within 5 minutes of getting in my car. My phone literally rings off the hook the entire time I’m in my car. My commute to the reproductive clinic is about thirty minutes. Instead of relaxing and reflecting on what may (or sadly, may not) be, I’m barraged with meaningless work related questions, false assumptions and over-reactive concerns. I arrive to the doctor’s office tense. Not just tense, but teeth clenching, jaw breaking, a whore in church tense. You’d think with my impending ‘release’ I would be more relaxed, but it is quite the opposite, I assure you. My phone keeps ringing. I am now sitting in the parking lot, trying to wrap up a call with an angry co-worker and am struggling to remember where the clinic entrance is.
I step out of the car and am caressed by the cool fall air. Today is one of those rare days where, somehow, the air kissing my face makes me feel much better- relaxed even. If this was a Folgers commercial, I’d close my eyes, take a sip of warm steamy coffee, inhale deeply, and smile to myself. I wonder what I’m complaining about. I get to wake up, look at some boobies and do what every 15 year old does when they find their first Victoria’s Secret catalog.
It takes me a while, but I finally find “Suite J.” I turn the door knob and am expecting to be greeted by a nice reception area (especially given how much all this fertility stuff costs). Walking into the clinic, something very familiar jogs my memory. The door rubs against the door jamb when I open it making a very loud sound to announce my presence, the smell of fake very artificial potpourri is in the air, there is almost no carpet between my feet and the floor boards are so worn, they creek under my feet. I have the vague feeling that I’ve been here before. It hits me; I’m visiting a shitty retirement home. The only thing it is missing is the obligatory old people on the park bench waiting for “Johnny” except, Johnny never shows. Instead of old folks waiting, the first people I see are a couple who looks nervous and a woman, sitting alone, waiting for her appointment. As a guy, walking into the clinic alone, I might as well wear a neon sign around my neck with an arrow pointing to my crotch that says “I’m about to tug on this.” Suddenly and expectantly, my tension is back. I pity the guy who has an easy time getting aroused at the smell of “grandma’s place.” I am sure they exist and live in the seedier areas of the internets. I consider creating a fetish website around this clinic, as I’m sure it will do well in said circles.
In Soviet Russia, Penis Rubs You
What I find most interesting about offices that revolve around fertility is that my expectation for a sensitive, caring, empathetic receptionist is not met each and every time. Funny thing is that I’m always surprised by this. This office is no exception. As I make my way through the creaking retirement home, I am greeted by a battle axe of a woman. Pleasantly greeting me would be way too cliché, instead, she stares blankly, and without much effort says “Name?”. As an aside, I am not a confrontational person at all, in fact I’ll work harder to avoid one than if a confrontation actually took place. I like to be overly friendly with people like this. “Hi!” I say a little too loudly and enthusiastically. “My name is (hmm, pen name time…) Johnny and I have a 7:30 appointment.” She looks at the loud ticking clock by her desk and scowls, its 7:45. She breaks down the process. “Put name on cup, go in cup, leave cup in room, and leave out the back.” My passive aggressive side kicks back in, “go in cup? I’m not here to pee.” I’d like to pretend that I’m embellishing this, but not really. I questioned being asked to “leave out the back” and she points to a partly opened door through what looks like the break room. I am then lead to ‘the room’.
Tonight on OMG KILL IT WITH FIRE
You know those episodes of Dateline NBC that reveal how disgusting motel rooms are? Let’s just say I’m very glad I didn’t have a UV light with me. I’m not the cleanliest person, but this room grossed me out. A little context here; I was THE FIRST appointment of the day. No one else has used this room and I was greeted with the following;
1. The obligatory leather chair that’s been so warn I can see where every bare ass has sat
2. A trash can FULL of used paper towels. Unfortunately, these paper towels didn’t clean up spilled apple juice.
3. The same creaky floors and good ‘ol musty smell
4. Volume buttons on the TV that do not work. On top of that, the volume is set a tad too high to be comfortable for the material I’ll be “enjoying”
In this disgusting room, somehow, I am supposed to produce what may become mini-me.
Everything I have gone over can be explained away, none of it really matters except one thing; What adult materials do I get to enjoy while working on, ahem, producing? Let me tell you, who ever chose said adult materials, is either blind, sick, or a cheap bargain bin-hunting asshole. Whatever happened to normal, attractive people porn? This isn’t it. Titles from their VAST selection of four are “Thai Me Up”, “Big Booty Bitches”, “Luv you long time 5” and (I kid you not) “No.” I flash back to a conversation with my wife the previous night:
Her: “Why don’t you put some hot chick action on your iPhone”
Me: “Nah, knowing my luck, someone will start messing with my phone at work and two chicks loving on each other will show up.”
Her: “So what! Just delete it when you are done. I’ll even download some for you. Where do you find that stuff?
Me: “I have no idea what you’re talking about. There’s pornographic material on the internet?” (I like to tell her and my friends that I keep my porn on her computer since she’ll never look there)
I simply do not understand the selection of these four titles. Maybe I’m in the minority here but just show me two attractive people doing it and I’m good. The sad thing is that the people, clothes, hair styles (and not the hair on the head), and production values are from the 70’s. There is nothing erotic about any of this. Watching the old married couple from “That 70’s show” do it on the linoleum flower counter tops would be more arousing. I curse myself for not following my wife’s iPhone suggestion.
You’d think it would end here, but it doesn’t. While the “act” is occurring, you can hear, through the paper thin walls, staff members laughing and talking loudly in the other room. When your pants are down, and you’re exposing yourself to the lovely “Big Booty Bitches” on the TV, laugher is the last thing you should hear. Ironically, I gain a little respect for the fat, ugly hairy man in the video who can get a hard on at the drop of a hat (or pants).
Eventually, nature takes hold (man, I got to stop with the insinuations) and I’m ready to get the hell out of this place. I always wonder how long you should wait after doing your deed. It seems nasty to walk out of THE ROOM with a flushed brow. In this case I could have walked out with my pants down because I was greeted to the receptionist pointing her meaty arm and sausage finger towards to back door asking me to “out that way.” God forbid the nervous couple and solitary woman see me leave the way I came in.
I walk out the door. The crisp air welcomes me once again and I let out a small sigh of relief. The fall air breathes its life into me and I am refreshed. Smelly grandma’s house is such a small price to pay in what could become the best thing that has ever happened to us. I silently thank Shelby for enduring so much; more than I will ever understand. I get back to the car; my cell phone reports that I have 18 missed calls and 10 voicemails. Time to start the day.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The awesomeness that is Michelle at To Baby and Beyond (which always makes me think of Bed Bath and Beyond-I'm such a shopping FIEND) has nominated me for my first online award...w00t! She nominated me like, 5 years ago, but because I am exhausted to the bone and frankly, kinda lazy, it took me a little while to get around to it. The spirit of this award is to recognize those who have not been silent about their IF and since I began this blog, I have truly 'come out of the closet' in so many respects. Sure, not everyone in my life is aware, but to be honest, those who don't know are too stupid to handle the information in an intelligent way anyway. :)
For more information, I invite you to read this wonderful post that seriously describes ME to a T. And, I suspect, YOU. And as a recent injectables user, I wanted to add the following to the list:
-If you have more sharps containers to dispose of per month than a diabetic.
Holy cow. I need to call a hazardous waste truck just to get rid of it all.
Rules for posting award:
1. Link to this post so that others will read the original story behind the award
2. Nominate 4 others who have not been "silent about their infertility"
3. Enjoy speaking out and speaking up :D
And the nominees are:
Anyhow, maybe it's just me and my addiction to celebrities, but I found this read really interesting. And somehow, it made me feel a little less lonely.
Monday, November 17, 2008
The inevitable wall of babies as you wait....
A pair of stirrups and a pretty blue skirt made of plastic, except no one's going on a pony ride:
The only ride you'll be going on today is aptly referred to as the dildo cam. Except it's not as fun as the name would suggest:
And lastly, the moment you've all been waiting for, follie check. Will all those who are ready to be stimmed please stand up? (sung to the tune of 'Slim Shady')
And so, IUI #6 begins...final stretch before the BIG IVF.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Never since my first IUI, when I naively believed in unmitigated success, did I find myself so crushed by infertility defeat. I was truly surprised by my belief in this one as I've always been able to keep myself at a somewhat protective distance. Why this one? Well, perhaps it was because it fell on the heels of the last one, which was successful, so to speak. So, here I am, getting up and dusting myself off, heading straight into IUI #6. Imagine that. I never thought I would see IUI #6. Not that I ever thought I would have a baby before this point, but that I never thought I would let this many IUIs sneak in the door before chasing IVF down. But there's a good reason for where we are. Mr. S. and I had some more frank financial discussions about IVF funding and the reality is, everything will come out of pocket. Insurance will cover nothing. More roadblocks I suppose (such is the life of IF), but because I would walk to work naked with no food in my stomach to have a baby, I'll make it happen. Damn skippy. I just have to keep remembering, expect the worst, hope for the best.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Second #1: Ooh. Cramps! Even better, a sharp twinge! I didn't feel that except when I had a BFP!
Second #2: It's the progesterone you idiot. You're not pregnant, you silly nit.
Second #3: But I never felt this with my BFNs, even when I was taking progesterone!
Second #4: Well, you were never taking 3 a day back then, either. So, ha! You're not pregnant. You're just delusional.
Second #5: Oh, did you feel that back ache? I am so definitely pregnant.
Second #6: You always get back aches and bloating now. You blogged about it. You're no spring chicken anymore, ya know.
Second #7: Ok, if I am pregnant, then I might actually be able to get an ultrasound by Thanksgiving. That would be a pretty sweet holiday present. And I would be due in July. What great timing for the school year!
Second #8: Before you go entering that into your calendar, let me remind you: YOU'RE NOT PREGNANT. You probably won't be for some time. In fact, you'll be lucky to be pregnant by July. Actually, you'll be lucky to be pregnant EVER.
Second #9: Did I mention I was tired?
Second #10: You're always tired, cause you stayed up too late last night and let's face it, you're kind of a lazy ass. And you cut out all of your caffeine cold turkey, which is bound to make you comatose. No need to thank pregnancy hormones for that one!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
After my miscarriage, I decided that I was either going to completely lose it or take positive action. It was my choice. I wasn't about to let what I thought to be nature's cruelest trick (infertility and now miscarriage) take my well-being, too. So, I made a plan, and it was good. No, it was great. Better than I ever imagined it being. It went something like this:
Step One: Find a support group.
I went online and managed to locate a monthly meet-up in San Francisco through Northern California's Open Path (formerly connected to RESOLVE). I live 45 minutes outside of the city, so it was a trek, but well worth it. There were only three of us that showed up for that month's meeting, but within five minutes, we were all in tears and completely connecting. While they were tears made from heartache, they were also tears of relief. So much of what I was thinking and feeling resonated from them. Since then, I have attended every month and I look forward to the catharsis. It always draws new people in and as a self-proclaimed 'regular', I am delighted to see the meetings grow and to also see the same look of 'finally, someone understands me!' on other's faces. And it's good to feel that this is no longer a revelation to me. But although the group is a welcome haven, I found that once a month just wasn't enough.
Step Two: Start a blog.
After I met with the group, I realized the extraordinary amount of baggage I carried around that I had yet to filter through and decided that I needed another outlet. Being that I had blogged for over 7 years prior, starting this site was a natural progression, so I began it less than a week after my first support group meeting. I found that I had to restrain myself from posting entries on an almost hourly basis. All of the thoughts that had consumed me for the past four years were finally coming to light. It was relieving. Better yet, I was reading other's stories and I found much of what I had discovered with the group: that my thoughts and feelings were far from out of the ordinary. The support that I have gathered through comments on my site has strengthened me tenfold. Still, returning to 'real life', with friends and family who either know nothing of our IF or dismiss it, made me realize that I still needed more.
Step Three: Hang Out with Support Group Buddies
One thing led to another and by September, I got a chance to meet Nikki in person. She is just as amazing as her blog would lead you to believe, and we spent a few wonderful hours over coffee discussing everything from our treatments and hopes to the 50-year-old cougar at the outdoor tequila bar across the way who was shaking her butt in front of all the terrified little 20-something guys. Good times.
Then, recently, some of the ladies from the support group decided to meet for dinner on a regular basis. The most recent time landed us at a great Thai place in the city where we shared pomegranates and a flaming bowl of liquor and plastic monkeys while wearing our matching pomegranate-colored thread bracelets. When I think of this unexpected union, I think of the title of Tara's blog (Divine Secrets of the Infertility Sisterhood). We are already, in such a brief period of time, a sisterhood. In fact, somewhere near the end of that evening, after further sharing our war tales, we gathered our plastic monkeys and declared them lucky. Our lucky monkeys, if you will:
(I blurred one of the ladies out as she wished to remain anonymous-she has a very public job)
Several days later, I received the following from one of my monkeysistas:
The timing of this was impeccable, landing in my mailbox just hours after my IUI. I can't tell you what this means to me.
Step Four: Mind/Body Workshop
So, as if all of that support wasn't enough (it takes many shoulders to bear the weight of infertility, doesn't it?), most of us ladies registered for a Mind/Body workshop that begins this Wednesday. I look forward to learning how better to deal with the stress and sadness this journey has reaped on me, but most of all, I look forward to seeing everyone-all of my lucky monkey sistas. Although so much more loss and disappointment has come to pass over the last year, I can safely say I am in a better place today than I was one year ago. And I would be remiss if I didn't owe it to all of you, both my online and real-life IF buddies. Thank you. I hope that all of you are able to or have already found your own sisterhood as well.