Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Go Big or Go Home

As I walked out of my HMO following my IUI today, a number of things occurred to me. First, I realized that this is likely the last time I will step foot on that campus. After a year and a half, 6 IUIs, thousands of dollars, and one brief pregnancy later, it is very likely that I will walk away empty handed. While I previously prepared myself for this, I'm venturing way too close to those inflated expectations again. It's hard not to do with the outcome of this one. After going all out on this last hurrah, the final stats were:
  • 4 mature follicles (a 5th *almost* there)
  • 12 mm lining
  • First pre-wash Semen analysis for IUI on Monday: 75 mil, 50% motility
  • Second pre-wash SA for IUI on Tuesday: 43 mil, 30% motility
If numbers alone were a factor, I'd be bracing myself for quads. But as we all know, they're not.

The other thing that dawned on me was that if this IUI is not successful, there will be no question in my mind that I have undiagnosed and unexplained female factor infertility because after Mr. S's miracle pills, he is floating right smack dab in the 'normal' range. In essence, his IF seems to have been 'cured' for the time being. Mine, not so much. A lot of people have asked, 'why do you always say you have female factor in addition to male factor?'. True, no doctor has ever given this diagnosis and true, all of my labs have come back normal for two solid years, but in my heart I've always known that I was infertile, even before we were diagnosed. I know that seems crazy and I know you can't diagnose on 'gut' feelings, but I also strongly believe in intuition.

What difference does it make anyway? I mean, IF is about WE not ME, right? Well, like other unexplained IF cases, just because a problem has not been found doesn't mean that one does not exist. I feel that as long as it goes undiagnosed, it will go unsolved, thus diminishing our chances at expanding our family, at least through fertility treatments. The chances are great that I will never have my answer.

So, as I take my graduation walk, I'll try hard not to get my hopes up, but when your nurse practitioner is unknowingly being cruel by telling you that she 'feels really good about this one' and that she thinks you won't even need that IVF after all, you need to start bracing yourself for the crash and burn at the end cause this BFN, folks, just ain't gonna be pretty. And you think I would have learned by now...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last, But Not Least

It used to be that when an IUI was around the corner, all of my sights were fine tuned to that direction. It was the big event of the surrounding months, one that much of my mental energy was devoted towards. My daytime thoughts often included, "oh, just 10 more hours until I pop the c.lomid!" or "just 5 more hours until I trigger!" Now, as I approach IUI #1,000, er, #7, I'm barely remembering to shoot myself full of drugs each night. I laughed when the pharmacist gave me the option for a consult, thinking, "lady, you have no idea what an IUI pro I am. I have a PhD in insemination, bitches!"

Our IUI is a double one this time: double the injectable meds, double the insemination, and likely falling on Monday and Tuesday of next week. We're going hardcore. But it actually took me a moment to recall these details. Despite the fact that I've been down this road a million times before, I should remember because as it stands, this is the end of the line, the last straw before turning to IVF. I did this cycle knowing that when I looked back, the 'what ifs' wouldn't be there to nag me, that I wouldn't be able to wonder whether I had blown through tens of thousands of dollars before riding the lesser procedure well into the sunset. Well, the sun is almost below the horizon now and it's clearly time to move on. This IUI is my graduation walk.

I have very few expectations, I guess mostly because I have so much of my emotion devoted to my upcoming IVF. But I must say, I accomplished the goal I set out to reach. After we miscarried in June, I promised myself that I would do an IUI in both October and November and look into a December or January IVF. I did better than that. I somehow managed to throw an IUI into December as well. 3 cycles, back-to-back, without taking a breath. Make that four if you count our upcoming IVF, which we'll begin immediately after the BFN from this one. Ok, so meeting this goal isn't exactly getting the Nobel Prize in Literature, but it was gratifying nevertheless and seemed to have saved my sanity by mimicking forward motion. For a girl itching to take off, running in place is a better option than sitting, I suppose.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008: The REAL Christmas Letter

I have been somehow fortunate enough this year to not have received any of those annoying ‘year in review’ Christmas letters from the few families I am still in contact with. You know, the ones detailing their many vacations and achievements and decorated with pictures of smiling happy kids on beaches, at dance recitals and holding soccer trophies? You know, the ones that silently mock, “haha, this is not you, yet again”? I have long considered sending out one of my own to rail against the unspoken practice that these letters are reserved only for families with kids. But then I realized that:

1. I am way too cynical to do something like that and not have my bitterness come screaming across the letter and
2. What would I say? "Oh, yeah, and in June we lost the baby we had been trying for for 4 years and now we’re going into debt for IVF"? That’s the real story, right?

Really, even with those smiling happy families, Christmas letters are scrubbed clean of strife, but because so much of my year has been composed of this, any attempt at a letter would read nothing like a fairytale (unless Grimm was involved) or rather, would read like pure fiction. So, I’ve been wondering, what would the unedited, façade-free version of my letter look like? Well, I would guess, something like this:

2008: The Real Story

Hello friends and family! Wow, what a year 2008 was for us! You see, it kind of sucked. No, it really sucked! Sure it was punctuated with some saving graces, but generally speaking, the highs were breathtakingly high and the lows were digging through the dumpsters, crying on a nightly basis low. I guess bipolar would be a word used to describe it. After riding the roller coaster of 2008, I’m frankly glad to see it come to an end. What an understatement!

Just after ushering in New Years 2008 surrounded by wonderful friends and the love of my life, I was struck with a deep foreboding about the year that lay before me (please ignore the smiling faces). Now, don’t get me wrong, friends, I am not psychic, nor do I really believe in most supernatural occurrences, but I knew that especially in the middle of a celebration, one shouldn’t feel so unsettled about their future, but I was. Don’t let the picture fool you. Around the same time, Mr. S. was spending many sleepless nights, grey hairs, and 3 weeks out of each month traveling for a job he despised. Our start to 2008 was shaky at best.

Shortly after the New Year, we were given the news that our landlord was going into foreclosure and we had 6 weeks to vacate before the bank took over the property. Good times! In the middle of packing, a move that would signify the 7th in as many years, we went through yet another ‘procedure’, which was a miracle considering Mr. S’s traveling schedule.

Now, as you might have noticed, after 8 years of marriage, we are still without kids. It might not come as a surprise to you then that we are animal-collecting infertiles who actually spend all of our energy and money on achieving something that comes naturally to most couples. January brought yet another failed attempt at a life that I know of only through your Christmas letters and gray stirrups in a doctor's office.

Meanwhile, we were hit with more real estate news: the house we own in Idaho that was supposed to have renters in it until mid-March was vacated early and the renters defaulted on their last month's rent. So, we sent the case to small claims court, put the house on the plummeting market and waited. And waited. Meanwhile, Mr. S. quit his job in disgust and somehow by God’s grace, found another. And then, we moved. Mind you, all of this happened by the end of February.

And then, something entirely miraculous happened in April. File this under a breathtakingly high moment, a true saving grace. We found out that our 4th procedure of this sort was successful…we are pregnant! But unlike others who happily announce the news at birthday parties, we are quiet and cautious, especially given that our first week of pregnancy is spent on ‘miscarriage watch’ because of our low progesterone levels and our 3rd week is spent wondering whether I was exposed to Chicken Pox (I was not and am miraculously immune although I don't recall having it). However, our little bean pulls through and we are able to see a strong heartbeat. I am completely unfazed by the fact that our house in Idaho still sits empty, collecting dust and hemorrhaging money, because I am happy in the little secret that I am pregnant after all these years. But come Friday, June 13th, a day before my long-anticipated 30th birthday party, and 10 weeks into our little one’s short existence, that heartbeat disappears. File this under the lowest of the lows. It’s likely you were invited to that party, which was eventually canceled, and yes, this was the back-story. I am now terrified that this is the closest I will come to a birth announcement in a letter of this sort.

While your family was busy barbecuing and watching fireworks, I was sitting at home on my couch just a few weeks shy of watching my dream die, alone and numbed, eating too much and having also been rejected from the 4th of July party I was looking forward to whose invitation it took enormous courage to accept to begin with. At that moment, I had never felt more alone, so I made a choice and found Open Path where I met my very first 'infertiles', live and in person. And guess what? They're REALLY normal! Actually, they’re amazing! No horns, no green, scaly skin. I know that’s hard to imagine as a fertile person, but it’s true! I started an infertility blog soon thereafter. After connecting with several women traveling similar paths through these routes, I found unlikely and amazing friendships.

And after figuring that I'll never be able to have a baby, I gave my SUV to my Mom (who needed a car) and bought a completely impractical 2 door convertible that symbolizes my total lack of hope for a child at this point and is probably more expensive than what we should have gotten, but by then, I didn't give a shit about anything. In fact, Mr. S. and I got our first tattoos together to signify our loss, our hope, and our united front.

July also brought a trip to Vegas where we were able to forget about our grief for almost 2 seconds- a 2 second time period that was likely fueled by yard-long Margaritas. And yes, I did double-fist 99 cent margaritas as well. I don’t remember much of the trip for this reason. It was great! In August, I got a new job, scaling my previous commute from an hour to 6 minutes. Oh, and I conveniently forgot to mention that over the course of a few months, I managed to gain 10+ pounds.

In both October and November we were visited by two more failed attempts at your Christmas letter life and attempted to host Thanksgiving at our house with disastrous results. We should just stop pretending that we’re normal already, right? Our small claims court case against our former renters was finally settled, but once again, they defaulted, this time with the court. Our property manager is now after their wages, we took the house off the market and rented it out again, at a loss. Awesome.

Finally, we’re in December, a place I must say that because of my steady distancing from people as a result of our failed pursuits for a full family, I am visited by very few happy smiling families on the Christmas cards in my mailbox. Thank you for that. It is only more reinforcement for me to hide away. As I force myself to listen to Christmas music and decorate our tree, I am reminded that I will soon be borrowing a huge hunk of money to increase our efforts to build our family. I am both excited and terrified by this pursuit. I wonder to myself what it will be like to pay that bill each month if we are unsuccessful, but try to step into the new year with bravery and hope. Despite all that has happened, both good and bad, Mr. S. and I still have each other and in the face of such loss, our union is strong. Despite everything, I am more than ready to move on to a New Year and hope the next one will bring us all better fortune.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

DH's Guest Post 2

The Stink Eye
When we first got our kitty, Willow, Luke, our rat dog, was obsessed with her. I'm talking Single White Female obsessed, or maybe even Kathy Bates in Misery obsessed. Our poor little Willow was a scared, itty bitty kitty, and Luke would just not leave her alone. In Luke's defense (even typing those words left a bad taste in my mouth. This was the dog that would eat light bulbs, CD's, and a whole fallen hamburger in a single bite) all he wanted to do was just sniff her, but we just wanted to give Willow a chance to adjust to her new surroundings.

Remember the scene from Jurassic Park where the Velocoraptors would cock their head from side to side to show the audience that they were learning? Luke gave that exact same look when he'd figure out a way around a new obstacle we put in his path in order to separate the two. Just like the movies, the camera zoomed in on us, and I fearfully whispered "He's Learning!" Eventually, I sprayed him with a water bottle every time he approached Willow. It didn't take long for him to associate Willow with getting sprayed in the face. So much so that long since then he would take these long, carefully plotted arches around her just to get where he was going, giving her the stink eye the whole time.

What does this have to do with IF? EVERYTHING!

Much like Luke and the spray bottle, Infertility also conditions us. We take these long and round about paths to reach what should be a simple thing that comes naturally to so many people. We're still in the middle of our long dance, but even then, IF has conditioned us. We've learned a new vocabulary, new medical procedures, and creative ways to pay for things and deal with the stress. We've also learned that it can change every part of life, relationships, and even simple moments.

Almost Perfect, isn't
Shelby and I go to this Mexican food restaurant that serves the best margaritas. Ever. I know you're about to ask if I've ever tried the margaritas at your favorite restaurant, but don't bother. The only thing that make yours better would be if they were delivered by non-English speaking buxom vixens where the only language they knew was of the non-verbal variety, and if that were the case, I doubt my last blog post would have existed because there'd be a porno about it. (Never mind the fact that the cheap SOB wouldn't have picked it out anyway, but I digress.)

Things are almost perfect at this moment. We're sitting on barstools that have been used so much that their golden varnish has faded to white, and the tables are beginning to match. It would be a crime to replace them, they just fit. We're enjoying our second round of margaritas, and enjoying each other's company. (Ok, I admit it, it was my second, and I already lapped Shelby).

We're enjoying our drinks, chips and salsa, but there is a heavy air around us. Infertility is an interesting and cruel animal. All its victims are cursed with its eye of providence. It's all seeing, almost omnipotent. Things should be perfect right now. I'm drinking too many margaritas with the love of my life and we're enjoying each other's company, but the curse of IF reminds us that not all is right in the world. It's unfair. I'm angry that I have to say "almost perfect" and not "perfect." It dominates all aspects of life. How are we going to afford it? When do we stop? What if our IVF doesn't work? What if it does!? These are questions that only have answers when you're forced to answer them. I'll be happy to answer the last question, others, not so much. I worry about these questions as I take another gulp of margarita. Maybe the stars aligned, or maybe the drink is just strong, but it's cool, sweet, and salty taste made me realize something. While IF is always there, there are times where things aren't heavy, depressing or stressful. There are these rare and unexpected moments when IF grants us a reprieve.

It must be our unconscious mind helping us find ways to cope. Because there are these times where you just have to laugh, try to be light hearted and enjoy each other's company while talking about how ridiculous this path we've been conditioned to walk really is. I'm thankful for these moments. No matter how hard another negative test is, or swiping my credit card for expensive medication, I am reminded that I have power in this too. IF is not killing us, it's making us stronger. Our relationship is transforming into an even stronger bond, and sometimes, just sometimes, instead of focusing on the worries, pains, and trials, we talk about the ridiculous, almost funny parts of our journey. It's only a discussion that people who suffer this road know.

As we sit in this crowded Mexican restaurant, drinking margaritas, our conversation turns lighthearted. We start trying to stump the other person with the abbreviations that are common in this world. I impress Shelby with my IF vocabulary. I notice a few glances from people around us wondering what the hell we're talking about, but we go on. As lighthearted as it is, it is still unfair. I shouldn't have to know what AF stands for, I shouldn't have to know BFN, and I shouldn't have to be drinking margaritas because of ANOTHER BFN. As unfair as it is, IF doesn't win this time and drag us down. It doesn't sour my mood, or cause the many concerns over money, stress, and pain to bring us down. My mood is still light and the laughter of my wife as she's trying to get me to remember what "DPO" stands for is like a drug. IF does condition us to walk a long path, but it's still our legs that carry us through it. We've seemed to exhaust our knowledge of abbreviations around the same time Shelby sips her last bit of margarita. I fear that the lull in conversation will bring the heavy IF clouds, but we still have a reprieve. With IF terms being exhausted, I begin to recount the other things that I've learned in this world of infertility.

Salsa Seems Less Appealing When Discussing AF
There are things that I shouldn't have to know, and then there are things that I didn't WANT to know. I liken it to dating. When you first meet someone, you do everything in your power to woo the other person. You talk on the phone until 1 AM, you see each other every chance you get, you buy flowers, you hope to first base. Eventually, the formal "dates" taper off, the flowers are less frequent, and first base is just means to a home run (hehe). You can't point out where the transition took place, and soon there is no such thing as first base stopping at first base. The line between shouldn't and didn't is like that. IF has taught me many things, and most are things I shouldn't have had to learn, or know.

I shouldn't…

· … have to bang on the reproductive clinics door at 7:30 in the morning in order to be let in so I can watch bad porn and try to produce

· … want to correct my last blog post and state that the Asian porno was actually called "Slanted Eyed Honeys"

· … have to tell a doctor that I had sex yesterday and my count may be low today

I know…

· … it's really true that women who hang out together eventually get similar cycles

· …the dates of said women's cycles and that they are only a few days different from Shelby's

· …that there are ramifications to taking progesterone and that they can last up to two days after stopping.

· … AF's flow and consistency vary every month

· …and, in detail, what this month is like

· …and more importantly, it's not very appetizing to dip a chip into salsa while discussing it

I also know that there are so many more things that Shelby goes though that I cannot fathom. It's hard on me, but I can't comprehend how hard it is on her. What I do know, however, is that we're strong and even stronger together. We're using every opportunity to become closer, more in love, more connected to each other. We're conditioned, but we're also conditioning ourselves to become better.

Spray Bottle
Infertility conditions us; it's the spray bottle with an unlimited water source. We've been conditioned to walk this long arching path around every aspect of our lives. Our relationships, behaviors, and even, at times, our self esteem is forced to take these long and careful paths around our dream. It's unfair that I resent my cousin's newborn baby because, oops, they weren't even trying and got pregnant. It's cruel that I know the look on a doctor's face when you find out your baby has died. It's vicious that my wife hurts so badly and I can't make it better. How can I compete with that?

Luke was obsessed with Willow because she was so close but out of reach. He just wanted to introduce himself and get a good sniff in. That's all I want too. The scent of a newborn was once so close, but is still out of reach. We've been sprayed in the face so many times; you almost forget what you wanted in the first place. Disappointments, BFN's, changed relationships, it's just become the norm.

All I can say is to remind you that each of us has a spray bottle too and it is stronger than infertility. I know that infertility will never conquer the love I have with my wife. I know that as long as we have that, we have power too.

We'll find ways to forget the constant beat downs;

We'll find ways to come up with money;

We'll find ways to keep trying.

Infertility does not wield all the power. It will never be stronger than my relationship with Shelby. It may have conditioned us to walk this long arching path, but there have been rewards given to me regardless of why we're down this road. It's making me a better husband, stronger person, and if we're lucky, a much stronger father than I would have been without these trials.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Steel Magnolias

I am sitting here just a week shy of my infertility brain post, where I waxed on about being miserable and such, and have come to realize that this is a true illustration of IF's roller coaster for me. One minute you're up, one minute you're down. I happen to be 'up' in this very moment, but find me in a day, or perhaps even 30 minutes, and you might find my roller coaster plunging it's way down into a dark tunnel.

I'm fully expecting my beta tomorrow to be yet another BFN. Why? Oh, I don't know, it could be that my HMO completely missed my ovulation or that I logically grasp the odds of 1:1,000,000. We however, did not miss my ovulation, but conception with just drugs and intercourse alone would be a flat out miracle for us. For that matter, conception with just IUI would be a miracle. Screw that. Conception with IVF would be a miracle and boy howdy, I'll take it any way I can get it. Even if it means forking over our life savings and then some *gag* *cough* (still clearly reeling from the price tag over here). And although I am expecting this BFN tomorrow, it will certainly be yet another story of the downward ride. Some BFNs are worse than others (I'm guessing this is especially true after IVF), but each and every one of them suck just the same, reminders that what I have been fighting and longing for is just that much farther away.

I must say, the more I ride this roller coaster, the more I realize that women who can survive infertility and live to tell about it are some of the strongest women on Earth, true s.teel magnolias (which I was in during high school-as Dolly Parton's character-ha!). If I am among them at the end of this ride, that is, if I'm not sitting in a psychiatric ward babbling to myself about failed cycles, I'll be pretty damn proud of myself. Speaking of which, I met with some of my lovely sistas in crime today for what has become an almost weekly Sunday brunch/lunch meeting during which we loudly and publicly discuss sore boobs, messy Progesterone suppositories, panty liners and REs positioning their heads too closely to our nether regions. It is fantastic! I always try to spy the look on the faces near us, but so far I haven't caught anyone looking curiously in our direction. If I do, I'll just have to laugh, but I won't even begin to censor my words. First, that's not my personality, and second, this is too good of a thing to edit. They are all my true saving grace nowadays.

If you'll recall a while back, October 15th was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, a time during which we were all asked to light a candle in memory of the little angels lost to miscarriage or still birth. I believe we don't need a designated day to remember or to speak up, especially as the time calls for it. As I leave you, I am hoping that you'll light a candle for a dear IF buddy of mine who just miscarried after an FET last month. This was her first little angel and I am praying, the last little angel she'll have to say goodbye to. Keep her in your thoughts.

Can I Send My Parents the Bill for My IF Treatment Now?

I didn't just grow up in a house of smokers, I grew up in a house of CHAIN smokers. The consequences? Well, both of my parents have severe emphysema, my Dad is on an oxygen tank, and THIS makes you wonder long and hard. As a child, I always promised my parents I would one day become the president of the American Lung Association. If I didn't have enough motivation to do so before, I might now.

(dang. the above article got pulled. in short, it was a study linking second hand smoke exposure as a child/young adult to both infertility and miscarriage)

Friday, December 12, 2008


There is just something about having a real, solid IVF plan in place with your doctor with actual dates and numbers that makes a girl feel more hopeful and less...infertile, if you will. Today, I met with my new RE and felt really good about everything. I spent some time freaking out over costs and plans, but at the end of the day, we have a chance. We have a real, solid chance of bringing home our child. Of course, there still exists that great big if, as nothing is ever a guarantee, but at this moment in time, it feels more likely than it ever has. Even if this feeling is only fleeting and even if it turns out to be misleading, let me bask in it for a moment.

I will 'throw' in an IUI in a few weeks and after that BFN (don't ya love that positive thinking?), I will immediately starts BCPs and head into a long L.upron protocol, with an estimated mid-February retrieval and transfer. We've elected to buy a package of 3 fresh and 3 frozen (s.hared risk), with a guaranteed 70% back if we don't bring a baby home, which will leave us enough to turn around and adopt. Of course, if we bring a baby home before using all tries, we're out that money, but I would be happy to have this problem. Financially, this will be a hurdle, but one that I am more than willing to make sacrifices for. Today, I feel like the universe gifted me something I've been missing for some time: hope.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Somehow Even More Blasphemous Than the Last

How is it that THIS woman is able to get pregnant and have a baby and I am not? Seriously. The universe keeps mocking me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Infertility Brain

I have started and re-started this post about a dozen times, each time in hopes the next attempt will sound less negative than the one before it. I'm sorry, but I will fail again. I find that I go through periods of time when I am standing solid, feeling supported and ready to take on the IF beast and I can safely say that this is not one of those times. I'm tired. Disappointed. At times, hopeless, and my head is cloudy. For Murgdan's F*%&^%n Fertile Friday, she posted about a colleague's claims of pregnancy brain and decided that she would lay claim to this as well, even though she herself is not pregnant. Brilliant. I read this and thought, "that's it! that's what I have! infertility brain!" It is a very real thing people. Believe me, I know. The fact that I somehow messed up pancakes this morning when the only ingredient needed was water should serve as solid and disturbing proof. Mr. S. spent half the morning laughing at my sad culinary fumblings.

Speaking of Mr. S., I realized that I have yet to comment on his post. First, one thing that you might not know is that he edited that...a lot, and I mean edited in the sense that what you see is PG 13, but he was definitely rocking the R rating at one point in time. Offending people is something we both do well at times, but I must say I'm rather proud of his solid self restraint. He toned the color commentary WAY down, especially when he gave me more specifics on the porn. Second, this post still makes me laugh. Mr. S. is just as funny in person, if not more so. But unfortunately, everything he wrote was not an embellishment for comedic purposes. I've been in that clinic (luckily our HMO switched their contract to a more reputable place) and it smelled just as foul and the receptionist was just as brusque as his post illustrated. In fact, I remember walking in to collect the sample for IUI #2, being slapped in the face with the odor and then barked at by the Russian secretary to present my driver's license. At a time when I was at my most vulnerable, I felt unwelcome, almost shamed, and shivered to think what it would be like if I were asked to 'perform' in such a place. Luckily, after slipping the sample in my bra, I wasn't made to go out the back door (which became the policy after the clinic was sued by someone who ran into an ex in the waiting room...so lame).

I am of the belief that not only is stress relevant for a woman's reproductive response, but a man's as well, so after being in that environment, I was sure our sample numbers and motility were even crappier. Boy was I right. Funny thing is, his numbers and motility have gone up since our HMO switched to another clinic, but he's also now taking supplements. Perhaps a bit of both? Anyhow, I am looking to commission Mr. S. once again for the male perspective, but he's at a loss for what to write. I'm sure it'll come to him...someday.

In the mean time, I am looking to find any way to survive the holidays without turning into a deranged and infertile Scrooge. I went as far as *forcing* myself to buy a tree, hanging Christmas lights and purchasing Christmas music on iTunes. It also helped that the support group I met with last week assured me that it was perfectly OK to skip a family get-together on Christmas in which Mr. S's cousin's newborn would be involved. I was all ready to skip Christmas with the family altogether, bite the bullet and go off with Mr. S. out of town for those days, until he told me that his Mom (best MIL in the world, seriously) let us know that she would arrange the family get-together with the new parents and baby on another day, a day we 'unfortunately' could not attend. And thus, my Christmas was saved.

And yet still, all I can focus on is January 6th. As I was hanging ornaments, I was thinking to myself that this shouldn't be so physically easy, hopping up and down chairs, inching between the tree and the wall. I should have had a round belly that made reaching and scooting and hopping difficult and I would have been so grateful for that discomfort. I should have been able to buy that 'my first teddy bear' I saw at the store the other day and I should be thinking about nursery placement rather than IVF funding. But then, this should be the case for us all. We should all be dealing with morning sickness or poopie diapers rather than follicle sizes and daily injections. I feel supremely disenfranchised, shafted by the universe. Ok, let's call it. I feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for all of us. And while I spend my energy trying to count my blessings, trying to be positive, the universe (also known as Tara) gifts me a surprise, reminding me that I shouldn't throw in the symbolic towel after all.**

**just in case you're wondering, Tara has very generously offered some leftover Menopur that will save me HUNDREDS. Super duper awesome.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pretend 2 WW

I am beginning this "2 week wait" (and I put this in parentheses as it's really more of a joke) with a strong mocha in hand to signify my complete lack of belief in this cycle, which is truly justified this time around. Of course, the last time I had this same lack of belief, I helped myself to a Martini during that 2 WW and discovered that I was actually pregnant after all. That was very naughty, but when you're lying on the table after the baby batter injection and your nurse is patting you on the shoulder, looking over your piss-poor, barely-there semen stats and advising you 'do not pass, do not collect $200, go straight to IVF', well, a lemon drop Martini sounds pretty logical. A positive pregnancy test does not. Go figure. Hence the mocha.

Nurse 'Dumber than a bag of rocks', or Nurse DTBR, the one solely responsible for my wasted IUI, gave nothing but a sheepish smile and no explanation for my beefcake, likely already-ovulated follicle, terming the procedure as a 'late IUI'. Oh, do you mean, a 'useless IUI' that you completely f$%&ed up? She didn't seem at all moved by any of it, so I will respond with a strongly worded letter to the powers that be, something I know I can accomplish seeing as how I'm completely useless in person. The lady is lucky I came down off my homicidal, c.lomid-fueled state otherwise she would have met the same fate as the Bev Mo lady.

Nikki mentioned something about the big ass follie being a possible cyst. That is an issue, and one that was considered, but both doc and NP DTBR (in her infinite lack of wisdom) did dismiss this given that a cyst would not have continued to grow at the rate my follie did. They both concluded that this was an unusual circumstance in which my body had already chosen a dominant. So, how do we avoid this in the future? Well, no longer seeing nurse DTBR is one way. And another? If I have ANY reservations about a cycle, I'm canceling. I will not waste any more time, heartache, or money on chances that equal zero. I did that for years. It's time to move on.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Yesterday, Mr. S. and I needed to get away from it all, so we did. We ended up in Napa on a beautiful day and for just a moment's time, standing in the crisp late Fall air with a Cabernet (or two or three) in hand, I almost couldn't remember what I was trying to forget. The list seems to be endless nowadays.

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 Want What You Have

Caution: this post is a total downer. I mean, total. Possibly fueled by fertility drugs and anti-holiday sentiment.

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


Well, hello! In case you've never visited my humble establishment, let me take the time to *briefly* introduce myself. I got the idea from The Unfair Struggle. Brevity is not a talent I have honed, so stand back and be impressed at the self-restraint:

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

Guest Post: A Day in the Life of Male Infertility aka Wakey, Wakey, Hands on Snakey

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;

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush (yes, you can read into that)
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 Hear Me Now?
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 on Sunday 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.

Cum Again?
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’.

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 White Chicks.” 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

I Will Not Be Silent, Yo!

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:

1. Sarang!!
2. Nikki!!
3. Tara!!
4. Nity!!

Celebrity Infertility

I have a confession. I am a self-professed and self-diagnosed consumer of celebrity trash. Ask me who just broke up with who, or who just got a DUI, and I can tell you the latest news almost down to the hour. I know. It's not the most upstanding way to spend my time, especially considering the transgressions the paparazzi have been exacting on people lately, but I've grown comfortable in my shamelessness over the years.

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

A Day in the Life...

Of the infertility challenged female:

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

Expect the Worst, Hope for the Best

The way in which the last 3 minutes I blogged about ended sent me into a personal crash and burn of sorts. Hopefully this is temporary. For the most part, it always has been. The lowest of lows, the deep self-pity and the howling crying fests that leave me dehydrated stay just long enough to see me through to the next cycle where hope shows up again, though a bit dimmer. Someone (and I'm not sure whom-one of my 50 rss feeds) blogged eloquently about the difference between expectations and hope. My heart and mind tried to desperately clutch to delineating between these two concepts, but it was too late. Not only did I hope this cycle would yield a BFP, I expected it would. Even after 3 other failed cycles and knowing how dangerous that can be, I stepped right into that trap. Silly, silly me. After 4+ years, I know better.

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

Waiting for the pee stick

...as I type this. And the whole 3 minute wait just sucks. Trying to expect the worst, hope for the best. Ugh.

Followup: Nope. But why would I expect anything different?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mind Games

I am being seriously mind f$%&ed by this 2 WW. A snippet of my inner monologue over the span of 10 seconds should help you enter my madness:

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

The Sisterhood

Aside from the furtive glances I've cast in the direction of others in the RE waiting room, I had never actually encountered another 'infertile' up until this July, at least not one who was up front about their struggles. To add to that, I had never read an infertility blog and overall, being in the center of a serious fertile baby popping storm, I likened my state to feeling as one would being a leper in a fashion show, minus the colony. July also marked our approximate four year 'anniversary' of TTC. What an anniversary, huh? Four years of swimming through this on my own, having solely my personal journal and sometimes Mr. S. to shoulder the burden. Not a person in my fertile world could understand my acronym lingo (my Mom still refers to IUI as IVI and IVF as IUF) and most of all, no one in my world could understand the silent torture of my unsuccessful pursuit of child, not even Mr. S. At best, I was utterly and completely alone. And let me tell you, it sucked. So, this summer, I set out to change that.

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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Today, I give myself permission to eat candy to my heart's content. I'll be the one dressed up like a pimp in the corner of the room with a dozen lollipops hanging out of her mouth. Seeing as how I'm living like a nun in all other respects (no caffeine, no alcohol, no excessive amounts of chocolate), I think the candy thing is a fair indulgence, especially as I'll be tonight's designated driver. Ya know, I was lamenting this whole DD thing for awhile, but then I became so thankful that my closest friends are still childless and our Halloweens consist of solely 'adult activities'. This day is nevertheless a reminder of all that has not yet taken place in my life and also, stands as the gateway to the holiday season, the hardest time of the year for all of us. Still, I wish you a Happy Halloween and hope you're able to find a little joy in the holiday. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The 2 WW Mulder/Scully Conundrum

It's setting in. Not just that ever elusive hope, but those expectations that I *try* to keep down because reality is so much easier to digest in that state. But the events of today cracked those plans wide open, leaving me terrified that if there is no BFP at the end of these two weeks, I might just lose it.

But I know better. There will be no BFP. It doesn't work that way. Not for me, at least.

I've been here a million times over (approximately 50, actually, as this is the number of months that have passed since we've been sans BCP). Yet still, delusions are so easy for me to grasp at. Despite my two lonesome little follies, everything else seemed to fall neatly into place, convincing me that this just might work. My cervical mucus is AWESOME. So awesome, in fact, that the NP couldn't even get the slippery speculum into place (ok, who ever thought I would blog about cervical mucus? and describe it as awesome at that? And in caps?). Then, my lining came past the finish line at a thick and fluffy 10. Yeah! Can I get a w00t? But best of all? Wait for it...

Mr. S's baby batter was almost in the normal range for both count and motility!

Hell to the yeah!

I know this doesn't seem very monumental, but let's look at this in relative terms. The type A half of my Gemini twin self has a spread sheet detailing the stats of every semen analysis and IUI sample Mr. S. has ever given. All 5,000 of them. Poor guy has had more dates with RE office porn than he'd care to admit. I will admit my cataloging of this seems a bit overzealous, but the fact that I can't find the title to my house makes up for that anal retention. Priorities, people. Anyhow, the best of the samples was given over 2 1/2 years ago at 21 mil and 20% motility, pre-wash. Since then, the numbers have taken a steep nosedive. The worst? 5 mil and 30% motility, and that was when we got pregnant in April (clearly and completely against the odds). When I opened the paper outside of the RE's office detailing this month's stats, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was... (drum roll, please):

45 mil count and 50 something motility (can't remember specifically), pre wash. Morphology was normal, as it always has been.

Holy shit. Are you sure this is my husband's sample?

Yes. Apparently it was.

You're probably wondering how this happened and there is only one explanation:

Now normally Mr. S. and I are textbook skeptics. Total Scullys. You show me solid proof and I may or may not believe. But after 3 different REs recommended this, I thought it was at least worth a look into. When I did, I saw that they've actually done studies to show improvements in count and motility. Real studies (at least, what looks to be from my limited scientific background). After some convincing, Mr. S. began diligently popping them nightly right after our miscarriage, despite the fact that they tear up his stomach. And now, I'm wondering how I can buy the suckers in bulk. Call me a believer. A total consumer whore. I'm sold.

While I might not have a BFP at the end of this, it increases the chances of it ever happening. Hey, in the very least, we may be able to avoid ICSI, which will save us a ton. In the mean time, I'm trying to stay grounded and not believe that just because of this, it'll work this time, but the Mulder in me is fighting his way through. I guess I'll accept that for now and do clean up later. And so, the 2 WW begins...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

True Colors

I have been a pitiful reciprocal blogger lately. Sure I come spill to my heart's content, but my 'participation' in ICLW this month was lackluster at best. With 50 entries still waiting in my reader (mind you, I am signed up to follow at least as many blogs) I have some catching up to do. But if I'm not commenting, I am reading and keeping up with so many lives that along with the 27 kids on my counseling caseload, my head is starting to spin a bit! Of course, I am forever interested in others, so this is definitely not the worst thing in the world. And as always, I feel less alone with each visit.

I go for IUI #5 tomorrow morning. With the baby batter tucked safely away in my bra, I will cross the many different freeways the East San Francisco Bay has to offer and pray that the little guys in the tube I'm cradling will somehow find their way to my plump follies. I had a third that was right behind the other two in growth, but he/she doesn't look to be a taker. My expectations are low, but against my ever-loving will, my hope is high. I expect nothing less from the end of these next two weeks than a crushing defeat.

For someone who lives inside the IF closet, I do actually have quite a few people who know about our IF. But it's not the fact that we're infertile that I hide as much as how it effects me. This is my M.O.: the girl with a smile plastered on her face, even while standing in the middle of a snow storm. It was funny. The most empathetic thing I've heard in a long time came from my new boss yesterday. I hardly know this woman. I told her about our treatments and how I would be sure to make up the time here and there and her response was, "I'm not worried about that. I'm just worried that that must be so hard to deal with." Simple stuff, huh? Just a little acknowledgment of what I must be going through.

I don't often show my 'true colors' and am very good at standing an arm's length away and appearing unshakable. I wonder what I am missing out on because of this-the relationships and the support. Perhaps, in the near future, I'll get the courage to explain it all to someone outside of the IF world.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Move Two Spaces Back

Damn. Only two mature follies after the friggin' expense and discomfort of injectables. Great. It already feels like this cycle is a complete bust and waste of my time, one that I'll be scrambling to rearrange my work schedule for next week no less. Disappointment is a way of life in the great big IF, but this familiarity never makes it easier.

Being that this is my first time on injectables, they put me on the lowest dose of Menopur possible to avoid too many follies. Well, you got your wish on that last part, NP. I was doing just fine on the Clomid, popping 3 follies, but I just had to go and 'mix things up' a bit, didn't I? I guess there's some truth in, 'don't fix what's not broken'. Of course, I myself am broken, but the protocol we had going was not. However, I got greedy, thinking, "I want 4 follies! Maybe then Mr. S's struggling few soldiers will find their way to the battlegrounds!" Poor sluggish, wandering souls have no chance when there's only two needles in the haystack. But we must do what we must do to convince ourselves (and mostly Mr. S.) that everything possible has been attempted before getting out the big guns, so at least I can check IUI #5 off the list.

Today I felt much the same way as I have in the past after a BFN. I was easily irritated, wandering around with a vice on my heart, frowning at passer-bys. After seeing this in myself (which is unusual, as I'm generally cheerful), it always gives me a new perspective on people who walk through their day looking sour. It makes me realize that there is so much in the backstory that I am not privy to. Perhaps they have just lost a child? Perhaps they have just had their house foreclosed upon? Perhaps their friend just passed away? Perhaps, like me, they are watching day-by-day, year-by-year, their dream slip through their fingers? I am not so quick to judge now-to come to the simple conclusion after being met with a scowl that I'm just standing face-to-face with an asshole. My grief has allowed me a new empathy for and understanding of other's dimensions.

Once in a great while I get a stupid email from C.lassmates.com and today was no exception. That stupid email was something about being able to post one's 'personal time-line of life's big moments' for all to see. You know, so you can compare who's a loser and who isn't. So people can show, "look at me! I'm living the American dream! College, marriage, 2.5 perfect little private-school bound kids and a promotion to senior vice-president!" First of all, f&$k you C.lassmates.com for perpetuating this juvenile competition past high school and into adult years. This is why so many people avoid class reunions to begin with. Secondly, thanks for reminding me that I am not even close to where I once dreamed I would be. I'm sure this is true for many subscribers in multiple respects, but for me, my life's big accomplishment markers were many years ago-marriage, college. Yes, I'm happy with all of that and overall, I am proud of where I am, and also, I am by no means pursuing motherhood to add another notch to my accomplishment belt, but exercises in detailing your 'life's big events', whether online or in a conversation with an old classmate are yet another reminder that the dream that I spoke of previously is still waiting in the queue and worst of all, may never be fulfilled.

I have a bit of a negative streak to me today, as you may be able to hear in my words. I'm not sure whether it's a lack of sleep, the Menopur, the disappointment, or the combination of all three that are fueling it, but I see it disappearing by the weekend. I'm meeting up with some support group IF buddies for dinner and then heading to a 49ers games with a buddy on Sunday, so I'll be back, refreshed and more willing to face this cycle next week. I'm not in the best place, but being that I can still be excited about little things, I'm certainly not in the worst place, either. Hey, that's something.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Forward Momentum

Ladies and gentleman, we have lift off. As of last night, Mr. S. has been shoving needles in my gut to get my ovaries a' poppin'. Who knew mutilation would signal progress for me?

The good: I actually got more than 5 minutes of my nurse practitioner's time yesterday. In that time, I was able to get karyotype, thyroid panel, and some immunology blood work ordered, at a measly $10 co-pay for all of them. Booyah! That is assertiveness at work, a skill I sorely lack on my most days, but have been able to sprout all in the name of baby. The NP was awesome enough to order them under 'multiple pregnancy loss', despite the fact that there haven't been multiple. But she totally got my feelings about prevention and went ahead. I almost started to cry because the last time I saw her, she was standing in front of an ultrasound machine which was flickering with a heartbeat and telling me I had 'graduated' to a real OB. I think that helped my request along. Also at my request, we started an injectables protocol (menopur). Although I have responded fairly well to clomid, I wanted to mix things up and get at least one more follie than last time. I go in Friday for my check-up and if all looks well, our IUI is planned for Halloween or the day before...yeah! Despite Af taking her sweet time, I'm right on schedule because as I understand it, injectables speed things up. Love it. I spent over half an hour with a nurse showing me injectables and talking about the cycle, so I was feeling pretty cozy with my HMO path. That is, until I got to the Pharmacy to get my meds.

The bad: It was FAR more expensive than I originally anticipated. In fact, previously my HMO was covering my meds, but this time, I was forced to cough up hundreds. I'm not sure why the discrepancy and I'll have to look into it. Lucky for the raping and pillaging pharmaceutical companies, I want a baby so bad I'll go so far as to walk to work and live in squalor, so I handed over that debit card, as heart wrenching as it was. While it was worth it, financial 'surprises' are never fun.

Also, while I love my NP, she kind of poo-pooed my Luteal Phase/Progesterone talk saying that she's only had one patient who has needed progesterone shots in all of her time in practice. I was too polite to ask, "and how does this apply to me?" So when I go in on Friday, I will take that discussion further and suggest shots. It can't hurt, so if there's even a question about progesterone as the villain, why not?

Overall, I feel that I was more informed and more of an advocate in my appointment yesterday, thanks in large part to all of my online support. I've also been getting so much from my 'real-life' support group buddies, which I will talk about later as it deserves an entire entry. Thank you all, ladies! It is more appreciated than you'll ever know!

Friday, October 17, 2008


The plan, it was grand. The plan was so well-formulated that I had my cd3 baseline ultrasound appointment already lined up for Wednesday morning (my day off-perfect!), with the IUI to fall sometime around Halloween. At least that's what I had lined up in my head. Reality and what my body manages to do is a different story altogether. Because as I type this, it is Friday and I have been spotting for almost 5 days. FIVE. Not normal. Where was that perfect 28 day cycle I had last month, back when it was completely irrelevant? Well, I'm not sure, but I'm staring cd32 straight in the face and she doesn't seem to be giving it up either. Maybe I need to take a few long jogs around the block or have marathon sex (don't tell Mr. S. or he'll hold me to it) to coax her out. I've read this has been going around, this AF MIA epidemic. Damn contagious if you ask me.

It got me to thinking about my periods, a subject Mr. S. tells me I am way too open in discussing at length nowadays. I've always had at least 2-3 days of spotting before full flow. Worst case scenario is what I'm facing now. I looked it up and the consensus is that this is likely due to low progesterone. I have a history of low progesterone, right from the very beginning of our IF treatment, so this makes sense. But to be honest, except for my first blood work with an RE and my pregnancy, there hasn't been any monitoring of this. I've also had suspiciously short luteal phases (even on clomid they manage to be around 10 days). For a long while I've been at the conclusion that I likely have a luteal phase defect. (this is based on my ever-handy self-diagnosis tool, much to many doctor's chagrin)

When I was pregnant, we watched my progesterone along with my betas. While my betas doubled beautifully in the beginning, my progesterone stayed quite low, even with suppositories. It was low enough to where I was told to be on 'miscarriage watch' as it appeared that it might not be viable. It finally picked up and jumped into low-normal ranges, but in reading studies on this, it has been found that progesterone at the beginning of a pregnancy is somewhat correlated to pregnancy outcome in that women who had higher levels were more likely to carry to term. And yeah, if I were a participant in that study, I would've further proven the hypothesis. Low progesterone=no baby. Not that this is definitely a singular cause, but I'm wondering out loud now. Did a possible LPD cause my miscarriage? The literature is varied, but it could be likely.

As I understand it, there's some controversy with the use of progesterone suppositories. A little chicken/egg conundrum, if you will. Some docs think that the progesterone is low because the pregnancy was not viable to begin with and therefore treatment only prolongs the inevitable. Then some docs believe that low progesterone is a result of a possible LPD and that it is quite treatable, but if left unattended, could cause a miscarriage. I think I might vote for the possibility of both, depending on individual cases. Not sure where I lie on that one.

Treatment is as follows: Suppositories. Check. Clomid or injectables. Check. You could also do some over-the-counter things, but the former is the gold standard. I did all that and still no baby. I think it's important to note that this Mother ship likely has faulty wiring here. Did Baby #1 go away because my body could not support him/her? I know that it's not useful to drive myself nuts with these questions, because all that could have been done was done. But every time I see AF stave off for several days, it will remind me. My body is dysfunctional. My body was unable to keep my baby. Will it ever be fixed enough to hold baby #2 all the way, if they should ever make it into the picture? Only time will tell. I just need AF to get here to help answer these questions, and more.

Follow-up: The ship has landed! Within hours of posting this, AF came to town in all her glory. I had no idea I had the power to summon her via blog!