Sunday, August 31, 2008

Show and Tell!

In this world of IF, it is so, so easy to lose your grip on hope. It is a constant daily struggle in which I must be reminded that this too shall pass, and when it does, I will be in a better place and hopefully that place will be lined with more faces at the dinner table. It just so happens that because of the astounding density of my skull, my reminders literally need to be branded on*:

For this week's edition of show and tell, as seen at Mel's fabulous little corner of the blogosphere, I present to you my very first tattoo. I got it this summer, just 1 month after my 30th birthday and 1 month after the loss of our first pregnancy. I had always wanted a tattoo and, in an effort to thwart the patron saint of cliche, I agonized for years over what it would be, desperately searching for something personally relevant and meaningful. As I was recovering from my D&C, it suddenly became very clear to me. In between popping handfuls of ibuprofin and having birthday cake in my pajamas, I sketched this (of course, I've since lost the sketch, but the final product is close enough):


Tree: Tree of life, or even, family tree, which should be self explanatory in this business. Also, a nod to my home state (California hills are often dotted with their trademark Coast Live Oaks, as is the hill behind my in-law's house).

Dochas: (this is in Gaelic script, so it's not easily read). Direct translation: Hope. Mr. S and I are your run-of-the-mill American Heinz 57 when it comes to ancestry, but we do share one country of origin: Ireland. Hence the Gaelic.

6/10/00: A 6, 1, and three 0's are hidden in the branches. This is our wedding anniversary.

Red behind the tree: This is as close to the pomegranate color used in fertility as the artist could come.

Eventually, I would like to add to this (more foliage and color), but for now, I am pleased. And I'm hoping that at times when I need it most, hope will be visible and concrete, lest not easily forgotten.

*sorry for the bra strap. Totally classy, I know. :P

Friday, August 29, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth...Well, Not a Whole Lot

I've been having a rash of vivid dreams lately, most of which are not too incredibly difficult to analyze. The most recent was last night. In the dream, I was on a doctor's table getting an ultrasound. I was about 8 weeks along (the estimated time my baby died) and I could clearly see the tiny life curled up on the screen. The heartbeat was registering at 112 bpm (the exact measure we got at our 6 week ultrasound in real life). But as I watched the screen, I saw the beats become slower, tapering off quickly- 90, 85, 74, 51, and then, 0. No heartbeat. I literally watched as my baby died and then said, almost casually to the doctor, "it's happening again."

I didn't register nearly the same emotion in the dream as I am feeling in recalling it. It was almost commonplace for me, as if I were merely being visited by a parking ticket or a lost spot in line. And somehow, I knew to expect it. It felt as if by that point, it had happened a hundred times over. My guess is that even if this were the case, 101 would be just as painful.

I suspect I had this dream because I've put away the neatly organized IF records and have come upon a new obsession-trying to figure out someway to prevent another miscarriage. I have this fear, no, this deeply ingrained belief that even if we were to miraculously become pregnant, it will happen again. In fact, somewhere farther in the crevices of my IF riddled mind, I feel that I will be among the 5% of women who have recurrent miscarriages. I know, it's completely irrational. But thanks to IF, my brain is physically incapable of visualizing a happy ending and believes that I will always beat the the opposite direction of what I had intended.

As a result of my recent irrational attempts to prevent something that is, in most cases, not preventable, I've looked up every possible known cause of miscarriage and have combed through our records, trying to pinpoint any evidence that may suggest something we missed (a genetic factor, some kind of dysfunction in my system, anything). The simple fact is, not only is miscarriage generally not preventable, but also, it is often not due to some factor originating in the parent. As I understand it, even the tiniest slip-up in the sequencing of creation can throw development off it's course and no genetic or immune testing can predict this. Yet still I comb. I investigate. I ask doctors about inane and ridiculously expensive blood tests and they give me funny looks. But you see, I am completely terrified. In a place where control is least is where I want it most.

I realize that the dark cloud of IF is fueling these thoughts and feelings, blocking my brain from envisioning a happy ending. If I am lucky enough to have another BFP, it will be with a mixture of cautious hope and complete terror that I tip toe into the pregnancy. Dee mentioned envying the naivety with which fertile women proceed into their pregnancies. I too will never have this. IF has robbed me of this. If I become pregnant, I will never know what it's like to not look down every time I visit the restroom, my heart in my throat, searching for bleeding. Every twinge, every symptom will be searched over microscopically, analyzed over every neuron in my brain. My energy will be funneled into the impossible: mentally controlling every function my body undertakes in order to create a safe home for my baby.

While I am completely terrified of going through this again, the possibility is worth the risk. It still amazes me what we all put ourselves through for this end goal and it amazes me that I still proceed without a moment's hesitation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

All Clear!

Mr. S had an extended panel cystic fibrosis, Fragile X (his brother seems to have some symptom similarities), and karyotype testing to identify possible deletion on the Y chromosome (which could lead to passing IF on to any male offspring). According to the results (and the hundreds we spent on testing, eeek), he's clean as a whistle! This is fabulous as all of the above are commonly linked to men with low count. Of course, this doesn't mean there aren't any other genetic snaffus wandering around in his swimmers (or my egglets), but it certainly marks off some biggies. Woohoo!

This One is Worth an Extra Cup of Coffee

Screw holding back on the caffeine. I'm chewing my nails to the quick here. Apparently, HR informed me that the department of justice issued a delay on my prints for an unspecified amount of time (could be 20 minutes, could be 20 days). No specific reason is ever given to the district requesting it, so it could have something to do with internal delays or it could have something to do with questionable activity on my record. I'll go with the latter.

Before you go jumping to conclusions thinking I'm an ax murderer, a terrorist, or even a petty thief, let me explain. The 'incident' that I believe is in question began 2 summers ago. I was living in Idaho and had spent 2 wonderful years there. At the time, I worked on a crisis response team for adult mental health and if anyone knows anything about working in such a climate, they know that you have to be slightly, how shall I say this-eccentric to be employed there to begin with. I was the most normal one there, case in point. My particular team consisted mostly of older guys and a woman who eventually became one of my best friends, all of whom had a wickedly dirty and twisted sense of humor. I adored them. We were like a big dysfunctional family. We all loved Idaho, but being that most of us were transplants, we made it a daily habit of making fun of the gun-toting, toothless characters living in our midst and the ridiculously lax weapon laws (basically, there are none-many of our severely mentally ill clients had concealed weapons permits).

So, just over 2 summers ago, I made the decision to move back to California. As a very tongue-in-cheek going away present, my team presented me with a very real Chinese throwing star that they had purchased at the truck stop next door (it even had 'made in China' etched on one of the blades). It was beautifully cheesy and a truly perfect souvenir of their unique sense of humor and the state that was so much different than the one I had come from. I was moving the next day, so I slipped the death star into a small outside pocket of my laptop case and completely forgot about it.

This brings me to the 'incident'. After being gone for a year, I was on my way back to Idaho to visit those very people last summer and I decided to bring my laptop along. I threw my laptop case in my backpack and showed up at airport security and like a good citizen, I arrived an hour and a half ahead of schedule with my 3 oz. liquids out for display in their little ziploc bag. After I walked through the metal detector, I looked over and noticed a small group of TSA agents surrounding my backpack. Confused, I stood calmly waiting until they extracted it from my laptop case...

The death star.

Oh, shit.

I hadn't touched my laptop case in over a year. And I had completely forgotten about the death star. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to explain to the Oakland PD and TSA. Needless to say, they didn't quite get the humor in it. The officer I was tap dancing for indicated that he would have to call his sergeant for further steps. After an agonizing ten minutes waiting for him to get off the phone, he asked to check my criminal record. I was more than happy to open those pages for my guest, take a look around, kick off your shoes and have a cup of tea as you view my completely empty rap sheet. So, he did. And I was cleared. They took the death star (please do, I'd rather not have the memory) and I was informed that I would be let on the plane, but would be sent a very strongly worded letter from the TSA, which I received several weeks later.

And now, here I am, today, certain that an inquiry from both TSA and the Oakland PD would make any department of justice record checker stop in their tracks. I was never charged with anything (and even if I were, I think stupidity in the 1st degree would be quite fitting), so I'm fairly certain that I'll be cleared at some point. But the real question is, WHEN?

(I've provided a visual of some of the hilarity that ensued when they gifted the death star to me. Here I am 'throwing' it at one of my best buddies in Idaho)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Records Have Lost More Weight this Week than I Have

I am back with the gratuitous posting as I'm still waiting on prints to clear before they let me step foot onto campus. Did I kill someone and not know about it? What is taking so long? This is driving me nuts. I don't do unemployment well (ok, it's not technically unemployment, but I should be working right now).

To illustrate this, exhibit A: further organization of the IF medical records. I realized several things as I combed through the 140 pages and organized them by date and patient in a sparkly new binder:

1. I need to get a life. Or a hobby.
2. Our IF records are not 140+ pages. There are many duplicates and, in some cases, triplicates of our records. While our file is still formidable, it's not quite the masterpiece it once appeared to be.
3. I'm embarrassed to say this, but this was the first time I actually sat down and really read through the files, piece-by-ever loving-piece. During this, I realized I was mistaken on several details.
4. First, we have always been diagnosed just male factor. Because of the regularity of my periods, etc., I was never actually diagnosed as anovulatory. BUT...there have been a few pesky incidents of the elusive Ms. AF since then and early reports of possible cysts and high E2 values 2 years ago (no longer seeming to be an issue). Must investigate further...or maybe I'm just beating a dead horse, looking for answers that may be too slippery to find or that have already been found.
5. While my doctor mentioned possibly seeing an FSH of 12.4, I found no record of this, at all. My FSHs ranged from 3.4-to the current 7.4.
6. While those FSH numbers look good, I see a trend over these two years of active treatment. Neither of us are getting any more fertile. I'm believing the age/fertility correlation because I see it in our numbers. As I watch my FSH quickly paddle it's way up, Mr. S's SA are getting progressively worse. This makes me even less optimistic for less invasive approaches.
7. In collecting all of the receipts together, I am beginning to realize the amount of money we have already dropped on a non-existent baby. Ain't this the truth?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Private Profile

I just yanked my profile because I did something silly. You see, this site is truly anonymous, as in, even Mr. S doesn't have the URL (but knows about it). In an act of utter carelessness, I was perusing the blog of one of my real life and SUPER hyperfertile friends (who knows nothing of my IF), and managed to comment while still signed in under this account. While I deleted the comment immediately, I thought I would go private on my profile for safe measure. I'm pretty sure there's nothing left once you delete it (as in, no name or links), but just in case, I'll be going lo pro for awhile.

By the way, I referenced this friend's husband in an earlier post after he blogged that God must believe infertiles don't deserve children, so you can understand why I don't feel comfortable allowing them access!

To IUI or to Not IUI, That is the Question.

Come my next cycle (given that all genetic testing is A-OK), we'll be headed into IUI #5. Most people would have moved onto IVF over 2 IUIs ago, but not us. We're a stubborn bunch, made of bull horns and that plastic wrapping that comes around toys. And, of course, we're also completely terrified of the huge chunk of change required to make that next step. But as we move forward (or stay stationary, depending on the outcome), I am realizing that Mr. Shelby and I are not exactly on the same page in our IF journey. While I'm perusing the end, he's still stuck in the prologue.

If it were up to Mr. S, we'd likely try 3 more IUIs before moving on, making for a grand total of 7. Of course, his point is that not only is it magically cheaper (and even cheap after insurance), but our fourth was successful (well, at least in getting 2 lines, the full-term pregnancy is still elusive to us). He's looking at it strictly from a numbers perspective: it happened one of four times, so a few more tries is likely to yield 'results', especially since the first few only produced one mature folli. But now that we know my magic brew for 3-4 follis, things are bound to happen, right? At least that's what Mr. S thinks. Me, I'm not so optimistic.

Frankly, I'm ready to get this show on the road. I'm ready to see what our future holds, whether that means a biological or adopted child, and I'm ready to do that now. I'm tired of feeling like I'm in limbo and waiting for my life to start. If it were up to me, and if money were no object, we'd already be heading straight into an IVF cycle. Of course money is an object-a panic attack-inducing object, at that, so I've compromised for now. 2 more IUIs, back-to-back cycles. None of this waiting for a month or two. If no cigar, then it's a Christmas IVF for us. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Head straight for the crazy-making drugs and fill me up with embies!

At this point in time, our REs (this is plural, as we are bouncing between two right now) are comfortable with our scenario (2 IUIs and then IVF), even with moderate to severe male factor IF. I'm willing to try a few more over the next few months. After all, I am an IUI pro. I can balance the test tube of baby batter in my bra with the best of them. Speculums, catheters-all cake to me. I weather the highest possible dosage of Clomid without a dash of the homicidal rage that usually accompanies my PMS. But after that, we're getting out the big guns. Mama's not getting any younger. And Mama's getting antsy.

Mr. S, on the other hand, doesn't even want to think that far ahead. (ahem, December is a little over 3 months away, buddy boy). Being a long-term goal kinda gal myself, I always like to have a rough game plan at least 5 years in advance. Maybe that's the type A part of my personality (the type B part is the one who recently bought a very child-unfriendly convertible) . Of course life doesn't fall that neatly into place, but it's helpful for guidance. Part of that long-term plan is about how far I'm willing to go with treatment and at the moment, I've decided on two fresh and two frozen IVF cycles. Mr. S won't even discuss this. He feels that it is way too soon to even think in that direction. And he definitely does not want to even speak the 'A' word (adoption). I feel that we might as well start to discuss all of the above as they may be very real possibilities for us. But I guess I should let him come to his conclusions in his own time.

I guess I'm also just impatient. It's been 4 years and then some. I'm feeling like these upcoming IUIs may be further practice in futility, but then again, it's not just my decision, it's ours.

Monday, August 25, 2008


My summer continues. I'm waiting on my prints to clear before I can begin in the new district, hence the gratuitous posting. I just hope they don't find out about that pesky bank heist in the mid-90's. :) I'm counting on the disorganzation of the system here. Meanwhile, I am further honing my abilities to sit for so long that my butt goes pleasantly numb. Maybe I'll do something productive for a change instead...or maybe not.

So, the poll to the right is one that addresses a challenge, er, a vice of mine. I was still on my full dosage of caffeine when I got pregnant (and I say dosage because only IV drug-users could stomach imbibing as many stimulants as I was). Each day, I had the pleasure of consuming truck loads of caffeinated beverages. Behold:
  • 2 cups of coffee before leaving in the morning, approx. 170 mg. caffeine
  • 1 16 oz. mug of coffee on the way to work, approx. 170 mg. caffeine
  • 2 cans of diet caffeinated soda during the day, approx. 72 mg.
  • And the occasional Starbucks run or Energy drink (once weekly), approx. 200 mg.
Grand total: Between 412 mg. and 612 mg. daily.

Oy. It's a wonder I got pregnant at all. While only recent studies have truly illustrated how much a hindrance caffeine can be on fertility and pregnancy, it has been a long held piece of knowledge I clearly chose to ignore. But you can bet your bottom that I stopped the very minute I found out I was pregnant. That morning, I dumped the rest of my mug out, suffered through a few headaches and sliced the habit down to nothing over several days. I even avoided chocolate (including chocolate ice cream, oh the pain!). I am now fairly certain that Starbucks' recent financial issues was the direct result of my pregnancy.

Today, and on most days, I only allow myself one cup of coffee and let me tell you, it's painful. Especially today. While I don't have the same physiological addiction to it as I had before (getting migraines if I didn't have my cup within 30 minutes of waking up, I kid you not), the psychological addiction is still there full force. I have dreams about swimming in pools of lattes, being lathered in diet Rock Stars, having glistening cabana boys laying out in the summer sun and offering up frappucinos on their well-oiled, rock-hard abs (ok, maybe that one was going a little bit too far). But, like many other things, I have my priorities and am more than willing to make sacrifices, this being the least of them.

I am well aware that excluding caffeine (or at least cutting down) won't solve any of our IF problems, but I'm willing to give anything a shot at this point. Even if I do have to lock up the coffee pot behind more steel than Fort Knox.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Show and Tell!

Fridays in elementary school were exciting times, boy howdy, and not just for the upcoming weekends that promised unending Barbie playing sessions, but Friday meant that show-and-tell was here. And guess who was front and center every time? Yes, the attention whore in me just couldn't let even one slide by. Even if I'd forgotten to bring something in and all I could find in my backpack was a stale, half-eaten fruit roll-up, I always found some way to tell a story about that chewy little nugget in my hand. After all, I couldn't disappoint my audience.

Well, I guess some things never change. I just couldn't resist jumping head first into another show-and-tell, this time seen at Mel's fine blog.

So ladies and gents (if there are any out there), I present my show-and-tell for today. It is about my first baby, Willow.

Ok. I'll admit. She's a little furry for a baby, and perhaps has a few more whiskers than a baby, but for a couple who didn't have one of their own, we treated her like a human baby from day one.

We marveled over the 'seam' in her fur (as seen at the left).

And despite the little ball of fire running up and down furniture at Superman speed during her waking hours, we delighted at how peaceful she could be when at rest.

And we were exited to learn that she shared our political affiliations (there she is at right tearing up a Bush cat nip).

We melted when she formed a sweet bond with our male cat and took her naps resting beside him.

This is now why we now own the most spoiled cat in the universe. The Queen of her domain.

But Willow was once dethroned.

A few years after we got Willow, we decided to get a puppy, who we named Chloe (short for Clomid). This was not long after we began our trek into IF treatment, and yeah. After giving more contemplation to the name we had given the new puppy, we knew we were getting her for the wrong reason. So, 48 hours later, she headed back to the farm she came from.

And Willow breathed a sigh of relief.

If I ever have a girl, I know exactly how Mr. Shelby will be, because I see how he is with Willow. This cat can do no wrong.

We're in a lot of trouble.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Job, New Possibilities

Friday was a delightful, but harried day.

First, and possibly foremost, I spoke with the new job's HR and learned that they pay for a significant amount of my HMO coverage, whose IF treatment is INCREDIBLY discounted (no IVF, however). So, we'll be heading back to RE #2 for a few cheap IUIs. Why the hell not? The odds are slim, but at least they're there. And they're cheap! ($300 for injectable IUI vs. $3200 atRE #3). Sign me up! If it doesn't take, enter RE #3 again. More on that later...

Then, the reminders I was hoping to avoid at work came sooner rather than later. This one requires a little background:

I officially resigned from my former school district 2 weeks ago, trading a 50 minute commute for a 6 minute commute. I'm pretty certain it was one of the best decisions I've made thus far in my life. But before I did officially resign, I expressed reservations to the new district as I knew with such short notice I would be leaving my old district in a bind. So, the new district was gracious enough to offer my services to my old school district for the first 2 weeks of school while they looked for someone new. But, those two weeks never came. I got a call from my old boss yesterday saying that they had already hired someone who would begin on Monday, immediately freeing me to my new district. So the clean slate has come sooner than later and I am officially excited!

I spent Friday in the empty school buildings cleaning out my offices and wiping the internet bookmarks/history off my work laptop (I'd rather not divulge to IT that I spent the last month of work perusing It was bittersweet, but with the closing of that door, I am opening a new one-one that will afford me an extra hour of sleep and a more flexible schedule to pursue treatment no less!

Immediately after my boss called, my RE called. More good news. My FSH and E2 were within normal limits (7.4 and 18, respectively). Of course, I realize that in the wide and convoluted world of IF this does not mean I'll suddenly start popping out the babes, but at least its something we can rule out for now. I brought up the possibility of PCOS as no one has ever really addressed this. And since I've been paying RE #3 a boatload of money, I might as well entertain my curiosities, right? There are myriad reasons why I've suspected PCOS (ever-so lovely facial hair patterns convincing me that I could grow a nice goatee if so inclined-thank God it's blonde and I know a good waxer- adult acne, ongoing weight problems, a possible history of cysts), but RE #3 is not at all convinced I have PCOS.

I hate to sound like I'm a bandwagon self-diagnoser, but perhaps I always wanted some nicely packaged explanation of my role in our IF, whatever that might be, and PCOS seemed like it might be it. I guess, in the end, I just want answers, or rather, solutions (like the story of a fellow IFer and PCOS patient who took metformin and was pregnant within the month-I want THAT!). But I guess it's not that simple. Nevertheless, the beginning of my weekend took a nice turn towards new possibilities. New hope. I'll take every sliver here and there I can get!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Return

I'm heading back to work on Monday. Being that I have summers off, the last time I saw any of my co-workers I was happily, but cautiously pregnant, just hours away from the ultrasound that would confirm what I knew somewhere deep within me to be true: my baby had, at some point in time, quietly died.

After receiving an email a few days ago from a coworker asking how my pregnancy was going, I knew I had to contact the few people I had confessed my beautiful little secret to, thus reliving everything all over again (as if my brain doesn't already have enough neural reminders). I wanted to explain to save myself the look of confusion on their face when I show up without a baby bump. The sympathetic (or awkward) smiles will be enough to deal with. I wonder that as I sit down at my desk, the place at which I first received news of my first positive beta, will it all come rushing back? As I open my laptop, will I begin to visualize the month and a half spent studying my baby's development at I wonder, is it still bookmarked? I had already banished any sign that I once was pregnant from my house-the 'what to expect' book and the pregnancy journal shoved in a corner of the garage, the crib website bookmarks gone, but now as I return to work, a place that I did not have time to clean out, will it be as if it were just yesterday?

Some people dread returning to work because it's work, but I dread it because it is yet another reminder of loss. I certainly haven't been running from reminders, persay, but there is a point at which I must return to life. Thankfully, after two weeks, I will transition to a new job, a clean slate, where no one is the wiser. Unless they can read minds, they will never know where I have been and what I have lost.


Although it may be years away, I constantly think about what kind of parent I want to be. I've been hyper-focused on this since I was a teenager, actually, when I decided to become a nanny, and then later, when I decided to become a School Psychologist. Being in the neighboring worlds of psychology and child development in my job, one of the things I am constantly striving for in the schools is the idea of self-acceptance. This is something that is so hard to develop early on for many children. This is especially true for children with disabilities, kids who look 'different', and girls in general, who are faced with a celebrity-happy society that tells them they must be one way (generally skinny and blonde--and now pregnant!) or they have somehow failed to be a decent human being. But in all my conscientiousness (damn that's a long word), I realized I'm already doing a piss poor job of setting a good example. I have let my infertility rob me of the very thing I've worked so hard to instill in others.

According to society's standards, my ass is too big, my chest too small, and my skin too light, but nothing has ever made me hate my body more than infertility. While it's something that is beyond my control, just as skin color and facial features are, I know that somewhere, deep down inside, I blame myself, perhaps even dislike myself for it. For years I was so proud of budding out of the self-hate that comes so easily in early adolesence. I became what I wanted to become in my adulthood: an independent, educated, strong-minded woman with a thriving marriage, healthy friendships and a taste for learning about the world. And as I got older, life got even better. I grew into someone I never thought possible as a youngster and happily tossed aside the shame I felt coming from a poor family who loved in their own dysfunctional way, but made growing up difficult. I was proud of my resiliency. I was ready to create my own reality and my own family, but infertility stopped many of those plans in their tracks. Now, I feel as if that cage of self-hate is building walls around me again, threatening to take away the progress I worked so hard to create.

What does this have to do with parenting and child development? Well, children naturally learn from their parents, we all know this, but this goes beyond simple behavior. The way you love yourself, the way you accept yourself and face the world and the adversity thrown at you will find it's way past your generation. I know this because I had parents who were terrified of the world (and still are, even more so today) and now, even into their senior years, do not love themselves as they should. I know I learned this from them and have spent years trying to claw my way out. Add in infertility, vigorously stir, and it has all the makings of a recipe in creeping backwards in time.

But I can't let this happen. I don't want my future children to learn this from me. I want them to see, to hear, to feel that although their parents may waver, their confidence and strength remain-that infertility changed them, but did not rob them of being the parents our children deserve. Everyday I toe the line on this battle. I am exhausted, keeping a slippery grip on loving myself in spite of IF. I know that it is something I must do. The fight I face today will define the parent I will become. Parenting begins years before your children ever arrive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lady in Waiting

I am convinced that 99.999% of IF treatment is comprised of waiting, and if there's anything I'm not good at, it's exactly this. So, here I am again. No, I am not in the middle of the dreaded 2 WW, which I've done an agonizing four times before, but in some ways, I find the wait between cycles more torturous...ok, maybe not. I was kind of fibbing there. I'd rather carefully twist the teeth out of my head than be met with a 2 WW (whose days I am convinced resemble nothing in Earth days, but some Alien 78-hour day). Yet still, even without the 2 WW, I have found ways to blow up my RE's phone lines.

Like yesterday, when I had my useless PG test and was almost convinced that it just *might* be positive. Of course, it wasn't (as AF proved today), but from 9 AM (the time I took the test) until 4:30 PM (the time they called me, several hours after they said they would and many messages from me later), I was wringing the bottom of my shirt into knots, staring at my phone as if I could telepathically activate it. Now my wait is focused on getting more test results back...genetic and baseline bloodwork, so I can glory in how very un-reproductive my body continues to be. I hate the wait for bad news and I feel like that's all I ever do in this journey. But I suppose it's better than waiting for nothing at all.

IF Video

Perhaps many of you have seen this video, but I felt the need to share it anyway as it is really worth the watch (caution: you'll need a box of kleenex for this one). It is through Tears and Hope-the infertility awareness project. I think that when I finally do make my way out of the IF closet, that I might post a link to this on my 'public' blog. Until then, enjoy.

AF, She has Landed

And as she does, I am reminded of a portion of bible passage Samuel L. Jackson quoted in Pulp Fiction:

"And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger"
(you can tell I'm not a church-goer when I give credit to Samuel L. Jackson, or rather, Quentin Tarantino before the bible)

Friday, August 15, 2008

No AF, but Camping Fun

Pardon my French, but IF is a constant mind fuck. I'm not sure how better to put it. My RE is convinced that Ms. AF (the first since our miscarriage) is bound to come very soon as she saw my little follie all beefed up and raring to go on the 5th. If Ms. AF does not make her grand entrance by this Monday, they want me to come in for a PG blood test. WTF?

I can't tell you how much I loathe PG tests. I have seen a million and one of these suckers sitting on the top of my toilet and all but one made me feel like an idiot for letting myself think, even for a split second, that 2 lines could even be a possibility for me. I'm there again. HAHAHA. (that's the sound of the heavens laughing at me) I know, by point of logic, that the chances of us conceiving without assistance are probably close to 1 in 5,000, if that. And I'm not even a betting girl and yet every possibility, every month still somehow breeds this completely irrational thinking that I may have in fact beaten the odds. That we have created life without the use of science is ludicrous. I hate this false expectancy and I hate the little one-lined sticks and the blunt calls from nurses telling me what I've heard so many times over. I would rather my body tell me. I would rather be done with the mind games and the what-ifs and I would like that to happen, oh, how about now? Now sounds real good.

Ok. I think I'm done ranting. I feel much better. On with the show...

On top of everything, I'm starting a new job in a few weeks and while I'm ecstatic that my commute will be shaved down from 50 minutes to 7 (yes, 7-woohoo!), I am wondering how I will fit treatment into this equation. New jobs are never very forgiving of multiple 'doctor's' appointments in the short span of 2 weeks while their perception of you is still fresh in the making, especially with a job like mine. I know it'll be worth it, but in the mean time, I have some juggling sessions ahead.

On a lighter note, I had a fantastic time camping. Despite what seems to read like a cloudy disposition up above, the trip was exactly what I needed and left me in better spirits. Our group campsite had its own beach on the lake and we spent our days floating mindlessly in it, kayaking through a nearby river, and making smores over campfire songs. It was a great group of friendly people, making me realize that I need times like that more often. I just need to make sure to create them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I was tagged by LostinSpace.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you

2. Post the rules to your blog

3. Write 6 random things about myself

4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them

5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

Begin the randomness:

1. Before I begin this, I think I'll decide to call the hubby 'Mr. Shelby' from now on as I really need to get on the husband nickname in cyberspace bandwagon. DH just doesn't seem personal enough. And, given that he's taking my name and not the other way around is a little slice of feminist heaven, right? I am but a follower, what can I say? I digress.

So, anyway, in the 8 years that Mr. Shelby and I have been married, we have moved as many times, including 7 different cities and 2 states. No, we're not military. As a result, I own my personal set of moving boxes, which take up half my garage. Most of the moves have been for his job and one of them happened recently in February as our landlord went into foreclosure. Good times. Not.

2. I was a nanny throughout college. Nothing special about this one, except that my line of thinking was that I needed as much practice as possible before my own came around. Who knew they were going to take their sweet time getting here?

3. I was a drama and choir geek in high school and adored it, but have not performed since then. I think the ham in me has finally died. :) Although I do love to rip through a little bit 'o karaoke from time to time (provided sufficient amounts of liquid courage).

4. When I was about 4, the court I lived on was filled with boys. I was the only girl and the youngest one at that and wanted desperately to hang out with them and play baseball, but they wouldn't let me. So, knowing boys had penises (I had already confirmed this via 'I'll show you mine'--I know, I was a little trollop), I put a curler in my pants and tried to join them. Needless to say, this didn't exactly convince them that I was now indeed a boy. A few mothers were horrified at this gesture, but my Mom thought it was a hoot.

5. I used to work as a crisis mental health clinician. The main part of my job was assessing psychotic/suicidal clients who had been brought to the Emergency Room by the cops. I consulted with law enforcement to determine whether they needed to be placed on a mental hold (hospitalized). Believe it or not, I loved the job!

6. I once owned a 23-pound cat, the result of a hardy appetite and free feeding. I say 'once' because while I still have him, he is now 15 pounds. He rapidly lost the weight through a method I would like to call 'diabetes'. After a short period of daily injections and prescription food (no longer free fed), he is in remission. I was once a bad kitty owner, but coming from a home where food=love, this was a natural progression.

Tag, you're it! ( I'm sure most of you have already been tagged, but I've only been in the IF-blogverse for a few weeks, so this is the extent of my reading list so far!)

1. Dee at I'm not Ashamed of having infertility, just pissed
2. Lifeslurper at Lifeslurper
3. Christi at Our Journey
4. Me at Just Me
5. Mamasoon at The Making of a Family
5. Hope2morrrow at It's Not the End of the World

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Elusive Ms. AF

It has been 7 1/2 weeks since my D&C and still no AF. So frustrating. I just want to get this show on the road! Not that the curtain has come up all that often on this show, but I need to at least mimic forward momentum.

This happened last summer, too, the first time in my entire life that I was not just irregular, but missing AF for an entire 2 months. It was bizarre. I suspect it was the hard core diet I was on at the time (bean sprouts and hour long spectacles at the gym), but that's definitely not my problem now. The warm, yummy calorie-laden bowls I have nuzzled my face into for the better part of this summer should have guaranteed this. Before, I was always somewhere comfortably and reliably between 28 and 32 days. So, what in Pete's sake is going on? And who is this Pete fellow anyway?

Well, I guess I'll just have to wait and see, just like everything else in the IF world. We're planning on doing a saline ultrasound (to see if the D&C left the plumbing in tact) and baseline blood work once AF does make her grand entrance, making our next (and possibly final) IUI attempt the cycle after that. Holy cow. I feel like I've spent this entire journey lying in wait. What, will it be 2009 before the IUI actually does come to fruition? I wouldn't be surprised...

To stave off my obsession to sit and google 'period after d&c' until my fingers go numb, I'll be off camping over the next few days, internet-free. It's with my in-laws (who I actually have a lot of fun with) and an assisted living organization that spearheads my husband's brother's care (he is developmentally disabled). So, parents, caretakers and clients will be there. It should be interesting, to say the least. :) Wish me luck!

Friday, August 8, 2008

In My Corner

I'll make this short and sweet.

As much as I complain about how much the world does not understand IF, I am still humbled by the fact that so many in my life at least try to. Two of my best friends, my Mom, my in-laws: none of them have ever been through it (well, at least not in the way we have) and will never completely understand, but because of our path, they have made the effort to 'get it'. They are the ones in our corner rooting for us, saddened by our failed attempts and delighted by any good news we have to pass on. In the middle of this sandstorm, I am countlessly grateful for this. Sometimes, this can be so easy to forget.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Your Good News is Never Good for Me

If you were one of the brave warriors who made it through my last marathon entry, you might have picked up that my hubby's negative reaction after the RE might have not solely been due to money (although that didn't help). After all, he had just been given a heavily marked up lab sheet with a list of things that could be wrong with him, possible discoveries of why we can't seem to get this baby making afloat. And as with our last RE, he was the focus and we were once again diagnosed with male factor. Trust me. I know how it feels to be physically broken and to leave an RE's office feeling grateful, but defective. So, I should have picked this up in him instead of taking his word for it. He finally owned up to (most) of these feelings yesterday, amidst apologizing. In the end, he is sweet, supportive, and whatever his ultimate goal (which will be revealed in time), he's still there for me.

In fact, he was there last night as I cried after I found out a friend of mine is due 5 days before I would have been. Although not a close friend, she's one of the few who knows about my IF and nevertheless, she splashed the news, the baby's gender, and the name across my site without thought. I know I shouldn't expect so much from people who have never been in my shoes, but can't they even begin to see how that might hurt? She however does not know about the miscarriage, so I will give her that pass. But geez, it's been two years since I spoke to her and at that time I was pursuing treatment and as she can see, still no kid. I would never think to gush about how happy my marriage is on an unhappily single friend's site. Can't people do the same for me? While I don't believe anyone should ever conceal their good news, it might be more tactful just to state it rather than use caps and exclamation marks across the page. Just a thought.

In other news, I have an update on the new leaf: I've lost 2 pounds so far (most likely water weight) and am hungry enough to gnaw my arm off, but I know the first week is always the worst. Wish me further motivation, because I need it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

RE #3

The whole of yesterday was an unending stream of emotions. It started with our first appointment with RE #3 (and with any luck, our final RE). I liked her and while she did not give us any information that was completely earth shattering (after all, I've been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt), she was more thorough than any RE we had encountered (read: $$$). Since my miscarriage and the fact that my husband's family does have a history of developmental disabilities, I wondered about genetic testing. But beyond my Cystic Fibrosis panel (I was negative), no one had ever mentioned it. The doctor shared some new research that being a carrier for several chromosomal abnormalities (including Fragile X), can actually be a cause for low sperm count. And seeing as how my husband doesn't have any clear physical problems that are leading to the low count and motility, she sent us off to explore.

I was delighted to go in this direction because in the back of my brain I have always wondered: "what if we keep going through treatments and/or miscarriages only to discover that the reason we couldn't get/stay pregnant in the first place was because our genes together are some sort of lethal combination?" I want to save myself the money, heartache and time, or in the very least have answers. Unfortunately we learned that the initial tests are $1,000, just for him. Ouch.

On top of this, I learned that my eggs may be wise beyond their years. Forgive me, for I have sinned. I should be an IF master, bouncing acronyms around as if I owned the place, but to be honest, I had never completely understood what the FSH numbers meant until yesterday (which is unlike me, as I generally research things microscopically, but I think this was an avoidance technique). Anyhow, the RE was concerned that two years ago, my FSH was over 12 and that this may indicate an advanced 'age' of my eggs, or rather a low number. But then I later thumbed through my records only to discover that my labs last year came back more in the 'normal' range (as I mentioned previously) with an FSH of 5. What does this mean? Is it possible to turn back time on one's eggs? Are they getting younger, multiplying somehow? I don't think so. So, I need this answered. Nevertheless, she was concerned that my reserve may not be an abundant one and mentioned that it was good we were pursuing this now.

Holy cow. I just turned 30. I started this process at 28. I had no idea that anyone's reproductive years could be so brief.

I did see something I had never seen before that left me feeling slightly optimistic: a big fat, mature follicle on the ultrasound screen that I had produced on my very own, without clomid. I honestly had lost faith that my body even knew how to do that, but apparently I am ovulatory after all. At least for now.

On the way home from the appointment, my husband was in quite the mood. He's generally a pretty even keel guy and one who, might I add, can spend money with the best of them, dropping a car payment down on one meal without breaking a sweat. I wondered where the mood came from. As I drove, he sat in the passenger's seat and confessed that it was the money we were spending on all of this and that it seems 'endless'. No, let me rephrase that. I shouldn't say he 'confessed'. He yelled. And kept yelling as we were speeding down the highway, tears inking their way beneath my sunglasses. Yes, I said in a calm voice, it is a lot, but in the scheme of life priorities, it's worth it, right?

I wondered and always have: does he believe it's worth it? This is another point at which I questioned his devotion to the process. And given the effort and money, it does take devotion. He was almost more delighted than I was when we finally got pregnant and I thought for sure that having a taste of that would make pursuing treatment more tangible for him. But I really think, as I did before, that he's doing this more because of how badly I want it, not for his own desires. And while it's admirable that he loves me that much, going to the appointments without complaint, taking the supplements even when they wreak havoc on his stomach, sticking needles in me, it makes this process that much harder. I am lifting my own weight while at the same time dragging him behind me. Sure, he's not fighting it, but he's certainly not running up alongside me.

After I dropped him off, I went to my monthly infertility drop-in support group, which was an entirely different bundle of emotions. It's good because I get to feel 'normal', I have others who understand, but their stories are just as painful. 75% of our meeting is spent in tears. So, today, I am exhausted. I am finally turning my back on immediately draining our bank account and will be pursuing a line of credit, so that neither of us will have a heart attack after walking out of our RE's office. Yes, I'll have a credit card baby, but I suppose that's better than no baby at all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Leaf

Yesterday I decided to turn over a new leaf. Well, actually, I've turned this leaf over many times before but the damn thing never seems to stay put! :) Ok, all metaphors aside, I decided to get back on the band wagon of not just weight loss, but healthy living.

I was not gifted with a naturally-toned derrier or a distaste for all things chocolate, but luckily, I was gifted with goal orientation that is the result of severe tunnel vision and a love for clothing (which, incidentally, looks better on my ass when it's smaller). Actually, I'm quite good at losing weight. Between January 2006 and June 2007, I lost a grand total of 90 pounds, bringing me to my 'goal' weight. But in order to ever have a necessity to do this, one must be very good at gaining weight as well. And trust me, I'm an expert. To demonstrate this, between April of this year until now, I gained 20 of those pounds back. 20 pounds in 4 months. Oy. Of course, once I found out I was pregnant, I gave myself license to gorge. After all, I was eating for two, right? (does it matter that one of us was the size of a sliver of rice?) And once I lost the baby, I gave myself license to grieve through gorging. I have since decided that I cannot add disappointment in myself on top of everything else that has happened. Enter: my new leaf.

And how does this relate to fertility (or rather infertility)? Well, if you've been riding the IF wave, you already know the answer to this question, but I'll grace you with it again. There is a huge link between weight and fertility and I experienced this first hand. Some time in the middle of my weight loss was when I sought help for IF and at that time, I had some wonky blood work. On top of that, I suspected (and still suspect) that I have PCOS, though this has never been medically confirmed. A year later, and at a healthy weight, my labs were normal, my lining thick and fluffy, and cysts were no longer an issue. No, I don't think being heavier caused my IF, but I suspect it didn't help.

So, if I'm going to keep my eye on the prize, I just simply cannot neglect even one detail. And if I don't end up doing this for a child, in the very least I can do it for myself.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stolen Friendship

3 years ago, when the hubby and I finally decided to 'try' (charting, etc.), we made the mistake of sharing this with our hyper-fertile friends, D & H, who also began to 'try' at the same time. In fact, it almost became a pact between the four of us and in my infinite naivety, (hello, Shelby, you've been without BC for a year and nothing has happened..doesn't this tell you anything?) I was excited at the possibilities. We were sure to simultaneously share in our pregnancy woes, our kids would attend the same play group, be best buddies for life. We would weather the exciting road of parenthood, but we would all do it together.

Yeah. It didn't exactly work out that way. Little did I know that 'trying' for them meant a literal 2 weeks of unprotected sex. And trying for us would involve years of extraneous people in the room wearing lab coats. Today it's more likely that her real kids (and yes, I say kids as their second just celebrated his 1st birthday) will be more likely to babysit my hypothetical ones than actually join in the same play group one day.

Shortly after the birth of their first (which was, and I'm not kidding, almost 9 months to the day we made that pact), we grew apart. I know it was partly a difference in lifestyles and our move out of state, but I won't deny that their little ones quickly became a marked reminder of the child that I still seek after. It's funny how IF can sometimes become a tangible pain, seen in the face of a child. I'm a huge Flickr fan and post pictures there often, and there's hardly a day when I go on that I don't see a new beautiful portrait of their little boys. They have big, gorgeous eyes and smiles that reflect their happy mountain life, the same happiness I had wished for my children when we all began three years ago. Their image is always a knife in my heart, all over again. It shouldn't be, but it is.

I think of all the friends that have had children since our journey began that I've either avoided becoming close to or have grown apart from, and I am saddened. I have let IF take so much from me, not the least of which is friendship. And now I spend my days dreading to hear about the next batch of hyper-fertility cropping up in our circle of friends, so that I may sadly learn who I'll lose next. I brace myself for the next announcement. I wonder that when my child finally does arrive (however that may be), will I finally be able to see beyond this?

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Goal

Our appointment with our new RE (#3) is this Tuesday. Somehow, from somewhere, I've found that hope again. I'm actually excited and haven't felt these feelings since last summer when we started with RE #2. Oh, the possibilities! Truckloads of babies arriving on my doorstep! The cure to this pesky IF! Ok, maybe not. :) But it's nice to feel this for a change.

It's funny what motivation can do. I am someone who has always struggled with organization. Ask me where the deed to my house is or the loan paperwork for my car and I'll give you a blank stare. But ask me where all 140 pages of my fertility medical records are, and I will lead you to a neatly organized set of papers sectioned in file folders (by RE and patient). When I presented a copy of this collection to my new RE's office, I was proud. Look what I've done! Clearly I am deserving of a baby because I cared enough to gather and organize these papers! Somehow, I don't think they were that impressed.

This is something I do well: having drive, motivation, looking forward with a goal and working towards it. But I'm starting to become aware that there might come a day when I figure out that no matter how motivated I am, no matter how hard I work, the goal will not be realized. Isn't this the antithesis of America? Aren't we supposed to be able to shoot towards a goal and with a good, old fashioned rolling up of the sleeves, aren't we supposed to see that dream realized? This is the most frustrating part of IF. I've been able to work for everything else I have in my life, so I can't seem to wrap my mind around the fact that I might not be able to do the same here.

I hope that if I do need to make the decision to throw in the towel, that I have the courage to do so. I hope I am strong enough to give up on THE goal and move towards another. It's nothing I've ever known, but I suppose this entire ride is a learning curve. And then again, THE goal is actually motherhood anyway and I know, in some way, I will see this one realized.