Monday, December 24, 2007

Still on the IF roller coaster?

As you know, I have had my ups and downs in regards to this pregnancy. While I am thankful and happy that things continue to look good, I am also still grieving the losses of the last five years.

The last 48 hours have been no exception. Sometimes I wonder if we ever truly get off of the IF roller coaster. Perhaps the ride just shifts a bit as time goes on.

Saturday morning I woke up - for the second day in a row - with the thought, "Everything is not ok with this pregnancy." I believed it was just the normal fears which come with a pregnancy after years of infertility and loss, but I wasn't sure. And although we are just at the cusp of when people will start to feel movement, the waiting and hoping reminded me so much of the 10 weeks I waited for Ernest to move, that I started to get anxious. So I called the hospital where my OB works and asked if he was on call Saturday or Sunday. It turned out he was on call that day. So I left a message asking if he could get us in for a scan. He called about 2 hours later and said that he was very busy, but if we could get there in 30 minutes, he would try to get us in.

We rushed to the hospital and met him in Labor and Delivery (thankfully he was immediately available and we were spared hanging around). We walked to his office that is part of the hospital complex and did a quick scan. Everything still looks good. It was such a relief to see movement. We saw a 4 chambered heart, a bladder, two kidneys and a brain that seems to be developing normally. He said the placenta was anterior (between me and the baby) so it makes sense that I haven't felt any movement yet. I would have been happy to wrap it up after we saw a leg move, but we are extra grateful for the additional details. On the way back through the hospital, he apologized for needing to make it so quick. Did I not say he was Dr. Wonderful?

That led to a very nice and peaceful Saturday and a restful sleep Saturday night. Sunday, the clouds rolled in again. It wasn't a bad day, but I was feeling the usual holiday blues. I was hoping this Christmas wouldn't be so sad. Ok, if I am honest, it is much better to be pregnant over the holiday than be on the other side of a failed cycle and waiting for the next one to start. Still, I felt the sadness of the past Christmas seasons and wondered if I would ever feel the joy I used to feel around this time.

Trying to cheer things up, Brad and I decided to wrap Christmas presents while drinking tea and listening to This American Life on a podcast. It is an public radio show that takes a theme and tells 3-4 stories around this theme. It seemed to be a safe subject about friendships that form or stay together even when it seems they shouldn't. The last story was about a woman with infertility issues who becomes friends with her doctor's wife. Brad suggested we turn it off, but I thought I would be ok. I mean, it doesn't mean it is going to be a happy ending just because it is about infertility. Yeah, right. The woman tried for 3 years but it is unclear if she had multiple failed IVF cycles or not. And of course, they transfer two embryos and she has healthy triplets. It was the drop of water that broke the dam. I sobbed for an hour. It was the first time in about a year when I hoped I wouldn't wake up in the morning. I felt like such a failure. "Why," I begged my husband, "weren't we lucky? Why wasn't I able to do enough to make it work for us? Why did we put back three perfect donor embryos and have only one implant?" (Note: I really never wanted twins or higher order multiples. The only downside of one is the $28,000 it will cost to have a sibling, but I still wonder why the other two didn't implant). Once I stopped crying I went to bed and tried to remind myself that I was not a failure. No one who knows what we have done would call us failures. I repeated some of the things my RE recently told me when I called him for reassurance and support. He said I was "absolutely not a failure" and that I was amazing. He said I need to let go of the dream of having my genetic child. He expressed his confidence in me to decide I can be ok with this. I cuddled up to Brad and fell asleep.

This morning the sun came out, literally and figuratively. I thought about my friend Kate who is dealing with an extremely likely chemical pregnancy right now. My heart goes out to her and her latest post really captures those feelings after a failed cycle. I understand where she is at, as much as any another person can. I have been there and it is so unbelievably hard. It made me realize how much better it is to be here, in this moment, with such hope on the horizon. Even though I have struggled with the feelings of loss and failure that come with using donor eggs, I am thankful to my RE for encouraging me down this path.

I am thankful for all the people who have supported us (paid and unpaid) and the bond Brad and I have. I am thankful to Belinda for being our donor. I am especially thankful for Little Project and the hope that she has brought us. Please continue to be healthy, little one.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice Eve!

For all of you just waiting for the daylight hours to start increasing - your wait is over! While tomorrow is the official Winter Solstice it is also longer than today. In fact, in this neck of the woods tomorrow's daylight time is officially ONE SECOND longer than today. Yeah!!

Tonight, Brad and I intend to light a bonfire (well, a largish one anyway) to help the Sun God fight the evil powers of night.

As for the article I linked to in my last post - here are my thoughts: I think that there will always be people unhappy with the way they are raised. I think it also does the child a disservice by keeping the genetic link a secret or diminishing its importance. We live in an era where genetics are considered very important - perhaps too important. We believe we can link every trait and habit to one or two particular genes (although I think this is slowly changing and that it is much more complicated than that). To tell a child, "It doesn't matter where 1/2 your genes come from" is telling the child that what he/she feels is important really isn't. No one wants to hear that their thoughts / feelings are not valid. I hope that by being open and honest about our child's genetic heritage - and the availability of actually being able to meet the donor - will help avoid these types of situations. I hope this baby turns out ok and we will get the chance to test our theory.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A few updates

Just some random updates for today. Short and sweet.

1) An article for some thought:

2) We are still staying in touch with Belinda and that continues to go well. Brad gives her updates and when I feel up to it, she and I chat. Mostly we talk about the shared experience of a donor cycle and how society views it, but we also talk about more common topics such as family, work and life .

3) I met with the "secondary infertility" lady and it went really well. We hit if off right from the beginning. She has a warm and thoughtful personality and understands how wonderfully fortunate she is to have one child - something she didn't appreciate as much until her recent failures while trying for number two (her first came relatively easily).

4) Only 2 days left until the days start getting longer! I know the official solstice this year is on the 22nd (at 1:14 AM) but I am hoping that the 22nd will still be longer than the 21st. I choose to live!

5) As so many people have pointed out in the comments of the previous post (thank you!), today is my birthday. I won't mention my age, but I was born in 1967. Brad and I took the day off and it will be mostly leisure. My only requirement for the day is that we go for a nice long walk during day light hours. It has been a good day so far (it is 11 AM) and I am feeling thankful for all the wonderful things in my life - good friends (both IRL an online), a wonderful husband and with a little luck a third (or 7th if you count the pets) member of our family on his/her way.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Midwife appt #1: 14 weeks 0 days

Last night was our first midwifery appointment. I got home from work about 5:30, changed into some more comfortable clothes (pajama pants!) and ate dinner. My midwife, lets call her . . . Kate - Kate arrived on time at 6:00.

Yes. She comes to my house. No waiting room full of big bellies. Just me in my jammies, my husband and our pets. Nice.

We haven't seen each other in awhile (we have stayed in touch since Ernest was born more than 3 years ago) so we caught up. She showed us pictures of her trip to Senegal and we swapped stories since I was in the Peace Corps in The Gambia - just south of where she was. It was a little heavy on baby stories, but she is a midwife after all and that was the focus of the trip.

After about an hour, we got down to business. I was starting to get nervous because the moment of truth was coming . . . would we hear a heart beat. I shared my feelings with her - my feelings of fear and the sense of failure I sometimes feel. I told her I don't really feel like "one of those pregnant people." She asked what I would do when I was giving birth. I joked that I would probably be thinking, "OMG! I'm pregnant!"

We talked some more about dealing with the grief. She suggested that I talk to the baby and when I am sad to tell the baby that it isn't about him or her. That is is about me grieving, which needs to happen, and that I still love our Little Project and am happy to have him/her growing inside of me.

After a few minutes, she suggested we get the hard part over with. I peed on a stick - in the privacy of my own bathroom - compared it to the label and reported back. Everything looked good except I was high for "specific gravity". She said that is common with pregnancy.

Then I laid down on the couch and scooted my pajamas down and my shirt up. Kate felt around for the edges of my uterus and said it is about the right size. I actually measured two weeks behind, but that is common this early because the uterus tips back a bit. Then she felt around for the baby and put the doppler about where she thought we would get a heartbeat. It took about 8 seconds and we could hear the woosh woosh of the umbilical cord. Then it got muddied with the sound of my heartbeat so she moved the doppler and then we got the heart itself. We listened for just a couple of seconds, but it was enough. Phew!

Brad offered to get a tissue to wipe up the gel. Kate said no, it is aloe vera gel and she likes to rub it in so the baby gets to know her. As she was doing that, we talked a bit more about nutrition - she is a strong advocate of getting enough protein. She suggested I make peanut butter balls to keep around as snacks. Yum! I think I can do that.

On a bit of a side note, if anyone has any peanut butter ball recipes, please let me know. I still yearn for the ones my elementary school used to serve.

I have to admit, I missed seeing an ultrasound, but it was nice to be able to discuss my feelings around the pregnancy. My OB is very understanding and caring, but he simply can't take the time to talk about these things. On the plus side, both my midwife and OB (he wanted an update today) said I may feel the baby move in the next couple of weeks. I may not trust that is what I felt, but to be open to the feeling.

My next appointment is with the OB two weeks from today. He will probably ask again how much we want to test. Maybe I will know the answer by then.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

For the record

For the record, I am (I think) doing better in regards to coping with and accepting donor eggs. At least I don't seem as sad about it nor as often.

Certainly, seeing the baby move on the ultrasound has helped a great deal. When I think that we should have kept trying with my eggs, I can tell myself that we might still be trying for quite some time, rather than being hopeful that the kicking baby will be in our arms in 6-ish months.

It came to me several weeks back - and maybe I have already mentioned this - that part of the sadness I was feeling was separate from having a baby with someone else's genes. Part of the sadness was (is?) because I felt like such an absolute and complete failure. How was I not able to create a baby with my eggs? Did I try hard enough? I should have gone to an RE sooner. I ought to have been able to fix this!

And so the thoughts would go. Even typing it now, I can feel a heaviness in me. But the good news is that I have an answer to those thoughts: Brad and I made the best possible decision with the information we had and I did everything I could to create a different outcome. I also remind myself how completely weary we were (and still are to some extent). We needed to move on and get to a different chapter of our lives. I remind myself that it takes strength to keep moving on and to choose options you really didn't want - whether that is moving to IVF, choosing donor gametes, choosing to adopt or choosing to live child free.

The best part about being sad because I failed (or didn't fail as I keep reminding myself) is that I see myself getting over it. Losing my genetic connection will always be with me and it's impact will be felt in many different ways for years and years to come. If this is the greater cause of my sadness, how will I ever be ok? But if it is about feeling like a failure? That I can recover from.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Support group update

Thank you to everyone who left feed back regarding how to handle my pregnancy and the IRL support group. It is SO much appreciated! I would like to encourage anyone with an opinion to continue to leave your thoughts.

You ladies didn't let me down and I got some wonderful feedback from many different view points. For the time being, I am going to take each new member on a case by case basis as to when I will let them know about the pregnancy. My plan is to not attend the meetings in person once the bump (continuing to think optimistically) is too prominent. Even if people say they are ok with it, they might not be on that particular day.

Interestingly, I have had my first big challenge in terms of new members. The newest member is dealing with secondary infertility. She got pregnant on her first IVF and has had two failed FET's from embryos left over from that first IVF cycle. She has more in the freezer, but her RE has advised her to move on to another fresh cycle. Can I be compassionate and offer her the same support I give to others still trying for their first? I think so. Can I be sincere in that support? I will try.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Don't let me become one of "them"

Warning: Please accept my apologies in advance for offending anyone. I don't want to minimize anyones infertility struggles as I describe how I sometimes feel. I hope I make the point at the end that everyone's pain is relative.

Don't let me become one of "them"

You know the ones . . . the infertiles who get pregnant "easily", but still think they have had it so hard that you would never envy their success. They are the ones who show up at the RE clinic with a toddler as they do an FET for a sibling. They tell you about their pregnancy or pat their belly and lament how terribly hard it all is and don't seem to understand that their situation or conversation can still cause you feelings of sadness and pain.

They think they are just like you. They think you should be happy for them or feel inspired by their success or at the very least, that you couldn't possibly be jealous because after all, their journey was just so awful.

I believe my journey hasn't been "easy". I define getting pregnant "easily" as someone who gets pregnant with IUI or less than 4 or 5 IVF's with their own gametes and no more than one early miscarriage. I know this will be offensive to those of you who may be or hope to get pregnant by my definition of easy. I don't want to negate your journey. My intention is to explain that I am sometimes envious of people who get pregnant, in my view, more easily than myself. When these people try to compare their journey to mine, I don't find it comforting. In fact, I find that I feel my journey has been negated or trivialized.

Not too long ago, I had someone tell me she had the exact same thing happen. She was dealing with infertility, got pregnant the first time and had a late term loss. Yes, that part of the journey is similar to mine, but after that it is very different. When she had her late term loss, she had frozen embryos ready to go. She took a few months to mourn, did an FET and had a healthy baby. At the point she shared this, I had been more than 2 years on the other side of losing our child, 2 failed IVF's and facing using donor gametes. I would have given anything to have been as lucky as her.

Here is my dilemma. I started a support group about a year ago. Things were pretty slow at first, but we have been getting some new members lately - which is great. The problem is that I am now pregnant. I can arrange things so I don't show right now and I can avoid the subject, but I also don't want to be dishonest. There is a part of me that thinks, "She won't mind that I am pregnant because it is with donor eggs. She will be glad that she hasn't gotten to that point."

But it isn't that simple, of course. She might be battling something that makes it hard to carry a baby and would take a pregnancy with DE over a gestational carrier or no baby at all. She may not be able to afford IVF and would be thankful for even the chance to try - never mind the gametes. She might be so warn out or hopeless feeling that any pregnancy would cause pain. I need to remember that my journey may fall into someone else's definition of "easy".

Any suggestions on how to handle this as we go forward? Can I ask people how they feel about me being pregnant and be able to get an honest answer? Do you think it is possible most people won't mind that I am pregnant - at least until I start showing? If you were joining my IRL support group and you didn't know me at all, how would you feel?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

OB appointment #2: 12 weeks, 1 day (detailed u/s description)

We had another meeting with Dr. Wonderful on Friday. To save you any suspense, all went well and things look normal. Now on to the tedious details!

I suspect the first part of every visit is going to be the same. We arrived on time, only to wait in a big-bellied waiting room for 30 minutes. Like last time, my mood spiraled down as I watched all the get-pregnant-easily people waddling around. I find my self defense is always to mentally trash on these other women. One woman looked like she was 19 and her boyfriend, husband, or younger brother looked like he was 12. Another woman reminded me of the guy in Beetle Juice who got his head shrunk in the afterlife's waiting room. It didn't matter what they were like really, I hated them all. No, I'm not bitter.

Eventually, we were called back, weighed and blood pressured. We were then taken to the OB's office to wait to speak with him. Since this was our official "new OB patient" appointment, we would talk about due dates and how I was feeling, what to eat/not eat, etc. (I was actually spared the later this time, thankfully - I had heard it twice before and knew all that long before I ever got pregnant the first time).

The interesting bit was when I went to pee in a cup while waiting for the doctor to arrive. I don't like this part very much. I don't know why, but it seems too . . . icky to pee in a cup and then leave my yellow goodness on a shelf along with others so a nurse can come by and stick a strip in it. The worst part was as I was leaving the one bathroom. There was an obviously pregnant lady waiting her turn. She gave me a big, "Phew!" and a look that said, "You know how we pregnant ladies are." As if we have this big thing in common. I wanted to shout at her, "We have nothing in common. You have no idea what it took for me to get here - huge amounts of grief, loss, money, marital challenges - and you could never, ever pretend to have a clue what this pregnancy is like for me." Actually, that is the clean version of what I was thinking.

We returned to Dr. Wonderful's office where Brad and I sat for another 30 minutes or so. He asked if I had any cramping or bleeding and if I was still feeling pregnant (no, no, and yes). Then we calculated the due date - perhaps he wanted to double check my math? He asked when implantation was and I said, "Well, retrieval was September 20th, but the transfer was the 26th." He then realized it was the retrieval date he wanted anyway and we, of course, determined that I my due date would be June 12th. As if I didn't know this date from the day we were scheduled for the trigger shot.

We then moved to the scan room. My OB really is a wonderful person and once again asked what level of care I wanted since he recalled I didn't want any ultrasounds with our first (low tech all the way for me). I told him (trying not to cry) that I no longer cared because now I realized there is nothing I nor anyone can do to save a baby. He said that choosing not to do meth, etc. does make an impact. "Ok," I conceded, "but a few ultrasounds now couldn't possibly have the impact IVF, ICSI and donor eggs have already had." He laughed and agreed that he was relatively low-impact.

So we did the scan. Right away we could see the baby move, but I insisted we look at the heartbeat. I didn't need to measure it, I just needed to see that flutter. Brad was unbelievably thrilled. Usually I am the pessimist, but I just have a feeling things are going to work out with this one. (Yes, I have been wrong before and I could still be wrong, but if it feels hopeful I won't talk myself out of it.) Brad, usually what I call a blind optimist was very nervous so seeing the baby move was like he was given a set of wings. We could see arms and legs moving this time. Dr. Wonderful pointed out the spine, rib cage, fingers and toes. At one point one of her feet was facing the u/s so we could see a perfect little footprint.

The conversation moved around the level of care that I wanted. He said in the future we can stick to a doppler, do scans sometimes or every time, etc. Dr. Wonderful added he wanted to do what he could to give me what I needed. I replied that I would like to avoid sitting in the waiting room. He said we can work something out - I could wait in the car and they could call me, or wait in his office or have the first appointment of the day. Brad and I like the last appointment of the day so we will do one of the first two in future appointments.

An already long post but we are not yet done with the post or the appointment!

We were then escorted to an exam room where I got naked and waited for another 30 minutes. I was due for my annual pap test so he did that. He also did a breast exam keeping in mind that I planned to breast feed. Dr. Wonderful joked that, "The baby would have to be stupid not to be able to latch on to those." In the spirit of infertility I also partly worried that he would jinx me and I would have a kid to messed up to latch on.

We then talked about the types of tests we would like to do. He pointed out that if we wouldn't do anything (as in terminate) with the information we would probably be better off not finding out. In the past, this was my opinion. I would accept and love and take care of any child we had. There is no way I would ever, ever terminate a pregnancy. Now that we have had a child that could have been severely disabled had he lived and had 40 plus embryos die, I find I am a bit more pragmatic. I hate to think of myself as someone who would terminate a life that could have some quality of life, but I also know that there is no way we could ever afford a sibling (at around $25,000 to $30,000 if we are lucky) if we had to care for a special needs child. Well, we have some weeks to decide. We will see how it goes.

In the meantime I have scheduled my first appointment with my midwife. We will see her in less than two weeks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A good weekend

I am proud to say we had a pretty good weekend. I wouldn't say that the experiment was a resounding success, but I would still call it a success. I posted some sentinels at the door and did my best not to let anyone in without a good reason. Often I found that the reason wasn't really that strong and so they were turned away. If there was a good reason, I tried to comfort myself quickly and then moved on. Some things that I think helped the most were:
  • Deciding not to dwell on the sad things. I doubt there is any new territory here. I have peeled that onion a thousand times. When Grief would knock on the door, I would acknowledge him, but then focus on all the things I do have such as a wonderful husband and a - so far - viable pregnancy.
  • I listened - and danced - to some old U2 songs. Their old stuff has such raw, powerful emotion. It felt good to dance to it and imagine that I was dancing out the pain and sadness.
  • I imagined it was Spring or Summer. A lot. I closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face and the grass under my bare feet. I would run through fields and swim in mountain lakes. It never failed to put a smile on my face.
  • I slept when I was tired or didn't feel well. I am sure it helped to feel more like myself because I was well rested. One night I slept for 12 hours.
Thank you, again, for everyones support. It is nice to feel understood.

Now, for something kind of funny. Here is an excerpt from an ASRM publication about when to see a counselor regarding infertility. I have read it three times and I have laughed every time. Do you know anyone who couldn't check off at least half of these things? Really, they should offer counseling as part of the standard IVF protocol.
I N F E RT I L I T Y C O U N S E L O R ?

Consider counseling if you are feeling depressed, anxious,
or so preoccupied with your infertility that you feel it is
hard to enjoy life. You may also want to consider counseling
if you are feeling “stuck” and need to sort out your
options and alternatives. Signs that you might benefit
from counseling include:

•persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, or worthlessness
•social isolation
•loss of interest in usual activities and relationships
•agitation and anxiety
•increased mood swings
•constant preoccupation with infertility
•marital discord
•difficulty concentrating and remembering
•increased use of alcohol or drugs
•a change in appetite, weight, or sleep patterns
•thoughts about suicide or death
•difficulty with scheduled intercourse
Um, lets see . . . Yep, I can pretty much say yes to all of them at one time or another. Isn't infertility fun?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The unwanted guest

It seems I have some unwanted house guests. I suppose I did invite them in initially, but I am growing weary and they don't want to leave.

At first I thought they would just go away on their own. Given enough time they would wonder off and one day I would notice that they hadn't been around for a while. When that didn't work, I tried ignoring them. I thought they would get the hint and leave. No such luck.

Then I started to question my role in the relationship. Am I giving them signals that they really are welcome? I think I must be and, in a way, I do get a perverse . . . if not pleasure, then at least satisfaction with their presence. Even though I am not happy when they are here, I keep inviting them in just the same. When I am blatant and scream, "Go! You are not welcome here anymore!", they just nod and wink and seem to know that I don't really mean it.

I am sure you have an idea who these guest are. Some of the names I use for them are Envy, Bitterness, Anger, Sadness, and Resentfulness. I am truly sick of them so why do I keep inviting them to hang out? Why not invite Peacefulness, Contentment and Joy over instead? I like these guests. I am very happy when they are around. Yet at the slightest hint of a pregnancy that I perceive as being more easily obtained than my own, Joy runs screaming and Bitterness settles in. In time, Bitterness might wonder away, but only after Sadness has come over to keep me company. These are ugly emotions and they eat me up inside.

Where is Contentment when I need it? Why can't Joy hang around and refuse to leave just because Resentfulness wants to come in too? Better still, shouldn't Joy stand up for me and tell Resentfulness it isn't welcome?

How do I reverse this trend? How can I be completely ok with life just the way it is. How can I see what I have instead of what I have lost along the way? Sometimes I even miss the days before this cycle when I longed to have (what seems to be) a viable pregnancy because I had hope that crossing that hurdle would make everything ok. I still hold the fantasy that if we had just been successful with my eggs, damn it! everything would be ok right now. Do you think that is true or would I still be inviting Sadness in because it was just so hard getting here? I am beginning to believe it wouldn't have mattered that much how we got here, because what I really, really wanted was to have gotten pregnant easily nearly six years ago.

Do you think that although I love Joy and Happiness and Peacefulness, I have grown too accustomed to Sadness, Grief and Despair?

I want the proverbial light switch that changes the way I think in an instant. Lacking that, I am going to do my best to hang out with Happiness over this long weekend. It will be a gift to my dear husband. He deserves a wife who laughs over the ridiculousness of the last 6 years instead of one who laments what will never be. I have also scheduled an appointment with my hypnotherapist in the hopes that a little mental manipulation might help move things along.

I have shared my time with good company. I know the flavor of Joy and the happy calm of Peace. I want to hang out with them more and stop spending time with those those guests who diminish my life instead of enhance it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

OB appointment: 10w 1d

In more exciting detail (not really) here is the run down of my first OB appointment. For a little background, I have been seeing this OB (Dr. Wonderful) for years. He did the IUI that resulted in the conception of Ernest. He has been very supportive throughout all of our IVF's by asking for updates, giving me his opinion on procedures and even letting me call him at home during a few crisis moments. He is a very kind person and a doctor with a great reputation.

My appointment was for 3:15 and since Dr. Wonderful is always running late (I think he can't say "no") I called to see if I should get there on time. Depending on who answers I either get the truth or "you need to be here for your scheduled appointment". The answer that day was, "He is currently running on time." She only gave the answer after asking who I was (I might have a reputation of being high maintenance) so I was suspicious, but I got there on time just the same.

It was not easy going in because I knew I would be surrounded by big bellies. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but they were there. I read the newspaper or stared at the floor to protect myself. The pregnant ladies came and went and then a brand new baby, but I held my own. In a record 25 minutes I was taken back to my OB's office.

Where we waited some more. The office door was open and sometimes I looked up just in time to see a big belly prance down the hall. "Why do they let these people wonder around?!" I only half jokingly said to Brad.

Another, nervous half an hour passed and Dr. Wonderful came in all smiles. He asked if I was feeling pregnant. I hesitated to say "yes" because I didn't want to find out in a few minutes that it wasn't actually the case. He asked more specific questions - are you nauseous, fatigued, etc. to which I replied that I was. At that we set off for the u/s room.

That is when we saw our little project moving. I started crying, I was so happy. This bounced the image around so Brad said with joy in his voice, "Stop moving!" He then measured the baby (measured at 10w0d) and showed us where the placenta was. He checked for blood clots (because I was bleeding several weeks ago) but didn't see anything. We verified we could go off of the estradial and progesterone (yeah!). Then he gave me a great big hug and shook Brad's hand.

He said next time we can talk about what type of care I would like since I have preferred "self directed" care in the past. I told him that I hadn't decided, but am tempted to let him do whatever is going to keep him from biting his nails while I gave birth at home. He said he will be biting his nails no matter what.

I did get my TSH levels checked one more time. I have always been boarderline and if I was taking a thyroid replacement they would want to up the dose, so I thought it would be good to keep an eye on it. So we wrapped up with a blood draw and we were done. Total time was about 1.5 hours.

My next appointment with Dr. Wonderful is two weeks from this one. Normally it would be 4 weeks, but he didn't have time to do a "new OB appointment" as he would like. I will take all the attention I can get at this point so I don't mind.

Friday, November 16, 2007

10 weeks 1 day and still pregnant!

In fact, we saw little hands and feet moving! It was amazing. There are lots of thoughts going through my head, but I want to keep this short so here is some quick bullet items. Later I will post details of this visit so those interested can compare the OB experience with the midwife experience.
  • Yes, I thought about the baby being the product of DE while watching him move. Yet the overwhelming feeling was that she was our baby! Moving!!
  • I always imagined that Ernest never moved so it was very comforting to see movement
  • I know lots can still go wrong, but we seem to fear most what we have already personally experienced.
  • I feel very, very fortunate to be this far along with a huge support system both in the blogosphere and in real life.
  • Did I mention we saw the baby move? Just like this (imagine me laying on my back kicking my hands and feet)!
  • We are done with progesterone shots and estrace! Maybe I will start to feel like a normal pregnant lady. Yeah, right.
Thanks again to all your wonderful support. I hope that I didn't make anyone feel sad for herself tonight. I know that may be impossible, but please know I am thinking about you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sometimes you just need a little boost

Note: An alternate title for this post could be, "A long way of saying very little" which is your hint that if you are behind in your catching up on the blogs you follow like I am, this would be one you can skip.

The hormones of pg (my excuse anyway) have been making me all weepy lately. The hormones on top of the increasingly short days. This has never been an easy time of year for me. My husband noticed a few years ago that I start to get blue about the time the sun goes down. Add to that the loss we had in October, the holidays and my December birthday and it becomes a difficult 3 months period. I figure if I can get to December 21st, at least I can start watching the days get longer. By January there is the hope that I may survive the winter and I know once February is over I will be ok.

Not that I wish my life away. Just the time between November and March. And the time between treatment cycles, of course. Yes, I am still working on the "living in the moment" thing.

I digress. What I meant to convey is that I have been having a tough time emotionally. I know it isn't all about the pregnancy or using donor eggs or the season, but probably the combination of all three. I just haven't been myself. I have been feeling weepy and icky and fragile. Then Brad went on a business trip this week. How was I going to make it without his emotional support? How would I give myself my progesterone shot? I have a negative association with the shots since I took them for several weeks during two doomed pregnancies and it is a daily reminder of what we have gone through. When I tried to do it myself with Brad there on Monday I cried and cried. I eventually poked myself twice, drew blood twice and still failed to give myself the shot. By the time I gave up and let Brad do it, I was emotionally exhausted, but I was laughing.

Tuesday, I was on my own, but had a good friend standing by. I prepped, I psyched myself up, and then I successfully administered the shot! The amazing thing is I walked away feeling stronger than I have in days. I don't need Brad. I can survive emotionally and take care of that shot. Hmmph!


On another, more important note. Jenna has created an award called Flame of Fortitude award for people who have . . .
. . . embodied perseverance in the face of difficulty and shared the journey of your experiences with others proving that a single voice can both be a light of support and a source or humor for those in the midst of their struggle.

I feel very honored to be included with these people for whom I have a great deal of respect. Perhaps I am stronger than I feel lately.

I would like to pass the torch by bringing attention to a couple of bloggers who have been through the flame lately. One is a new blogger, but someone I have known for a while. Her name is Kate and she is at It's Either Sadness or Euphoria . The other one has recently been rolled over by stress infertility can cause in your life. She is a bit quiet on her blog lately, but I am sure will be sharing her journey when she has recovered a bit more from her recent shock. Her name is Forever Hopeful and her blog is Wishing It Would Get Easier.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A guest blog entry, bought to you by the Great Blog Cross-Pollination

I was thinking about my situation on my way to work. My husband and I have tried to get to the point where we are today, for 5+ yrs. We have struggled an uphill battle. Although, we are eternally grateful to be in the position we are in (currently just 6 weeks pregnant) and wanting to scream it from the tallest building, we know that we are not in the clear yet. We want to share this wonderful miracle with so many but we feel something holding us back. That something is past experiences, reality, and history. It sounds so foolish to me that I want to tell people. I feel like that girl who gets her very first BFP and runs out and buys maternity clothes, and baby accessories. Part of me feels that innocence again. The newness, the potential. In that innocence, I also feel a tug of reality and rationality, which is reminding me to be patient and safe.

We fantasized about when and how for so long now, we never thought it would be a real scenario we were experiencing. In that fantasy, we waited to tell people until we knew the sex of the baby. We talked about not finding out about the sex and not telling people the sex or the name. And now, all I can think about is, sharing this with everyone, but I know I should play it safe.

There is a rejuvenated sense of hope and an old sense of loss. I think I am mastering the balance between them. For now

Note: When someone guesses who this blogger is, I will post a link to that person's blog where you will find my post for today.

Update: Yoda's Mistress guessed this guest blogger correctly, but I decided to put the link in the comments in one of you wants to figure it out on your own.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Money Matters

The high cost of fertility treatments has made an enormous impact on our lives and on our choices. Before we started dealing with infertility, we were concerned about money. We talked about how much to spend for home repairs given our modest house and its resale value. We were concerned about saving enough for retirement and diligently increased the amount we deducted from each paycheck when we got a raise. We dreamed about the property we would buy in the country and the house we hoped to build some day. We wondered how we would get by on 1.5 incomes instead of 2 when we had kids.

Then we got pregnant. It took us a while, but we were thankful it only took a couple of IUI's and a few hundred dollars. When I was four months pregnant, I told my employer that I would quit after the baby was born to work in the family business. It would be a significant cut in pay, but it would allow me much more flexibility as a mom. Our son was born 3 months later, but he didn't live longer than a few minutes. We decided I would quit my job anyway because we would, of course, get pregnant again soon and the family business had a position that needed to be filled.

One year later, barely making ends meet, it was time to face reality. We would need to do fertility treatments if we wanted to have a baby. For the next two years we spent the equivalent of our take home pay for fertility treatments. Needless to say that is impossible without finding money somewhere. That somewhere was our retirement. That house in the country? Not for a long, long time now. We remind each other that lots of families were raised in houses our size - 1000 square feet, 3 bedroom, 1 bath. We have also discovered we can get by with one car, home repairs can be put off indefinitely and who really enjoys retirement anyway?

I am now pregnant with one child using donor eggs. My RE actually told me before this donor egg cycle that our chances with my own eggs were high enough that he would recommend trying again if we had more money or suddenly had a great uncle give us $15,000. But he wanted us to move on - at about twice the success rate - with donor eggs before we ran out of financial resources entirely. Money or insurance coverage may have given us our mutually genetic child. While I am grieving the loss of that genetic connection, I am thankful we had the financial means to get pregnant again. As for a sibling? Well, that has been very important to us as well, but conceiving a sibling will be at least another $25,000.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ahhh . . . .nice.

I went to my acupuncturist on Saturday and she did a great job fixing me up.

She helped with the nausea. It turns out I have kidney yin deficiency so I have excess heat in my body. I am usually a cold person and am always bundling up or hanging out in front of our gas fireplace. Lately, there has been a very small margin between being warm enough and increasing the nausea. She was able to help so that I can actually get warm without getting more sick. I also discovered that all the foods I have been craving and eating are all the things I should not be eating for this diagnosis. I am hoping that a change in diet will help move things along. It's been a couple of days of avoiding the contra indicated foods and I can't say I am feeling better. Actually, I think there are times when I feel better but the tough times are still pretty tough. Honestly, even the tough times aren't that bad.

Even more amazing is that she helped elevate my mood. I told her I was sad all the time and that I thought it was mostly due to getting used to DE and just feeling the grief of the last 5 years (especially the 3 since Ernest died). She thought it was due more to hormones and she could help with that. I have noticed a marked improvement in my mood since Saturday. There are times when I feel just as sad, BUT there have also been times when I have been much happier. Sunday morning, a spontaneous grin would appear on my face from nowhere. I even found myself talking to our baby a couple of times. And yes, in those moments this baby felt as much mine as the ones made from my eggs.

Not that I think this is the end of the grief, but it is nice to have some respite here and there. For those of you further on the other side, have you gotten over the grief of infertility? For those of you with children through adoption or donor gametes - do you still feel pangs of jealousy and sadness for not having your genetic child?

As for as my next appointment goes, it seems my midwife is still in Senegal with a group of midwives, but my OB wants to see me sooner so he will be my next appointment on November 16th. They didn't have room for a regular new OB appointment - he is already overbooked so I am scheduled for a scan only. I don't mind as long as we can discuss getting me off of the progesterone shots and estradial.

Thank you everyone for your continued support even when I am complaining about being pregnant because it wasn't the way I was hoping to make a baby. I know many of you are still waiting for that baby via adoption or donor gametes and I know it isn't how you wanted it to be either. You are far, far too kind and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. It helps me realize how lucky I am. Thank you a thousand times.

On that note, let me share a more direct approach to my whining. I sent an email to an acquaintance. Well, he is more than an acquaintance, but probably less than a friend. He is the person that did all of my husbands sperm washes when we were doing IUI's. When we tried donor sperm, it was from his cryobank and when I started looking for an egg donor he gave me very good advice since he used to recruit for my clinic. The point is that he has pretty much been with us from the beginning and, most importantly, he has an adult child from donor sperm. He never had a genetic child.

In a sad moment, I wanted to know if I could stop by and chat sometime because, as I told him, "I am having a hard time dealing with donor eggs." Forgive me for being a bit sexist here, but I think his reply was stereotypically male. I also think it was what I needed to hear.

Me: I continue to feel sorry for myself regarding using donor eggs. I think it would be nice to hear how you have coped over the years.

Sam: If you're going to feel sorry about being in a family way, I'll have to tell Brad to knock some sense into you. Enjoy the weekend and enjoy your success.

Me: Yes, if you put is so pragmatically, it seems so simple. Is it really that simple? I hope so.

Sam: It's an active action of making it that simple, and being happy for what you have.
You can do it!!

Thanks, Sam. I think I can.

Friday, November 2, 2007

We graduated!

We had a good appointment today. 8 weeks and 1 day and all looks good. The baby is measuring at 8w 2d and the heartbeat was 167.

Parting is such sweet sorrow! It feels good to be moving on after 23 months, but I will miss them too. I feel a little out of sorts. My RE said I could contact him if I had any questions though, which is nice. He is one of the kindest doctors I have ever had.

From here, my hope is to alternate visits between my midwife (we are planning a home birth) with my OB (you never know how things will go) every two weeks. The next scheduled appointment is with my OB on November 30th, but he might move it up or I might see my midwife first. I will be giving you details on the different experiences.

The one thing I wasn't prepared for is that they want me to continue progesterone supplementation for another 4 weeks! With my own eggs, I was weened off entirely by now. That triggered the "I am such a loser for not using my own eggs" response, but I came around pretty quickly thanks to Brad and a kind coworker.

Anyone have opinions on Pro.metrium pessaries (a term I learned for "vaginal suppository" from Geohde)? I was told to go to talk 1/2 cc of the progesterone in oil and start suppositories 3x / day. After a week I can stop the shots. I opted to continue the shots full strength instead because of all the horror stories I have heard about oozing goo. I welcome opinions on this decision.

For the curious, I have been having pregnancy symptoms, but nothing that has caused me too much discomfort. I am still having a hard time thinking of this pregnancy as a baby, but have been letting things take their course on that front. It seems to be working so far. I hope that I will start feeling like this is not only a baby, but my baby soon.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

7 things about me

McHope at The Infertility Monster tagged me . . . nearly 4 weeks ago now (or is it 5 weeks?). Without further ado . . . 7 fun, quirky, interesting, odd things about me.

1) I still sleep with my baby blanket. Ok, not the same blanket, but as close a copy as I could get. There have been more than a few generations over the years. It is adult sized, but it still has the nice silky feel, it isn't too hot in the summer, yet is an extra insulation in the winter. Besides, I just like it.

2) I live for chocolate. I rarely get through the day without at least a few squares of the really dark stuff. I usually prefer 72% - 85% cocoa. Did I say "rarely"? I'm not sure if I ever get through a day without some of the good stuff. I reached the point in a pregnancy where junk food tends to make me sick pretty quickly so I have cut back on my chocolate consumption, but not by much.

3) I have a very strong right / wrong paradigm. That is, I feel that things should be done the right way and nothing else is good enough. That programming has caused me a lot of pain as I struggled to have a baby outside of having sex (obviously, the only right way to have a baby) and every step further from that we have come. A side effect of that is my desire to tell people they ought to recycle, breastfeed, sell the SUV, etc. I could be a lifestyle police force all by myself. As I have gotten better with allowing myself to see a wider range of "right", I have gotten better about allowing others to make their own best choices too.

4) I am a bit of a geek. When I was in junior high I used to watch the original Star Trek with a notebook so I could record important notes and quotes for later memorization. I could tell you the name of the episode and the season it aired within the first 2 seconds. I could probably still quote you some lines from some of my favorite episodes and come pretty close. How about Plato's Stepchildren where Alexander declares (after Kirk offers him a chance to develop telekinesis like his oppressors), "Do you think I want that? To become my own worst enemy?" Actually, I am pretty far off there I think. But from the same episode I am certain Spock sings, "Take care young maidens and value your wine. Be watchful of young men in their velvet prime. Deeply they'll swallow from your finest kegs and swiftly be gone, leaving bitter dregs." AND most importantly this episode showed the first interracial kiss on television. Uhura and Kirk barely manage a peck - but they did it.

5) I joined the US Peace Corps and was sent to The Gambia in West Africa. I was there 8 months . . . more than a bit shy of the 2 year commitment. I had been dating Brad for five years when I left. It is a long story, but it was the right thing to do at the time. Little did I know I would miss him so much. I cried every day, but it was worth it. It was my experience in my host compound that flipped on the maternal switch. I always thought I would want kids some day, but after hanging out with the women and children and babies for a few months, I couldn't wait to come home, get married and have kids. I came home, we got married and you know the story about the kids.

6) I love to dance. I absolutely love it. You could say I need it. For better or worse, I didn't take my first dance class until I was in college - a jazz dance class - and I quickly found out how little I knew about more formal dancing. I continued to take classes - mostly jazz and modern - ballet scared me as needing way more training than I had. Heck, in my modern dance class I was at least twice the age of most of the students and had a good 5 years on the teacher, but I loved it. Even when my leaps were more like low hops. Man, those 6 year olds could dance circles around me! My husband and I took partner style dancing for several years, but we have been out of practice for the last 3 or so. My most enjoyable dancing still takes place in my living room or kitchen where I can just let it all out.

7) I am a pirate who doesn't do anything. Seriously, the Ve.ggie T.ales song could be Brad's and my theme song. We can hang out in a cafe and read books any night of the week. Should we mow the lawn or take a walk? Yep, the walk wins every time. Notice how my blog is right out of blogger template? I haven't gotten around to that either. I haven't touched my blog roll in months. I have 3 bags of fall bulbs that I bought a month ago. I am confident I will get them planted. Tomorrow. Some quite cold day in November I will realize that it will be now or never and I will get them done. When we even have a semi-productive day, we call it a "Jon Day" after a friend of ours who can't sit still. It is late Sunday and I should probably get some laundry going, but then again, I could probably do it tomorrow instead.

There you have it. A little more about Kami. There are many, many bloggers I would like to know more about. I am going to suggest Meg at Perpetually Waiting because she has been particularly quiet lately and Peep from Conflicted - we just met and it would be nice to get to know her better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

6 weeks 6 days and still pregnant!

We went in for blood work and ultrasound today and everything looks good. The baby measured 7 weeks 0 days crown to rump and the heart beat was 130.

It was very good news to hear after our little drama yesterday. (TMI WARNING) I bleed quite a bit for a very short while. Bright red blood. I thought I was miscarrying but then it stopped as quickly as it started. I talked to my RE's nurse and my OB and they both said the same thing. It could all be fine. After an initial 30 minutes of crying, I convinced myself that we really didn't know anything more than we did before so today is no different than yesterday. I was calm, but still worried after that.

Which made todays news especially encouraging. The RE also said he saw a blood clot that is not related to the health of the baby and I may see some more light bleeding. Phew!

Outside of that, not much going on. I have been tagged to list 7 (or was it 8?) quirky things about me and I am having fun writing that post, but I haven't been very motivated to do anything but eat and sleep when I get home from work so it is going slowly.

Brad and I also might go to the Brandi Carlisle / A Fine Frenzy concert playing here tonight. We were planning on it, but after last night and the emotional relief this morning, I'm not sure that we are up to it. (sigh) I remember the days when I could stay out most (if not all) of the night and still go to work the next day. I used to tell myself I could still do that, it just wasn't worth it to me any more. Now I admit that the cost has become too high because I don't recover as quickly.

Well, it's all good. Next update on the pregnancy will be on November 2nd. I think I may be graduating from my RE after that appointment. Wow! It is hard to even imagine!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Better times

Thank you everyone for you very supportive comments. It has been so good for me to get those thoughts out and to know that I was heard. As we all know, it is often difficult, if not impossible for our fertile friends to understand.

I have been doing a bit better. I talked to my therapist about this a day after I posted it. Not surprisingly, she provided the same advice that many of you did - be gentle with myself. She also said it was normal to grieve this loss and it takes as long as it takes. Given the heightened emotions that often accompany pregnancy, she thought it would be good to soften the blow at this time by telling myself, "I will not always feel like this." I thought that was good advice. I have talked or emailed with people who have had children through adoption or donor gametes and they all say the good outweighs the bad. I suspect I will feel the same way in time even if it seems impossible now. I have tried it now for a couple of days and it does seem to take the edge off of the fear and sadness.

Today I was talking to my sister who was telling me cute nephew stories. He is about two now. My longing was palpable and in that moment I would have gladly taken my sisters kid and called him my own. It made this potential baby seem like a great idea again. It may not be my first choice, but she would be our baby and that is enough . . . Right? . . . Ok, so I am not 100% ok with everything, but I have my mantras - and meditations to help and I am hopeful it will make a difference.

Brad and I marked the third anniversary of Ernest's birth yesterday. We went geocaching as we have done each year since he was born. It seems appropriate since it was one of the activities we did when we went to the coast for a week after his birth. The first two years we left a baby item and a note about our little boy. This year that didn't feel appropriate. We didn't want to continue to think of him as a baby - after all he would be 3 this year. At the same time we know he will never grow up. We found a good compromise. We went geocaching as usual, but instead of leaving a baby item, we decided to leave an Infertility Awareness Bracelet. I put it in a zip lock bag along with the following note:

Infertility Awareness Bracelet

The pomegranate-colored thread holds a two-fold purpose: to identify and create community between those experiencing infertility as well as create a starting point for a conversation. Women pregnant through any means, natural or A.R.T., families created through adoption or surrogacy, or couples trying to conceive during infertility or secondary infertility can wear the thread, identifying themselves to others in this silent community. At the same time, the string serves as a gateway to conversations about infertility when people inquire about its purpose. These conversations are imperative if we are ever to remove the social stigma attached to infertility. Tie on the thread because you’re not alone. Wear to make aware.

You can continue to spread the word by making your own infertility bracelet. Purchase this pomegranate-colored thread (#814 by DMC) at any craft, knitting, or variety store such as Jo-Ann’s or Target. Tie it on your right wrist. Notice it on others. Wear to make aware.

For more information visit:

Please Note: This bracelet is intended to be worn only by those with personal experience with infertility.

I hope someone will find it who can use it or at least pass it on to someone else. Note: Most of the note I took from Mel's website at the link listed on the flier.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No words

I can't seem to get out in words how I have been feeling. I have started this post a few times and I end up meandering around and never communicating what I had hoped to communicate. At the request of M at The Maybe Baby as well as my buddy Jill, I will try again.

Physically I am feeling fine. I could point to a few things that I would, in past cycles, relate to being pregnant. This time around I don't want to acknowledge for fear I will later find out they were all in my head. Suffice it to say I am feeling fine. Nothing is going on that would cause me to fear that the pregnancy is not going well. While I don't dream about this pregnancy producing a baby, I also don't live in fear that it won't. I am simply waiting to find out. I feel detached from this pregnancy and growing embryo. I wish I wasn't so detached, but for the time being, it feels like the best way to go.

I can't seem to get down the rest of my thoughts in a coherent way. I am just going to say it and you can wade through it or not.

I am sad and angry and scared. It is about using donor eggs. I am thankful and even happy at times that we seem to have a viable pregnancy - a place where we would likely not be if it weren't for Belinda's generous gift. But, damn it, it is not what I wanted. And it makes me sad that I will never, ever see my genes expressed in our child. I am angry that we have gone through all of this shit to have an outcome that may never feel 100% ok. I am scared that I will always feel the pain of infertility because our solution was just not good enough.

Here I am, growing a (hopefully viable) baby who has no idea about all the stuff that came before him, will only ever know me as his mother and I need to show up in that capacity. I need to not think that she isn't good enough because she isn't half me. I want to feel attached to the embryo growing inside of me now, not sometime in the future. I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to think nice, loving thoughts toward him or her without feeling hurt and scared and angry that it isn't how we had hoped it would be. So I don't think about him or her at all.

I feel like such a failure. I tried really hard to have a child. I did all the research I could, I tried all kinds of alternative medicine. Other people get lucky and they don't even have to try. Other people who don't realize how lucky they are. They think they had it tough because it took a couple of cycles of ART to have their baby. I tried so much harder. It wasn't enough. I failed. I am not enough. (I intend no offense to anyone. I am feeling sorry for myself and logically recognize there is no value in comparisons.)

I wonder if it will always feel like this. The other day, Brad and I were joking about my seeming inability to clean up after myself. Then he said, "Gosh, we should have asked Belinda if she is tidy." He meant it as a joke, but it broke my heart. I cried for hours. I am not enough.

If we had gotten pregnant with IVF and our own gametes I could have (I thought) put all the pain behind me. I could have minimized the journey to conception. Now I can't. There will always be a third party in our procreation. We could have forgotten about the doctors and injections and retrievals. We can never forget about Belinda. She will always be the genetic mother of our child. And I am angry and sad and scared about what that will mean to me for the rest of my life.

I know I cannot look at this in terms of if I can get passed the use of donor eggs. I know I need to get passed it. The choice has been made. Even if this pregnancy doesn't work, we will not be revisiting the use of my eggs. We will move on to donor eggs and donor sperm. So I need to get passed it. I just don't know how. Yet.

Friday, October 12, 2007

5w1d and still pregnant **updated**

I just got back from our first u/s at 5 weeks and 1 day. We saw one gestational sac. I am relieved. The last 12-24 hours has been very emotional, but now that the next appointment isn't for a week and a half I think I will be able to relax a little.

I should probably share more, but I am so emotionally drained right now, I don't know that it would be the least bit coherent.

Oh - let me add that I am happy with the results. I am a ways from being very hopeful or believing that this will work, but I am happy with how things look so far.

Update: Our beta came back good too. We have 3819 today - a doubling time of 39.1 hours.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Waiting and meditating

Thank you again to everyone for your support. It is amazing how much a little comment can help.

Per Leah's request, I am posting an update on how I am doing. I have been thinking about what to post for a couple of days. I would like to chronicle how my feelings (hopefully) continue to change to more acceptance regarding using donor eggs. The problem is that my emotions have been all over the place and I am not even sure where they come from.

I haven't been feeling particularly pregnant. I do have tender breasts and have had some cramping, but neither of these are definitely due to the pregnancy instead of the progesterone. They are also much milder symptoms than I had with Ernest - my only non-medicated pregnancy. Even though it is early, the lack of symptoms leads me to panic that this pregnancy is already over and I just don't know it yet.

I have also been crying a lot - not for extended periods, but for short periods several times throughout the day. At different times, I have different reasons for this. All or none of them may be true, but here is the short list:
  • I am afraid this pregnancy won't last.
  • I feel like this might actually work and that letting down my guard a bit allows the grief of the last 5 years to come pouring out.
  • I am sad that the first time we receive good, doubling betas is only after we have given up on my eggs.
  • It is just the hormones making me cry easily and all the reasons are just manifestations of a mind trying to make an illogical reaction logical.
In order to stay sane - or at least somewhat calm - I have been practicing my meditation per Mel's second happiness challenge. I either try to just notice my breath, the sensations around me or I create a happy place in my mind to visit. I have had varying degrees of success. I was surprised - when I finally set a timer - that I am coming nowhere near the 10 minutes. The time I did set a timer, I was amazed at how many different thoughts can pass through a mind in only 10 minutes. Especially when I'm trying to keep all those thoughts out.

I think it has helped. I especially find it useful to "go to my happy place" at night. Otherwise I would be too terrified to sleep. Don't get me wrong, I am hopeful. At least I think I am. At the very least I try to stay neutral and not think about it too much. The down side of knowing so many infertiles is you always know someone who was in a similar position and lost the pregnancy. In this case, I know someone who had high, doubling betas (they were thinking it was twins) and found no gestational sacs at the first ultrasound - the same timing as my upcoming ultrasound. Later the blood work revealed her beta levels were going down and she was diagnosed with a chemical pregnancy.

Did I say I am trying not to think about it too much? I guess "trying" is the key word. I keep reminding myself that it is either going to work or it isn't and there is extremely little I can do to influence the outcome. I don't want to spend the next eight months (if I am so lucky) worried or filled with anxiety either. I figure this is good practice.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Second Beta

It more than doubled!

14 dpo: 97.4
16 dpo: 297

Doubling time of 29.7 hours.

I can't believe it! Do I dare start thinking this might work?

Next update will be Friday when I go in for another beta and the first u/s at 5 weeks 1 day.

Thank you everyone for your continued support and well wishes.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Vigil for the beta

I am at work after getting my blood drawn for the beta. I hope to hear within the hour, but it could take several hours.

I took another HPT this morning - once again with the First Response Rapid Response that tests to 50 mIU/ml. It was darker and a clear positive, but not as dark as I would have liked. In two of the 4 IVF's I have gotten low betas - one doubled well after that, one did not - but they both ended in miscarriage. So, of course, I am nervous that this is already the beginning of the end.

Well, they called while I was typing this - only an hour after the blood draw

Beta = 97.4

We are very happy with that number. Let's hope it doubles by the next test on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I chickened out

I didn't POAS this morning. I was afraid of bad news.

Last night, I tried the First Response Rapid Response sticks and came darn close to getting a negative and it made me realize that I am better off feeling like this might work because of the faint positives than taking another test this morning and not having a darker line and possibly freaking out over nothing.

The FRRR (rapid response - measures to 50 mIU/ml) was about as dark as the FRER (early response - measures to 25 mIU/ml) stick from 24 hours earlier. I am taking that as enough good news for now.

I may POAS before the blood draw tomorrow, I may not. Either way I will post my beta when I get it. The clinic usually calls with beta numbers before noon PDT.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Thank you all for you thoughtful suggestions. I think taking an HPT (home pregnancy test) on Thursday morning is probably the best idea. But like the addict who ignores all the sage advice to lay off the drugs, I listened to the one that said, "Go on . . . you know you wanna."

I POAS'ed (peed on a stick) last night with a FRER (First Response Early Response brand HPT). We got the very slightest pink line after 3 minutes but before the 10 minutes they suggest as a cut off for reading a negative result. If I hadn't spent so many times staring at a start white background hoping for a line - any line - to appear, I would be tempted to all this an evaporation line. I swear I saw some pink. My husband did too.

So, this morning we took another. Same. Exact. Line. Ug! Can someone be almost pregnant? I am telling myself that this is a good sign. The difference in HCG levels over 12 hours just may not be different enough or I could have drank just enough more water. I am not counting this as a positive, but I am using it to be hopeful until we get something more concrete.

I will likely test again tomorrow morning, but I am out of the FRER. I accidentally picked up the First Response Rapid Response sticks that, according to the box, are designed to be used the first day of the missed period(as opposed to "up to 5 days" earlier) so I am assuming they have a higher threshold for a positive result.

I think, in this case, testing early has helped. Although I am no where near thinking this is going to work out, it has given me enough hope to be far less anxious than I was yesterday at this time. I hope we can maintain a bit of peace over the next two days and - hopefully - many months to follow.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A distraction

I thought I needed something lighthearted. Brad and I are both very anxious, but doing our best to survive this wait.

Our current thoughts - and please feel invited to voice you opinion:
  • No POAS'ing - have the beta on Thursday, but not get the results until after the beta on Saturday.
  • POAS in the evening starting tonight (11 dpo) or tomorrow (12 dpo)
  • POAS the morning of the beta on Thursday and if it is negative, call in sick to work.
  • Plan on taking the first half of Thursday off and wait for Beta results together (no prior hpt's)
Until then, I checked out my spirit guide.

Your Score: The Wolf

Here's your results! Your spirit animal has a Nobility ranking of 12 out of 18.

Your spirit animal is the wolf. It is a ferocious companion, and a loyal friend. It is both a respectable and noble creature; to have this spirit animal says good things about you, and that you are starting to figure things out. Wolves are pretty rare spirit animals.

***Wondering how this animal was chosen for you? These questions were carefully thought out to see how important you hold certain virtues such as: humanism, self-knowledge, rationalism, the love of freedom and other somewhat Hellenic ideals. Some of the questions were very subtle. Your score was then matched with an animal of corresponding nobility. However, you shouldn't think this was a right/wrong sort of test, but more of an idealistic values test. It's ok to not hold these values, you'll just get an animal spirit of lower stature if you do!***

Link: The What is Your Spirit Animal Test written by FindingEros on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Not so great on my happiness challenge

My goal was to walk and/or dance at least four times / week. These are both activities I often don't make the time for, but they make me feel happy - or at least more peaceful - when I do.

I probably met my goal one week out of the four. The worst I did was probably one walk per week. Mostly I took those walks when I most needed them, so it wasn't an all out failure. Plus, I do pamper myself in other ways, such as a few squares of dark chocolate when I really need them.

Given that September was such a stressful month with all the IVF stuff, I think I was pretty happy. At least I had many happy moments even if other moments were very difficult.

I am hopeful the next challenge - meditation 10 minutes / day - will be a goal I meet.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A dose of reality

I do this every time. Whenever I get to a point where I think a cycle might actually work and we are at a place where we cannot back out (such as after transfer), I have moments when I have thought such as: Am I ready for this?; Am I ready to give up my freedom, my sleep, my hours of quality time with Brad?; What if I'm not a good mom?; GOOD GOD this is a 20 year plus commitment!; What if I don't like his or her spouse?!

Just last night as I went to bed - completely exhausted - I thought about how cool it would be to have a baby. Then I thought about how cool it is to know with a fair amount of certainty that my night will be undisturbed. It's funny how when I feel like my life is going to change I suddenly become nostalgic for my current life. The current life I couldn't wait to get rid of a few days ago.

Does anyone else do this? It seems so crazy. Still, I have done this many times when I was at a hopeful point in a cycle. I have come to recognize it as "just the way I am" and I tell myself I will cope just fine and I have no doubts that I really want this and then I forget about it.

Today was another such moment, but it had a new twist. I was making one of my favorite breakfasts - a peanut butter, banana and rice milk shake. It occurred to me that since so many people seem to have peanut allergies, maybe I should stop eating peanut butter so often - maybe it would be best for the embryos. I am used to having these types of thoughts too because some part of my still thinks that Ernest's birth defects may have been due to something I did or something I consumed. I quiet those thoughts just like I do my fear thoughts about being a mom - I put some logic to it and let it go. I told myself that some peanut butter couldn't be all that harmful - people do much worse things that that. Besides, Brad's family doesn't have any peanut allergies. My family doesn't have any peanut allergies.

And then it hit me.

It's not about my family not having peanut allergies. It's about whether or not Belinda's family has peanut allergies.

"So this is what it feels like, " I thought to myself. I'm not sure what "this" is though. Or I am not sure I can explain it. It was not a welcome feeling. I would have done fine having never been in a situation where I felt it, but it wasn't exactly a bad feeling. It was a bit of a sad feeling, mixed with a little bit of fear and no small part surprise and realization at how frequently those other genes may pop into my life. Yet, I felt ok about it. When I told a friend about it later, it hit me harder. I held back tears. At that moment I think it was more about feeling like a failure because I was unable to produce some healthy eggs than it was about dealing with the issues of using donated gametes. It's funny how your state of mind can influence the emotions you feel around the same event.

Later I had a similar situation arise and got another response. This afternoon, as I guiltily had my third square of very dark chocolate (I have been trying to cut back in case this cycle works), I thought about how Belinda doesn't like chocolate. I laughed to myself and thought, "Ha! I will show her! I will teach these babies to like chocolate before they are even born!" In my head, it was a friendly sort of competition - light hearted and fun - perhaps proof that I was coping well.

I almost called Belinda to tell her - to laugh about it together. But then like a good dream that starts to seem to be about more than just the images, I wondered where this came from and where it might lead if I keep having these thoughts. I don't want to always be in competition with Belinda for our child's behaviors and interests. I absolutely don't like the image of me coercing our child to be more like me - especially in order to be less like her. Which seems especially funny because I picked Belinda precisely because she seemed a lot like me. Am I going to tease out the differences so I can label every attribute "from me" or "from Brad" or "from Belinda"?

Maybe I think too much. Perhaps it is healthy to occasionally feel a competition with Belinda as long as it stays light hearted. Perhaps it is even better to accept those feelings as part of this process and not worry about forcing them to go away or reading too much into them.

I want to continue to be aware of these feelings. I want to keep an eye on them - hopefully a gentle, non-judgmental eye - so that they don't become a subliminal message either to me or a child that I need proof that our child really is ours.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


We transferred three grade A expanded blasts. We opted to freeze the 4th - a grade A expanding blast. We've never had anything to freeze before. I didn't think my RE would freeze just one so we never considered the possibility of transferring 3.

We had a nice experience at the clinic. The RE guessed, correctly, that we would want to be more aggressive and he was already assuming we would put back at least three and he was willing to do whatever we wanted. The transfer itself went smoothly and I found I had no reservations about these embryos being the result of Belinda's eggs. I suspect there will be times when I might feel differently, but right now I am so happy to have three expanded blasts. We couldn't have done that without her. Thank you Belinda!

Now . . . maybe this good feeling will give me a boost into the 8 day wait until the first beta.

Thank you again and again to everyone.

A good morning!

Today is the big day. We both woke up early. I was a bundle of nerves and decided the best thing was to get out of the house and go for a walk. Brad and I threw on some clothes, leashed up the dog and headed out along our favorite river walk.

Did I mention I am a basket case? It must be obvious from my posts - so happy and exited I can barely contain myself at times and when the news is less than expected, I am all kinds of sadness. I asked Brad if he ever gets weary of me. He said that he does. "Do you get weary of me when I am over-the-top excited?" "No," he said. "Well how can you get over-the-top excited without getting really sad? Who feels happy emotions so strongly, but not the sad ones?" "That would pretty much be me." he replied with a devious grin. He's probably right though. The smug bastard.

So the walk was nice and quite calming. Belinda called to see how I was doing. I told her I was nervous. She said that she was feeling all warm and fuzzy, but didn't want to show it in case I wasn't. Too late, she admitted. It was nice to hear her continued enthusiasm. Then I noticed another call was coming in - the RE's office!

"Hi Miss Kami" said one of my favorite nurses. She then gave me the usual info - when to come in, when the retrieval will be, how much water to drink . . . I could barely spare a brain cell to take it all in because all I really wanted to know were how the embryos were doing.

She took a breath - I started to ask, "How are the embryos?" But she was already right there. "You have 3 expanded blasts and 1 expanding blast." "Three expanded blasts? Really?" "Yes," she replied. "Yeah! I have never had more than one expanded blast. Maybe this will be different!!!" I think she said something like, "See? I told you not to worry."

I ran up to Brad (he had gone ahead with the dog), jumped on his back and shouted, "Three expanded blasts, three expanded blasts!" He said something like, "See!"

On the way out for the walk, I told Brad that I felt we would never have children. On the way back, I have hope again. I know I am pathetic - to lose hope so easily and regain with just a tiny bit of proof that things might actually work out for us. Maybe I am just wired that way.

Currently Brad and I plan on transferring all four embryos. Our first choice would be to have one child now and one later. I don't want twins and I certainly don't want to do a reduction. I want a BFN even less. Brad and I have all kinds of arguments lined up. We will see how it goes. My RE can be pretty persuasive.

More later!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I could win an award!

I am just a wonderful pessimist. I have already scheduled my IVF follow meeting, or more affectionately called the WTF meeting. I have been thinking about how I am going to get through the third anniversary of Ernest's birth, the holidays and my 40th birthday. I wonder if I will still be able to be a local advocate for infertility if we give up and choose to live child free. Should I give away the baby blankets I have crocheted? Should we repaint the spare bedroom a less perky kid-friendly color?

All of this the day before we do the transfer and 9 days before the first scheduled beta. I am that good.

The rest of this post is pretty much a "poor me" vent. I encourage you to jump to the blue, italicized portion below to read what I had originally intended to communicate.

I didn't used to be that way. Oh, I have always been a pessimist in general, but I used to think IVF would work for us. The first IVF I knew it would. When it resulted in a blighted ovum, my RE said that, "people who have something happen usually go on to have a good pregnancy." That was all the proof I needed that IVF #2 would absolutely work. We had more and better eggs and embryos. In fact, that was the only cycle where we had an expanded blast on day 5. And we got pregnant. We had a h/b. Then we miscarried. When that one didn't work, we pulled out all the stops. For IVF #3 we transfered 6 day 3 embryos that were all grade 1 or high grade 2. I was so sure it was going to work, I told Brad the night before beta to not be nervous. We were not only pregnant, but this baby would go to term. It was a BFN and that was the beginning of the end for me.

IVF #4 was a Hail-Mary-last-chance-with-my-eggs cycle. I wasn't very hopeful, but every hurdle along the way looked good - lots of antral follicles, 20 eggs!, 14 grade 1 3-day embryos! I went from feeling pretty neutral about the whole thing to getting excited it might actually work. With the day 5 update came bad news. Then we only transferred 1 embryo on day 6 that had a prayer of surviving. I grieved the entire week between transfer and beta for the cycle that hadn't failed yet. It did, of course - not that grieving for a week prior to the failure really helped.

Which brings me to this cycle. I thought it would only bring grief in terms of the loss of a genetic connection. I thought the rest of it would be encouraging. Now it feels so much like the other cycles that I am afraid to hope. Logically, I can tell myself that my good looking embryos could still have been aneuploid. This set of embryos could perform better even if they look the same. I just don't have any proof either that my eggs are mostly aneoploid (no PGD, embryo karyotypes were normal female) or that these will do better in the womb even if they don't look better in the dish. I have nothing substantial to build hope around. Maybe tomorrow will bring better news. In the meantime I am going to try to stay neutral. I don't want to spend the next 8 days crying like I did the last cycle. Maybe I will even be able to cultivate a little hope.

This was a much longer post than I intended. I really just meant to say thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for holding out hope for this cycle when I haven't been able to. I feel like you are carrying me through this. I appreciate it so much. Maybe, just maybe, you will get to say, "I told you so!" in about 9 months.

Day 5 update

We will be doing the transfer tomorrow -on day 6. My clinic likes to do transfers with expanded blasts which can either happen on day 5 or day 6. The younger the eggs, the more likelihood of a day 5 expanded blast. My embryologist keeps telling me that it doesn't matter in terms of pregnancy rates whether embryos reach expanded blasts on day 5 or day 6.

Of course, I was hoping for a day 5 transfer because that would give me a reason to believe that this cycle would turn out differently than the previous 4. Unfortunately, if we get some evidence of that, it won't be today.

Today's embryo report - in terms of number and growth rate of the embryos - is no better than the cycles with my eggs. In fact, it is worse than 2 of our previous cycles. It is better than one and can't be compared to the other (we did day 3 transfer that cycle). I am disappointed and not very hopeful. Of course, the proof will be whether or not we get pregnant and have a healthy baby. I can imagine that we could still have an egg issue even if my early embryos grew as well as early embryos from a donor.

I am hoping that tomorrows report might still give us some hope. In our previous 3 cycles where we did a day 6 transfer, we have had only one make it to expanded blast each time. Maybe we will have more with Belinda's eggs.

For those who like to obsess - below are our day 5 embryos for each cycle.

1) 1 early blast; 1 compacted (blighted ovum)

2) 1 expanded blast; 3 early blasts; 2 compacted (m/c at 8 weeks)

3) 3 day transfer (BFN)

4) 2 early blasts; 4 compacted; 4 starting to compact (chemical)

5) 2 early blasts; 3 compacted (this cycle)

I will let you know what we transfer and what they looked like as soon as I can tomorrow. Thank you again to everyone for your continued support.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day 4 embryo status

We have 5 embryos still growing today. Hopefully they are the best looking ones. There was no other update. More news tomorrow.

Update: I just wanted to let you all know that I am doing ok with this information. I still wish we had more, but we didn't really lose any in the last 24 hours. Well, I hope we didn't. We had 4-5 good ones yesterday, so I am hoping that these 5 are the good ones. I am freaking nervous about the news tomorrow though. Thanks for everyone's continued support!!

For those of you who like to know the details:

day 3:

4 8-cell (3 grade 1, 1 grade 2)
1 6-cell (grade 2)
2 5-cell (1 grade 1, 1 grade 2)
1 4-cell
1 2-cell

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Don't box life in

"Don't box life in" is an often repeated phrase by my therapist. There is some value in that statement. If I decide that I can't be happy unless my life fits within the lines that I have drawn, and life stubbornly fails to turn up that way, then there is no place to go except despair. It is something I struggle with. I find when life fails to show up the way I want it, I spend a good deal of time kicking and screaming, "It's not fair! It can't be true! Someone needs to fix it!!" I'm getting better though. I have had 5 years of infertility to practice the skill of not expecting things to turn out a certain way.

Here is where I get into trouble. I find that one of the ways I cope with life not turning out the way I want it is to embrace the way it is. When I moved to IVF after stubbornly declaring that I would absolutely not do it, I started to look for ways to embrace it. I told myself I loved the every-other-day appointments because I love those little connections with other infertiles and the staff. When I was tired of the roller coaster, I shouted, "Life is an adventure! It wouldn't be any fun if we knew how it turned out!"

When we were told we should move on to donor eggs, I spent some time screaming, "It's not fair! Why me?! How could it come to this? We have male factor infertility, not female factor!" And yet, slowly, slowly, I have been moving on. I learned to come to peace with the fact that it was male factor that brought us to infertility treatments, and yet it is the age of my eggs we couldn't overcome. I embraced the DE process in the best way I could. I found a known donor when I wanted more control. I counted us lucky when we found Belinda who is like me in so many ways. I told myself that I was "trading up" when it came to family medical history. I decided that if we had to have a donor, it was better to have a known donor than unknown and finding a known male donor is highly unlikely (I just don't think the dynamics would work out as well.) I looked at the picture and called it good. I smiled happily. I patted myself on the back for being so flexible and able to embrace our next best option. Then I drew lines around it. I decided how an egg donor cycle ought to look.

I was ill prepared for the news today. An egg donor cycle ought to have lots of good embryos on day 3. We have 4-5. That is less than 3 out of 4 of my cycles. The RE said, "We may have some embryo degradation due to sperm issues." He went on to say that if this doesn't work, we need to move right to a donor / donor cycle (using both donor egg and sperm). Now I am again railing against life for not showing how I expect it. It's not fair! I have adjusted enough times! Why do I have to keep changing my mind about reality? Why can't reality be the way I want it to for a change?!


That is the word that comes to mind when I think about this cycle. Sometimes it even comes to my lips.

I know what you are thinking - and you are right. This cycle isn't over yet. We should still have some embryos to transfer and it might even work. I am doing my best to let go of how I thought it should be (transfer two perfect embryos, freeze 1/2 dozen for siblings) and accept it the way it is. Things may still work out. It is just hard to be hopeful sometimes. I think KarenO said it best in a comment from a previous post:

You know, when you're struggling with Infertility, and every single little egg or sperm counts, we start suffering from the squirrel syndrome: hoarding as many as we possibly can for "in case" we might need just one more. I recognize it in myself sometimes that what might be enough to others seems totally inadequate to me. We need to be so very well prepared that we want to have lots and lots of reserves, so when we're getting less than we expected, we're out of sorts and disappointed, and even though we don't want to be, it just happens, understandably so!

Thanks for this comment Karen. It is nice to read again tonight. Thank you to everyone who have left such wonderful, supporting comments in the last few days. I don't know what I would do without you. I will keep trying to be hopeful and keep you posted.