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.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The retrieval story

It was nothing short of magical. It was also bizarre and like nothing else I have ever experienced. I remember Brad and me sitting on either side of Belinda as we waited out the mandatory one hour post procedure recovery time. How did we get here? How did we come to be supporting (in her recovery) this absolutely wonderful woman who just donated her eggs and yet was a complete stranger just under 3 months ago? How did we come to embrace the woman (ie "the egg donor") we absolutely did not want in our life? It's crazy and surreal and almost 48 hours later I still can't get my mind around it.

Brad and I woke up at 4:00 AM because we needed to drive an hour to pick up Belinda and then another hour to get to the clinic and still arrive not too much after 7:00 AM. Belinda didn't need to be there until 8:00 but both Brad and I were supposed to be there at 7:00. This makes it all start out feeling very odd. Usually Brad goes in at 7:00 and then we both go back for my retrieval. But here we are - the three of us - all with our own appointments - trying to make a baby together.

Brad gets called back first. All good on his front.

Then I go in and invite Belinda back with Brad and me. I figure it is only fair and she might be curious to see what is going on with my body. My lining looks great and we get to see that lonely follicle again. All the other follicles look like balloons with all the air sucked out of them. Interesting, but uneventful.

Belinda gets called back to be prepped for retrieval. I go with her and leave poor Brad waiting by himself. Belinda gets the "what to do after retrieval" speech (and yes, she does know to use protection), gets her vitals checked, and gets in her lovely hospital gown. We wait until the anesthesiologist comes to collect her. We hold each other a lot during this time. She is worried that she won't make us enough good eggs and I am worried about how I will feel when it is not me they come to collect. We are each other's support system.

Soon the anesthesiologist shows up and goes through his routine. Belinda is escorted back to the operating room. One of the nurses tells me that she can't believe how much Belinda is like me. "She looks like you, but the questions she asks - it's just what you do." Her expression indicates she is pretty amazed.

Twenty minutes later I am by Belinda's side as she is waking up. We get the report - 17 eggs! It is more than we expected. Belinda is so giddy, but also still a little drunk. She soon has all the nurses in awe. She is so up beat. She yells a friendly, "Hello Peggy!" when her nurse passes by a crack in the curtains. Peggy comes back to see if everything is ok. "Sure. I was just saying hi! Woah . . . maybe I shouldn't have had that bottle of wine for breakfast!" I ask Peggy if Brad can come back now. Brad shows up shortly and when Belinda sees him, she sits up and shouts "Seventeen Eggs!!" and puts her arms out to give Brad a big hug. Her joy is infectious.

Belinda keeps trying to get out of bed, so finally 3 nurses come to help her move from the bed to a recovery chair. They help her up and try to keep her decent and she pauses to stretch her legs. It was hilarious. All of us - including the nurses are doubled over with laughter. She puts her right leg up on the bed to stretch, then her left leg . . . then her right leg again, then the left. The nurses prepare to settle her in, but she is not done yet. First she needs to stretch her quads by pulling each leg, in turn, behind her. The whole time the nurses keep trying to keep her gown closed behind her. Everyone is enjoying her mirth and spunk.

She finally sits down and Brad and I pull up a chair on either side of her and we talk about whatever. Every time a nurse comes in to check on her, she tells Belinda how amazing she is. Brad and I just nod and agree. It is a good bonding time for all three of us. I am enjoying the moment so much I decide not to sully it by thinking about the reason Belinda is here with us in too much detail.

By coincidence, we are the only retrieval that day so the nurses aren't needed to be elsewhere assisting other patients. Brad and I have also been going to this relatively small clinic for a while so everyone knows us and very much wants us to be successful. They are excited that, though they know it has been hard for me, donor eggs will be the answer. And they love Belinda. So when we get up to leave, we are surrounded by all the nurses who take turns giving each of us a hug and wishing us good luck.

We walk out of the office buoyed by good feelings. On the way out of the building, we stop to get some Tylenol 3 for Belinda. Brad goes to get the car so she doesn't need to walk - although I suspect she could have ran around the block - we insist that she takes it easy. Of course, I intend to pay for the drugs as we expect to pay for all her expenses related to this donation - the gas money to drive an hour each way almost a dozen times to the clinic, the cost of babysitting for those days (unlike some thoughtless fertility patients, Belinda wouldn't dream of bringing her kids to an appointment), etc. I realize quickly that I don't have my purse and Brad is getting the car. I ask if she can just add this to her list of expenses and we will pay it all together. She looks at me somewhat guiltily and says, "I don't have a list of expenses. It just didn't seem right." I am very touched and I decide we are going to have a serious talk on the way home.

On the way home we get chocolate croissants and coffee. We have some light banter about the amazing experience we just shared. "So. Let's talk about at least covering your costs for helping us." It quickly becomes obvious that we are not going to win this one. "I always had other errands to run when I was in town - why should you pay for that?" and "I have traded out for much of the babysitting." Were a couple of her arguments. "But you have done so much for us!" we cry. She concedes to let us pay for her IUD removal. Finally, I tell her, "Let us treat you and your husband to a weekend at a B&B - a nice weekend with a really nice dinner and all the extras!" She thinks for a moment and accepts. We are all satisfied. Mostly. Brad and I were already planning on getting her some sort of nice gift so it is not as much as we wanted to give her, but it will do.

We have a nice drive home, stopping by to pick up her kids who are at her good friend's house. We learned that morning that her friend, Sarah, was very much opposed to Belinda doing the egg donation, "You would sell your children? Would you sell your son too?" Eventually, Belinda was able to describe the situation that made the process acceptable to Sarah. Now Belinda wants us to meet Sarah - I think in part to show her what kind of people benefit from the kindness of egg donation. Brad and I are a bit nervous, but more than game. We talk for an hour. I think Sarah can tell how excited and grateful we are. She seems excited too. When we are done, Sarah gives each of us a hug and wishes us lots of luck.

We take Belinda and her kids home. We help Belinda in to her house - we had picked up take-and-bake pizza on the way home and she has a couple of bags for the kids. We promise to keep her updated and thank her again. We hug one more time - all three of us in a group hug.

As I walk out the door, still feeling all the glow and love and amazement of the day I think, "I never want to see her again."

Yes. That is exactly what I thought. Although I had read enough studies to know that most people in my situation (TTC their first child with DE) want nothing to do with the donor once the retrieval happens, I really didn't think it would be me. That would make sense, I told myself, for people with an anonymous donor. Maybe more true for people who want to forget that they needed a donor - like the ones who never plan on telling their children. It won't be me. I have embraced this. Did I not decide to find a known donor? Did I not choose to embrace and support this known donor - and accept her support in return? Was I not, just this morning, feeling like we were an amazing team of three?! Perhaps I only embraced Belinda and called her a part of the team while I needed her eggs. Perhaps I wanted to feel close to Belinda because I wanted to feel close to her eggs. Perhaps a part of me knows that I need to distance myself from Belinda in order to fully embrace the resulting embryos as mine and Brad's. I don't know. I do know that my warm feelings and desire to be close to Belinda before retrieval were genuine.

That night, Brad gave me the first progesterone-in-oil shot. It felt so strange. How could we be here when I didn't have retrieval that morning? Brad felt even more out of the loop. We had gotten used to a certain flow of events. The BCP's, the belly shots Brad would give me, the hope and excitement as I went in for retrieval and then the post retrieval drugs. This time the post retrieval rituals seemed detached somehow. We were still laughing and shaking our heads at the events of the morning. Again we wondered how we got to this point after we innocently started trying to conceive more than five years ago. Sometimes it is hard to take in - the things you have been willing to do, the unwished for events that you learned to embrace, the next best option you decided was no longer on the "will not do" list - all in a quest to have a child. A quest others achieve by simply falling into each others arms in a moment of passion. It boggles the mind.

The next day (yesterday now), I reluctantly called Belinda to give her the fertilization report. I was reluctant because I didn't know if I even wanted to talk to her. The conversation went fine and because I wanted to blog about my feelings - before and after the retrieval - I needed to let Belinda know first (before she read it) how I was feeling. First, I reassured her that we will continue to be in touch - even if it is only via emails through Brad. I let her know that my feelings about things may change. Then I told her my thoughts as I walked out of her house the day before. I held my breath for her response - I didn't want her to think I was no longer grateful. I wanted her to understand that, to me, it didn't diminish our previous closeness.

Did I mention that Belinda is an amazing person? Her response was, "I have been feeling the same way." "I realized", she continued, "that I had done what I signed up to do and now it was time to move on." She said she didn't need to be at our transfer (something we had talked about before) because we no longer needed her support. I told her that I invited her to the transfer not because we wanted her support but rather because I thought she might be curious how the rest of the cycle goes." (You know me, always trying to educate.) As I told her this, I realized I wasn't feeling threatened by her coming like I was earlier that day. I told her she is still welcome or if she just wanted updates, that would be fine too. "Do you still want updates?", I asked realizing that she might want less to do with us than I had thought. Yes, she still wanted updates. We talked a bit more, making sure there were no hurt feelings and we understood each other. We decided we would continue to be open and honest about how we were feeling as events progressed.

I hung up the phone and wondered if this was the first conversation as we transition from donor/recipient to friends or from donor/recipient to acquaintances.

That night, Brad and I drove to our clinic so we could wave at our embryos from the parking lot. It has been a ritual to visit our embryos every day between retrieval and transfer since our first IVF. I don't think that they can sense our warm thoughts and expressions of love from five stories below, but maybe that can. Either way, it helps us feel more connected to them. Last night was no exception, but it was different. We both felt more distant from our embryos than in past cycles. For me, it was obviously about the eggs not being mine. For Brad, it was because the usual rituals prior to retrieval didn't happen for him. Still we sent our warm thoughts. We asked them to be strong and to take care of each other. We told them that we loved them. I reminded myself - and Brad - that those embryos know us. They know Brad because it was his body that grew the sperm. They know me because the eggs felt the love and support I had for Belinda while they were growing. They already know our energy and now they are waiting to come home.

Fert report - not so good **Updated**

I still intend on telling the full story from yesterday, but just jumping on to give the fert report.

Of the 17 retrieved
16 were mature
9 fertilized

It seems that is a bad sign. With my crappy eggs we never had less than 82% of the mature eggs fertilize - meaning that we would have had 13 embryos now instead of 9. I was really expecting fewer mature eggs since Belinda had one ovary growing follicles faster than the other. I guess I was prepared for 12-14 mature and 10-12 fertilize. I'm not sure what to think now.

Does anyone know why we would have such a low fert rate? I have asked the embryologist to call me back, but probably won't hear from him for several more hours.


I just got off the phone with the embryologist at my clinic. The short answer is that he is not concerned that 7 mature eggs didn't fertilize. "Not even a tiny bit?" I asked. "No, not at all." What a relief! Thanks again to everyone's continued support.

My husband, best friend, sister and Belinda are probably a little upset with me for freaking out. I recognize it wasn't exactly the best response given that I knew I didn't really have enough information. I recognize that we would all be better served if I learn to react differently in the future. I'm just not sure that is going to happen within the time frame of this cycle. I will be working on it though.

For those of you who are interested - the long story. We knew that she had 10-12 follicles growing at the expected rate and several that were behind. The embryologist suspects that many of these immature eggs created a polar body during the aspiration process and so looked mature even though thy "matured" by the aspiration process and not by maturing in the follicle. My apologies to Dr. B if I completely misunderstood his description. Oh, the other 1/2 of the equation looked good too. The official next update will be Sunday.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A quick update

Thank you everyone for the wonderful comments! They mean a lot to me.

Just got home after a physically and emotionally exhausting day. I am looking forward to sharing the whole story but I can only give this quick update.

The egg retrieval went well. It was an unbelievable experience. We got seventeen eggs. We are in awe of Belinda and thrilled with how the day went.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Trigger tonight!

I am getting very excited. Correction - I am very exited. I went with Belinda to her appointment today. When I got to the waiting room Belinda was already making small talk with other people in the room. She is such a trooper! So I joined in the conversation. A few others joined in and while it wasn't completely relaxed - after all, we are all pretty anxious - it was still nice. During the conversation I "outed" Belinda as my donor. I hope it didn't make her too uncomfortable. I suspect most people were too busy thinking, "Thank God I don't need a donor" to be envious or sad because of Belinda's fertility.

Today was the first day I was more happy and hopeful about this working out than I was sad about not being the genetic contributor. It felt so good to be around Belinda. I felt like I was sharing her energy - that we are a part of the same process.

It was great to once again join Belinda for her ultrasound. She has some good looking follicles. It was nice to see them on the screen all crowded together in the ovary. It felt just like they were mine. The RE thinks we will get 10-12 good eggs. My RE seems very happy with that, so I am too.

After our appointment, we asked the nurse to mark Belinda for her HCG shot. She was so excited for us - she gave both me and Belinda a big hug. The people at my clinic have really gone out of there way to be supportive. Of course, Belinda has just been unbelievably wonderful.

Tonight at 10:00 Belinda will get her trigger shot. We will all (Brad, Belinda, and me) be there for the retrieval on Thursday at 9:00 am. I can't wait.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Some happenings around IVF #5

Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts and well wishes. It helps so much. It has been a nice weekend. I am still not sleeping well at all which has made me a bit of a basket case, but I am surviving and Brad hasn't tried to kill me yet so we are doing ok.

Yesterday Belinda had her appointment. I didn't go with her because I was away on a camping trip. We actually slept in a hotel Friday night. Saturday morning, before heading out for what turned out to be some beautiful day hiking, I called Belinda to see how she was doing and how the appointment went. Our wonderful egg donor is pretty uncomfortable. She is tired and is cramping a lot. I feel so bad for her. I hope it doesn't get much worse. Her appointment went well, however. Dr. R. was unusually chatty, asking her how old she was, how many kids, how old were the kids. Like me, Belinda wasn't sure if he was just making conversation or probing about her fertility. She didn't know how to answer the question about the number of kids she has. Yes, seems easy, but is he asking about her fertility - in which case she has given birth to two - or is he asking about how many kids she has - which is three (she is currently trying to adopt a daughter she has raised since 18 months). She answered two, but then felt guilty about lying.

After getting off the phone with Belinda, the worst case scenarios starting going through my mind. Are her E2 levels dropping? Are her follicles not growing? Is he concerned she that she doesn't have very many? I got myself all worked up to the point that I called my nurse and asked her to check it out for me. Thankfully, she was checking her voice mail so I was able to find out pretty quickly that Dr. R. was just making conversation. I don't exactly feel silly asking - I am very thankful to have the reassurance, but they must think I am crazy. My RE probably believes (correctly) that I am watching and interpreting everything he says like some early Junior High romance. "What do you think Tommy meant when he asked if I liked Algebra?" would be the equivalent.

I am so shameless, I asked him again in person today. Over the last 24 hours, I imagined that he is a bit concerned, but knowing there is nothing to be done about it, he is not letting me know. I figured in person I could read his body language. My conclusion is that he is being honest and he really does believe everything is going fine. Yep, I feel better. For now.

Everything else went pretty well at my appointment too. He said that my lining was good (7.9, I think and he showed me the triple stripe). Then he checked out my ovaries. Since I am not taking Lupron, I do have a beautiful follicle growing at 19 mm. I joked that we should just aspirate it and see what happens. Dr. R. pointed out that there is only one, to which I replied, "But it might be the lucky one!" He laughed and asked if we bought lottery tickets. My husband quipped, "Why? Do you think that will help?" Sadly, no, he didn't think aspirating one follicle nor buying lottery tickets would help. I start genirelix (to keep from ovulating) tonight.

One other nice event. Today I ran into a couple whom I recognized from our previous cycle. I said hello, gave my condolences and wished them luck this cycle. They did the same and then they were gone. Why do I let these chances to get to know more IRL infertiles just dissolve? I decided that the next time I made a connection with someone I would get a phone number. Brad and I sat in a fairly full waiting room for about 30 minutes while no one spoke. I looked around the room and tried to figure out with whom I could start a conversation. Gosh, this part is so hard. "So, what brings you here?" "Do you have any kids yet?" "Is this your first time or are you a 4 time loser like me?" Nothing comes to mind even though I know that once a conversation starts it usually flows easily until one of us gets called in. I notice a lady across the way looking toward me. I look away. Was I embarrassed for being a 4 time loser or just not ready at that moment to expose my vulnerability? I don't know. A few minutes later we both look up at the same time. We say a simple "Hi" to each other. The conversation flows. She is from out of town and staying in a motel. I offer to get together. We have each other's phone numbers. We will be getting together tomorrow night for dinner. Yeah!

This has gotten me thinking . . . what if we all made an effort to connect with another individual in our clinics. If it seemed we were compatible at all, we would offer our phone number or email or whatever and make an effort to get together at least once. Even if the connection ended at the end of the cycle, it would be a connection. What if, eventually, it became the culture that people were expected - and happy - to chat and connect and exchange contact information in the RE's waiting rooms across the world? Maybe going in for those monitoring appoints would be just a little bit less stressful because we would feel we were walking into a room full of support instead of into a room full of lonely, anxious people.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Better than less sad

I had a very nice experience at Belinda's appointment this morning. It was much better than the "less sad" that I had been hoping for in my last post.

While we were in the prep room and Belinda was getting undressed I confessed (as I was pacing around the tiny room) that I was nervous. "Tell me about that." Belinda said. I explained that I was nervous that this won't work -that something would go wrong, if it does work -I don't know what it will be like to parent a child not genetically mine. She acknowledged those fears, but we couldn't talk more because we were called into the scan room.

It wasn't as awkward as I expected it to be as Belinda headed for the stirrups and I headed toward the chair to the side of the exam table. It was actually kind of interesting to see things from my husband's point of view.

Dr. R. checked Belinda's lining. I was curious as to why they would care and he said that it helps judge how she is responding to the medication. Moving on to the ovaries - everything is looking good at 10 to 12 mm. Belinda asked if there were only eight follicles - that is all she heard him measure. He said that there were likely more, but one of her ovaries was hard to see. He seemed unconcerned. Phew!

As we headed out, Dr. R. asked if I was cold. I then realized I was hugging myself during almost the entire exam. I wasn't cold, but scared and nervous. "No, just nervous, " I confessed. He gave me a few comforting words and put his hand on my back to lead me out of the room. You know I just love those little signs of care and comfort!

Back in the original exam room - still hugging myself, I felt so relieved and excited and scared and vulnerable. I told Belinda, "When you finish getting dressed I could sure use a hug." She replied, "Well, I've got one for ya!" And we had a wonderful hug. I thanked her for all she is doing for us and for her emotional support as well. Ahhh, just what I needed.

Do you think we will continue to stay in touch when this is all over? I can't imagine not.

After the appointment we went for coffee & croissants. We chatted about our childhoods, how we saw our parents, how we hoped to be perceived by our children. It was a good morning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kind of a hard day

Yesterday was my first ultrasound and blood work appointment since Belinda started taking stims. It was kind of hard to go for that appointment. As per my usual, I got there late to avoid the wait and the other ladies who, I imagine, will have a baby - their own genetic baby - so much easier than me.

Shortly after I arrived to the nearly empty waiting room, Belinda came out of the scan room. It sounds like everything is going well so far and I enjoyed chatting with her until my name was called.

The interesting thing about my clinic is that they are very efficient when it comes to the morning ultrasounds. The scan room is sandwiched between two other examine rooms. One person goes into room A and gets undressed while someone else is having the ultrasound done. That person exits into room B to get dressed while the lady in room A enters the scan room. You could say it is an unfriendly way to do things, but I appreciate the time I have alone in my own little room.

Yesterday I really needed that time. I was so sad, scared, nervous - and a host of other emotions I don't even know I could describe if I wanted to. I was just trying not to cry. I opened the blinds on the window and let the morning sun soak into me as I contemplated the consequences of just getting dressed and going back home. Would they ask me to come back tomorrow or could I put it off for a few more days? In the end, I decided it would just make me look crazy so I steeled myself and walked into the exam room when they knocked.

I gave my best impression of Happy Kami and said hello to the doctor and the nurse as I settled myself into the stirrups. We exchanged a bit of small talk. The doctor checked out my uterus and said the lining was thin - which it should be at this point in the cycle. Then he said, "Ok, let's take a look at your ovaries." Oh. Do you think they heard my heart break as we looked at all those follicles that will never be aspirated? I closed my eyes and breathed to keep from crying.

Perhaps my RE noticed something because he asked, "How is everything else going?" "Fine," I replied. "How are you sleeping?" Ahh . . . there is a way to discover what "fine" might actually mean. I replied that some days were better than others and that "it has been hard." Then I asked him if he was confident we were doing the right thing. Yes, I was fishing for reassurance. I knew what he would likely say and I just wanted to hear it.

He didn't let me down. He said, "Yes. You can't know how things will turn out, but you can be certain you are doing the right thing." "Nice to hear, " I told him. It was nice to hear. I love that he used the word "certain". On the way out I asked him if he would keep reminding me that we are doing the right thing. He said he would and gave me a warm smile. He even squeezed my arm and told me to take care. Nice. Another bear hug (or at least his equivalent) from Dr. R. Have I mentioned I love the warm fuzzies?

Back in my own room again, I got dressed. Then I sat down and let the tears flow. It felt good to let it all out for a few moments. I was inclined to continue but I realized Belinda might notice that I had been crying and mistakenly think that I was upset about how things were going with her. I washed my face and went back to the waiting room.

Belinda was waiting for me and we chatted on the way out to our cars. She was so excited about things moving along. It was nice to let her enthusiasm wash over me. I feel like someone ought to be excited about this cycle. Ok, Brad is very excited. I guess I am glad that Belinda can be excited in my place. Only fair I guess since she is making the eggs too. Well . . . that is kind of a sad thought . . . I am glad she is excited and I am glad that we have such a wonderful person sharing this part of the journey with us.

Everything on the technical front seems to be moving along. Belinda had her meds upped a bit and when she asked why her nurse said, "You have lots of follicles, but we want them to grow a bit faster." My nurse told me that there were no concerns and "everything looks fine."

The next appointment for Belinda is tomorrow. I don't need to be back until Sunday, but I think I will join Belinda for her appointment. I hate the idea of not going back for five days. I hope it will be less sad.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

An open letter to Miley's friend

Hi Milie's friend,

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Kami and I am going through fertility hell too. You don't know me and I don't really know you. I don't even know Miley. I'm probably not even spelling her name correctly. You see, I know Miley's sister. Today, Olivia told me about her sister's friend (that's you) and the trouble you are having trying to conceive.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Wonderful! Now my reproductive story is fodder for everyone's casual conversations." There is some truth to that, I suppose, but please don't take offense.

I just want you to know that I am here to listen if you want to talk. I heard your story and my heart just broke for you. I know you have friends who have "been there" and are there to support you, but I understand that maybe that isn't what you need right now. Maybe you need someone who hasn't been successful yet. Maybe you need to talk to someone who may never be successful or if she is, not with her own eggs.

I promise I won't tell you what you ought to do. I promise I will listen. Sometimes I might even say that I understand. Now I know my limits, so I might say some of the following. I might hope that it will help. I might say:

  • It's not your fault. You have done nothing wrong. Sometimes life is just plain unfair and cruel.
  • I know you have worked very hard to have a child. You deserve to have a child. You deserve a child that is the genetic as well as the biological offspring of you and your husband.
  • It is so hard to hear your doctor tell you that your chances are low. I have heard those words and I have thought, "You are wrong! It can't be, not after all we have been through, not after how hard I have worked! Keep trying. Please - maybe you missed something. You must have missed something."
  • And what's up with the 40-somethings who are given a 1% chance, produce one embryo and . . . have a baby?! Why not me?! Why not you?!
  • I don't know why we are given choices we don't want. I wish I could fix it too.
  • I'm sorry.
I gave my number to Olivia and asked her to give it to Miley. Maybe she will pass the number on to you. If you get it, please call. I would love to get together. I suspect I will never hear from you, but I just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

A little bit happy

Thank you everyone for the support. It is so nice to be understood. It has lifted my spirits.

I am also kind of embarrassed to admit, after all my whining yesterday, that I am excited this morning because Belinda is starting her Follistim today. Yeah! It feels strange to be excited and sad over the same event.

I am so thankful for Belinda. I can't imagine doing this with an anonymous donor. I love that she is sharing her experience with me and supporting me through this. Gosh, I hope this works.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A little bit sad

I had my cd3 b/w today. This is the appointment where I would get the call to start gonal-f. Oh such excitement! I couldn't wait until 7 pm when I could take my first shot. That would start twice daily shots and every-other-day appointments. I loved those shots. I LOVED those appointments. I was doing something.

Not so this time around. This time instead of starting twice daily shots of FSH, I will be taking twice daily pills of estrace. I don't go in for another four days. I miss seeing my RE every other day. Sometimes I wish things were different.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Limerick Chick (or why I'm keeping my day job)

Tales from my Dusty Ovaries
She won't be visiting wineries
It's the two week wait
Approaching the big date
Wishing her cute little babies

Infertile bloggers are we
We'll spread 'em for any RE
We just want a baby
A boy or a lady
Or Upon Awakening, live child free

Thanks for the fun, Lori!

Is it the mocha for breakfast?

I am so excited I can't sit still. I can't work either. I am bouncing off the walls.


I just spoke with the office manager from my clinic. That might not seem like a big deal, but I have had ideas bouncing around my head for months about ways they might improve things at the clinic and it was so nice to get those ideas out of my head and into someone's hands who might be able to do something about it. The best part about it was that I think she was very receptive!

A bit of background: My clinic has very caring, compassionate people, but you would never know it. I have heard from many other patients (not all, buy many) and my OB that my clinic doesn't care, that it is only about the stats, that my RE has no bedside manner. I believe that is absolutely not true. I believe that because I am a connection junkie and I watch for anything that might mean a person is paying attention. My RE, for example, does this little squeeze on the shin when your in the stirrups sometimes. After a few visits, I realized I only got the squeeze when I was having a tough day or scary moment. A ha! I just got my RE's equivalent of a bear hug! Now I even miss it when I don't get it (I wonder if I should start faking distress? hmm . . .)

The other thing is that their donor program leaves something to be desired. They have great rates, but again the warm fuzzies are missing and they have a very small donor pool.

I told the office manager I would be happy to:
  • Share my story in an effort to help recruit more quality donors
  • Participate in a patient advocacy group
  • Help new patients understand that their doctor really does care. "Here is what I know and here is what you can watch for" kind of thing.
  • Anything else she thinks that I could help with to make the experience of the patient as positive as possible.
So many of these ideas the office manager had already thought of and she was at least as passionate about it as I am. I know this is a long ways from things actually coming to fruition, but it sure is excited to think of the possibilities. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

OK, back to work. If I can manage to focus. Tonight I will post my limericks which can already be found at Weebles Wobblog.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Meg of Perpetually Waiting . . . what is going on with your cycle? I hope all is going better than you imagined. If there is a way to keep up with how you are doing, please let me know.

IVF #5 official launch day

Thank you everyone for all your good wishes and support. I really needed it today.

I was SO nervous this morning. I could barely sit still. Yet, I managed to be 40 minutes late to the morning clinic. I just didn't want to sit around for a long time in the waiting room feeling like a loser. I was so late they were waiting for me! Ah, well, it's not like they don't know I am high maintenance already.

I was very nervous going in, but it all went well. Belinda and I chatted for quite a while waiting for our blood draw. It was nice. After we parted ways, she called me to see how I was doing. She could see "something" in my eyes. I was so touched! I was a bit sad/happy/excited/scared.

All is good to go. The nurse (my favorite RE wasn't in today) counted 12 antral follicles for Belinda. I am off the BCP's and Belinda's last day is tomorrow. On Saturday Belinda should start the big drugs.

Thanks again for everyone's comments. I hope I return the favor often enough.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Some good thoughts

I followed Mel's Friday Blog Round up to Miss Inconceivability and was inspired to blog some thoughts that came to me from reading this post. She talks about blogging about the negatives more often than the positives. It reminded me that I often do that as well. I might think about blogging after a good day, but I seem to not get around to it. So here is some positive thoughts from earlier in the weekend.

I have, at times, been very excited about this upcoming IVF. I mean VERY excited.

I realized the other day, after talking to a friend who has two babies via donor embryos, that I had a very hard time defending my position that it was a REALLY BIG DEAL that we were moving to donor eggs. I was talking to a woman who would understand where I was coming from, but it still seemed so shallow. As if no one else's genes could possible match my own. Smart enough? Nope! Pretty enough? Nope! That "special something"? Nope!

Keep in mind, I am not going to be winning any Nobel Prizes or beauty contests. I, ahem, do have that "special something" - just ask Brad, he'll tell you (stop him before starts listing my faults please). But everyone has something special and our child (if we are so fortunate to have one) will too.

The conversation continued and while I was trying to back away from "my genes are just the snizzle" my friend said, "Well, you can always try again with your own eggs." My first thought? "Oh, god, I can't go through that again." My heart just sank at the thought of it. I can't keep trying the same thing and expecting different results.

Why, then, was I so sad when I went with Belinda for her physical? Why was it that all I could think about was that we cared about her eggs and not mine? Didn't I already tell myself in this post that I had decided her eggs were my eggs? Maybe, I told myself, it is the reality of the IVF cycle. Maybe it is a control issue . . . needing to let Belinda take the lead, so to speak. Maybe these do play a part, but after talking to my friend about her donor embryo babies, something else occurred to me.

Perhaps, I am lamenting the loss of a genetic connection so that I don't have to face the fact that this might actually work. If I acknowledge that, I might get my hopes up and I desperately, desperately want to avoid more disappointment. I can't emphasize enough how much that scares me sometimes. I mean, if DE doesn't work, what will? Still, that knowledge does change things a bit. I know that I can survive crushing disappointment. I also know that it feels really good to be hopeful and excited. Why not choose hope?

So with that thought I have been quite excited and sometimes even hopeful. When I found out on Friday that our suppression check had been moved up from Thursday to Tuesday, I could barely stand the thought of getting through the weekend. I was on cloud nine all day on Friday. I allowed myself to imagine a positive beta, transitioning to my OB, giving birth, having a baby. I enjoyed our evening out with friends. It felt good to just be alive and together with people I cared about.

I was having such a great time, I didn't bother to tell anyone about it. I hope this post rectifies that a bit.

I did have a bit of a sad morning on Sunday. I was feeling the sadness and grief of losing Ernest, of our failed IVF cycles, of what could have been if things had gone differently. In the end I called Belinda because I knew her excitement of the upcoming cycle would rub off on me - which it did.

So . . . tomorrow is suppression check for both of us. If all looks good, Belinda will start the big drugs on Saturday. I will start estrace and baby aspirin (because of increased risk of preeclampsia with DE). Wish us luck!