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.