Monday, March 30, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday

Several months ago I heard an author talking about her new book about happiness based on her own research (the name of the book or the author escapes me). She found that the things we do to make us happy eventually become the new normal and no longer bring us joy. (In case your wondering, she said things like infertility never stop losing their negative impact.)

Well last Friday, I was given the opportunity to appreciate anew something I had grown accustomed to. As I mentioned before, LB tends to wake up every hour and a half to nurse. We have been following some of the No Cry Sleep Solution guidelines and seem to be making progress (she sometimes sleeps for 2 hours in a row), but Thursday night it took extra long to get her back to sleep and by the time she was asleep, I was wide awake.

By Friday night, I was emotional and grumpy from too little sleep and dreading another short night. At the last moment, we decided it would be worth it for me to get a good night's sleep in a nearby hotel. If I stayed at home, I would hear her wake up and would feel compelled to comfort her and nurse her. I was worried about LB becoming very upset, but I knew we needed to do something different. I also knew Brad would be able do a great job and while I believed she would get very upset when she couldn't get a nipple when she wanted one, I knew she would be comforted and cared for.

At around 8:30 pm, Brad started calling around for a reasonably priced hotel while I tried to nurse LB to sleep. I was so relieved and even excited. A night to sleep in any position I wanted! Imagine! Oh, I should probably mention that we co-sleep. Also, while trying to ween her from her nightly comfort feedings, I have let her sleep with a leg on me. If the leg falls off and she can't get it back on (because my back is toward her, for example), she wakes up. So I was really looking forward to tossing and turning as I pleased.

I was also, I realized going to miss LB. I held her extra close as she nursed. I stroked her head. I just sat there and noticed how absolutely wonderful it was to have this little body next to mine. I thought about how all too soon she won't be beyond nursing and how she will one day not only sleep in her own bed, but in her own house.

Brad came in to let me know what he learned - only the most expensive hotel in the area still had a room and it was a bit too far away for my comfort. I was a disappointed, but we decided we would go one more night and then get the hotel room on Saturday.

I felt more at peace just knowing that tomorrow I would get a good night's sleep and tonight I could cuddle with LB all I wanted. When I woke up during the night I was able to appreciate her leg on top of me and enjoy it in a way I haven't in weeks. And whether it was my extreme fatigue, my peace in knowing tomorrow night's sleep would be better, or LB catching on to our plan, the most amazing thing happened. We slept 2 - 3 hours at a time, only waking up 3 times! It was the best night's sleep I have gotten since she was born. Two more nights have passed and we have been sleeping quite well. We still wake up about 3 times, but having 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep - sometimes twice in the same night - has been glorious.

What's better than capturing a perfect moment then capturing one you get to enjoy every night if you only remember to appreciate it? Perhaps noticing and appreciating what I had - a beautiful daughter to care for at night - helped me to gain something I was missing - a better night's sleep.

If you want to read about perfect moments other people have capture, head over to Lori's Blog. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three stories

It was all perfectly logical

When we started on the journey seven years ago, I wanted two kids close together in age. Of course, I thought it would be easy. We would conceive the first in August or so (I wanted a May birthday) and the second would be conceived very close to two years from that. Voila! Two kids and two Spring birthdays.

Of course, the hope for a certain season for a baby was one of the first ideas to go when things got tough. Having two kids and close together has stuck around. Not that I expect it to work as planned, but I still want to try.

Since my clinic only has 6 times a year when you can cycle (approximately every two months), I have a 'choice' of cycling in June if I want a Spring-ish baby. My best chance at that would be to do the fresh cycle in June since we only have one frozen embryo with about a 10% chance of making a live baby. But that FET might work, so best to do it first and that would mean trying for a baby in April.

I stuck to the plan and had my first blood draw which helped trigger a mini-meltdown (although the next day I was much better). Not more than a week later, I spoke to a nurse to schedule my hysteroscope. All was going according to plan until that night. I lay in bed not thinking of anything in particular when it hit me that it made perfect sense to wait until June to do the FET and push the fresh cycle off until September. For the life of me, I can't remember what logical reason I had, but it was so important I got out of bed to tell Brad.

Logical or not, we are both relieved not to be doing a cycle next month.


Count your blessings

We spent last Sunday at my sister's house - her custom house in the county she recently moved in to. I am happy for my sister, but I am envious. I never thought I would turn 40 without having a place in the country. I grew up in the country and I long for the space, the dark nights, large windows with views, the sound of the wind through pine trees. It was very nice to hang out in a house where you can feel space around you. We even napped a bit in my sister's bed and when I couldn't sleep I watched the trees blowing in the wind. It was just wonderful.

Then we drove home to our little house in the city. The view from my bedroom is a garage that should be torn down and replaced. Our living room is the size of the typical master bedroom. Our basement is a better home for spiders and mice than people (It is half cement and half crawl space over dirt). We have been here over twice as long as we imagined, going on 10 years now. We made the decision to pursue a baby instead of that place in the country and we have no regrets. We have also fixed it up quite a bit over those 10 years by redoing the bathroom and kitchen and replacing the windows and it is definitely comfortable. So far we have kept the bullet holes from when the Sargent of Arms of the Gypsy Joker's lived here, but that is another story.

As we drove home, I tried not to get too depressed nor complain too much. Brad was not to be fooled. He told me it is ok to want something different, but I shouldn't let it color my view of our house. We have a nice place that is only about a mile from a descent bakery, a farmer's market and grocery story and a few hundred yards from a nice walk along the river. We live in a very interesting mixed-income neighborhood that includes million dollar homes along the river to homes that look like they are about 500 square feet.

Not to be cheered up, I lamented my age and that we were running out of time to ever have that place in the county. Then he reminded me of when our 70 year old neighbor came over last summer. She has lived in this neighborhood for 40 years and been in our house a few times, but not since we moved in and fixed it up. She looked around and seemed to be fighting back tears as she said, "I have never lived in such a nice house."


Judge not

Another neighbor had her son move in with her. He was putting his life back together after some missteps. Soon, he married and she moved in too. Then the mother went south for the winter as she has been doing for the past few years.

For awhile it was just the two of them living there - our neighbor's son and his wife. They were both very nice people. There was a time recently when the wife, who had had a stroke, was talking to LB and every time she said anything LB would burst out laughing because she talked funny (due the stroke). She took it all in fun. The husband, our neighbor's son, helped us dig out our Land Cruiser when the snow got too deep for our Prius and even helped us get it running. We chatted here and there when getting the mail or when taking LB out for a walk.

Then we learned that the husband lost his job. Soon other, less savory looking characters started showing up at the house. Then we learned that his wife had a gambling problem. Next we heard that he might be doing meth and counterfeiting. We started to notice cop cars driving slowing down our street. Soon the mother called and asked us to feed their pets. Then the older brother called and said his brother (our neighbor) had been arrested. The next morning the wife was frantically loading up her things and we haven't seen either since.

I am not sorry to see them leave. It was scary seeing some of their visitors and hearing cars screeching away from the house at 4:00 in the morning, but I can't help but feel sorry for them either. Perhaps if they had more resources - access to mental help to get over the gambling addiction or a little more money to get through the rough times this wouldn't have happened. Perhaps they just didn't have the awareness or creativity to find a better way.

It strikes me how easily I would have labeled them as bad people or deserving of everything they got had I not known them. Instead I think about how lonely each one is or what it would be like to spend the night in jail knowing there are likely years of jail time ahead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

So much to say, so little time

I feel very short on free time these days. LB continues to nap very little and when she does I am either working or trying to nap with her. I miss time to do what I want, but it is not the season for that.

LB is napping right now and I am taking a few minutes to post some thoughts.

First and foremost Kate at It's Either Sadness or Euphoria is experiencing both right now as her level II ultrasound revealed she is having two girls and one has a heart defect that will at least require surgery and may take her life. You would think the universe would consider over five years ttc, 7 IVF cycles and successful pregnancy with donor eggs enough for one couple, but the universe clearly doesn't give a damn. Please go over and offer Kate your support.

Secondly, I have had this strange shift in the way I view myself. I find surprised when I look in the mirror at how dark my hair is, how narrow my nose is and especially how old I look Sometimes I catch my side view as I walk by a mirror - not intending to notice - and I do a double take: Is that me? Really? Oh, I look so much like my sister. I wonder if it is because I look at LB all day and at some level I expect that I should look like her. Her hair is light, her nose more broad and clearly, she is much younger. These aren't sad moments, just odd.

Finally, just because I am the same weight as I was pre-pregnancy does not mean I am in the same shape. Oi! Swimsuit shopping was not pretty. Not. Pretty. At. All. I prefer bikinis because I like to feel the sun and water on my body, not because I think my body is all that. It isn't, in fact, and I want a suit that doesn't make it look like I think it is. Fortunately, if I suck in my tummy (I know that is so obvious, but I can't not), I am quite pleased with the suits I got at I shopped their sales rack, ordered three and will be returning one. With shipping both ways, I don't think I will pay more than $40.00 for each suit and it beats the heck out of going to the mall. I am very much hoping I will be more active this Spring than I have been all Winter.

That's all for today. My time is up.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A must read

Sarah at Dreams and False Alarms has a post up about infertility and going the donor egg route. I found it very thought provoking. Her views on DE rang true to me and may even help me process the losses associated with infertility and donor eggs.

Please pop over when you have some time - it isn't exactly a light ready - and tell her what you think.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

LB helps out

LB's babysitter called in sick today to I am pulling double duty (triple if you count blogging). Of course she wants to play with my keyboard and my phone - the two items that get the most of my attention while I am working. I decided better to go along than fight it so I let her handle one of our more difficult customers.

A message from RESOLVE

I am sure most, if not all, of my readers have heard about this, but just in case:

Georgia Bill to Limit IVF Passes First Hurdle - In a Different Form
Add Your Voice NOW to Stop This Bill!

Please click here to send a personalized letter to all Georgia State Senators, to Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, and to Governor Sonny Perdue NOW!
Georgia lawmakers are pressing forward this week with their efforts to pass a law that will harm infertility treatment. On Monday, March 9, a revised Senate Bill 169 was passed hastily by the Senate Committee. It is expected to go to the Rules Committee and then the Senate this week perhaps as early as Wednesday, and if it passes there, on to the Georgia House of Representatives.
Now the bill's true motives have been revealed. The pages of provisions to limit and restrict the number of eggs that can be fertilized or transferred, supposedly to protect women and babies from outcomes like that of the octuplets -- those restrictions have been stripped away.
What remains, however, RESOLVE believes, will imperil IVF treatment in Georgia, just more subtly.
For a full copy of the bill and to read additional information about SB 169, visit RESOLVE's website:
Senate Bill 169 is now predominantly a piece of "personhood" legislation -- the name for legislation that confers human rights on microscopic embryos from the moment the egg fertilizes. By equating embryos to born human beings, SB 169 has implications that pose a serious threat to infertility treatment. If microscopic fertilized eggs/embryos are full human children, anything that puts an embryo at risk could be a violation of law, even if its goal is the undeniable social good of helping someone have a baby.
This law could impair or prevent doctors from practicing IVF in accord with the best standards of medical care, because they may be deemed to pose too great a risk to embryos.
Doctors would face loss of their license if they fail to treat embryos correctly; we wonder if doctors would even want to practice in Georgia under this law.
Cryopreservation (embryo freezing) would change drastically, because all frozen embryos would have to be used to attempt more pregnancies. That would be the ONLY option.
SB 169 takes from parents the rights of disposition over their embryos. If there is a dispute over embryos, SB 169 establishes a judicial standard that any decision must be “in the best interest of the human in vitro embryo” (Section 19-7-65). The embryo’s interests outweigh the parents’.
If the lawmakers are serious about re-defining embryos as human beings, then women with uterine problems could be forbidden from attempting pregnancy with IVF because of the risks to the embryo of failed implantation.
The net effect is that SB 169 would prevent couples in Georgia with infertility from being able to have families.
We at RESOLVE believe Georgia lawmakers are pursuing goals that have little to do with infertility patients’ best interests. SB 169 adopts the “personhood” strategy to confer human rights on embryos even if it results in a huge cost to infertility patients. This legislation is anti-family for us and must be defeated.
Please spread the word to anyone you know in Georgia who cares about families! Please help us stop SB 169! Send your letter immediately to the Georgia Senate!
Thank you!
Barbara Collura
Executive Director, RESOLVE

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cuddle Time

We went to a friend's house last Friday night for dinner. Just 5 adults and two kids - LB and an 8 year old.

Everyone was gathered in the den and LB was being entertained by others. I'm not sure how it happened, but Brad and I ended up in the living room instead. He was sitting on an oversized chair and I quite naturally cuddled up with him.

For those of you still ttc this is your reminder to enjoy your time with your partner while you can. I knew our time would be limited, but I didn't realize it would be this limited. I didn't realize 5 minutes to feel our bodies next to each other, fully clothed, would feel like magic.

I'm not complaining, I am appreciating a perfect moment.

Visit Lori for other perfect moments.

In other LB news, she officially has her first sign - "bye bye". She consistently uses it when we say good bye to people. Some times she opens and closes her fist like little kids do when they wave (why is that, by the way, we never showed that to her), but she will always bring her arm up. She will also say mama and dada when she seems to be talking about us, but she will use them both in other contexts as well so we don't count those yet.

She is also crawling and babbling a bunch. She loves baths and dancing - she will start lauging when I ask her if she wants to dance and I turn the cd player on. She is also learning to express herself when she isn't happy. I am sure I am scarring her for life when I laugh at her displeasure. It is just so dang cute!

I think we might have also slept for 4-5 hours in a row last night! I'm not sure because just because I don't remember waking up, doesn't mean that I'm not. Since we co-sleep, I can roll over, let her nurse and fall back asleep without being conscious enough to remember it the next morning. Still, I feel more rested today, so whatever it was, I would gladly take it again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Question of the day

This needs to be a quick post so I am asking for you to help me write it. A friend talked to me today about the fact that she is turning 40 a may want one more kid. She shared with me a conversation she had with an older friend. She asked, "When do you know when you have had enough kids?" He replied, "Well, is your house full? Not, have you filled all the rooms, but do you feel like your house / family feels complete?"

Ahhh . . . is that how you know? It just doesn't ring true to me so I came up with some reasons of my own. Help me out and offer up some of your own answers.

How do you know when you have had enough kids? (By "enough" I include zero too - it isn't enough obviously, but I think the questions still applies)

  • When you don't have the money for a(nother) fertility treatment
  • When you can't bare the possibility of another BFN
  • When you can't bring yourself to start on all that adoption paperwork
  • When you don't think your body can handle any more fertility drugs
  • When your husband / partner can't stand you on any more fertility drugs.
  • When it is more important to your mental health to walk away than keep trying.
What else?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The follow up post

I wanted to post a follow up post to my terribly depressing post from yesterday. I had actually gone to bed thinking I would sleep on it. There were moments when I wondered if it was an accurate portrayal of how I felt as the evening went on. When I couldn't sleep at 4 am this morning because I kept thinking about it, I went ahead and hit the publish button. Perhaps not the best frame of mind to make the decision, but now that it is posted I don't think I will pull it. It was accurate for how I felt at the time, even if I am a bit embarrassed about it now.

Today I wonder why I cared so much yesterday. As I have stated in this post, I think about LB being the product of DE almost every day, but I would say that 98% of the time there is no emotion associated with it. It is of no more consequence than if the sun is out or not. Actually, it is of less consequence because a sunny day has a bigger impact on my mood than the origin of LB's genes, at least most of the time.

Here is where I am putting part of the blame on my emotional meltdown: Sunday I danced my Psalm of the Infertile Woman piece again - I pulled out all my emotional baggage for the performance (performance isn't the right word because it is supposed to be more of a prayer, but you know what I mean); that night we didn't sleep well - LB waking me up 7 times in 9 hours; bright and early Monday morning I had my first blood draw for my upcoming FET - walking into that clinic brought up some suppressed grief, I suspect.

I am not going to say it is all ok, however. Better to look into the wound and see if it is worse than I thought or if it just bled a lot for a moment and is actually healing nicely. To that end, I have made an appointment with my grief counselor and set up a get together with a wonderful lady I know who raised one adopted and one genetic child. I hope the latter person can answer some questions about how it is the same and how it is different. Since I don't have anything to compare it to, I am probably over selling the genetic connection.

And the thing is my genetics suck - heart disease (mother, grandfather), mental illness (father and several of his siblings), cancer (11 of 13 female cousins had breast cancer), arthritis; you name it we've got it - in spades. We definitely traded up in terms of better prospects for LB.

I come back to wondering if a portion, perhaps even a greater portion, is that need for success. That need to say, "I can do it too, so there!" But we all know the harder part is being a good parent for decades than getting the sperm and egg to make a healthy baby (not that the latter isn't hard for some of us).

I also think it will benefit me not to think about it too much. I don't want to bury my grief, but I don't need to poke it with a stick either. And sleep . . . more sleep would be good. I am currently reading the No Cry Sleep Solution and hoping to change our sleeping habit for the better. I haven't had more than four hours sleep in a row in nearly 9 months. I'm not complaining. Better to be tired from waking up with a baby than to have no baby at all. Still, the shortest road to insanity is sleep deprivation.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What might have been

Note: I was hesitant to post this as it is possible someone from my clinic reads my blog. My apologies in advance if I offend anyone. I have no doubt that the people at my clinic have the best interest of their patients at heart.

When I did my first IVF cycle, the most recent stats available for my clinic were from 2004. At that time, my clinic had a 56.7 live birth rate for people under 35 and CCRM had a live birth rate of 58.5. I was one week passed my 38th birthday. My clinic's stats in my age group didn't quite measure up, but since my clinic only did about 25 cycles while CCRM had over 130; it was safe to assume that it was just a statistical difference (the reliability range overlapped with CCRM). Additionally, their rates were much more comparable in the pregnancy rate per transfer category.

I signed up for 3 cycles with my clinic - two being early miscarriages and one being a BFN. By the time we went for our fourth and last-chance-with-my-eggs cycle, I was comparing DE cycles only and still felt pretty good.

Today I was thinking about our up coming cycle and on a whim decided to check out the most recent stats. I shouldn't have looked. While CCRM has continually (from 2004 - 2007) had a live birth rate in the low 40's for women in my age group (38-40); my clinic has hovered around the mid to upper 20's - even taking a hit across all groups in 2007. I am now led to believe that our chances of success would have been about 1.8 times greater had we gone to CCRM. It feels awful to think things might had been different if we had tried a different clinic.

Ok, Kami, but what about the live births per transfer? Those rates actually stayed pretty comparable and you always made it to transfer so isn't it fair to only look at those rates and let yourself off the hook? Maybe. I just don't know. Perhaps my clinic isn't as good at stimulating older women and so cancels more cycles. Perhaps CCRM preselects their patients. I just don't know. My suspician is that CCRM is just better at stimulating older women since when you select for diminished ovarian reserve they still have around a 40% live birth rate and about a third of their patience are diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve (something I was not diagnosed with until the DE cycle)

I have often had the shadow of regret hanging over me for not going to an RE sooner - for believing our miracle pregnancy in 2004 wasn't just a fluke. Now I am left feeling that I made the wrong decision for at least not trying CCRM for our last-chance-with-my-eggs cycle in early 2007. Would that have translated into a live, mutually genetic baby for us? We will never know. I'm not a statistic. I'm not 100 cycles or a hundred women. I do know that right now I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach. Although not intentional, I feel like I have been the victim of fraud. I feel cheated.

One of the things that has always bothered me about moving to DE is that I never had proof that my eggs had abnormal chromosomes which I understand to be the best indicator of poor quality eggs (please correct me if I am wrong!). PGD was too expensive and wouldn't have increased our chances of a viable pregnancy and in at least 2 of the pregnancies (Ernest and my first miscarriage) the karyotype came back normal (the miscarriage was normal female so it could have been my cells tested but the tech stated "probable placental villi" in the report so she thinks she got the right cells). The second miscarriage did not have a reliable karyotype.

Of course, normal chromosomes didn't do us any good with Ernest. He was non-viable outside of the womb because of a birth defect that caused the preterm labor. We were told it was just bad luck at the time.

So the questions continue to swirl around in my head: Wrong choices? Wrong clinic? Bad eggs? Bad luck? Yes, for those long term readers, I have been down this road before.

Just to rub salt in the wound, I feel guilty having these regrets because I have LB. Even now she is holding a chunk of crusty bread in one hand and a chunk of apple in the other - taking turns shaving off little bits with her bottom teeth (every once in a while, I have to go pull a too-big bite of bread out of her mouth to wails of unhappiness until I put a small bite back in) and it is terribly endearing. There is no doubt that I love her with all my heart. And there is also this.

I don't think this (this weight, this sadness, this cloud of regret) will ever go away completely. Like the loss of a child, the grief is always there it just punctures your life less and less often with less and less force. Unlike the loss of a child, it could have a too-big impact on LB if I am not careful. (I say "too big" because everything I am could have an impact on LB since everything I am impacts the way I parent.) I don't know what to do about it either. Perhaps I am hiding it from her well enough at this age and by the time she knows any differently, it just won't matter that much to me anymore.

As long as I am having a poor me moment, I will also say that it sucks that it was male factor infertility that brought us to the table in the first place. I am convinced we would have had children easily at 34 had we not had male factor issues.

Where is the road map to tell me how to get on with my life after failed infertility treatments, a dead baby, and mistakes in judgement and be happy that we were successful with the next best alternative? When and how is it ok to grieve what you didn't get while you are parenting the miracle that you did get? When can I be selfish and let the tears flow and when do I need to pretend it doesn't matter to me at all? What about those of us who still feel like failures sitting in the waiting room of our fertility clinic even though we have successfully found a path to parenthood?

I don't know, but I am done with self pity for today. Brad will be home from work soon and poor LB has been too neglected. I promise my next post will be much more positive. I'm off to see if nibbling on baby toes and blowing on a baby tummy will lighten my mood a bit.

Update: Please see the follow up post.