Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I am...

For the past few years, our now-college-aged niece has been struggling with depression. Major depression. Which she has denied for a long time, but is finally realizing has swallowed her life, and she's trying to figure out how to deal with it.

Infertility and depression are not the same thing, by any means. But I've been thinking about some commonalities between the two, especially in terms of language.

I remember the day, in November 2006, that I had to use the word "infertile" about myself. It was the day before Thanksgiving. I was getting ready for an evening worship service. I went to the bathroom about 5:00, and there it was - my period. Not just one more period, one more time - this was the 12th in a row with no pregnancy. All I could think of was a single sentence: "Infertility is defined as 12 months of trying without achieving pregnancy." I had read this in a book somewhere, or possibly online, and I had been trying to dodge it for weeks. "Surely this is not happening to me," I said to myself in the mornings. "I am not infertile."

And then, that night, I was. I am infertile. It was the first time I said that. I didn't entirely believe it, of course, but the definition had finally chased me down.

It's a strange way to refer to a medical disorder. At the time, I didn't know what was causing the problem. I was some 6 months away from the semen analysis which would tell us that my husband's swimmers were almost entirely the wrong shape. It would be another year after that before I discovered that I had stage IV endometriosis.

I didn't know what the problems were, but something was wrong. And yet, the only way to explain it was not to say that I had a problem (or that the problem had me) - the only way to refer to this problem was as if it were integral to my very identity. Nobody goes around saying, "I have infertility." You might say, "I have fertility problems," but if you want to use the big word, the I-word, you have to plant it firmly in your identity, right at the center of who you are. "I am infertile."

It's not linguistically normal to say, "I have depression," either, although I do hear people say that from time to time. You're more likely to think, "I am depressed." Nobody says, "I am cancer," or, "I am lupus," but here we are, the infertile and the depressed, stuck with language that does us no favors. Over time, you forget that you're simply stuck with a medical problem the way many people are. You forget this, and you become convinced that you're the problem. Consequently, you often think that you should be able to fix it, cure it, get past it, get over it. And other people may well support that theory: "just relax," "snap out of it," "get out of the house."

I wonder if this is why so many women who endure infertility feel that pregnancy does not fix the problem. "I am pregnant," does not cancel out, "I am infertile." Not immediately, anyway. At the moment, I find myself someplace in-between: I know, logically, that I am pregnant. But after four years of the refrain, "I am infertile," this leap is not easy to make.

On the other hand, I've always gotten really pissed off at women who get pregnant and insist on continuing to refer to themselves as infertile. I get it, the deep connection we make to that diagnosis, but I think it belittles those who are still in the struggle, to act as if you can be both things at the same time. This is just my opinion. Feel free to disagree.

I do think, though, that you can be in a weird space between the two. No longer one, and yet not quite realizing you are the other. So attached to the fear you know, that the newness before you is simply not real.

That's where I am at the moment. Someplace in-between.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Which Bill Shoots Giuliana (sort of), and I don't blame him

Well, I'm officially pregnant. Which means it's time to switch from the tried-and-true 'infertility panic' (is that my period? are those cramps? did I just screw up that injection?) to the all-new-and-exciting pregnant-panic (is that a cramp? why am I not nauseous right now? oh shit, is this herbal tea going to kill the baby?).

Which means that I'm still in need of distraction. Which means, I'm going to watch Giuliana and Bill: Demonstrating How Being Rich Does Not Make You Less Irritating, Even If You Are Infertile.

In today's episode, G & B are traveling to Hong Kong. Also, I think they are going to have to try some kind of fertility drugs. I'm sure the Hong Kong thing will be fascinating, but let's face it: we all know why I'm watching this show. And it ain't the travel.

4:00 - Cheesy theme song. Scold self for continuing to watch show. Blame this on baby, who is causing me need for distraction. Remember that also blamed baby last night for state of extreme gaseous-ness. (Husband tried same excuse, to no avail.)

4:01 - G has been invited to China to start new Asian version of E! news. Would like to formally apologize, in advance, to China for arrival of Giuliana. Even if G is originally from Italy.

4:02 - B will be speaking at some business school in Hong Kong. amazing that they would have plans at the same time halfway across the world! Surely very spontaneous and not-at-all-contrived by reality show in preparation for episode!

4:03 - G says they have "been trying to get pregnant for awhile now." Wish they would be more specific about timeline. Perhaps has been a year (or at least 6 months, as G looks 35+ to me), but have suspicion that G may have been talking into Important Infertility Storyline for show after, say, 2 months of negative pregnancy tests.

4:04 - G & B try to explain "IUI." Find self wishing had gun so could shoot television. They use word "implant." Infertility Rage returns. "Turkey baster," they say. G does not know whether sperm goes into uterus or ovaries. Ha ha ha, G. Ignorance is funny: it's a Hollywood staple.

4:06 - However, G proves with Random Assistant that she can pronounce variety of complicated fashion-related names and concepts, so - why not learn the difference between a freaking uterus and a freaking ovary? Sharp shooting pains in head. Maybe can sue E! news for giving me a small stroke.

4:08 - Dr. Not An RE is explaining their injectables. Shots will start on day 3. Bill quite capably explains follicle development (take a lesson, G). B & G are set for IUI. Also, Bill is going to help G gain 5 pounds, which she has not yet done. Can feel every woman in America (or, the 10 watching this show) hating her right now.

4:10 - G packs fancy, expensive clothing. B peruses restaurant guides. Bye, B & G! See you in Hong Kong!

4:11 - G describes Hong Kong as "New York on crack." Sure that natives of Hong Kong will love that line. Also sure they are not watching this show, so is probably okay.

4:12 - G has so much to get ready for! E! party! All sorts of E! events! Useless celebrity gossip to spread! Clearly, must shop! Lots!

4:13 - G & B go to meat market. (Hmm...maybe nausea is returning.) B & G perform Supremely Irritating American Trick of speaking English really loudly, as if this will help.

4:14 - G claims she is all about trying the "local cuisine." Find this not quite believable. Suspect G will be heading for the first McDonald's she can find.

4:16 - G whines about eating said local cuisine. SHOCKER. She likes the dumplings at P.F. Chang's better. Again: shocker.

4:18 - G is trying to find knock-off bags. They go to the "Hong Kong Ladies Market," which seems like kind of a sexist name, but then again, I don't know any guys who want to spend their afternoon looking at plastic Chanel rip-offs.

4:20 - we meet a prof at Hong Kong University, who's invited Bill to speak at his class. Bill pontificates about Donald Trump and Important Business Stuff. Dudes. BORING. Get back to the infertility.

4:21 - G uses the term 'Aunt Flo.' Hate G right now.

4:21 - However, arrival of said Aunt Flo means time to figure out the shots. Remembering times self had to give shots while traveling - was, indeed, hard. Also remember first shot ever, which totally made me panic, so am trying to have empathy for B & G. Or, at least for B.

4:22 - Dr. Not An RE explains injectables. They have a pen-style shot. G is not excited about B giving her shots. However, B is confident as used to watch Trapper John, M.D. B is completely stumped by pen-shot. Would feel empathy here except swear I can hear show's director whispering, "now, try to open it but then have trouble. No, more trouble! I need this shot to last at least 15 seconds! LOOK CONFUSED, BILL!"

4:23 - thankful for commercial break. Need, once more, to register my objection to E! about moving this show to 60 minutes. That is just way too much G.

4:36 - B still trying to figure out pen. G suggests reading directions. (G may have a point on this one.) Recall that this is part of why gave self shots instead of letting husband try to figure it out. Also, husband tends to pass out when injections and blood involved. Find self considering, for 1000th time, what this will mean for labor, then realize have zoned out on the show. Consider rewinding, but then again, the plot is not that complicated. Will just guess what happens next: G will whine about something.

4:39 - good guess. G is whining about getting on a fishing boat.

4:40 - B & G take harbor tour of Hong Kong. Today's Moment In Which Giuliana is Sure They Are All Going to Die: big waves on boat. Freaks G out.

4:41 - time for important work stuff. Malaysian interviewer confirms that G is, indeed, 35. (Thanks, Malaysian reporter!) G apparently learned to speak English by watching news. And also, apparently, thinks of herself as a "news anchor." Find self in despair that Malaysian interviewer refers to G that way. Wish Diane Sawyer had reality show. But Diane is clearly too smart to put her life on TV. Bummer.

4:43 - B & G visit fortune teller in market. G will have long life because she has big ears. She is "like the Buddha." Cannot actually think of someone who is less like Buddha, but whatever. He foretells at least 2 children. And also, if they don't have children, their marriage is screwed. Would have punched fortune teller. Bad international press, however.

4:44 - B & G visit temple because they "are religious and spiritual people," (not, "because we needed 10 minutes of filler before the next fertility segment"). Nice Hong Kong people try to explain incense ritual. They also learn about ritual in which dropping two half-moon shaped figures determines whether or not your wish will come true. Bill keeps getting "no" on his wish. Want to laugh at this, except that must confess that I have, embarrassingly often, tried to figure out "signs." As I live in glass house, cannot throw stones. Sigh. Whole point of watching this show is stone-throwing.

4:47 - G gets "yes" in answer to her question: "Will we get pregnant soon?" Feel that answer, just possibly, may have been manipulated by show's producers. Scandalous.

4:49 - B is horrified by price of bags. G needs to do more shopping.

4:51 - B & G wear new clothes to fancy E! event. Boring speeches.

4:53 - Shot Day. B is finally reading directions. G is very nervous. Feel for G. G whines. Now, do not feel for G. G cannot handle World's Smallest Injection Needle. Feel that G should seriously reconsider squeezing watermelon-sized baby out her hoo-ha. (Or maybe canteloupe, but still: big baby. Small hole. Think about it, G.)

4:54 - G wins the gold medal at whining. B gives her shot. It looks like he's giving it to her in her lower back, but later angle shows definite butt-inejction. Good job, B. I would have injected it into her head.

4:57 - B surprises G by taking her to a restaurant she can go to at home. (Must admit, gorgeous view.) G loves traveling with B because he "opens her eyes to different things." Such as, for example, a new location of a restaurant she goes to all the time. Way to expand your horizons, G.

4:58 - G heard a great quote: "you have to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar world to truly understand your own." Suspect that she "heard" this "great quote" from the guy behind the camera who is whispering it to her one word at a time.

4:59 - G tries to explain IUI to Random Assistant Or Perhaps Friend, Don't Care. Friend seems horrified by procedure. Do not like friend. Cue the upbeat music.

5:00 - Dr. Not An RE gets ready for IUI. G is "excited and nervous." Seems about right. Evidently G has 3 follicles. Then G has to be tilted backward and stay that way for 30 minutes. Suspect that Dr. Not An RE is not an expert in this. "Whatever happens, happens," says Bill. True that. B & G must wait 12 days. If B & G succeed on first try, will definitely stop watching this show.

Monday, February 22, 2010

beta #2 - and uncharted territory

All weekend, I kept telling myself that today would be fine, the number would be fine, everything would be fine. I kept saying this over and over again in my head, but it was like I hit a wall every time I said it - I just couldn't make myself believe that it could be true.

Today's beta needed to be at least 700. It was 1039.

I am a little anxious about how many little people might be growing in there, exactly, and I am also mostly in shock about this - but I am hugely relieved.

We are now in uncharted territory. Last time, this was the day when it all came crashing down around us, when what would be diagnosed as an ectopic pregnancy nearly broke our hearts.

This time, I know there are a million things that could go wrong. I know that. But I'm so, so happy to be here. In the uncharted territory. Where I almost threw up in the car this morning on the way back from the RE's, and not because of nerves, and have never been so delighted to be slightly queasy in my life. (A feeling I'm sure will pass at the speed of light, but whatever.)

My first ultrasound appointment is March 15th.

30 years ago today, the U.S. hockey team pulled off the 'Miracle on Ice.' I guess it's just a good day for miracles.

Friday, February 19, 2010

and the number is...

First of all, I want to say how much I love my nurse, who called at 12:30pm instead of the "sometime between 3:00 and 5:00pm" I had been told to expect. "You're so early!" I said. "I know what you're doing today," she said with a smile.

Amanda, I love you. I love you with the white hot heat of a thousand suns. In a totally-appropriate nurse-patient way, of course.

First beta: 343.

Holy. Freaking. Shit.

I am pregnant.

I am also shaking.

And I am happy. Screw the worry - for right now, for the next five minutes, I'm choosing joy.

blog award - thanks!

I've been nominated, very kindly, for a few blog awards lately. Between a hectic work schedule and my inability to do anything except pee on a stick, I haven't had time to respond - but hey, now I have a whole day, a sermon to write (which requires a steady stream of procrastination; it's part of the process) and nothing but time on my hands. The blood-test lady told me the nurse would call "between 3 and 5pm," which was good of her to say, so I don't start freaking out earlier, but feels like a whole lot o' hours between now and then.

So, first, thanks to Rebecca at The Road Less Traveled and Grizzly Eggs for giving me this very sweet thing:

Both of these women have been so supportive and kind in commenting over the past few weeks. Thank you!

The instructions that go along with this award are as follows:
  • Thank the person that nominated you for this award.
  • Copy the award and place it on your blog.
  • Link the person that nominated you for this award.
  • Tell us seven interesting things about yourself.
  • Nominate seven bloggers.
  • Post the links to the seven bloggers. interesting things about me. Here goes.

1. I once attended a communist rally in Italy. Accidentally. It's a long story, but basically it came about because 1.) I was traveling with a high school French group and 2.) we didn't speak any Italian, so when we 3.) got really hungry and 4.) noticed a group of people with festive banners out in a field serving pizza, we assumed that 5.) this was probably some kind of community fair, until we noticed 6.) the giant poster of Lenin's head and deciphered 7.) the phrase, "workers unite." On the plus side, said Italian communists were charming people, if a bit baffled by our appearance.

2. I hate flying. Hate, hate, hate, hate it. I know it's illogical - I know it's all about my loss of control - and I've gotten much better at handling it over the years, but I do hate it. And yet, I would like to take a flying lesson. Perhaps this "interesting thing about me" should be summed up as, "I am curiously inconsistent."

3. I stood in line for four hours at an independent bookstore in St. Paul, in about 1996, to shake Hillary Clinton's hand. She was there to promote It Takes A Village (I got a signed copy. I'm pretty sure the 'signature' was stamped on there, but whatever). I spent the whole four hours trying to figure out something unique to say to her, something totally different than everyone else's boring, "nice to meet you," or, "thanks for coming." I can't remember what I came up with, but undoubtedly it was fascinating and she would have quit the line right there and then to go out for coffee with me - except that, when I actually got up there and walked up to shake her hand, the only thing I could think was, "this is the person who has sex with the President of the United States." Which was so mortifying (even just silently in my head) that I forgot my fascinating statement and said, "nice to meet you, thanks for coming." (This was the pre-Lewinsky days. Little did I know that I should have been thinking, "this is one of the few people who is probably not having sex with the President of the United States.")

4. I love to watch movies over and over again, so many times that I can recite whole sections of dialogue. This completely confuses my husband, who prefers to watch things only once.

5. I have Mondays off, which is great. You can get a lot of stuff done on Mondays when everyone else is at work. This means I am usually doing my grocery shopping with a very high percentage of Very Old People. This is fine with me. It makes me feel young.

6. Even though my job requires a lot of social time, I am an unashamed introvert. Five hours of 500 people on a Sunday morning completely wipes me out. It's great, but exhausting.

7. I have played the piano since I was 7, and it is still one of the things which provides me the best emotional release ever. My mom says she could tell what kind of mood I was in by what piece I chose to play when I got home from school. She warned my husband about this when we got our own piano this year (which was about the best. day. ever). He agrees.

Now, the fun part: I get to nominate seven other people. The only trick being, it's hard to choose only seven! But it's a start, anyway:

1.Room for More, whose blog I just started reading after she commented here a few days ago. She gets an award for posting comparative pee-stick photos for me in my quest not to lose my mind the other day. Hoping for the best as she awaits adoption.

2. Barrenland Meditations, who is a wonderful writer, and who is also in the adoption process.

3. A Little Hope, who has been very supportive for a long time, and who is now pregnant with twins. I love to read her hopeful story.

4. Mekate at I Can't Whistle, for whom I am hoping so hard I think I might give myself a nosebleed. :)

5. Tireegal at Happy-Go-Lucky, who is having a very happy-go-lucky day. For which I am delighted.

6. Ann at The Tragic Optimist, who is a librarian. Because I love librarians. And secretly wish I was one, sometimes.

7. Jem at Ambivalent Womb, because that is the best blog title ever. And who could use some support as she navigates a difficult time.

Thank you, to the seven above, and to all of you for being so supportive. Really. I mean it. (Anybody want a peanut?) (Bonus points to the person who can name that movie quote.) (See # 4 about me, just in case you forgot.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the next 24 hours

The funny thing is, I've never been that worried about tomorrow (beta day). Either it will be negative, in which case I will do as planned: go to a concert that night, a party the next night, and drink like a fish.

Or, it will be positive. In which case, I will go to said events, drink water, and panic until Monday.

Because Monday is when it all went wrong last time. Beta was on Friday: 125. Great number! Yay, pregnant! Weekend: spent fantasizing about nursery colors, onesies, the smell of baby powder, and little dimples, alternating with slight panic about sleeplessness, breast-feeding and, you know, actually having a child.

And then Monday, the number was 127. And the whole thing came to a crashing halt. So it's never been Friday that scares me. Monday, on the other hand, is terrifying.

Because I'm now pretty sure what Friday will bring.

But no pee-stick can save me from the Monday fears. Goal: take it one day at a time. Hope for a good, solid number tomorrow. And then, wait. And pray. A lot.

Thanks to those who gave me photo-tips for the pee stick! Much better. Darker line is, indeed, a bit of a relief.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

giuliana, bill, me, and the quest for distraction

A girl can only pee on so many sticks a day, you know? (Namely, I can only pee on one, because I only have one left and I need it for tomorrow.)

So, in an effort to keep myself busy, I'm watching last Sunday's episode of Giuliana and Bill, otherwise known as Hollywood's Latest Fad: Infertility Happens To Cute, Famous People Too!

Episode Three (I think): Couple's Retreat

3:00 - Perky theme song. Cut to scene at hospital in Chicago. Their "baby doctor" (ob-gyn, get a freaking RE, you morons) is doing an HSG on Giuliana, in which he discovers that her tubes are fine but her uterus is apparently in the wrong place. "Have you ever seen that?" asks Bill. "Not to this degree," says the doctor. "The last thing you want to hear is your doctor saying, 'I've never seen this before,'"says Giuliana, with which I agree. However, the doctor assures them this is not a "dealbreaker." Suspect it is, in fact, a very minor issue which needed to be blown up in order to create Important Reality Show Moment With Dramatic Music.

3:04 - Bill decides to bring back the "Rancic challenge," an event in which family and friends get together and, I guess, beat the crap out of each other. Or something. This is going to give them a break from baby-trying. Personally, I would go more for a Bermuda vacation, if I had their resources.

3:05 - Bill confesses that he has had other girlfriends in the past. GASP.

3:06 - To the bar, where G & B are meeting up with the other couples. They bring their actual victory cup. This is some serious commitment, here.

3:07 - Baby doctor calls G on the phone to see "how she is holding up." The location of the uterus is off to one side, so apparently he thinks there could be some weird deal with her colon getting all stuck up in there, or something. G may be constipated. If E! is seriously telling us that constipation causes infertility, I am going to kick some E! ass. Pronto.

3:08 - the doctor refers to G as "babe." As in, G: "we'll talk to your office and schedule an appointment," Doctor: "you got it, babe." I cannot imagine my doctor calling me "babe." Anyone contemplating sticking a catheter up my hoo-ha is NOT allowed to call me "babe." This all adds to the weird combination of Serious Medical Problem + Joking Informality about Infertility which pisses me off about this show.

3:10 - Charming, Rich, Metrosexual Couples prepare for Kick Ass Couples Challenge while drinking expensive wine. Much banter ensues. Then commercial break, with teaser of G crying on the high ropes course. Shocker.

3:15 - B & G loll around in fancy resort whilst discussing how they will kick butt during the challenge. Dudes. BORING. Get back to the infertility so I can bitch about it.

3:16 - G confesses she can't stop thinking about future doctor appointments. Find self empathizing with G, as currently cannot stop thinking about own future doctor appointment (current loop in head: FridayFridayFridayFridayFriday).

3:17 - high ropes course. I will undoubtedly make fun of G for wimping out on this, but the truth is, I might very well do the same thing. Probably would. But then, do not have money or time to create Couples Extravaganza at Ritzy Arizona Retreat, so I'm safe.

3:18 - G is freaking out on wires. Commercial break, with teaser for upcoming Couples Showdown in which someone is called a cheater. BUT WHO? WHO?

(Love DVR and commercial fast forward option.)

3:20 - B & G are in fourth place. Tragic.

3:22 - Second event: chili cook-off. Now, this is more my territory. Except that they have 20 minutes to make the chili, and I have no idea how that will work. G can hardly stir a bowl of cheese. She is paralyzed by the amount of available ingredients. Lord, but she is irritating in these moments.

3:24 - time is up. DRAMA! Chef will pronounce final decision at the end of weekend. Preliminary results: Couple 1: lemony. Couple 2: good. Couple 3: not bad. Couple 4 (B & G): long pause...what is that flavor? Bill tries to explain bizarre combination of ingredients. Chef is not buying it. Couple 5: nice.

3:26 - couples are now challenged to climb giant ladder. Friendly Instructor Lady offers disclaimer: "if you are pregnant or may be pregnant, you'll want to consult with your doctor on this." G immediately counts herself out. Find self remembering all times the word "pregnant" was uttered in unexpected moments and sympathize with G, even though she is clearly using this to attempt chickening out of Giant Ladder Challenge.

3:28 - G reminds us, for the one thousandth time, that she is afraid of heights. SHUT THE EFF UP AND DO SOMETHING, G. How is it that, in every episode, she is convinced either she or Bill is going to die? YOU ARE AN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER, lady. You have the least dangerous life on earth, except that Angelina Jolie might kill you with her icy stare when you ask her whether Brad wears boxers or briefs. Get over yourself.

3:30 - last challenge: "Celebrity." Guessing celebrity names, in some manner. Think G might do well at this one.

3:31 - indeed, G kicks butt in naming celebrities. Again: SHOCKER.

3:32 - uh-oh: funny celebrity-guessing game turns ugly. People are questioning the integrity of Bill's Yuppie, Made-Up Competition. Oh, no!

3:33 - during commercial break, realize that this show is normally half an hour, but is, for some reason, an hour this time. Also realize that 30 minutes is about my limit for this show.

3:34 - couples are ridiculously bitter about celebrity game. On the other hand, it is about time for Dramatic Reality Show Moment Which Is Supposed to Keep Audience Sucked In For Another 15 Minutes, so that's probably the deal.

3:36 - everyone goes to see Wyatt, who appears to be an old cowboy who uses horses to do couples therapy, or individual counseling, or something. Wyatt teaches Touching Lesson about how too much competition can ruin friendships. Well-timed, Wyatt.

3:37 - Cowboy Counselor Wyatt diagnoses Bill as secretly insecure. Good job, Mr. Ed.

3:38 - Cowboy Counselor Wyatt gets G to confess that she had a bad experience with a horse one time. (Side note: What the hell kind of shoes is she wearing? They look like black ace bandages with velcro straps and the toe cut out. Not good.) Then Cowboy Counselor Wyatt asks G if she ever felt alone "as a small person." "Were you left alone a lot?" he asks. G cries. Cowboy Counselor Wyatt gets G to raise horse's hoof, which is evidently a sign of trust from the horse. I wonder if the horse ever gets so sick of Cowboy Counseling that he wants to demonstrate his frustrated inner horse by kicking Wyatt in the head, but I guess we'll never know.

3:39 - Wyatt gets everybody to tearfully confess some insecurity and then lift up the horse's leg. Formerly competitive friends are now magically transformed into Bonded, Psychologically Healthy Buddies.

3:43 - somehow, B & G meet with another counselor, at this retreat center, who specializes in couples who want children. What the hell kind of spa is this?

3:44 - counselor asks, "how do you feel about being childless?" B & G are silent. Remember many times I have wondered that same question. Am feeling sincere love for B & G until G says, "I just hope that everything's okay with my uterus." Then want to slap her in the face. However, they talk about having to be okay with that potential outcome (childlessness, not my slapping her in the face). "You go through life not wanting to get pregnant, and then you try, and it's not that easy," G says. Poor G.

3:36 - B says, "there's a lot of stigma about not being able to have a child, but I think it makes you stronger." Appreciate that the show is admitting that infertility is not always solved by shiny, happy baby. However, still strongly suspect that Weird Uterus Problem is being artificially dragged out by show. Suspicion confirmed by next commercial break teaser, in which G's voice says, "what is wrong with my uterus? Will we be able to have a child? Now we're finally going to find out." Bet that "finally" means, "in the next episode."

3:48 - announcement of Challenge Champion. B thinks everyone has been winners. B gives heartfelt speech about how everyone wins, accompanied by Sincere and Emotional Guitar Music in Background. Group decides not to pronounce a winner, probably because B & G lost and don't want to admit it. Whatever. Wish someone would shout, "Screw this!", turn over the tables, and start a fight. But, no.

3:50 - G has had colon cleansing - mercifully, not included in show. G now has external ultrasound. Uterus now looks "nice and normal." Find self in disbelief that show is apparently suggesting that a fucking colonoscopy can cure infertility. WHAT THE HELL? "Now, we are getting pregnant," says G.

3:51 - decide to Stop. Watching. This Idiotic Show.

3:52 - except that next episode teaser may be showing use of fertility drugs. Sigh. May have to watch. DAMN these reality show people and their stupid teasers.

tell me not to panic

Okay. This is why they tell you not to pee on a stick before your beta.

Don't panic (this is my personal mantra today) - I don't think it's bad news. Necessarily. But then again, I'm the panicky sort, especially around any potential pregnancy stuff.

So, I peed on a stick (HYPOTHETC...oh, screw it, I did it) again this morning. And yes, there is definitely a second line - still fainter than the control line, but there. I don't have to squint to see it. It's there.

But it's not darker than yesterday's line. I don't think it's lighter, but it's a little hard to tell because a.) yesterday's test is now dry, so you can't really compare and b.) I tend to panic and assume the worst. It looks about the same as yesterday, from what I can tell. Also, it's one of those Dollar Store tests, so it's probably not the most sensitive thing in the world.

That's not terribly bad, is it? I've been trying to take a photo of the damn thing for the past fifteen minutes, and I SUCK at this (I don't know how y'all get those nice, clear photos of these tiny things!), but here's my best shot:

You know, now that I look at it, it might be a little darker than yesterday. Maybe. I know you can't tell, but I didn't take a photo of yesterday's, and now it's way too late for that. And the line is actually a little clearer than it appears in the photo (again: I have no pee-stick-photo skills). Anyway, it's there. Right? I'm mostly posting this so I can look at it during the day and assure myself that it's real, that I didn't dream that second line.

But I'll feel a hundred times better if it gets darker tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

just asking

HYPOTHETICALLY, if someone who was currently 7dp5dt peed on a stick and there was a faint-but-not-that-faint-definitely-there line this morning, what would the chances be of that being leftover hcg from the trigger shot? (Which was, HYPOTHETICALLY, 14 days ago. Today.)

I'm just asking for opinions. HYPOTHETICALLY.

Monday, February 15, 2010

still waiting, in bullet form

I forgot how much of a black hole the 2ww is. Really; it's like the pregnancy-symptom obsession has crowded everything else out of my brain, so much so that, while presiding at communion yesterday, I started feeling cramps and almost blurted something inappropriate out loud during the words of institution: "after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and...oh, shit. SHITSHITSHIT are those cramps? Is that bad? Or good?"

My husband tells me "not to think about it." I tell him, "fat chance."

Here's the current status report:
  • My boobs started out super sore for the first few days, but then have settled into a much less sore pattern lately. They're sore if I poke them (which I do a crazy number of times daily). This makes me panic, because surely the boobs would be sore if I were pregnant?
  • I feel crampy on and off - nothing major, nothing unusual. Do I feel like I usually do before I get my period? Yes, pretty much. This also makes me panic, except that I've read many accounts of how women were absolutely sure they were getting their period, and turned out to be pregnant. So, sometimes the cramps are reassuring. And sometimes they freak me out.
  • I've felt sort of lightheaded and very, very faintly nauseous a few times. However, this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, more than anything else: that is, I grab onto any little teeny, weeny, possibility of a symptom and then run with it like an Olympic relay athlete. Also, I'm pretty sure that it's way to early to feel anything anyway, and that whatever I do feel is much more likely to be a side effect of the progesterone.
  • Last night, I had the overwhelming feeling that this didn't work. No particular reason. Just the Black Hole of Doom swallowing me up.
  • I have not yet tested on a pee stick, having determined via Highly Reliable Internet Research that I'm not very likely to get a reliable positive until this Wednesday, and even that might be pushing it. Given that beta is Friday, I'm not sure whether I'll bother with the stick or not. Right now, I think I'll see what my acupuncturist says on Wednesday. Maybe I'll test Friday morning, pre-beta. Or, maybe I'm terrified that it didn't work and the uncertainty of this two week wait is still, at least, a time of hope - and I'm loathe to have it come to an end, so I'll drag out the wait as long as possible.
The only thing I am likely to accomplish this week is the number one thing on my priority list: "do not lose mind." And even that's going to be hard to pull off.

Friday, February 12, 2010

slow march to insanity

When I was a kid, I used to think no week passed more slowly than the week before Christmas. Seriously: it was like time halted that week, dragging by in a crawl, with the particular intent of torturing small children who sat drooling under the Christmas tree, waiting for the present-opening orgy to come.

Ah, childhood. What an idiot I was.

Not really, of course. But it does demonstrate that I've had some problems with the concept of patience for quite awhile. Christmas week seemed slow, but it was a racetrack in comparison to the 2 week wait.

3dp5dt. Nothing particular to note: some minor cramping, but that's normal. My nurse called yesterday to check on me, which was sweet: she told me to call back if I had any questions, but given that my only real question for her right now is, "can you speed up time?" I'm pretty sure there's not much point in asking.

This coming week we'll commemorate Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. Last year at this time, I was just beginning our first IVF cycle. During that Lent, last year, I found a poem that's been posted on the bulletin board next to my desk ever since:

This lenting
is a longing, looking,
isolating and locating process,
a passing of the time between
what has to be, what may become,
a late, last solitary lingering
among the soiled and crusted snowbanks
of deep-drifted hurt and disappointment
seeking out those tender-tough new shoots
that pierce the calloused surface
of all losing with the agony
of life becoming green

From what I can tell, the author of this poem, J. Barrie Shepherd, is a Presbyterian pastor. I think he's retired. I'm going to go out on a limb and take a wild guess that he's never personally experienced an in-vitro cycle (though I could be wrong).

But he's clearly a guy who knows about waiting. How hard it is, to be suspended between what has to be, what may become; how lingering among the places of deep-drifted hurt and disappointment can nearly drive you crazy; and yet how, for whatever reason, there is no other way to get to the agony of life becoming green again.

Now if poets could only make time go faster, that would be great.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

just the one

Well, of the three embryos still developing yesterday, none made it to freeze. Part of me is disappointed, of course, but I'm trying to remember how amazing it is - how unexpected, given our results last time - that we even have one frozen embryo at all.

Another part of me is a little relieved to have some disappointment at this stage; it's all been too perfect until now. Clearly, that part of me is f*cked up.

But the rest of me is trying to keep myself distracted. Thankfully, I'm busy at work this week. Plus, the continuing saga of Lost is excellent fodder for the distraction category.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


"your two gorgeous embryos," says the doctor.

We love this doctor.

The transfer went very well - so well, that the embryologist asked us if we were prepared for twins. "How high a chance would that be, exactly?" I asked nervously. "About 25%," she said, leading me to believe that fertility specialists have a slightly different definition of "high possibility" than I do. The doctor casually mentioned that we should be prepared for "twins. Or triplets," she said, as if this did not freaking matter at all, as opposed to the fact that my heart nearly stopped for a moment - but, given that triplets is about a 1-2% chance, I've got other things to worry about. (Other good news, however: 1 additional was frozen today, and they're watching 3 more for possible freezing tomorrow. Back-up plans make me happy.)

Namely, that I am so completely twisted that my response to a transfer where everything went "beautifully," with embryos that are "gorgeous," is immediately to think, "Everything today went so well that surely I will screw it up or it will turn out badly in the end, because that is our luck when it comes to babies." REALLY? That's my response to a day that went as perfectly as it could? I immediately complain that it was too good?

Infertility: a level of mindf*ck you can never imagine until you get there.

On the way home, I was listening to an NPR story about a new video game based on Dante's Inferno (naturally, this time Dante fights his way through hell, presumably kicking demon ass all the way). "Huh," I thought. "Dante don't know squat about levels of hell until he's endured a two week wait following in-vitro fertilization. You want hell? Try that."

Now, all we can do is wait. Beta is February 19th. Thanks again for all your support; it makes all the difference in the world. There's another thing Dante didn't have: friends in blogland. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

and then there were...

...still seven!

They called with the update - I was upstairs, trying to finish the window-blind install we'd started during halftime of the basketball game, so my husband answered the phone. "Oh," he said, "okay," and then got this look of complete confusion on his face, as if he had walked into what he thought was the Home and Garden Show but turned out to be the Bridal Fair. Confusion, plus slight panic. "Um, you'd better talk to my wife," he said, and the nurse told me that all seven were "still going strong," so we're headed in for a day 5 transfer on Tuesday.

Holy. Freaking. Cow. I realize we don't know what happens from here. I fully realize that there are absolutely no guarantees, that we could be heartbroken in just a few short weeks - but for now, for today, there's good news. And that will be enough for the day.

Friday, February 5, 2010


First off, I just want to profess my deep and undying love for my nurse, who called with the fertilization report at 10:45 this morning (as opposed to my previous cycle, when the call came at 5pm - though that was from my doctor, and it may well be that they needed more time that day to see how the two remaining eggs were developing). HUGE weight off my shoulders.

And, it was good news! Of the 10 eggs, 8 fertilized (we're using ICSI) and 7 are developing well. SEVEN! Last time, we only had two that got this far, so this is a big step in the right direction. They're holding off until tomorrow to decide between a 3 or 5-day transfer.

Seven is my new favorite number. Not that I'm going to go all George-Costanza on you and name my child 'Seven,' or anything, but's a fun number to repeat. I'm just going to say it one more time: seven.

Feels good.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

retrieval update

Still a little groggy from the anesthetic, but...10 eggs! Twice as many as last time, so I'm pretty happy.

Now, the big wait for the fertilization phone call. Thanks so much for all the good wishes; it really helps.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

retrieval song

I've been humming "tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow," intermittently today. But then I caught the end of another song, one I love, on the radio, and it occurred to me that it might fit even better.

Maybe in the future
you're gonna come back
you're gonna come back around
Maybe in the future
you're gonna come back
you're gonna come back
The only way to really know
is to really let it go
maybe you're gonna come back
you're gonna come back
you're gonna come back to me

I'm excited for retrieval tomorrow. But what I like about today is that it's all still possible, that they're all still safe, all those little follicles that still might contain eggs which might fertilize correctly, which might transfer well, which might implant, which might end up in a child. Might.

But the only way to really know, is to really let them go. And hope that maybe, they're gonna come back, they're gonna come back, they're gonna come back to me.

Thanks to Ingrid Michaelson, artist extraordinaire, for the wonderful lyrics.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

big shot

Simply because the universe likes to mess with my whole "I'm not patient" thing, it took a few extra hours today to make a decision: but, long story short, retrieval is on for Thursday morning. (Dear Lord, may this mean that last night was my final meno.pur shot ever.)

13-14 follicles looking good; lining is great. Emotionally, I feel fine - the headaches are gone too - but my goodness, I'm feeling bloated.

That means that tonight, at 8pm sharp, my husband will be doing his one-and-only injection for me, since the clinic has moved from progesterone-in-oil shots to suppositories (less pain: more gross). It's officially big shot night.

And then, after that, we will be putting aside all fertility-related concerns for two hours because - almost as eagerly anticipated as retrieval day - it's the LOST season premiere. 9pm sharp. Two hours in which the state of my ovaries and their contents are not the biggest thing on my mind: sounds good to me.

Also, I messed around with my blog layout. All a part of the "keep mind off ovaries" plan. So far, not terribly successful, but LOST will surely triumph.

Monday, February 1, 2010

the waiting game

I am not a patient person. IVF has taught me this.

So, I went in for today's ultrasound. Things are still looking good: 13 follicles developing very well - just not as quickly as I would like. My initial calendar put the 'best guess' retrieval date at tomorrow; as of last week, they were guessing Wednesday; now it's a 50/50 between Thursday and Friday. None of this is bad, unless you are like me and have a hard time with the "wait and see" thing, and also when you are feeling pretty bloated and would like to hand over these little dudes ASAP.

Lining is 10.2mm - good. Follicles are mostly between 14-15, with one at 20 and a few at 11 - good. Apart from the bloating, I feel - good.

Except for the waiting. Control freaks, take note: IVF is in charge, now.