Bliss

Monday, December 6, 2010

The day before I test, I can still envision a potentially positive outcome.

I can see the new direction my life begins to take, leaving behind the failures of the past with a fresh start at something new.

When I test, however, my future is immediately stamped with either a “PROCEED” or “RETURN TO START.” My path either stays as straight and as long as ever or takes a sharp turn in a direction I have not seen very often.

But for now, I can see what it’s like to take that turn. To sustain life. To achieve our dreams.

Ignorance really is bliss.

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Busy week for the turkey baster

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today was the day for IUI #5. Hopefully IUI #last.

The Husband went for his appointment at 8 a.m., then came home and got me and we went back to the hospital for my appointment at 9 a.m. (we were both off work today and going shopping after the appointment; he doesn’t usually come with me). I was called right back and it was the nurse doing the procedure this time (usually it’s The RE). The only other time she has done the procedure was when it worked earlier this year (using the term “worked” loosely here, of course…conception happened, at least), so I told her that I hope she has the good-luck touch I need this time around too.

She told me the washed count was only 13 million, and they prefer it to be above 12 million, so a little too close to the cutoff for my taste (last month was 17 million for comparison). I know they say it only takes one; I say HA!

She had trouble with the speculum the first time and couldn’t get it locked in place, but the second one was much better and she finished the IUI before letting me lie there for five minutes. I felt a little mild discomfort this time, but no cramping or anything.

Confession: I don’t know why, but I kind of have a good feeling this time around. Not that that means anything, really. It doesn’t mean it’s suddenly going to work. And really all it DOES mean is that when it turns out negative in a couple of weeks, it’s going to be a much harder fall. At least when you expect nothing, it’s not such a surprise when it goes that direction.

Happy Turkey Baster Day to me!


Taking a peek

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cycle day 11, time for another ultrasound! Wheeeee!!! I went this morning and I have two good-sized follicles on the left side and another smaller one on the right that is unlikely to be a factor. I do my trigger shot on Tuesday morning between 6 and 8 a.m., and as I was hoping, the IUI will be on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. Since we’re no longer planning to drive to Connecticut for Thanksgiving (we asssume they decided they weren’t up for company), that works perfectly for me because I have Wednesday off as my holiday (since I’m normally off on Fridays), so I can be as much of a bum as I want afterward.

I chatted a bit about my FSH with The RE and didn’t come away with anything new that I hadn’t read or been told already, but got confirmation about the things I’ve learned. He said this could be an explanation for the miscarriages and infertility, but that’s by no means certain. He said it gives a decent glimpse at what might be going on related to ovarian reserve/quality, but not necessarily the full picture. He said this won’t change anything about our plan for proceeding (if we do want to proceed), and there’s really no point in retesting it unless I have a huge desire to do so (I don’t, at least not right now). He noted that usually the measurement is done on cycle day 3, but I couldn’t do that because that fell on a Sunday, so the number could be a little higher since it was done on day 4 (FSH increases as ovulation approaches and it could have been related to the natural cycle increase). I’m glad that we’re still proceeding as we’d planned before, because I know some clinics won’t do IUIs or IVF with patients that have high FSH. (That doesn’t necessarily happen at my borderline level, but if the number is significantly higher, it affects the chances of pregnancy and thus potentially lowers the clinic’s success rates for those procedures, which they never want.)


Lame

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sometimes I’m lame. Now is one of those times. Normally I might not post, but I’ve got to have a post tonight for the NaBloPoMo challenge, and I’ve got nothin’. Ultrasound in the morning. Feeling nicely neutral about this cycle (that’s about as good as it gets). Time to read before bed.

Until tomorrow…


Marking time

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holidays and big events are a natural — and often great — way to mark the passage of time. When looking back, I very often say that things happened (for example) “in college,” “before getting married,” “that time went to Maine for Thanksgiving,” or “after the baby.” They give us an excellent reference point when our memory later fades. You might not remember if something happened in 1996 or 1997, but you remember it happened in college — come to think of it, your sophomore year — so there we go, that was in 1996.

But the passage of time when you’re enduring failed cycle after failed cycle sometimes becomes too much. In looking forward, you always look to the next big event and hope that something will be different by then.

Surely I’ll be pregnant by Mother’s Day…

By my birthday…

By Thanksgiving or Christmas…

By the time I run another half marathon…

By my next birthday…

By the time we go on vacation…

Okay, by next Thanksgiving or Christmas…

Each event that passes — yet again — is a new reminder of your failure (whether real or perceived) and stagnancy.

I remember very clearly last Thanksgiving. We were meeting my newest niece for the first time, and my sister innocently asked if holding her was making me want another baby. I gave some lame answer of, “I’ve got my hands full enough. It’s nice to be able to just hand them back sometimes.” But I remember thinking at the time, “Surely by next Thanksgiving things will be different.”

And yet, here it is, almost the next Thanksgiving. And we’re really no farther along in the process than we were this time last year. Or the year before that.

Sometimes I feel frozen in time, like everyone else can proceed forward while I remind behind, marching in place and humming the same melancholy song. Holidays and big events are a rude awakening that life does indeed go on…just not necessarily in the way you wanted.


Another piece of the puzzle

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I called for my FSH results today. In someone my age (33), they are looking for a number under 12, and the lower the better, as typically a higher number indicates lower egg quality.

Mine came in at 13.5, so on the high side for where it should be.

I’m not sure yet how I feel about it. Glad to maybe have figured out something else contributing to the infertility and miscarriage(s). Kind of an AHA! moment and could certainly explain the difference trying now compared to trying with Baby B.

But sad that there’s really nothing that can be done about it.

Borderline high FSH, luteal phase defect, low morphology…how the hell did we even conceive a child on our own last time??


Making lemonade

Monday, November 15, 2010

When things seem to crash in on me, I spend a lot of my time thinking about the things for which I am thankful, quite an appropriate task for this month that features Thanksgiving. Part of it is a distraction from the negative, part of it is just my nature, as I’ve always been a primarily optimistic person, and part of it is so I can maintain a bit of perspective in my life.

So despite the fact that my work schedule might not change to M-F (as previously indicated), I am very thankful to have a job in the first place. And not just a job, but one that I really do like and think I’m good at. It might not pay much, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to come here every day.

Even though I lament the fact that we have to pay out of pocket for infertility treatments (and so far that money has been completely wasted), I am thankful that we have scraped together enough to pay for what we have so far.

Although I completely suck at running, and probably hate it more than ever right now, I am still proud of my accomplishments and the fact that I’m continuing to exercise (even though some days that’s the last thing I want to do), both running and other things.

Even though we don’t take as many big trips as I would love to take, I’m thankful that we incorporate travel — even just little weekend trips or day trips — as much as we can.

Despite the fact that my inner thoughts taunt me sometimes when I’m alone, I am thankful that I have a great husband, a wonderful child, and fantastic friends, and I can truly put aside that inner dialogue when I am with them.

I am thankful that even though our house is pretty small, we still have a house to call our own.

Even though I feel like I’m in the market for a new hobby, I am thankful that I have a wide range of current interests, including baking, cooking, reading, blogging, taking pictures (different from “photography”…I fully recognize a lack of talent on a professional scale, but all the same I like to take pictures), traveling, attending musicals/other theater productions, and watching movies (just to name a few things). I’m never bored, that’s for sure.
Although sometimes I suck at being a friend, I am thankful that I’ve got understanding friends who seem to overlook my occasional (and/or frequent) lunatic moments. I sure have good taste in friends.

Even though times are tough in many ways, I am thankful that the most dominant sound heard in our house is laughter. We’ve never lost sight of how much fun there is to have in life, and I hope we never do.


Call me Holly Hobbie

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To put it mildly, the last couple of weeks have been very difficult for me, and some of my usual coping mechanisms just aren’t working as well as they used to. I’ve already taken a large step back from my parenting message board (which, though  truly adore all the girls there, is teeming with people who have had little to no trouble in their quest for child #2 or beyond, so often difficult for me to deal with). A good friend suggested that maybe I take up a new or different hobby, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew she was right. Running, while still a good exercise for me and something I will continue recreationally, just isn’t cutting it as a hobby. I am terrible at it, and as a result it makes me feel pretty crappy. I don’t need additional things to make me feel crappy.

Reading has always been my most-cherished hobby. Clearly I love to read — I do it as my JOB — but because I do it during working hours, it’s sometimes difficult to bring myself to pick up any more than just a magazine at home. I am unable to turn off the copy-editing gene, so even reading for pleasure seems like work sometimes. However, I decided that I’ve put it on the back burner long enough, and it’s time I make an effort to read for pleasure more, even if it’s just five minutes a night. Reading has always offered me a good escape, as it’s hard for my mind to wander when I’m in the act of reading. I’m not breaking any speed-reading records, but I’ve certainly upped my reading in the past week, so I’d say it’s so far so good on that front.

But I really should take up something else…but what? I love to bake, but then there’s too much of a temptation to eat everything I make, and I really don’t need that temptation. My friend suggested maybe crossword puzzles (which I used to love to do in the college paper every day) or something like sudoku (which I’ve never tried). I even like logic puzzles, and sometimes word searches can help occupy my mind, so those are good options.

I’m not particularly athletic, so things like joining a volleyball or bowling league or (re) learning how to ski don’t seem overly appealing to me. Yoga has been okay for me in the past (and I should do more of it), but it’s never been the transcendental mind-body experience that most people make it out to be.

I’m not crafty, either, though maybe it’s time I made more of an effort to get past it and actually learn how to do it better.

I can’t really get into something that requires a lot of money, as that’s earmarked for other purposes right now. Also, time is at a premium these days, so I also can’t really engage in something that’s super time-consuming.

Any suggestions?


Pregnancy math and a Christmas wish

Saturday, November 13, 2010

As expected,  yesterday was, in fact, cycle day 1. Which is good news in that it means I don’t have to delay the cycle and we should be able to fit in an IUI before Thanksgiving weekend. I just don’t want to draw this out anymore than it already has been, so I always feel a sense of “hurry, hurry” when it comes to this stuff. I’ve had enough waiting. I have to call the nurse back on Monday to ask about FSH testing, as she was at the off-site IVF clinic today and unavailable to talk to. I couldn’t have done it any sooner than Monday anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I go on Monday, November 22 for my ultrasound to check follicles, on day 11 this time. (Days 9 or 10 are more ideal for me and my usual ovulation, but they fall on the weekend, so I don’t have much choice.)

So here’s something interesting about this cycle if it’s the one that somehow works. Success this cycle means that my children and my sister’s children would be the exact same ages apart — and born in the same months! My first niece was born on January 20, and Baby B was born on January 27. My second niece was born 4 1/2 years later on August 15. A due date for this cycle would be August 19. (And no, my sister did not also have fertility issues. Quite the opposite. #1 was an accident while on the pill. #2 came along the first month they decided to “see how it goes” and “not really try but if it works, then it was meant to be.” They chose to wait so long in between because they had a lot of medical bills to take care of first.)

**********

Baby B sat on Santa’s lap last night (yes, it’s early…we just went for the shopping center tree lighting and didn’t intend for her to sit on his lap, but she insisted), and her request to him was for a big-kid bike, which is what we’d been planning on getting her. (Thank goodness she didn’t ask for a brother or sister!) She’s going to flip out when she wakes up to see the bike! Anyway, as she was getting off his lap, Santa asked me, “So what would Mom like for Christmas?” I got flustered and blanked out, because all I could think to say was, “A new little baby? For real this time?” But I chickened out and didn’t tell him, mostly because I thought it might make me cry.

On a lighter note, I did think it was funny that Santa didn’t ask Baby B if she’d been a good girl all year long. Though we’re in a very good behavior cycle right now, I’d hate for her to have to lie to him. 😉 Actually, I’m thinking maybe Santa knows a thing or two about three-year-olds, and that’s why he didn’t even bother asking the question…


Part of that world

Friday, November 12, 2010

When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that world up above?
Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that world.

–“Part of Your World,” The Little Mermaid

 

Most of the time I feel like I’m floating on a makeshift lifeboat on the sea of infertility, coasting along and not really getting anywhere quickly, but slowly making progress to shore. Then an angry hurricane rages, throwing everything in its wake into complete disarray. I choke as the water fills my lungs; I can’t get the salty water out of my stinging eyes fast enough; I’m desperately treading water as I fight the forces that are trying to pull me under. Every once in a while, I think I see a rescue ship off in the distance, but it never materializes. Always such a cruel tease. My life jacket is tattered, and my provisions are low. I’m a bit seasick. I don’t know how much longer I’ve got left.

**********

I went out for pizza and a movie last night, and Baby B was already in bed when I came home. After I was sure she was settled in, I went into her room to give her a goodnight kiss. She lay on her bed, sprawled out on her back, sleeping as peacefully as ever. Her face looked extra sweet to me. It really is true that I have an even greater appreciation for her as I’m going through all of this other difficult stuff. As I was soaking in every detail — her exposed and no-longer-a-todder-belly, her compact nose, her toussled hair — “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid soundtrack started playing on her CD player.

Out of the sea, wish I could be, part of that world.

My first thought, of course, was that I wished I could be part of the world that is able to expand their family how they desire. I keep trying and trying and trying, but I constantly come up empty, meanwhile I’m surrounded by others who seem to do it so easily.

But then the refrain played again.

Wish I could be part of that world.

As I looked at Baby B, I realized yet again how fortunate I am to have her in the first place. With each failed cycle, it makes me wonder more and more about how much of a fluke she might have been the first time around. I *am* part of THAT world — I do hold the title of mother — and I do not take that for granted. I cannot imagine fighting this fight without her as the ultimate distraction. On those very tough days, many of which I’ve experienced in the past week alone, coming home to her helps temper the pain a little.

Actually, when I’m in the moment with her, it’s tempered quite a lot.

I’m so glad to be part of her world.


The blackjack cycle: BUST!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some days are just better off staying in bed, I think. Yesterday was one of those days.

After finding out some potentially bad news, seeing multiple negative pregnancy tests, and having my hopes crushed for a proposed change in our press day (that would have eliminated Sundays for me and put me back to a normal M-F schedule), I decided that a run was in order. Good way to get out some stress, right?

Well, not if you’re me.

I was probably a mile and a half into the run when I was on a street with a new house being built. I usually run on the sidewalk where possible, but as there’s no sidewalk yet in front of that almost-house, I had to run briefly in the street. I went around the porta-potty and was gearing up to hop back up on the sidewalk when out of nowhere I tripped and fell, catching myself first hard on my hands, then rolling over to my side and then my back. I had no idea what had happened, so I looked back and saw one of those places were gravel and rocks have hardened on top of the asphalt. The streetlight had been behind me, so my shadow was cast right in front of me, therefore I didn’t see the raised gravel mass when running on the street.

The damage: two badly scraped palms (that I had to wrap last night and also today at work; I look massively cool, let me tell you), some road burn on my leg and elbow, and a hole torn in my favorite exercise pants. Oh, and a bruised ego crushed at having nearly EVERYTHING I do ending in disappointment. I tried to be strong and continue running, and I might have been able to if I hadn’t started crying, morphing into full-on sobs a few streets later as I tried to make my way home. Sobbing doesn’t lend itself well to being able to breathe while running, in case you were wondering.

The crying continued — not just about the pain from the fall but just from everything else as well — as The Husband got me cleaned up and ready for bed.

So yeah, continued negative tests, including this morning at 13 days past IUI. No such luck on the “blackjack cycle” — cycle 21. (There’s a reason I don’t gamble, though that’s exactly what all of this is, every cycle.) IF I start my next cycle by tomorrow, we should be able to sneak in an IUI before Thanksgiving (doing the turkey baster procedure for Turkey Day? How appropriate), as cycle day 13 falls on that Wednesday before the holiday. The catch: We’ll have to cancel if we go out of town for the weekend, which still has not been determined yet (though with it being two weeks away, that is looking more unlikely).

Now, if I do NOT start by tomorrow, it’s unlikely that it’ll work without conflicting with the holiday weekend, so I’d probably take birth control pills for a week to ten days to manipulate the cycle to avoid that weekend and also a trip when I’ll be out of town in the first half of December. I’ll just wait to see when I start, then go from there, instead of obsessing about it in the meantime. Either way, I think I’m going to ask to have my FSH checked next cycle, as I don’t think I’ve had that done yet. This should give a glimpse into the status of the ovarian reserve and if there is possibly an egg issue.

I’m disappointed. I’m crushed. I’m pissed. All that you would expect, really. So really, there’s not much more to say.

Except that perhaps I need a new hobby. (More to come on that soon.)


Some lessons from this week

Friday, November 5, 2010

1. I need to find a way to be happy for those who succeed where I have failed.

2. Doing #1 is not so easy.

3. #2 is the understatement of the century.

4. I am not okay with quitting and with not having a second child, no matter how much I pretend I am or could be.

5. I’m not sure if acceptance regarding #4 is ever possible for me.

6. A lot is riding on this cycle working. Please, please, please, please, please, please let it work.

7. I am going to be even more destroyed than usual if it does not work.

8. All of this still sucks.

9. #8 is the understatement of the millennium.

10. Please.


My turn to donate to The RE’s kids’ college fund

Friday, October 29, 2010

I look back on where I’m from, look at the woman I’ve become,
and the strangest things seem suddenly routine.

–“Wig in a Box,” Hedwig and the Angry Inch

It’s strange how quickly you get to a place where conceiving naturally seems like such a foreign concept, and going to the doctor becomes your norm. Just add it to the family to-do list. So I did my usual today, visiting The RE for IUI #4.

The Husband went and did his thing at 9 a.m., then I showed up at 10 a.m. and was taken back almost immediately. The RE said the post-wash count was 17-million, and they look for anything above 12-million, so we’re okay there and he was happy with that. There was a doctor-in-training dude there today (resident? intern? not sure) who was going to do the IUI, but he had trouble positioning the speculum, which has always been the case, I’m told because the orientation of my cervix is a bit off from norm. He said to The RE, “I think we’re going to need the tenaculum.” I’ve heard that the tenaculum HURTS, so I was glad when The RE said he’d give it a try first, and with some manipulation that was a bit uncomfortable, he finally managed to get it in place. Whew! This time I could feel the poke of the catheter inside my uterus, which made it cramp for a few minutes, but it was fine by the time I left there. I laid on the table for five minutes, then was allowed to get dressed and leave.

I did ask about timing for next month if it falls over the Thanksgiving weekend (and then probably again over Christmas weekend). He said they’ll do IUIs over the weekend but try their hardest not to do it on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day. They also will not do monitoring over the holiday weekend when they’re closed, and if the timing continues to be the same, it’s likely that BOTH would fall over Thanksgiving weekend — plus there’s the element that I’m not even sure if we’re going to be here that weekend. So I asked about taking a couple weeks of birth control pills to manipulate the cycle and switch the timing so it’s not over the upcoming holiday weekends, and he was perfectly fine with that if that’s what I want to do. So if I get to cycle day 1 again, I’ll take a couple weeks of BCP, get a new period, and that’s the one we’ll use for the next cycle. I hate anything that delays all this even more, but I think it’ll be worth it to avoid the stress of figuring out how the timing is going to work out around the holidays during an already stressful time of year.

So now I’m back at that place where I’ve found myself so many times before. And I hope in two weeks, I find myself in that place where I’ve rarely found myself. The Nurse asked me today, “Do you feel like it’s your lucky day?” and I replied, “Geez, I hope so, because I’m certainly due for some good luck here!”


Another day, another scan

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I went for my follicle scan this morning, and overall it went well. This time I asked to be seen on cycle day 9 (usually they do day 10, 11, or 12), since last time I was just hours away from ovulating when I had my scan on day 11 and thus would have missed IUI timing if we’d been going for that then.

I have one follicle on each side, though this time I didn’t even bother asking the sizes — seriously, what’s the point? It’s not like it even matters if I know, as it doesn’t change anything I have to do. He did say I have a small follicular cyst on one side that seems to be resolving itself, but he does not think that should affect my chances this cycle. I reminded him I’m paying out of pocket and do not want to waste the money if my chances aren’t maximized, but he seemed confident it wouldn’t affect anything.

I do the trigger shot on Thurday between 6 and 8 a.m., The Husband has his andrology appointment on Friday at 9 a.m., and I go in for the IUI that morning at 10 a.m. I was very relieved to find out the timing of this because it was looking as though the IUI might have been on Thursday. On a normal week, that wouldn’t be a big deal, but this Thursday morning is Baby B’s trunk or treat at preschool, where the kids dress up and get to go trick or treating at all the decorated cars lined up in the parking lot. It’s one of my favorite events all year, and I would have been sad to miss it. I’m okay with doing the whole doctor thing to conceive, but when it starts to mess with things we want to do with/for Baby B, that’s when I’m not as okay with it. Thankfully that won’t be an issue this cycle.

**********

I did realize something quite frustrating, though. I have to ask The RE if they still do IUIs over holiday weekends because it looks like timing would work out next month such that an IUI would fall over Thanksgiving weekend GRRRRR! Even if they do them on holiday weekends (doubtful), I’m not even 100% sure yet if we’re going to even be in town, so it may not even matter. Oh, and if timing works out that way, then it’s also very likely that IUI for December would fall over Christmas weekend. They do IUIs on regular weekends, but I really suspect holiday weekends are different. So potentially missing two treatment cycles…great. I mean, we’ll still try on our own, but we see where that’s gotten us thus far. I know, I know…you’re thinking maybe this IUI will work and it won’t even matter. I’m trying hard not to laugh at the ridiculousness of that thought.


Heart-wrenching

Monday, October 25, 2010

Late last week, Baby B and I were in the car together. Out of the blue, she said, “Hey, Mom. You wanna know what I’m gonna be when I grow up?”

“What?” I asked, certainly curious about her future plans.

“A sister! I’m gonna be a sister when I grow up.”

Oh. Hrm.

Holding my composure, I say, “Oh yeah? Well, that sounds like fun!”

Then, hushed as though she was telling me a secret, she said, “You know all those times I pretend to be a princess? I’m really pretending to be the sister.”

Did you hear that? It was my heart breaking into a billion tiny pieces.

She then declared, “When I’m growed up, and I’m a sister, I’m still gonna be silly. Did you know that?”

Unable to avoid the warm tear that I blinked out of my eye, I said, “I know you will, baby. I know you will.”

All the while desperately hoping the day never comes when we have to tell her that she will not be a sister (and why). I can ultimately deal with my own dreams being pulverized. It might be too much for me to see hers succumb to the same fate.


The blackjack cycle

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cycle day one was indeed yesterday as expected, so I’ve got an ultrasound scheduled for a week from today to check follicle status. Usually the office does ultrasounds on cycle day 10, 11, or 12, but since my scan on day 11 last month showed I was mere hours away from ovulation, I asked to come in on day 9 since I don’t want to miss our timing for an IUI. If we’d been planning to do IUI last month, the cycle most likely would have been canceled because it would have been cutting it too close.

Come on, lucky 21. (Surely I’ve got some good luck stored up somewhere, right? I would like to use it now, please.)

**********

As  yesterday was the start of a new cycle, it was also an occasion to drink some alcohol. I thought I woke up hung over this morning (too old to drink on a weeknight or something), but now I’m thinking I managed to catch the stomach bug that is going around Baby B’s school (and had her sick at home last week). I stumbled into work at 11 a.m. since it’s a busy week and tried to meet someone for lunch, but that didn’t go so well and by 3 p.m. I was home and puking again. Oh, and did I mention that The Husband was home all day today with the same stomach bug — and he didn’t drink a drop of alcohol last night — so I’m thinking it’s the bug and not my old age showing. I managed to eat four slices of canned pears for dinner tonight, and I’m just about to go to bed. I’m still not feeling great, but I’m hoping I’m on the upswing. Everyone else who has had this bug has been sick for about 12 hours and run down for about 24, then fine after that. I hope that’s the case for us too — and that we don’t pass it BACK to Baby B!


The usual

Monday, October 18, 2010

It’s negative at 14 days past ovulation, so now just waiting for the formality of starting the next cycle (probably today). Back to IUI next cycle. How laughable to think we might have been able to avoid doing that this time around.

I’d feel angry or frustrated, but honestly I’m too emotionally spent from all of this to feel much of anything anymore. Deflated covers it pretty well.

It’s funny…I’ve used the term “mythical child #2” since before we were trying for our second child, mostly as a way of talking about the potential future child without having people think I was actually pregnant at that time. But it certainly has turned into a mythical child in many more ways. We’re seeking our unicorn. Trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The funny thing about myths, though, is they are wonderful to ponder but fail to materialize in the end.


Developing Plan B

Thursday, October 7, 2010

As we near the end of the road on this journey for a second child, I find myself looking for ways to cope with that possible conclusion. Ultimately, I know we’ll be just fine as a family of three; it’ll just take a little time to readjust the dream I’ve had for my family for as long as I can remember.

So to that end, I’ve started making a list of the things we can do in the next couple of years if we are unable to expand our family.

As just a sampling, the list includes such things as:

*go to Cedar Point with friends
*make a return trip to DragonCon
*take a big trip as a family, like San Diego, New York City, or a cruise
*change the extra bedroom/would-have-been nursery into a guest room or a play room

But one thing keeps nagging at me. I’d decided a while ago that I’d maybe like to attempt a full marathon after having my second child. With that looking unlikely with each passing month, I’ve started to ponder whether I’d still like to tackle that after we’ve moved on. We’re also running into a bit of a time crunch, as Baby B starts school in August 2012, and once that happens, we can’t just take off for a long weekend anytime we want since I would never pull her out of school for such a thing. As most races are held on Sundays, that doesn’t leave much time to get back home in time for school and work.

If I ever do a marathon, it’s basically a one-shot deal for me — no repeat performances — so I want it to be big. Like BIG BIG BIG. Running in Nowhere, Montana just isn’t going to cut it. (My apologies to the fine folks in Montana. I’m sure you put on a heck of a race.) The New York City Marathon would be my ideal, but the 2011 race falls the same weekend as our biggest race weekend at work, so that would not work at all, if I even got into the race (entries are awarded via lottery, though I’m told they try to get as many first-timers in there as possible). There is a slight chance the weekends might not overlap in the future, but it’s impossible to know at this point, and aside from that, the next race after that is in November 2012, which again puts us into the zone of Baby B being in school. So that’s a bust.

The next one I’m considering, which is more realistic, is the Marine Corps Marathon in DC in late October 2011, so almost exactly one year from now. By the time registration opens in April, we should be pretty well wrapped up with treatments and I should know whether this is something I’d be able to commit to. (And even if I ended up pregnant on my own after that — HA! — it would still be possible for me to do it.)

Another option worth considering is the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando in mid-January 2012, and then finally do the whole Disney thing with Baby B. (Of course, doing the parks after running a marathon seems like unnecessary torture.) I’d planned to go to Disney only once — when Baby B is old enough to remember it — but I’d consider making an exception and taking the trip earlier than planned if things worked out best for that plan.

If I did either of these — and that’s still a big IF at this point, as I’m just pondering possible activities for the future … no actual plans being made yet — I would incorporate a run/walk interval training program that has you completing the race with intervals of running for four minutes followed by walking for one minute. This training regimen is supposed to be much easier on the body, which is a big plus for me after the knee and shin issues I had training for my half in March. There would be no speed records set, of course, but I think I could complete the race in this manner within the required 6 1/2-hour time limit (and there’s a longer time requirement for the Disney race).

I just feel like if we’re not successful in having a second child, I want to do something significant as a big “eff you” to infertility and as a symbol of moving on. Perhaps it will be this, perhaps it will be something else I come up with. All I know is that I desperately hope that all of these potential plans have to be abandoned in the near future.


Another shot

Monday, October 4, 2010

I went for my day 11 ultrasound this morning at 10:30. It’s a mix of good news and not-quite-as-good news.

I have only one dominant follicle, on the right side. It is huge, measuring 26x28mm. He expected it to pop within the next couple of hours.

The problem: We haven’t done anything yet, as I was told to wait for my ultrasound first. Argh!

I joked, “Well, I guess I’m calling The Husband to come home for lunch!” That got some laughs, but then The RE said more seriously that he would recommend that if at all possible. It is possible, so that’s the plan (as well as a few more times in the next few days).

Oh, did I mention that The Husband is sick with a cold? It’s no swine flu cycle, but this cycle sure does have a few things stacked up against it aside from the great follicle. (Dare I say it? Is this the one that actually works? The cycle where things haven’t gone nearly as perfectly as before? There, I actually got that out without too much laughing.)

He gave me the option of whether to still use the trigger shot or not. As of when I left there, I wasn’t going to do it, but I was thinking about it on the way home. If the cycle doesn’t work, which would I regret more: not having used it even though I already have it, or using it but feeling like it’s a “waste”? I feel like I need to maximize our chances as much as possible, so I might as well use the trigger.

I hope it’s the last one I need.


Finding acceptance

Friday, October 1, 2010

I love musicals. Love them. Since I tend to be more reality-based, musicals are my temporary escape from the real world. Generally I don’t immerse myself in completely fabricated lands and people and stories, but what I love about the musical is that it usually has roots in the reality of life while various branches extend their reach into the realm of fantasy — I mean, breaking into song about lost love or life’s dreams? — while usually returning to reality before too much time has elapsed.

So it shouldn’t be too surprising that I enjoyed Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell’s cult off-Broadway show-turned-movie, which The Husband and I watched for the first time last weekend on Netflix. In short, the movie is about a transexual punk rocker from East Berlin who tours the United States with her band as she tells her heartbreaking life story, including her botched sex-change operation. As she tells her story to us in song from a chain of Bilgewater restaurants, she’s following the more successful tour of her ex-boyfriend/ex-bandmate who stole her songs and has achieved a greater level of fame with her material.

I’ve been obsessed with the movie and soundtrack ever since last weekend. On the surface, it’s just an extension of my love of musicals and the telling of a poignant, tragic, and very human life story. But I can’t shake thinking about it. I want to learn more about how the live show took its form and eventually was made into a movie. I want to listen to the unique soundtrack in a continuous loop, all day long. I want to search for nearby performances of the show on stage. I’ve pondered exactly what it is about the story or the characters that has captured me.

I think it’s two things beyond just loving musicals. First, most simply, I think it’s a way for me to put my energy and thought into something other than trying to conceive and the challenges that have come along with that. A good distraction, if you will.

But when figuring out the significance of something in your life, it makes sense to take a snapshot to gain a sense of where you are in your life at that moment. Right now, trying for a second child is a really big deal, and has been for well over a year and a half. I always hate to point the finger at that struggle, but it’s currently a big part of my life, like it or not. And then following the miscarriage in July, I feel like I was just on the verge of something good that was then ripped from me, leaving me reeling and angry and searching to find a way to accept that awful turn of events.

There are many messages to be taken away from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but I think one of the primary lessons is how we may not have the life we thought we would live, but we need to find a measure of acceptance in ourselves, despite our flaws, the tragedies we endure, and the things that continue to torment us. I also related quite well to Hedwig’s struggle with her ex’s greater success after he stole her songs. Hedwig feels a sense of loss at this part of her being taken from her, but she continues to put one foot in front of the other and attempts to accept that this is part of who she is.

So, on the surface, I cannot relate to botched sex-change operations or intellectual property being taken from me, but I can certainly relate to the underlying messages and universal truths that are peppered throughout the movie. It takes looking a little deeper to find the common links that bind us all.

**********

My favorite song from the movie is “The Origin of Love,” a moving ballad that details the philosopher Aristophanes’ theory of the creation of heterosexuals, lesbians, and gays and the origin of love, as he told it in Plato’s Symposium. The song and movie clip make sense in the context of the movie as it sets up some events that happen later in the movie, but I think there’s still great meaning that can be taken away from this beautiful song, even out of context.


Speaking up

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I don’t talk about our difficulty to conceive with most people I know in real life, just a small handful of people. It’s not something I’m embarrassed by (in fact, I think I’ll be rather outspoken about it if we end up with a success story), but frankly it’s no one else’s business and I don’t want to have everyone I know wondering if every phone call or every email might contain a pregnancy announcement.

But I broke that silence yesterday, with good reason. Our health insurance is renewed every year in February, so this is probably the time of year they are looking at what plans to offer next time around. So I wrote to my HR director and said that I would love to see a buy-up plan that includes an infertility rider, or an HSA plan that does not exclude the condition.  I’m really not expecting anything to come of it, of course, but I’d just been thinking lately that, you know, they’re not going to know the desire exists for such coverage unless I say something. So I did. And even though I doubt anything will change, I’m glad that I took that step and spoke up.


When caught between a rock and a hard place

Monday, September 27, 2010

I should know by now…I need to look no further than my own daughter for inspiration when it comes to tackling a difficult or new situation.

Over the weekend we visited a new-to-us wildlife refuge in the next town over, a place we’d only ever heard about on the brown tourist signs at the interstate exit. But we had a lovely fall day on our hands and decided to give it a chance and see what they had to offer. It was free, so nothing was lost except our time if it turned out to be a dud. They had both indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as various activities all around the area. We took in the exhibits first, then ventured behind the building to the refuge’s hiking trails.

We’ve done some light hiking with Baby B, but typically pretty easy hikes since we want her to do the walking and not have to carry her. In fact, many of them are easy enough that they’d probably be considered handicap-accessible, but they’ve been a good way to introduce her to hiking. But this hike was different — it was only about a mile long, but way more challenging for her compared to ones we’ve done before with her. The trail had such little wear that sometimes even The Husband and I couldn’t really distinguish the trail from the periphery, there were many hills, and there were a lot of obstructions like rocks, fallen trees, and tree roots on the trail that you had to look out for.

But Baby B is always up for an adventure (and so are we!), so of course the increased difficulty level didn’t hold her back a bit. There were times we could tell she was getting tired, but she pushed on. There were times she wasn’t paying attention to what was under her feet and she would trip and fall on a tree root, crying instantly when she hit the ground but soon shaking it off and pushing on despite the temporary setback.

She reacted to her frustrations, of course, but I soon realized that she always regrouped and continued to push on without a second thought. There was no doubt in her mind about whether to linger over her challenges or to cast them aside and find the next fun thing. She saw treasure in the most mundane things, carrying her prized “shiny rock” (that was not a bit shiny) for a good while before establishing a new home for it. She struggled a bit to climb over a fallen tree that bisected our path, but then with new confidence stood on top of the tree in recognition of her conquest and then guided me over it as though she were an expert. She had us all act like billy goats crossing over a bridge and tricking the troll. She found a huge walking stick like The Husband’s and mimicked him with each step. She gathered acorns and searched for grasshoppers and kept her ears open for bigger wildlife. She “put on a show” at the outdoor classroom we ran across.

I’d like to think that I am quite the same way, though I certainly don’t have it perfected nearly as much as Baby B does. (How could I? Kids are certified experts in this area.) But I feel like when I’m going through something difficult and have a setback, I let myself feel the anger and frustration that springs from it, then I regroup and move on to try and find the next fun thing. I’m always on the lookout for the next new adventure, whether it’s a big trip or a quick jaunt to the grocery store with the family. I’m always searching for the next great treasure, whether a new dining room table or an obscure candy bar in the international aisle of the grocery store. Things get me down from time to time, but I always manage to pick myself up quickly and move on, probably because I let the anger and frustration wash over me in the first place instead of casting it aside.

Anytime I lose sight of that — anytime I feel like I can’t possibly take that next step forward on the trail — all I need to do is look to Baby B for a quick reminder. The many things she has taught me along the path of our journey are too great to count.


Stuck on repeat

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Not surprisingly,  yesterday was cycle day 1. I will begin 100 mg Clomid tomorrow, and I am scheduled to go in on day 11, which is Monday, October 4, for an ultrasound to check the status of ovulation. We’ll do a trigger shot and timed intercourse this month, hoping for success against the odds, then return to IUI when that doesn’t work. Looking at finances, I think we can comfortably do two more IUIs. Three may be possible, but we don’t want to drain The Husband’s entire HSA in case another medical issue comes up. After that, who knows what happens, but each month that passes puts us that much closer to the end.


Fractured fairy tale

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I’m pretty sure I know how Snow White got her name.

She was bombarded by a constant barrage of blindingly white negative pregnancy tests.

The story doesn’t mention her having any children now, does it?

Hrmmmm….

Does anyone know where I can find a lighted display case? I need a HUGE one to fit all of my negative pregnancy tests, and there doesn’t seem to be one big enough to hold all of them.

Just call me Snow White.

(Don’t worry, I don’t really keep the tests. I know what those look like just fine, thanks. A positive one, though, that ends up with a baby at the end? That will be going straight to the Smithsonian. They take those, right?)

So as you’ve probably guessed, the “secret” Clomid cycle did not work. It was a negative test on Wednesday morning at 14 days past ovulation, so late enough that it would show up if it were going to.

Oh, appletinis, how I love you — but didn’t really miss you.

Calgon, take me away!

Moving on to cycle #20.

I’ve made this a light post (thank you, appletinis!), but that doesn’t accurately reflect the hidden frustration of yet another failed cycle. But you know, been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and I don’t feel like repeating myself right now. (Thank you, appletinis!)

Hrm, Snow White ate the poisoned apple, didn’t she? I have my appletinis.

Snow White found her happy ending. Where’s mine in this fractured fairy tale?


On a positive note…

Friday, September 10, 2010

The one “good” thing about the recent miscarriage is that now my visits to The RE are covered by insurance, as I’m now coded not as infertility but as multiple miscarriage (or “habitual abortion,” according to the check-out sheet…what an awful name). In addition, my SHG also was covered by insurance for this reason, and even though treatments still wouldn’t be covered, there’s a small chance my ultrasounds for treatments may be covered now. So, that’s something, at least.

Of course, I wouldn’t even need all these additional medical visits and treatments if not for the miscarriage in the first place…


Confession

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It’s so disheartening to see so many whiter-than-white pregnancy tests while trying for our second child. So when I do an ovulation test (OPK) to check for ovulation and see the test line come up, I pretend for a very brief moment that it’s really a faint line on a pregnancy test, not an OPK. And for those few minutes, I pretend that my life didn’t take the jolting turn it did and I can just be happy and rejoice in seeing this beautiful positive.

Then I come back to reality and put back on the cloak of infertility that weighs me down every day.


Have you taken a look at YOUR uterus today?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I went for the SHG this morning, and I was basically in and out of The RE’s office in 15 minutes. The RE performed the test, and I experienced no discomfort or even any weird sensations with the saline going in the uterus. He declared that everything looked clear and also shared that my blood clotting results all came back normal. All good news, of course.

I asked again to confirm that we were okay to try on our own this cycle (well, using the “secret” Clomid that he doesn’t know I’m taking), and he said there’s no reason we shouldn’t, so we shall continue with that plan. Which should be interesting because our peak time for trying? It falls this weekend when we’re at Cedar Point. Because that’s exactly what I want to do after a long day at an amusement park. With a three-year-old asleep in the other bed. I will note, however, that the last time we went to Cedar Point, I found out I was pregnant with Baby B a few days later. Note to self: Figure out the secret ingredient at Cedar Point — roller coasters? funnel cake? running away from costumed characters? — and try my best to let history repeat itself. The timing isn’t exactly the same this time around, but that would still be funny if it happened that way.

Anyway, if this cycle doesn’t work, next cycle will be Clomid + trigger shot + timed intercourse. If that doesn’t work, we’ll move on to Clomid + trigger + IUI, doing one to three cycles of that depending on funds. If that doesn’t work…well…your guess is as good as mine.


I’ll tell you a tale

Monday, August 30, 2010

So how’s that for a downer of a post before the weekend? In the interest of painting the picture accurately, I should point out that I don’t feel that way all of the time. I don’t even feel that way most of the time. But it’s there.

In fact, there are times where I feel like I’m leading a double life: The happy-go-lucky, fun life where we take our daughter to her first circus and plan trips to amusement parks and take silly pictures. Then that’s contrasted by the dark inner life of dealing with the struggle for a second child (and the other failures that I feel right now) — the side that most people will never see because I generally prefer to keep that more private and work through it on my own.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

There are times where I feel so confident in my parenting abilities, knowing that we’re preparing Baby B well for the life that is ahead of her. Yet those times where the threenager-ness wears me down and I wonder what the heck we’re doing still pursuing a second child.

…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…

There are times where I just have to believe that if we keep at it, we’ll end up with our much-desired second child. But there are other times I just look back at the past year and a half of coming up empty and starting over and crushed hope and wonder how we ever got here. No one thinks they’ll be in these shoes, but it’s even harder to believe you’ll be there when you did successfully have a first child. And there are those times where I just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and can’t picture us as a family of four because of all the obstacles we’re having to jump to get there.

…it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…

Probably 90% of the time, I don’t think about our challenges. I’m enjoying my husband, enjoying my daughter, enjoying the fantastic life we have. I’m too busy playing make-believe games with Baby B to think about infertility. If someone asked how happy I was in my life, I’d give it a solid 9.5 out of 10. Yet… Yet when quiet moments present themselves — in the shower, in the car, going to sleep — very often it’s all I can think about, and that’s when I am sucked into that dark vortex of doubt and failure and “why bother?”

…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…

There are times I cannot believe we were so fortunate to have Baby B come into our lives. I see good things in our future with her, and I know we’ll always make the best of what we have. I have to think that if it happened once, it can happen again. But there are so many times I wonder how much longer we can keep up with treatment cycles, not just financially but also emotionally.

…it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

With each new cycle comes renewed hope for the future as we’d originally envisioned it. A clean slate. But with each failed cycle, we’re right back at square one. Again walking the wrong way on a moving sidewalk while everyone else zooms past.

…we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…

This is A Tale of Secondary Infertility.


How to lose your confidence in 19 cycles

Friday, August 27, 2010

aka: The one where I admit just how much my self-confidence has been shredded

aka: Someone has to finish last (looks like it’s me)

Once upon a time, I used to be good at doing things. Or, if I wasn’t good at it, I put forth a certain level of stubbornness tenacity and drive that I either eventually succeeded or I still found enough value and fun in what I was doing that it was worthwhile to continue. Over the course of trying — and failing — for our second child, however, I have found that my self-confidence in pretty much all areas has been reduced to basically nothing. I am no longer good at the things I used to be good at, and sometimes I don’t even seen the point of even continuing to try them, especially when the people that surround me are much better at those things than I am.

Take for example Lexulous. Historically I have always been good at word games such as Scrabble and Boggle. One of the applications on Facebook is the game Lexulous, which is basically a rip-off of Scrabble but with very slightly different rules (you have 8 tiles instead of the 7 you would have in Scrabble, for example). I’ve played with a variety of people who have a range of word game skills, and I used to win some games and lose some games — and it used to be fun and challenging. In the last year or so, my performance has plummeted to where I’m lucky to win maybe 10% to 20% of my games now (if that). And there are a few people whom I lose to ALL the time, and let’s be honest: After you lose 20 games in a row to someone, the fun is zapped for me — to the point that there are a few people that I can no longer play the game with (The Husband being one of them). To be surrounded by people who constantly defeat me doesn’t do much for the confidence I have in myself.

I’m really close to wanting to quit completely.

Once upon a time, I — well, I wasn’t ever good at running, but I still did it. Despite the fact that I’ve never liked running, I did it because races instilled in me a sense of accomplishment and it’s a good form of exercise. But in the last year or so, my disdain for running has grown exponentially. While I’ve never had talent in this area, my performance lately blows. I did a three-mile run yesterday in 37 minutes. For those who don’t know how ridiculous that is, I did my first 5K (when I wasn’t in the greatest shape) in about 32 minutes, and most normal people could WALK 3 miles in less than 37 minutes. Every single step of that run I was filled with absolute unhappiness and disdain at what I was doing. I felt good about nothing. I get NOTHING out of running anymore (except a reminder of how much I suck at it), my performance is abysmal (when it wasn’t stellar to begin with), and I’m surrounded by people who excel at it way more than I ever will (which reinforced the fact that I really, really suck at it). Here’s how bad I am: They say you know you’re pushing too hard if you cannot carry on a normal conversation with someone. Even at my peak fitness and while going as slow as possible (just barely above a walk), I still huff and puff and cannot carry on a conversation. I suck, everyone else is great, and it makes me feel like an even bigger loser. Should I compare myself to others? No. But let’s be real: “It’s a great accomplishment to just make it to the starting line” only goes so far.

I’m really close to wanting to quit completely.

Once upon a time, The Husband and I created a wonderful child. That path wasn’t easy, either, but we stuck to it and ended up with a wonderful daughter. But this time around it’s even harder. And it’s hard not to feel like everyone around us has it easier than us in this department. They decide when they want to get pregnant, they are expecting, and they get their beautiful little baby nine months later. Each new pregnancy announcement stings, and the self-confidence shrinks more each month with each failure amid all these other people who seem to make it look so easy.

I’m really close to wanting to quit completely.

I wish I didn’t have this attitude, but it’s basically gotten to the point that I don’t even want to bother trying things anymore — whether an old activity or something new — because I know I’m going to be a failure at it, and why bother kicking my self-confidence when it’s already down? Logically I know that’s not the right approach because how am I ever going to succeed at anything if I don’t put myself out there, but failure upon failure leads you to believe that more failure is in your future. And of course it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because that attitude leads me to not put forth my best effort, leading to even more failure.

I know there are plenty of ways to get past feeling like this — finding new hobbies or not surrounding myself with all the people who succeed where I do not, for example — but really, I think I’m just in the stage of needing to feel like crap. There’s not much that’s good about this situation, and I just need to feel the utter suckageness of it. In going through the five stages of grief, this is one of those stages you must go through before reaching acceptance. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.


Begin again

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My first post-miscarriage cycle began yesterday, coming after 34 days. I think last time it was around 33 or 35 days. This is cycle 19 trying.

My sonohysterogram (SHG) is scheduled for Tuesday, August 31, which will be cycle day 7.

The RE would not give me Clomid this cycle because he wants to make sure the SHG is clear before I become pregnant again. If that looks good, he said we can try on our own this cycle, but with ovulation issues and it being too late to begin Clomid by the time the SHG is done, the chances of that happening naturally are greatly lowered.

Confession time: Basically a friend recently offered to send me her sister-in-law’s unused Clomid (50mg), which I gratefully accepted. I am choosing to take it this month, doing days 5-9 (which should help encourage a single, more mature follicle compared to taking it days 3-7, which encourages more follicles). If the SHG is clear, then I’ll have that extra boost when it’s time to try again. If the SHG isn’t clear, I can simply stop taking the Clomid and we skip this cycle while looking at fixing anything that needs to be fixed.

It’s so hard to think that I should be 17 weeks tomorrow — on the verge of feeling movement and knowing the sex, yet here I am, starting over once again. I realized yesterday that a success this cycle would result in a June 1 due date. My due date with this most recent pregnancy was early February, so that was really eye-opening to realize that four months — A THIRD OF A YEAR —  have been completely wasted.

But here’s something kind of neat, so follow along with me. The first baby that I lost was due in June. Then I went on to have a baby that was originally due in early February (though was born in January). Then I became pregnant with a baby that was due in early February. Now this cycle could end up with a baby due — again — in June. One loss, one success from February babies. One loss — and possibly one success?? — from June babies. There’s a certain cyclical tidiness of this possibility that gives me a good feeling. (Though, I’ve fallen for that good feeling before and it didn’t turn out so well, so I still remain mostly dubious. But it’s still kind of a neat possibility to think about.)


Only doesn’t have to be lonely

Thursday, August 19, 2010

With only a certain number of treatment cycles remaining in the ol’ family budget, I’m trying to prepare myself for the possibility of having just one child. On a good day, this is something that doesn’t make me sad, and it’s something that I think I could really get to like. On a not-so-good day, it’s the worst thing in the whole entire world, but perhaps that’s being a bit dramatic.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the advantages to having a family of three:

*Daycare costs for only two more years, with absolutely no double daycare costs with two children.

*There would be more money available for fun things like museum outing and family trips.

*It would be easier (and less expensive) to fly with just one child.

*College expenses for one!

*Not nearly as many childhood activities to juggle.

*No more diapers ever again. Also:  no more potty training!

*We know exactly who broke something (well, either her or The Dog, I suppose).

*No more age 3 (if we survive this time around).

*No sibling fighting/jealousy or accusations of favoring one child over the other.

*Multiple recent studies show that only children are more likely to reach higher levels of achievement and show no social disadvantage over time.

*Selling and/or giving away our baby stuff sooner rather than later.

*More quiet time and less chaos for Baby B for reading and doing homework.

*Baby B would have her own space and more privacy (ie, no siblings to snoop through her diary).

*I always wanted to have a girl, and I was fortunate to have one the first time. While a boy would be a very welcome addition to our family, I think I feel like I’d be missing out on more if I hadn’t had a girl than if I don’t have a boy.

*We won’t have to divide our time between two children and feel like one child is getting more or less attention than the other.

Some of it is a bit of a stretch, but I’ve got to find the silver lining in case this is the direction it goes.


Meteor metaphor

Monday, August 16, 2010

As I sat outside on late Thursday night (more like early Friday morning) observing the annual Perseid meteor shower, I was struck by how similar that quest was to our journey trying for a second child.

I’d seen other meteor showers, yes, but I wanted to see another one — just as we have one child but would like another.

I prepared myself as best as possible to optimize my chances of seeing a meteor: I went outside at the peak time, and I made sure to look in the direction of origin. When we first began trying, we pinpointed ovulation and put as much in our favor as possible.

The meteor hunt began to take longer than expected, with minutes piling up and turning into an hour. After my eyes had adjusted, I realized there was a faint haze over the sky that obscured about half of my viewing area, just as we learned of a couple of physical issues in our way of trying for a child. In both instances, disappointment predominated. Still, there was a chance of success, so I stayed the course.

Frustration washed over me as I saw several (what I call) “phantom meteors” — just tricks of the eye — in my peripheral vision, and I lamented that I bet there were other people in other parts of the country who were seeing multiple meteors per minute with their better viewing conditions, while I had yet to see any at all. It was much like the feelings of “everyone else can get pregnant with seemingly no effort, yet here I am still waiting.”

At one point, I’d been looking for a meteor for long enough that I wondered if I should call it quits for the night. But I kept thinking that even though I’d seen other meteor showers — so I’d had the experience before — I wanted to see this one. But I was pondering, “At what point do I just go inside and give up?”

I ended up needing to take a forced break. The Dog, who had been outside with me, was grumbling to go inside, and he wanted water. I used that time to stretch a little and refresh myself, then I was going to give it one last shot before hanging it up.

I went back outside, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the cloak of darkness again. The lingering haze came into view, but I noticed this time it was slowly drifting east, no longer obstructing as much of the sky. My view was still not 100% clear, but I had a slightly better chance of success this time.

I waited impatiently for about five more minutes when a bullet-fast streak of light appeared in the sky, right where I was looking, charging determinedly up in the sky. I gasped audibly. Obviously the whole goal was to see a meteor that night, but after the long wait, it was even sweeter to see. Finally I could call it a night, moving on to go to bed that night and satisfied at accomplishing the goal of the night.

You’d better believe that shooting star had a major wish thrust upon it by me and by all those other people waiting for their own brilliant meteor on a dark, haze-filled summer night.


Stagnant

Monday, July 19, 2010

So much to write and I don’t even know where to begin.

We’re home from vacation. I did not miscarry there, which I am overall thankful for, but it also created a sense of stress every time I had to go to the bathroom. Will this be it? But I am still waiting, still stagnant. About once a day for the past couple days I’ve had some brown or pink spotting (very light), but nothing beyond that yet. I have a follow-up appointment on Thursday with the midwife if nothing has happened by then. I’m still hoping to avoid a D&C, but suppose I may need to schedule one if nothing has happened by then.

This has very much been a week of slapping on a happy face when all I want to do is crawl under the covers and seek a dreamworld where none of this stuff has happened. Happy face around my aunt and uncle (with whom we stayed in Florida) so I’m not the downer of the week or the pity case. Happy face for Baby B so she still has a great time. Happy face around my cousin and his wife, who are blissfully expecting their second child in November. There was plenty of happiness and fun, of course, but it’s also difficult when so much anger is festering just below the surface. It translated into my patience being at an all-time low, though at least most of the week was enjoyable.

So now it’s back to work, back to familiar routines. This is good for the most part, but it’s hard not to let some thoughts seep in: The last time I slept in this bed, I thought I was pregnant. The last time I was at work, I thought I was pregnant.

It feels like I’ve been played for a fool. I had two ultrasounds that showed the heartbeat, but which faded out soon after the last of those scans. I had begun to really start getting excited about the things to come in pregnancy and, most of all, expanding our family by one. Almost exactly four years apart! Telling friends and family! Making the announcement on Facebook to extended friends and family! Cleaning out the third bedroom (now an unused office) and turning it into a functional bedroom! Getting out all the baby gear and then finally getting rid of it after going through each stage one last time! I let myself lay claim to these dreams and many others after a long road to get there, only to have it snatched away. Very cruel.

This miscarriage experience is definitely different from my first one. With the first, it happened naturally and I pretty much knew it was over because I’d passed the fetal sac by the time I got to see the doctor and had an ultrasound. That time was more sad; I’d lost a baby. A baby. And I still wasn’t a mom at that point, so there were the fleeting thoughts of wondering if I ever would be. But this time is different. The loss was detected via ultrasound, and I can’t bear the thought that I’m continuing to carry a dead baby inside me as I wait. So I’ve definitely depersonalized it and removed myself from the emotional attachment of it being a baby. To my brain, it is simply a mass of tissues and cells that is most certainly an “it” rather than a baby. It sucks to have to do that, but it’s what I need to do in order to get through this limbo period. It’s just too heart-wrenching otherwise.

So I sit here in a stagnant pool of bitterness and anger and jealousy as I wait to move on. But move on how? I have no idea what comes next. How am I supposed to muster up enough strength for another TTC battle when it feels like I have nothing left to give? How can I make that call to return to The RE? How can I go down another potentially long road trying to conceive only to possibly end up empty-handed at the end? How can I accept spending another $2,000+ on treatments that may be pointless? How can I continue putting on my happy face for everyone else who expands their family with absolutely no difficulty?

But how can I just say “we’re done” when I don’t really feel like we’re done?

I don’t really know what our endpoint is. Running out of money for treatments? (Which will happen quickly.) Another miscarriage? (That certainly feels like it might seal the deal on a family of three.) When the age difference becomes too much? (I have reservations about having an age difference of more than 5 or 5 1/2 years. Not just for the sibling relationship, but also because by that point, Baby B will be starting school, and I don’t know if I want to start over completely with a newborn when she’s moved on to that stage.)

A lot is uncertain right now. Actually, most things are uncertain right now. One thing is certain: I do not like it.


Are you positive? (part 2)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In 48 hours, the hCG rose from 25 to 69. More than doubling. Whew.

My ultrasound is scheduled for Monday, June 14. Going by the IUI date, I’ll be 6 weeks and 5 days.

Always with the waiting, I suppose, but I’m glad it’s a different kind of wait this time. I’m very appreciative to be here now.


Are you positive? (part 1)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I got my first positive test on Monday when I went home for lunch. I took a cheapie Internet test and thought I might see something on there. It was not a definite line — more like the lightest line in the history of positive tests — but it was a definitely departure from seeing the whitest white negative tests (seriously, they couldn’t have been more white) for all those other times. I took a digital OPK, which can often double as a pregnancy test, but that turned out negative, though not surprising given how light the initial line was.

I decided to buy some real tests that night. We took Baby B to swim class, then on the way home I stopped at the pharmacy to get some.  I didn’t want to alert The Husband to what was going on yet because I didn’t want to get his hopes up, so I just told him it was a surprise why I was stopping when he was asking why we were there. And he almost wouldn’t drop the subject, the nosy fella!

I waited until after Baby B was in bed and The Husband had gone running. I took the First Response Early Result test first, seeing a very, very light line (though I could at least get a picture of it, which was not the case with the first test). The Clearblue Easy digital test isn’t as sensitive, so I didn’t think that would turn a positive result, but it did.

I’m not really the kind of person to tell The Husband such information in an elaborate, cutesy kind of way. So my plan was to just hand him the test and say, “Surprise.” I went to pick up the test and lost my grip on it and it fell behind — and under — my dresser, a piece of furniture that takes two people to move. I wedged my arm back there and twisted it every which way to retrieve the test, which I finally did after a bit of frustration. So I go to The Husband, who was recovering from his run, hand him the test, and say, “My arm is HURT! But here’s your surprise.”

I called the RE on Tuesday morning and they had me go to the lab for a blood draw. The hCG should double approximately every 48 hours, and I asked if I would have a second draw, but The Nurse said The RE doesn’t usually do a second draw unless the first number is a concern. I asked if I could request a second draw either way, and she said that was fine. I got my number when I called later that afternoon, and was told that it was 25, which was low for where I was at, though the nurse was nice and tried to be optimistic. She said to go to my draw on Thursday and we’d see what the numbers did.

So I’ve been to the lab already this morning and will call for my results later this afternoon. I did take another digital test this morning and the result came out positive. Now, that’s certainly no indication that the number has doubled like it needs to, so I’m not getting my hopes up, but at least it wasn’t negative, which would not have been good at all.

Please let this day go fast (though with it being my last day before the holiday weekend, something tells me that it will not). Will update either way later this afternoon.


Wordless Wednesday: The third time’s the charm?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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Ignorance is bliss

Monday, May 24, 2010

I have not yet taken a pregnancy test.

Right now I can still imagine how I might tell The Husband that this cycle worked.

Right now I can wonder whether I’m going to be as sick in the first trimester as I was last time.

Right now I can imagine the excitement of eventually telling our families that we will be expecting another baby.

Right now I can brainstorm ways we can tell Baby B about the impeding arrival of her sibling.

Right now I can try to picture our reactions to news of whether we’re having a boy or a girl at the big ultrasound.

Right now I can speculate whether my next labor and delivery will be easier or harder than the last.

Right now I can wonder how close to Baby B’s birthday her brother or sister might be born.

Right now I can think about how much fun we’re going to have next summer as a family of four.

Right now I can try to envision what our next family Christmas card will look like.

As soon as I test, it either becomes a moment of dreams realized (or at least the potential of that), or a moment of crushed hope. If it’s positive, then great, I finally get to move forward instead of remaining stagnant. I am dubious of this being the outcome, to be honest, but I will consider myself fortunate if it is. But I’ve seen way more negatives than positives, and I know very well how this part goes.

I can already tell you that it will not be pretty. This will not be taken easily. We’ll be at a crossroads with needing to take a new direction but without the means to get us there. Hope will not just be crushed but stomped, pounded, and pulverized.

So even though right now I live in a sort of limbo — with no positive or negative outcome known yet — I am currently in a place of bliss, or as close to bliss as you can get after having to return to square one so many times.

A test showing either outcome will change me greatly. Positive or negative. Good or bad. Elated or crushed. Happy or sad. One step forward or one step back.

So I wait,  still walking the treadmill I’ve become so accustomed to.


How does your garden grow?

Monday, May 17, 2010

I am known for my black thumb. I have killed, among other things, a cactus and an aloe plant, two of the easiest plants to care for.

So considering the amount of work required, we’ve never committed to a full garden. It’s just hard to think about going through all that effort, just to result in nothing at the end. (Sounds a bit like infertility, eh?) Oh, sure, we’ve planted a couple tomato plants each year, but the only time in the past five years where we had a good crop was the summer I was pregnant with Baby B and really didn’t want to eat tomatoes. (It wasn’t an aversion specific to tomatoes; that’s when I had morning sickness so badly that I couldn’t eat anything at all.) Every other summer it’s been too wet or too hot and we get minimal fruit from the plants.

But with my lack of enthusiasm for training for another big race right now, I needed to find something I could do to help pass the time while we try to conceive. Something to put a little work into daily or weekly in hopes of a good end result. And I do love the idea of growing our own herbs and vegetables; I’ve just always doubted my ability to do so based on my track record with other plants. (Seriously, twice at work now someone has placed a plant on the filing cabinet near my desk, and both times they died. There must be a “wanted” poster with my face on it posted at the plant post office.)

So we took the plunge and decided to do a small garden this year. We transplanted basil, rosemary, and cilantro; as well as sugar snap peas and three kinds of tomatoes. And even though I really doubt my ability to grow something from seeds, we still figured we’d experiment with growing corn and carrots from seeds.

I think the challenge will be in finding the balance between putting in too much work and being disappointed if the garden doesn’t thrive despite all our work, and putting in not enough effort that would set ourselves up for failure.

We made this a family activity, and Baby B helped us when we were preparing the garden. As she was digging in the dirt (fascinated with the worms she found but unwilling to pick one up yet), she stopped and exclaimed, “Whew! This sure is hard work!”

Hard work, yes. But hopefully worth it in the end. Hopefully just how our journey for a second child will play out.

And here’s hoping that we have an AWESOME vegetable crop this year and I’m pregnant and don’t want to eat any of it.

(Well, okay, I could do without the severe morning sickness part. But I’m fully prepared to deal with it again, as when it’s that severe, it is more likely to repeat.)


Three

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I had IUI #3 this morning, and there’s not really anything new to report this time. The doctor was out this morning so the nurse did the procedure and it went just fine. The Husband’s total count was 30 million and the count of active sperm was 18.4 million, which was a bit lower than the first two times, but The RE is looking for an active count above 12 million, so we were okay there.

Back to waiting…


Putting all my eggs in one basket

Monday, May 10, 2010

I had my follicle scan for IUI #3 this morning. I had two on the right (22 mm and 19 mm) and one on the left (18 mm). I do the hCG trigger tonight between 4 and 8 p.m., then The Husband has his andrology appointment on Wednesday at 8 a.m. and I go in for my IUI at 9 a.m. It’s a light week at work, and I need to take time off anyway so I don’t reach my vacation hours cap and lose time, so I decided to take the whole day off to just be a big bum. The 22 mm follicle is probably too big to be a factor for the IUI, but thankfully we were able to try on our own this weekend, so that one is not out of the running.

The RE said he’s still hopeful that this might work, but that with mild male factor (morphology) coming into play, if the IUI is going to work, it’ll most likely be within the first three tries. He said next up in our case: IVF with ICSI.

Now, that would be the ideal scenario, if we had money oozing out the seams.

We do not.

I looked over the information packet he gave me just in case this doesn’t work, and my chest immediately became tight and my breathing a bit labored when looking over the costs. A fresh cycle would cost an estimated $10,250 (possibly more if more meds are needed), and each frozen cycle would cost an estimated $2,200. I’ve seen much higher estimates, and the lab fee portion does include the cost for ICSI and assisted hatching if necessary, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but still basically laughable.

There had been an outside chance we could have added me to The Husband’s health insurance plan temporarily next month, we’d pay the deductible of the HSA (which is high, but not $10,000 high), then the rest beyond the deductible would be covered at 100%. Ah, but there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always?) There are only three insurance companies that the RE will file claims with, and The Husband’s insurance provider is not one of them. So the RE office will instruct us on how to get reimbursed for the expenses — but that’s the key word: reimbursed. We would still be responsible for paying the money up front, due before beginning injections.

We do not have $10,000 laying around unused, just waiting to be spent.

And I am unwilling to put ourselves in that much debt for a chance at a baby. I might have a different decision if we were trying for our first, but that’s not what we’re dealing with.

Now, I did not yet mention to the RE that IVF is financially very unlikely for us, and I did not ask what we could do in light of that fact. He was just giving me the information to mull over so I’ll be ready to talk about it during our next consultation if this doesn’t work. I considered bringing it up today, but I really don’t want to get too far ahead of myself since we haven’t even done this final IUI. However, I can’t help but feel like I’m putting all my eggs in one basket — this one last chance with the IUI. It’s possible we’ll do more IUIs in the future since IVF isn’t an option, but it’s not necessarily going to increase the likelihood of it working.

I hate the uncertainty of not knowing where we go after this. I just hope one of the three eggs in this basket does the trick so we don’t have to have such discussions.