Friday, May 30, 2008

self fufilled

There was a time, way back when, when the blogosphere was merely a twinkle in many a nerds' eye. Sure, people were blogging here and there, but the community was much smaller, tight. No one was making a living of their random musings, as amusing as they might've been. There were no "comments". We even had to pay for the opportunity to share our private worlds (at least I did - was I a sucker?). the conquering of was my outlet, my little corner of the interwebs. It was fun for awhile, writing whatever came to mind, sometimes autobiographical, sometimes just scribbles.

When I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) on March 8, 2002 and wrote "Ortho Novum 777" it never occurred to me that what seemed hypothetical would someday become fact. I never considered that I might be dooming myself with a self-fufilling prophecy of infertility yet to be unmasked. At 22 years old, unmarried and happy, I typed the following:

You were 17 and your mom finally discovered you had "gone all the way" with your boyfriend. So she took you to her OBGYN (probably a greying family man, one you didn't really want investigating your "area"), and got you on THE PILL. And every fourth Sunday since, you've gone to Walgreens and refilled that same prescription.

Imagine: years later you find yourself in a happy and surprisingly healthy relationship, and after a TV-land proposal (over dinner, ring in the champagne) you decide to take the plunge and dive right into marital bliss. But as time goes on playing happy married couple gets a little old, as it tends to, so you start thinking about the gene pool and the possibility of your top-notch contribution. Imagine your prescription running out and actually deciding not to go to Walgreens and refill it like you've done every month for 9 years. Can you fathom that first night of freedom? How dangerous you must feel, vulnerable and literally unprotected.

But now imagine that after countless nights of reckless abandon (or meticulously timed thrusts) your belly doesn't begin to swell and nothing is kicking inside you. You don't have the cravings you hear about and that spare bedroom appears more vacant than before. You begin to feel lonely at parties and empty at home. Can you fathom the frustration of finding that all this time you've been protecting against nothing?

Can you imagine how much money you've spent on useless prescriptions all these years?

I was dead-on, right down to the age the hypothetical me would be when she started TTC. My young and inexperienced mind somehow able to understand some of the devastation of infertility. But I definitely got one thing wrong. It's not the money spent on precriptions passed that gets us worried. $30 a month is nothing. But add up the tab for one IVF cycle...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Red Rain

In third grade all the girls in my class were sent home with a permission slip. But this "trip" didn't involve a big yellow bus and the boys weren't invited (at least, not yet). No, this trip was different. This was a trip through the glorious female reproductive system!

One afternoon after school we all shuffled down to the school library and sat cross-legged on the floor among the copies of Corduroy and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. The school nurse, who had previously only been seen for headaches and lice checks (and possibly that time I’d forgotten to wear underwear beneath my skirt and someone had noticed as we climbed the stairs…), stood in front of us with charts, posters and an assortment of “feminine products” and explained to us about our bodies and the beautiful changes they were to go through. I don’t recall the metaphors she used – although it undoubtedly involved butterflies – but I will never forget The Pad. The giant, diaper-like hunk of cotton with a series of sinister looking clips or buckles connecting it to a belt. A belt! I couldn’t imagine how I could squeeze that belt beneath my clothes (clearly I wasn’t sure I could even fit panties under them) and was certain that everyone would know when Auntie Flo came to visit. I wondered that afternoon if I would know when I got my period. And I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to find out.

20 years later and I’m still not sure if I know when I get my period.

In addition to the rest of our cornucopia of fertility issues, I have a wicked LPD. The spotting is random and plentiful. The month I got pregnant with my twins I started bleeding at 2dpo. A fun fact: in four pregnancies I have NEVER had a BFP before I started bleeding (and we wonder why I always assume I’m pregnant). I even had what amounted to a full period from 10-15dpo that month. So while bleeding is no mystery to me, AF is.

Imagine, at 29 years old, explaining to a nurse that you don’t know if you have your period. You might, but is it red enough? Does it “flow”? How can you start meds on CD3 when you have no idea what CD3 is?

I started spotting last Saturday. On Sunday I thought AF might’ve made her official appearance…but then she tapered off. Monday there were moments of the illusive “red flow” but they were sandwiched between hours of dry pantyliners. And today, Thursday, I still don’t know if I have my period. I’m just about to give up on trying to find it.

I deserve a medal for not POAS already.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the laziest infertile

Sometimes I wonder if I want it badly enough. I want it, boy do I want it. My arms ache with the weight of their own emptiness. My house seems quiet and cold, regardless of the number of cats and blankets I cram into it. I yearn for the connection I see between mothers and their children - his fingers tangled in his mother's hair, her toothless grin as soon as mommy walks into view. But for all the wanting and waiting (and poking and proding) I sometimes wonder if I don't try hard enough.

I've done my time. I've crammed a thermometer in my mouth immediately upon waking. Over the course of any given month I've peed on dozens of sticks, oodles of sticks. (Sometimes I'd pee on random long, white objects frantically searching for lines of any sort. Good thing the hubby gave up smoking!) I've examined mucous of every texture and color and recorded their slipperyness or lack thereof in a color coded chart. We've screwed on a schedule, whether we wanted to or not. I even gave up saliva during intercourse to stop his sad little sperm getting stuck upon entry. (So not only is our sex not spontaneous, it's often not very good either...)

And yet, I am a lazy infertile.

* I refuse to make any sort of change to my diet. I quit reading Inconceivable and The Infertility Cure immediately upon learning that french fries aren't in the fertile diet.

* I gave up charting the moment I started seeing an RE, whether on a medicated cycle or not. The excitement of a temp spike isn't enough of a high for me anymore.

* I don't take my stims/Lupron/progesterone at exactly the same minute every day. I don't go hours off schedule, but there is nothing precise about my timing. I even did my IVF trigger 15 minutes late. (I needed that extra time to whine and whimper about how big the needle was!)

* We don't do it 3 times a day during my fertile period. Even before our MFI it just wasn't going to happen. We felt really proud when we were doing it every other day for 2 weeks. And these days the bar is even lower - if we do it once within 48 hours of O I feel pretty good.

* I go through phases of not taking my prenatal vitamins.

There. I said it. Even though I'm a MTHFR I don't always get my full dose of folic acid. Yes, I'm a terrible mother already. But the thing is, emptying bottle after bottle of prenatal vitamins has become a cruel reminder of where we are and what we've gone through. The pills laugh at me - sneer at me. With each swallow I hear them mocking as they travel my esophagus. "Who do you think you are? You're not getting pregnant, lady. Buy the geriatric supplements - at least you have an outside chance of needing those someday!" And I know I'll regret my disobedience if I ever do wind up with an off-cycle BFP. I know I won't need one more thing to wonder and worry about. But when it feels like my body controls so much of my life with no regard for my feelings and desires, I can't help but get some perverse glee out of exerting some control over it. Reminding that damn uterus who's boss.

And then quietly pleading with it to work.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

sweet little lies

I delude myself on a regular basis. I might claim to by 5'4" when in actuality I am 5'3", have always been 5'3", will always be 5'3" (...and a half). I like to tell myself I cook healthy food and that regardless of the butter and sugar content my peach cobbler is good for you because it has fruit. I might even claim that I don't watch crap tv (although that would be less delusion and more outright lie). But my number one delusion, nearly constant in my sad little brain, is believing I am pregnant.

Every infertile has talked themself into thinking they were pregnant in the 2ww. Boob squeezes all around! But I have the unique talent of believing I'm knocked up in the most unusual times - during my period, for example. Or because I haven't found fertile CM this cycle, I assume it's because there's a bun in the oven, not because I'm a dried up barren hag. And this morning, when on CD21 (with no aforementioned EWCM in sight) I started spotting, I didn't assume I was annovulatory or that this cycle is a bust. Nope, my first thought was implantation. Implantation of an egg that wasn't released that combined with one of his six retarded sperm to finally form our healthy bouncing baby. Maybe twins.

But wait - the delusion gets deeper and more twisted!

I did realize at some point that it isn't very likely that I'm experiencing implantation spotting. (Although we did have sex 8 days ago...) I know that at this point we need serious intervention to make egg and sperm meet. So the only possible answer is that I'm miscarrying again. Miscarrying after my IVF, which resulted not only in a negative beta, but a full, bloody, clotty period. Yet somehow those embryos stuck it out until now, when I'm losing them. If anyone wants to call the people in white coats to cart me away I will understand.

But wait...maybe all 3 of my IVF embryos implanted (late, obviously) and although I'm miscarrying now, maybe the other two are still sticking! Maybe I'm pregnant! With twins!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

eternal not-quite-a-pessimist

Believe it or not, I spend a lot of time trying to be ok with our baby situation. Trying to understand that while it's painful and so so tiring, we're really doing ok in the end and have a lot to be thankful for. I even try to see the good in our infertility sometimes, although let's be honest - it's not easy to think positively about a needle poking through your vaginal wall to assault your bloated ovaries...and paying for it!

I'd like to say that I try to keep an optimistic outlook so that I am a whole, complete human being. But mostly it's so that I'm not a hypocrite when I complain about others' incessant whining.

A girl I know (and foolishly considered a friend for a brief length of time) got knocked up, reportedly while on birth control. She has since spent every moment complaining about how miserable she is that she's pregnant. She's not breathed a single happy word about her pregnancy. Hasn't shared a single positive thought. I believe that unwanted pregnancies can be as difficult on the mother-to-be as infertility is on a woman who dreams of a baby that isn't to be. I understand being confused and scared. But at some point we all need to get a grip and accept what is instead of what could have been. She may not have made the decision to get pregnant, but she did make a decision to stay pregnant. Maybe it's time to stop resenting the situation. Stop looking at the pregnancy as undesired, such a burden, a parasite and start respecting the child that's growing.

And for crying out f'ing loud, maybe now isn't the time to say "I got really down about how long it could potentially be until we adopt". It's great that you dream of adopting. It's great that you have the resources to "just adopt". But for fucks sake - you have a child living inside you who you've done nothing but complain about. Can we not shift focus a bit? Can we not try and be a little glass half full?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So funny I forgot to laugh

This blog is not turning out how I'd planned. I thought I would have witty commentary on the funnier bits of infertility. Feet in the stirrups, stim bruises shaped like the Virgin Mary, wacky bleeding - oh how the bleeding is wacky! But as it turns out, infertility just isn't that funny. Who would've guessed?

I used to find humor in nearly everything - often inappropriately. But more and more my life seems less humorous. I'm hoping I regain some sense of whimsy - and fast! - because if my husband and I get divorced from the stress of IF I'll need "great sense of humor" to beef up my personal ad. "Barren and bitter" just doesn't have the same cache.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

not so merry unbirthday

I feel like today of all days I need to write. Write about how much I miss my babies. About how hard it is to watch others move forward when I feel eternally left behind. Write about the regrets I have and hope I struggle to find. And yet I don't have the words to say any of this.


My dear babies. I miss you so much. I wish you were with me and we could all celebrate your birthday together. I wish I could laugh with you, read to you, teach you how to clap and stand. I wish I could watch you grow and wonder who you'll become, instead of wondering who you *would've* become. I think about you daily and even when I think I'm doing ok there's always a lingering emptiness that only you two could've filled. I hope that someday your dad and I will have a child to hold. We're giving everything we've got to fufill that dream. But even if I have my baby in my arms I don't doubt that you will always be on my mind. I love you and I miss you. I miss you. I miss you.

Friday, May 9, 2008

for the greater good

I had my WTF appointment this morning. You know the one - talk about what went wrong, why Mother's Day is going to be a f'ing nightmare instead of a blissful holiday and try to figure out what to do next if only we had the money. I wasn't expecting much, especially considering this was only the 3rd time I'd ever met the doctor (including my embryo transfer). I'm pretty certain she didn't recognize me and quite likely had never really studied my chart. Such is life when you're part of a clinical study.

I got about as much satisfaction out of the appointment as I'd expected (i.e. little to none) but I did get one thing I never anticipated: an admission that they completely screwed up my protocol right from the start. Talking a mile a minute the doctor announced that they've been really busy with the study and didn't take the time to tailor the protocols of the early cases. But don't worry - they've straightened it all out. Girls cycling now are getting individual attention instead of just random stabs in the dark. (Or rather, in the gut.)

And I'm supposed to be happy about this why? I know I signed up to be part of a science experiment, but I foolishly expected I'd get as much attention as anyone else. I'm glad that my failed cycle won't be repeated on other desperate women, but what good does it do me? We all know I'm a generous, giving soul, always happy to sacrifice my own needs for the comfort and well being of others, but, um...WTF?

In other exciting news, our sperm count on the day of the retrieval was 0.0001 million. No, that is not a typo. His balls have been revolting for some time now, but that? That is outright mutiny. And yet a month and a half ago at his most recent analysis we had 8 million of the little buggers. And to think, I'd been fantasizing this week that just maybe we'd get pregnant by having S.E.X. Looks like the nutsack in charge has something to say about that little delusion.

Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cap and Hospital Gown

I received an invite to a high school graduation the other day and I couldn't help but reflect on the fact that I've never actually graduated anything. I moved 1200 miles to Texas just before my senior year of high school and rather than be the awkward new kid (as opposed to the awkward old kid I'd been back home) I decided to get my GED and head directly to college. But after a year at university a job at a record store seemed more appealing and I quit to become a full time indie-chick. Yet another graduation thwarted.

I expected I'd do a bit of graduating tomorrow, from an IVF cycle-r to an IVF success story. With my history I knew that a couple of lines on a stick wouldn't mark me as a success just yet, but at least I wouldn't be a failure, doomed to sit at the back of the fertile class with a big pointy "Barren" hat on my head. Nope, I'd be a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, star student, concerned about doubling betas and yolk sacs. I could feel it. Things were happening. Things were growing. I was finally gonna graduate.

But after countless pee-sticks (ok, 9 pee sticks - so sue me) it appears that yet again, I am left behind. Girls cycling with me have already announced their BFPs, while I pray for that hail Mary: the + beta after a - HPT. But I know it's not coming. Regardless of what my fertile friends are saying, all the hope in the world isn't going to plant growing embryos firmly in my uterus by tomorrow morning. If hope did anything I wouldn't be doing IVF in the first place.

But on second thought, it looks like I will be graduating tomorrow. Not to the world of Success After Infertility, but rather to the rank of Infertility Veteran. Looks like I'm about to earn my wings. Somehow graduating isn't quite how I expected. And it sure ain't all it's cracked up to be.