Monday, July 29, 2013

6dp3dt - The Pity Party is Out.

As for the overwhelming negativity displayed in last week's posts, I feel like I really didn't have much of a choice. That damn PIO-allergic reaction left me crippled and in excruciating pain for a week. It was just too hard to be Suzie Sunshine after that. The failure of the embryos still living in the lab to progress was just another unnecessary kick in the crotch. The fate of "lil' ocho cellito," as my friend has christened the kick ass embryo hopefully dividing and burrowing as we speak, has been hard to focus on what with all the tearful navel/uterus-gazing I had to do. Enough with that. Not enough with being sad, I'm still definitely working on that that one, but enough with feeling so damn sorry for myself. I realized this after relaying my story via email to another newbie infertile. In her response, she - intentionally or otherwise - expressed her abject horror in my sob story, most likely terrified that she too would lose use of her legs to a dramatic progesterone accident.  Feeling sorry for yourself is one thing. Having other people pity you... that sucks. I realize that I created this monster. The more I bitch and moan about what is happening and what might  happen (mind you, I don't go in for my beta test until Friday), the more I invite people to tilt their heads and say, "you poooooooor thing!" Ugh, done with it.

Game plan through Friday (and beyond):
  1. I will wallow for no more than 15 minutes each evening. Then I have to go walk the dogs or do something other than sit on the couch and audibly sigh.
  2. I will vent on this blog in a productive manner. I so rely on this outlet and am strangely comforted by the fact that half of those reading have been through the same exact crap. Your love and comments speak volumes and help to get me through all this. If I were in it alone, there wouldn't be an entire corner of the blogosphere carved out for us whiny barrenesses.
  3. I will not rely on takeout for dinner (see #1 - grocery shopping and cooking is impossible if you are constantly wallowing).
  4. I will accomplish things related to my actual job which, surprisingly enough, is not getting pregnant.
  5. I will think about positive things happening in my life now and in the future. Hell, I might even make a list.
  6. I will make a valiant effort to finish the this sweater I've been knitting on and off for months now. Idle hands and whatnot.

The pity party is OUT. (Mike dropped, walking off stage.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

3dp3dt - Bitter, Deflated

Dr. M was right. None of the 4 remaining embryos made it to freeze. 3 stalled out and 1 made it to a blastocyst so terribly fragmented and fucked that it was not worth freezing.

IVF #2 has revealed that my egg quality is for shit. IVF #1 suggested that as well but this time feels like a nail in the coffin. I also am completely fed up with my clinic's lab. There have been so many signs that it is simply subpar. I won't bother going into details. If this doesn't work, I'm moving on to a new and better clinic. Or not. Or buying donor eggs on the black market, adopting, quitting my job and getting 6 or 7 new dogs from the shelter. And I am not going to walk them.

This week has been shit. I've been feeling sick, my sesame oiled ass can barely walk, and my embryos refused to jump in the freezer. Thank God it's Friday. Not in a Boy-Meets-World kinda way, more in a I-need-to-hibernate kinda way. I don't really get to do that as it's the largest work event of the year tomorrow. 1200 guests, lots of drama and much anticipation. Bad timing.

Sorry for the rant. It's just one of those crap days. I'm very disappointed and in a pretty hopeless place. This too shall pass, I'm told. 

Update: Trying to stay positive for lil' 8-cell.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

2dp3dt. Ornery.

I now understand why those little old ladies with hunched shoulders and aching hips can be so crabby. Shuffling sucks. Nobody shuffles by choice except for the Chicago Bears (reference? anyone?). I shuffle down the sidewalk looking like I should be pushing a shopping cart and talking to myself. Some stupid 20-year-old punks (wow, crotchety!) snickered as I lumbered past them this afternoon. Note to self: you're a lot less hot when you drag your left leg behind you.

It has been a full four days since my last progesterone shot and I'm still in an absurd amount of pain. To the touch, my left ass cheek feels like someone implanted a large, hot, smooth river stone just beneath my skin. Physically, it feels like this crazy, spreading tightness is wrapping from the front of my hip to my SI joint, pressing against my nerves. I'm not sure if that made sense. Bottom line: it fucking hurts. Things that hurt: walking, sitting, lying down, climbing stairs, curbs, speed bumps, bikini underwear, pants. Today I wore pants for the first time since Saturday. It went better than expected. The only thing that seems to give me a bit of relief and mobility is - close your eyes if this is too sexy - taking my whole cheek in my hand and jiggling it to encourage blood flow. I should try twerking.

I know this will get better and probably sooner rather than later but it's another reminder of how much harder it is to get knocked up via IVF than through routine sexual intercourse. You might have an explosive allergic reaction to one of your zillion meds! Your ovaries might overstimulate! Your ovaries and Fallopian tubes could twist in on themselves! These things happen. Shit-tastic things happen to fertiles too, of course. One of my professors in grad school, presumably a normal fertile, lost 100% of her hair during pregnancy. I met her not long after she came back from maternity leave and assumed that she was a brave cancer survivor. Brave, yes. Cancer, no. We all get it one way or another. The creation of life is a messy event. I'm just feeling stuck in the painful, messy muck of it rather than the glittery miracle end of the stick. 

This is a slow two week wait.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Medical Mystery Tour!

Oh, the crippling pain. I am walking as though I were morbidly obese. Or a 90-year-old WWII vet who never got around to getting that hip replaced. I groan when I get up from chairs. I whimper when I gingerly climb into the car. I am a mess. Why, you ask? A massive allergic reaction to my progesterone in oil (PIO) shots, that’s all. What the what. At my RE clinic, it is routine to receive a progesterone shot immediately following your egg retrieval. I had the shot last time, ended up in a fair amount of pain, and figured the nurse must have accidentally hit a nerve. It happens. This time around, I decided that instead of using Endometrin suppositories (white, chalky progesterone tablets 3 x day up the old hoohah), I would give myself a once daily PIO shot. With Endometrin (and other types of progesterone suppositories), you are forced to wear a pantie liner at all times and sit in a pool of vagi-pharmaceutical byproduct. Yes, I change the liners but unless you plan to live in the bathroom, you can expect frequent damp, icky moments. I explained it to J like this: imagine you had to live in tighty-whiteys filled with pudding.  I think that pretty much sums it up. I am such a lady. You can see why he fell for me. I leave just a bit to the imagination…

Retrieval went just fine. They got all 8 eggs. We later learned that of the 8, 7 were mature and 6 fertilized. Much better numbers than last time. For IVF #1, we got 11 eggs, 7 were mature and 5 fertilized. The theory of quality over quantity already seemed to be playing out. 

Saturday. Thus starts day 1 of crap.  After retrieval and my PIO shot, J and I had brunch with his parents and did a little light strolling. We hit up a farmers market and toured around Graceland Cemetery. I progressively felt more and more meh. J took me home and I tried to sleep off the last breaths of the anesthesia. When I woke up, I felt incredibly nauseous. TMI starts now, kids. You are more than welcome to shut down your browser and do something more pleasant than read about my horrid bodily functions.  I took my temperature and found that it was 100. Also, constipation. Fun. Per my handy-dandy post-op instructions, I called the doctor on call. She advised that I try to drink a lot of fluids, take a stool softener, and call her if anything got worse. I promised to call in the morning to follow up. Begging off of dinner with the in-laws, I asked J to run and grab me a stool softener and some Gatorade from the pharmacy. That poor man.  I should have thrown in a tube of Monistat for good measure.

While J was out, I gave myself my second PIO shot. Uneventful.  Later that night, after J was back from dinner but out walking the dogs, I realized that the time had come for some long awaited bowel movement. The party was about to start. As I sat down, I was hit by waves of extreme nausea and broke out in a head to toe sweat. After I finished my business, shaking with my hair and clothes soaked with sweat, I staggered out of the bathroom and collapsed on the living room floor. My thoughts: I’m going to die. We’ve got to get this carpet professionally cleaned.  J came in seconds/hours (not a clue) later – freaked out for a moment – and then scooped me up and carried me into the air-conditioned bedroom. I was able to drink some water, calmed down and insisted there was no need for a trip to the hospital. Freak incidence, all probably due to a bad reaction to the anesthesia. I slept fitfully that night.

Sunday, day 2 of crap. I speak to the on-call doctor to follow up as promised. Yes, I’m still nauseous. Yes, I’m drinking fluids and keeping them down. Yes, I still have a low-grade fever. She was about to let me off the phone when she asked about the state of my bowels (I am so sorry you people are reading this literal shit). I told her, with very little detail, about the rather dramatic movements of the night before. “You need to come in to see me. I don’t like this. I’m not sure what’s causing you to be sick but I want to check you out for myself.” J and I cancelled our plans and hit the road. At the clinic, they ran every test to confirm that I didn’t have OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). I didn’t. I didn’t have any signs of it with the exception of the fever.  They took blood, did a urinalysis and all that came up was a slightly elevated white blood cell count. I was told that this is typical for post retrieval and if you’re fighting off an illness. I mentioned the severe pain I was developing at my PIO injection sites. She checked them and noted that they looked ok and that muscle soreness was unfortunately par for the course. The doctor then scheduled me to come back the next afternoon so that I didn’t “slip through the cracks.” 3 hours after we arrived, I got to go home and take a freaking nap. Sick and tired. That night, I administered my third PIO shot. Afterward I walked around, sat on a heating pad and massaged the area the best I could given how much it already hurt from the first shot.  As the night wore on, the last injection site became more and more painful. By 1:30 AM, I was lying on my stomach crying while J iced my blazing red ass cheek. Whoever told you that fertility treatments weren’t romantic had no imagination! J ran out to get Tylenol (no Ibuprofen for the IVFers) and I eventually was able to drift asleep at about 3 AM while watching Dexter murder people. I love that show.     

Monday, day 3 of crap. Holy mother of pain. Monday is when shit got comical. I could barely walk. My ass had a hot, red, raised pad the size of my palm on the upper left cheek (lucky 2 injection side) and a small, hot patch on the right side. I was more nauseous than ever and decently dizzy. My skin hurt. I took off my jeans and t-shirt because they hurt.  I changed in to my most muumuu-like maxi dress only because nudity wasn’t an option. I took my temp. Still at 100. I went back to the clinic and this time was greeted than none other than Dr. Robot. She is the shining star that told me, after revealing that there was no heartbeat, that there was “still stuff in my uterus.” In her defense, Dr. Robot was very thorough. She ran all of my tests again. Same results. Nothing obviously wrong. Once again, I mentioned to her and the nurse how incredibly painful my injection sites were. This time they told me to stop the PIO shots and to switch to suppositories.  I’m sure they were just trying to give me one less discomfort but that allowance saved the day. Before I left, I told Dr. Robot that I was concerned about doing a transfer (scheduled for the next day) while I was feeling so sick. She agreed and said that she would recommend freezing all of the embryos and doing a frozen transfer on a later cycle.  OH HELLS NO. No. It’s not that I assume that cycle would undoubtedly work. It’s that I at least need a shot. I need to know that we’re at least trying – you know, how other couples do when they have unprotected sex. Like that. Here’s the other piece of that shitcake: my clinic has very good success rates with fresh embryo transfer. Not so much with frozen. Dismal. I’m sure that says unfortunate things about the lab. Regardless, for now I’ll go for the good rates with the fresh transfer. I’d rather transfer 2 fresh embryos into my sick body than frozen ones with little to no chance. Seeing the horror on my face (really, I meant could we push to a 5-day transfer?), she suggested I come back tomorrow an hour before my scheduled transfer and see the doctor to make a game day decision. Fine.

While waiting for my test results to come in, I took the time to Google side effects of the PIO shots. Nausea? Check. Dizziness? Check. Fever? Check. Severe pain, swelling and redness at injection site? Check. Difficulty sleeping? Well yes, due to constant pain. Gradually, I became more convinced that the stupid shots were the source of all my troubles. After I left the clinic, I went to the pharmacy and picked up some Benadryl. When I got home, I took 2 Benadryl and took a nap. When I woke up the nausea and dizziness had significantly subsided. I ate a real meal for the first time since Saturday morning.  No PIO shot and another dose of Benadryl before bed, and I woke up this morning feeling much, much better. No more nausea or dizziness, no more fever.

Tuesday, not so crappy. I saw yet another doctor this morning who quickly ascribed my symptoms to the PIO shots. After checking my temperature and my blood pressure he pronounced me “just fine.”  I told him that Dr. Robot had been concerned enough to suggest that I freeze all the embryos and abort mission. “We’d only do that if you had OHSS which you clearly don’t.” Right, clearly. He assured me that my freak allergic reaction would not affect the success of my transfer.  I’d like to believe that. I don’t think he knows that for sure. Cleared for transfer, I went in where Dr. M, my primary RE performed the procedure. He too seemed very familiar with adverse reactions to PIO like the one I had. Why don’t they warn about these things? The reaction, I should clarify, is to the sesame oil that the progesterone is suspended in, not the progesterone itself. He said that some patients still have swelling months after stopping the injections. Shoot me.

We transferred two embryos. One was a fabulous 8-cell (ideal) with no fragmentation and good symmetry. The other was a 6-cell with no fragmentation and decent symmetry. Another B student. I was very excited to have an 8-cell embryo. Last time, not a single one was at 8-cell by day 3. Again, quality over quantity. Of the remaining embryos, 3 were 6-cell and 1 was a 5-cell. Dr. M predicted none of these would make it to freeze. For some reason I think he’s wrong. I’ll find out on Friday.

So to summarize this incredibly long, rambling, whiney post: I am a medical mystery. I can't walk and am crazy sick. Nobody knows why. I figure out that it's an allergic reaction. Medical professionals agree. Day 3 embryo transfer.
TTFN. Off to lie on the couch and watch bad television. Also, long live the royal he-baby. Whatever his name is.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today I feel...

Tired. Nervous. 50% Optimistic, 50% Pessimistic. Ready to get this show on the road.

Tomorrow is retrieval day. My in-laws are randomly going to be in town for the big day (cue mixed feelings) and I look forward to being high as a kite on sedatives around them. It's second best to the bottle of wine I wish I could consume. As I inch ever closer to the big events (retrieval, fertilization report, transfer, beta-terror), I'm feeling less cool about things. Not quite the paragon of up-beat serenity I have been for the past week and a half. Reasons vary:
  1. This is a big deal and the stakes feel much higher. If this round doesn't work, I'm half way through the 4 rounds of IVF allotted by my insurance. (I know I'm incredibly lucky to have insurance cover this at all. Illinois is wonderful in that regard.)
  2. My follicle count leaves a little to be desired.
Last time, I had 12 follicles counted on my last ultrasound and 11 eggs retrieved. As of yesterday morning, I have a total of 8 follicles, 4 of which were mature (>16mm), 2 at 13mm and 2 at 12mm. Hopefully a few of the stragglers will leap over the 16mm mark.  4 mature eggs ain't great. Not for a 31-year-old. I knew that I went with the Ganirelix protocol, that I may have fewer eggs but potentially higher quality. At this point, all I know is that there are fewer. So that panned out. The quality remains a big question mark. I am not enjoying said question mark. But, not much I can do about it.

Last night I struggled to stay awake to take my HCG trigger at the appointed time (9:45 feels like midnight these days). Today I will have a blissful nap at my acupuncture clinic followed by a delicious dinner with the J and the in-laws. And tomorrow, I get high and they grab my eggs. Deep breaths, let's get through the antsy part.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shopping for who?

Dear Infertiles,

Don't you find it difficult to shop for clothing without wondering if it will accommodate the bump that is obviously in your very near future despite all evidence to the contrary? I do. I've purposely not shopped at times - even though I've been in need of some shmatte to cover my body if only for decency - because I am so sure that I will be growing a blissful protuberance in a matter of seconds. Poof! Pregnant. Begin the muumuu parade.

I was all proud of myself because I skipped out of work at lunch and bought three cute, flattering dresses. I consciously willed myself to buy things that simply fit and looked good, not ones that could accomodate an adult cat in the mid-section. Apparently my subconscious won. I thought I had achieved a triumph of willpower and sanity but now that I review my purchases, all have quite a bit of stretch and give. I will note that none of them have an empire waist. Oh-my-God-that's-not-even-true! Whatever, I tried.

IVF brain fail.

More or less what I bought today at Marshall's.

Monday, July 15, 2013


First, I would like to announce that I did not meltdown on the car ride back from my grandma's 90th birthday. In the car on the way there, I said there was an 87% chance I'd have a meltdown and J said he thought it was 100% for sure. Well, looks like I'm 13% correct. Boo-yah. That being said, I can't gloat too much because I chose instead to cry off my makeup on the way to the party instead (bets were made after I stopped crying and reapplied mascara). I guess I was all dried out at that point.

The celebration was completely survivable as I've learned most things are. My cousin, a serious triathlete, looks completely adorable at 5-6 months pregnant as she has absolutely no body fat and carries her fetus outside of her body, covered by a thin layer of skin and muscle. She is having a boy. That elicits no response emotional response from me as I figured it was one or the other. No word yet on what my sister is having. That will bring up some *feelings* because, if it's a girl, I'll feel like she stole my girl. Insane, I know. I have always wanted a girl (though quite honestly would be thrilled to be pregnant with a mammal of any gender at this point) and she has always wanted boys. Ipso facto, if she is carrying a girl she will have effectively stolen it from me. I am completely aware that that statement in itself warrants a straight jacket and a visit from some nice men in white coats. Self-awareness is at least half the battle. We used to joke that if she had girls and I had boys, we would trade. Now I feel like she might not follow through on said promise. It would solve a lot of issues though...
Moving beyond that rant, while the afternoon started a little awkward turtle, it ended up fine. These fertiles are my family, I love them, and I can deal when forced to do so.

On to happier things. IVF #2 - It feels so damn good to be back in the saddle again. Of course I wish that I didn't have such a crippled horse to ride but my horse is my horse. This cycle is markedly different than the first. I am just so. much. calmer. I feel like a normal (bloated) person this time around. Yes, I shoot up twice a day and have done so in the comfort of my filthy, dog-hair-covered car and my friend's kitchen, but I really feel like I'm going on with normal life. I've been more lax about my so-called "fertility diet," allowing myself to enjoy gluten a little more regularly and small amounts of dairy like a normal human being. Last cycle, I listened to Circle + Bloom relaxation/imagery recordings every night to fall asleep. I imagined follicles growing and humming with life. I relied on those recordings to get to sleep and to stop feeling like a nervous wreck.This cycle, before bed I read whatever is loaded on my kindle and fall dead asleep. Pretty much like every other night. It's kind of a dream. Obviously I'm still nervous about the outcome. I'm not that calm. I'm normal. Surprisingly normal for day 7 of stims. Let's just see how we do come retrieval-transfer, shall we? 

Progress on Some Fronts

You know how I want to spend my Saturday morning? At the RE clinic, waiting for my date with a well-lubed ultrasound wand. After we go straight to the good stuff, I think I'll teeter on over to the lab to get rid of some of the excess blood I've had of late. Sunday morning I get an even better treat: a sonohystogram, also known as a saline ultrasound. Dr. M is going to inflate my lady parts like a balloon, fill them with saline, and take a look-see. You can go to your mimosa brunches and yoga classes; me and my vag are busy. Super busy. We have no time for that shit.

Am I complaining? Yes. Clearly. But do I also enjoy this? Yes. Clearly. I enjoy both complaining and actively working towards getting knocked up. I am finally doing something other than bleeding, waiting, and watching other people's pregnancies fester in their glowy wholesome bodies. My body, while riddled with foreign toxins and hormones, is hella wholesome and very ready for this show to get on the road. I am equal parts excited and terrified. This is how it happens for me. My countless blood draws and ultrasounds are how I get pregnant, kind of like a very long and protracted, well-timed sexual encounter for normal folk. I'm not sure what I'm more afraid of: not getting pregnant or getting pregnant and then miscarrying again. Ok, I decided. It's the latter. But both suck.

Today is my grandma's 90th birthday party. Nothing crazy, just a family get together. Nana would not allow a big bash or really anything more extravagant than a backyard BBQ. The pregnants will be there - cousin and sister - both showing by now. I haven't see my cousin at all since the announcement. Last time I saw Juice she was just barely showing (and not showing at all by a stranger's standards). I'm not looking forward. I know, time has passed and time heals all wounds, blah blah blah. The thing is, I'm just not healed yet. I'm ready to move on with my own stuff but honestly the thought of spending an afternoon with them and the guaranteed baby talk kinda makes me want to step in front of a bus. Not to be dramatic or anything. I find it odd; I thought that my relationship to my sister and pregnant women of the world would heal in direct proportion to my feelings about my miscarriage, my body, etc. Instead, I find myself feeling very positive about this new cycle and the fact that we're moving forward. There's been little progress with my sister. Approximately none. I know that we will get back to the way things were, or close enough to that place. I just can't picture it. Space makes me feel a lot calmer than forcing the situation. Perhaps it's avoidance but it's also self-protection. Today I'll grin and bear it. I predict a meltdown on the car ride home. I should warn J.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Junkie is Back.

I return. I return from the land of spouting geysers, bubbling mud pots and ornery buffalo. Yellowstone done me good. I challenge you to stay in a wifi-free cabin surrounded by mountains and wild flowers and to remain hung up on your shit. You basically can't do it, at least for most of the day. To be honest, I still laid in bed at night with thoughts of infertility dancing in my head but that's apparently unavoidable. A little bit of that baggage clings on wherever you go. Regardless, it was a true vacation. I barely worked (a victory) and my evil brain spawn stayed largely at bay. Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are awe-inspiringly, spectacularly gorgeous. I've been lucky to spend time in a lot of beautiful, natural spaces but this one knocked my socks off. You must go. You simply must. I am committed to going back because after a week, I feel like I didn't even crack the surface of what those two national parks have to offer.

I title my post "The Junkie is Back" because in every sense, I am. Back from Yellowstone and, significantly, back to elbow crook track marks and pinpoint belly bruises. For the first time in quite a while, the universe did me a solid and held off my period until I returned from vacation. (The park ranger first aid cabin surprisingly does not provide ultrasounds and blood work unless a rabid bull elk stabs you in the uterus. Fortunately, I did not incur this wrath.) On Monday, the flood gates opened, the angels sang, and I got a real, normal period for the first time since the longest miscarriage ever. That's just shy of three months since confirmation of fetal demise if anyone is counting. I was due for some bleeding. Yesterday I went in for my baseline ultrasound and blood work. All normal, good to go. I started stims last night.

This cycle, my meds are wildly switched up. For my first IVF, I was on a very standard protocol: 3 weeks of birth control pills, followed by Lupron, then Follistim & Menopur before trigger. The results were solidly meh: 11 eggs, 7 mature, 5 fertilized, 2 sorta-kinda-decent embryos, 1 frozen blastocyst, 1 lackluster BFP and 1 miscarriage. Let's do better, shall we? This go round, no birth control pills so as not to over-suppress my cranky reproductive system. Yay! Day 2 of my cycle started with stim drugs Follistim and Menopur. I'll shoot up with those for the whole cycle. Next Monday I add in Human Growth Hormone. I expect to get taller and more beautiful. Then, when my follicles reach 14mm or so, I add in Ganilrelix to prevent premature ovulation. Soon after, it's party time. This protocol makes so much more sense to me. In the long Lupron protocol, you shut down your hormones (Good morning, menopause!) until you no longer have the will to live. I slept through my days, typically in a pool of sweat. Then you kick your hormones directly into high gear until you're ready to burst. Apparently this works well for people. Not my cup of tea. With the Ganilrelix protocol sans birth control, you take your natural hormonal low point - onset of period, progesterone dropped off, estrogen just beginning to climb - and add in the stimulants then. At least conceptually, I like this. We'll see if my body likes it too. Dear God, pleeeeaaaase. Mama's getting tired of all this shiz.