Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Yes, that's my pumpkin. I decided I wanted to carve one this year and roast the seeds. I like how when the candle flickers it really does seem to wink at you. I felt like such a kid sitting in my kitchen carving last night.

I'm feeling pretty crappy lately. For one thing, the injections are getting harder to do. I don't know if it's normal or even possible to build up scar tissue from only a week of injections, but I'm having a hard time getting the needle to go in. When it does go in, it hurts a lot. I've been alternating sides but that doesn't seem to make a difference. Won't it be fun when I have to do multiple injections each day?

And then the side effects. Here's how they work for me. I wake up after a sleepless night feeling okay. I do the injection. A few hours later I feel like I have a dark fog flowing through my brain. All I want to do is sit on the couch. Absolutely no energy. My energy comes back right as I'm trying to sleep, making my sleep very restless. It's not much fun.

I'm trying to stay positive and focus on good things. It's almost CD1 again and that means we're getting closer to the next phase of our cycle. Once the stims start, I think time is going to fly by. I hope the side effects dissipate, but I'm not holding my breath. We'll see!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Be Aware

I read Mel's latest post reminding us that this week is National Infertility Awareness Week and encouraging us to do something to create awareness and reach out to others with IF.

Her post made me think about how community has changed my struggle with IF. I remember reading different infertility message boards and wanting something deeper. People would come, post a question, get a response, and leave. You often didn't know how their cycle turned out or if the information they received helped them. So I did a search for infertility blogs, and quickly found Mel's site and the wonderful list of bloggers she maintains. Reading the experiences of real people made me feel less alone. Getting caught up in people's situations and rooting for people I didn't really know gave me a positive focus for my restless IF energy. Before too long, I decided to start a blog of my own. And it might sound cheesy, but starting this blog has really changed my life.

I didn't really expect any comments, but I had some within minutes of my first post. When Mel added me to her blog list, I felt like I was joining an important an meaningful group. I can't even express how much everyone's comments mean to me. It amazed me that people would send so many positive thought my way...people who knew exactly how I felt. While I appreciate every single good wish given to me by those who haven't had to deal with IF, it gave me such a sense of warmth to be heard by someone with their own battle scars. Meanwhile, my blog is a great source of stress relief. When bad things happen, I know that I can come to this safe space, record my true feelings, and figure out how to deal with them. I engage in meditation almost every day, and have learned the importance of deep, calming breaths. I feel like this blog is just another kind of deep breathing.

So this week I'm going to think about how I can continue to reach out to others. I already proudly wear my pomegranate bracelet. Maybe I will print out little information cards, attach a string, and leave them at my clinic. I'm going to find new blogs to read and make sure I leave comments for the people I feel I've grown close to. I'll search out petitions to sign that will legislate infertility coverage for everyone. I think it might be time to write my congress people again.

So who's with me?

Friday, October 27, 2006


I've managed to avoid the hot flashes and mood swings that 10% of women experience while taking Lu*pron. I'm just completely exhausted. I feel fine until about noon and then my energy takes a dive. I'm also feeling rather moody, but that might just be PMS.

So to lighten up my mood, I'd like to mention a few things that have made me happy today.

1. I went to the store for some acorn squash. I have been having crazy cravings for winter squash for the last week. While I was standing in line to pay, the older woman behind me asked me how to cook them. She said, "You just look so nice and thin that I thought maybe I should eat them, too!" Okay, I've gained about 5 pounds from stress eating and bloating. I feel miserable about it. She totally made my day.

2. When I got home, I had a small package from my Mom. She sent me an encouraging card telling me to hang in there and enclosed a pair of Halloween socks. They have little smiling candy corns on them. I love crazy socks, and I love them even more now that I have the chance to show them off while up in the stirrups. How's that for making a small loss of dignity into something happy?

3. I made a major mistake on the heel of the sock that I'm knitting. Apparently I'm not doing so well with reading comprehension right now. I had to rip out two days worth of work. This might not sound like good news...but I was able to pick up the correct number of stitches and can now proceed. I'm really bad at ripping stuff out, so this was a relief. I think I'll finish them in time.

4. Finally...I ordered Stephen King's latest book and it arrived yesterday. I cannot wait to curl up and relax tonight!

I hope everyone has a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mmmmm, coffee!

Thanks to Mel for directing me to this little quiz. I find it funny that my coffee drink of choice reflects my personality!

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

When I got married, here's something I never thought I'd say: "Honey, leave my biohazardous waste alone!" This was me joking with B about the sharps container in our bathroom. He always makes fun of me for the different bottles I need to get ready. This is a bottle he never thought he'd see!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

That wasn't so bad!

"Subcutaneous injection" sounds like such a scary term, but I learned this morning that it's not that bad. The needle is very small and thin - I honestly didn't feel it going in at all. The medication burned a little and the injection site itched for about 10 minutes, but that was that. What I'm left with is a huge sense of accomplishment - I injected myself! I keep waiting for all of this to feel real. I thought maybe it would happen at my trial transfer, or when we signed the forms, or even when we paid the bill. This morning was as close as I've come to realizing what we're doing. IVF seems like such a concrete thing, such a serious procedure, but it's really a series of small steps taken one day at a time.

B decided to tell his best friend what we're doing and why. They have been friends since preschool, but we only see he and his wife once every few months because we live in different states. His friend was very supportive and also knew a lot about IVF and egg donation. It was kind of creepy to have him suggest that I could sell my eggs and get $6000-$10000 for each one. I have no idea where he came up with that figure. I'm glad B continues to share with the people close to him. I told him he should start a blog to reach out to other men out there with MFI and to give the women some male perspective. After his initial "no way" he said he'd think about it. It might be tricky because he doesn't know about my blog, but I'd be willing to tell him if he wanted to start his own! We'll see if I can convince him.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Green light

This is my favorite picture of the leaves from this weekend. I'm a former California girl and the fall foliage was breathtaking. I'd seen pictures before, but the real thing was incredible. The festival was also great. There were so many people there! At one booth, you had to elbow your way to the yarn, quickly grab what you wanted, and then stand in a HUGE line. I sent B to wait in line while I did the elbow thing and he got to the register just as I made it out. It was perfect.

This was a much needed trip for both of us. I love all things yarn, and seeing so many different kinds and meeting the people who actually raise the animals and spin the yarn themselves was great. Completely immersing myself in the festival took my mind away from the stress and anxiety of IF and IVF. We enjoyed maple sugar cotton candy, fresh cider, and delicious apple pie. It was great to do something together that didn't involve yet another trip to the clinic. It was a small taste of how easy life used to be.

When we got home, we checked the mail and found a thick packet of information from the clinic containing detailed injection directions and the consent forms. Talk about a quick return to reality! B didn't want to think much about the "in case one of you dies" questions. We took them to the clinic this morning to sign them so they could witness the signing. A quick ultrasound (My doctor said my ovaries look "happy" which made me giggle) some bloodwork (I hope my veins can survive more than the few draws I've had so far...it hurt!) payment for the cycle (gulp) and injection instructions (looks easy when they do it!) and I was home again. The clinic just called to tell me I am ready to start injections tomorrow.

I'm going to hold the images of the beautiful foliage in my mind and close to my heart. They're my new calming vision. I will do my meditations each day and work on my second retrieval/transfer sock. I'm going to get through this...those needles are just small pieces of metal that aren't going to get in my way. My MIL and Mom both commented today how proud they are of me and the strength I've shown so far. That surprised me because I don't feel particularly strong. But I'm going to believe them and keep their words in my mind tomorrow morning. There's no turning back now!

Friday, October 20, 2006

That's a lot of needles!

This is what $2000-$4000 dollars worth of IVF medication looks like. I don't know exactly how much they cost - that figure is based on what my clinic estimated. I'm blessed to have insurance that pays for IVF medication even though they don't cover the procedure, so I only had to pay $200 in co-pays. I have to say that I appreciate my clinic. They faxed over the paperwork to the pharmacy and I had the medication the next day. The pharmacy was also awesome, working around my schedule and showing up promptly. But man, there's a lot of needles! I opened the box of generic Lu*pron to see what it looked like and there were even more needles inside! I do feel very stylish with my new Foll*istim traveling case. I'm sure I'll be the envy of everyone.

So yesterday we had more bloodwork done and today was my physical, sonogram, and trial transfer. The trial transfer was quick and easy - it's pretty much an IUI without the specimen. My doctor confirmed that I have a tilted uterus and told me that 40 years ago women had surgery to "correct" what we now know is normal. Can you imagine?

I asked him three things: What does he think about caffeine consumption during IVF? He said that caffeine has been loosely linked to lower birth rate, but nothing is certain. If I can cut it out, that's good. If I need that cup in the morning, that's fine. I'm down to one cup a day and will work on decreasing that soon. Then I asked how much and what kind of exercise I can do. Until I start stims, anything is fine. Once they start, I can swim, ride a stationary bike, or take short walks. It all has to be low impact to avoid twisted ovaries. The thought of my ovaries twisting freaks me out! I think I'm going to freeze my gym membership in the next few weeks. Finally, I wanted to know about air travel in the event of a successful cycle. I want to go see my family at Christmas time. (I converted to Judaism 5-ish years ago, but I still want to spend Christmas with my family.) He couldn't give me a firm answer. Too many things could happen between now and then for that. I'm thus still on the fence about booking the flight.

And another observation - the people at the clinic are super nice to you when you're an IVF patient. They've always been nice, but today everyone was over the top. They have a list of patients going through treatment, and it's kind of weird how much they try and get you to laugh and relax. I liked it!

So next week the injections start. This weekend we're heading to Rhinebeck for the Sheep and Wool Festival. I plan on buying lots of beautiful yarn for myself and my sister. I'm looking forward to getting away with B on a mini-trip and just relaxing before the next stage of IVF. I hope everyone has a great weekend, too!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Appreciation, tentative schedule, and a proud moment

I'm in a much better place today. I knew when I wrote my last post that time would help restore my sense of calm. But blogging about my feelings has been an amazing source of stress relief. It's really incredible - it's like throwing myself down on the ground and having a tantrum, but it's all in my mind. With that said, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who left comments. It means so much to me to know that I'm not alone and that people understand where I'm coming from. I really appreciate it!

I have some positive news today. I spoke with the IVF coordinator nurse and set up a series of appointments. Tomorrow we're going to have our HIV/hepatitis bloodtests. She was surprised that we hadn't had these done already, but the doctor said we'd have it done at the start of the cycle. On Friday I have a physical, sonogram, and trial transfer. Then on Monday I have another sonogram and bloodwork. If the bloodwork comes back okay, I'll start Lu*pron Tuesday. You know what this means, right? I'd better start working hard on my second sock!

And I also have to express how proud I am of B. He's been out at a client in another town with one of his coworkers. On the drive back to the office, the coworker started talking about a friend she feels sorry for because they've been TTC with no success and are preparing themselves for IVF. Instead of staying quiet, B told her he knew how the friend felt because we're going through it too. When the coworker started asking questions to find out what was wrong with me (one more of the IF stereotypes that drives me INSANE) B said, "It isn't an issue with my wife." That small statement is such a HUGE step for him. He's said all along that he doesn't care if people know about IVF, but he doesn't want to talk to them about his issues. I was amazed that he talked to her about this, and I really hope it's a sign of his coming to terms with the issue.

That's all for now!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Horrible day

Yesterday was the stuff of nightmares for me. This is going to be a long and complaining post, so bear with me.

We had another family gathering. Yes, family gatherings happen a lot with B's family - it's huge! On the ride over, my SIL mentioned the names they're considering for their baby. A little background: it's an Ashkenazi Jewish tradition to name a baby using the first letter of the name of someone who has passed away in your family. My husband is a "B" because his grandfather was a "B". My FIL passed away last year, so everyone is focused on "S" names. I understand that this limits the possibilities, but when the names they mentioned were the exact names we "chose" months ago, (since you can't really "choose" unless you're pregnant) I just felt...miserable. We've been trying since well before my FIL passed away. We had planned out how we'd tell my in-laws about our pregnancy. When he died, it was so hard to think about those plans. He would have been the most amazing grandfather. Picking a name that paid tribute to his memory became our next plan. And all of this planning happened before we even knew what was wrong. Yes, I do realize that there are other names out there. Maybe this even means that what we wanted wasn't meant to be. But it felt like one more reminder of what we're missing and what we might not ever have. It made me see that the deep wounds I have really haven't healed as much as I thought. Everything suddenly felt very raw.

Thus I was already shaken before we even got to the party. Once we were there, another person announced her pregnancy. She's not directly related to B's family, but she's at many family events. So once again everyone at the party was either pregnant or a mother. Everyone except me. All of the women were talking about the best places to shop for maternity clothes and what foods they couldn't eat. They shared tips on dealing with morning sickness. I ended up in another room watching football with B.

The afternoon continued on a downward spiral. It's a tradition at these gatherings for the first cousins and their spouses to do shots together. The first shot was dedicated to all of the successful fathers-to-be. Mind you, this followed another round of high fives and "Good job, buddy!" comments directed at the men who'd managed to get their wives pregnant. So poor B was left out again. And I'm not drinking during IVF. I know that some RE's say it's okay, but it's something I'm not willing to risk. So when the time came to do the shots, I said I couldn't and they kept insisting...when I refused again, it was like all eyes in the room focused on my stomach. Exactly what I needed at the moment.

It wasn't hard for me to find the time to think about my situation at the party because I really felt like I didn't belong. It made me start to wonder why it's so hard for me to talk to people about IF and IVF. If I had some other disease or illness, I know people would be concerned. They'd want to know how I was feeling and what kind of treatment I was receiving. No matter what stupid soap operas portray, IVF isn't exactly a quick and painless process. Not only does it involve some pretty complicated medical procedures, it follows months and months of continued disappointments as you try and try only to find yourself at CD1 again. The emotional toll it's taken on me is considerable. I feel an almost compulsive need to tell people what we're going through...but I don't know how. And do I really want them to know? If it doesn't work, I don't want to have to deal with telling them it failed. It's just such a mess right now.

On a positive note, my sister sent me flowers to cheer me up today. Totally unexpected and so needed. I'm going to spend some extra time with my meditations tonight and will hopefully be in a better place tomorrow. I just wish I didn't feel so blindsided and sad.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Two things I've learned

I have a pretty good grasp of the whole IVF process. I'm capable of explaining the details to anyone who asks. But there are two small things I've learned so far even though I'm only a little more than a week into my cycle.

Tylenol sucks. I'm one of those people who rarely take pain medication. In fact, B gets very worried when he sees me taking something. But the one time I rely on medicine comes each month with frustrating regularity. I need Motrin for cramps. Taking Tylenol barely takes the edge off and makes me an unhappy person. Sure, it says you can take it for menstrual cramps. Yeah, right.

Being told to "prevent" is hilarious. We were instructed to either abstain or prevent until after I start injectibles this month. I'll be ovulating before I start the drugs. This has turned into a big joke for some reason. We've been trying so hard for so long that preventing seems strange. My protocol doesn't include BCP's, but now I know how people who do take them for an IVF cycle must feel. I do have to say, though, that it's nice to have someone else in control of everything! And it's also nice that we've been able to laugh about something during this process.

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll learn more along the way.

And in the world of knitting: I finished my first sock and now I have to hurry to finish #2 if I'm going to wear them during retrieval and/or transfer!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Another Update

It's been a long time since my last post. My sister and niece came to visit from California for 10 days and I couldn't find time to write anything. We had so much fun. My BIL joined them for 4 days of the trip and it was great to hang out and do whatever we wanted. I saw them off this morning and am back in my suddenly silent apartment.

I hadn't seen my niece since she was two weeks old. She's almost five months now and I can't believe how much she changed. My sister is an absolutely amazing mom. Of course, having her here was sometimes and emotional challenge, especially when we got together with my pregnant SIL. She and my sister spent most of the time talking about pregnancy, making me feel so lonely. I felt like the rejected member of the club I want more than anything to join. My sister told me later how sorry she was and that was nice. I also know it meant a lot to my SIL to have someone to talk to. It just feels like every family gathering from now on is going to center on pregnancy and children and it just reminds me of what I don't have.

So I crossed the line from "maybe IVF" to "definitely IVF" last Thursday while we were shopping. It was no great surprise because my temps told me that my period was coming. But while we were walking around the mall, it really hit me - we're going forward with IVF. It felt so surreal to be starting the process that we'd been talking about for so long. Instead of "if we do IVF" we're now saying "when". It feels great to me moving forward.

I've called the IVF coordinating nurse to set up my IVF cycle. She made sure I'd completed recent bloodwork and had an HSG. They're going to call me next week to set up my trial transfer and injection instruction appointments. Then I'll start injections two weeks from today. I can't believe this is finally happening!