Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Holiday Craft Exchange

It's our second year participating in the Holiday Craft Exchange organized by the amazing S over at An Offering of Love. Things have been so hectic lately, I all but forgot something would be coming to me as well. This is how I found myself staring, puzzled, at the unfamiliar return address on an envelope that arrived yesterday. I opened it up and discovered these three adorable photo frame ornaments, crafted especially for us by the family at That's A Lot of Esses. I can't wait to fill them with pictures of our THREE children next Christmas! It turns out we have a lot in common with the Esses - both of our families have one (adorable) boy here and twins due this June - so I am grateful not only for the ornaments, but also for being introduced to their wonderful blog. Thanks so much to Leander and his mommies!

Go here to see what other participants received!

P.S. The craft we made for another blogger family is going out in tomorrow's mail. We were thwarted by a supply shortage and it took a couple of days to squeeze in the necessary shopping mission. But, I sealed up the box tonight and it will be on it's way soon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You know you're tired when...

I work in the "penthouse" of my office building (a hilarious term considering people regularly smoke/drink/fight/sleep in our stairwell and there's fresh urine in the elevator at least once a week) and the bottom floor is a dialysis clinic. Every day, I walk in and out past their large picture windows and look in at the rows of turquoise vinyl-covered recliners, each surrounded by a dozen pieces of medical equipment and a 9-inch television monitor on a retractable arm. And every day this week, I have thought "Man, if only I had kidney failure, someone would make me sit in one place with my feet up and my own tv for several hours a day, several days a week. I'd probably even get a blanket with no pet hair on it." True story.

I am in that part of pregnancy where you are so exhausted to the core of your being that you feel like you could sleep for the next 1000 years and still be tired. My body aches from it. M has been awesome, picking up all kinds of slack around the house while I lay useless on the couch, but I still have a full-time job that is an 11 on the stress meter right now, two more weeks of a 3-hour class to teach (including a final assignment to grade 24 copies of), time-sensitive tasks to complete for two separate boards/committees (not that I'm doing any of the things I'm supposed to be doing for either), and a toddler to feed, bathe, clothe and care for. It's a lot, and I'm looking forward to having a few days off.

I have so much more I want to write about, but I have GOT to get some things crossed off my list at work. More over the weekend, I hope. If not, I want to say now how thankful I am for all of my blog friends. Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it. I hope your holiday is warm and joyful!

Friday, November 18, 2011

and... exhale

2 beautiful heartbeats = 1 very relieved mama

I would say two relieved mamas, but M informed me this afternoon that she never doubted for a moment that the babies were fine. Ah, the enviable un-damaged outlook!

One of the babies started the scan by flipping around wildly, then relaxed to a steady stream of punches and kicks. The other was cool as a cucumber the whole time. The NP and I have a difference of opinion about which baby was which (A or B). She's not an ultrasound expert and admitted she couldn't really tell where they were placed in the uterus. I have even less experience reading ultrasounds, but I have seen THESE babies two more times than she has, and I also know that Baby B has been our big acrobat thus far.

Appointments are every two weeks for now. That is a welcome change from the one month wait between reassurances with E! First trimester screen will be in the next 2-3 weeks too, if the MFM can fit me in. The NP was a little concerned that we're calling too late to get an appointment in time, but we'll see. Have to call there in a few minutes and hope something works out.

I feel like I've been holding my breath for the past week and a half and I can finally let it out. So, so grateful to have seen those little hearts beating away. At least for today, our surreal and amazing journey continues.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

quick update

Thank you for all the reassuring comments on my last post. It's amazing how much comfort others' words and experiences can bring.

I felt awful all day yesterday - probably stayed up too late the night before, stressing and blogging - so that relieved some of my worries as well. Next objective is to start enjoying the breaks in The Sick when they come along rather than stressing about the underlying cause of them. I'm afraid that's easier said than done, but I'm gonna give it a go.

Thanks for the doppler feedback, too. I am still on the fence. I think I'm going to try to wait for my appointment on the 18th and see how much trouble my doctor has. If she finds them easily, maybe I'll be able to as well. If she struggles, that might be a rabbit hole I'm better off avoiding. I wish I knew someone locally who had one I could borrow just to try it out, but I can't think of anyone who might. We haven't spilled the news on FB yet, but maybe once we do, I can put out the call. :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back in Crazytown

Nobody will be more relieved than I will when I finally start feeling fetal movement. Well, except M. Oh, and every last person who reads this blog. This post started out in my head with some sort of a logical flow, but it seems to have turned into a disorganized jumble of Crazy, which is probably more fitting to my mood anyway.

My confidence after last week's "perfect" scan lasted a couple of wonderfully blissful days before it started slipping through my fingers. By Friday evening, the fear had wrapped it's ice cold fingers around my heart again. I became sure that one of the babies was gone. Problem is, I'm in the no-mans-land between the RE's office and regular prenatal care, and my first appointment with my OB isn't until 11/18. Nowhere to turn for help. And what would they do for me even if I had someone to call? Neither provider offers daily peace of mind ultrasounds that I'm aware of.

I spent time I didn't have on Saturday and Sunday googling symptoms disappearing around 9 weeks (I know, I know...) and what I found just scared me all the more. Nearly every post I came across where someone mentioned their symptoms going away included the qualifier that they were still ravenously hungry, and that's the one thing that is consistently MIA around these parts. All weekend, I was "normal hungry" at best, and ate primarily because it was time to do so, not because I felt I needed to. This is a far cry from the 5-6 meals a day I desperately required to feel remotely human during weeks 6 through 8. I still feel pregnant most of the time, but I feel pregnant with one instead of two. The first few weeks were so intense and... different... but now I just feel the same as I did with E - kinda hungry, kinda queasy, kinda tired, kinda heartburn-y, and kinda normal sometimes too. Really, all of the symptoms I'm left with could just be from the progesterone. I swear that my belly bump is smaller today. And, after weeks of practically falling asleep at my desk at 2pm, I worked an hour late tonight because M and E were out together. It's 10pm now and I'm still not all that tired.

Also of concern:
  • I have been having really, really strong cramping every night and occasionally during the days as well. Everything I read says not to be alarmed by cramps unless they are accompanied by bleeding, but I have the PIO to keep that from happening. What if the PIO is standing in the way of my body communicating what has happened? 
  • I am under huge, crazy amounts of stress right now. I'm dealing with a personnel nightmare at Job #1 that reduced me to tears today and that isn't going away without further stress and discomfort on my part. I'm also behind on everything else at Job #1 because of all the time and energy I've had to divert to said personnel issue over the past week. I'm about 20 hours behind on grading an assignment for Job #2 that I'm supposed to be returning to students tomorrow (not gonna happen). I can't seem to pick up the critical and time-sensitive balls I've dropped for a committee I chair for E's school (more on this later?) and I have outright abandoned my last two month's worth of responsibilities as Secretary of a community board I sit on. I hate feeling so behind. It stresses my Type A personality way the fuck out. And then I feel bad for being stressed, because that's the last thing I or the babies need right now.
On the flip side:
  • I know that cramping can be normal, especially with twin pregnancies. I remember having cramps with E (earlier though, not this late) where I thought "there is NO WAY a fetus can survive this" and yet he did. My weekend affair with Dr. Google DID reassure me on one thing: The star-spangled, dizzying pains that would seize one side of my uterus for 10-15 seconds at a time were round ligament spasms - totally normal. Interestingly, since finding out what they were and thus being less petrified of them, they seemed to have stopped.
  • I know that stress alone does not kill babies. If it did, we would not need abortion clinics because no unwanted pregnancy could ever survive the amount of stress and anguish its mother experiences while making her decision and pursuing her right to choose. If it did, women would never be able to sustain pregnancies through tragic life events, such as the unexpected loss of a spouse or parent, and yet, women do. I know that babies can hang on through the most seemingly hostile of biochemical environments. I also know that sometimes they do not survive in even the most serene and welcoming ones. Wait, this is supposed to be a positive bullet point.
I am way more anxious at this point of pregnancy than I was with E. I don't know if it's being older and having witnessed more loss since then, feeling more vulnerable with two beating hearts at stake, or something else, but I hope it's a case of double the hormones equaling double the crazy. One can dream, right? One other note of optimism is that I walked into my office's kitchen this morning and the smell of the breakfast someone had prepared there made me gag. The violent reaction both startled and reassured me, but both the feeling and the reassurance were fleeting.

As part of my internet meanderings of the weekend, I trolled various blog rolls to locate every twin pregnancy blog I could find. I figured out how old their children are now and counted backward to find the first trimester section of their archives. I learned that I am in good company. It seems that nearly every twin mom-to-be, at least those who have gone through infertility along the way, experiences one or more periods of being utterly certain it's all over. And yet, in every blog I found, those intuitions turned out to be incorrect. Seeing that helped, and is a big part of why I wanted to write this post even though I'm sure it's annoying to read.

I'm thinking of renting a doppler. I considered one early on in my pregnancy with E but then decided against it after my own OB had a very difficult time locating his heartbeat at one of my appointments. If she couldn't find his heartbeat using her expertise and professional-grade equipment, what hope did I have? I resisted a week at a time and, finally, was able to feel regular movement so it became a moot point. This time around, I feel so anxious and so worried and so sure that something is wrong, I kind of don't see how it could make things worse. I have realistic expectations - I know that I might not always be able to find one or both heartbeats, and that even when I can, it might take a while to do so. I think I could chalk any difficulties up to user and/or machine error and not panic myself further. I could be wrong. But oh.... What if I could find a heartbeat or two? What if it could be that simple to quiet the scary voices in my head? In my weekend tour de blogs, I read at least a hundred dopper pro/con comments as well, including lots of (1) I got one and loved it and here's why or (2) I feel good about my decision not to get one and here's why comments. I even found a comment of my own on tbean's blog - comment category #2, obviously. What I didn't see were any comments of people saying they got one and wished they hadn't. Anyone feel that way and care to share? Or want to offer any recommendations of dopplers they found to be really effective in case I can't resist?

I know that the odds are in my favor. There is a reason seeing the heartbeat is considered a major milestone. Our chances of a miscarriage are low, statistically. But statistics are only so comforting in a high-stakes, all-or-nothing situation like this one. Our chances of miscarriage may be in the single digits, but if we find ourselves on the wrong side of the odds, the heartbreak will be experienced at 100%.

Good grief, this is a mess of a post. My ability to survive the first trimester is seriously in question. If you are still reading, thanks. And also, sorry. I'll be 10 weeks on Friday. Feel free to join in the countdown to the return of my (relative) sanity.

Monday, October 31, 2011

babies' first graduation

Second u/s was this morning. Both babies are doing great! Baby B is ever-so-slightly smaller than Baby A but they both rounded to 8w2d for their official measurements. Heart rates were 174 (A) and 179 (B). The ultrasound tech tried and tried to get a picture of them both together, but she wasn't able to due to their positioning. (Baby A is low and vertical and Baby B is high and horizontal.) We got several good shots of each of them on their own, though. Our RE gushed and gushed over how perfect they both look and sent us off with hugs and pleas to bring the babies in after they are born.

In related news, I feel dehydrated, queasy, hungry, and drop-dead exhausted All.The.Time. I can't believe how much sicker I am this time around. I'm about halfway through Dr. Luke's book (thanks to An Offering of Love for the recommendation!) and I'm doing my best to follow her guidelines about what and how often to eat. That seems to be helping a bit. Other than that, I'm just giving myself hourly pep talks about how likely it is I'll feel better in a month or two and if not, the babies will be here in 7 months so this can't last forever! I'm sorry I've been such a lousy blog commenter lately. I've been reading (usually horizontally, on the couch) but I'm bad about typing comments on my phone keypad. I promise I'm thinking of you all and sending thoughts out to those who need them!

Next step: Making some decisions about prenatal care. I liked the OB that delivered E, but not the hospital where he was born and after marinating on it for the past couple of weeks, I've decided to deliver elsewhere this time around. Unfortunately, my OB only delivers at the hospital where E was born, so I'll have to switch care providers. My RE said that since I had an uncomplicated pregnancy with E, I should go to a regular OB for prenatal care this time as well. Dr. Luke's book is adamant that all twin pregnancies are fundamentally different and should be managed by a perinatologist. Those of you who have carried twins, what type of doctor did you see? What did you like/dislike about your experience?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Talk me down? Please?

First order of business: I apologize in advance for being an annoying, paranoid pregnant lady. You'd think I've never done this before or something. I'd show you my google history from the weekend but then I'd have to kill you. It's that embarassing. But, I'm still here, about to ask for your reassurance and success stories, so... yeah. Sorry.

I have continued to be sicksicksick since the ultrasound. The sick and the shock are the two main reasons I haven't posted since. I haven't known what to say, nor have I had the energy to peel myself off the couch long enough to say it.

Serious TMI alert on this whole paragraph: I became pretty constipated late last week and over the weekend. In the early hours of Saturday morning, I woke up with what felt like contractions - long, sustained cramping in the area of my uterus. Of course, I became completely freaked out. How can two tiny, fragile embryos possibly withstand that much pressure? I poked around online and decided that the pains were probably from gas and constipation. I remained constipated and continued to have a lot of discomfort and bloating through the weekend. Then last night, my intestinal system did a 180 and the constipation gave way to diarrhea. The bad kind. The kind with cramps and tears and the feeling that everything you've eaten in your whole entire life has just been purged from your body. The kind where you think that - surely - anything else in that area, two tiny embryos for example, must have been expelled as well.

This morning, I feel better, and I'm scared half to death over it. My stomach is still queasy, but honestly, it feels more like a nervous stomach than anything else. The bloated, crampy feeling in my pelvic region that I've had since before my BFP is completely gone, which makes sense given the great purge, but is also completely terrifying. I dont have the Must.Eat.Now feeling anymore - haven't been very hungry at all since last night. Most concerning of all, I just have a bad gut feeling. I can't explain it. I just feel like something's wrong. I'm contemplating calling the nurse but I know what she's going to say - hang in there, symptoms come and go, we'll see how things look at your next u/s on 10/31. How am I going to make it through the next week?!

If anyone has stories of fetuses hanging on through episodes of severe abdominal/intestinal distress, please share them. Ditto any stories of all being fine when your gut told you otherwise. I'm beside myself with worry, and I know THAT is as bad for the fetuses as anything else, but I'm having a hard time shaking it.

Sorry again for being so neurotic.

Update: The Sick is back. I haven't taken any Zofran today partly out of fear over what it might do to my fragile intestines and partly in hopes I would start feeling sick again to put my mind at ease. Well, the latter goal has been accomplished, which is both good (obviously) and bad (obviously). :-) Thank you so, so much for all of your comments. I honestly don't know how people get through any of this without a community like this one to turn to. You all rock.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is ours...

...or should I say these.

Both have good uterine placement and are measuring on track. Heart rates were 115 and 119 bpm and we were able to hear them both.

I am in complete shock. I thought twins were a possibility after my early pee sticks but then my beta numbers seemed too low and I settled firmly into my belief it was only one. I have thought all along that if it WAS twins, M would completely freak out and I'd be nervous but excited. It's exactly the opposite. M is cool as a cucumber; very enthusiastic and sending me sweet, reassuring text messages. I am relieved and grateful, of course, but also scared out of my mind. We left with a dozen pictures, a toddler covered in Spiderman stickers, and a prescription for Zofran (Hooray!).

It's been a "double" kind of day around our house: Double ear infection for E, poor guy. He started an antibiotic already so hopefully he'll feel better soon. We should go buy a lottery ticket. Maybe we'll win twice. Heaven knows we could use the money...

Holy crap, you guys. I am going to need so much help from those of you who have done this already!

how very predictable

Well, it's ultrasound day so you know what that means: The stone cold fear has set in. I still feel like complete crap which offers some reassurance, but it doesn't mean there will be a heartbeat.

Bonus: E came back from his trip with a fever which is currently on day 3, so I'm home with him instead of working the half day I'd planned on. Keeping a toddler entertained is way more involved than my regular day job so there's a lot of sitting down to catch my breath and stop my stomach from flip-flopping between the train play and puzzles and the books. I think we're going to venture out to a clinic to make sure his ears are clear. The last time he had a double ear infection, we let it go for over a week because he never gave a single indication of ear pain and it just seemed like he had a cold. Imagine our guilt when we finally got in with his pediatrician and she told us one ear was completely blocked and the other wasn't far behind. She was very surprised he hadn't been crying or pulling on his ears or anything, but said some kids just don't express symptoms like that. It took us three different antibiotics and more than a month to clear them up. So, yeah, trying to learn from past mistakes and get him checked sooner this time.

This also means he has to go to the ultrasound with us, which adds to my nervousness. If it doesn't go well and I get upset, I don't really want him to be around for that. But it is what it is and all we can do is hope for the best.

Three and a half hours and counting...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

sick as a dog

A switch flipped on Friday (6 weeks exactly) and since then, I have been insatiably hungry ALL THE TIME. The problem is that I'm also still queasy and turned off by the idea of food; a bad combination. I drug myself to the store on Saturday and stocked up on a bunch of high-protein, easy-to-prepare foods and I've been trying to eat as much as possible since then. The problem is I'm also ridiculously exhausted, to the point I feel weak from head to toe, and that doesn't help my motivation any. I'm on about a 2-3 hour cycle: Eat something, lay down to rest and end up falling asleep, wake up feeling like I'll die if I don't eat right that very second, but also feeling too weak to get up off the couch and walk the 15 feet to the kitchen where the food is. So, I lay there for a while psyching myself up, and finally roll off the couch to grab a bunch of different snacks, none of which sound or taste good to me. I eat them in rapid succession, then lay back down waiting for the queasiness to subside, and the cycle continues.

Did I mention M and E are out of town? They left Friday afternoon and will be back on Tuesday. I was looking forward to a weekend of lounging around without feeling guilty for slacking off on my parental responsibilities, but as it's turned out, I've been too sick to enjoy a minute of it. It's crappy being home alone when you feel this terrible, and I really miss my people. I feel like a hug from E would go a long way in making all of this more tolerable.

I had things I wanted to accomplish this weekend, too. (Ha! Hahahahahahahahaha!) I was going to make E's Halloween costume. (I managed to cut out the pattern. Oh, and I washed the fabric. It's been sitting in the dryer for the last 36 hours.) I was also going to prepare the 3-hour lecture I'm supposed to give for the first time on Tuesday night. (Still haven't even glanced at it.) I'm off work tomorrow so there's still time, but I'm not feeling optimistic that tomorrow will be any better.

After my second beta, I felt pretty sure we were out of twin territory. Now, I don't know what to think. I know for sure that I never, never felt this awful when I was pregnant with E. My first ultrasound was supposed to be tomorrow but we pushed it to Wednesday when M will be back in town. I do have acupuncture tomorrow morning, which I'm really looking forward to. Hopefully she can get things flowing in a better direction for me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

still pregnant

2nd beta came back at 4451. Doubling time of 52.68 hours. I feel like I need a pinch. Is this really happening?!

I may or may not be back later with a blog carnival post on disappointment. I started one, but... I dunno. It feels a little insensitive to pull my chair up to the disappointment table today.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dispatch from Beta Canyon

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of staying hopeful this week as I wait for my next beta, aided in large part by the mountain of symptoms that do a lot more “coming” and a lot less “going” than the first time I was pregnant. Maybe it’s a girl. They’re supposed to make you sicker, right? ;-) I’ve already made a mad dash for my work bathroom (false alarm) and have been leaning heavily on saltines and ginger ale, at least during the day, because in another change from last time around, my “morning sickness” really does seem to be worse in the morning and early afternoon. Dinners haven’t been bad so far, knock on wood. Also in the “new and different” column, I had a weird thing happen a couple of nights ago where the muscles in my legs went tingly and numb like I’d just run a marathon. It came on like the flip of a light switch. Needless to say, I haven’t run any marathons lately (or, you know, ever) but it was the end of two long (read: normal) days with no naps, unlike the three that preceded them. I went to bed as soon as I got E down and woke up the next morning with my legs feeling exactly the same, as if I hadn’t rested at all. They still feel weak and shaky. Weird. But good, right?

After Sunday, I didn’t test again… until this morning. My symptoms have been reassurance enough and, frankly, I was scared of getting a result that appeared to be any lighter with too many days left to worry before my next beta. Yesterday, I had a few breaks in my symptoms which allowed the fears to creep in* and then last night, I felt exhausted, but still the best I’d felt in a week. This, of course, completely freaked me out. I woke up this morning and gave myself another in-bed pep talk: Even if it is lighter, all is not lost. Hormone and dye levels both fluctuate. The sticks can only tell you so much. And then I headed for the bathroom.

Um, yeah. That's by far the most positive pregnancy test that has ever been under my roof!

*I will admit to writing a post yesterday about how difficult and draining the uncertainty of early pregnancy is. I saved the draft because it’s an honest snapshot of one dip on the rollercoaster, but I’m not going to post it because it feels wrong to put anything other than gratitude out into the universe right now.

Monday, October 3, 2011

September: Purple

This was a tough month for me. Not sure why since purple is one of my favorite colors. Hopefully I will do a better job of October/Orange!

it's official

Beta came back at 488. I know single results don't mean anything on their own, but that seems like a good number for 17dpo so I'm a happy girl. Betabase says it's above median for a singleton and below median for twins, so no help there. :-)

Repeat beta isn't until 10/10. My clinic is so cruel.

Thanks for all of your kind comments over the past week. It's been an exciting one!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

lesson learned

You know I didn't stop testing at 6dp5dt, right? Nope, I tested at 7dpt and 8dpt as well. Between three days of obviously darkening lines and what I then realized were actual symptoms (mostly just a lot of strong cramping and sensitivity to smells, with a little fatigue and flashes of mild nausea thrown in for fun), I did not test on Friday morning (9dpt). I didn't feel like I needed the reassurance and I only had a dol.lar tree test left so it would be hard to compare to my series of FRERs anyway.

On Saturday, I woke up early for an event I felt kind of... good. Better than I had in days. Breasts weren't as sore; no cramps. I decided to use my last test. Beta is Monday, last test was Thursday, let's split the difference, shall we? Surely it would be darker and would scare off all those pesky fears that were trying to creep in.

I'm sure you can guess where this is going.

The test was not darker. It actually looked barely positive at all. Like, I had to hold it at the right angle and squint just right to make out the line. Definitely lighter than the last dol.lar tree test I took on Thursday. And of course, I didn't have another test in the house to get a second opinion.

I tried to tell myself it was clearly a faulty test. I tried to reassure myself that after three strong positives, one almost-negative test couldn't be taken on its own, but I still kept thinking nononononononono, I've been here before and I know what comes next. I can't do this again. I can't. The angel/devil argument kept playing as the cramps and heavy uterus feeling settled back in. It kept playing as my stomach danced, regretting the veggie burrito bowl I put into it for lunch. It kept playing despite my highly-unusual afternoon nap (?!) and echoed still as I crashed on the couch at 9pm. It prompted me to buy another package of FRERs at the store yesterday afternoon.

When I woke up needing to pee at 5am this morning, I laid in bed for a while, trying to convince myself it would be okay if it was negative. I'd be okay. I'd survive. It would be beyond terrible but I'd take a week off work to mourn and regroup. No need to hoard my vacation time for a maternity leave anymore. We'd talk to our RE and come up with a plan. There's no way we could afford another IVF cycle for at least a year, but maybe I could qualify for a study? Surely someone would want to study why my uterus seems to be burning through embryos at such a ridiculous rate. In any case, we'd need to answer that question before we'd consider doing anything with our lone snowbaby. Sounds like a long, scary road. When I finally made it to the bathroom, I dipped the test in the cup and half-watched the liquid spread across the test window with an asteroid in my stomach. Even out of the corner of my eye, I saw the test line begin to darken instantly, well before the control line started to appear. I breathed a sigh of true, deep gratitude as the lines darkened. Three minutes later, the test line was clearly wider and darker than the control.

I'd like to think today's symptoms (more cramping, more mild stomach upset, and holy-hell, the hit-by-a-truck-fatigue has arrived) would have put my mind at ease even without the test, but I doubt it. I had a teacher in high school who's catch phrase was "Engage Brain." He said it to us all the time, as in, think. Don't just believe what you are told. Come to your own conclusions. Three BFPs + symptoms + one fluke test shouldn't have had me jumping to the worst of conclusions, but it did. Fear was more powerful than logic for me yesterday. I'm sure it's not the last time that will happen.

Beta is tomorrow. I'm feeling confident and pregnant. And very tired.

Switching gears for a moment... Three toddlerisms from today that I don't want to forget:

M to E, after putting her ball cap on his head and twisting it to the side: Say "'Sup, Homies"
E: 'Sup, Ponies

E, moving his trains around the track: Here you go, Sweetheart... Come this way, Sweetheart... (Got that one on video, thank goodness.)

Damn it. Already forgot the third one. *sigh* I really miss my brain.

Headed to bed. Will post with a beta number as soon as I have one!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Want to be cautiously optimistic with me?

Sorry the pic is so dark and blurry. I should have tried to get a better one. But, I think you can make out the important part. :-)

Cautious optimism, okay? I am endlessly excited and grateful to have seen two lines this morning, but also nervous to share something that feels so precarious. I know too well what can happen between now and my beta. That said, this morning's line was at least as dark as the "most positive" test I had with my chemical pregnancy, so I'm trying to draw reassurance from that and tune out the rest of the noise.

Please keep growing, little one. I am so happy to know you are here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

confessions of a early testing addict

When I was a kid, I used to get into swimming pools an inch at a time. I’d sit poolside on the hot concrete lip and dip just my toes into the icy water, concentrating on holding my legs steady so that no strip of skin slipped below the surface before I gave it permission to do so. Once my toes had acclimated, I’d drop my knees a bit so that half of each foot was submerged. Once my legs were in as far as they’d go, I’d turn around and lower the rest of my body in at the same slow, deliberate pace. Hips… Waist… Chest… Shoulders… I’d focus on this task and ignore the trembling in my muscles for as long as it took. I had unwavering confidence in my strategy, despite my brother entering the pool via cannonball over my head and my dad’s assurance that, no really, it would be so much easier to just jump in and get it over with.

And so it goes, for me, with testing. I admire those of you who can hold out until 14dpo and take one test, knowing that whatever result you see is the final answer, let alone those of you who wait past 14dpo and go straight to your beta without having peed on a single stick (Cannonballers!!). I am soo not one of you. I need to ease into my BFNs, each day shining a little more light on the answer, like watching a scary movie through slightly-fanned fingers. In all of my 16 previous cycles, I have started testing around 9 or 10 dpo, not because I thought I had a chance of getting a BFP that early, but because I needed to acclimate myself to staring at a BFN. Once I had a couple of “fake” BFNs under my belt, I felt ready to start absorbing the real deal. Each day, the stark BFNs chiseled away at my hope, but left some intact as well. Maybe it’s just too early. Maybe there will be a faint line tomorrow. Probably not, but maybe. By the time I hit 13 and 14dpo and knew that the BFN was real, I had eased myself into it by degrees. I was ready for it; eager, even, if only to stop the parade of pee sticks and uncertainty.

Until this cycle. This cycle brought something surprising and unfamiliar. I have had NO desire to test. More than that, I've been genuinely fearful of it. Don’t get me wrong, it's not because I'd rather dive right in to the deep end. I want nothing to do with it altogether. Like, maybe I can just skip my beta and go on not knowing until I either have a baby in 9 months or not? A test means the end and if the end is bad news, I’m simply not ready for the hard decisions that come next. When M asked me yesterday when I planned to start testing, I told her I didn’t know and that I didn’t even have any tests in the house. This is crazy, people. I used to buy pregnancy tests by the metric ton and look at them every day, counting down the seconds until I could rip one open and pee on it. (Oh, the crazy things I have admitted in this blog!) M was – understandably – surprised and offered to grab some at the store for me. She asked what brand I wanted. I said “I don’t know, whatever is on sale I guess. Actually, no, don’t get any. I don’t know what I want to do yet.” And I went to bed last night knowing that I would wake up on 5dp5dt with nothing to pee on. It felt right last night. Well, right-ish. Most relatively right? OK, let’s be honest: I was really just avoiding the issue as if that would somehow make it go away.

This morning, it didn’t feel right at all. It turns out the only thing more scary to me than testing is NOT testing. I woke up and, within moments, felt pure, unadulterated panic. What had I done? I got my BFP with E at 6dp5dt. That meant that this morning was my last chance to take a pregnancy test with nothing of substance riding on it. From here on out, they count. Scary, scary. I briefly pondered the idea of waiting until my beta, or at least the weekend, now that I’d already missed my preferred entry point.  The mere thought of setting myself up to be at the mercy of a single test, a single three-minute window to prepare myself for an answer of this magnitude, was more terrifying to me than any test result I could have seen this morning. Clearly, I had made a tactical error.

And that is how I ended up going to Dol.lar Tree on my lunch break and squinting at a pregnancy test in the fluorescent lighting of my work bathroom. It was completely and unsurprisingly negative. Aside from being ridiculously early and not FMU, I’m still chugging water by the gallon at my nurse’s insistence, so there’s barely a concentration of urine in my urine at the moment. Still, it felt good to pick up the security blanket of my practice BFNs. I should have known that abandoning the only strategy I've ever used would feel more scary, not less. The days march on. The answer is coming, whether I want it or not (NOT). Better to get it on familiar terms than to start diving headfirst into the pool now.

Oh geez, you guys. I'm so nervous. I just don't know what I'm going to do if this cycle is a bust.

I've had a lot of cramping since 2 days post-transfer, lots of breast tenderness, and a couple other... well, let's just call them oddities. I suspect they can all be chalked up to the combination of PIO and continued recovery from the ovarian stimulation and retrieval. As I said to a friend over email this weekend, I’m just hoping that I happen to be pregnant, too. You know, incidentally to my many "symptoms."

LMaF2: Donor Sperm

I am throwing my hat into the ring for the Love Makes a Family Blog Carnival. This week’s theme is donor sperm. I have written a lot about donor sperm over the years so I figure the best way to do this without beating too many dead horses is to give a recap of our story for anyone who is new to my blog (Hello! Welcome!) and include links to some of those past posts in case there’s any part of our donor dealings you’d like to know more about.

We started out with a KD, my partner’s brother. [more] We did 8 or 9 tries with him before two things happened: (1) We ran into an absurd logistical roadblock [more] and (2) our desire to Get Pregnant Now outweighed our desire to have the bio link to M’s family and we switched to an anonymous donor for two tries. [more] Our selection process that time was uncomplicated. We were using a small bank (Midwest) and the options were quite limited. We read through the bios on all of the available donors and picked the guy we most wanted to be friends with. Easy peasy. Those two BFNs bought us the time we needed to resolve the issues with KD and the peace of mind to know another donor wouldn’t be a “one hit wonder” and we switched back to KD. Our son was conceived using KD’s sperm on try #15, our first IVF. We were also lucky enough to end up with 5 snowbabies after that cycle.

Shortly before we began TTC #2, we learned that KD had taken it upon himself to get a vasectomy several months earlier. [more] I did not take this news well at all and it led to some very dark days months around our house. I felt like the anticipated FET was already scary enough because I was so desperate to avoid another fresh cycle, but now the stakes were raised exponentially. Those five snowbabies were our last chance to have the specific family I’d been dreaming of for so long. Our RE and embryologist were adamant that we thaw all five despite our repeated requests for them to offer us an alternative plan. It’s a good thing we followed their advice too, because only two of the embryos survived the thaw, and neither were in great shape. We transferred both this past January and had a chemical pregnancy.

There is no way for me to capture in words the amount of grief and anger I felt at that time. Even now, I have to consider it indirectly, the way you would look at a solar eclipse or one of those goofy Magic Eye pictures, to avoid the white-hot burn of the emotions. I was sad that I wasn’t pregnant, of course, but mostly, I was grief-stricken/angry/heartbroken/frustrated that we were at the mercy of donors at all; that their decisions and whims – whether or not to donate at all, whether or not to get a vasectomy, whether or not to come in for STD testing – could have such epic consequences for my little family, and there was nothing I could do to shield us from it. The climb out of that hole was a steep one and took time. [more] We eventually decided to move forward with anonymous donor sperm. [more] Right away, we found a new donor we were really excited about and I felt like the stars came back into alignment. [more] Then that donor turned out to be a flake (Bad genes, I’m sure!) and we had to go back to the drawing board. [more] The process of picking yet another donor was much harder. There was no clear winner like before; no “love at first sight” to soothe my superstition into trusting we were on the right path. Instead, there was an abundance of candidates, all of whom were… fine, but nobody that made my heart sing. I couldn’t figure out how to sort through them. [more] Eventually, time ran out and we had to make a choice. [more]  I continued to feel angsty about it for a while. As recently as a few weeks ago, I still didn’t feel settled on our decision. [more] But last week, we transferred two embryos that anonymous donor's sperm helped us to create. It wasn’t until we were sitting in the waiting room on transfer day, watching a UPS carrier haul in the unmistakable tall, rectangular box someone else hoped would be the answer to their prayers, that I turned to M and told her I’d completely forgotten the donor was ever part of our puzzle. Those embryos in a lab down the hall could not have felt any more ours, and the fact that I’d ever worried using an anonymous donor might take something away from that seemed completely absurd.

All of that said, I know I am still harboring some wounds from how our transition back to donor sperm played out. It’s not unlike having E at the end of a terrible labor. Was I happy to have the baby? Yes. More than I can ever say, yes, of course. But it didn’t stop me from grieving the parts of myself I lost along the way. Having him didn’t stop me from wishing I could have a baby and also feel strong and accomplished and in-control. There were important lessons learned along the way and, in time, I know I will come to feel grateful for them. I’m also hoping with every fiber of my being that, 9 months from now, I will be holding a tiny someone who will give the ultimate meaning to every twist, turn and bump along our road.

Next up in the carnival: An Offering of Love

Thursday, September 22, 2011

the lone ranger

We have one snowbaby. I took the call at my desk and was concentrating so hard on keeping my side of the conversation discreet, I didn't ask what stage it was frozen at, but I'm okay not knowing. Hopefully it will become a moot point thanks to a BFP. And yes, I will be sure to update on my adventures in testing as they unfold. :-)  Last time around, we had a bunch of outside-the-computer friends and family we wanted to tell before risking them seeing it online. This time, we've told almost nobody, so you all will be the first to know!

I had a tiny bit of spotting just now - first I've had since the transfer. Just noting it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2w 5d

Here's hoping, anyway!

We transferred one blast and one late-stage compacting embryo at 1pm today. More details about the transfer to come (just 'cause I want them recorded somewhere) but that's the critical information. We should know tomorrow or Friday whether we have any snowbabies. Many of the embryos have already arrested but she said we might get one or two blasts or morulas that are suitable to freeze. Hopefully they won't be needed!

Thanks to everyone who is still reading this blog despite all the crazy that's been seeping into it over the past few days.

Beta is October 3rd. At-home testing to begin in about a week.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hey, did you know that 8 cells is not the minimum standard for Day 3 embryos? It’s actually the precise stage of development they look for. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. Some experts even believe that dividing too quickly (>10 cells on Day 3) is just as much an indicator of poor quality as dividing too slowly. I guess a lot of you did know all of that, but I didn’t. tbean’s comment yesterday inspired me to consult Dr. Google and… Oh. Oops.

I never researched Day 3 embryo quality during my last cycle because when I got the anticipated update call, I clung blindly to the nurse’s reassurance that everything was perfect. “Anything 8 cells or higher is great for this stage,” she said. This led me to understand embryo development as More = Better, without qualification. I used that schema to evaluate my update this time around, and I got myself worked up over something I shouldn’t have.

Here’s the thing: I’m just nervous. So, so nervous. I keep trying to find a measuring stick that will help me prepare for whatever the outcome of this cycle will be, even though I know such a thing doesn’t exist. When I got what I thought was a not-so-great update yesterday, I vomited my nervousness all over my blog before even taking a moment to think about it, let alone research what it actually meant. Rest assured that I’m feeling rather humbled today, and also extremely lucky and grateful to be where we are.

Transfer is tomorrow at 11:30am. Our clinic uses a surgical rotation and the doctor that will be doing the transfer tomorrow is the same one that nestled E into place 3 years ago. That feels like a good sign. I had acupuncture today and she planted three "seeds" in my ear that will remain there until Thursday evening. I'm ready. Let's do this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

serenity now

I just got the call from the hens at the RE's office. All 12 embryos are doing their thing to some extent. Here's what we have:
  • 2 4-cell
  • 1 5-cell
  • 2 6-cell
  • 3 7-cell, and
  • 4 8-cell
They are dividing slower than last time. So, that's a bummer. On the flip side, we still have 12 embryos, so feeling lucky about that.

My main goal right now is to keep myself centered in the belief that anything is possible. Every little bit of news that comes in tries to lure me into the dreaded all-or-nothing thinking...
  • Stimming doesn't seem to be going as well as it did last time. It's not going to work!
  • My BFF In Loco Parentis contributes the single most important ingredient to our BFP cocktail. It's going to work! (P.S. Thanks for the toddler!)
  • The nurse tells M we only had 11 eggs retrieved. It's not going to work!
  • Fert report comes in confirming 19 eggs retrieved and 12 embryos. It's going to work!
  • Embryo update pales in comparison to where we were last time around; many are lagging behind where they want to see them. It's not going to work!
I'm doing an okay job of staying open and hopeful, but it's hard, and of course there is room for improvement. To that end, anyone who wants to tell me success stories about sluggish embryos is kindly requested to pull up a chair. Also, if anyone can remind me when I'm supposed to start eating pineapple, that'd be awesome too. ;-)

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Fert report is in and it's very, very good.

20 eggs retrieved. 19 mature. 12 fertilized (4/9 ICSI, 8/10 conventional).

As you know, they'd only found 11 eggs by the time we left yesterday. I made the nurse double-check that she hadn't switched my chart with someone else's because the news seemed to good to be true. She pulled my records up in the computer to verify there hadn't been a transcription error and reported that I "can be happy all day."

That is only one less embryo than we had last time. Un-freaking-believable.

We made an eleventh-hour decision to do partial ICSI (like, in my cap and booties three minutes before the retrieval) as an insurance policy against the "no reported pregnancies" concern. Not only did we not need it but, apparently, it hurt rather than helped us. Oh well, there's no way to have known that in advance and with 12 embryos dividing in a lab across town, I am nowhere near complaining.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I'm still really groggy and drifting in and out (mostly out) of consciousness on the couch, but the doctor thinks she got 11 eggs. We'll know more tomorrow when the fert report comes in.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friday Follies

Triggering at 9:30pm tonight for a Friday morning retrieval.

Nurse said my E2 is "just under 4000" and I actually had 19 measurable follicles this morning, but many are still immature. She cautioned me that we might only end up with 5-6 eggs to work with. I hope that is a conservative estimate, but of course we'll be grateful for anything we get.

Fear and hope. Hand in glove. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.

The Part That Is Easier & The Road Taken

I've been working on two different posts during stolen minutes over the past few days. They are related, but not seamlessly, so my preference would be to post them individually. That said, I'm starting to worry that I'll never get around to finishing and publishing them separately between all of the cycle updates, so here they are. Together. Mind the gap.

I wrote this post a while ago about the parts of TTC#2 that felt harder than TTC #1. I was hurting and venting and it was completely one-sided. There are things that suck about TTC#2 that are different from what we went through last time, but there are also things that are better. One big one in particular: Elliot. No matter what happens with this cycle, I am already a parent. The "worst case scenario" is that we stay a family of three, not that we might have to re-imagine our future without a child in it. Knowing that is luxury I didn't have the first time around; a luxury my friends currently battling primary infertility do not have. It is true that the longing to not have an only child has a familiar fire to it, but it's not the same. The fundamental cross-over is really from child-free to parent, isn't it? Everything after that is important, yes, but it doesn't redefine everything from your morning routine to your overall identity the way becoming a parent for the first time does. I feel like a jerk for bemoaning the growing age gap and the omnipresence of babies and bellies everywhere we go without acknowledging the privilege contained therein. Sorry about that. I was in the quicksand at the time. Having stood on both sides of the fence, I can officially confirm that there's a whole lot of brown (and green) grass everywhere.

Another edge secondary infertility has over primary is that your life is a 3-ring circus and it is virtually impossible to obsess too much over the details of your treatment cycles. (To a fault, at times.) Time flies by, and your cycle rolls along with it. Here's hoping the 2ww passes as quickly as the last month has.

Choppy segue to more good stuff...

As I mentioned a few days ago, my FET cycle buddy gave birth to healthy twins last week. (And holy crap are they adorable.) It's hard to have such a tangible reminder of where we desperately wanted to be right now. They are the Road Not Taken. The only thing that makes seeing their beautiful faces bearable is that I guenuinely feel good about where we are instead. Back in February, I wrote this post including all of the silver linings to not being pregnant following the FET. Among them:
  • Fulfilling Maid of Honor duties for my out-of-town friend in April. Check. It was really fun, and really exhausting, and that was without any hit-by-a-truck pregnancy fatigue. If I were pregnant, there's no way I could have participated to the extent I did, if at all. Sharing in her wedding was so special and I'm not just being trite in saying I will treasure my memories of it for the rest of my life. The champagne was good, too.
  • Trip to England in June. Check. I had more than one bout of feeling cranky and disenfranchised leading up to this trip, but I knew that once we were there, it would feel worth every sacrifice, and it did. I met members of M's extended family for the first time (after 10+ years as a couple) and watched them play with and love on our son. We spent 4 days cruising up and down a canal - hiking mile upon mile during the day and drinking pint upon pint at night. We met the lovely Vee and Jay and marveled as our Transatlantic Twins took Legoland by storm - these two amazing beings we all spent years fearing we'd never conceive. I took over 1000 pictures (so basically a flip book) and every time I look at them, I feel deeply lucky that we were able to take this vacation when we did. Who knows when we will have the opportunity to go again and who of M's family elders will still be around to receive us?
  • Lose 10-15 pounds. Check. 14.4 pounds, to be exact, and at least a full pant size. This has come in extremely handy as my midsection expands to epic proportions in response to the stims. Both yesterday and today, I gingerly zipped myself into pants that haven't seen the light of day in months. Aside from the logistics of not having to go to work naked, it feels good to be hopefully launching a pregnancy from a healthier starting point. 
In addition to those items I laid out months ago, we've done other things that make the timing of all of this feel like it worked out for the better:
  • I was in a musical. Not just any musical - a challenging, rave-reviewed, all-out party of a show (See loss of 14.4 pounds above.) So much fun. So many memories. So, so glad I was able to do it.
  • We took E to Disneyland. It was one of the best vacations I've ever been on. Seriously. E (aka Evil Knievel) loved every second of it, and it's true what they say about everything seeming new and exciting through a child's eyes. Oh, and I was able to ride roller coasters to my heart's content. (Do NOT miss California Screamin' at the California Adventure park. Amazing.)
I have a good life and a great family. Things don't always (okay, almost never) seem to go as I plan them, but it all works out in the end. I'm hoping to the moon and back that my wishes for a successful cycle, a BFP, and a healthy pregancy will be granted. Of course I am. We've invested unfathomable amounts of money and effort and hope in this cycle. But we'll be okay, no matter what happens.

My reasons for spewing rainbows into the blogosphere this morning are two-fold: (1) I really wanted to get all of this down "on paper" before my retrieval. I'm worried that if things don't go well at any stage, I'm going to lose sight of some of this, and I want it documented to come back to. (2) I am a hot mess this morning and feel the need to off-set it a bit. It's gray and rainy, I look and feel like crap, I have purple and green bruises on both arms, I could pass for 5 months pregnant with all the bloating, and I woke up with a raging case of Pink Eye. Oh yes, I did. My doctor is calling in a prescription for the last item on that list so hopefully I can pick it up on my lunch hour. Still 18 follicles on ultrasound and they were bigger this morning, but barely. Now I'm nervous they're going to make me wait one more day which means more expensive meds to order and more waddling to do. I'm fine with whatever they think will give us the best chances of success, but I also wouldn't complain if they said I could be done sooner than later. :-)  More news as soon as I have it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I can't think of a play on the number 18.

But that's how many measurable follicles I had this morning. Most are in the 15-16mm range or smaller, but there was one 18mm one in the mix. All newly-measured follicles are on my right side - left side tally remains at 4. Guess my left ovary is officially phoning this one in. No trigger shot tonight (yay!) and back tomorrow for another scan/stick. The nurse said she thinks that should be the last one. She didn't mention my E2 number and I didn't think to ask for it until after I hung up. I'm still queasy and tired, and this afternoon, I finally started feeling like my ovaries were reaching a respectable level of discomfort, so more reassurance that things are progressing. And that's the scoop for today!

Thanks so much for all of the support and cheerleading. It really means a lot to me. :-)

Monday, September 12, 2011


Today's update is in at last. E2 is 1799 and I'm up to 14 measurable follicles - 4 on the left and 10 on the right. 4 of them are still very small (10-11mm) but the rest are between 13 and 16. I had acupuncture during my lunch hour and she must have really stirred up my hormones because I feel lousy - really queasy and achy. That's a good thing though... right? Next stick/scan is tomorrow.

The nurse said there is still the possibility of a Thursday retrieval but it seems more likely it will be this Friday, which is GREAT news. M and I both have work responsibilities that make Friday (and the resulting Monday or Wednesday transfer) easier to accomodate than Thursday. We'll make it work whenever it falls, of course, but perhaps we'll be lucky enough to avoid the hurdles altogether.

I know 10 good-sized follicles are worthy of celebration, but it's hard not to compare this cycle to last time and feel disappointed in my lesser response. So, I'm adding a line to my mantra...

The odds are on our side.
This worked for us last time.
No reason not to hope for the best.
It only takes one.

Moving on... M and I are having an honest-to-goodness date night tonight! I can't remember the last time we had one. First we are cashing in a Groupon at a non-child-friendly restaurant (with wine! and award-winning desserts!) and then we're going to see the last Harry Potter movie. We've been aggressively searching for an opportunity to see it together since it was released and now, almost exactly two months later, we're doin' it! I'm super excited. I think this is exactly what we need to fortify ourselves for what is sure to be a week of emotional and physical intensity.

And on that note, I am over and out!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lucky 7

An 8am monitoring appointment on a Saturday with a side of extended vein fishing is cruel and unusual punishment. But hey, they don't give IVF stripes out for free, right? E2 came back at 736 and, after 7 days of stimming, I have 7 measurable follicles (5 on the right, 2 on the left) with another 24 that were less than 10mm. It's not as good a response as I was having last time at this point in the cycle, but apples and oranges and all of that and it only takes one so... yeah. Things are good. All meds stay the same. Next scan/stick is Monday morning.

I wrote a big long post about a story I wanted to share, but once I got it all written out, I lost the nerve to publish it. The abridged version is that due to a bizarre constellation of circumstances, something really cool unfolded for us over the past couple of days and has me feeling really lucky, and humbled, and like even the big ol' universe is pulling for us a bit on this one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

egg on my face

I just talked to the nurse and I messed up my meds last night.

I was admittedly distracted when the call came in yesterday afternoon with my new doses, so that was the first strike. Then, it was not my normal nurse (who is very conscientious about explaining things slowly and checking for understanding along the way) and I got totally confused listening to her instructions on how to reconstitute the Menopur. I realized about 1/3 of the way in that I had no idea what she was talking about - she pretty much lost me at "Q-Cap." I told the nurse I wasn't following but knew there were videos on my pharmacy's website that I could watch. She said the videos are good but cautioned me to only use half a mL of diluent instead of the full mL shown. End of call. I wasn't overly stressed about it, but I did leave work early so I could look over all of the injection supplies while watching the video before my class to make SURE I had no questions.

The problem is that I was thinking of Menopur as a fixed dose med, like a trigger shot - one vial of diluent, one vial of powder and voila! I thought my only concern was how to mix it, not how much to mix. My stomach dropped when I watched the video and learned that you can dilute up to six vials of Menopur in a single mL of diluent because, you know, some people are supposed to use several at a time. Oh, shit. I had this very vague memory of the nurse saying something that might have been "and then you inject all of the liquid into the other vial," but I was so confused by that point I hadn't really absorbed it. What was it she said? What was it she said?! I picked up the phone and called the clinic immediately but it was just past 4pm and all of the phones were already set to nights. I called every number I had for various clinic staff - all straight to the main recording with no inbox to leave a message. My question didn't seem worthy of calling the exchange and I knew they probably wouldn't have access to my chart anyway. I did a quick Google search to see if I could tease out a "most common" initial Menopur dose - no dice. All I learned was that there is waaaaay more variety in people's IVF drug protocols than I ever imagined. I could not for the life of me (and still don't) recall the nurse ever articulating a numeric dose for the Menopur, but it's entirely possible she said it and I missed it. I eventually settled on using one vial with the rationale that it seemed like a more easily-corrected error to under-stim than to over-stim.

I was supposed to do two vials.

The nurse is checking with the doctor on whether it's worth it for me to run home and inject a second vial now or just let it go and start the full dose tonight. I know this is not a big deal - the worst case scenario is that I stim for an extra day. I just really hate making mistakes, especially those that could have been easily avoided with a little more preparation on my part.

The backdrop as all of this plays out? My officemates' loud and lengthy debate about who is most likely to be pregnant next. *sigh*

Update: The nurse called back. No catch-up shot today, just start the 150 tonight.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's new?

Oh my, this post is going to be a complete hodge podge. Brace yourselves.

First up: What a difference three years makes. Stim day 4 E2 was 70 this morning. 3+ years ago it was 83. Nurse says 70 is a fine number. I find it interesting (yup, just interesting, not scary or dismal or foreboding or...) to see the difference my age has made on my response to the stims. Apparently there is some truth to that whole business about your fertility decreasing over time. Who knew? I started Menopur tonight which means the pharmaceutical road has diverged and I can no longer compare my monitoring results to my last cycle. Probably for the better.

Next up: What a difference 8 months makes. My local FET buddy delivered healthy twins today at 35w2d. I am happy to report that I did not fall apart as I predicted I would. There was special weight to seeing their pictures on FB this afternoon, but it didn't linger. I am grateful for all of the adventures we filled our break time with. It has certainly made it easier to make peace with being so far behind where I once wanted so desperately to be.

Sperm has been ordered. Delivery should take place on Friday.

I teach a class on Tuesday nights from 5:30-8:30pm. I'm supposed to do my injections between 6-7pm. As you may recall, tonight was the first night for Menopur. Here's a vignette for the baby book: Running upstairs to a secluded bathroom during our 7pm break, frantically reconstituting Menopur, prepping Lupron and Follistim injections, then administering the trifecta, all the while watching the time on my phone like I'm trying to meet some Olympic qualifying time. I'm adding it to the list of bizarre places I've shot up during this cycle. Already on the list: Multiple Disneyland/California Adventure restrooms, the main cabin of an airplane just after take-off, a city park restroom (grossgrossgross), and between rounds of a Bocce Ball tournament M and I played in over the weekend.

My parents are coming into town in a few days. They are going to take E on a mini-vacation while I recover from the retrieval. I'm a little anxious about the couple of days away from him, but if my recovery goes anything like it did last time, I know it will be better for everyone if he's off having fun somewhere else. If we're going through all of the angst of the separation, I wish we were at least getting some kind of a romantic getaway out of it (instead of the ultra-glam couch moaning I expect to be doing) but I guess a shot at expanding our family will have to do. ;-)

E is so freaking amazing and wonderful and adorable right now. His development deserves a post unto itself. In lieu of that (later? maybe?), I will tell you that his music of choice right now is the Jurassic Park soundtrack (in which he does a pretty darn good job of identifying the various instruments, for a 2 year old) and Peter and the Wolf. We've had more than one driveway tantrum brought on by our request that he come inside the house to play and he instead insists on staying in the car to "listen to the cellos." Hilarious. He's all about negotiating doing this or that for "a little bit" or "five minutes" and he says things are "just fine" all the time. A couple of days ago, he started exclaiming "Oh, wow!" in response to things. We have no idea where this came from. Tonight while he was in the bathtub, we played I Spy with different colored things, and in addition to finding things when I suggested a color, he would tell me the colors of things to look for as well. The best new development of all? When we tell him we love him, he will sometimes say "I love you too" in this very genuine, non-reflexive way, and it sounds like he truly understands and means what he says. Those moments alone make all of this IVF nonsense seem worth it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

imaginary crisis averted

Thanks for your thoughtful comments and encouragement on my last post. I couldn't get an audience with my RE (that place is like Fort Knox sometimes) but I talked to the nurse who confirmed what we all thought: After all of the pre-screening the donors go through, the only variable left that might make someone a relatively better or worse donor is sperm count, and that is a moot point for IVF. So, we're going for it. And I feel good about it, thanks in large part to all of you.

Stims were pushed back a day to keep my first blood draw off their holiday workload, so we'll start tonight. I'm ready to get this show on the road!

August: Green

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Excuse me ma'am, your neuroses are showing.

So we picked a donor (see below) and I was feeling good about it. But then I didn't place our order. A day passed... Another day passed... And then a couple more. On Monday, our IVF nurse called to see what was up with our sperm order. I waited until Tuesday to call her back and told her I would place our order on Wednesday, even though I could have easily done it right then. I kept the cryobank page pulled up on my work computer all day yesterday but never pulled the trigger. I second-guessed every last thing about our donor choice, but I knew all along those "concerns" were just place-holders for the real issue: I still have hang-ups about our switch to anonymous donor sperm. It was mitigated with The Beatle by having found our perfect, sent-from-above donor. But without that golden parachute, it turns out I'm still angry and sad and, frankly, in denial that we really have to go this route. The timing for this is poor. I start stims tomorrow. We don't have time for me to freak out about using a sperm bank.

The "do as I say, not as I do" lesson is this: Be sure to finalize all donor decisions and orders prior to shooting up large volumes of hormones as you will not be able to think rationally about anything and will instead be reduced to a jumble of tears and emotions when asked to complete simple tasks.

M and I had a good discussion about all of this last night. How she puts up with me I will never know, but I sure am lucky. She gave me the pep talk I needed, reminding me of all of the reasons we have made the decisions we have made up to this point. And I felt good about it again.

This morning, I pulled up the cryobank page, put a vial into my cart and proceeded to check-out. I went back to review his profile one more time... oh yes I did, because I am THAT dysfunctional... and there is just this one fly in the ointment I can't get past. It's the one concern I think might actually be real and not just me setting up false barriers. He has no reported pregnancies.

Here are the facts:
  • I did some internet research on whether or not this should be a concern. The consensus is NO. (Possible dissenting opinion may be found here.) Any factors that might inhibit fertility from the male end are ostensibly screened out before a donor is released in the first place. There are many factors that play into whether a donor has reported pregnancies or not and, at best, this data point is a reflection of how long the donor has been active in the program, but even that has multiple limitations. And hey, KD had no reported pregnancies and 14 failed inseminations on his resume before he worked for us during our IVF cycle. Just sayin'...
  • I called the bank and he has been active since January of 2011, so only 8 months. The stuff I found online said it often takes around a year for a donor to show reported pregnancies. The bank was adamant that they do not consider his lack of reported pregnancies to be of any concern at this point. But really, what else are they going to say?
  • I looked at the 40 donors listed on either side of him numerically, so presumably, the 40 donors who became available immediately before and after him. Of the 40 that became available later, just over half still do not have any reported pregnancies. Of the 40 that became available just before him, only two (gulp, two) do not have reported pregnancies yet.
  • On one hand, I think that doing IVF makes this less of a concern because even if his swimmers aren't peak performers, IVF should make that a moot point, right? (I have a call in to the RE to discuss this.) On the other hand, this isn't IUIs where the stakes are relatively lower and we can switch after a month or two if we want. We get one shot. If none of the eggs fertilize, that's it. We're looking at another whole cycle (and another whole $12,000) if we want to try again. This cycle has already been rough on me physically. It's so much harder going through it with a toddler in the house. I can't imagine having to turn around and do it all over again, not that we could afford to anyway.
  • I have pored over the other options and I really want to stick with this guy unless we have good reason not to.
So... What would you do?

The Breakthrough

Finally getting back to this...

So we had these two guys. Let’s call them Dr. Doolittle and The Boy Next Door. We liked them both equally, which is to say they were the best of the profiles we reviewed. I wanted one of them to reach out and grab me the way The Beatle had, but the longer I stared at the profiles, the more certain I became that we would have to use actual decision-making to choose one of them. But how? How do you weigh the relative values of this quality or that trait?

These were the criteria we used to narrow it down to Dr. Doolittle and The Boy Next Door, roughly in order of importance to us, and how they both rate in each category:
  1. ID Release: This has been non-negotiable for me since Bleu suggested it in a comment on this post. Both of these donors made the cut.
  2. Physical resemblance to M’s family: They both have it. Kind of. Neither are the ringer The Beatle was, but their features are fairly neutral and neither have noses or brows or chins that look dramatically different from M's family. The Boy Next Door might have a slightly greater resemblance to KD, and therefore E, but Dr. Doolittle looks a bit more like M, which presents an interesting option.
  3. British heritage: M’s family is deeply English in appearance, speech and mannerism. The Beatle was 100% English as well. Neither of the new donors are. Dr. Doolittle has some English in the mix, along with 3 or 4 other things, and The Boy Next Door is Irish and Welsh so, close but no cigar. At one point, this felt important to me. I wanted our kids to have the same answer to the “What are we?” question, as I remember going through a phase where my own cultural heritage felt very salient. I’m over it, though. I’m down with understanding culture experientially rather than biologically and in that respect, our next child will be 50% English, just as E is, no matter what his or her donor’s nationality was.
  4. Artistic: Both M and I are. Both of our families are. It feels important to us. The Beatle was. Neither Dr. Doolittle or The Boy Next Door claim any artistic ability. This criterion lost out to others when we couldn’t find a (second) perfect match, but I still feel a little unsettled about that.
  5. Intelligent: Huh, how to justify this one without sounding like a first-rate narcissist? M and I both come from smart-ish families (if not humble ones, ha ha!) and E is a smart little cookie. If we were starting from scratch, I'd prioritize kindness or creativity over intelligence any day, but we want to conceive a child that will fit in well with E and be able to hold his or her own in the inevitable sibling scuffles. We aren't looking for a rocket scientist, just someone of at least average intelligence. Both donors seem to meet this criteria. Assessing this is a total guess anyway. Sure there are test scores and GPAs and fields of study and interview responses, but how much of that is nurture, socialization and access to resources? Quite a bit, I'm guessing.
  6. Laid-back temperament: M has this. I do not. E does not. It seemed like it might be a good idea to balance our family out a bit rather than add another strong-willed cook to the kitchen. Both donors seem to have this, Dr. Doolittle more so than The Boy Next Door.
  7. No major health issues: This goes without saying, but to be honest, we weren't all that hung up on it. We kind of figured that anyone who would make the cut to be in a donor program would have a cleaner family medical history than either of us. Aside from one donor who got the ax for too many cancers on too many branches of his family tree, we didn't put too much weight into this category.
M was leaning toward Dr. Doolittle and, looking at the list above, I agree that he seems to have a slight edge. The clincher for M was the clip of his audio interview in which he managed to come off sounding smart, funny, easy-going, compassionate, and all-around amazing… all in a 30-second answer to a single question! But for some reason, I couldn’t get on board. It wasn’t because I wanted The Boy Next Door. I just couldn’t choose either one over the other.

The Breakthrough came when I read through each profile in great detail and tried to distill their most attractive qualities down to a 1-2 sentence summary. What I came up with was that I liked The Boy Next Door because he seemed like M’s people – smart, thoughtful, soft-spoken, laid-back – and he is studying the same subject both M and KD have made careers in. There is nothing particularly flashy or attractive about his profile. He’s just a good, solid candidate. I liked Dr. Doolittle because, well, he kind of seems like the perfect guy. Even the person recording his "staff impressions" clearly had a crush on him (no joke). He has cool interests and a cool field of study and cool belief systems and just seemed like the kind of genes you’d like to recruit into your family. But then I realized that a big part of what made Dr. Doolittle so attractive to me was his Other-ness; the novelty of his Philosophy major (we don't have any of those anywhere on our family trees) and the Mr. Cool voice in his audio recording (like all the popular kids I was too Type A to hang out with in high school and college). The opportunity to literally purchase qualities I admire in others was a seductive one. That said, if we are sincere about our efforts to conceive the child that is most genetically pre-disposed to blend in with our families and the child we already have, The Boy Next Door is the obvious choice. I shared these thoughts with M who agreed, and thus the decision was made.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In one of the stars, I shall be living.

We’re back from a wonderful visit to Disneyland. I was worried E might be too young to get much out of it but that wasn’t the case at all. He loved every minute of it and I’m really glad we took him when we did.

I very purposefully unplugged for the duration of our trip. I checked email once a day, and stayed off FB and blogs altogether, with two exceptions: I logged on each night to check on an outside-the-computer friend who had a c-section scheduled for Monday morning (her daughter couldn’t wait and was born eight hours prior to the appointment – 9lbs. 15oz. and 22.5 inches long, a week before her due date!) and both Laurie and Heather’s FB pages for updates on their boys. I can tell you that there is nothing to jar you out of the Happiest Place on Earth like the news that two friends have endured the greatest loss imaginable. Reading of Parker’s passing rocked me to my core and I haven’t stopped thinking of them since. I know so many of you are in the same place. I’ve been particularly focused on channeling all of the positive energy I can muster to Zachary in hopes that he gets stronger by the minute and can join his family at home soon.

I have more of my own stuff to write about, but I don’t want to muddy this post with talk of lupron, sperm shopping and the like.

Rest in peace, dear Parker. You touched so many people in your short time on Earth and we will support your mothers in their grief for as long as they need it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

odds and ends

1. Lupron injections use tiny syringes. I had forgotten how easy and painless they were. Quite a change after the PIO I shot up most recently. One shot down, eleventy billion to go.

2. Two nights ago, E said he wanted a new baby. M asked if he wanted a brother or a sister and he chose sister. It was the first time he's said anything like that to either of us. We, of course, haven't discussed anything related to IVF or potential siblings in front of him. I would be knocked over by his superhuman display of perception except that I'm 99% sure this was brought on by the fact one of his best school buds is expecting a little sister in the next couple of weeks. I'm certain they've all been talking about it a lot. So yeah, it's totally a coincidence, but the timing of his declaration is not lost on me.

3. We're headed to Disneyland on Friday. The fact that we haven't let E watch anything but the odd Thomas episode here and there has made the Disney characters complete strangers to him. We've had him in boot camp for the last couple of weeks, watching youtube clips of Disney movies (hence his recent crush on Belle) and listening to the music for The Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, and so forth. I think he's ready. ;-)  The last time we went to Disney (World, that time) was right before our last IVF cycle. Hopefully it will bring us good luck this time, too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ready or not

Hey, look what I get to delve into tomorrow.

Last time we did this, I felt giddy on Pincushion Eve; like things were finally going to start happening for us. Tonight I feel a little excited, a little detached, and scared out of my ever loving mind that it isn't going to work. I think I'm still rattled from the chemical pregnancy, and I'm really, really scared that we're going to pour all of this money and time and emotion into this cycle come up empty-handed again. Just trying to take deep breaths and focus on the positive.

The odds are on our side. 
This worked for us last time. 
No reason not to hope for the best.

Friday, August 19, 2011

donor daze

I think we have a new donor picked out. I realize few if any of you care about all of the angst it took to get us here, having experienced similar angst yourselves so hey, stop your unoriginal whining already K, but some day I'll forget about all of the drama we went through (or so I'm told) so I'm preserving it here for all eternity. Or until the internet implodes. Whichever comes first.

I've been pouting and head-in-the-sand-ing and generally wasting time when it comes to picking a new donor, hoping we'd get a magical call from Xy.tex that would sound something like this: "We're sorry, we know we told you your chosen donor hadn't been in for his STD screening yet and then we'd still have to wait three weeks after he showed up before we'd be able to lift his quarantine but you know what? He stopped by this morning and he just looked so darn virile and healthy, we decided it would be crime not to expedite his lab results so we have them back already and he's clean as a whistle. We started calling his waiting list this afternoon and, wouldn't you know it? All five people ahead of you answered their phones on the first ring and deferred their claim to his vials which means they're all sitting right here with your name on them and I'll ship one out first thing tomorrrow morning."

The call didn't come. Shocker.

Over the weekend, the sound of the ticking clock in my head began to drown out all rational thought so we started poring over every last detail the cryobanks would give us for free. We made a list of seven or eight donors between Xy.tex, Fai.rfax and C.CB that we wanted to take on a second date.

On Monday, I talked to the nurse at my RE's office and she said it was time to call the donor sperm coordinator to get our vials ordered. Crap. I published a blog post looking for people who had already paid for unlimited access to donor information on one of these sites in hopes I could pay one of them to slip me some classified intel. Unfortunately, my blog doesn't know anyone with the necessary security clearance. Late that night, we caved and purchased the "a la carte" baby pictures for four donors at Fa.irfax as well as an unlimited membership to CC.B so we could check out three donors there. The information gathered helped us narrow the pool down to two favorites - one at C.CB and one at Fai.rfax. Then we got stuck.

On Tuesday, I was perusing C.CB donor profiles at work (shh, don't tell) and found a third candidate that I felt rivaled the two we already had on the medal podium. I showed him to M that night and she agreed. After much deliberation, we took the first C.CB donor out of the running leaving Fair.fax and C.CB2 in the race. Stuck again.

On Wednesday, I wrote an email to a friend explaining how annoying sperm shopping is and how we went from zero donors to two donors and I didn't have any confidence that we'd get it back down to one any time soon, and I wasn't sure how much longer I could blatantly disregard the nurse's instruction to get our sh*t together before they'd hunt me down. Right after I hit send, I printed out every last bit of profile information we can access on C.CB2 and Fa.irfax, read through it all once, and had The Breakthrough. I went home that night and pitched it to M who agreed and thus, the decision was made to go with C.CB2 (who is already hurting for a new blog name).

On Thursday, we sat with the decision. It held up nicely. There was a bit of a hiccup when I noticed (for the first time, because I'm totally perceptive like that) that the lovely CC.B2 has no reported pregnancies yet. Oh, for the love... Then I went and looked at all the other donors around his same number. Less than half (maybe even less than a quarter) have reported pregnancies. I think he's just too new to the program for that to be a meaningful data point. Plus, we're probably doing ICSI (because, you know, it costs more so why not?) on at least half the embryos which is kind of What They Do for less than optimal sperm, so we should be covered even if there is an issue. I'd be more worried if we were doing ICIs, which... bwahahahahahahahahahaha.

Today, I finally placed the call to the donor sperm coordinator and she told me - you knew that couldn't be the end of the story, right? - that we have until the day before our retrieval to get the sperm there. What? That's, like, 10+ days more than I thought we had. Not long enough to make any real difference, but I didn't let that stop me from trying. I emailed Xy.tex to see if maybe, just maybe, The Beatle had shown up for his STD screening and they'd be releasing vials prior to our new deadline. Turns out The Beatle is a flake (bad genes, I'm certain of it) and still hasn't even shown up. She actually went so far as to say she doesn't think he;s going to come in at all, which means those vials are as good as incinerated. So that's that.  CC.B2 it is, and I'm mostly good with that; good as I can be with an anonymous non-Beatle, I guess.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in which I over-process The Breakthrough.

Monday, August 15, 2011

indecent proposal

Does anyone have an active  s p e r m   b a n k  subscription (particularly to one beginning with X, F, C or N) and an entrepreneurial spirit? If so, shoot me an email at romancingthestork [at] gmail. I have a proposition for you. ;-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

tickled pink

Thanks for being pissed off with me yesterday. Today, I’ve downgraded my dissatisfaction to “ugh, whatever” but of course I still wish things were different. I went home last night and reviewed the profiles/photos of other donors that I’d downloaded back when our membership was about to expire. You know, just in case. Ha ha. I picked out my distant second- and third-place options to run by M, and also did some poking around on other banks’ websites to see how much it would set us back to look at some more donor pictures. Today I checked the Xy.tex website and would you believe it? My second-choice donor is sold out, too! Awesome!! I got on his pending list which is such a joke because we need to order sperm in the next 2-3 weeks, but whatever. I also got another email from the Xy.tex rep and she sounds really hopeful that something may still work out with The Beatle, despite the timeframe I gave her and the pending list placement she gave me. I don’t know whether to be grateful or annoyed about this. I’m leaning toward grateful for her good intentions but realistic about the (non-existent) chance that she’s on to something.

Last night was rough. Every time I looked at E, I got sad all over again that we’ll never get another shot to roll the same dice that brought him to us. Here we have this amazing kid who is smart and feisty and funny and cute as a freaking button, and I just want him all over again, or at least as close as the genetic lottery will allow. That option has been off the table for ages, and yet somehow it’s like the loss of it happened yesterday. It’s so bizarre how old wounds can get re-opened by new twists and turns. I also can’t stop re-hashing the opportunity we missed back in February when The Beatle had units available. If we’d been told at the time how this would actually go – nothing available until a final release in August/September – I’m 100% sure we would have bought then, but that’s not the message we were given. Nothing to do now except try to get the track to stop playing in my head. To that end, here’s a funny story about that perfect kid to reinforce why I should spend less time whining and more time counting my blessings.

I was tied up with a project all weekend and in my absence, M and E went aquarium shopping. They came home with a 10 gallon tank kit and had it set up by the time I got home on Sunday. We talked about how E would get to pick out a fish and name it and it could be his pet, just Elmo has a pet fish named Dorothy. I asked what he thought he might name his fish and without a millisecond of hesitation, he declared that his fish would be named Sandwich. OK then!

We made a deal with E that he could pick out a new fish for his aquarium every week that he did well during his swimming lesson*. Last night provided the first opportunity – a bit of a stretch perhaps, but we’re rewarding even the smallest of steps right now – and off to Pe.tsmart we went. E and I walked back and forth along the wall of fish, taking in the magnitude of options. I asked E what color fish he wanted and, again with no hesitation, he requested “pink!” I was just starting to say I wasn’t sure they had any pink fish, and maybe we could get red instead, when lo and behold, a perfectly pink guppy swam past our noses. E deemed it to be love at first sight and a few minutes later, we were headed out the door with little pink Sandwich.

The kid has a thing for pink. Also on this week’s shopping list: A new toothbrush for E. He is now the proud owner of a sparkly pink, purple and turquoise toothbrush with a picture of Belle on the handle that he picked out all by himself. He is over the moon. M is kind of happy about it as well. I think it tickles her to think of how irate the Reli.gious R.ight would be if they knew how our little lesbian family was single-handedly dismantling Gender one toothbrush (and fish) at a time…

*We’ve been going to swimming lessons once a week for the past year. E has consistently loved it and been eager to attend. About a month ago, E decided he hates swimming and refuses to go in the pool. We have no idea what happened. I have been blaming it all on his current instructor who I find to be overly-touchy (even when he is clearly uncomfortable with it) and untrustworthy (using bait and switch to get the kids to go underwater after she tells them they don’t have to). That said, I don’t really know if she is all or even part of the problem. I talked to the supervisor last night and she said it isn’t uncommon for kids his age to go through periods where they don’t want to participate. We’re switching instructors again (I think… I hope…) in a few weeks and we’ll see if things improve. If not, maybe we’ll just take a break for a while. The swimming school he goes to is pretty pricey and there’s just no need to pay that much money to watch our kid ruin everyone else’s experience when we can fight with him at home for free. So anyway, this week he got a fish just for going in the water and putting his head under once. I’m hoping that by the time we run out of aquarium real estate, we won’t need the bribe anymore. I guess that gives us about 9 more weeks. Cross your fingers…