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…

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beatle Breakdown

I just heard back from Xy.tex. The Beatle still hasn’t come in for his blood work. Once he does, it will take three weeks to get the results back, at which point they will begin calling his pending list. We’re number 6, so… yeah. She didn’t say how many vials they have in quarantine but I’m guessing sixth place isn’t going to make the cut. Even if they had enough vials to get to us on the list (assuming several people ahead of us pass or only purchase a couple), we’re still probably out of the running based upon timing. He’d have to have a blood draw in the next 72 hours to have any chance of his samples reaching the clinic by their deadline.

I feel completely crushed under the weight of this news. I really thought I’d be okay with needing to use a different donor – not thrilled, of course – but not destroyed either. I was so wrong. It’s the powerlessness thing again. I GET that I am not in control of anything when it comes to conception, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding... Really, I do. Is it so necessary to keep reminding me of it at every single goddamn turn?

I’m trying to keep perspective and remember that someday, this will all feel like exactly what needed to happen, but I’m also feeling pretty fucking angry at whatever powers don’t see fit to cut us a break on this one.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beatle update, but first...

Here’s the follow-up on Meno.pur: The nurse I talked to yesterday said she’d try to use her “limited knowledge” to answer my question and proceeded to recite the same explanation you already gave me (FSH/LH versus FSH alone, promotes better egg development, etc.). Then she gave me the most salient reason of all: All of the clinic’s standard protocols have been updated since my last IVF cycle to include Me.nopur. It’s just What They Do now. Apparently, the Me.nopur sales rep hit the jackpot with the director of my clinic, either through booze and bribes (always a cynic!) and/or incontrovertible scientific proof (always an optimist!). I explained that I was just hesitant to add anything to a cocktail that worked so well for us before and she said, “I understand but you know what? You’re going to do great. Try not to be nervous. I know you will be anyway, but try not to because you’re going to do really well.” She doesn’t know me at all (my regular nurse is out all week) and has nothing to base her reassurance on, but for whatever reason, it satisfied me. I’m taking a laid-back approach to this cycle (relatively speaking, of course) which leads me to…

We may have a Beatle problem.

We picked The Beatle back in February. We were told at the time that his inventory was low and if we did not buy before they ran out of vials it might be “a couple of months” before they’d have more available. We did not buy any. It felt premature, and we knew were weren’t going to be doing IVF again until at least July or August, so the 2 month wait wasn’t a big deal. Shortly thereafter, his vials sold out. Fast forward to May when our 3-month membership was about to expire. I went online to print off his profile and pictures and… Hmm. He was still out of stock. I emailed our Xy.tex rep who sent me all of his data via email. She also informed me that (1) The Beatle wasn’t scheduled for another blood test until July so his vials wouldn’t clear until “sometime in August”, and (2) since our communication in February, he resigned from their donor program, so (3) the vials they currently have in storage will make up his last release, and (4) we can be added to the waiting list to receive first (well, behind whoever else is on the list ahead of us) right of refusal to his vials once they are available.

I asked her to add our names to the list and went about my day with only the slightest itch of worry that his vials wouldn’t release in time. I’d projected my IVF dates based upon my last cycle and figured my transfer wouldn't be until late September, so as long as he released in August as she said he would, we’d be fine. Over the next couple of weeks, I got my clinic schedule and found they’d tightened up the timeline quite a bit. My retrieval would be scheduled 1-2 weeks earlier than I expected. I also started thinking about who else might be on the list ahead of us, what they were told about the donor’s future availability, and what resources they might have at their disposal to snatch up and store a few extra vials. It was easy to imagine a scenario in which the one or two people ahead of us on the list might buy up all of his vials before we even reached the front of the line, and we’d be back at the starting line with very little time to make our next choice. And that is when panic set in. We already lost KD, and now we might lose our diamond in the rough, too. Where in the world would we find another donor that would so closely fit our KD-shaped hole?

I sat with the worry for as long as I could stand it, and then I wrote an email to our Xy.tex rep asking if she could tell us how many people were ahead of us in line and how many vials they expected to release in August. That wouldn’t give me the answer I needed – are we going to get one or not – but it would let me adjust my expectations appropriately. If she told me they had forty vials ready to release and we were second on the list, I’d feel pretty good. If she said they had six vials to release and there were four people ahead of us, I’d start looking at other options. I challenged myself to sleep on the email before sending it, and the next day, I decided to hold off sending it as long as my obsessive demons will allow. I wrote the email on July 11 and haven’t sent it yet. *deep breath* What will be, will be. Being high strung about it won’t change anything except my anxiety level. I wouldn’t say we “chose” The Beatle anyway. We chose KD, and then forces beyond our control led us to where we are now. Maybe The Beatle was just a stop along the way. If the universe hasn't quite connected us to the child(ren) we’re meant to have yet, well I guess we still have a couple of twists and turns on this ride. Either way, I’m tired of driving. I’m ready to be a passenger for a while.

I explained the situation to the nurse and asked when the absolute latest, drop-dead date they needed the sperm in-house was. She said they prefer to have it there on CD1, or at least by the start of Lu.pron, but could probably stretch it to the day I start stims (September 2nd), given the circumstances. This gives us almost a month before we’ll have to activate a contingency plan, but I’m hoping, hoping, hoping they call me before then to tell me The Beatle is ours.

**Edited to add: Email has been sent; no more scary stories, please. The bottom fell out of my stomach when I read J and DZ's comment, and has yet to return. Way to ruin a girl's Zen, y'all. ;-)  Just kidding, and as always, I am endlessly grateful for your input. Will update again when I know more.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

start your engines

CD1, baby.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

IVF meds... Meno-wha?!

A couple of weeks ago, we got a printout of the medication order for our latest round of IVF fun. I forgot how freaking long the med list is for a fresh cycle. We have two new additions to our list since last time: Birth control pills to be started on CD4, and Me.nopur to be used along with the Fol.listim. I’m not exactly sure why the Me.nopur was added when I did fine with the protocol I had last time (Fol.listim alone) and I plan to ask the nurse about that. It makes me nervous to rock a boat that sailed so well the first time out. I am supposed to call the clinic on CD1 which should be at the end of this week. Getting through their phone system is a nightmare so I figured I’d consolidate my calls and ask about the med change during the same conversation. In the meantime, I turn to you, oh knowledgeable Internets!

Why add Me.nopur to Fol.listim when there is no history of poor response? Is this just the med cocktail du jour? Have new findings come out about the efficacy of a Me.nopur-boosted cycle? I let my virtual RE degree lapse about three years ago, so I am not up on the latest in our field. Give me the scoop, friends.

I’d rather not add in the Me.nopur for several reasons:
  1. As I mentioned before, why fix something that ain’t broke?
  2. I’ve heard it burns going in. What’s not to love about that?
  3. Another needle per day? I do okay with the shots, but come on!
  4. We’re pretty well stocked up with Fol.listim at the moment, and I’d really like to use that before paying out of pocket for other meds we may not even need.
About that last point above… We were the lucky recipients of a large amount of unused Foll.istim, passed along to us by another blogger after her family found her through a different avenue. Based upon our dosing/response from our last IVF, it should be enough to get us through a full cycle without having to purchase anymore on our own. Have you ever received a gift that was so generous, so life-changing, so… huge… you didn’t even know how to respond? That is what happened to me when these meds showed up on our doorstep. Their generous gift saved us thousands of dollars in OOP medication costs. Thousands. That is hard to wrap your head around. I sent a thank you card, but really, what do you say to someone who does that for you? I guess you let the gushing overflow into your blog and hope they read it and can somehow feel how much you appreciate what they have done.

So on that note, it seems ungrateful and silly to raise an eyebrow at $750 worth of Me.nopur, and of course we will gladly pay it if the RE thinks it will make a difference, but… will it? What do you all think? What has your experience been like on Me.nopur, with or without Foll.istim? (And yes, I promise that I will ask my nurse about it and get Actual Medical Advice before leaping to any conclusions. I just trust you guys, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts.)