Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Balloon or pincushion? You decide.

I'm on day four of meds, day three of stims, and so far the only side effect is that my lower belly has puffed up like the proverbial balloon. It's a balloon with little needle marks on it, in fact. It's fascinating. Actually, it would be more fascinating if it wasn't my belly.

There don't seem to be many other side effects. I seem to be more light-headed than usual, although there's been a lot of work stress this week, and that may have something to do with it. I'm probably imagining things when I think that I can feel my ovaries working hard. I am extremely sensitive to medication (I generally only have to take one of anything, even if the recommended dose is two), though, so maybe it's not entirely my imagination.

I had my first post-meds ultrasound this morning, and there are some follicles growing, but of course it's too early to know what will happen. I go back Friday, then probably again Monday. If things do progress, retrieval will probably be middle or late next week.

Is it wrong that I'm looking forward more to the day off work than I am to the retrieval itself?

It's been a rough week.

** **

I did indeed have to give myself medicine in an airport bathroom, too. I never thought I'd be shooting up somewhere like that, but I suppose the fact that it's legally prescribed medication makes it OK.

It was still extraordinarily bizarre. I felt like I was in some kind of bad Lifetime movie. Maybe Valerie Bertinelli (pre-bikini) could play me, and then there could be a tearful courtroom scene at the end where she/I explained that I was shooting up in the bathroom stall for a good cause. And then I'd be acquitted and end up smooching some cute guy. (I'm not sure what cute guys star in Lifetime movies these days.)

The actual shooting up isn't so bad. The needles are small. Smallish, anyway. They don't get big until later. I've also started icing the skin a bit, and that seems to help-- psychologically, if nothing else.

IVF isn't for lightweights, let me tell you. This is not a lot of fun. But it's still a privilege, and I shouldn't be complaining about how my diamond shoes are too tight. I'm lucky, and I know it.

** **

Because I know everyone's just fascinated with all this stuff, let me just say that I had a donor all picked out-- finally-- and got the paperwork filed today so I could order tomorrow.

He's RETIRED. No more. Off the market. What? Hello? He was available LAST NIGHT. It took me forever to pick him. I liked him, I finally picked him, and he's gone. This is not fair.

I moved over to a different bank and now have three possibilities. Talk about power shopping... All are normal looking, tall, seem to be fairly smart, have decent family medical histories, and don't appear to be serial killers.

It's such a crap shoot. My pool is also limited-- you should forgive the pun-- by the fact that I want to use a donor that's willing to be identifiable. If I was going with anonymous, my choices would be endless. Far fewer men choose the ID donor option. I don't know if I blame them, frankly, but it means that my choices are far, far less.

I considered going anonymous, but... no. That's not for me. And as long as I can find donors that meet my requirements in the identifiable pool, that's where I'll stay.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's a grab-bag roundup

Had a nice weekend with family in town. They ended up leaving early, actually, which was OK-- it wasn't for bad reasons. They were being considerate, mostly, given they know my horrific schedule this week, and they saw me working at home both Friday and Saturday nights. (They're also not entirely comfortable in my house, but that's more because of their personalities than it is anything else, so I try not to worry about it. Much.)

So I had an unexpected, free Sunday afternoon, and it was much appreciated. Of course, "free" included going in to work, so.

** **

Early last week I attended volunteer orientation for the local animal shelter, and today-- in between work, Tar.get, and a quick trip to the gym-- I squeezed in my first trip over. It was excellent, excellent therapy, even though I couldn't stay long.

I walked a stocky, older little Shih Tzu mix who was absolutely delighted to get out, but who tired early on; we ended up taking our sweet time on the second half of the walk. At one point, she found something yummy in the grass, and her ecstatic back-rubbing roll was so reminiscent of my Vertigo Dog that I got tears in my eyes. It was worth it, though.

** **

I have a week coming up at work that is going to be incredibly, incredibly difficult on a personal level. My job involves doing some things that are extremely difficult; sometimes, they're painful. This is that kind of a week. And, while I can feel sorry for myself all I want, my angst is not the point this week. Not at all.

I'm also going to have to travel with all my fertility drugs, two of which have to be kept cold. I can't wait to deal with airport screening on that one. Plus, you know, injecting myself while in the airport bathroom stall. Oh, yeah.

** **

Speaking of drugs, I promised to post a picture of the big stack o'drugs.

From one

Impressive, hm?

I started shots today. It's surprisingly easy and painless. But I suspect it will be a little less easy in an airport bathroom stall.

Whine, whine.

Tell me something happy?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No TIME. There is no time!

I have updates to make! I picked up all my drugs and it is a massive bag o' stuff and I took a picture to share. But I have family arriving... well, any second. Pictures must wait.

I'll be starting on the drugs any day now. Oh JOY.

Updates to follow. Probably Monday, when I've collapsed after a weekend of no time to myself wonderful, family-filled weekend.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

A letter with no love

Dear dude getting off the train with me:

As we go down the stairs together, in a herd of people on their way to work, I understand that sometimes one gets the urge to spit. (Actually, I don't really understand it, but work with me here.) Sometimes, the spit must out.

But really-- does it need to come out on the stairs? When you're not the only one descending said stairs? The spit can't wait another thirty seconds until you're down at street level, where there's a convenient road, and thus a convenient gutter, waiting for your precious saliva?

Next time, wait. Please. Those of us who follow you will appreciate it. As will our shoes.

No love,

** **

I'm finally making my way through the premade curries I bought a while ago. Two very big thumbs up for the micro curries by Raja Foods. I love Indian food, but for 99 cents, why go to all the trouble of making it myself if I don't have to? One package makes two sides, and there's enough sauce that you can use it as a base for other things (i.e. more veggies, or some cooked chicken, or whatever).


** **

Work was brutal this week. We're going through a merger... which is not a merger at all. They're buying us, and all the platitudes about "taking the best from both organizations" and "learning from each other" were just that: platitudes. They could care less.

They are also an organization where overtime is worn as a badge of honor.

Been there, done that, and I'm not doing it again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Need I say more?

One quick note... the medications I mentioned yesterday?

Without insurance: around 8K.

With insurance: under $200.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bookends. Sort of.

My day started with a visit to my doctor's office, where I met with my nurse practitioner. We went over, in exhausting and terrifying detail, the wide variety of drugs I'm going to be putting in my body beginning in early October. My day ended with an acupuncture appointment.

From the most unnatural hour, to an extremely natural hour. What a day.

** **

When I pick up the box o'drugs (next week), I will take a picture of it, because it's gonna be huge. The extraordinarily cheerful dude at the drug place described it as "more than you'd take on a picnic." That's... a lot of drugs.

I'm not looking at my notes, but off the top of my head there are three injectibles I take pre-retrieval, one injectible that will act as both my trigger shot and as potential boosters post-embryo transfer, and then another injectible that goes in post-transfer. There's also an antibiotic in there somewhere, and possibly another pill I'm forgetting. And one-- ONE--

Seriously, people, what is that? One? Give me a whole damn bottle.

The pre-retrieval injectibles are all subcutaneous, using leetle tiny needles, and should be easy. However, the trigger shot med and the post-retrieval injectibles are all intramuscular and involve needles as long as my palm. And, not only are they ginormous needles, but I'm going to have to twist around and shoot myself in the ass.

("Usually we're teaching this to people's husbands," the nurse said. Yeah, I know. I wish.)

My nurse went carefully over the different drugs, how to mix them, what needles to use, etc.; we even practiced injecting on a fake bump of skin. It was helpful, and I took piles of notes. She's crabby but competent, and while some days it'd be nice to have a warm shoulder to lean on, most of the time I prefer that things not be sugar-coated.

I'm going to have to give myself shots in the ass.


** **

Acupuncture was, as usual, an oasis.

I love my acupuncturist more and more, and now that I know for sure she's pregnant (hey, I never assume-- some people gain weight in the belly) I need to find a baby blanket pattern and get to work crocheting. Something in a gender-neutral color, and I think in a nice cotton. Organic, if I can find a sale.

Yay! More yarn! What? I don't have a problem. Shut up.

Now that I'm getting a better idea of the time frame for this IVF shindig (it won't be 100% certain until my next cycle actually starts), I can see her moving the points around, thinking things through. She also started me on some Chinese herbs, with the idea that I'm done with them before I start with the needles.

I don't know if acupuncture helps, but it certainly can't hurt. And I absolutely walk out of there feeling better. It might just be the enforced down time, but I'll take it.

** **

If you've never read Post Secret, it's addictive. But this secret just wrecked me.

Thank God I was there for her, right until the end.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I swear I'm not going to start talking about past lives or anything. Really.

Had a truly amazing acupuncture treatment this morning. I got the usual stickies, but she also used heat on various points-- she's trying to draw out some of the water associated with my BC weight gain. (Some of the weight gain is also the Ben and J.erry's light chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream I polished off this week, but that's not all of it.)

Anyway, after she left me to rest, I became very deeply relaxed-- not asleep. Truly relaxed. After a while, it was the weirdest thing; I almost literally felt weight leaving me, drawing down through the ends of my arms and legs. And when I say "weight," I don't mean pounds. I mean heaviness related to stress, and sorrow, and anger, and negativity. I could almost feel as if darkness was leaving my body.

It was awesome, and I'm not describing it well. I am totally not the kind of person into crystals and astral pla.nes and all that, and I know this sounds like that kind of thing, but was very real.

When I left I felt lighter and freer. I may have been imagining it... but I don't think I was.

The rest of the day was spent helping a friend with serious yardwork (she's a new widow, far too young, and is working towards selling her house), and tonight another friend is coming over for some Bollywood fun. A good, albeit unusual, day.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Low is bad, in this case

I called to get my day three FSH. My FSH was extremely low (2). First time I was tested, it was 7-something; normal is under 10, and low is good. So on the surface, a low FSH sounds positive-- but it's not.

Because unfortunately, while my FSH was very low, my estrogen was very high (192). This is a symptom of perimenopause, and almost certainly indicates that I have low ovarian reserve. Not sure why this didn't show up before now; they must not have tested my estrogen in my initial blood testing? I thought I'd had day three bloodwork before, but I could be wrong.

In other words, my chances of conceiving are "severely limited," and if I do, my chances of miscarriage are high. My odds were already terrible. They're several times more terrible now.

Well, I knew this was a long shot.

I'm still giving it a try, of course, but it looks like I'll end up moving to adoption sooner than I'd thought. With results like that, I can't imagine they'll recommend more than one or two IVF cycles at the very most. There's little point in IUI cycles, really. (And I'm not interested in donor eggs.)

I am pretty sad about this. Yes, my primary motivation here is being a mother-- not producing a child. I will love my child, whether adopted or born, and that's never been even the smallest of questions. I do not really care which road I take to get to motherhood.

It's still sobering, though, to find out your body can't do what you want it to do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Looking around

One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect with other people in similar situations to me-- women trying to conceive (TTC), single moms, all that. I haven't really done much about that goal yet.

I'm finally trying to get around a bit more and find blogs written by people that not only have things in common with me, but that seem like people I'd actually like to know. You only know so much about a person from their blog, really, but it's nice to find a blog written by someone you think you might get along with in real life.

(This isn't always the case, of course. One blog I read regularly-- not linked, and I won't give the specific location-- is someone I just plain don't like. I'm fascinated by her take on life in general not because I share opinions with her, but because her worldview is so incredibly different from mine that it's like encountering an entirely different species. I guess we learn from all different types, hm?)

One recent find: Sarah Solitaire. Sarah has been TTC for over four years, and has gone through more than I can imagine. She does it all with a great sense of humor, and reading through her archives has been really interesting. It's sobering, though; she started this whole process far younger than I, and has stuck with it much longer than I plan to (well, honestly, I will not be *able* to stick with it as long as she has; I'm aging out of the process fast). She's not a saint, and her writing is engaging and honest.

I know what I'm doing is a total shot in the dark; I hope when my attempts fail-- as they're likely to, let's face it-- I can keep my sense of humor and face the next thing as well as Sarah has.

** **

Apparently it's highly unlikely that I have the gene for cystic fibrosis. So that's good.

(I got the results of my pre-IVF blood panel. Forgot to ask what my FSH was, though. Given that at my age it can rocket up in a few weeks, I'll call tomorrow.)

** **

I've now had several acupuncture sessions and I must admit it's a little addictive. Is it the masochist in me? I dunno. I do know that really like my acupuncturist, and I like her space. Who knows if it's actually doing anything, but at least I'm trying. I also mentioned the annoying BC-pill related weight gain (seriously, we're up to five pounds in six days, with no change in diet or exercise! Argh!) and so she hit a few extra points that will, hopefully, help.

I was especially wiggly during last night's session. She likes you to rest for 45 minutes to an hour once the needles are in, and I barely made it to 45. "You didn't look like you were getting much rest," she observed.

"I'm really wiggly today," I replied. "I'm not good at staying still."

She smiled. "You'll get better." She said this with calm, absolute certainty.

I react really well to people who believe in me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Long weekends don't suck

Oh, three day weekends, how I love you. More than pie, that's how much.

Nothing too major planned-- hanging out with a friend tomorrow, and a BBQ on Monday. Sunday, I think, will be a major lazy day, though I am going to get to work on a couple of house projects. I also brought work home, but it's not too taxing and I can probably get it done while watching bad movies.

The BBQ on Monday is not only appealing because hello, BBQ, but also features a dog. A big sweet spazzy dog. I was talking to my mom today, and she told me she spotted a puppy in the newspaper, actually called on the puppy, and then my dad talked her out of it. They lost their dog at the beginning of the year-- what with that and the loss of my own dog, this is the first time our family has been dogless in about 15 years. We're not good at it.

After admitting that my dad was right to talk her out of the puppy (it's too soon, and they're just not ready yet), she mentioned that both she and my dad really spot dogs when they're out and about, and focus in on them. I had to laugh, and admitted that I'm doing the same thing; I have an embarrassing tendency right now to kind of fling myself at every dog I see. Fortunately, dog owners all pretty much think their dogs are the cutest, most awesome, best dogs ever, so (for the most part) strangers telling them how fabulous their dog is is par for the course.

I do have to restrain myself from offering dog-sitting services to strangers, though; that sounds too much like stalking. (I'm only half-kidding. We have two new puppies on our block, and I'd dog-sit in a heartbeat.)

So hopefully I can drag myself away from the dog on Monday enough that I'm not insulting to my hosts. Of course, given how awesome they think their dog is, they probably won't mind.

** **

Quick update on medical stuff (now that it's not really "the plumbing" any more, I need to come up with a tag): they confirmed today that I'm approved for IVF, I'm scheduled for both a consult with my doctor and a session where the nurses teach me to administer the IVF drugs to myself (whee! needles!), and I started birth control today. Sadly, the BC pills aren't because I'm trying to prevent pregnancy from all the fabulous nookie I'm getting; they're just to control my cycle until I further manipulate it with the IVF drugs. (Bleah.)

It's been a while since I've been on BC, but I suspect one thing won't have changed: hello, almost instant 10 pound weight gain. Seriously-- every time I start new, 10 pounds go on automatically with no change in eating or exercise. And I'm already up a few pounds from all the stress at work.

So I went to the gym tonight, and am going to do my best to get back to four days a week at the gym; I may puff up from the pills, but I don't have to make it easy for them.

I also started a spreadsheet to track costs and dates for all the various things I'm doing. Probably-nonexistent-baby is already costing a fair bit of cash. If baby ever does exist, though, s/he will be worth every penny.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All's quiet

Rose early this morning-- 5 a.m.-- and was on the bus by 6:20, on the train by 6:30, and at the hospital by 7. This morning was my day three lab work, in anticipation of IVF coming up. Many, many tubes of blood today; it's a pretty comprehensive workup.

Even public transportation is relatively quiet before 7 a.m.. There are fewer riders, and the people that are on the bus or the train are quieter, often still with that just-woke-up look about them despite their neat work clothing. There's less eye contact and little of the casual conversation you'll hear, even between strangers, later in the rush hour.

This morning, the first person who actually spoke to me was the young woman at the doctor's office who gave me my paperwork to take to the lab. (I said "good morning" to the bus driver, but he did not respond. Everyone's quieter before 7, even the bus drivers.) I get ready for work in my quiet house (too quiet, wrongly quiet, without my little Vertigo Dog), and I take the bus and the train alone, watching the city go by in choppy morning light. I walk from the train to the hospital across a long expanse of lawn, and the sun isn't even up over the buildings that surround me.

I'm doing this with the crazy idea that, at some point, there could be a baby; that my quiet house and my relatively uncomplicated life could change radically, and change by my choice. Some days, this seems crazy.

Most days, though, I know that this much quiet is not what I want. It's not me.