Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Uncross The Criss Cross

If you were holding your breath or crossing your fingers for me, you can stop. The final count...

Old Age - 3
Gwynn   - 0

Maybe it's just that life wants to make sure I experience a little bit of everything. Or maybe I'm just living that old adage "if you have to work hard for what you want, in the end you'll appreciate it more", but I feel like I've been through the wringer. (And no doubt others have been through worse. But damn it, this sucks!)  Other than OHSS, I think that there is very little I have missed out on while sampling the complete IVF Pupu Platter...

IVF #1 - infection from egg retrieval - BFN
IVF #2 - BFP
IVF #3 - miscarriage at 9 weeks
IVF #4 - canceled due to poor response
IVF #5 - 1 beautiful follicle but sadly no freakin' egg!!

I hope this is a lazy susan kind of deal where for IVF #6 we find ourselves back closer to the beginning rather than even further down the road. Sigh. Time to push away from the table and have a good cry before holding my head high and potentially charging ahead toward, hopefully, lucky number 6.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Optimism 101

First off, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you!! to each of you that left internet warm fuzzies in my comment box on the last post. You guys are the BEST!! And, quite frankly, you are the only reason that I am not shooting myself in the head right now.

And along those lines, there was actually some shooting done last night (and as I mentioned, no need to worry, no heads were involved... only asses this time.) We triggered. Yep, we did. I let my lovely husband stick it to me. He really does love giving me an ol' jab in the ass. (I think he's secretly sad that my clinic doesn't use PIO any more!)

Here's the thinking (and in case you're wondering everyone from my RE to my acupuncturist is on board with this train of thought)...

1. When I conceived my son, I only had 3 embryos. One 6 cell and two 4 cells. It most likely was the 6 cell that took.

2. When I conceived prior to my miscarriage, I only had one embryo. Yet I got pregnant. (Unfortunately it just wasn't the best embryo.)

3. Women my age typically only produce one good egg per cycle.

4. So deductive reasoning would lead us to this... why the heck not give it a go. It seems I usually produce one passable egg and on rare occassions a couple not so passable ones. So, we're basically where we have always been, minus the false hope we sometimes have at the sight of the couple crappy extra ones which show up every now and again.

Tomorrow morning is my retrieval and then if I've got anything to transfer, it'll probably be Thursday. I'm crossin' my fingers, hard, hoping that this one makes it. And I hate to sound needy, but if you've got a couple of spare fingers that you're not doin' anything with on Tuesday/Wednesday, I'd love it you'd cross them for me too.


Thursday, 5 November 2009

You're The Only One For Me

Sooooo drumroll please....

...ready for the update??

Here it is...

...I have one. One growing follicle. Arg! Other than just being sad, I'm trying to decide if we should continue with egg retrieval, etc. Oh boy. Getting old sucks!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Smack Down

Why? "Why?", I ask myself. I ask myself, "Why?" over and over. Why do I cling to hope? Not in big monumental ways, but little ridiculous ways. Like when I look at a patch of clover, why do I always hope that I'll find the four-leafed one? Why am I surprised in the morning that the laundry elves have not come to my house? Or that the giant zit on my chin hasn't magically disappeared? And why did I think that after seeing 5 antral follicles, that I would have five growing follicles? WHY? I've been through this drill before... 5 antral follicles does not 5 eggs make. Yet I allowed myself to live in a small fantasy world for a few days, and where did that get me? Here. Depressed.

I have 2 follicles growing, and maybe, maybe the barest hint of a third. I'm basically where I was during IVF #3 (only minus 1. And given the limited number we are dealing with here, it's a pretty big one!) So here's the deal... one 7 and one 10 (oh, and one 3 if you're looking really hard for things to count.) Sigh. I think that there is a reason The Doors lyric "This is the end, my friend" was going through my head, as my lovely RE was filling me in on the stats. The nose dive off the cliff of fertility. I'm in free fall, I fear.

But, as my wonderful husband reminded me, it truly does only take one. So, hopefully we'll at least end up with one. A good one. A strong one. And this time, a genetically sound one. (I just usually like to hedge my bets a little more.)

Thursday, 29 October 2009


We are good to go!!! I started the MDL yesterday and I begin the stims tomorrow. Every time I start a cycle, the part leading up to the stims, is like the long, slow ride up to the top of the first really big hill on a rollercoaster. You know, where you are filled with nervous anticipation and a teensy bit of fear. You watch as you move closer and closer to the top, awaiting the rush you get as you freefall down the opposite side of the hill. I am so ready to be racing toward the bottom of the first hill (and for the inevitable ups and downs of the smaller hills to follow.)

Last cycle (the cancelled one) I had absolutely no side effects from anything. No headaches. No tiredness. No sore boobs. Nothing. This time I am happy (well, maybe happy is not quite the right word) to announce that I feel like my head is cracking open, my face is peeling off and I have blood gushing out my ears! YeeeeeeOW!!! I don't remember EVER having a Lupron headache like this one. (This is good news, right??! Man, I hope I'm enduring this pain for a good reason.) And, I simply can't remember (although I am not sure if I ever knew, or if the pain is giving me early alzheimers) if you are not supposed to take Ex.ced.rine while stimming or is it that you are not supposed to take it during the ttw. Anyone out there know? I'm desperate! Ty.leno.l ain't doin' it. Help!

Outside of the debilitating pain, I'm about as excited as I allow myself to get about getting another shot at this. Tomorrow I add 225 of Follistim AM and PM and 1 Menopur once a day. And then on Tuesday, we'll see if more than just one follicle has decided to come to the dance this time around. (I have about 5 antral follicles. Same as last time and the time before that. So, I think that's now my norm.) As of tomorrow morning, I shall begin the endless chant of, "Grow little follicles! Grow!!" Sure, I know I'll get some strange looks from passersby and probably my clients as well, but, hey, chanting is supposed to help channel the power of the universe and right now I'm up for any help I can get! So, if you happen to pass a weird chanting woman on the streets of LA, don't feel shy about saying, "Hi!" (If you're not too embarrassed that is.)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


I just got back from Chicago.

It was beautiful.

I hope that my ultrasound tomorrow morning will be beautiful too.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


OMG, I've got them! Everywhere. All along my hairline. Down along my chin. Behind my ears. On my back. On my chest. Lumpy, bumpy white heads! And red, swollen cysts. Yuck! Some are painful, some are itchy and some are just plain unsightly. I haven't had to deal with anything like this in quite a few years. I had forgotten how horrible it could be.

I was one of those people who never saw a zit in high school. Don't hate me yet... wait for it... but I got cystic acne at 21 and I have had it ever since! I think that 20 years of cystic acne is far worse than a couple years of teenage zits. Right? Right?! Can I hear an amen?! Since I had so many, many, many years to try and find a cure for it, I tried everything but nothing worked. Well, until I discovered IVF that is. Oh Lupron, you might mean headaches for some but to me you are a cyst fighting superhero!! I could wax poetic about you all day.

As soon as I started my first round of Lupron my acne cleared up. Amazing!! And then all my pregnancy hormones kept it at bay for another year and a half. Over the last few months, I had started to notice a cyst here and there, but now they back with a vengeance. I don't know if it is the residual effects of the DHEA or the bcp's. I don't remember ever getting zits from bcp's before. In fact one of my dermatologists put me on bcp's to try and calm it down years ago. Hmmm... Do people usually get zits from bcp's?? Anyway I have cysts and zits everywhere and I can't wait to get to the Lupron. Bring on the injections! Let's kick some zit-ass!!!

I mean, I'm 42 2/3 for heaven's sake! I shouldn't still be battling acne, right??! I'll try and take some small bit of comfort in something that The Infertile Breeder once said to me...

If you're are still getting breakouts, you're probably still fertile.

Man, I hope that's the case because I'm old enough to have a teenager but I definitely don't want to be one again.... unless of course, it gets me what I really want. If the trade off is zits for a baby, I'll take it any day!!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Post Script

After my last post, I found myself wondering (a lot) why I choose to follow so many blogs of women who are pregnant or actively trying. Why it is easy for me to cheer happily and whole-heartedly for them, and why it has been far more difficult where my friend is concerned. And I realized that before I had even formulated the question, I knew the answer. 

As I read people's journeys on their blogs, I cheer. I always cheer. I always want them to see the positive pee stick, to get the rising beta and the healthy baby at the end. And of course, I want that for my IRL friends too. It's just not as easy to control the flow of information with them. It's not just theoretical that they are pregnant. It's not just a vague notion. It's real. It's watching their belly grow in person every week, even when I've had an emotionally draining day. It's hearing about their pregnancy regularly, even when the details are couched delicately. And most of all, it's the realization that I will soon be confronted by an actual baby at most of our gatherings, whether I can handle it that day or not.

Where blogs are concerned, it's kind of like tv... I decide if I want to (or can) "watch" that channel today. I control the flow of information. It's one step removed from my immediate reality. It's kind of "through the looking glass." Sadly, human nature makes it so much easier to cheer for the heroine, in the show, than my friend. Particularly because my friend, seemingly, has won the brass ring, easily and without much effort.  (In a good movie, a heartbreaking act two struggle always makes a triumphant ending more satisfying, right?) Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish it any other way for her.

I knew this day would come and I had visions of handling it with grace (which I hope I have done well IRL so far) and without tears (which, although only in private, I have not done well at all.) In fact, I started trying for my second very early (if I hadn't miscarried, my children would have been less than 20 months apart) to head this off at the pass. To know, even if I failed, that I had tried. So that I could feel ok when all my close mommy friends (our children are all the exact same age) started to announce that they were pregnant with their second.

Well, it didn't work. Today I'm raising the white flag IRL, and huddling in a dark corner with my laptop and my blogs. Deciding, with care, which channel I should/can/will "watch" until I feel I can face cries of bella bands again.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Six months before we got married, we bought a house. Not just any house, a relatively large house in an older neighborhood. It is an area which was founded by five doctors who had moved out to California from the mid-west. Our house, home to one of the original doctor's, is historic and beautiful and in its 98 years of existence, it has only had five owners. When the keys were handed to us, on my 31st birthday, we were overjoyed and overwhelmed.

We lovingly renovated it for six months before we moved in. Every night after work, I would go and paint and sand. One evening the youngest daughter, of the original owner, had her driver bring her by the house. I was embarrassed because the place was a wreck, but her first concern wasn't the state of the house, it was what us two "youngsters" were going to do with this big five bedroom home. "Do you have a lot of children?" she asked in a concerned tone. Of course the answer was no, to her and to the multitude of neighbors that ended up asking us the same question for many months to come. No, we didn't have a lot of children and at the time we weren't sure if we ever would.

As the months passed, I started to feel defensive when people asked about the house. I found that I wouldn't even wait for them to ask why in the world we needed all this space, I would just immediately assume that was going to be their first question and launch into a rehearsed explanation of how every bedroom was being used. My studio. My husband's studio. The gym. Guest room. Master bedroom. Done. Full. Obviously we need each and every square inch. No children and no more questions please.

But my studio lay dormant, and soon began to collect miscellaneous junk. Every time the housekeepers came, I found myself pre-cleaning. Taking everything from around the house that didn't have a proper home, putting it in there and shutting the door. It was the one room in our house that seemed to lack a clear purpose. And when I thought about it some more, I realized why...it was on hold.

I couldn't commit to making it an indispensable part of my life. I couldn't commit to giving it a true purpose because in doing that I would be admitting that I would never have children. I had always, secretly, thought that it would be the nursery. Each time I painted it, each renovation, I left that option open. I wouldn't let myself get attached to it as my room. It was on hold. It was being saved for something, someone, else.

And, that someone finally came along. And that room has a purpose and is full of light and laughter and infinite joy. But now, I have another room. The gym. We stopped using it after our son was born and it has slowly become a shelter for all my homeless stuff. I can't seem to commit to fully tidying it up into a usable space. It, too, has become a placeholder. It's being used and filled, but not in a purposeful way. It's secretly my second nursery. It holds my dream and... my stuff. Miscellaneous stuff. Stuff that helps me to feel as though it's being used, when in fact it isn't.

And it's the same with my heart. I have room and love for another child. But for now, I am just saving that space. Trying to fill it with random stuff, so that it doesn't fill with tears. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not so much.

The other day one of my dear friends (whose child was born one day before mine, and who has also struggled with infertility) discovered she was pregnant naturally. Of course my heart was full of joy for her. Ok, maybe not full, entirely, of joy. In one dark corner, there was a flood. My tears fell steadily and silently. Shamefully. As I thought about the cycles I have done, unsuccessfully, to try for a second child. As I thought... she hadn't even started trying yet! As I thought... that child was meant to be mine. I'm not proud of that thought. But it was there. Keeping me from true, whole-hearted celebration. I, now, need to find a constructive way to fill that room, that hole, that deep dark corner so I can face her beautiful, magical pregnancy. Not just with a smile pasted on my face, but with joy truly filling that room in my heart, no matter what becomes of that room in my house.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Clean Sweep

Ah, fall. I always feel invigorated by the crisp air. Out here in sunny Southern California, it's always a little hit and miss as to when we actually see fall, but this weekend it arrived. For some people spring is the season of out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new. For me, it's fall. The summers out here can be oppressively dry and hot, and make me long for the cool summer rains of my childhood and of course... fall. My absolute favorite season. There's nothing like yummy sweaters and spiced anything! Fall can kick my butt into gear like nothing else.

So this weekend, when the fall weather finally arrived, I felt oh so motivated to do some much needed cleaning. I purged our downstairs of all the random piles that had started to breed at an alarming rate. And I'm beginning to feel like I can I think clearly again.

Just like my house, I'm hoping that my body has rid itself of all unnecessary clutter. All the DHEA and useless drugs from my canceled cycle. All negative thoughts. I'm ready for a fresh start.

I got my period Friday and started bcp's on Sunday. Getting ready for that last cleansing bleed and then off we go! I know spring is the season of fresh starts and new beginnings. But in my world, I'm rooting for fall.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Mirage

Right after I posted yesterday, I started to get a couple unusual twinges. And, being the pee stick princess that I am, I couldn't resist. I peed. On a stick. So much for going down in flames gracefully. Of course, there was one lovely control line and... one stark white placeholder staring back at me. Or... was there the faintest hint of a second line?

I blinked. And blinked again. Scrutinized the stick under the brightest light I could find. And no, it was just white. Pure white. Empty white. Empty, like my belly... white.

Unfortunately I know very well where the other line should appear, and I think my mind likes playing tricks on me. Don't get your hopes up. I've gotten faint lines before and this was not that. This was my brain knowing the truth, yet wishing, hoping, praying for something else. This was a negative test. And so was the next one. And the one after that.

And today, I don't feel those unusual twinges. I just feel like my period is imminent. So be it.

Sometimes it's good to hold hope, even for a brief moment. It reminds me that I want to carry on. How precious this dream is to me. I just pray that it won't forever be simply a mirage.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Rolling, Rolling...

So we bonked. We rolled. We steamed through the tunnel and beyond. And you know what...? I don't even know if my tubes work! I never had them tested. After I turned 40 and went running to the RE, we plunged into IVF and never looked back, around, or even down the tubes. My one precious little egg could have been sitting there on one side a terrible road block calling out "Marco!" without ever even hearing the faint whisper of a "Polo!" in return.

I definitely don't feel pregnant. No tugging or pulling. No sharp shooting pain. No tender boobs. And I'm still peeing neon yellow. (I take a lot of extra B's which makes my pee bright yellow, except for when I become pregnant. If I'm pregnant, my pee goes back to normal color. It's usually my first clue.) Sooooo.... I'm thinkin' nada this time. Oh well. I wasn't really holding my breath.

On the upside, I have a fridge full of Follistim! Yipee!!

So, bring on the red tide and let's get this party going!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Data Girl

I admit it, I'm kind of a data junky. I loved science in school, but decided after a semester in college not to go pre-med because I am a massive klutz. (I am one of those people who falls up stairs!) And, truth be told, I was terrified that I was make some horrible mistake and mess someone up for life. So, I went into an occupation where time and money can erase most mistakes. It's not painless, but it's usually me who suffers not some other poor innocent person.

Anyway, getting back to data... I definitely like to collect as much as possible. I find it fascinating. If I had a enough time and money, I'd probably run every IVF protocol on myself that I could come up with just to see how my body would react. But sadly, I have both only in very limited amounts. Near egg retrival, on our first IVF, my RE wanted to cancel the cycle. I only had 8 eggs and she thought that I could do better. (Which, by the way, I never did.) I asked her if there was any knowledge that could be gained by completing the cycle using IVF rather than converting to IUI and she said "Yes, we could actually learn a lot." So, a lot we did learn. We learned that my eggs were pretty good and we didn't have any fertilization issues. And we learned that if there is a 1% chance something will go awry, it will happen to me. Not very many people get an infection from a egg retrival, but I did. Oh, such a lucky girl! 

So, in this vein, I'd like to say that I found this cycle a little fascinating, although obviously disappointing. Not many people react like they are being oversurpressed when they use the DHEA / Estrogen Priming protocol. Some people ovulate early. Most people have more eggs than they did before and the ones that have less, have better quality. Me, I like to blaze my own trail. I mean, why not take the road less traveled, right?! Instead more eggs, or even better eggs, I have.... one egg. One beautiful egg. Ridiculous! My ovaries look like I've been taking Lupron instead of Follistim and Menopur.

For anyone that's following along, I decided (mostly by default) to continue the stims and take another look. And there it was my ONE EGG. Oh well. We triggered on Saturday. And I have to say that we did it like the true pros we are (please don't pass any judgement)... My husband had a gallery opening to go to and so we had to shoot me up (because I never got the hang of doing intermusculars myself) before my son was in bed. So Saturday evening looked like this...

...son in the bathtub (because I couldn't have him running around)
...me lying on the bathroom floor (because I couldn't leave him unsupervised)
...hubby jabbing me in the ass

Oh, the joys of trying for number two. (Don't worry my son was fully engrossed in trying to fill his colander full of water. Obviously an endless task that can be quite absorbing for a very long period of time!)

And now we are onto the scheduled sex part of the protocol. We love a little roll in the hay as much as the next person, but I have to say it's much easier (when number one is cutting molars and up crying most nights) to try for number two in a petri dish!

Stay tuned... I'll let you know how this saga plays out. (And if I can stay awake long enough to play it out.)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Life In Miniature

Yesterday while drowning my sorrows in a bag of chocolate, I contemplated my approach to tackling a "to do" list...

Like most people (I think), I usually hit the thing I like to do best, first. (Like blogging trumps paying bills, and definitely wins over deciding whether to cancel this cycle. Hence the reason I have suddenly become sooo very prolific on both my blogs.)

Then I look down the list, skipping over my second favorite thing, and jump straight to the third thing. This is usually something that I don't really like to do, but also don't completely hate doing either.

Once I'm revved up (I guess some people might allude to this as procrastinating, but who are they to judge, right?!) and in "to do" mode, I hit my absolute least favorite thing.

And after accomplishing that crappy task, I reward myself by doing my second favorite thing on the list.

After some thought (I had waaaay too much time on my hands yesterday), I realized that this approach is very similar to the way I like to tackle a bag of Hersey's Miniatures (which I happened to be munching on during all this deep pondering)...

First, I eat the Special Dark bars, because damn it, they're the best.

Next, I eat the Goodbars. The peanuts are alright. They place a solid third.

Then I eat the Krackle bars because I don't really like them too much.

And I finish off with the Hersey bars, because they are definitely my second favorite.

Once I finished spinning all these Forrest Gumpish thoughts, I realized... Wow, depression sure does take me to some strange places. And I began to wonder if anyone else eats their miniatures the same way. Hmmm....

Monday, 21 September 2009

Oh, That Tightrope

On Thursday I had a follicle count: 5. I was hoping for more, but I had 5 last time so maybe that's just where I am now. Maybe 5 is as good as it gets. I was a little sad, because like any sane person I was hoping for more. So, all weekend I ping ponged between slight depression and trying to stay positive (thinking 5 great eggs would be better than 8 crappy eggs), and I realized that this is the balancing act I do during every cycle. I try to remain positive while dealing with my feelings of inadequacy, and the depression that those feelings stir in me. Last cycle when we came up with only 5 follicles (instead of the 8 I had gotten before), when I only had 1 embryo at transfer, when my betas were less than spectacular... I tried to hold high the torch of hope, while keeping a level head and preparing myself for potential failure. Or as it turned out, inevitable failure.

Today, walking into my RE's office, my husband asked me if I was nervous. I said, "A little." It was the truth. Usually my body runs like clockwork and so do my IVF cycles. I'm textbook, other than the fact that I should possibly be able to produce a few more follicles per cycle than I do. But my last cycle was off. I ovulated late and got my period early. Things have just not felt quite right ever since I started the DHEA. It's like my ovaries always feel swollen, but they're not.

So once in the office, I lay back and waited to see how much my 5 little hopes had grown. Well, I was right to be nervous... they hadn't, grown that is. And now there were only 4. My body is reacting as though I am not stimming at all. Four teeny, tiny little follicles. Crap, crap, crap I say.

We have no idea if it's the DHEA or the estrogen priming or just a fluke. My doctors always laugh because my body never does what you expect it to. But, I have to say, I'm not laughing today. I'm sad. And I'm trying to figure out if we should adjust the stims and then take another look in few more days to see if that changes anything, or if we should just call it quits on this cycle and think about maybe trying again later.

And while I angst over this decision, I find myself in that old, too familiar, place... precariously balancing between hope and despair.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


This is all I have to say....  period.

(Oh wait, I mean YAY!!)

Monday, 14 September 2009

My Cycle Went Renagade (And My Life Went Crazy!)

Why, you ask, did I start a blog if I didn't intend on writing regularly? Hmmm... is about all I have to say. It's shameful to think that it's been 2 weeks since I've written anything over here. You can't see me, but I'm hanging my head. I knew that it had been a while, but I had no idea that it had been that long until I was over at The Infertile Breeder's blog (anxiously checking to see if she had updated with her beta results) and I noticed her blogroll. And low and behold, there I was... last post: 2 weeks ago. Horrible.

Sooooooo.... let's play a little catch up, shall we? My cycle has always been a short one, about 10-12 days on the front end and about 12-14 on the back. Only once (ONCE), in the years that I have been monitoring, did I ovulated late. (It was at 16 days. The horror!) So, as I progressed past Day 1, and onto, you know, more exciting days like day 7 or 8 or 9, I began to get a little anxious that I hadn't heard from the coordinator at my RE's office to have the big talk about the ever exciting priming and the all important ordering of meds. After a few gentle reminders (THAT I WAS GOING TO OVULATE VERY SOON!) we started furiously emailing back and forth in order to get everything lined up. And I have to say, as a side note, she was AMAZING! I got tossed around the fertility pharmacys like a hot potato. I actually had to talk to 4 different pharmacys before I landed at the right one and my coordinator did not let anyone drop the ball and made sure that they had all my paperwork. And in the end, the cost of my drugs went from $6500 to $175!! Yipee me!!

Anyway, back at the Big O Homestead... everything was in perfect order for my totally like clockwork ovulation to take place somewhere between days 10 and 12. And guess what?? Oh, you know you've guessed it... Nothing happened until day 14! Cripes! What's that old saying about the watched ovary?

So, now we're one egg down the hatch and we're priming the ol' pump or female hormonal system or whatever we're doing... actually I haven't had a moment to concentrate on this cycle really. My job has taken on a life of it's own again. I produce commercials and I am expected (and kind of need) to be available to my clients and my productions 24/7. It ebbs. It flows. And lately it's been like white water rapids. I've been through worse, but it has definitely not left me much time to contemplate, or worry, or anything (like SLEEP! or blog.)

I feel like I got a few too many balls in the air. I try to make my son a priority whenever we are together. Full focus. Quality not quantity. ('Cause that's what I got to give, so hopefully the old saying is true.) Then there's my house which is currently so disheleved, with piles of mail here and piles of laundry there and piles of piles of piles (you get the picture) that we look like we should be on the news being interviewed about hoarding. And of course I need to try and keep my marriage alive: time with husband. And the full time insane job. (Last night I was still working at midnight!) Oh yeah, have you heard, I'm thinking about having another baby and juggling all that a medicated cycle has to offer. Can you say crazy? I can.

Yes, Virginia, there is a limit to feminism and I think I've found it. Scientists say that women are better multitaskers then men. I totally believe it. But why do some of us feel like we need to test our limits?! Are we really crazy or just really, really smart? I'm going to vote for smart because isn't true genius just one small step away from madness? Or was that a crazy man that said that? (Anyway, who wants to label themselves "crazy" when there is a better alternative?) It's a balancing act. One that I am in awe of, as one fabulous woman after another does it successfully, day after day. If they can do it, so can I! (I think.) Now, I just have to figure out how to get my cycle back on track.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Day 1

Every cycle (for us people counting every cycle) begins with Day 1. If you just finished a failed cycle, Day 1 is like the death nail in the coffin of babyless doom. But if you're beginning a cycle, it's the start of a brand new day. Yesterday I began a new cycle. As far as reproductive medicine goes, my miscarriage is behind me and I am free to continue my travels into the sunset of potential baby bliss.

Day 1 for me is always filled with a heady sense of excitement, and a good dose of anxiety. It's like looking at the big box under the Christmas tree, and wondering if what you asked for is really in there or... if it is just something that you will have to pretend to be excited about. The anticipation is a killer. And it's about wondering if I chose well. Did I pick a good month to start? Would I have more eggs, better eggs, next month instead of this month? You never know. You just have to dive right in and hang in there 'til you cross the finish line. All the while, keeping a smile pasted to your face and positive thoughts spinning in your head.

The last couple cycles, Day 1 meant birth control pills. This time, I wait to pee on a few sticks to see if I've ovulated, and then I begin to priming the ol' estrogen pump 'til my period shows up. All in all, it's a longer cycle. But since my cycles are only about 25 days a piece, it will only add about 8-10 more days and hopefully 3-4 more eggs to mix. I think its a fair trade (if my folicles live up to their end of the bargin.)

So, onward ho!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Hopefully Zero's Not The Magic Number

As they like to point out on Sesame Street, zero is not always a negative thing. Zero colds during flu season is a good thing, as is zero flat tires or zero crazy bosses. As much as I'd like to make sad, lonely little zero feel better, I'm not lovin' the thought of zero embryos in our next cycle.

Here's a little recap...

1st cycle.....4 embryos
2nd cycle...3 embryos
3rd cycle....1 embryos

As you can see, we seem to be rapidly sliding down the slippery slope toward the dreaded zero.

In order to prevent this, my RE and I are going to try an estrongen priming protocol with DHEA and a two day transfer. Hmmm... I'm still deciding how I feel about switching it up.

So, far I've done a long lupron cycle. And I have no idea if it would have worked since I got a bad infection from the transfer. (I should have known something was wrong when I kept googling "hot flashes and green puss, signs of pregnancy?") And I've done two micro-dose flare cycles that both resulted in BFPs.

I do typically have a couple lead follicles so we're thinking that the priming can't hurt. As far as the DHEA goes... the embryos on my 2nd cycle were really fragmented. (On my 3rd cycle we did a 2 day transfer and the one I had was in good shape but who knows where it would have ended up on day 3.) So, once again the feeling is no harm, no foul.

Where the 2 day transfer is concerned, it makes me nervous. I always like more data than less and on day 2 you really don't know how it's all going when you throw them back in. But it has been shown to improve success rates in women over 40 and I know last time it worked for me. So why the heck not do it, right?!

There you have it. The plan. The plan to, hopefully, not end up with zero. Poor, lonely zero. I do feel bad for him. But still, I shudder to think of him as my new best friend.

(Or, maybe, we can just have a very specific friendship: zero cysts, zero fragmentation, zero BFNs! Right?!)

Friday, 14 August 2009

My Own Personal Stalker

I am walking down the street, just minding my own business, and there she is... that lady.

Later in the day, I am driving my car and there she is again!

That evening at the mall, she's there, right in front of me! And there! And there! And over there!

She's everywhere I turn. She seems to know where I'm going before I even get there. She's one step ahead of me. To the side of me. And behind me. She's freakin' everywhere! That lady... the one with the big, giant, beautiful baby bump. She's stalking me. I know it.

I remember going through this the first time I was trying to conceive. With each failed cycle, each negative hpt, I saw her more and more. It was as if she multiplied exponentially in direct correlation to my grief. The deeper the hole left by my fertility failures, the more sightings per day I would have. By the end, she was everywhere I turned.

Well, she's back at it again. Stalking me. As I try to put my miscarriage behind me and focus on the future, she's there. Laughing at me. Reminding me that I would probably be starting to show by now. Reminding me that I am not preparing for a February birth. Reminding me of my failure.

But, hey, maybe I am looking at this all wrong. Maybe she keeps popping up to remind me of the future, not of the past. Maybe she is a beacon. Maybe she is beckoning me to move forward, to focus on what still might be. Maybe.

But today... I just want to wring her little neck and tell her to leave me alone!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Stick It To Me

So, I've started acupuncture again in anticipation of our potentially positive decision to go forward with another cycle of IVF. (Whew, that was a mouthful! The long and short of it is that we have not completely decided, but we are leaning heavily toward indulging ourselves in a 4th cycle.)

What is it about needles that just makes me swell with hope? I think that I have become weirdly conditioned, like a cutter maybe. The idea of jabbing myself, or being jabbed, once filled me with fear. And now, it's as though my mind interprets each little pin prick, each stab of the needle, as one step closer to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And so, I look forward to these moments with eager anticipation. (Oh Pavlov, I believe, I too drool!)

It's like when I buy a lottery ticket. It's always on a day when work's been crap and I need a little extra hope to get me through. That ticket allows me to dream, if only for a few hours, of a different future. Of a life without my crazy boss. Of the option to stay home and spend more time with my family. I buy it with open eyes. I know that my dreams have a very good chance of expiring at the next draw, but it's still worth it.

Cycling, at my age, has been like that too. I know, very honestly, that it's a crap shoot. I know that there is a reason some of my eggs are still around down there... it's because they're too messed up to locate the exit. They've just been bumping around inside me for 42 years going, "Which way do I go? Which way do I go?!" But, every time I start a cycle, I have hope. Hope that there's one. One that is still in good shape. One that will make it up my ovary's creaky escalator and help produce a lovely embryo. Just one. Please one.

So, weekly I lay on the bed and allow myself to be jabbed and poked. Happily I feel my chi release and indulge myself in sweet thoughts of babies. For that hour, the dream is alive. And, for now, that is enough.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

...and the curtain closes.

Scene 1

DR. BABYMAKER (sitting in front of an ultrasound machine): I got your email. I wasn't sure that you would want to know.

PATIENT (lying on table): Thank you for understanding. Part of me just really needs to find out.

DR. BABYMAKER: Well, let's take a look.

DR. BABYMAKER lubes up the ultrasound wand, positions it carefully, and begins to search the screen.

PATIENT (looking intently at the screen): It looks like it stopped.

DR. BABYMAKER (leaning closer to the screen): Yes. I think so.

PATIENT breathes a sigh of relief.

PATIENT (to no one in particular): Thank you.

DR. BABYMAKER: It's strange, usually people at this moment are praying to see a beating heart and stop the procedure. And I'm desperately searching to find one for them. But this time is so different.

PATIENT: I know. But I'm happy it stopped before today.

DR. BABYMAKER (gently): I understand.

The lights go out.

Scene 2

PATIENT (lying on a table): Did you find what you are looking for?

DR. KNOCKOUT: You have beautiful veins.

PATIENT: Yes, I've been told. (Rolling her eyes.) You've been hunting around that arm for quite a while now.

DR. KNOCKOUT (staring intently at PATIENT's arm): I think I've finally narrowed it down to the perfect one!

PATIENT: Oh? That's usually a pretty quick process...

DR. KNOCKOUT: This one. right. here.

Jabs PATIENT in arm with giant needle. PATIENT winces and flinches.


DR. KNOCKOUT continues to twist the needle in around in her arm. PATIENT grits teeth while holding breath.

DR. KNOCKOUT: You flinched. I think the needle went through your vein and I won't be able to save it. (cheerfully) Have to try the other side.

PATIENT (to self): Oh? Great.

DR. KNOCKOUT examines PATIENT's other arm.

DR. KNOCKOUT: You really do have beautiful veins. I wish all my patients had veins like yours.

PATIENT (beginning to get a little weirded out): Yeah, yeah that's wonderful. Really special. I guess?

PATIENT: HOOOOLY CRAAAP!!!! (tries hard not to flinch.)

DR. KNOCKOUT: Ha! Got one. That is one beau-ti-ful vein!

DR. KNOCKOUT threads the IV into her arm.

PATIENT (to self, or not, as the IV starts to take hold): Oh, boy.

DR. BABYMAKER enters the room.

DR. BABYMAKER (speaking gently): Ok. All ready?

The lights go out.

DR. KNOCKOUT's voice in the distance: Beautiful, beautiful veins...

Scene 3

PATIENT slowly enters room. Shuts door. Sits down gently on bed.

She carefully peels the bandage off her arm and reveals a red and purple bruise larger than a silver dollar. She shakes her head.

PATIENT (to self): I look like a freakin' junky. Beautiful veins, my ass.

She opens her laptop as reads her email. Nods. Picks up her cell phone, listens to her messages and checks her texts. Softly smiles to herself. Tears start forming in the corners of her eyes. She places the phone her bedside table and
curls up on the bed.

PATIENT (in voice over): I know I am lucky. I have so many wonderful friends and a fantastic, loving family. A beautiful little boy that many people, who have struggled with infertility, would give absolutely anything for. And with this pregnancy, I knew pretty early on how it was going to turn out.

Many people go weeks longer, months longer, and have no idea. Until one day when they expect to see their beautiful baby waving at them on the ultrasound, or get their perfect test results, and they are met instead with the solemn, almost frightened, face of their doctor and then, the same bad news. But their dreams were bigger. More real. Almost touchable.

And there are the people who make it to very end. Who endure the pain of childbirth, only to be sadly met by the same solemn face and the same horrible news. Or the people who actually are able to touch and feel and laugh with their child, only to have it all end tragically with that one prematurely, final beat of their child's heart.

In the scheme of things, my story is not that sad.

Do I really have the right to mourn a child who was the size of a sprinkle on a cupcake when his heart stopped beating? Is my sorrow completely self-indulgent?

Am I even mourning the actual child... or just the dream?

Both. I am mourning both. The child that struggled so hard to live and... the dream.

The idea of the family I wanted.

Of the tinkling sounds, of children laughing together, coming from the other room while I made dinner.

Of being tackled by my children, and happily crushed by their hugs, while they giggled conspiratorially together.

But also of a life that has been left unlived...

...and of a chapter that is being closed in my own life.

It might be small, in the scheme of things, but it is mine. And I will mourn this loss in my own time, and in my own way, until I feel healed.

She hugs a pillow and lets the tears flow, for what she hopes will be, one last time.

The lights go out...

Friday, 31 July 2009

Statistically Challenged

My husband and I met 17 years ago. At the time, the chances that we would meet were 1 in 24 million.

We just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary last weekend. We now have 60% chance that we will stay married. (Which means a 40% chance we'll get divorced. That sucks, huh?! Just over 50/50 odds.)

Dashell had a 1% chance of being diagnosed with Femoral Focal Hypoplasia with Unusual Facies Syndrome. Pre-natally he was given a 70% chance of having it. And after birth, we were told that the chances that he had it were zero.

My chances of conceiving a child with IVF at 40, 23%.

My chances of giving birth to a live IVF child at 41, 16%.

My chances of conceiving a child with IVF at 42, 15%.

My chances of giving birth to a live child at 43, now... 0%.

The chances that my baby would have the particular chromosomal abnormality that it does, 0.5%. (It was deemed veeeery unusual by our specialist.)

The chances my baby's heart would still be beating at 8 weeks 2 days, 0.2%.

The chances I'm slowly going crazy, hanging in this emotional prugatory, 100%.

We have been waiting (and this sounds so cold, but it is the horrible, horrible truth) for this limbo to end. We have been waiting for this heart to stop beating. Yet, it won't. It's the freakin' energizer bunny of abnormal hearts. (You would think this is a good sign, but it's not. So don't get your hopes up.)

When I found out yesterday that it was still beating, I asked if there was any way we could get a conclusive diagnosis (so we could emotionally move on) without having to wait for the results of a CVS test in a month (if this pregnancy continued to progress.)

Yesterday I saw several doctors. The conclusion was that this heart has an unheard of will to continue beating. I was wrong in my last post when I said that this baby's heart was weak. It's not. In fact, it was explained to me that this child is basically all heart. (Sounds kind of sweet, right?)

Normal 8 week fetus...

Our baby...

See what I mean? All heart.

No head.

No arms.

No legs.

Just all heart. Obviously, a lover (and a fighter!)

The doctors were sweet. I did my standard, professional I'm-talking-with-doctor-who's-giving-me-bad-news thing. Which means I made terrible jokes and tried to put them at ease while, at the same time, trying to seem like an emotionally stable person.

But I was crying on the inside. And when I made it to my car, I wept. (Then I went home and ate a half a pint of chocolate ice cream and curled up in bed.)

We are expecting the heart to stop beating this weekend and I'm scheduled for a D&C on Tuesday.

We usually like to pride ourselves on beating the odds. Unfortunately this time we won't.

Chances I'm going to have a drink this weekend to try to forget about all this, 100%.

Chances I'll be distracting myself by visiting with some good friends, 100%.

Chances Dash will do something today that will make me laugh out loud, 100%.

Thank goodness!

I am, in many ways, a very lucky girl.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

To Be Saved For Later...

I've decided to copy over three posts from my other blog. Although I originally published them there, this might in some ways be a more suitable home for them. I know, I know. It's kind of like cheating, populating a blog with previously written material. But I can't seem to get it out of my head that these posts some how belong here... and there. They straddle both my worlds.

This piece was originally posted here on June 23, 2009.

Dear Dashell,
Sometime far in the future you may (or may not) be interested in the details of this post. My pregnancy with you was unusual, to say the least, and someday, maybe when you are getting ready to have children of your own, these details might be something that you would like to know.

Since I started this blog when you were already eight months old the specifics of my pregnancy with you are only in my memory, and let's just say that t
ime has a wonderful way of smoothing the ripples on the pond of life. So in order make sure that it is documented in some way, I am going to write it all down now and then let it dissolve away and be pleasantly replaced by all the new memories that we are making together.

A Bumpy Beginning...
Some couples are lucky enough to create new life with just the two of them. Quietly (maybe; it's a choice of course), privately. But in our case, we needed a whole team of people and a lovely little petrie dish. (You see, by reproductive standards, I was quite ancient when we conceived you at 40 3/4 years old.) You, my lovely little boy, happened on our second try (with medical intervention). Our first IVF cycle was a total bust because I got a terrible infection from the egg retrieval and during my two week wait (the time from when the embryos were transferred back into me until the time when the clinic does a pregnancy test) I had a very, very high fever and my body basically baked those embryos to a crisp. Since I ended up with you, I couldn't be happier. But at the time, I was devastated. I had pinned all my hopes on this one IVF. We had three lovely little embryos (one 8 cell, one 6 cell, and one 4 cell) every one of them had a little fragmentation (not a great thing) but all in all they were not too shabby looking. So, your dad and I were feeling pretty positive, but as I mentioned: no dice.

Fast forward to our second IVF. I was put on different protocol, Micro-Flare Lupron. This was good because it happened over a shorter period of time, which meant your old mom had to jab herself with far fewer needles (say 50-60 instead of 100 or more). But our outcome was a little different... when you do a 3 day transfer for IVF the ideal embryo has at least 8 cells and no fragmentation. For this round we ended up with one 6 cell (we think this might have been you) and two 4 cells, all with lots of fragmentation.

I want to pause here and say one thing before I continue... Dashell, I love you so much and you are the child I always wanted. I never, ever, ever could have asked for (or wanted) a more perfect, beautiful child.

Obviously, I'm about to say something bad, so let's just dive in shall we?

Well, the way they tell you how many and what quality embryos you have is like this: you are lying there, on a table, with your pants off, hopped up on a ridiculous amount of hormones (if you have a wife or a girlfriend, think about her crazy emotional level of PMS and times it by at least 100,000) so you are super emotional and you are thinking "Oh, I wonder how many wonderful little 8 celled embryos I have this time?" And the doctor comes in and shows you a picture of three embryos that look like they are so covered in sand that you cannot even tell how many cells they each have (and you know that this is not all what they should look like). Then she explains that although she knows that you wished for 8 cells you have one 6 cell and two 4 cells and they are far poorer quality than the last round, but at least you have something to transfer and she has seen miracles happen. Miracles?!! Suddenly I'm hoping for a miracle?!

I have to say I kind of melted down. I'm not proud of it. But it's the truth. I asked if we could just freeze these embryos (yes, I asked if I could just throw you on ice!) and move on to another cycle (since I was so very, very old, and feeling desperate, and running out of time). But the doctor and your dad talked me off the ledge and we ended up transferring you (and the other two) into me where, much to the surprise of everyone, you thrived. You have always been a little fighter. A pure bundle of energy right from the beginning.

In fact my hormone levels were so high (much higher than even the levels of my acupuncturist who was carrying twins at the time) that for quite a while everyone thought that there were at least two of you. Much to your daddy's relief, we eventually discovered that it was just you in there. But, given my hormone levels, we realized that you were already quite the little overachiever! (Your dad and I like to think that you are so strong because you were conceived on the anniversary of our first kiss. You are a true love child.)

This is one of the first pictures I have of you...

You were 9 weeks old. We were in heaven for about 3 more weeks.

The CVS Test...
Because of my advanced age at the time of your conception, we opted to have a CVS test at 11 weeks to find out if you had any generic abnormalities. When you get a CVS test, they take a small piece of the placenta and test it for the same generic abnormalities that they test for with an Amnio. The results usually take a few weeks to come in, so you can ask for early results (these come back in about a week). So of course, I asked for the early results because we had been keeping our pregnancy a secret and wanted to share our joy (and your sex) with the soon to be grandparents over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Here is a picture of you taken right before the test was done...

See those little round knobs? Those are your arms and legs!

Well a week later the results came in and they went something like this...

"Is this Gwynn?"


"Can you talk now?"


"Well, we just got in the results from your CVS and they are not looking too good. In fact we have never seen anything like this before. There are two extra genetic markers in every cell. Many times we see one extra marker in every cell. Sometimes we see two here and there. But with you there are two in every cell. We can't seem to figure out which gene they are from, but we have a team of specialists working on it."

(Pulling to side of road) "So what does this mean??"

"Well usually this is not a good sign. Chances are that this is not compatible with life."

Not compatible with life.


"Yes, I'm afraid so. You might want to start thinking about..."

I cried.

And cried.

I went into a depression. I stopped taking my vitamins (so if you ever feel that you are a few IQ points shy of where you should be, you can blame me.)

And then on Thanksgiving Day I got another call...

"We let the cell culture grow. Mosaic. And the two extra genetic markers are no longer there."


"We sometimes see this. We might have just gotten a bad piece of the placenta. There is a very good chance that your baby is ok."


"But we would like you to see one of our doctors who is a specialist in pre-natal abnormalities and to have an amnio."

"Sure. OK."

Hooooly crap! was all I could think. This might work out. But I have to say I was extremely nervous for the next several weeks. I wasn't sure that I should let myself believe that this could be ok.

The Amnio...
At 17 weeks we had an Amnio and it was relatively uneventful (other then the fact that my future happiness was tied to the results!)

And what a relief it was when everything came back ok. (They told me that I was not allowed to get the early results for this test, after what happened with the CVS!)

It actually took a couple weeks for it to sink in that you were ok and everything was fine. I finally let myself relax (a little). Over Christmas we started letting people know that we were pregnant. It felt so good to say those words.

I was still holding my breath, waiting for our 20 week scan. This was the big one. And we were looking forward to having it with our pre-natal skeletal specialist and hearing her give you a clean bill of health as well.

Well, unfortunately she couldn't make it that day. So we saw someone else much more junior. But he pronounced you perfect. And gave us this picture of you...

A couple weeks later (when you were just 25 weeks old) I finally felt confident enough, that everything was going to be ok, that your father and I went out to the store a brought some clothes and nursery items for you. It was a blast. It felt freeing and wonderful. We embraced you and the wonderful baby you were going to be.

26 Weeks...
But this lovely, happy period was not to last. The very next week, while working late at the office, I discovered I was bleeding. A lot. I freaked out. I called your dad. He called the doctor. The doctor called me (while I was speeding down the freeway.) She told me that I was probably having contractions and I should go to the hospital.

Well she was right. I was having contractions. Not really what you want at 26 weeks. Although if I had gone into full-blown labor at that point, you might have survived, but there would have also been a very good chance that you might have had many health problems for the rest of your life. So I happily let the nursing staff pump me full of terbutaline (to keep the contractions under control) while the doctors tried to figure out why this was happening in the first place.

Eventually I had an ultrasound and they concluded that I had a lot of extra amniotic fluid. You, my dear, had an extra-large swimming pool (and I didn't even know it), but they didn't know why.

Here is a picture they took of you...

When I asked the nurse, "Doesn't it look like he has a funny little overbite?" Little did I know, this picture would lead us down a crazy, crazy path.

But first a detour...

While in the hospital, I caught the Australian Flu. An awful variety of the flu that was going around that year, where basically you cough and cough until you just want to die. I was coughing so violently and for such long periods that the doctor put me on a cough supressant with codine (to knock me out) because she was afraid that I would cough so hard that my water would break. So after being in the hospital for a week, I was in bed for two weeks with this nutty flu. Coughing so hard my ears and eyes hurt. Finally, just when I thought I was going to pass out from the exhaustion of coughing, it passed.

But by that time we had missed the all important 28 week scan and couldn't get in until 30 weeks to see what our specialist had to say about the cause of the extra fluid. (In the meantime, my OB told me that sometimes women have extra fluid and no one can find a reason for it, so don't worry.)

While we waited (and for the rest of pregnancy) I had to hook myself up to machines twice a day and monitor my contractions. Sometimes if I was having too many. I had to drink a bunch of water and then rest for an hour and monitor again. This could go on for several hours. So some nights, I got very little sleep because instead of sleeping I was testing and testing and testing.

The 30 Weeks Scan...
We finally made it in to see our specialist and as she deftly swirled her magic ultrasound wand over my belly she explained, to her doctor-in-training, that there was always a reason for extra fluid. (An opinion very much at odds with my OB's!) Sometimes it's the stomach (not processing the amniotic fluid correctly), sometimes it's the brain (not telling the baby to continue to swallow the fluid), sometimes it's the mouth (not able to swallow the fluid) and sometimes... oh, what is that???!

Yes, Dashell, this is the photo that launched a thousand discussions and a million consultations.

This is your right femur. That lovely S-curve that you see is not supposed to be there. And on this ultrasound (and on every, single ultrasound there after) it measured short. Shorter than your left femur.

The doctor began to panic. I could feel her panic. It was palatable. Not really what you expect from a high level specialist.

She was suddenly measuring this and measuring that. The wand was everywhere. She was pretty much freaking out. (I think because this should have been caught at the 20 week scan.) And I have to say it was beginning to make me a little scared.

Finally she took a bunch of pictures and left the room. For a veeeeeeery long time. When she came back, she announced that after consulting with many other specialists that they thought that you probably have Femoral Focal Hypoplasia with Unusual Facies Syndrome. But that a short jaw and a short femur can also be markers for other more devastating syndromes and that we should continue to come back and have your development checked (and get a second opinion if we wanted to.) She also said that your jaw might be so short that you might choke on your tongue when you are born so we will need to have a neonatologist present at your birth so that they can intubate you immediately if necessary.

I held it together during the rest of the appointment as she continued to talk about what may or may not be going on with you. But once I left the office, and was safely in my car, I sobbed. I cried for you. I cried and cried. I cried for weeks and weeks.

We had more ultrasounds.

Here are a few more pictures of your femur... (they never got another clear picture or measurement of your jaw, you uncooperative rascal!)

Your father and I went to many specialists to discuss your case. To try to understand better what might be going on with you.

Another Diagnosis...
We had a fetal MRI done to see if we could get a better look at your femur. And wouldn't you know it, the only thing that we couldn't see was your right femur. You decided to do a little jig with your right leg (and only your right leg, you little stinker!) during the exact time we were having our MRI done.

But we did get a new piece of information: you had Borderline Ventriculomegaly. Which basically meant that your lateral cerebral ventricles were dilated beyond what is considered to be normal. This could be a marker for greater, more profound abnormalities... or not. No one knew. We would just have to wait and see.

Wait and see, if you when you were born, you had other facial abnormalities which might be markers for other genetic disorders (which weren't screened for during the Amnio). Wait and see if you hit your milestones. Wait and see if you had learning disabilities.

Again I cried. For you. And selfishly, for me.

As your due date got closer and closer people would ask me if I was excited. I wasn't. I'm sorry. That sounds horrible. But it's the truth. I wasn't.

Inside me, you were this beautiful squirmy baby. And I just didn't know what we would be facing once you were born. (I admit it. I was a coward.)

Your Birth Day...
Well your due date got closer and closer, and the day before your were due I woke up and felt fluid leaking down my leg. And then it stopped. And then about 30 minutes later it happened again. And then it stopped. And then, there it was again. And, being the practical person that I am, I put on a pad and went about doing some work while getting ready to go to the office.

Finally I mentioned it to your father and being the sensible person that he is, he told me to call the doctor. The nurse, at my OB's office, told me that I should go to the hospital and to have them check and see if I was leaking amniotic fluid. But my new washer and dryer were showing up that morning so asked if I could wait until they arrived before heading out. She, resolutely, said... "No".

Dashy, one thing you should know about me is that I'm a little, oh shall we say... headstrong. So instead of going to hospital I waited another 20 minutes for my new appliances to show up (they were beautiful!) and then another 35 minutes for them to be installed and then your father and I drove (casually) to the hospital.

By this time the dripping fluid had stopped and, wanting to be a tidy girl, I went to the bathroom when we got there, and cleaned up a bit and threw out my pad. Little did I know that the only way they can tell if you are leaking amniotic fluid is by swabbing some of it and seeing if the little litmus paper changes color. Of course when you're a tidy girl, who has stopped leaking, there is nothing to test. So they told me the result was inconclusive and to go about my day.

That night your dad (thinking that there was no way that you would ever come on your exact due date) went out for some drinks with one of his friends. While he was gone I started to get these little pains. Nothing too bad. But they started to get stronger and stronger.

Your dad came home and "fell asleep" (or passed out, which ever you prefer). I didn't want to bother him, so each time one of the pains would come I would go out in the hall and curse up a storm and dig my nails into the carpet and then come back to bed and watch TV.

Eventually I was in so much pain, I woke your dad up and asked his opinion as to what I should do. You see, the doctor had told me to call her when my contractions were 2 minutes apart. But my contractions were 4-7 minutes apart but 2 minutes long (which is absolutely not normal according to Dr. Google). And they hurt so bad that I could hardly stand it.

At 3:30 in morning your father called a doula that we had met with once. (I know, kind of rude, but he was desperate for advice.) She told him that I should just relax. Have a glass of wine. Take a hot bath. I told him she was a TOTAL CRAZY PERSON and I was IN PAIN and that was not going to help.

At 4am I called my doctor's office and got the doctor on call (not my doctor). The conversation went something like this...

"I am having contractions. They are 4 minutes apart and are lasting about 2 minutes each."

"They are 2 minutes apart?"

They are 4 minutes apart and are lasting about 2 minutes each."

"They are 4 minutes long?"

They are 4 minutes apart and about 2 minutes long."

"Hmmm... well you are definitely having some kind of labor. I would suggest that you come by the office today."

"I have an appointment scheduled for 1:30pm."

"I would definitely keep that."

"Ok. Thank you." (you crazy old man!) "Goodbye."

Thirty minutes later I had red liquid running down my leg. My contractions hurt even more and I insisted that your father take me to the hospital NOW regardless of what the doctor and the doula were saying.

When we got to the hospital it was determined that I was in very active labor and they gave me some lovely drugs for the pain. Ooooh those drugs were good. They said that they would take the edge off and they sure did!!

They told me that if everything continued going forward, as it was, your should be arriving around 3:30pm. Yay!

Unfortunately, as with everything with else during this pregnancy, things didn't go exactly as planned. My contractions started lasting 2 1/2 minutes a piece and then 4 minutes a piece and your heart rate started dropping through every contraction. Suddenly six nurses would be swarming my room and asking me to turn this way and turn that way hoping to bring your heart rate back up. And then finally I had a contraction that just would not end, and your heart rate was dropping and dropping and dropping, and they had to give me a drug to stop my body from squeezing you to death.

Since, at this point, I was no long contracting the only thing we could do was to have an emergency C-section, because my water had broken and they were worried about infection.

So at 12:59pm you were born. They had given me a lot of drugs and I was pretty out of it. (I announced several times that I was smelling peanuts.) I kept asking your dad if your ears were ok (I had read somewhere that ear placement was a marker for some genetic disorders) and he kept reassuring me that you were perfect.

Over the next 5 days the hospital ran various tests on you just to make sure that you were fine. We had another karyotype. Absolutely a-ok. Your ventricles were checked. Perfectly within range. And you were X-rayed. Your jaw was fine. (In fact, sometimes I like to think that you shove your lower jaw out so much because your heard us talking about it a lot when I was pregnant with you, and you just like showing all of us that your jaw is a perfect size.)

And here's the deal with your right femur: it has a thickness in one area. The radiologist said that if you were not a newborn he would have sworn that you had broken it. So the 2d to 3d interpretation that the ultrasound does made it look like a bend when in fact it just has a bump.

We still don't know if you will have any problems. Everyday I feel like I am holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to fall. Right now I am nervous, because when you start really walking we will know for sure if everything is ok (or not) with your leg. Everyday you take 4 or 5 steps here, 5 or 6 steps there and I'm always looking at the backs of your knees. Scrutinizing whether or not the bend in your right knee looks higher than the bend in your left. (Many times it does, and it scares me.)

Everyday that you wake up is a miracle to me. Every milestone you hit makes me cry with joy. I was so scared Dashy. Not that you wouldn't be perfect but that your life might be so hard that you might never forgive me for having you. I love you so much. And I worry about you and your happiness everyday.

Which brings me to my next topic... (Yes, there's more. I know this is an epic post.)

Not a day goes by that I don't think about the fact that when you are my age, your father and I will be in our 80's (if we are even still around.) I worry that we will leave you while you still need us. I know that out here in California we don't have any family close by. I know that you are not growing up around your cousins. And without any siblings, I am worry that once we go, you will feel adrift.

That said, your father and I decided to try, just one time, to give you a sibling. To give you that one person you would know all your life. To give you that one person who would truly understand what you were thinking when you roll your eyes at us.

We went through another cycle of IVF and
a couple weeks before your birthday we found out that only one embryo had fertilized this time. Just one. And by the second day, after the retrieval, it was only 2 cells (most are 4 by this point). So, hoping to give it a chance at survival, the doctor put it inside me early and we waited to see what would happen. It was my one little hope.

And guess what?? It worked!
The day after your birthday I found out I was pregnant. I was very happy and... very scared. (Because you, my darling, are a handful right now. But we had to do it now, because by January my chances of getting pregnant are almost zero.)

But this baby's hormone levels are not as spectacular as yours. They doubled fine at first but now they have started slowing down. At 6 weeks 2 days there was still no heartbeat and so we thought it was over.

They asked me to comeback at 7 weeks to confirm that my pregnancy had ended. So I did, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The baby had grown and... there was a heartbeat. This baby is a fighter just like you, but unfortunately it's heart isn't strong like yours. It is slow and erratic. The doctor told me that he had never seen this kind of thing turn around into a successful pregnancy. He believes that this baby has profound chromosomal abnormalities incompatible with life. (There are those words again.)

So, now, I am waiting my baby to die. Our baby to die. The sibling that I so wished for... for you.

I am really, really sad. No one should ever have to wait for a baby to die.

I wanted to give you a brother or a sister. Someday you might ask me why you don't have one. I just want you to know, we tried.

We tried... and we had you, Dashell. The beautiful, beautiful ray of sunshine in my life. And everyday you are true source of joy.

Many days, lately, I might be sad, but then you do something like you did the other night (when you discovered my belly button for the first time and you laughed so hard and so long that you had tears streaming down your face and you gave yourself the hiccups!!) and happiness comes rushing back and a smile easily breaks across my face.

I love you Dashy. I am sorry that you might never have a sibling, but I want you to know that you are truly loved, and cherished. I wish for you many, many friends and as much happiness as the world has to offer.

I love you so much my beautiful, perfect, sparkling little boy.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Need

I just created this blog. And now I sit. Thinking. What did I just do?

I have another blog which I love dearly. But it's a mommy blog about my son and there are other things I have a need to talk about. My son was hard won and not a day goes by that I don't revel in his existence. In the fact that science was able to triumph over nature. In the fact that science figured out a way to solve the problem of how to get my ancient (40 3/4 year old) eggs to live up to their potential. To fulfill their purpose. To achieve the only goal that they were put on this earth to achieve.

And, I don't know, maybe it wasn't just science. I did pray very, very hard. First I prayed that I'd get pregnant and then (after all the crazy diagnoses) during my pregnancy I prayed that my son would be ok. Would have a shot at leading a,
most importantly, happy and, possibly, productive life. And in the end, it all worked out. Was it just science that made that happen? Who knows.

So here I am again. Being greedy. Asking, praying, for a second miracle. Should I be ashamed? Maybe. Maybe not.

I need to sort that out. It's something I'm struggling with.

So, I created this blog. A place away from my other thoughts where I can work through this. For myself.. and for my family. I need to figure out what that family is. What comprises it. What I can be happy with. What I need. And what I can realistically expect.

I was reading Mel's blog the other night. She was at BlogHer musing about why people write blogs. When it is that you blog the most. And she wrote that "when a blogger gets under stress, that's when people blog more. Connect more." I'm not sure that's true for me. I love writing silly little anecdotes about my life during all of the happy, carefree times. But I, definitely, have a need. A need to write about, to sort through, what is going on in my life right now. And maybe, subconsciously, I do have a need to connect.

I kept my struggles to conceive my son very private. And it was hard. Mentally hard. Physically hard. And, without a doubt, emotionally hard. I am still not sure how much connecting I will do with this site, but it is comforting to know I that I have a place. That my thoughts have place. That my struggle, in mind my and with my body, has place... a home. And that my need has a place to be filled.