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...