Being Tested

I am a teacher and I am well aware of what a test means. It’s meant to assess my skills, my knowledge, my ability to move forward with what I’ve learned. Of course, with all tests come anxiety and uneasiness. No matter the student. No matter the preparation. Everyone dreads tests. I still remember the bio test I failed junior year of high school. And the motorcycle test I failed while trying to get a new license. But as a teacher, I do believe we have lots to learn from tests. If we are open-minded and willing to embrace where we went wrong, research shows we can move forward not only more quickly but also with great success. So it is with this mindset that I am moving through this IVF. I am on a different protocol. I am going to acupuncture like it’s my job. I am just more at ease with it all. But … there’s always a but …

Sometimes I feel like I am just being tested. Not for my ability to follow directions or shoot medication into my stomach or relax. I am being tested as a human. As a woman. Does anyone else feel like this?

When my mother first had her stroke when I was 23, life as I knew it (within my family) changed. The mother I had up until that point died and I was gifted another similar yet very different mother. Don’t get me wrong, we still had adventures and lots of good fun together, but physically and mentally my mom wasn’t the same. Her left side was paralyzed. She couldn’t work. She required near round the clock care. At the ripe old age of 23, I felt like I was handed a shit deal for I didn’t want a new mom. I liked my old one. But my mother always said, it happens for a reason. I learned to be a good caretaker. I learned patience. I learned to keep things in perspective. I learned that saying I love you at every opportunity is the only way to operate.

When my mother died 3 1/2 years ago, I felt like I was being tested again, but her death tested me in new and different ways. I was 32, married, settled into a job, just thinking about starting my own family. Her death tested my resolve. My ability to move forward in the face of tragedy. I realized that little matters outside of your loved ones. And I realized that nothing short of the death of a dear loved one hurts as bad as losing your mom.

Rightfully so, I feel I have been tested enough. There are times when I think that my mom died before I went through IVF so I would always think … it’s not as bad as when my mom died. But then I also think that going through IVF without your mom just sucks. It’s a whole other kind of test because I am striving to be the one thing I no longer have.

So what’s the come of all this testing? A fellow IVF survivor said it will make me a better mother. It will teach me patience. It will teach me to see the larger picture. And while I agree with her in terms of motherhood, I really think it comes down to one simple thing: I can do anything. Now, I don’t mean to say I’ll be in the Olympics in a few weeks or running for president in the fall, but throw me a challenge, ask me to rise to an occasion, test my ability to persevere, and I will. With a strong body, mind and spirit, I will.

Ultrasound #2 showed eleven follicles growing. There is a leader and two stragglers, but I am responding better than the last time. Phew. I head back on Friday for ultrasound #3, and the doc thinks retrieval will be on Sunday. I will be on stims some two days longer than last time, so let’s hope that helps my wee little eggs ripen up.

**A small, additional note: I re-read my older posts and realized that in my first IVF cycle I only had FOUR follicles in the works. Holy shitballs! I’ve got more than double. I would shout out loud right now, but Hubs is napping on the couch.

dfb

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The danger zone

Do any of you remember that song from Top Gun? It was a brilliant Kenny Loggins song called Danger Zone. Check it out and you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I'm in the zone. Not in a bad way, but whenever you have a container like the one above (that's my lovely sharps container with a little photo editing for effect) you have to ask yourself, what the hell is going on? I have a container full of biohazardous material in my house. Men in white suits are going to tent my house and take crazy readings a la E.T. I should be wearing gloves and a mask, for sure. But no. This is just the life of a needle addicted infertile trying to jack up her system and get pregnant.

My baseline ultrasound went swimmingly. Nice! I've been on daily Lupron and Follistim for two days now. I can hear my ovaries working overtime. And they are. I am no Follistim lightweight. I need shitloads of the stuff to make my vintage ovaries produce. And produce they will. They must. My acupuncturist reminded me: it is not the quantity rather the quality. Of course, but more than four eggs would be nice. Really nice. The best part of this entire cycle has been the lack of ass shots. Last cycle everything went into my high haunch/hip area. Not this time. All shots are in my new layer of stomach fat thanks to my lack of running or any real cardio in six months. At least that weight is good for something, right. But sub-cutaneous shots are a dream. My hubby feels a little left out, so I let him draw up the meds and help me push the Follistim trigger. It's too cute.

Other than these exciting and hazardous events, life is peachy. It's summer. My dog is adorable. My hubby is a champ. And I'm going to get pregnant.

Next doctor's visit is on Sunday. Will check on my hardworking ovaries and adjust meds as needed. Fun times.

dfb

 

My last supper

This was it. Except mine was reheated leftovers from the night before. I had visions of my last pre-IVF meal being a hot dog with pop chips. It came to me in yoga class. The salt, the deliciousness of a good all-beef hot dog. The guiltless pleasure of pop chips. But when I got home and realized we had leftovers, I decided to dive into those instead. I hate throwing away food. And to go with my tasty reheats: two glorious classes of wine. I had previously promised myself that after a dinner party last Saturday night I would cease drinking alcohol. But then we had an amazing meal on Tuesday, and a crisp white wine was in order. So with the hubby away at guys night chomping on steak and kicking it with some high class bottles of wine, I decided to partake a bit myself. Not the best combination, reheated chinese and merlot, but it was delicious.

I lied in my previous post. Sorry. I actually inject the cetrotide today. Then I have to wait for CD1 at which time I call the doc and head in for my baseline ultrasound. Then the big meds begin. I feel both at ease and emotional about this second try. I now know that there are two outcomes: pregnancy and no-pregnancy. The first time around I expected only one. I know the routine of the meds, the sting of the needle in my ass cheek, the acne that will burst forth onto my face with the strength of ten hormonal adolescents, the weird satisfaction I get from injecting a tiny needle into my belly because it reminds me that I am stronger than I think I am. But then there are the emotions, the unknowns, the moments of grey and waiting and hoping and forward thinking. Those are the things that will drive me into the ground. But at least I know that’s coming.

So, after a fabulous last supper and an amazing last pre-IVF day (which included a 3-run walk-off home run at the baseball game I went to), I’ve decided I’m going to swing away. For you non-basebal lovers, this means I am going to step up to the plate and not worry about where I’m going to hit the ball. I’m not going to bunt. I’m not going to question. I’m going to drive the ball as far as I can and with everything I have. I have taken six months off of running, I have thrown myself into yoga and meditation, I have been drinking my mud martini twice a day (chinese herbs), going to acupuncture, visualizing myself giving birth, seeing Hubby as a father, thinking all the right things. And now, I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to swing away and come up pregnant. There, I said it.

dfb

Some random and unrelated thoughts

1. While reading the Sunday New York Times, I came across an article about the top 200 CEOs in the country. The article was about rising pay in the face of a withering economy, but that’s not what intrigued me. Of the 200 CEOs, only seven were women. SEVEN! That led me to this thought: what the fuck is wrong with this country? Nevermind that I don’t have health coverage for this upcoming cycle of IVF or that insurance covers Viagra but not birth control for some women or that women make up the majority of the population, but of the top 200 CEOs, we are nowhere to be seen. This is not ok. Women earn more college degrees than men yet we make less money. We do more of the household chores yet we work longer work weeks. We are amazing creatures, crazy at times, but we have the power to change this. Are you with me?

2. I was again reading the Sunday times … I’m a teacher, what else can I do on Sundays? The Wall Street Journal doesn’t publish on Sundays … and I came across another article. The article focuses on the Penn State troubles from the fall and wonders where our morals have gone. The line that just made me scream in agreeance was this: We’ve moved from a culture of character to a culture of personality. So true. For me, at least. And so I thought about how my character and the strong character of the other infertiles in my life are so valuable, so powerful and amazing. While we struggle with the baby thing, think of how strong we are. How adaptable we’ve become. How much character we have. Infertility is not for wimps.

3. Last Times mention, I promise. This article really hit home. The title will tell you why: Think Before You Breed. This article even got my hubby fired up as it raised the question of why people ask us why we don’t have children. I would never ask someone why she did have kids, yet I have been asked time and time again why not? Why is that ok? Isn’t that the most personal question you could possibly ask a couple? Yet why is that question socially ok to ask? Ladies, we have work to do. I’m starting a campaign against the “why not?”

4. If you want to see a fabulous movie that will make you cry and make you laugh and make you realize that companionship with good friends and good lovers trumps all else, see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Not only are some of Britains best actors and actresses in the film, but it’s also a great story that will lighten your day. Promise. And it’ll make you want to travel. And laugh. And think … I want to age like Judy Dench. And, when is the next season of Downton Abbey going to start?

I inject myself with cetrotide on Thursday, and then IVF #2 begins … it’s almost go time.

 

dfb

A slight crack in the wall

The last ten days have been crazy, to say the least. Hubby and I flew across the country for a wedding, shipped our dog up north for a breeding (let’s hope at least she can get pregnant!), headed into the backcountry with seven high school seniors, and sat through a graduation ceremony. Sheesh. And into the mix was thrown yet more news of someone else’s pregnancy. What the fuck? There is something going around. There is something in the air. Women in my life are getting pregnant by mistake, with ease, and with no thought. Again, what the fuck?! I am playing by all the rules, taking care of myself, going to acupuncture, drinking nasty herbal cocktails twice daily, feeling the zen in yoga … but I can’t pregnant. So I had a pity party for myself yesterday which involved a few of the following: 1. shopping for cute outdoor accessories for our back patio, 2. eating an amazingly delicious swirl soft serve cone dipped in hard shell chocolate!, 3. having a few beers with friends, and 4. organizing a summer BBQ for next weekend.

It’s funny, just when I think I am centered and in a place of acceptance about our currently infertile situation, I become overwhelmed with it all. The grey area, the land of if, just consumes me. Do you know that feeling? I know all of this is also being compounded by the fact that we’re ramping up for our second IVF, and I’m scared shitless. I know that I have done everything in my power to set us up for success, but so much of IVF is not within my control and that’s the hard part. That’s the part that cracks my armor of self confidence. That’s the part that brings me to my knees.

To help seal up the cracks I have much to look forward to in the coming weeks. Namely, my BFF is coming to town with her boyfriend and we’ll have a glorious weekend together! There’s also baseball. Lots and lots of baseball games. I am wildly in love with the sport. Nothing like a Wednesday day game to remind me of the good things. Throw in a hot dog and some peanuts, and all is right with the world.

In other news, I loved ICLW. What a treasure to have so many new visitors to the blog and to read the stories of so many other women. Is it weird to find comfort in other womens’ struggles? To find some sense of a shared experience for this entire sucky process? So to those of you who blog and those of you who commented here, thank you. I am so grateful for finding this community of women. I’m sorry such a shit thing has brought us all together, but I do believe I am stronger because I know all of you.

dfb

Patience

Image

My dad took this shot on a recent vacation to Easter Island. There is something about this picture — the color, the statues, the thought of my dad waiting for hours for the right light — that I love. When my dad was younger he went to Greece and Israel one summer. He saw all of the amazing historical sights and took some of the most beautiful photos I’ve ever seen. And we’re talking film camera, no digital zoom, no photoshop. He loved to capture the light as it played with the buildings and, like Ansel Adams, he would often times wait at one spot for hours just to get the right light for the shot. Not much has changed in my dad’s desire to wait for the right time. Sure the camera is digital and the zoom is too, but his patience continues to pay off.

We have decided to push back our next IVF cycle one month. Patience, I hear my dad telling me. Have patience to wait for the right time. This month was the right time until the doctor charted out the beginning of shots and ultrasounds and blood work. Right smack at the start of it all is my brother-in-law’s wedding and a 4-day camping trip with students. Neither make taking meds or getting blood drawn or focusing on making a baby very easy. So while I was at first frustrated with the delay, I was actually freed by the decision once we told our doctor. We will now be fully on summer break for a June cycle. There will be no obstacles. No work. No nothing. And we can put ourselves into this cycle fully and completely and that’s the best feeling I’ve had about IVF in months.

Guns N Roses got it right. My dad did too. All we need is just a little patience …

dfb