Let the games begin!

We got the call this morning that a Day 3 transfer was in our future. Sure we would have loved a Day 5, but since I have advanced maternal age at the ripe old age of 35 1/2 (HA!), the clinic’s protocol is to go with a Day 3 transfer if there aren’t five 6-cell embryos. I had four 8-cell and two that were 5-cell. So, I just missed the cut-off. Oh well. Lucky for us, we had some choice this time. We were also part of a new study that takes pictures and video of the embryos growing, and gives a recommendation as to the healthiest ones in the batch. So with some choice and some added information, we decided to return two, grade 1 embryos to their homeland. The winners were embryo A and embryo E. From here on out, they will be referred to as Arturo and Eva. My dad thinks this is a little wacky, but I figure I should start talking to the kids as they settle in for a lengthy lease.

We did have lots of conversation about how many embryos to put back in. We are fortunate to have a doctor whom we not only respect but we also trust. He suggested two so we’d hopefully have more to freeze. Why waste a good one if all three took, was his theory. I like that. We would also be prepared (if you can be) for twins. Triplets, no way.

I saw my acupuncturist directly after my visit and have been instructed to eat pineapple daily until Sunday, and chicken once a day until my pregnancy test. I spent lots of time on the couch, watched some bad tv, napped, and otherwise told Arturo and Eva to enjoy the new location.

As I think back to my last cycle and the two week wait, I have vowed to do some things differently. I know that as my blood test date approaches (7/23) I will get anxious and crazy, but I’m hopeful some changes along the way will help me cope with the uncertainty.

1. I will not google. Well, I’ll google things like yelp reviews and stupid baseball stats and funny videos, but nothing fertility related.

2. I will do my best to embrace any and all symptoms I experience. I already have some mild and wacky cramping from the high dosage of progesterone I’m on (all confirmed normal by my doc), but bloating and boob soreness and anything else will just be part of the experience and not a sign of something bad or good.

3. I will meditate for one hour each day. I made myself a playlist comprised of some really great music my yoga teachers play. I listened to it prior to retrieval and during the transfer, and it really soothed my nerves. I have a space all set out for my meditation, some embryos to focus on, and some baby dreams to have!

4. I will practice gratitude daily. In each of my yoga classes when the teacher asks us to set an intention I say the same thing: gratitude in my thoughts, gratitude from my lips, gratitude in my heart. I have said this in every class I’ve attended since joining the local studio, and gratitude is something I strongly believe in. Regardless of what life throws us all, we must be grateful for what we have. Especially during this period of uncertainty and wait, it is gratitude that will lighten my burden. I realize I sound like a complete hippie nut job, but I’m ok with that.

For my first act of gratitude, I want to thank all of the ladies who read this blog and cheer me on. As I told my husband this morning …. if I only had the women in my real life (both colleagues and friends) you would think having a baby was as easy as getting dressed. So, it was on-line and among strangers that I learned that I was not alone. This is a gift I can never thank you enough for.

More to come. Eva and Arturo say hello!

dfb

Egg report

Well, I am home, feeling good, and breathing a slight sigh of relief. They retrieved 13 eggs. Holy shit! I actually started to cry when the nurse told me. 13! 13! One more time: 13! This is ten more than IVF #1. Of course, we know nothing of the quality, but I have to believe that working with a larger number will only help our efforts to become parents. Let’s hope.

As is typical, we’ll get a fertilization report early tomorrow morning. For now, I am going to nap on the couch, snuggle with my husband, and otherwise relax.

Thanks for all the support. I felt it this morning.

dfb

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

Imagination Cul-de-sac

I am not crazy, but today I heard something profound. It didn’t come in yoga or in some great piece of literature. Rather, it came from a 45 second clip I heard on NPR. Some musician was talking about the power of the imagination and how we can imagine the path before us. The problem with most of us, he said, is that we’re in an imagination cul-de-sac. This got me thinking. I don’t believe that everything I want is out there. I’m not pessimistic; I’m just a pragmatist. I also don’t believe I can “call in” everything I want if I focus hard enough. I’m not lazy; I just know that bad shit does happen to good people … like me and all the other infertile girls I know. So why did this idea of an imagination cul-de-sac strike a cord? Well, I think it did because I’ve been in an infertility cul-de-sac for more than two years. And I’m ready to break out. I know that this desire to break out comes with some risk. My breakout might include kids or it might not. Both options come with their own pros and cons, but, regardless, I’m just tired of where I am. I’ve put a lot of things on hold for our baby-making efforts. We’ve put a lot of time and energy and money into it, too, and we’re ready to move. (Not to go all English teacher on my readers, but this is what James Joyce focused most of his work: stuckness.) We’re ready to be somewhere else. Aren’t you?

Here’s to a new road map, a new street, a new neighborhood. Here’s to a road that doesn’t involve a turnaround or a dead end. Here’s to the certainty that anything, everything is better than being stuck in the land of if. Here’s to using the word when.

dfb

 

A swirl of emotions

First off, I read this post and then headed over to what was posted about infertility etiquette. What a great website. What a great piece that I’d love to share with many people. Who knew it was Infertility Awareness Week? I’m aware of my own issues, and definitely have been struggling with them over the last few days. Here’s what I’m feeling:

1. Talked with the IVf coordinator who works with my doctor. She is super nice. She gave me the briefing, all of which is not new the second time around. I have this great sense of confidence in myself because I know what’s coming. My hubby knows how to give injections like a pro. I know what meds go where and when and why. But …

2. Talked with the financial lady. Again, she was super nice, but this is where my confidence and my positive outlook started to fade. I still cannot, not even a little bit, get over the upcoming cost. What an impact this will have on our life. I do wish we lived in a state that mandates coverage for IVF, but we do not. We have nothing. Not even office visits are covered, so as the financial gal rattled off the details and the numbers added up, I felt myself doubting this cycle, doubting our desire to become parents, doubting my faith in myself. It’s an awful feeling. My hubby has said we just need to embrace the cost. It is something we cannot control, but IVF is something we’re committed to one more time. But still. When all is said and done, we’ll be in close to $16k. Mix in the $14k we’ve already spent this calendar year and I feel horrible. Like make myself sick. Throw-up. Cry at random times. Horrible.

3. In the midst of all of this shit came some pretty wild news: the students at the high school where I teach voted me as the graduation speaker. My school does not invite outside speakers to graduation, rather one graduating student and one faculty member address the students and parents and friends. I got the news last Friday and at first I was in such a grey mood from previously mentioned thoughts that it didn’t really sink in. But then I saw some students who were excited and eager to hear me speak, and I thought — this is pretty fucking cool! That’s when I realized that I am hormonal without the help of meds, I am emotional as we head into IVF #2, but I cannot let this cloud every aspect of my life. I must compartmentalize all that I am feeling about my infertility, deal with those feelings, and then let the other parts of my life shine through. It is those other parts, those parts that are pretty fantastic, that will carry me during my times of doubt and dismay.

4. So it was in yoga, this evening, that I had this clarity. (ding! ding! ding! I get it why my BFF has fallen head-over-heels for yoga and dedicated much of the last decade to mastering it and teaching it.) As my teacher said — Embrace who you are. Accept where you are. I let out a HUGE sigh as I recommitted to both of those ideas. I am not good at this right now. I want to fast forward five months, maybe even just two, so I know how this all turns out. But, seeing as Doc from Back to the Future is nowhere to be found in my life, such a feat is not possible. So instead, I will continue to breathe into what I’m feeling and figure out how to let it all go …

dfb

Practicing Stillness

After our January IVF failed, my dad told me my body just needed more time to become a mother. I had just finished my first ultra-marathon not four weeks before starting stims (I did have the race of a lifetime!!), and while I told myself this wouldn’t impact my IVF cycle, sometimes I wonder if it did. My dad’s not a doctor, but he questioned my body’s ability to move from marathoner to mother in such a short time. So, I changed my training plan and moved into yoga with the hopes of helping my body move into mother mode. And it was in what has become one of my favorite classes (Yin Yoga) that I was reminded how important it is to practice stillness.

For me, stillness comes when my husband and I sit down to eat dinner. This might sound wacky, but it is at the table that we find silence and a moment of togetherness unlike the rest of our day: we read the newspaper. Sure some people see this act as an act of avoidance — no need to talk to each other when you can read the newspaper — but in fact it’s one of the moments when we share more than ever. “Listen to this …” or “Can  you believe …” are the common phrases of the meal as we share what we read. Of course those moments are punctuated with silences. But those silences are not uncomfortable or awkward; rather, they’re the welcome moments of respite from a hectic day.

I am constantly thinking about finding that moment or two of quiet, that moment when all thought fades away, and I am just left to be. That is what I loved about running. The clarity. The silence of my mind. The clean sweat not just from my pores but the sweat from the clutter of my day. In finding a new and less physically stressful way of moving into that stillness I’m hoping to be better prepared for the mother part of my life. The marathoner will return, she is my best self, but for now I will embrace stillness in the yoga studio and in the small corners of my day. I will practice it daily and give into it with grace. From stillness I know I can only grow stronger.

dfb