Just keep silent during the mammogram, ma’am.

CD3 (Cycle day 3) today and had an ultrasound and bloodwork.  The ultrasound confirmed that the small cyst I’d developed last month had been reabsorbed, so yay to that….it hadn’t really been a concern, but you know…..who wants a cyst?  I sat down with my coordinator, The Russian’s Right Hand, and she went through my whole drug protocol: what to take, how much, when to take it, how to take it.  She’s really great – very supportive, always positive, and is getting used to the fact that sometimes I just blather, especially if I’m the least bit fidgety, and often end up saying really random things.

Example:

Before I could start IVF, I had to get a mammogram – turns out ya gotta make sure everything’s good up top before you get things going downtown. So there I am, puttin’ ’em on the glass when I try to make some small talk with the nurse person, who is very resistant to chatter.  This really only pushes me further to fill the awkward space. Now, if you’ve ever had a mammogram you know the machine is HUGE and that you have to put your body in Cirque du Soleil positions while your boob tissue is mashed between a few glass panels. There’s alot of silence, repositioning and waiting.  I think it was after 2-3 pictures that I posed a simple question:

Me: “You work with this machine all the time?”

Her: “mm-hm”

Me: “Do you have a nickname for it?’

Her:  ….No answer.

Me: “You know, like a little pet name?”

Her: …..awkward uncomfortable shrug.

Me: “You don’t ever….”

pause

more pause

Me: “So just hold right here?”

Her: “Yes please.”

Since we’re here, another example:

The first day I met The Russian she gave me an ultrasound since we knew I was likely about to ovulate.  I’ve just met her, she’s already got me on the table and is all up in my business and of course I get the urge for antsy small talk.  So, I asked her if she’d ever consider putting random pictures on the ceiling so that whilst a lady was getting ultrasounded she’d have something to look at….something like the classic kitty cat “Hang in There,” a Where’s Waldo, the August page from a Fireman-of-the-Month calendar, whatever…anything to look at as a distraction to the awkwardness of a trans-vaginal ultrasound. (Am I right, ladies?)  Random random blather.

Back to the present.

I’ll start my stims tonight – I’ll do approximately 10 days of Follistim, Menopur and Lupron, a total of 3 shots a night.  All three are with pretty small needles so fairly low on the discomfort scale, mid-range on the psych-yourself-up-to-shove-3-needles-into-your-belly scale.  I’ll go back next Wednesday at which point they’ll do some bloodwork and I’ll get another untrasound – where yes, I’ll still be looking at a blank ceiling.  They’ll get a gauge on how I’m responding to everything and adjust my dosages if need be.

A quick note on my dosages, which for the moment I won’t divulge. Why? Because a 30-second look around the internet told me that most people either a) freaked out at people saying they were on this level or b) were on the other side of treatment ragging about it.

Because it’s alot.

I’m taking alot.

It feels just higher than “throw the kitchen sink at it” and slightly less than “holy shit.” I started to let the chatboards psych me out, so I closed my browser, got a tad worked up and then decided I likely will need to resist researching this particular subject until I’m done with treatment.  For now I gotta let the doctor be the doctor.  I’ll put the numbers in writing soon enough but I’m letting them sink in right now, putting my trust in The Russian and continuing to chill out.

Luckily I have very little to do over the weekend aside from walking the dog, catching up on Mad Men and finding random YouTube clips which I’ll pass along to you in my next post.

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The Cake That Wooed a Husband

I met my husband at my own birthday party on New Year’s Eve.  His sister is an old friend of mine and she dragged him out on the promise that he was getting set up with someone at a NYE party…..this someone was not me, they were merely stopping by “a friend’s birthday party” on the way to the bigger NYE party.  He came through the door, made a beeline for the cake (which I was standing next to), cut himself a piece and starting eating.

Me: “You Like That Cake?”

Him: “I love this cake!”

Me: “I made that cake.”

Him: “You made this cake?”

Me: “It’s my birthday cake.”

Him: “You made your own birthday cake?”

Me: “It’s pretty good, right?”

We’ve been together ever since.

For those of you who are wondering, his sister called off the set-up at the other party…to this day she won’t tell us who they were going to set him up with.

And yes, he kissed me for the first time at midnight.  Swoon city, am I right?

Though, to look at the story another way, I kissed him within 2 hours of meeting him. What. A. Hussy.

I’ve been thinking about this cake since posting Cosby’s Chocolate Cake For Breakfast clip a few days ago. I’ve also been thinking about nice things I might do for my hubbo throughout this magical time in our lives…especially if I turn into a crazytown hormonal space beast once I start shooting myself up with hormones.  He is notoriously patient and supportive and the least I can do is make dude a cake.  We’re actually trying to eat super well right now, but I think once we’ve done the egg retrieval and I’m trying to chill out, it’ll likely be cake bakin’ time.

The recipe’s taken from one of my favorite cookbooks: The New Basics cookbook by Julee Rosso & Shiela Lukins. I’ve killed the spine on my copy and many pages are covered in….ingredient remnants.  I’ve made tiny indications of a few tweaks – the cake’s delicious without them, I just like to tinker….but for Pete’s sake – do yourself a favor and bake this cake at some point.

For the cake:

3 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate	
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar (light brown will also work, you can always add a little molasses)
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
 1 cup boiling water
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
***tweek: add a Tablespoon or two of instant coffee to pump up the chocolate flavor

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans; set them aside.
2. Place the chocolate in a small heavy saucepan, and melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
3. Cream the butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the melted chocolate.
4. Combine the cake flour, baking soda, and the salt. Alternating between the two, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the chocolate mixture in three stages, ending with flour. Then slowly stir in the boiling water and the vanilla.
5. Pour the batter into the two prepared pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a layer comes out clean, 30 minutes.
6. Remove the pans from the oven and let the layers sit for 5 minutes. Then invert the pans over
wire racks, releasing the cake, and let the cake cool completely before icing.

For the icing:

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels (tweek: I've used milk chocolate or dark chocolate, which are equally amazing).
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. Combine the chocolate and butter in a small heavy saucepan, and melt over very low heat.
2. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the milk and vanilla, and transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.
3. Add the sugar gradually, beating with an electric mixer. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth; it will be runny.
4. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour, beating it every 15 minutes. (The icing will stiffen.)

Two last tweaks: 
1. bake the cake in 3 layers instead of 2 (cut baking time by 5ish minutes) 
2. Make a raspberry filling for between the layers - use your favorite recipe or this is a good one:

Combine 3 cups fresh raspberries, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup 
granulated sugar in a pan over low heat, bringing to a low and slow bubble.  
Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  
Remove from heat and allow to cool.  
Chill in an air-tight container for at least 4 hours and overnight.


 

Flying cats, birds on a wire and chocolate cake for breakfast

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, a roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions, shiny objects and things to occupy my brain.  I share some here each week.

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This week I bring you 3 short videos:

A super cool 9yr old introduced me to this video yesterday — I honestly can’t stop watching it because it makes me snort laugh every single time.

Pixar is a wonderful thing….even when they make you cry like a baby (Up….Toy Story 3….c’mon!) – this one just makes me giggle

The great Bill Cosby was one of my first comedic influences.  He’s an amazing storyteller and I quote him to this day.

Now I want to go bake myself a chocolate cake.

Have a good week everyone.

IVF Suppression: The Calm Before the Stim Storm

So before you start shootin’ yourself up with IVF meds to turn your reproductive system into a hyperdrive, you’re often initially put on suppressive meds.  When you suppress your system, you shut it down, you calm it, you tell it to take a snooze so that you can then reboot it and turn each of your ovaries into something that is highly trained, efficient, innovative, and overachieving, yet cool and stoic under pressure: i.e. you’re aiming for the Nadia Komaniche of reproductive systems.

Suppression starts with birth control pills – yep, before you know why it sounds like the most asinine idea on the planet – stop trying to get pregnant in order to get pregnant. WTF, right?  Anywhos, you take The Pill so that your ovaries stop ovulating and so that your doctor can take over, time things very very specifically and get them to do tricks like circus animals.  Also, you are often synched up with other patients at your clients for quality control purposes in the lab.  It’s a team effort in many many ways.

I’ve taken the long road on The Pill and only this week did it start to feel long. Too long. You see, all over the internet are ladies in IVF talking about being on The Pill for a week, two weeks, a whopping 3 weeks. The internet can tell you that what you’re currently doing is wrong.  The internet can tell you you’re on the perfect protocol. People on the chatboards can tell you that what you’re doing is good/bad for you.  People can tell you that if you’re on The Pill for too long or too short you’re going to blow the whole deal.

Because everyone on a chat board has complete knowledge of what YOUR RE is trying to accomplish with your body.

Three words for you:

Grain.

Of.

Salt.

Because if I believed everything the internet and the chat chains told me, I would be rocking back and forth in the corner sucking my thumb and thinking that I was a complete idiot who was in the midst of a fool’s errand.  And yet it’s important to read that stuff – it’s how we education ourselves, have a sense that there are other folks in the same boat, figure out what questions to ask (and I suppose, figure out if your RE is potentially bonkers and full of poo).  The internet is ultimately good, if you keep it in perspective with that delicious tiny granule of sodium.

See – I’ll end up having been on The Pill for 5 weeks total (all active pills).  The first three weeks, just the pill and then these past two I’ve added estradiol and the androderm patch.  When you are eager to get going, five weeks can feel like Mother Effing Forever…..especially when you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a long time already.

But you know what? In the end, it’s what my RE is trying this time and I trust her.  If we have to do it again maybe I’ll have a different protocol, but for this first IVF The Russian wanted my system to have time to calm down, time for my body to absorb a small cyst that had developed from the follistim I took for the April IUI (coinkydink: The Pill is often what’s prescribed to help your body reabsorb small cysts, who knew), and time to add testosterone (androderm) and estrogen (estradiol) – both of which have been shown to be beneficial to older gals before kicking the system into high gear.

In reality, the suppression itself didn’t suck – the amount of time did, because I’m eager to get this action started.  And next week I will.  I’ll take ganirelix Monday and Tuesday, then get all the baseline business knocked out a few days later and then on to stims.

If you had told the 8yr-old version of myself that I’d one day be looking forward with eager anticipation to giving myself shots for a few weeks, my 8yr-old self would have kicked you in the shins, called you a big fat doodie and thrown tropical punch Kool-Aid in your face.

But here I am, counting the days until I can shoot myself up.

What have I become?

Izzard, Sedaris and Wham

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions and shiny objects and I share some here each week.

*******************************

Something from the YouTube:

Eddie Izzard explaining the naming and possible demise of Engelbert Humperdinck is one of my very very very very very favorite things ever.  It’s an absolute go-to whenever I need a giggle.

Book to Read:

Oh what a joy this is…..and so relatable.

imgres

 

Song to dance to:

Yep, I went there. George Michael in the Choose Life t-shirt, mega tan and dreamy hair really made the girls (and boys) swoon.

Have a great week everybody!

IVF Meds for Smarties and Dummies

So….What’s in the Box? (my day-to-day protocol coming once I have it)

IMG_20130607_111344_832 (1)

First, for the smarties:

Androderm – testosterone patches, potentially helps low responders or gals with high FSH (i.e. low ovarian reserve) to respond better to stimulating meds (taken for 2 weeks before starting all the stimulating hormones).

Estradiol – helps maintain the endometrial lining of the uterus, making a nice home for an embryo to implant

Follistim – mimics FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) in the body.  FSH tells the oocytes in your ovaries to grow and mature. (subcutaneous injection)

Menopur –  This hormone is responsible for ovarian stimulation for the development of egg-containing follicles. (subcutaneous injection)

Pregnyl – mimics the hormone LH (Luteinizing hormone) in the body.  LH is the hormone that triggers ovulation. (subcutaneous injection)

Ganirelix – prevents the usual hormone exchange that causes follicle production and ovulation by suppressing the pituatary stimulation to the ovaries.  This lets the Follistim stimulate a more uniform development of multiple follicles.  (subcutaneous injection)

Leuprolide – suppresses the hormones LH and FSH to keep a woman from releasing immature follicles and eggs. (surprise, also a shot)

Progesterone (in oil) – stimulates the uterine lining (endometrium) to continue to develop so that an embryo that implants will have a thick, supportive environment to nourish it.(intramuscular injection) – I’ll start this a few days before egg retrieval

Doxycycline – antibiotic, reduces the risk of infection following egg retrieval.

And,

a metric crap-ton of syringes and needles.

************************

Now for anyone whose head is exploding (like mine), look at it this way:

Some things help you make eggs, some things keep you from ovulating those eggs, and other things help you ovulate the eggs when The Russian deems them ready.

My REs assistant explained it like this:

In a typical month there’s a race where a number of follicles run, but a “lead” follicle gets ahead.  That follicle matures an egg which (hopefully) will ovulate. One egg. Per month. Some ladies might pop a few. Who knows.

Anywho, with fertility meds you get a number of follicles lined up in the blocks. They start running but instead of one getting way ahead and winning, a whole mess of follicles all join hands, sing Kumbaya, run the race in the spirit of fairness and good sportsmanship, and all cross the finish line together.  Meaning, many follicles produce many eggs that the RE, in my case The Russian, can retrieve.

At least that’s what you hope.

And then you hope that just one of those little suckers fertilizes, implants and then grows into something you will be terrified of birthing through part of your body that doesn’t seem like it will allow for those circumstances.

************************

Here are some websites I used in compiling this list.

http://www.conceiveonline.com/articles/7-most-common-fertility-drugs

http://infertility.about.com/od/infertilitytreatments/a/fertility_drugs.htm

http://www.ivf.com/ivf_meds.html