IVF3: Mission Stimpossible

Started stims on Wednesday night all sneaky style in the bathroom while visiting family out of town. I’ll do 5 nights and then go in Monday morning for bloodwork and ultrasound.

Since we were going to be out of town the first four nights of stims I made little “to-go” bags of meds for each day so they’d be easy to sneak from my suitcase to the bathroom while my hubbo runs interference aka makes distracting conversation with the fam.

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We have a little mini-cooler in our bedroom to keep the follistim and the lupron cold. I’ve kept so many of the cold-packs from all the stims deliveries as they’re great for traveling….or being stealthy with IVF meds over the Thanksgiving holidays.

I like to think it’s a bit like an action-adventure movie: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to inject three doses of stimulation medications into the patient nightly without the knowledge or observations of any familial units. This is…..

Mission Stimpossible!!!

(strike match, light fuse, cue catchy theme song)

Find fun where you can…..

 

Thanksgiving meets WKRP, Snoop and Fallon

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 is one of my favorite pieces of television EVER. I mean ever. Ever ever. Hopefully you’ve seen the whole episode (if you haven’t it’s likely on YouTuble, Hulu or somewhere on the internet) because it’s amazing….but here at least is a few minutes of Les Nessman at his finest. (sorry for the low quality but it’s the best version I could find).

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It’s Martha Stewart. It’s Snoop Dogg. They’re friends and it’s delightful….and they’re making mashed potatoes, which I will never turn down.

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For any of you who watch Late Night With Jimmy Fallon you know that once a week he issues a hashtag challenge for his Twitter followers. Here’s his latest, #ThanksgivingFail.

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Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone! And if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, then have the best Thursday of your life.

Get Thee Meditations, Massages and Acupunctions

Had intended to write about this last week and time got away from me….

I wanted to speak to a number of relaxing things I’ve done in the past or am doing now, as they work for me and are very helpful in keeping alot of this in perspective. Assisted fertility is designed to prove what type of gauntlet you can run to and come out sane on the other side…and why not set yourself up to have a fighting chance.

The gal who led the support group I was going to (http://www.onewayoramother.com/) emailed all of us that Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra were collaborating on a free 21-day meditation series.  Alas the free 21-day meditation is already on Day 15, BUT! the meditations are good for 5 days so you can still start at Day 10 and play catch-up.

https://chopracentermeditation.com/

I can’t help but make the joke of Oprah doling out meditation wisdom: You get enlightenment! You get enlightenment! You get enlightenment. DEEEEEEPPPAAAAAKKKKKK!!!!

C’mon, we were all thinking it.

These 20-ish minute meditations are focussed on connecting with your desires, letting go of fears, tapping into creative energy….so they very much fit in with a fertility quest. The title of one of the meditations made me laugh: “I am focussed on what I want.” Because yes, for quite some time now I’ve been focussed on what I want. But it never hurts to clear away some cobwebs that may have grown into the corners…..though you wouldn’t think there could be cobwebs when you’ve been actively working and laser-focussed on the same thing for a long time. But I feel that in being focussed on the same thing, in some respects it’s kept me waiting in the same place for awhile. So, these meditations have been a nice way to refresh my energy and perspective.

Next up: I’ve mentioned them before but Circle+Bloom has a number of really nice relaxation programs:

http://www.circlebloom.com/get-started/wanting-to-conceive-programs/

I have the IUI/IVF Mind-Body program and I really like it. It’s very calming and there are different meditations every 1-2 days of the cycle and specific meditations for trigger/retrieval and insemination/transfer. The woman’s voice is very soothing and she talks you through focussing on different parts all while deeply breathing. I generally feel very nummy with these….or I do them at night when I turn in and I end up zonking out. They do feel a little pricey, but given that I’ll be listening to them for a third time this next IVF, I figure it balances out.

A gal I met in my fertility support group recommended getting a fertility massage at Pulling Down the Moon here in Chicago in the River North neighborhood:

http://pullingdownthemoon.com/massage/

From their website: “The Fertility Enhancing Massage Protocol, or ‘The FEM Protocol’, is a four-part series utilizing massage and related techniques to enhance the health and functioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs, promote fertility and overall mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The four parts of the protocol focus on cleansing the body, enhancing the blood, opening the breath, and relaxing and integrating, respectively.”

They had me at abdominal organs.

I got the Cleanse the Body massage which is designed to detoxify the body pre-cycle.  There were light touches and super-tough body pummels, my feet got deliciously worked over and my spines got lots of scented oils. I won’t get all four massages (mainly due to cost, though they’re actually reasonably priced for a 60-minute massage) but I’ll likely try to go back at least 1-2 more times for different massages. I left there feeling like a floaty puddle…so if you’re a) in Chicago and b) looking to feel like a floaty puddle, go there and get a massage.

And last, I haven’t talked much about acupuncture but I’ve been going pretty much weekly for about a year and I really like it. I like to think it was helpful in getting me pregnant the first time. And, if nothing else, I’ve left there feeling either very relaxed and very energized depending on the treatment.

http://www.squarenergy.com/

This is a nice place in the Lincoln Square neighborhood that works on a sliding scale – pay what you can within the $20-$50 window. There’s a private room with a table and a community room with 6 comfy reclining chairs (hence their ability to keep prices low). If you’re in the public room, energy points are utilized from the elbows or knees down, and around the head and face, and I’m on a fertility protocol, focussed on blood flow to the uterus, etc. (btw, one of the acupuncturists told me the uterus is called “The Fetal Palace). The needles give a tiny “pinch” when they go in, alot of them I don’t feel at all, and once they’re in you don’t feel anything else.  I almost always end up falling asleep for a little acupuncture induced snooze…..I can only hope I don’t snore much…..though I’ve snort-snored myself awake super surprised head-jerk-style on a few occasions. I’ve looked around and no one’s given me the stink-eye, so I’m guessing the sound was mostly in my head.

So – go seek out some pampering for yourself, take some deep breaths, and if all else fails, go online and buy yourself some groovy shoes…..whatever’s gonna work for you.

Hooray For People Who Don’t Buy Evolution

Today started as day where I felt the depression/anxiety/overwhelmedness (I declare it a word) creeping in. I generally do pretty well but nobody’s safe: negativity comes for us all sometimes.

That.

Bitch.

It didn’t help that I fell asleep on the dog during Letterman last night and slept long enough to NOT be able to sleep again for awhile by the time I crawled into bed. I was awake enough that the hamster started running about work stuff and then I found myself even more awake. I can over-think stuff with the best of them. I put on a meditation series I’ve been listening to (I’ll write on that tomorrow) and that was enough to reroute my brain waves and eventually I was back in sleeptown.  Funny, the hamster doesn’t so much run due to IVF stuff anymore, likely because I’ve made my peace with it all being out of my hands. But work? Ah work. That wheel is always greased and ready for the hamster to jump aboard.

Upon waking this morning I still had some residual feelings of grossness from an odd night’s sleep so I decided to not just fart around the apartment. I knocked out some emails, showered (it had to be done) and decided to go down to the Field Museum to see the 1893 World’s Exposition exhibit.  I met a friend who works there for tea, had a nice walk around, and then decided to walk through the Evolving Planet exhibit (my favorite exhibit in the museum).

And then, the universe gave me a gift in the form of 2 dudes walking in front of me into the exhibit. They eventually got away from me, but for the 10-minutes that I trailed them they really made my day (and yes, I sent all of these in real-time to my Facebook account):

At the entrance: “Y’all, this might be a bit much for me.”

At a sign explaining a single-celled organism: (loudly) “I am sorry, but God created the heavens AND the earth.”

At a photo of Charles Darwin: “You know that guy was drunk.”

At a fossil: “Hey look, it’s an ostrich.” (It was not an ostrich)

“That’s one big-ass ground sloth.”

“I bet people actually believe some of this stuff.”

It was magical.

And even if alot continues to be out of my hands, even if that hamster runs from time to time, even if I never get over over-thinking….at least I’m okay with evolution.

I got that going for me.

Bath Bunny, Stadium Dancing and Baby Ice Walker

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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I don’t know if it’s good for the bunny or not, but he just looks so blissfully content.

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I think the guy’s saw that his moment of glory was presented to him on a silver platter and he just took it….and he made alot of people happy with his 2 minutes of dance magic.

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This video has started creeping into my Facebook feed, and based on the fact that it’s jumped 8000 views on YouTube since I looked at it last night, I would say it might be everywhere real soon. It’s awfully cute…..and now I want a grown-up sized snowsuit to wobble around Chicago in this winter.

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Hope everyone has a great Friday and an even better weekend!

My Due Date and What I Got Instead

On Sunday, March 3, 2013 I got my first positive pregnancy test. There was joy. There was apprehension. A natural pregnancy after trying for over a year and just 2 weeks after our first meeting with a reproductive endocrinologist. Read about all that.  I went to see my doctor, she agreed I was in fact pregnant, patted me on the head and sent me on my way with a piece of paper indicating that my due date was somewhere around November 9-11, 2013.

November 10-11, 2013. So…..now.

Nearing the end of March I started spotting and the pregnancy ended in miscarriage. I wrote about it here and afterwards we embarked on the quest that brings us to present day.

My husband and I talked this past weekend and I told him that when I woke up Saturday it occurred to me that we would have been due this weekend.  He said, “wow, things sure would have been alot different.”

And it dawned on me: Things ARE alot different.

While we aren’t sitting here with a baby (which yeah, wouldn’t that be nice), alot of good has come:

1) I started blogging and the act of writing has been hugely cathartic. It’s been an amazing way to process my feelings during what could be an overwhelming time.

2) I started tweeting under my blog’s name. Between the blog and the tweets, I’ve found a supportive and vast online community of ladies going through exactly what I’m going through. I can reach out to folks and ask questions, seek advice, compare experiences, etc. I am so thankful for these ladies (and a few gents) who I will likely never meet.

3) I’ve learned that I can give myself lots and lots of shots (to date it’s in the area of 118, one IUI with follistim and 2 IVFs with follistim/menopur,lupron/progesterone). I feel pretty kickass about this and very empowered. Read about my thoughts on needles. I mean, you want me to give myself a shot right now? Name it: where you want me to do it, I’ll do it. Want me to give you a shot? I’ll do it.

4) My husband and I have gotten through all of this. Period. And I’d bet money on the fact that we’re better.

5) We’re now serious about adoption, which while it seems über daunting, also excites me. Even if I do get pregnant this current IVF, adoption could still be a likely scenario for us: we both have siblings and feel they’re pretty important. If our little one’s to have a sibling, it could very likely end up that adoption’s our route.

6) I learned that IVF can be a positive experience. It can be. For me it is not at all the horror story I’ve read about for years in the media. I know IVF isn’t nice to everyone. Some ladies have a terrible time with the hormones, there can be alot of expectations and emotions, doctors can be brusk, nurses can say things or look at you in ways you don’t like. HOWEVER, it’s different for everyone and you don’t know what it’ll be like for you until you start – try to go in expecting the best instead of the worst.

7) I now know more about what it takes to make a baby than friends I know who’ve actually HAD babies. For real. It’s an effing miracle ANYONE EVER gets pregnant with all the stuff that needs to happen for eggs and sperm to come together in a perfect chemical mix in the perfect uterine environment during a tiny narrow window of monthly fertility that the little egg’s even viable.  FUCKING MIRACLE.

8) I’ve learned alot about supplements and foods that are good for fertility. I’ve found people who are knowledgable about supplements and are good enough to write about them: InfertileChemist, I’m looking at you http://infertilechemist.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/supplements-part-i-dhea/#comment-1173   The CCRM website is also good for this:http://www.colocrm.com/FertilitySupplements.aspx   (There’s also alot of bullshit out there so you really just have to do the best you can with all of it).  Me? I took wheatgrass for a long time (my RE asked me to let that one go once we started IVF), but I still take: CoQ10, Royal Jelly, PreNatals…recently I’ve added Pycnogenol and a little extra Vitamin C.  As for food, I try to eat plenty of protein, vegetables, whole grains…..in particular lots of blueberries, chia seeds, avocado, yams if you can find them…..watch your caffeine and booze (some REs say absolutely none and others say moderation) and I’ve tried to cut out processed foods and am watching sugar….which is my kryptonite.

9) I’ve joined a support group and get to look into the eyes of other ladies who are struggling. We share stories and there are knowing nods. We learn from each other. It took a long time for me to take this step, but I did when the time was right and I’m very happy I did. We’re all in different places, trying different things, but we help each other.

10) I still have my hope.

There’s likely much more that I haven’t put my finger on, but one newish friend gave me advice a few months ago that I now carry with me every day:

We now live in a time that if you really want a family, there are so many ways that it can happen: pregnancy, IUI/IVF, donor eggs, surrogacy, fostering, adoption, etc. You may not know right now how your child will come to you, but you have to believe that they will come to you somehow.

So while I didn’t get my due date, and I am still waiting for our little bundle to show up, I really did get a whole lot more.

(But little peanut for reals, you can show up any old time now).

The Club and The Barf

I’ve laid low from writing for the last week or two. There’s no real reason for this, mainly just time slipping by during this chunk of time known as “waiting to get going.”  I am in week 3 (of 4) on birth control and have now added androderm patches (testosterone) and estradiol pills (estrogen) to the mix for priming.

Mostly these weeks are filled with “just keep chill” tactics…..knitting, movies, walking the dog….I’ve hit up some museums.  I work freelance so there’s been some of that as well, and I’ve doing quite a bit of teaching lately. Time is passing.

I’m in a 6-week fertility support group that’s been great. In this week’s meeting we talked about belonging – what that means to us, where do we feel we do/don’t belong, how can we belong where we very much want to but can’t quite yet: namely, the motherhood club.  Thank goodness for the mental and emotional prep because Friday was a real “in-your-face” day on the matter of my lack-of-baby.

On the 2-hour ride to a gig, one of the guys announced that he and his wife are 20 weeks pregnant with twins. I was happy for him but likely not as excited as I’d have been before all this.  He didn’t go on about it, just wanted us to know, he’s a good guy, it’s their second pregnancy inside of 2 years and I’m happy for him. But then one of the gals in the car WOULDN’T STOP ASKING HIM QUESTIONS ABOUT IT!!!!!  So I had to listen and listen and listen to pregnancy talk.

Not in the club.

On the way back from the gig, the three women I was with all started talking about their sons. This alone is totally fine, until it’s been an hour and you realize you’ve likely only been saying things like “yeah?” and “oh no” and “that sounds like fun” for a really long time because YOU HAVE NOTHING FIRSTHAND TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVERSATION.

Not in the club.

Later that evening, my hubbo and I went to a housewarming party. Amidst the mingling, my hubbo told me that some friends of ours have started telling people they’re pregnant. He knew this would be hard for me to hear, so he pulled the band-aid off super fast by telling me straight out and then saying he was sorry.  They got married a year ago and because I saw her after their honeymoon (which was early summer) and she was bummed not to be pregnant with a “honeymoon baby,” I think they were likely only trying for about 6-8 months. 6-8 months. NORMAL PEOPLE GETTING PREGNANT TIME.

Not in the club.

Needless to say I was pretty down by day’s end, no doubt because it felt like the universe just kept putting difficult things in my path for me to deal with.  This can feel like a real “Fuck You” if that’s how you choose to look at it. I can try to be as positive as possible but some days it just all hits at once and it’s tough. I want what I want and I don’t have it yet….and it’s crappy that I have to have everyone else getting what I want shoved up in my face place. It’s just hard to deal with and keep a sunny outlook….because it’s unrealistic to be happy all the G D time. It’s not possible. Sometimes you just gotta let things get a little cloudy for a smidge and then move on.

Luckily, along with the great support group, I’ve been reading a book called Life Magic by Laura Bushnell. The book gives alot of guidance as to how you can let go of fear and worry and instead keep an open heart, see possibility and create positive change for yourself. In the end I was able to at least take some deep breaths, express to my hubbo that I was feeling a bit sad, and then fall asleep on the couch with my head on the dog.

And that leads us to today when I taught an improv workshop to some teenagers. They were pretty great and had some experience so I was able to do more than just some beginner stuff with them. We laughed alot and had a great time and if you’re ever in a bad place and need to pick yourself up, go do or experience some improv. My residual funkiness was gone almost immediately.

Anyway, the kids come into the theatre, we talk for maybe 2-3 minutes and I ask them to join me onstage and form a big circle. They got into the circle and I began to get them warmed up and focussed….and suddenly a girl bends over and yorks all over the stage. Just boots. Luckily there were chaperones with the group to a) help get sick girl backstage to the bathroom and b) clean up what had just been inside of sick girl, so I was able to move the other 16 kids to one side of the stage and keep going. I immediately asked if anyone was going to rebarf due to the initial barf (I’ve seen Stand By Me, I know the possibilities) and they laughed it off and we went forward.

So while yesterday was a rough day of dealing with some tough stuff, today I rallied a class post barf and we went on to have a great time.

I call it a win.