A Severance Letter to My Reproductive System

So I’ve been taking time to sort out all my feelings and such about the information presented to us: that I have a very very low chance of conceiving even with help and an even lower chance of carrying the baby to term. It’s been harder than I expected but I think I’m starting to get over the hurdle. Having to do so while coming off artificial hormones and being bombarded by natural hormones did not help. Basically, there was alot of the getting-weepy-at-kitten-commercials type of thing.

Apparently protecting my own feelings for a long time resulted in being rather cavalier in what I thought I would be cool with: i.e. not being pregnant. On some level I really thought that it would be fine if I was never pregnant as long as I did everything I could to try. In the end, that’s actually still mostly true. Our goal and desire to parent far outweighs our desire to biologically parent. But come on, I’m human, I guess more of me thought it’d be nice to have all the “pregnancy moments” than I thought. I’m doing okay though and moving forward. We are officially pursuing adoption, by which I mean we’re filling out the application for the adoption agency we’ve chosen.  There will likely always be lingering pangs of disappointment but as a few folks have pointed out, once there’s a baby in my arms we will feel complete as a family, despite coming at it from a different angle.

In talking with one of my dearest friends about needing to go through a period of mourning, she suggested that I write a letter to my body. In doing so I would not only address my disappointment with its failings but as she put it, “point out that my heart and mind are stronger and that my life goals won’t be defeated by its failings.”

And so, as part of my…..healings…..I write this letter, firing my body from certain responsibilities.

Dear Reproductive System,

Thank you for your dutiful years of service to the company but we will no longer be needing your full participation at this time. Please consider this letter as an immediate demotion to your previous position within day-to-day operations.

You have served us well in many of your functions but when asked to pursue a deeper commitment in our company’s overall needs and wants, you have not met the expectations that were set before you. The head of our company, in agreement with various other department heads, strongly feels that you were given far more opportunities and avenues to accomplish these goals than many other systems in similar situations. Certainly the systems at other companies have been able to accomplish similar goals without ANY outside assistance or intervention. It would seem that despite the assistance of various outside experts you have thumbed your nose at incorporating their expertise. The head of the company has every intention of moving forward with our overall goals and feels it best to terminate your participation at this time.

We are beginning the process of reviewing outside candidates who, while their origin will come from outside the company, are no doubt ideal candidates for the ultimate position we had to hoped to accomplish with your participation. As it turns out there are numerous other ways to reach the company’s overall goal. So there. Perhaps you were under the assumption that you were the end-all-beat-all way of accomplishing this particular plan of the company. You are not. We have begun to pool our resources and are focussing them on a different process by which we are hopeful and certain to have the success we have hoped for for quite some time. 

If you feel in the future that you would like to be included once again in the accomplishment of this particular goal you are certainly welcome to do so. At any time. Without notifying the head of the company. You may feel free to surprise us at any time in the future by announcing that you are intent on accomplishing the goal through your own devices. However, since we have been informed at this time that this is questionable at best, we will not spend any further emotional or financial resources running at the brick wall you have set before us. Again, you are welcome at anytime to regain the full status and potential your position entails but for now, we ask that you return to your day-to-day tasks and to do them with the normalcy and regularity that you have done so well in the past.

Your desk and all its accoutrement will remain in place for your continued day-to-day use.

With all respect,

Me

Head of Human Resources, Aging Baby Maker, Inc. 

Addendum:

Please read the above with its intended silliness: I fear folks think I’m crying in my soup. I’m doing really well and wrote the above tongue-in-cheek because humor is how I cope…..and because every thing about what we go through with all this is so fucking ridiculous.

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Big Money Big Decisions

We’ve been so kickass lucky up until now that most of our IVF expenses have been covered. That door is closing.

The doctor has recommended pushing through with stims and freezing – after which everything becomes out-of-pocket for us. The math on freezing and storing embryos, a month or two of testing, drugs and an FET cycle (Frozen Embryo Transfer) would run us approximately $7000 (on top of the $1800 out-of-pocket we’ve already spent for uncovered tests and meds since February). That’s a conservative estimate.

$7000

That’s alot of scratch now isn’t it?

Those of you who are stepping onto your “I’ve Been Paying for IVF Out-Of-Pocket All Along” Soapboxes – I get it! I know which side my bread has been buttered on. I also know that without coverage we WOULD NOT have pursued IVF at all.

At all.

So let’s all take a deep breath and proceed….

$7000….and that’s an estimate. $7000 for a less than 10% chance of a positive pregnancy test, a lower chance of carrying to term.

Our meeting with an adoption agency gave us a rough approximate estimate of $30,000 to adopt a child.

So the question is: do we spend $7000, $30,000 or $37,000?

It’s the 3 Little Bears of “Where Should We Spend Our Money?” …..though instead of Too Small, Too Big and Just Right, it’s more like “Yikes!, Holy Crap! and Ah-Ooo-Gah!”

I’ll break down our thoughts:

The 7K for testing/FET feels like a real crapshoot. Not impossible for it to work….but RUAL RUAL slim chances. There’s a feeling that we’d be just throwing that $7000 away.

Doing the testing/FET first would delay starting the adoption process for another 4-5 months, which doesn’t seem right to either of us. If we were to do them both at the same time the potential $37,000 makes my stomach hurt.

So that brings us to our decision.

Which I’ll reveal…….after these commercial messages.

My hubbo and I have talked through it all, from every angle. He doesn’t like everything that IVF entails…shots, tests, driving to lots and lots to appointments, dealing with anxiety laced progesterone dreams…. He hates me having to get biopsies: “I don’t like them going in there and taking parts out.” But he’d support whatever I wanted to try, since my body has to do the heavy lifting. I felt him wanting to let me make the decision and told him it was too big to do alone, I needed to know exactly what he wanted.

Without thinking he said, “I’m ready to move on.”

Just like that.

Move on. Let it go. Mourn never carrying a biological child and look forward with hope to having a family a different way.

I’m not gonna lie: I’m tired. It’s been a long time. 2-1/2 years. And yes, I know some of you have been at it for way longer (and I’m pulling for you every step of the way) but I’m 43 and I’m tired of treading water.

I need some hope. I need to take the path that includes the most hope of us having a family.

IVF/Testing/FET = a known process, a few weeks of discomfort, lots of waiting, not much hope on the other end

Adoption = lots of unknown, likely a long daunting process with lots of waiting, and with lots and lots of hope at end

Monday after we left the doctor’s office my hubbo said “we likely know our best course of action, we just need to come to terms with it.”

So that’s where we are now: preparing for the excitement of adoption while coming to terms with the decision to stop trying to conceive.

And even though it feels right it’s harder than I thought it would be.

More on where I’m at with that when I speak with you next.

 

 

Helpful Statements That Are Gut Punches

I had a great lady lunch with some friends yesterday that had one bump in the road. It occurred when I talked about starting our final IVF while also seeing an adoption process on the horizon. My dear friend, in trying to show she cared used one of “those phrases” that seem harmless but are in fact, full of harm:

“You know that once you adopt you’ll get pregnant.”

Because she’s my close friend I didn’t feel the need to mask anything and just said, “well actually all this testing is showing us why we’re likely not getting pregnant and it’s because I have a number of things that can affect implantation so as awesome as it would be to just get pregnant, it just doesn’t look like that would happen.” We talked it out and it’s fine, but it definitely showed me that when the time comes that we “go public” I can likely expect more of these statements.

Oof.

I did a quick google search of the phrase “what not to say to an infertile couple” and I got some juicy ones. Here are thoughts on just a few.

“It could be worse, it could be (insert awful disease here)”

Um, thanks? Why don’t we make a Pie chart of other things that could be worse: pooping my pants on an airplane, having 14 mosquito bites for a year in places I can’t itch, falling into a cactus while my naked lady bits are exposed…. This is a fun game!

“just relax and you’ll get pregnant”

I laugh alot, professionally and personally. I also knit, which is my own form of meditation. I like to cook and chop and stir, all very zen activities. Re. Laxed. And hey look, not pregnant.

“at least you’re having fun trying”

Am I? Infertility makes “trying” into math: when to try, when to abstain, when to try alot. Pee on this stick or take your temperature every day to check for ovulation. Plus, you’re tired! Tired for normal life reasons AND there’s something you really want that you’re not getting and that makes you more tired. So no, we’re not rampantly running amok “having fun trying” on top of all the tables and chairs and in closets morning noon and night. (Not that we were before….who do you think I am?)

There so many more ridiculous things that get said by the way – Google them and have a giggle (or a cry). Don’t get me started on the ones that involve God/supreme beings/what the universe wants.

Honestly, we dodged a big bullet by getting married in our 40s – I can count on one hand two fingers the folks who’ve blatantly asked “so, when are we gonna see some kids?” Apparently, getting married late = implied automatic shut down of parental endeavors?

I’ve been at wedding receptions and seen people walk up to the bride and ask “when are you having kids.” I wanted to throat punch on their behalf. (for the record: I didn’t). Btw, it’s usually a craggy old aunt who does the asking. Don’t be the craggy old aunt.

This is second friend who used the “once you adopt you’ll get pregnant” on me. My friends absolutely wanted to help, wanted to show that they cared (alot!), wanted to show that they were hopeful for my success….but just didn’t think about the fact they were saying these phrases to someone who’s been trying too long.

The sad thing is….before I was in this muck, I likely used these phrases, or at the least wouldn’t have thought about the full impact.

So, before you go throwing what you think is a helpful phrase around, consider:

Do you know if they’ve been trying? Do you how long? Do you know them well enough to deal w/the potential anger/sadness you might trigger w/your pretty friggin personal question?

No one MEANS to be insensitive, but man we all step in it sometimes without thinking.

Maybe just have the balls to say, “I’m really sorry. It must be hard to face all this. I don’t really know what to say.”

It’s likely gonna make you an even better friend.

But if I see you at a wedding and you walk up to the bride or groom and ask them….I will find you.

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).

Wisdom teeth, a tiny landlord, and a weird PSA

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 have my own saga regarding the removal of my wisdom teeth and the aftermath – thank goodness it took place before everyone was shooting video of everything.  This girl was not so lucky and her story is immortalized forever.  Then again, I think she got to be a guest on Ellen so she’s doing alright.

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Fear not, the little girl in this is Adam McKay’s daughter (he’s the guy with glasses at the beginning) and it was shot when she was young enough to simply mimic words and then forget them.  Adam McKay cowrote Anchorman and along with Will Ferrell, started the website Funny or Die (which you should know about and if you don’t, you’re welcome).  There’s a sequel to this that’s also pretty funny.

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This one is cute, dark and the tune’s very catchy…I’ve been humming it since last night.  It’s actually a Public Service Announcement, so try to learn a little something.

Hope everyone’s well – have a great week.

 

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.

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.