Monday, December 9, 2013

Birthing Class Meltdown

So this past Saturday we went to part one of a two part "Prepared Birthing" class at the hospital in which I will give birth. I'd heard mixed reviews about this class, but we got lucky- the instructor is wonderful, and we learned a lot. B took careful notes, which was super cute. 

I, on the other hand, couldn't take any notes because I spent about 60% of class time crying.

I feel pretty well balanced most of the time, mentally and emotionally. But something about being in this class full of perfectly fertile people really pushed me over the edge. At the beginning, during introductions, we were supposed to say where we'd most want to be in the world, at 10 am on a cold Saturday. So of course everyone was like, "bed." And I just couldn't help but think, "HERE." I worked for 2.5 years to get pregnant so I want to be right here! I didn't say that. But later, we had to say what we wanted to get out of the class, and I didn't plan on saying anything much, but suddenly I found myself telling the whole group how hard it was to conceive and that I can't believe I am here in this class, and that I am finding this amazing yet hard to handle. In a good way. Anyway, the instructor was great and later told me she had trouble too... but everyone else didn't react at all, and I felt like a total doofus. Then I proceeded to bawl during every birthing video we watched, and half the time in between. 

I have no idea what set me off, because I'm okay most of the time. I have even gotten to the point where I can talk about my pregnancy without mentioning IVF (except clearly not in that class, where I had to TMI everyone). 

Anyway, I got through it, and I learned a lot, but I was definitely the emotional mess in the room. Then on Sunday, B's asshole dad told us the photo we sent him for his holiday card isn't good because I don't look pregnant enough. Fuck you. I'm 28 weeks pregnant and I'm sorry if I can't look pregnant enough for everyone else. This is just the way I look. So we re-took it today, with me wearing a tighter shirt, but I can't be what others want me to be. I'm fine and healthy, I'm just not 9 months pregnant with a perfect belly. I don't even want to be on any stupid card.

Okay, end of vent. I just am totally confusing poor B, who seems to want to put the trauma of infertility behind us, and I thought I did too, but then I lost it in the dumb birthing class. I hope I can calm down for next week's class, but I'll just try to sit in back in case I'm a weepy mess again. They are not sad tears, more like happy and disbelief, but I realize I probably look like I need therapy and not birthing classes (I don't think I need therapy- I'm fine most of the time, and excited for March). 

It's exhausting, being pregnant. But, I remember how it was not being pregnant, and fighting infertility was a million times worse. I think I can safely blame some of this on hormones, and the rest... is just me. Still infertile, now pregnant, and feeling not quite comfortable with either. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For the Future

It's been a long time since I've written. I have been feeling fine, and nothing exciting to report. I'm 25 weeks today, and feeling more and more comfortable with this pregnancy. The baby has been kicking day and night, and I can't explain how much I love it. I LOVE it. But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to tell you about the project I'm working on.

For background: I spent the last couple of nights working on one of my Channukah gifts for my husband. It's a yearly tradition of mine to make a desk calendar for him, highlighting our travels and other fun times we captured in photos. This year, obviously, there are a few recent photos of my small but somewhat noticeable pregnancy belly. I'm still not showing much, at 25 weeks, though I have gained about 14 pounds and am in the normal range. Not sure where it's all gone, but should I be relieved that if I ever become a permanently very chubby woman, no one would notice that either? Ha.

Anyway, after making the calendar for my husband's gift, I realized I have all these photos of my (barely-there) tummy, and even more photos of all the ultrasounds we've had (five total, from weeks 7-20). So I just spent a bunch of time collating the photos from my email, my phone, and my iPad into one big folder.

What will I do with these? Well, they tell a story. There is a picture of my 5-day embryo we transferred, a grinning and crying photo of me holding my first ever positive pregnancy test, records of all of our ultrasounds, and the photos of me with my little tummy, slowly growing. I put them all in order, labeled by the number of weeks I was, and sometime before or after the baby comes, I'll make a photo book using Snapfish or some other service. Then, someday when he is ready, my child will have a record of how much we wanted him, how long the process was, how excited we were every step of the way once I became pregnant, and how very special his conception was.

I want to be very open with him about his donor conception, but in a way that makes him feel wanted, loved, and precious to us. Because that's what he will be, and already is. I know we will have hard times when he may scream that I'm not his real mom, as even genetic children probably do at some point. It will not all be perfect or wonderful, and we've taken a very non-traditional path to parenthood. But I hope this book I will create helps with him understanding how intentional our choosing this path was for us. I will present it as very matter-of-fact, as one more picture book amongst his collection of books. I think this will be a really good way to normalize his unique beginnings.

And if he doesn't care, then it will be a piece of history for me. It doesn't show the heartbreak and failures I endured before we had success, or the financial disaster that infertility was, or the frustration and anger I struggled with for two and a half years. But it shows that we are (I hope) on the way to a happy ending that can come after all the struggle.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's A....


Which is what we thought it would be, from the sonographer's prediction at 13 weeks, but it was still really good to learn for sure. This makes it much more concrete that this is really, actually happening. My husband was so cute... he is fascinated by the ultrasounds and almost squeals every time the baby would move. As soon as we left and were in the hall, he had his phone out and was texting everyone he knows! His friends, his sisters, his study group from school, everyone! And of course many of them didn't even know I'm pregnant, so there were several confused texts back of "?????" in response to his "It's a boy!"  I had to remind him that we've been very cautious in sharing our news, so he needs to first tell people we're expecting! Anyway, it was cute.

More importantly than the sex, the baby is very active and healthy. Since we did IVF with ICSI, they did an echocardiogram of the heart. It looks fine. My friend's IVF baby was born with his urethra in the wrong place, so of course that risk remains (those are the two things that show up in slightly higher rates than non-IVF/ICSI babies: heart defects and urogenital abnormalities in baby boys). But hopefully all is well.

The sonographer also assured me that he is very active. I'd been getting concerned because I was 20 weeks at the ultrasound and had not felt any movement yet, which is a little on the late side. But just like I am not really showing yet, I guess I was late for that too. We saw the baby kicking and moving a ton, but I felt nothing. However, on Friday evening, I started to feel a strange bubbling in my lower abdomen. I thought maybe it was gas... but no. It has continued consistently now, and seems most noticeable after I eat, and when I am sitting quietly. It is definitely kicks. I have to say, I LOVE feeling this. Between the ultrasound and the kicks, I actually am starting to feel pregnant. Sometimes it has been hard for me to accept that I am pregnant after so many years of failures, so it's really amazing to me to actually be pregnant, and to start realizing I may really have a baby in my life in a few months....

Anyway, telling people has also helped me to feel like this is really happening. My mom has now told all her friends, and I did the dreaded Facebook reveal. I had been resisting for months, but as I talked about before, my husband really did want to tell his friends. He is five years older than me and most of his friends have one if not more children already. I consented, though we ended up posting very different things: he just announced it's a boy, whereas I felt an acknowledgement that it's not easy for everyone was necessary. So this is what I wrote: [my name] is thrilled to share that we're expecting a baby boy in early March. It's been a long, long journey to get here and we couldn't be happier or more excited.

And immediately, I started getting "likes" and congratulatory comments. Nearly half of my total friends on FB actually "liked" it, which I find shocking. I usually get like four likes for typical cat pics (I can't resist! she's so cute!) or shots of what I made for dinner (yes, I am that person- cat and food pics). So this is what I am wondering: do people just like babies, or did anyone read the second part about the long journey?

Oh well, who knows. I just hope I didn't hurt anyone or ruin their day, as so many pregnancy announcements had to me for all those years. Oh, I'm sure I did upset someone, but my wish is that the second line spoke hope to anyone who is still trying or is frustrated with their situation. My pregnancy is still so tied to my infertility that I can't separate the two, nor do I want to. I am grateful every day that this is where I am, and that I was financially and emotionally able to undertake this long and harrowing path. I hope to appreciate my child every day, in ways that I might not have if I hadn't seen a future where this would not have been possible. I am grateful to my donor and to my doctors and my husband every day.

For those still considering donor egg, I can't say enough good things about this decision I made. While I mourn the loss of a genetic child, and I had these slightly sad thoughts as we tried to see the baby's face during the ultrasound, and I think of my donor quite often, this was the best decision I could have made and I don't regret it for a fraction of a second. I thank the universe every day that I live in a time where this was possible.

Today I am 21 weeks and 1 day, and grateful.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Upcoming Anatomy Scan, and Musings on Facebook Announcements

Pregnancy has many things in common with infertility. One of the biggest is waiting. I am 19 weeks today, and my big anatomy scan ultrasound is one week from yesterday.

In general, my anxiety is much better. It's been three weeks since a midwife appointment, and six weeks since we last had an ultrasound. It's easy for me to forget that I am pregnant, since my first trimester exhaustion and mild nausea have been gone for so long and my spotting tapered off about week 14 (thank goodness!). I am still not showing (well, I look a bit chunky but who doesn't nowadays?). No one can tell except me and my husband- well, okay, my stepmom pointed out my, uh, increased breast size, but that's not really something I hope people at work are noticing! I have maternity clothes but I just don't need them. I wear my regular clothes, though I do need the belly band thing every day.

I have no real reasons to worry, but I create them. I spend a lot of time thinking I am not gaining enough weight. It was really disappointing to me last night when a neighbor told me my belly looked smaller. Also I was asked if I was in the right class at prenatal yoga two weeks ago. And women weeks behind me are popping out more than me. It's a little discouraging. I am on the small side, but by no means a shrimp. I am 5'4'' and my pre-pregnancy weight was around 130. Pretty average sized. I have gained only about 6 or 7 pounds, which seems a little on the low side, but maybe I will catch up. My donor is more petite, so I'm not expecting a huge baby, but come on! It's hard to feel pregnant when I look the same.

So, I worry about my weight, and I've had some pretty bad headaches lately, which isn't helping me to feel like eating. But I did something daring yesterday: I did a 40 minute home workout tape for pregnant ladies! I really haven't exercised except for yoga, and it felt amazingly good to squat and stretch and kick. Before the transfer in June, I used to go to the gym about three days a week: boot camp, body pump, and Zumba were all my ways to relieve stress and feel good. I used to go for hikes in the woods behind my house too, but lately I've been sick, and now it's been raining for a week straight, so that's been off the table too. But the workout video felt good! I am going to try to do it again soon.

My husband is also getting increasingly persistent in asking when we can put something public on Facebook. I know he is excited to be a dad, and it's cute, and he's a bit older than me so most of his friends already have kids and he wants to share his happy news with them. But this is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. While I was happy for friends always, pregnancy announcements and photos hurt me so much when I would stumble upon them on Facebook. If he wants to do this, I'd like to find some way to acknowledge it's not easy for everyone, and was a long road to success. As a message to those who are still on that hard path, and a reminder to the oblivious masses that procreation is not a guarantee. But I also don't want to be a TMI person on Facebook, as I am friends with plenty of work colleagues, relatives, even friends of my dad's. So I don't know. Has anyone seen particularly sensitive yet short postings on Facebook that touched them the right way?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

18 weeks and no news is good news

I'm two days shy of hitting the 18 week mark, and I have to report, I have very little to report. My spotting stopped three or four weeks ago, thank goodness. I had very, very cautious sex and nothing happened, other than me getting bored, so a couple of weeks ago while on vacation, I gave in, shut my eyes, and made love the way normal people do (or at least, normal for a semi-cautious pregnant person who might also be considered a basket case). Then, I only checked my underwear every five minutes for the next two days, ha ha. But the spotting has stayed away, and I am so beyond grateful.

My weight was up about six pounds two weeks ago, and then I got a bad cold and I think I stopped eating. I drank a lot of tea but it was hard to breathe and eat at the same time. Anyway, I lost a few pounds and didn't realize it immediately. I am now back up to what my weight had been, but I feel very small. No one can even tell I am pregnant. Naked, I just look like I had a big meal. Sigh. I know it's not good to be pregnancy-belly greedy, but I think having a belly would make this feel more real. I go to prenatal yoga and feel like a faker. Oh well.

Nothing else much to report. I have pretty much no symptoms, which is something I'm grateful for. Other than exhaustion and then spotting and then anxiety, I really have had about the easiest pregnancy I've heard of. My next checkup is in two weeks, and the 20 week anatomy scan is two weeks from tomorrow.

My heart goes out to friends who are still trying to conceive, both real-life friends and those I've followed on the internet blogs for so long. I still feel more infertile than pregnant, though I suppose that shift will continue as this goes along. I miss my support group, though of course I'm glad to have graduated. I do often wonder if there's anything I can do to still support infertility awareness and funding. Things to think about in the future...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Becoming an (infertile) pregnant person

Depending on whether you follow my midwife's due date estimate or my own calculations, I am either 15 weeks today or I am 15 weeks on Friday. With only 10% of women giving birth on their due date, it's safe to assume I probably won't have a baby on March 5th, no matter which date I settle on.

I haven't written in awhile because I am teetering in this weird territory lately. My spotting has mostly stopped. I still spot maybe once every three days, but it's very pale pink and only when I pee. I have gone back to not needing a panty liner (yet still being afraid to wear my cute underwear, just in case!). When I spot, I descend into doubt and anxiety, but with the lessening of the spotting, those feelings are also starting to be more and more infrequent.

At the same time, I'm slowly accepting that I am indeed pregnant. I went to prenatal yoga on Thursday and Monday this week, with two different pregnant women. I have "naturally" pregnant friends too, but I still feel most safe with the women from my infertility support group, so I went the yoga classes with them. We still always come back to talking about our infertility. It seems to be something that has deeply affected us all. No one escapes unscathed. It's on our minds always, but coupled with that is the immense gratitude we seem to feel at having finally had something work. It feels safe and secure to be around women who also regard this as a miracle that needs recognition, not necessarily from the world, but from ourselves and each other. I do think of each of my formerly-infertile friends' pregnancies as something amazing and special, and something joyful that helps counteract all the unfairness I experienced for myself and for others when attending my monthly RESOLVE meetings for so long.

Other things that have moved me towards acceptance, and hopefully celebration, were having my mom come visit this weekend. She's not a crazy baby person- she only had me- but she is very excited and happy for us. We went to a consignment maternity store on Saturday and bought my first maternity clothes. I know other women often need them before this, but I haven't put on more than a few pounds. No one but me and my husband would really notice. The pants are more for the future. For now, I just stick to my looser skirts and dresses, but it's true that none of my work pants fit anymore. It will be good to have the new pants when the weather starts to cool off. We also bought this super cute tee shirt- it's of skeleton bones, and includes a little baby skeleton fetus! I don't know that I would ever dare to wear such a bold pronouncement of pregnancy, but it made us giggle.

I've also started to tell a few more people- neighbors whom I'm friendly with, mainly. I've noticed that I can't seem to tell someone I'm pregnant without saying that it took years of trying and medical interventions. I'm not sure if people think that's weird, but it's my story, and it's so tied up in my pregnancy that I still can't separate the two in my head. It's being true to myself and to those who also may have trouble. I don't want to live in a world where I'd contribute to the loneliness and despair that I often felt when hearing of others' pregnancies. The truth is that it's not easy for everyone, and it was only my perseverance, financial wiping out of our savings, and eventual good luck that got me to this place. People don't need to hear all that, but they can know that it's not simple for everyone, and that this is a big freakin' deal to me.

Anyway, it feels good to have neighbors' support (I live in a very close-knit community, where neighbors know a lot about each other's lives), and several of the older ladies I've told have almost cried when I told them, since they know a little about what we've gone through or how long we've been wanting this. This feels super nice. At the same time, I kind of can't quiet the voice in my head that imagines how very differently my life would be if that one pregnancy test had not come out positive. I'd still be depressed, yearning, worrying, making plans to head back to Atlanta for another cycle of drugs and shots and ultrasounds.

I haven't given in to the pregnancy bliss that I see when I look at my normally fertile friends, or my acquaintances who tell the world on Facebook as soon as they hit 12 weeks (or before!). I am not yet comfortable telling my coworkers, and I don't know if Facebook will ever be something I'm okay with. My pregnancy feels tenuous still, though I am working on acceptance and peace and security, and maybe even excitement. It's hard to move from infertile to pregnant, but I think I will learn to be more comfortable with being in both worlds.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Why has my pregnancy become all about my spotting?

Because I'm pregnant, and pregnant ladies pee all the time (when was the last time I slept more than 2-3 hours uninterrupted for pee breaks? weeks ago), and apparently this lady right here has to see blood every time she pees. Okay, not every time. Like, 80% of the time. Which equals, oh, about 10 times a day.

It has even seeped into my dreams. Last night I slept fitfully, and woke up in a cold sweat. I'd had a nightmare that my constant anxiety led to the midwives "firing" me as a patient. Could that even happen? I've only called them a few times with my worries. And they have been so nice about it. But in my dream, they told me I was too high-maintenance and I'd have to see a regular ob-gyn.

Maybe some part of me wonders if the midwives are too laid back for me. Maybe an ob would order more tests, or say she sees this all the time, or do something else to put me at ease. I have no idea.

Meanwhile, this Friday I'll be 14 weeks, and most things I read say the spotting should have stopped with the first trimester, yet it's gone on now for almost three weeks. I have not had sex, exercised, or touched my cervix in any other way, other than the exam at the midwife's last Thursday. Do I just have the worst cervix in the world? Will it do it's job when labor comes? Am I not cut out for these kinds of worries for the next six months?

Sigh. I don't know. I lapse into daydreams about my future baby, and then I get up to pee and remind myself that I shouldn't get too confident. At work, my supervisor wants to discuss future planning, and thinks I am odd for not wanting anyone to know yet. She has rightly pointed out that I can't hide the obvious forever. But I've gained little enough weight that I *can* hide it for probably a good while longer, and it just makes me feel more comfortable. So we will see. I also feel bad for not wanting to celebrate and enjoy this pregnancy more. I think if I weren't spotting, I'd feel differently. And perhaps soon it will end. It's *very* light. No pantyliners needed, just a pale pink trace when I wipe after peeing, and sometimes some drops of pink/brown blood in the toilet. Nothing dire or scary, unlike how it started. It's just the longevity- almost three weeks- that continues to upset me.

I know this must seem stupid to those still trying to conceive that baby. I really do remember the grief, and though I feel I am tiptoeing around a possible loss, I know I am way further than I ever dreamed. And I know also this experience is not typical. 25% of women have spotting, which means that 75% of women do not. It's totally reasonable to take those pads and tampons and say goodbye to them for 9 months or more.

In other news... well, I have no other news. This is my busy time of the year at work, which takes my mind off myself, and I've been cooking and eating well in the evenings. I still won't allow myself to relax enough to exercise, but tomorrow I'm going to try prenatal yoga with a friend. Although yoga normally bores me, if it's gentle enough, and the only exercise that feels safe, then I think I will force myself to learn to love it. We will see.

I don't think there's anything to say about this, but my husband is growing tired of my anxiety (though he is trying to be good and comforting and is successful a lot of the time) and I just had to vent about it. Thanks for listening, anonymous blog world.

Friday, August 30, 2013

First trimester screen

Today was the big day- we got to see the most of the baby yet! More than any blurry image at the fertility's doctor's (though those were cool too), this time it really was like a real baby. It kicked it's little legs, it waved it's little arms. It was really cool, and the sonographer gave us a guided tour for about half an hour. We saw brain, heart, lungs, ribs, placenta, etc.

Still a baby. Not a kitten. 
Several pieces of good news: combined with the blood work I did two weeks ago, the results of this ultrasound place us a in a very low risk category for Down Syndrome and Trisomy 18/13. I told them about using a 23 year old donor egg, and that placed us in an even lower risk category.

The other good news is that the placenta appears to be in the right place. Of course they'll check again at 20 weeks, but with the bleeding I've been having, the midwife did mention the risk of placenta previa. The sonographer does not think that is the case. And the midwife did more strongly think it was my cervix. I bled a lot yesterday afternoon, which was actually kind of reassuring, since she'd touched my cervix, so that furthered the feeling it's just my overly sensitive cervix causing the spotting. In any case, I have not had ANY spotting in about 24 hours now, so I am extremely grateful for this too.

Okay, on to the not as good news. The sonographer thinks, with about 70% certainty, that I'm having a boy. It's hard to describe why I am not presenting this as good news. I guess- I just almost don't want to know. I thought I did, but somehow now I feel like a bit of the magic is gone. I know it's too early to know for sure, but I wish I had not asked. Oh well. I'll just try to put it out of mind for the next seven weeks. And if I still don't want to know then, I can always ask not to be told. I thought I'd want to know... but now, it feels so real. I want this baby so badly that sometimes I want to fast-forward through pregnancy and be holding the little one already. I need to work on slowing down and enjoying.

Maybe if the spotting stops, I can relax and try to enjoy. I think having an IVF pregnancy, after so many troubles, has kind of scared me. It's taken away any oblivious, carefree attitude that I might have had. Or maybe I would always have had worry. I just still struggle with a deep mistrust of my body and it's ability to do what comes naturally to so many others.

But. But. I am being a brat. Even my lab slip said "normal first pregnancy." I made it to 13 weeks. The risks of Down's are low. I think I would like to slowly ease back into exercising and enjoying. That's my goal for this next month: exercise, relax, eat well, and try to allow myself some excitement.

[Ok, this was a really boring update. Sorry. I'm just a hormonal mess today.]

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ups and Downs

Today I went to see my midwife. I just couldn't live with the anxiety anymore. I'd been spotting for 11 days, light spotting, but spotting nonetheless.

It was a very reassuring visit. First, she listened to the heartbeat. I cannot ever hear that whoosh-whoosh-whoosh without crying. I am still in such disbelief that it's really me, sitting in an ob/gyn office, not the infertility clinic. One interesting side note: I always had high blood pressure at the infertility doctor's. Sometimes, I wouldn't even let them take it, because it would just stress me out. But the last two visits at my midwife's have been 128/80, and today, a perfect 119/80.

Anyway, the heartbeat was fine, and then she did a quick pelvic exam. She said my cervix looks "very pregnant" (huh?) and that her strong feeling is that it's my cervix bleeding, not anything in the uterus. She dabbed away a lot of blood- all brown- and told me it's going to be okay. For some reason, my cervix is very sensitive and irritated. She said this will likely stop soon.

Tomorrow is my big hospital ultrasound, for the nuchal translucency screening (and also marks 13 weeks). Even though our donor was only 23 years old, I want the extra reassurance. I also want to see the baby again! I am really looking forward to this.

So, I guess I can relax again. I'm not sure if I will ever fully relax until the bleeding stops, but I will try. She said most women really feel better at around 20 weeks, when you can start to feel the baby move on a regular basis. I cannot wait.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My body hates me

Just when I was starting to relax...

Today, I started spotting again. Not as much as last time, but bright red, fresh blood again.

We just heard the heartbeat two days ago, and one friend reports she spotted twice a week till week 13 (I'm not quite at week 12). So, I am not freaking out.

But I am really disappointed in my body. As if infertility and failing 8 Clomid cycles and 3 IVFs wasn't enough, now I can't even have a smooth first trimester. My body has to taunt me with days of doing fine, and then bleeding again. It's so unfair. How am I supposed to trust my body or any of that other crap the birthing books all spout? Most women get pregnant, stay pregnant, and figure all will be well. I get my hopes up, then spend Saturday night in horrible fear, then relax again when it stops, and now today have to keep seeing red again.

I am not panicking, but I am just really frustrated.

In the good news category, it's been five days now that I have not needed a nap. Just one week ago, I would have found that impossible to believe. I was in such a fog for about eight weeks, where I felt brain dead after about 1 pm. It is nice to feel smarter and more alert lately.

Anyway, I should go distract myself with a book or something. I just had to vent for a minute.

Monday, August 19, 2013

One Giant Sigh of Relief

Today was our first midwife appointment. I am 11 weeks, 3 days along. It is wonderful. I never, ever thought I'd be attending an OB visit. In my darkest hours, which were many, I imagined I would never be pregnant. I feel lucky beyond belief. And proud, that I kept plugging away, trying option after option. My bank account might be sad, but I am not (most of the time, anyway. I still have my share of anxiety and worries about everything, including being a mother).

Anyway, back to the appointment. The midwife assured us that nothing is wrong. I had no bleeding today, none yesterday, and feel totally fine. We heard the heartbeat and it's thumping away in there, healthy and strong.

The midwife did a quick exam, of my breasts and lungs and heart, and I guess she checked my uterus or something? I barely felt it, though she reported that I don't have a narrow pelvis or something. Huh? Well, whatever. Then we did my blood work, including testing for the first trimester screening (Down's, etc.). I scheduled the NT test/ultrasound for a week from this Friday, when I will be 13 weeks exactly. I am not too worried about it since my baby mama is 23 years old (or at least her eggs were- and will remain so, frozen for me). But I want the extra reassurance anyway.

I am very happy with the midwife practice so far. She didn't bat an eye about my repeated IVFs, and in fact, didn't ask one question about my having used a donor. In fact, it was totally irrelevant- I didn't even NEED to have mentioned it. Since I am under 35, prenatal testing is the same anyway, so it just didn't seem to matter. That was nice, not that I really care since I am okay with having used a donor. But today felt really like MY pregnancy and MY baby and that was nice.

The only thing different about an IVF pregnancy, the midwife told me, is that they'll do an EKG of the baby's heart, I think at the 20 week anatomy scan. That is because IVF babies have a slightly elevated risk of heart defects, so they just like to check.

So, I hope the scary spotting is behind me, though I think sex is going to be off the table for a little while. For now, I am just so relieved that the baby is still here, and that things are moving along okay.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Please, after all I have been through, do not let this be the end.

This afternoon I began spotting. I went to pee, and there were long streaks of bright red blood on the toilet paper. Bright, fresh blood. I almost passed out.

I have had a full or cramping feeling, maybe some twinges, all day.

No more bright blood, but residual spotting continues.

I stopped the progesterone and estrogen on Wednesday. My husband and I did make love this morning. I feel bad, but in general our sex life has really been on hold since the transfer. In nine long weeks, I think we have been together... Maybe three times? And now, I regret agreeing to it this morning.

Tonight, in tears, I called my midwife and she was very reassuring, she said spotting, especially after intercourse, is very common, and is seen in up to 25% of women. She said that due to the lack of heavy bleeding and severe cramping, I am most likely fine.

Today I realized again how precious this pregnancy is, and how terrified I am that things have been going too well. I am so scared.

UPDATE (Sunday morning):
The cramps seem to be gone, and no new spotting. I am still scared, but not as bad. I have a 9 am appointment with one of the midwives tomorrow, thank goodness. This is my second time spotting like this, perhaps it is something that I just need to accept. I don't know.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

11 week update: graduation, and thoughts on starting a new RESOLVE group

Yesterday was our last appointment at the fertility center. Yup, it's official: I have been released! I have graduated! Also, as of this morning, I am no longer on any medications (other than continuing the baby aspirin and my prenatals).

It's not a kitten, folks. My husband asked the nurse, just to be sure. 
It's a strange, scary feeling. And also kind of anticlimactic. Since my first positive beta, nine weeks ago, I've never even gotten a call from my doctor down in Atlanta. He did the transfer, was really nice, but it's been nurses since then. Not even the same nurse. Oh, well. I got what I wanted.

As for telling people, we're still being cautious. This is on account of three things: first, I'd like to get through 12 weeks and also the Down's screening. We're not too worried about it since we used a 23 year old donor, but you never know. We would terminate if there are any serious problems, as traumatic as that would be. I pray we never would need to make those kinds of decisions.

Second, I have a job interview! It's not an ideal job and I probably will not get it, but I don't want to totally ruin my chances if someone were to post something dumb on Facebook (I did change my wall settings today, so B's mom can't blab anything, she's kind of a Facebook stalker in general).

And third, I want to be really sensitive in how and whom we share the news with. Pregnancy announcements were always so hard for me, as I've written about before. I don't know that we will say anything on Facebook at all, but even when sharing with colleagues and friends, I haven't decided how much info is TMI and how much is being aware and open that it's not easy for everyone. These are all things to consider in a few more weeks.

This week was the first RESOLVE meeting that I didn't attend and I'd say that felt weird, except I believe I slept through most of that time anyway. I am still having such exhaustion. I guess since I dealt with infertility for so long, none of my friends warned me what being pregnant would really be like. I am SO tired, and never feel well-rested, and must nap every afternoon or I feel like the flu times ten. I also struggle with nausea most evenings, but thankfully not usually in the daytime when I am at work. I don't really mind any of it too much though, because this is what I wanted.

Back to the RESOLVE thing- a friend from the group and I, both pregnant, have talked about starting a Pregnancy and/or Parenting after Infertility group. I checked out our local library and it has a good meeting space that we can reserve once a month. But, for some reason I have been dragging my feet about actually starting the group. I guess I am not sure exactly what role it would have in my life or other's. I definitely had some anxiety in the first few weeks of pregnancy, and I still get nervous before ultrasounds, but I'm wondering what specific needs a group like this would fill. Has anyone else heard about these groups? There are some, scattered around, mainly in larger cities. Anyway, something to consider a bit more.

My next doctor's appointment will be with the midwives, on Monday morning. I need to gather my donor's info and my own medical records to bring with me. I hope the midwife is understanding and supportive about our history.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Phone Call with the Midwives

Since I will be released from my fertility center in one week if all continues to go well, my nurse had suggested I contact a provider who will be taking over my care. So this morning was my initial phone conversation/intake call with the midwives that I will use for my prenatal care. 

I was a little nervous about this choice. My original intention, years ago when I thought I'd be pregnant in no time, was to have a baby at the birthing center in town. It's a free-standing birthing center, staffed only by midwives, with no epidurals or other drugs or interventions offered, and a homelike atmosphere with birthing tubs, etc. I even went on the little tour and info session, 2 1/2 years ago when I thought we'd soon be pregnant after a few months of trying.

Well, ha. That didn't happen, and the birthing center now does not accept IVF patients. I've written about this before so I won't get into it again, but it's pretty fucked up in my opinion. Anyway, it's not an option and I'm not choosing to dwell on it. 

The next best thing seems to be the midwives who work in the same practice with an OB, and deliver at my local hospital. And actually, now that I have been through surgery and four IVFs, I actually think I want more options, more monitoring, perhaps drugs at delivery if I feel I need them. I've just been through so much, and I think I will appreciate a bit of increased testing and monitoring and the options of interventions. Of course, what do I know, this early in the game. I still don't even feel pregnant, just damn tired.

Anyway, this morning was my initial phone intake consult with the nurse who works with the midwives and OBs. I was a bit apprehensive, since it's true that my medical history is a bit more complex than most women's might be. But I was happily surprised! The nurse didn't bat an eye when I told her it's an IVF pregnancy and that I'd had four IVF procedures. She asked for my transfer date instead of my LMP (yes! she understands that the LMP question provokes some anxiety in me!) and was also nonchalant when I disclosed that we had used a donor so my own medical history is irrelevant in some ways- but I have all of the genetic testing for my donor and can bring that to my first appointment. She didn't ask me any more about that, but just treated it as normal, acceptable part of my medical history.  She also took a moment at the end to give me her own words of wisdom- she said a good friend had IVF and wishes someone had warned her that pregnancy care will seem really relaxed and laid-back compared to the personal, intensive monitoring done for IVF patients, and not to worry about this because most pregnancies are healthy and this is to be expected.

Whew. To have someone treat me just like any other pregnant woman, yet be understanding and graceful about all I have been through, was like a mini-healing session by itself. Sometimes it's still unbelievable that I am actually pregnant, as opposed to just tired or depressed (all the sleeping) or fat (all the eating!). But this call made my feel very normal, and that was such a gift. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Weaning Begins...

Guess what? Amazing news: I am being weaned off my drugs!

I got the call late yesterday from one of my doctor's nurses. I am now dropping to two patches of estrogen instead of four, and one progesterone applicator a day instead of two.

Of course I am nervous as hell, because these medications are what has been feeding and supporting my pregnancy. But I guess my placenta must be starting to take over. We saw the yolk sack and the umbilical cord at yesterday's ultrasound- not sure if those things are related or what, but seems like it might be?

So, last night when my alarm went off at 8 pm, I just shut it off and continued reading my book. Totally weird.

I am really scared and really excited and, as usual, really tired  :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Second Heartbeat

Today was the second time we got to hear the heartbeat, at 8 weeks and 5 days. It was steady, thumping in there at 185 bpm. The nurse practitioner says I am measuring just fine, and the baby is happy and healthy. I cried. Then we left and I cried some more.

It's really, really sinking in. Most of the time I'm just too exhausted to think of anything at all. I drag my sorry ass out of bed, get it to work and into a seat, and try to make it through the day or at least till 3 pm before I give up and go home to sleep. I wake before dinner, and if B isn't home, I subsist on frozen Amy's tofu breakfast burritos, and then eagerly await 10:30 or 11 pm when I can crawl back into bed. Pregnancy is way more exhausting than anyone had ever warned me.

But I don't mind it. It's just that it doesn't seem connected to anything larger. It seems like I've always been tired, and always will be. It's hard to relate it to the fact that somewhere inside me, a baby soul is growing. I'm not throwing up, I haven't gained any weight, and we've been extremely conservative in telling friends and family. So it's very easy to not feel pregnant at all, and to think of nothing more than napping and eating and regular stuff.

However, today's ultrasound felt real. Unlike last time, there was more to see. The blob has distinct parts, I could see a head and "rump," the yolk sack and umbilical cord were there, the heartbeat is like boom-boom-boom, and the nurse-practitioner was effusive in her excitement. So different from last time.

A slightly more distinct blob this time!

I can't say I've relaxed totally, because I know we're not out of the high risk danger zone. I am not even quite 9 weeks. I have a bruise inside my uterus that may still cause some bleeding (it hasn't yet, but she said to take it easy) and that's a little scary, though not risky to the uterus' inhabitant.

After we left the clinic today, I was crying again in the car. They were toys of relief and of joy, but with some sadness mixed in. I am so grateful to have this future ahead of me, but as the pregnancy becomes more real, I'm also struggling with the donor egg part becoming more real too. This baby that I am growing is thriving because of the healthy eggs of someone else. A strong, healthy 23 year old woman gave me her genetic material so that I might have and carry a child. It's amazing and mind-blowing when you think about what this means. I will never see my eyes reflected in the same dark brown, I'll never catch my mom's smile in a little girl's face. I was not able to grow my own genetic child, but this healthy 23 year old shared her eggs so that I can. It's sorrowful and wonderful at the same time, and it's really happening. I am a science experiment that may indeed succeed, and it's modern medicine and my donor that is giving me this gift. I still want to cry when I think of what I've given up, and scream with happiness when I think of what I am still going to have instead. I cried there on the table today because it's still hard to believe that something worked for me at last, that I really can have a baby. I cried on the way home because I really can have a baby, though not in the way I'd hoped and dreamed when I started all this over two and a half years ago.

To all those still fighting for their babies-to-be, I am there with you. I may not have as much to say as I used to, but soon I will exit the brain fog of the first trimester and will have more concrete things to share. I do plan on starting a pregnancy after infertility group, because I do feel differently than my friends who have conceived naturally. I feel close to those who have walked the same hard path as I, and those who still have the fears and worries that continue to stay with me.

But for now, the most important thing on my mind is what I heard and saw today on that screen. Hello, embryo with a little heartbeat. I am so, so glad you are here with us.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Yesterday was a big day. We saw the heartbeat!

Look! A vague tiny blob!
Okay, now that I've done the obligatory "wow!", I can tell the truth. Because this is my blog and I can whine if I want to.

The actual heartbeat appointment was very, very anticlimactic.

I feel guilty even writing that, because I know I should be grateful beyond belief to have a growing little embryo, and believe me, I thank my lucky stars each and every day. I thank the universe that after all my failures, luck finally shone down upon me. I tam thankful that I had the money to pay the ridiculous costs involved in this (buh bye, the better part of our savings from four years of marriage), the perseverance to keep moving forward, and the support from my husband to do donor egg.

BUT all that being said, I had a shitty visit to the clinic yesterday. I was so nervous that my knees were knocking when I got onto the table, and they made me wait a long time. Then the nurse practitioner came in, followed by a woman I'd never set eyes upon before. She apparently was an ob/gyn fellow, and had never given a transvaginal ultrasound before. Lovely. She messed with the wand a lot (ouch...) and had trouble using the controls. She showed me the heartbeat, at which point I burst out into relieved tears, but then she commented in an off-hand matter how "next week we expect it should speed up." Ummmm??? Are you saying it's not fast enough now??? I never did get a straight answer, except she also told me the measurements lead her to think I am a day behind (though she also said that doesn't matter, this early in the game).

In fact, she was having such trouble with the machine that the appointment quickly became all about her, and nothing to do with me and my husband. In fact, she even asked B to turn off the video camera, because maybe then she'd be better able to find the heartbeat again (uhhh, are doctors supposed to get performance anxiety still???).

There wasn't much more to it. They said "congrats" and told me they'd probably see me back in about a week. At which point I felt about to cry. I was under the impression that it was one ultrasound and then I'd be released.

Later, my friends reassured me that two or three are normal. I guess I was really jumping the gun, thinking this was my last visit to the clinic. Thinking I'd not be "high risk pregnancy with a history of infertility" for much longer.

The heartbeat checkup, therefore, was very anticlimactic. The little flickering light was cool, but it was sadly overshadowed by the doctor's incompetence, her offhand worrisome remarks, and my growing anxiety as the appointment went on. By the end, I had convinced myself there was something wrong.

Of course, nothing is wrong. My doctor in Atlanta told me the scan is excellent, and I'm right where I should be. I go back in two weeks for another one, then a final one at 10 weeks, and only then am I released. Another friend confirmed she had FOUR scans before being released, so I can relax now and the gratitude is seeping back in.

All of this is just so very hard. You think a positive pregnancy test is the end, but it's not. My friend who got pregnant the old fashioned way has a first doctor's appointment at 10 weeks. By ten weeks I will have had three beta blood tests and three early ultrasounds. I will have survived being "high risk" and I will have poured thousands of dollars of progesterone and estrogen into my body. But, I will have a baby. I need to calm down, breathe, and try to enjoy this period of my life. Somehow.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pregnant but still infertile

I haven't been writing much because I have not had a whole lot to say. Mostly, being pregnant is a happy experience, but there's not a lot more to say. I'm done with my betas, my first ultrasound is not for a few more days, and I've had a few days of nausea but nothing serious. Honestly, the most significant part of being pregnant is just remembering that moment when we saw the positive test, and feeling the tears that still come to my eyes.

However, there are some moments that jump into my face and make me remember that hello, I am pregnant. And hello, I am not a normal carefree pregnant lady. Here are a couple of examples:

1. Medications. I am still using progesterone twice a day, and switching my four estrogen patches every three days. I still take my baby aspirin each morning. I am exhausted all the time. I don't know if that's normal first trimester tiredness, or if it's the mega dose of progesterone and estrogen that I am giving myself morning and night. In any case, it ain't cheap. BUT I had a small moment of victory when my insurance actually sent me this:
Yes, this is more expensive than gold.
For those of you who have not spent a fair amount of your life savings on infertility treatment and medications, these four boxes represent only a 30 day supply (and I've been on this stuff for 4.5 weeks already, and will remain on it for 3.5 weeks more). And are you sitting down? This one month supply costs $900. Yes, NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Till now, I have been paying for it out of pocket, but after many phone calls to my hated insurance company's pharmacy, they are now covering it with a $60 co-pay. Since pregnancy is covered, they have to. But they certainly dragged their feet, making me shell out several hundred dollars more while I waited. Anyway, it felt like a huge victory when they finally sent this to me. I actually have two refills that I hope I won't need, and I plan to fill those suckers and either keep them for my future self or share them with women in my support group who don't have insurance coverage for fertility either. But overall, the point is, it sucks that this medication costs so much, and that insurance doesn't have to cover infertility. You can have any number of self-caused medical conditions that insurance pays thousands of dollars for, but infertility? Nope. WHY? It makes no sense, and is so deeply unfair and unjust.

2. A good friend of mine (normal friend, not infertility group friend) just found out today that she is pregnant. I am absolutely thrilled for her- she'd been trying for a few months with no luck, and was beginning to worry. But I was shocked that she is just 5 weeks pregnant and wants to go to pregnancy yoga classes, and has already told a ton of neighbors, and is so carefree and gleeful. I mean, I guess that is normal? But coming from an infertility perspective, pregnancy is joyful, but it's NOT a sure thing. I have known too many women with miscarriages and complications to just tell the world and not even consider the first trimester a time for caution. What must it feel like to have such a trusting, carefree attitude towards your body? Not to have to pump it full of chemicals, not have three betas and an ultrasound all before 7 weeks? They don't even want to see her till she hits 10 weeks, assuming that she is all fine and no care is needed. It all sounds so foreign to me. All I can hope is that infertility will make me value my pregnancy and child more than I would ordinarily? Is that even a reasonable thought? Don't most mothers love their children, and can you really rank such a thing? I don't think so, and this is probably a topic for a longer, more thoughtful blog post. But anyway, it's hard to see her unabashed celebrations, and remember that I am still "high risk" and still being monitored closely and still taking tons of medications just to keep myself pregnant.

To sum this up, I'm not saying pregnancy after infertility had been particularly hard or traumatic for me. It's just that I notice these things more and think about them quite often. It's hard to realize how precious a thread an IVF pregnancy hangs on, and though I have no reason to worry, it's hard not to with all the appointments and blood tests and the early ultrasound. I hope I can gradually feel more like a normal pregnant person, and that being pregnant the same time as my friend is a happy experience, and not overwhelming in its contrasts. Someday, if all goes well, I'll have a baby, and that's what really matters, not how hard it was to get him or her here with us.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Last RESOLVE Meeting?

Of course nothing is definite, but last night might have been my last RESOLVE meeting.

I joined the group a year and a half ago, after struggling with trying to conceive for a year. When the facilitator left after a failed IVF and a desire to stop trying, another member and I took over as coordinators. I did the official training, and we set up an email account to answer new member inquiries. Since the group was pretty small, just about four or five regulars, we put up fliers at several of the local fertility clinics.

I'm happy to report that the group has really grown- last night we had about 16 attendees. About five men were included. The group was about 2/3 regulars and 1/3 first timers. It's a nice mix of women about to start IVF, a few who have tried IVF and aren't sure what to do next, and some real newbies.

This group has been the single most helpful thing in my infertility life over the past year and a half. I know not everyone feels this way (some people find it discouraging that others graduate and we remain), but for me, it's been essential. I tried therapy and came home feeling depressed each time. Focusing on myself and my problems just wasn't for me. But when I went to RESOLVE meetings, I was comforted by women who really understood me and were in the same place. It was helpful to see others struggling, and others succeeding at times. Although it was hard when almost everyone I started with eventually became pregnant and moved on, it just further solidified my drive to keep trying, and to explore new options like donor egg.

Also, it has been a fab source of information and of free and half price meds  :)

I have especially enjoyed the friendships I've made through the group. I'm still close with four of the women that were in the original group (one has a new baby, two are pregnant, one is not sure what to do next but starting to explore embryo adoption) and one woman I met more recently (also pregnant, only four weeks ahead of me). These close friendships are the best part of RESOLVE- it brought us together and gave us a way to meet and something huge we have in common.

RESOLVE has a suggestion that you attend once to let the group know you are pregnant (in a kind, sensitive  way- or at least I did my best) and then stop attending. One women last night questioned why- she said can't a woman be a symbol of encouragement to the others, if she keeps coming? Well.... yes, I understand that, but I also recognize that the group should be a safe space for those in the midst of the struggle. It should be a safe space away from pregnant women. I do feel like I'm in a different category- I have struggled and fought SO MUCH to have this baby- but I am still pregnant. The group has to be a space where women don't need to be around pregnant women, and can complain or vent as needed.

What complicates this is that I am the facilitator. It's not hard- as I said before, I did a one hour web training by RESOLVE, and I monitor the email account. I send out reminders of the meetings, and I loosely moderate the meetings (mainly just introduce myself and get us started). I want the group to continue, so last night I asked for volunteers to take over. Two women are interested in co-facilitating, so it looks like that might work out.

It's going to be hard not to have this group in my life. I know I am leaving for the best possible reason- pregnancy- but I am mourning this loss a little bit too. I met so many wonderful women and made these friendships that literally saved me from isolation and giving up. I still have these friends and expect to continue to email and see them regularly, but it's weird to have crossed to the other side so suddenly. I found so much fulfillment from the group and helping it thrive. Last night I brought cookies and leftover meds and everyone seemed genuinely happy for me, but already I found it hard to listen, to feel again the pain and yearning that I was immersed in for so many years and that isn't gone, but certainly isn't an open wound to me anymore. It is hard.

Of course I am not even six weeks along, so the future is uncertain. But it seems like the right time to say goodbye to the group, as bittersweet as that is.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Not sure what to say

It's been one week since my positive pregnancy test and beta. My second beta was Monday and my numbers had more than doubled, and I definitely have been feeling it. I was nauseous for a few days, and crampy, and very tired. The symptoms have mostly abated, though I do still feel more worn out than normal.

But in general, life has changed less than I expected. I am overjoyed, truly, but it all feels so abstract right now. I was on a sort of happiness high for the first couple of days, and then... life went back to normal. I went to work, I made dinner, I prayed that this pregnancy, my first ever, will stick around. I have been very selective in a small number of people with whom I have shared the good news- mainly, friends and family who knew we were going through this. It's been so wonderful to hear others' enthusiasm (though the sarcastic part of me says inside, they're just so sick of hearing my bad news, and now they can stop feeling guilty- and honestly, I'd feel the same way if I were everyone else).

I don't know what to do with this blog, and that's why I've been absent for a week. I know some people transition to a pregnancy blog, but I don't think I feel right doing that. I mean, mainly, I hope I will have nothing exciting or out of the ordinary to say. Also, I'm Jewish, and there is a tradition of not counting your eggs (or luck) till it's hatched. Traditionally, baby showers are avoided, and some people don't even decorate the baby's room. I think in the modern world, babies usually do come into the world, at least once you're past the first trimester danger zone, and families do need to prepare, and I think celebrating is a natural, nice thing. But I also understand the need to be cautious, and especially considering my past bad luck, as well as my sensitivity to those still in the infertility world, I want to be somewhat private about sharing  my news with the world. After all, this is about me and my husband, and our desire to have a child. What more can anyone want to know?

Sigh. Perhaps it will become more clear to me in the coming weeks. Right now, my doctor still codes my betas as "high risk pregnancy with a history of infertility" (yes, I google stalk ICD-9 diagnosis codes on my order sheets). I am not out of the woods, though I do hope and pray every night that this embryo is making a happy home inside of me.

What would you do, reader? Abandon the blog? Make a link to a new one where I can talk about pregnancy (yawn) and not bother people who just want to read the infertility sections? I don't know what is helpful, and I feel like there are a million other pregnancy blogs out there, so I won't have anything new to add. With pregnancy, the world is happy for you (mostly). With infertility, I felt alone and needed a place to get it all out.

My universe has shifted and stayed the same, and I guess I will see what the future brings.  Maybe the answer will make itself clear as time goes on.

Friday, June 28, 2013


The beta came back, and it's well above what it needs to be.

So, now I will maybe stop checking this morning's pee stick every 10 minutes: this is not a dream, I really, actually am pregnant.

I am in shock and am overjoyed, yet also sad and hopeful for my friends (blogger friends and real life friends from my RESOLVE group) who are still waiting for that positive.

Oh Happy Day

[To anyone reading who doesn't want to hear about an (early) pregnancy, stop here.]

Today is one of the happiest days of my life.


I never thought I'd pee on a stick and see that happy little plus sign, but this morning I did. I was nauseous all day yesterday, though I assumed it was nerves. I didn't even want any chocolate after dinner- highly, highly unusual for me.

I slept okay, but I had pregnancy dreams all night. Happy ones. A little weird.

B woke me around 6:30 am. We went  into the bathroom, and I tested. I have never, ever ended a pregnancy test with anything but tears. I KNEW it would be negative and I braced myself for it. I picked up the test and began crying, and when I told him, so did he. It was positive. No mistaking that plus sign.

I can't describe the happiness I am feeling right now. I know I need to be cautious, because anything can happen. I don't even have the beta number yet (just came home from the clinic- won't hear back till afternoon). But I can't even think of this joy going away right now. I made my mom cry too. She was up early too, preparing the house for sitting shiva for my grandma's recent death (which unfortunately I can't go to- I'm not leaving town right now- but the memorial service will be later this summer and of course I can go to that). 

I am glad I never gave up, and I want good results for all of my other friends out there who are trying or who are reading this. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Not Feeling Good. Okay, Feeling Horrible.

I had been feeling pretty positive recently. 70% chance of success is pretty good, and a grade A embryo were helping me feel more confident than ever before. Two days after my 5 day transfer, I had some light pink spotting and mild cramping for 24 hours.

Then, last night when I went to the bathroom, there were long, bright red streaks of blood mixed in with normal discharge (sorry to be gross, but it's my blog). Like, bright red, fresh blood.

I freaked out. I continue to freak out. I had cramps all night and didn't sleep well. I had nightmares of getting my negative pregnancy test. That the Crinone didn't do it's job to keep my lining intact, that now I have to have the scary scratch biopsy done. That next time I need to go back to the PIO shots in the ass. That I am not pregnant, even with a perfect embryo. That I never will be.

My nurse reassures me that it is probably an irritation of the cervix from all the Crinone. I don't know. I need to stop writing because I am freaking myself out even more.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ends and Beginnings

Last IVF cycle, back in February, my 97 year old grandma was not doing well, and we thought it might be the end. My mom sent me this email:

End of life is a very difficult thing.  I am hoping that the end of my mother's life will coincide with the start of my granchild's life.  Wouldn't that be a fitting gift of the cosmos? Did you know that you were conceived on my 32 birthday?  That is a cosmic gift too.

Well, my granny pulled through, and when I saw her in April, she was doing okay. But today she died, after a bout of pneumonia following a broken hip. We didn't know it would happen so quickly, although she hasn't been strong for awhile and her dementia was getting worse and worse.

I am glad that my mom was there with her when she passed away, though sad that my mom had to be alone for this. My aunt and uncle were on the way from New York but this happened before they got there. I had just been talking to my mom this morning about whether and when I should come up, since the funeral will be later this summer when we can take her ashes up to the gravesite in New Jersey. But then she passed away before we expected, and now she is gone.

I am at work, but finding it hard to focus on any work, between this and my beta test in less than 48 hours. I know there is no connection between most things, but my mind went back to what my mom had written to me in February. Maybe the cosmos finally will send a gift our way.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Radical Honesty

Two weeks ago, I wrote a rambling post about other people's pregnancies. Specifically, I was telling about how a friend had announced her pregnancy on Facebook, and had hurt me by not mentioning it to me first, even though she knew of our troubles and we'd been emailing after she must have known about her pregnancy.

Well, I mostly put it out of my mind, but it still bothered me. But the night of my transfer, while in Atlanta, my email inbox pinged. Guess what it was? No, it wasn't her checking in with me or saying hello. It was a BABY SHOWER INVITE from her mother!

WTF. You don't mention your pregnancy to me even while asking about my IVFs, you post an obnoxious photo on Facebook that insults people who have cats instead of babies (ahem), and then you INVITE ME TO YOUR FUCKING BABY SHOWER??? Via mass email????

I drove home from Atlanta the next day, and try as I might, I just couldn't quit thinking about the audacity and outright rudeness of this. I really wanted to call and give her a piece of my mind, although my friends had counseled me not to. Also, and more importantly, I was driving. So I did nothing, but stewed about it for a long time.

That night, when I got home, I just couldn't resist. I emailed her probably too long of a message. Here is what I sent:

I want to tell you how hurt I was by your not taking the time and compassion to email me to tell me of your pregnancy before putting it to the world on Facebook, and by your not saying anything yet inviting me to your baby shower.

I understand that this is about you and not me, but you WATCHED me do my fertility shots. I MUST have told you how hard this is for me. I think you know I have done three rounds of IVF with no success. I have poured my heart and soul and a significant chunk of my life savings into trying to have a baby. Perhaps you do not realize how heartbreaking it is to me to not be able to have the process of pregnancy and a child. I know, I know, people all around us are getting pregnant, I get it. But I was hurt that you are my friend and you  knew of my struggles and did not bother to give me a heads-up before the Facebook posting (as many of my other friends have kindly done). According to my FB account, we were emailing as late as April, by which time you must have known you were pregnant. A simple thoughtful email or acknowledgement would have been nice.

I wasn't going to say anything, but then I received this baby shower invite and felt upset all over again. In what world is it considered okay to issue an invitation to celebrate a pregnancy to someone who is obviously is struggling over her inability after two and a half long years to enjoy the same thing? 

I keep hearing you tell me how you and [your husband] were "ambivalent" about children, and the injustice of life cannot be more clear. I recognize this is not your fault, of course.

I do wish you happiness and a healthy pregnancy, but I would have appreciated a friend's sensitivity and compassion in this situation.

I tried to make it nice but express how I felt and why her actions bothered me so much. I expected a bitchy retort, or perhaps radio silence. However, two and a half hours later, she wrote back. I won't post the whole thing here, but essentially she said that she is sorry, and that she just didn't know how to deal with it, so she didn't. She said that in retrospect she should have emailed me and she realizes that now.  Here is a little bit of how she wrote it:

I did take the time to think of your reaction, but I honestly didn't know the best approach to take. I thought sending you a personal email might make the sting stronger, because you would have to respond to a direct connection. I thought perhaps a public announcement would give you time to process your feelings and not feel the need to respond personally. I noticed that you didn't respond to the public announcement, but didn't want to make it more difficult by writing you and bringing attention to it.

So, I was pleasantly surprised that she did write back, though further annoyed that she actually thought about it and decided a public announcement was really kindest (WTF? does that make sense to anyone??? maybe to a fertile person).

I wrote back and said:
Thanks for writing back. I figured it was how you described it- you didn't know what to say, so you didn't say anything. I know it was not an intentional thing, but it did really hurt me and I would say that in general, if you don't know what to say, saying something is often better than nothing. At least that's my opinion, from this side of the issue. One in eight couples struggle with fertility problems so it can be a sensitive topic for many, but it's also a hidden issue that most of us don't want to think or talk about, so we don't know how to deal with it.

The reason I wrote this is that although I don't think it's my job to educate the world, I do think that with 1 out of every 8 couples struggling with infertility, people SHOULD be more sensitive when announcing their news to the world via Facebook. I mean, I guess if you post that you got a new job, it could offend people who are under- or unemployed, and perhaps posting a photo of me with my husband could upset a single person who wants to be married?  I don't know, and maybe I am overthinking all of this, but I just think pregnancy is a weird issue. I'm not sure I can elucidate why, but especially for this friend, she KNEW someone struggling, so I still can't totally forgive her not taking the effort to do SOMETHING before fucking sending me a baby shower invite. That part, especially, I cannot understand.

Anyway, probably no one cares about my personal drama, but I am still struggling with my feelings over this. But mainly, I just want to start speaking up more when people do things that aren't right or aren't kind. I feel like I spend too much of my life being "pleasant" when I don't feel like it, to protect other people, but this incident made me feel like I shouldn't care so much when people aren't pleasant and don't think of my feelings. And as I wrote to her, infertility is not rare. Hello. Wake up. Be a good friend and a compassionate person when the opportunity is staring you in the face.

Obviously this is about more than just my friend, and is bigger than one person or one issue. I just haven't fully processed it, but this helped.

As a closing note, I'll also say that for the fifth time in a row, my dad sent me a godawful cat statue for my birthday. And I finally, at last, told him the truth. "Please don't send me any more cat-themed items." And he didn't get upset!  Score 1 for (careful and kind) radical honesty!

Friday, June 21, 2013


Today is my 33rd birthday! And what a good birthday it has been so far.

Beautiful roses from my husband:

He also gave me a pretty necklace and a delicious-looking bar of dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds (my favorite!) and some fancy hand carved chopsticks. My mom sent me a tabletop grill (to prepare all the yummy veggies I will soon have coming out of my garden) and something else- she said it's in today's mail, which hasn't come yet. My bum dad said he mailed me a present too but it hasn't come either. Also, my friend in ATL gave me a cookbook from one of the wonderful vegetarian restaurants we went to this week. Tonight I am seeing Pilobolus (modern dance) with friends.

And, of course, I have my perfect little embryo, which is what I really wanted. And my five frozen ones (yes! one of the ones they were observing turned out to be good, so they added it to the four I already had).

I am showered with riches and feeling pretty happy right now.

Oh, one more thing: I just went to the bathroom to pee, and there were a few spots of light pink. Is it my cervix irritated by all the Crinone? Or could it possibly be implantation bleeding???

Only time will tell. Now I have to go do some work for my HOA and eat some of that delicious chocolate bar that is beckoning to me. What a wonderful birthday this year.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Transfer Day

I've done three IVF transfers before, but yesterday morning was the first time I've ever walked into the clinic and not wanted to burst into tears. For the first time ever, I grinned as I greeted the receptionist: I was going in for a five day blastocyst transfer- a good, strong, healthy embryo!

My friend went with me, and we got settled into the transfer room. The nurses checked my bladder and it was full enough (I was afraid I'd pee right on the table there!). The doctor and the embryologist came in, and they gave me the amazing news: of the 7 eggs that fertilized from the 8 that were provided, I had one amazing, grade AA embryo to transfer and 4 great quality blasts that had already been frozen! There are also two more that might also have been frozen today (note to self: email nurse and check to see if that happened or not).

This was above and beyond my wildest dreams and I cannot express how thrilled I am with these numbers. The clinic's nurses were all so nice, and my doctor and the embryologist were wonderful. When they projected my perfect little embryo on the screen, I couldn't help but start crying. I think my friend was crying too, just because it all seemed so magical and special. She held my hand and it felt like something truly otherworldly was happening. When I saw the bright dot at the end of the catheter released into my uterus, it felt like all of my struggles and troubles with my own eggs was almost redeemed by this one perfect embryo. I know it's weird, but I already felt like it's mine.

No, I did not transfer a cat embryo. This is just my friend's adorable kitty, and my adorable embryo.

Anyway, I don't want to get too involved or too fixated on what may or may not come to be. The doctor said with an embryo this good, my chances are about 70% success. But he cautioned me that 70% means that still 30% of cycles, even with this perfect embryo, result in a negative. I am hoping and praying that I come out on the good side of the odds for once, but I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I have either 4 or 6 blasts waiting for me, if this cycle should fail (and if not.. they are waiting, if I should want them in a couple of years...).

It was hard to watch this cycle go better than planned, when my own have failed so miserably. But I am trying not to think about this, and to instead focus on the positive. I test a week from tomorrow, and all I can do is wait, hope, and stare at the photo of my one, perfect embryo. It feels so good to have hope again.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happiness and Hope

I have been meaning to update this blog for a few days now, but I've been so busy! Finally, today, I have some quiet time while my friend is at work.

On Thursday afternoon we drove down to Atlanta. It's about six hours away but we hit a terrible storm, and we stopped a lot for food, gas, and breaks. We also had some good chuckles at how stereotypical South Carolina was. All along the highway, there were signs mainly for girly shows, peaches, and fireworks. Also this, which B refers to as a sin against humanity (and if you've never had a boiled peanut before, there is no way to describe the hot, soggy, salty mess that I've been unfortunate enough to experience):

Friday morning we got up and B went to the clinic to give his "sample," and then came back for me. We returned to the clinic and met with my doctor. He is as nice and friendly and reassuring as he was on the phone. I can't say enough good things about him. The clinic was bright and welcoming, the nurse was super nice, and the doctor reassured me that a lining of 7 is just fine. He decided not to bother with a mock transfer since I've done IVF so many times before, and he'll be doing my transfer himself. It was a quick and pleasant appointment. Then B and I went to wonderful vegetarian cafe and enjoyed some delicious food, and then we went and were tourists downtown. We went to the World of Coke, which was cheesy and silly but sort of fun. I dislike Coke, but it was a good way to distract myself from anxiously awaiting the news.

On Saturday morning, the news came at 9:11 am. I had just woken up, and was lying there, stomach in knots. At my other clinics, I've always had to wait for what seemed like all day, and I've always gotten off the phone crushed and in tears. My first IVF we had 5 mature eggs and only 1 fertilized normally. My second IVF, we had 4 eggs and 2 fertilized. My third and final IVF, we had 6 eggs, 5 of which were mature, but only 2 fertilized. We've always had to do a day 2 or day 3 transfer, and the embryos were crappy quality.

This time: they thawed 8 donor eggs and SEVEN fertilized! Not only that, but they were looking so good, that the next day (Sunday), they called and left me a message that we are definitely on for a five day transfer!

This is amazing news. I can't even convey how excited I was to hear that 7 of the 8 fertilized. I was jumping up and down, crying with happiness, blabbering to the lady on the phone that I've never had more than 2 eggs fertilize. I was ecstatic and so is B. I just have never gotten good news when it comes to all my procedures and outcomes, and this was even better than I had hoped for. I was on cloud nine all day, and B couldn't stop hugging me and sneaking kisses on my cheek every few minutes. It was super cute and such an amazing feeling to finally have something to be happy about.

We spent Saturday with our friends, in a small town called Athens, Georgia. We ate at another fabulous vegetarian cafe, walked around the campus of UGa and just had a good time browsing through little bookstores, record shops, and vintage places.

On Sunday, yesterday, I missed my phone call, but the nurse left a message to say that things are looking good with the embryos and we are definitely on for a five day transfer! I had another great day yesterday with my friend- we dropped B off at the airport to fly home, and we went to the High Museum of Art and the MLK Memorial Site in Atlanta:

Later that evening, we cooked another delicious meal, vegetarian burritos and cilantro roasted potatoes and a nice green salad. My friend and I went to grad school together and cooking together has always been one of our favorite things to do:

And now, I am just sitting in her condo, finally taking some time and space to catch up on email, news in the world, and this blog of course. The magnitude of this news is still with me, as we have better chances of a successful outcome than I have ever had before. It is a relief and saddening what this donor egg process proves: it was my eggs all the time that were the problem. The horrible fertilization and division of the embryos has been totally opposite when using our healthy 23 year old's eggs. Mainly, it's a huge relief, because this means that unless I have some other problem, I have a very real chance of a healthy pregnancy and finally getting to have a child. A smaller part of me is still mourning that I couldn't do this on my own, at the young age of 32. I have always tested okay for AMH (a little low, but not horrible) and all my other hormones are fine. I did have moderate to severe endometriosis, but I had surgery and they thought that would make conception impossible. But, donor egg has proven to me that the eggs are what was stopping us from getting good embryos in my three IVF cycles.  It's hard to hear that it was me all along, but ultimately, it is good. In the end, I want a child, and I want to carry it and nurture it myself, and this miracle of donor egg is hopefully going to make that possible.

More news tomorrow when they call with a transfer time and an update on the embryos. Till then, I am just trying to enjoy my newfound happiness.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Next stop: Atlanta!

Sometimes I take a step back and just have to laugh at the absurdity of this whole situation. Who would have ever thought I'd be packing a huge suitcase, saying goodbye to the cat and my bed, and getting in the car for a six hour drive, just to get knocked up? What most people do in the comfort of their beds (or various other locations, I guess) is requiring a road trip and week away for me. 

But, on the plus side, I am super excited that I am able to get in the car. My lining check this morning left me in tears. I was SO anxious when I woke up today that I forgot to put on my watch and wedding band, and left my lunch at home. I never do any of these things. This might be the first time I've forgotten my ring in the four years I've been married. I really was nervous and distracted.

Anyway, the news is that my lining has not progressed. It's still at 7 mm. I was deeply disappointed that it has not thickened, but the doctor in Atlanta said it has not gotten smaller, so I can still proceed. 

I was hoping for better news, but I know that I need to calm down and focus on the good news. We are leaving in just a few hours, and hopefully the embryos will be healthy and happy in there. 

Today: leave for Atlanta
Tomorrow at 9 am: eggs are thawed and B gives his "sample"
Tomorrow at 10:30 am: I meet with my doctor for the mock transfer
Saturday: fertilization report- this is a big deal, considering we've had crappy fertilization with my own eggs, and I will be very anxious till I receive this call
Monday or Wednesday: transfer, hopefully

Wish me luck, and next time I post it will be from the ATL!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lining Blues

This morning was my checkup at my local clinic, to make sure my uterine lining was of a sufficient thickness to encourage an embryo to want to stick around. It was 7 mm, which is slightly less than ideal. They really want to see 8 or above.

I've had thin linings in other cycles, though in my last cycle it was good. So I'm not sure how much I should be freaking out or not right now. My clinic in Atlanta wants me to go back and have it measured again on Thursday, before we leave for Atlanta. There is the possibility of delaying our cycle- and therefore our trip- if my lining has gotten thinner. The nurse seemed to indicate that if it's still at 7, that's okay (though they'd like to see it improve).

Just what I need- more stress and another $150 doctor bill. I don't even care about the money, it's the stress that bothers me more. What if this cycle gets delayed? I'd be really bummed if have to push things back. I do want to be home for my birthday and any delays will make that not happen.

This study is small, but seems to indicate it doesn't matter if the lining is under 8 mm. But commonly accepted practice is to try to get it to 8 or above.

There is plenty of junk on the internet about ways to increase it, but I don't believe them (more sex? soak feet in hot water? yeah right to both of those- I doubt they have anything to do with my endometrial lining). I'll just keep doing my estrogen patches and drink lots of water and hope and pray for good news on Thursday. Sigh. It's never easy, is it?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Article about Men & Infertility

The Washington Post's weekend magazine section has a feature story on men and their experience with infertility that is worth a quick read:

Much of what the men say in this article rings completely true to me. My husband also has a more positive outlook and doesn't seem to need the support that I seek out, yet I know it affects him deeply too. It's good to see an article being published in a major news outlet that explores some of these issues.

Other people's pregnancies

One week from today we will be in Atlanta, my donor's eggs will be unfrozen, and combined with my husband's sperm. If all goes well, I won't be brought back in till Wednesday, June 19th, for a five day, single embryo transfer. Then I will drive myself home the next day, and the following day is my 33rd birthday. My goal was to be done by my birthday, and sure enough, we are track for that. Of course I won't test till the week after my birthday, but at least we'll be done with the Atlanta part.

I had a pretty hard weekend after I last wrote. I recently have become good friends with a woman from my local support group. I had been close with four other women, and one by one, three of the four are all pregnant (or delivered a baby, in one case). That's been hard- I love getting their updates and am so happy for them, but sometimes I feel like a failure. I'm the only one who has gotten negative IVFs every time and am still here, infertile.

Anyway, recently I've become friendly with a new-ish member of the group. We're very different in a lot of ways, but we are the same age, and we've both been trying for a baby for 2.5 years. I encouraged her to shop around for a new clinic and she ended up switching to my clinic here. They did one IUI, negative. They did another one, and she texted me on Thursday that she had gotten a faint positive, but then a BFN the next day. She seemed upset and hopeless, and asked if we wanted to have dinner with her and her husband on Saturday night. I offered to cook, and planned a lovely meal that we could eat on the deck.

Well, Friday night she found out she is pregnant. Definitely pregnant.

I was.. deflated. Now, don't get me wrong: I am thrilled for her. She is wonderful and deserves to be a parent. I have wished nothing for the best for her. But to hear of yet another support group member's pregnancy can be hard. I wish I had my treatments work. I wish I had gotten pregnant from an IUI or an IVF and my own eggs. I wish, I wish. But, it isn't going to happen.

So, I was truly happy for her, but also sad that I'm losing yet another companion in this path of infertility, and that I feel like a failure yet again. But when I woke up Saturday, I was determined to be a gracious host to them for dinner, and to have a nice weekend before and after that.

Then, the kiss of death: Facebook.

I checked Facebook. And a high school friend of mine announced her pregnancy. In the worst, most obnoxious way: one of those ridiculous photo shoots with her and her husband and a due date and a stupid little baby bump prominently featured.

This was a friend (notice WAS) that WATCHED me do my shots one year ago, when I visited her at her home. She told me she probably didn't want kids, that she is really focused on her PhD, that both her husband and herself are "ambivalent" about children.

Why, universe? Why should someone who is ambivalent about wanting children get pregnant so easily, so quickly (I know they went on vacation in January- I assume they were not trying before then), yet I, who have longed for a baby for so many years, cannot? Life is so unfair, so deeply, deeply unfair.

As if this weren't bad enough, I looked back at my emails and we'd been writing back in April. When she was two months pregnant, by my calculations. She asked how IVF was going and I relayed that it hadn't worked and we are sad and don't know what to do next.

She said NOTHING about being pregnant.

And it's not that she should have to, but I would have really appreciated a short note or email before she posted that obnoxious, attention-hogging photo on Facebook. She KNOWS about my struggles and our pain and she couldn't even have said something, a short something? And she KNOWS about infertility, through at least me if not others, and she still thought her FB obnoxiousness was something wise to do?  I have had plenty of other friends become pregnant, and I am happy for them, and when they've told me, via email usually, then it's totally fine.

What do you think, readers? Am I being way too sensitive? Should we not expect some sensitivity after disclosure to a close friend? Is this just not something people should be expected to think about? Am I crazy for being angry at her and wanting to tell her how insensitive this was?

I won't do anything. She lives far away and we don't see each other more than once or twice a year, and she's not obligated to protect my feelings or do anything, and I suspect she'd just think I was crazy if I were to say anything. Perhaps, if this cycle works, and I am coming from a more positive place, then I can say something... or perhaps not.