Wednesday, December 31, 2008

65 - 2008 Recap Part Two

The previous post is my Top Five Bad Moments of 2008...next up...
The Top Six Happy Moments of 2008 (again no significance to the order):

#1 Alex got hired by Delta. While an aviation life is not ideal under any circumstance (see previous posts :-)), Delta is SO much better than his previous flying job. In the old job, he was gone for a minimum of 17 days a month, in a row, every month, and we sustained this for almost 4 years. Now he is usually gone for 3 days in a row and more like 12-13 days a month total. So much better. This is a pic of the airplane he flies.



#2 We met J and T while at CCRM. J and T are the people we stayed with through our whole IVF process out there. J is the sister of my previous piano teacher whom I still keep in touch with. J and T have a beautiful 6,000 sqft home that over looks the Rockies - and they essentially gave us the whole lower floor to live in. They were with us and such a support during this very stressful time of our lives - and they were wonderful. We had never met them before I showed up on their doorstep that night before our first CCRM stim check...and now I know we will be friends for life. Below is a pic J emailed me after our BFN. Their cat hated me for some reason...must have been all the hormones I was on while we were visiting :-).



#3 Aaron, my best friend's son, is doing amazing after his extremely traumatic entry into this world. He's cruising and is so close to walking. He waves. He claps. He laughs a lot and gets angry. He attacks my head and earrings when I hold him in front of my face. A miracle. And I also feel that this traumatic event has brought me closer to my three best friends of 29 years - L (Aaron's mom), M, and B. We talked a lot during that time and really supported each other. Here's a pic of Aaron in the nicu and a pic taken this fall-




#4 I had the best trip of my life in February of this year. I went to Sicily to visit a friend/professor/co-worker (I know, the boundaries are all blurred). She has family in central Sicily, so we spent time staying with them - it was such an authentic experience. I will never forget the few hours we spent on their family farm, soaking up the sun and looking out onto the rolling Sicilian hills while sipping limoncello. These were perhaps some of the best few hours of my entire life - truly. The image attached to my profile on this blog was taken in Sicily...and the ricotta in those cannolis was actually warm (it was so fresh)! Thank you, D and P!



#5 I loved my first semester in MSW school...the courses, my professors, the environment, etc. I learned so much.

And the 2008 happy moment that tips the scales for the "good"...

#6 Obama.


Seriously, how can 2009 NOT get better?

Revision: How could I forget! Another Happy Moment for 2008 was that Alex and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. We celebrated in Florida where we first met in 1995. Sorry babe for the afterthought...it really was a 2008 highlight. I made a slide show of pics of us from the last 13 years then surprised him by presenting it to him in the lecture hall where we first met. We had a good celebration.


So now the scales officially tip 7 good to 4 bad. See ya, 2008!

64 - 2008 Recap Part One



So we all know that the Grinch's heart ends up growing, then he sings and eats with the Whos and everyone lives happily ever after. Ummm...unfortunately, that's not how the rest of my holiday or birthday panned out. Perhaps the Grinch can become my new mentor for continued emotional growth :-).

I won't go into the details as this is currently a public blog - just the typical last minute changes, let downs, not enough alone time, sprinkled with a few very inappropriate infertility comments. So now it is New Year's Eve, and I am hanging low by myself (Alex is in Africa, and while I had some offers to go out, I just really craved the alone time) and writing this post...after experiencing a day of treating myself and eating breakfast for dinner. I love eating breakfast for dinner.

So here is Part One of my 2008 recap - the bad. I have limited myself to the "top" five bad events. I will post the good of 2008 in a separate post and plan on forcing myself to come up with six for that one. I have to start the New Year with an attitude of the good outweighing the bad - I have to.

Note: There is no significance to the order.

#1 My mom had to get her kidney removed when they found a tumor...she is doing great now, but this was really scary at the time.
#2 My best friend's (of 29 years) uterus ruptured, and her baby was born not breathing and without a heartbeat. They managed to revive him, and he spent a few touch-n-go weeks in the nicu...see my "good" list for follow-up on this one.
#3 CCRM BFN - no explanation required, and unfortunately, there is no follow-up on the "good" list :-(.
#4 Two planes that Alex once flew were involved in major accidents - a B747 and a DC-9. And I mean he flew the EXACT planes that crashed (and, at some point, had worked for the two companies involved in the crashes). We both knew the crew members involved. Unfortunately, one pilot and two people on the ground died, but, miracuously, everyone else was ok. It shook us up a lot. Below is a pick of the B747 involved in the crash.


#5 I'm actually having a problem coming up with #5...it's ok, though. I think the above four are enough...now time for happy thoughts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

63 - Redefining "aviation lifestyle"



So I promised myself when I started this blog that I would try my best to be authentic. Authenticity is one of my ultimate goals - embracing everything that I am...the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, while previous posts have embraced the good side, here is one that embraces the bad and the ugly.

In the last post, I talked about how, for the first time in 10 years, I was embracing our aviation lifestyle. I defined "aviation lifestyle" as one filled with traveling - specifically around the holidays. A lot of pilots just don't get holidays off - any of them. With Alex being so new at Delta, it will probably be a good 10 years of so before he will spend a holiday at home (Thanksgiving and Christmas). I hate this part of the holidays - HATE it. We have worked so hard at overcoming this as couple - Lord knows we have had countless "discussions" about it as we work to bring children into this family. So, as I previously stated, I thought I had made big progress by embracing the idea that I will just travel with Alex on the holidays...and as soon as our kids got old enough, we would all travel with daddy on the holidays. It has taken so much work to get to this place of acceptance.

So, it's the holidays. Christmas Eve. And I'm not traveling.

Alex is sick. Head cold. We all know it is dangerous to fly with a head cold. He decided about 9 hours before we were about to leave on our Italian extravaganza that he is too sick to fly. Of course I'm not blaming him for being sick, but when he made this decision, something inside of me truly snapped - truly. I think it was the years and years of instability around the holidays - both in our marriage and before our marriage - coming to a head. I tore down all the Christmas decorations yesterday - all of them. Both trees, all the little stuff. I sat out the one lonely 7 inch tree (undecorated) I bought last minute last year as I rushed to the airport in an attempt to meet up with him somewhere. Now does the above picture make sense? I'm not celebrating this year.

This "snap" would have happened regardless of circumstance - Alex being sick, the plane breaking, canceled flight because of the weather - it wouldn't have mattered. So let me now redefine what I mean by "aviation lifestyle"...

The beauty of traveling is a part of it...but a small part. What really defines the aviation lifestyle is instability...never knowing if what you've planned and hoped for is actually going to work out. Sounds familiar, doesn't it (to all you IFs)? And I know this is life in general...but aviation adds a thick layer of instability to the normal chaos that already exists in life. Do I mind staying at home with my husband for the holidays? Absolutely not. So many times I have hoped for this and it hasn't worked out. So I tried the other side - find hope for a happy holiday traveling...get excited about traveling. I've tried so hard to try to find a way to be happy with this lifestyle around the holidays. Now I'm at a loss. I really think the key to finding happiness around the holidays in an aviation lifestyle is to remain hopeless. I really don't mean that in a depressed way - I mean it in a very logical way.

Anyone reading this blog a pilot's spouse? I would love your comments and/or suggestions.

What's interesting is that it is now the next morning after I've torn down the decorations, and I have no regrets. I guess it had to happen - the snap, that is. Boy, it was a long time coming.

So I'm not sure what we are going to do these next couple of days. Alex is truly sick. So, we'll hang low. I'll go to the grocery store and buy some food (we, of course, hadn't shopped because we were going to be gone for so long). I think I'll do a little retail therapy today while Alex naps. My birthday is the 26th - the big 34. Is it just me or do birthdays now represent one more year down the infertile road?

Happy f'in Holidays! :-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

62 - Abundance


The above picture is from our recent holiday party...about 45 guests and a lot of dancing! It was a blast!...who knew that I would be using the word "blast" in a context NOT associated with embryos :-).

All of us infertiles laugh (perhaps out loud, but often in our heads) when we are told "you just need to relax" or "the minute you stop trying so hard it will happen". Using the cancer analogy that I have often seen on other blogs, this is the equivalent of telling a cancer patient that maybe they would have a better chance of getting cured if they just stopped treatment, i.e., "the minute you back off on the chemo and quit trying so hard to get well, I bet the cancer will go away". I'm not comparing the trauma of going through cancer to the trauma of infertility, but I am making the comparison that both are medically diagnosed issues that are most often not "fixable" (for lack of a better term) without some form of intervention. It truly has nothing to do with "relaxing"...if the eggs are poor quality and the sperm won't swim, relaxing isn't the solution. I have believed this with all my heart...for the most part...

I digress, but will pull this together in the end of the post. So, for the past 6 years I have done everything aside from selling my soul to obtain a full-time professorship. For 6 years, a full-time position has been dangled in front of me like a carrot - and I have ran as hard as possible to catch it. This past spring, I just realized I was tired. I no longer had it in me to keep chasing that position. I gave up. I applied for Social Work school and got in. I decided that I would be a social worker, still teach part-time as I went through social work school, and then make my complete exit from the field of aviation when I graduated in two or three years. Well, about a week ago, I was told that a full-time position is in fact opening up this spring - the first one in the department in almost 9 years. It's real this time (as confirmed with a variety of sources), and it looks like I have a very good shot at it (upon getting accepted to a PhD program this spring). I've grasped on to this so hard for so long...and now that I have given up, it's come into fruition.

Another example - social work school kicked my butt this semester - I was changing careers, the courses were really academically challenging, and I was trying to manage it coming off of our BFN (we got our BFN the week classes started). My adviser, being familiar with the infertility process, tried hard to convince me that I shouldn't take classes this semester. About half way through, I decided that I would give up the hope of pulling off good grades, and just be proud of myself if I just made it through. I would try to learn as much as I could, with grades being a secondary concern. Those who know me know that this kind of attitude is not in my make-up - at all. Grades just posted this morning - I got a 4.0 in all three classes, which puts me in the running for some sizable scholarships. So now I will spend next semester making some serious choices - but they are choices I will be making because my life feels filled with abundance.

A third example has to do with our lifestyle - the aviation lifestyle. I have fought it hard for 10 long years...depressed at the holidays because we can't celebrate them in the traditional fashion - in our home, with a fire, around the tree, etc., etc.. Well, this year I've decided to embrace our lifestyle. I will be spending Christmas with Alex in Venice, then we will go to D.C. for a couple of days, then I'll go back with Alex to Pisa...and I am actually looking forward to it. We're travelers. That's who we are - that's our life. My view of the world has changed so much as a result of the places we've been - some of them I really wanted to go to, others I was quite resistant - but either way, my perspective on life always changes for the better. Our lifestyle provides amazing opportunities for us, and, hopefully, some day, our children. I gave up on wanting the homebody life...and it's the holidays, and I'm not depressed.

So, how does this tie in to infertility? Do I think that giving up and "relaxing" on having a biological child will make it happen? No. It doesn't mean that we will quit being proactive in our infertility process - either with adoption or continued treatment. But the events in the last couple of weeks have made me really ponder the idea of letting go a little - if even all that does is make the journey a little more pleasurable and bearable along the way.

Happy Holidays to all!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

61 - A baby from Russia?


Ok, not exactly. This is actually a picture of Alex - I'm not sure the age. He is about 1/4-1/8 Russian. In fact, we have his great grandmother's wicker chest in our basement. It was all she had when she came over from Russia back in the day (not sure on the year). I bring this all up because we had our second adoption consultation with another agency this past week. They showed video from all the countries that they work with, including Russia. Most of the children look very similar to the above photo.

Unlike our first consultation, this one went great. They gave presentations on both domestic and international, and both women giving the presentation were adoptive parents. I won't bore with the details, but the end result is that Alex and I made some major decisions on our drive home.

We decided that we will probably pursue international adoption. In Michigan, the mother has 21 days to change her mind and that is AFTER the initial court date. Worst case situation, we could have the baby in our home for up to 3 months and then get him/her taken away. Yes, I know - plenty of domestic situations work out, but we've decided that we aren't willing to take the risk.

We will consider older children and sibling groups. We may continue to look into this domestically as well.

We will also consider international "Children in Waiting". These are children who are either older or may have mental, physical, or emotional issues (some correctable, some not).

We don't care about the gender.

I was amazed - Alex and my hearts were equally matched in this. There was no real discussion - only "I agree!", "I agree!" when we were going through the choices. And I am so proud of us. I'm proud of the size of our hearts - now that we are diving further and further in the process, we are realizing that adoption is a wonderful opportunity to give a child a life, and those that are often lower on the "wanted" list are the ones that may need a family the most. It feels good. We feel good.

So, of course, none of this is set in stone. We are attending another consultation this Tuesday and have a couple more set up. We are still gathering info about domestic, just to cover our basis.

Oh - one last random note. Last week, Alex and I had Chinese takeout for the first time in a long time. Guess what my fortune cookie said? - "Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure.". I kid you not. It inspired me to come up with a line of fortune cookies for us unsuccessful infertiles :-).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

60 - A different kind of ornament...



So as you can see from the pic, yesterday was Alex's 37th birthday. In addition to his birthday, we also celebrated Thanksgiving as he will be flying on Thanksgiving Day. We made the whole dinner - turkey (18 lbs, I might add), stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, and gravy...topped off with this homemade birthday cake for dessert. Tonight we are having all the neighbors over for leftovers.

Part of this week's festivities has been putting up the trees. We have two trees - one downstairs that is eclectic and one at the top of the stairs that is our airplane tree - nothing but airplane ornaments. Since we have both been in aviation for awhile, we've collected about 50-60 of them over the years. And tradition has been that every year I give Alex one or two more airplane ornaments to add to our collection.

This year was no exception - but the airplane ornament I gave him this year had a little twist. It is the ornament pictured above - its box was titled "Playing Airplane". When I first saw it, I stood there with the box forever - should I, shouldn't I, should I, shouldn't I...well, I did.

And I know the risk. I know that it might end up being one of those little purchases that we end up grieving when our third birth mother changes her mind AGAIN. I know as we start the adoption process that even adoption is not always a guarantee. But we are in a situation where our only options involve risk - we have no choice. And as the holidays approach, the only thing I have control over is not allowing that fear associated with risk to take over and destroy our hope.

Alex loved it, by the way. He cried. I think he thinks it's worth the risk, too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

59 - Time to stop?

So here's a question...at what point do you really stop "trying"? So we failed at CCRM, and today we are finalizing several adoption consultations. Does this mean I throw away all the OPKs and stop taking the prenatals? Or do I continue to track my cycle, continue to have timely sex (which Alex must arrange his flying schedule to be home for), continue with the prenatals...because, for the life of me, I can't see myself going on birth control. Do I hold on to that ONE story of a friend of a friend's who got pregnant naturally a year after several failed IVFs and the adoption papers were filed? Or do I truly let go - trash the OPKs, switch to a less expensive multi-vitamen, and try to get a healthy sex life back...which includes Alex choosing a schedule where he is home for OTHER things in our lives - not my cycle.

I have no idea. Maybe it's too soon to make that decision? But it crossed my mind this weekend - I know I was ovulating, and I thought, "What do we do with this information now?".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

57 - Adoption Consultation...I had to take a shower.

Why? Because of how gross I felt after the conversation. I will leave the adoption firm nameless as to not offend...they are a national firm, not an agency, they are averaging about a four month match time for domestic infant adoptions (that's matched with the birth mother), and they come with price tag of about $40,000. We had about a half hour phone consultation with them on Tuesday.

I felt like I was at a car dealership. The first nail in their coffin was our consultant's oh-so-sensitive comment near the very beginning of our conversation: "Just think - you could have a baby in your home in 9 months...and you won't even get fat or have stretch marks!". Oh, how amazing, because THOSE are the real reasons we are headed on the adoption road. THOSE are the reasons that 90% of your potential clients are on the adoption road. It's because we all care deeply about our looks and would preserve them at the expense of a biological child. Idiot. Bitch. Sorry for the obnoxious venting...I just hate that lady and her ignorance of infertility. She's supposedly an adoption professional - there is no excuse for her lack of sensitivity.

But here's the thing that really hit me to the core. Over and over and over she just kept repeating "We guarantee a healthy baby. We guarantee a healthy baby. If the baby's not healthy, you are under no requirement to take it. We will match you again. You are guaranteed a healthy baby.". And I certainly don't judge those who would find comfort in this reassurance - I'm not even going to claim that Alex and I won't say "no" to a large number of physical and mental issues on our application...but there was something about that conversation that chilled me to the bone. It felt like the human dignity of babies - all babies - was removed. Aren't the babies who have some issues the ones that need really good homes? I don't understand it - intellectually and at a heart level.

I think I might be a little sensitive to this issue for a couple of reasons First, because of Aaron (see my Halloween post - my best friend's youngest son). I remember seeing him for the first time in the nicu - not knowing what kind of physical or mental issues he may have one day. And I knew the minute I saw him, my love for him would never be affected by those issues. If I can bond with someone else's child in that way, I can only imagine that bond would even be stronger with my own. I think of him and his highly functioning four-year old brother and realize that if those two were the two kids I could adopt and I could only chose one of them - I could never chose. I am equally bonded. There is something so much greater than a perfectly health baby - there is that bond of love between parents and child that is present regardless of circumstance. The other situation that makes us more sensitive to all this is that Alex's sister, Emily, has Down's. And you know what? She loves life and contributes SO much to the world - often much more than many "normal" functioning adults. Her family and friends love her, and she gives abundant love back to them. It's that bond of love that appeared to be removed from the equation at this firm and that made me nauseous.

And then, of course, there was the evasion of the truth about cost. Over and over..."you can have a baby in your house for $20,000". I got her in her attempted deception - I asked very firmly and several times about if the other costs we had discussed earlier were included in the $20,000. She avoided and avoided and avoided. I finally said "Does this adoption cost $20,000 or $40,000?". $40,000. Buh Bye.

We felt discouraged and...just plain yucky. But then we pulled ourselves up and came up with a game plan. I have a pretty light schedule in the next week and Alex is home between now and Thanksgiving. We are going to look at five agencies. That's it. No spending 40 hours a week for the next several week...you know, obsessively combing through tons information so we don't feel like we've missed anything. We are going to pick five, do our homework on those five, and then pick the agency we are going with by the second week in December. It's perhaps the healthiest approach we have taken to anything in a long time.

Although we have just started, I get the distinct feeling that the adoption road is another long one.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

56 - I'm an awesome mom.

One of my favorite fellow ivf bloggers posted unfortunate news yesterday - a BFN from CCRM. I was shocked by the level of sadness I experienced when I read her post as I only know her through the blog world. Although I know that a lot of the sadness I was feeling was true empathy, I must admit that some of it was also a reflection on my own situation. When I read that she wasn't pregnant, not just my mind, but my body was instantly transported back to September 4th (the day we found out our result), and I found it hard to breath.

This same blogger wrote on a previous post "I guess the universe is selecting me out.". If there is one sentence that epitomises the feelings after an infertility treatment fails, this would be the one. Our situations are different, but the one thing I can relate to is going to the best in the world and things not panning out as hoped. Although we've only done one, most likely, Alex and I are not doing another IVF cycle. We do have two frozen embryos, but based on what the doctor says when we have another extensive conversation with him, we may even make the decision to not go back for them and put our resources elsewhere. I, too, concluded that the universe is selecting us out.

But then I thought about it...That can't be true - it just can't. I have to think of infertility in a different way. I have to or I'll go insane... And I'm talking "put me in the psych ward and tie me up" insane.

I am such an awesome mother. I am - already. I know it at a deep level. I'm not confident about much, but that is the one thing I am sure of. It is one thing that even the hell of infertility can't take away from me. I am perhaps the most comfortable when I am holding and caring for an infant - I knew this the first time I started babysitting for an infant when I was twelve. I've never questioned my desire for children - only the timing (if I only knew then what I know now, right?). At a party surrounded by adults, you can usually find me on the floor with the kids. You know, I just have to believe that the universe is not selecting me out - in fact, the universe has very strongly placed upon me the task of being a mother...and I am so grateful for that. I don't think everyone has the privilege of being given that task. For me, it is looking more and more like my mother role will be in the form of adoption...or perhaps in some other way that has yet to be revealed. Is this what I had in mind? No way. Do I feel pain on a daily basis as a result of going through these struggles? Without a doubt. But I will be DAMNED if I let anything stand in the way of embracing the loving, nurturing mother that is already alive inside of me. I love that part of me...even when I hate my body for this betrayal.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

55 - How much is that doggie in the window?


Too much. $750 to be exact - that's basically one month's payment towards our IVF loan. We just can't afford it right now, but isn't it the cutest? This picture warms my heart. I am all for getting a dog from the Humane Society, but with DH's allergies we are pretty limited to shit-tzus and poodles. With encouragement from a friend, I have been searching the shit-tzu rescue sites. So if anyone reading this blog knows of a shit-tzu or poodle looking for a home, let us know!

I received a Resolve email the other day about coping with infertility and the holidays. There was a whole PDF file listing suggestions...a lot of suggestions centered around avoiding children, of course. I'm not so sure how I feel about that. One thing I have discovered in the last couple of weeks is that I still really love being around the children I know - the children of my friends and family. It's the random kids at the stores that sometimes get to me (although I'm finding that less and less). So I think I may not take Resolve's advice on this one and instead dive into the holidays with both feet. I did a trial run today and did a little holiday shopping...it felt good. I know in my heart that someday we will be experiencing this season with our own kids. So rather than feeling blue, I'm trying to allow myself to just fantasize about what that time will be like. For example, today I saw one of those "count down to Christmas" things - it was wooden, folk artsy, and had really tiny cute drawers numbered 1-24. I spent a lot of time checking it out and fantasizing about what little surprises I would put in the drawers for our children. It was fun. And I felt hopeful, not depressed. Imagine that - hope. What a concept...I might even go back and buy it :-).

Friday, October 31, 2008

54 - A Halloween full of gratitude...



I know, I know...some of the regular readers may be asking themselves "Is this an impostor blogger?". I must admit that the negativity has flowed freely on this blog over the last few weeks, but today was a good day. Actually, it was a great day. I felt joy and here's why:

Back in March, my best friend gave birth to her second son, Aaron (the little one pictured in the above photo). He was born after her uterus ruptured, and he was placed on a cool cap for 72 hours (check out her blog at coolcapcutie.blogspot.com). It was a very traumatic experience for both mom and baby. He spent a few weeks in the nicu and many days were touch and go. I remember those weeks following Aaron's birth vividly (obviously not nearly as vividly as Aaron's mom) - I would wake up in the middle of the night crying...I was crying in my sleep. I was so grateful that my best friend was ok, but I really didn't know if Aaron was going to make it.

Well - Aaron has made it. He has beyond "made it". He is just shy of 8 months and is currently meeting all his milestones. He and his big brother, Sam, came over my house today to jump in leaves. After some rigorous outdoor play, we came inside and Aaron chased Sam all around the sunroom - crawling at lightning speed...and laughing that hearty infant laugh. And for the first time in a very long time I felt joy. And gratitude that both boys and mom are such a huge part of my life.

The second photo above is the cause of my second joyful experience today. After mom and boys left, I went into the basement to pick up. Sam played with a toy train and my husband's legos (from when Alex was a kid). I have a desk in the basement where I keep all my materials for the courses that I teach. In the process of cleaning up, I discovered the lovely above picture. Sam took it upon himself to decorate one of my student's term papers. I laughed sooo hard when I found it and immediately called Lauren. About 20 minutes later I got a somber phone call from Sam - "I'm sorry for drawing on your work paper Auntie Chris...it won't happen again.". It's ok Sam - you made your Auntie Chris laugh really hard for the first time in a very long time.

The day was topped off by going out to dinner with some very close friends - this wonderful couple Alex and I have known for several years. We always have a really good, comfortable time with them. I was going to pass out candy, but Alex didn't end up being home - I didn't feel like passing it out by myself, so I gave them a call last minute and we went out for Korean. They treated me -so nice.

It was a good day.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

53 - I once was a bear



The above picture was taken by DH and I last year when we took this amazing trip to Yellowstone. I post it tonight because I think I may have been a bear in a previous life. About this time of year, every year, I so easily put on those last few pounds of winter weight - maybe I should call it "fall" weight? Then I curl up on the couch under several blankets and wish that I could just remain there until early April. I feel a primal desire to hibernate - especially through the rest of this year. Frankly, 2008 has sucked in so many ways even beyond our BFN.

So today was interesting. I had my Micro Theory class. In this class we learn about the theory behind being a therapist - you know, Freud and such. The professor is amazing because we also talk about real cases and current issues. Take a wild guess what today's topic of discussion was? Here's a hint - begins with "I" and has the potential to send me into triggersville? You guessed it - infertility. I spent the first 20 minutes holding back tears as she talked about the emotional aspects, how the divorce rate in infertile couples is high, etc., etc.. Then she got into the technical aspects. And there were a lot of questions and comments from the 20-somethings (whom make up a majority of the class), and I felt my blood pressure rise. Questions like "So I heard that all the eggs that are frozen will probably die. Is that true?" and discussions of rumors that IVF clinics put in 6 or more embryos at a time. I, of course, was the class infertility expert for the day - lucky me. It was perhaps the only time in my life when I didn't relish in being the smartie pants of the class.

On the drive home I thought about why their questions angered me. It wasn't their questions and comments - those were all fair for someone who has not been through the process. It was their naiveness and innocence that got under my skin. They weren't tainted. I remember when I wasn't tainted. And it wasn't anger that I was experiencing. It was pure envy. Ahh, the days when I had no idea what IVF, DH, 10DP3DT, Gonal-F, Menopur, IUI, E2, and most recently, BFN, meant.

So I had another really powerful insight today, but I think I'll post it this weekend. I have a full weekend planned. Tomorrow my best friend and her two boys (whom I'm really close with) are coming over for lunch and to play in the leaves. They don't have trees around their house, so last year they came over to experience the joy of jumping in the piles. Alex returns from a 9 day stint in Africa on Saturday. Then on Sunday we are going to look at some Shit-tzu puppies. Our Kharma will be six this December, so we thought it would be a good time to get another. I'll post pics.

Happy Halloween! Be well and safe.

Friday, October 24, 2008

52 - A seeking soul...



So the above is a pic of me along the shores of Lake Michigan. DH and I usually do a fall trip to Traverse City to see the colors, but with the current economy (and the ivf bill), we decided to scale back and just do a day trip (spent the night with some friends on the drive back) to the other side of the state. It was beautiful and a nice time. The trees didn't care how much money we spent :-).

I felt pretty good this past weekend....upswing, possibly?

One thing (of the many things, of course) that this ivf experience has done is thrown me into a spiritual crisis of sorts. Through the years, I've dabbled/educated myself in a variety of religions. I've even shaved my head before spending 5 days at a silent Buddhist retreat....talk about learning about yourself. But nothing has stuck because I inevitably reach a point where I have a falling out with the humans/leaders involved, usually ignited by my disagreement about the dogma that is being taught...and my inability to keep my questioning at bay. The end result, ironically, is that I am a dedicated, tenacious seeker that really doesn't have a solid belief in anything. The level of depression I've experienced as a result of infertility has left me for a strong craving to have a more solidified belief of something outside of myself.

So once in awhile (like 3 or 4 times total in the last few years), I attend a First Congregational Church in town. It's beautiful...I find such peace when I am surrounded by beauty. I also like the pipe organ. I was a pianist/organist for a church in my teen years, and I feel like the hymns (although I sometimes have big problems with their words) are imprinted in my being. After my last attendance, I sent Rev. Bob a very candid email. I summarized 33 years of life in about one paragraph, told him about my lack of belief in anything, told him about the infertility, and told him that I was curious about what he would say to such a person. We had a face to face meeting this week. It was one of the most interesting conversations I've ever had.

He basically said that based on what I told him, it makes a lot of sense that I don't have a solid belief in something more. He assured me that I am much further on my spiritual path than I give myself credit for - that those who quit questioning quit growing, and I, obviously, am all about questioning. He also shared with me his own (and current) questioning, and that how he believes that a lot of what is taught (in all religions) is historically based and no longer serves a purpose in our scientific world. We talked about infertility treatments - he said he thought they were "a gift" and in no way does he believe in a God that hand picks people to have babies or not. Most importantly, he said something along the lines of that the only concept of "God" that is important is the one you personally have - whether it is an old guy in a white beard or a beautiful fall leaf or whatever or nothing. Amazing. I felt such space when he said that. He truly blew my mind away and challenged a lot of my stereotypes of dogmatic Christianity.

He also gave me this book called "A New Christianity for a New World: Why Traditional Faith is Dying and How a New Faith is Being Born" by John Shelby Spong. He said that he would probably be judged by many as a "non-Christian" for giving me a book by this author. He also said that he didn't care if I ever came back to his church, but he would love to have another conversation with me when I finished the book. I agreed.

I think the most important thing I took from the conversation was that I need to have more confidence in the very special path that I am on (that we're all on). I'm confused. I ask a lot of questions. I'm a skeptic. So what? Why do I sometimes judge myself as "bad" or "strange" for these things? I need to instead learn to love myself for having the determination and courage to dig deep. Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

51 - Well hello Aunt Flow...

Finally. I was officially 12 days late. When I was in for that ultrasound to check for cysts, my ob/gyn said my lining was at 16mm and to expect a heavy period. It's pretty normal actually...makes me wonder if my uterus lining is always this thick. I'm thinking about it because a couple of other blogs have discussed lining lately...CCRM didn't say it was a problem, but my lining was at 15mm the day of the transfer...hmmmm.

I finished my Social Welfare Policy paper on embryonic stem cell research. We had to read both platforms. Ok, I am going to go out on a limb here and risk pissing a bunch of people off, but I don't even care. That's the beauty of blog - it fully exercises my right of free speech.

So, McCain has listed embryonic stem cell research under the "Human Dignity and Sanctity of Life" category of the issues section on his website. Obviously, he has decided, and hopes to make the ideological determination for EVERYONE in the United States, that life begins at conception. Obama lists the same issue under the "Women" category under the issues section on his website. McCain doesn't even have a "Women" section. Apparently, he wants my embryos to have MORE rights than I do as a full-developed human being. Bastard.

Those of you reading who are fellow ivfers are probably already aware of the ramifications for infertility treatments if the federal government makes the determination - either directly or indirectly through legislation - that an embryo has the same rights as a "person".

This appeal is actually to friends and family who read this blog who may not know that if McCain gets into office, he will try HARD to pass legislation that has the potential to eventually remove Alex and my right to pursue infertility treatments...or at least make it more difficult. I know this is an economic election (obviously), but if you support Alex and I trying hard to have a baby through infertility treatments, then please just give it some thought...just another issue to include in your decision making process. It is worth it to take the time to read the women's issues under both platforms (although you will find all these issues under "Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life" section on McCain's website)....scary stuff. If you are a woman, be afraid...be very afraid. Then get out on Nov. 4th.....and vote for OBAMA!!!

I have been wanting to say that for awhile...feels good to do so and not care about the consequences! I think that's because I care more about the consequences for myself and this country if Obama doesn't win...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

50 - A Cozy, Welcoming Home To Be Filled



So, I was out doing yard work yesterday morning (another glorious day, I might add), and this car pulls up in front of the house and this lady yells "Excuse me...". I went down by her, assuming she was asking for directions. Nope. Apparently, she lives a few blocks away, and she wanted to stop by and tell me how much she liked our house. She said she loves seeing it on the way home from work...that it looks so cozy and welcoming and for some reason, really full of love. Above is a picture of it. It is obviously really quite modest compared to some of the homes in Ann Arbor. But her taking the time to stop by and tell me how she felt about it made me teary-eyed. She's right - it is welcoming, cozy, and full of love...and some baby (biological or otherwise) will have happy memories in this house.

I was reading Planet Davila's post yesterday...she made a comment about how when she found out that her sister (or is it sister-in-law...sorry about the details, Davs), she naively thought how easy it must be to get pregnant. Reading that reminded me of the time Alex and my naiveness was at an all time high. He was in New York City on a layover. I had about 14 hour free in between work and other obligations, and the ovulation test was positive, so I utilized my travel benefits, hopped on a plane, and spent about 9 hours in NYC - mainly doing the deed. And because this was going to be "the time", he bought candles, we had a nice romantic breakfast...you get the point. I even bought a rubber ducky with "NYC" on it at the airport on my way out. I still have it - only now it just serves as a reminder of how naive I was :-)! The whole thing kind of makes me laugh (KIND OF)...no baby yet, but a pretty good story.

Friday, October 10, 2008

49 - A second bladder...

That's what I thought when I saw the ultrasound screen at my ob/gyn appointment. I probably did have a large cyst or two that ruptured and the result was a large amount of fluid resting in my pelvis area. Nothing to do about it - just wait for it to reabsorb, which I think it may have by now...no pain today. No AF either - I am officially 6 days late.

Today is an amazing fall day in Michigan. The leaves are getting beautiful, and the highs are suppose to be in the low 70s with "abundant sun". I love it when they say that in the forecast. DH is in Africa - Dakkar today and then heads to Cape Town tonight, then back to Dakkar, then home sometime next Thursday, so I have the weekend to myself. I'm really going to try to enjoy the sunshine. I feel this strong need to bring light back into my life - literally and figuratively. I have felt like I've been on the dark side a little too long...

The other plan for this weekend is to work on my next paper for my US Social Welfare Policy course. We have to pick a political issue, read both platforms, compare, contrast, etc., etc.. I have selected the issue of stem cell research. Ironically, I just noticed on Desperately Seeking Spawn's blog (desperatelyseekingspawn.blogspot.com) that she posted a great article about this topic as well as asked for people's comments about the article. Who knew these blogs would not only provide emotional support, but academic assistance as well! :-).

You know, as I type this I am also getting very inspired to get a massage this weekend. I can tell my body is begging for one. Maybe I will - kind of as a "kiss and make up" for how crappy I've been treating it lately.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. As per some of your suggestions, I did have a piece of real cake, well it was actually a piece of homemade coconut cream pie (thanks DH!), in lieu of my proverbial crap cake from the previous post :-).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

48 - BFN with a twist of a cyst....again, seriously?

So I have been feeling some pain in my left side that feels EXACTLY like how my ovaries felt during the stimulation process - except this time it is only on my left side. I started feeling it about 3 days ago, but it has gotten progressively worse - enough where it kept me up all last night and we contemplated an ER visit. I finally fell asleep, but I don't feel that much differently this morning. So I did some research and found that it is probably one of several things - 1)gas or constipation (don't think so - I could set my clocks by my bowel movements...I know TMI), 2)an ectopic pregnancy (HIGHLY doubtful, but could actually turn out to be my luck), 3) Growth of the corpus luteum (SP) cyst (which I just learned about - always grows after an egg is released, producing the progesterone, then reabsorbs if you are not pregnant, but continues to grow/exist through your first trimester if you are pregnant), which could indicate pregnancy - apparently, a lot of women experience lower left sided pain because of this starting in week 5 (right, that's the reason), or 4) a cyst of some sort that is somehow a result of the fertility drugs - this is possible and probably the most likely cause.

So, apparently a lot of these cysts that develop as a result of the fertility drugs don't reabsorb and have to be surgically removed. I am going to try to get in with my ob/gyn today or tomorrow.

For my fellow ivfers, have any of you experienced this after an unsuccessful cycle?...it's the icing on the big piece of crap cake.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

47 - Another pregnant woman...seriously?



The above picture is of my dog, Kharma. God I love her. Can't you all tell by her eyes that she is really a human trapped in a dog's body?

So is it just me (and I am talking to my fellow ivfers in waiting) or is everyone pregnant or with a child...or two...or three? I seriously find myself dreading to go to Target because only pregnant women go to Target...sometimes I wonder how I slip by the door without the secret code. It's enough to send me into loony land.

Hence one of the reasons I have been seeing my therapist a little more frequently in the last few weeks :-). We've had some struggles, but she has really been a great support over the last week or so. One thing we talked about at our last session is how I've just been isolating and over-functioning way too much since the BFN...and how that really is a recipe for disaster. So, I came out if my shell a little (ok, a lot) this weekend - we watched the debates with my best friend and her husband, we had people over for dinner on Saturday night, I had coffee and good (and needed) conversation with my best friend this morning, and then we went over to a neighbors house for dinner tonight. And, as I do everything in my life, I have successfully gone to the EXTREME in un-isolating myself...will I ever reach a balance?

Today while I was catching up on reading some ivf blogs, I came across an ad for a domestic adoption agency, filled out the initial application, and felt some sense of control. Sigh.

My period is due today. No signs of anything. No sore boobs. Nothing. Would you believe I allowed myself to think "what if..."? I mean, despite the depression, the romps in the sack have been good and frequent. Then I quickly read up and found out that the first full cycle after ivf is often delayed. I'm going with that - it's the much easier option than being hopeful, and sometimes I just need "easy".

Sometimes you just have to scream "FUCK!" (Sorry to all those reading this blog who have believed that sweet Christina doesn't drop the F-bomb...she does, and pretty frequently these days) :-).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

46 - The taking action phase - September 21st, 2008

Wow - I haven't blogged since September 9th. It has been quite a ride since then. We are doing ok - functioning. We still don't feel like we did pre-IVF...we just feel this emotional heaviness. I'm not sure how else to explain it. Alex says he can tell I am sad. I think I went through a little bit of depression, but I feel like I'm on the other side of it.

The reason I say that I may be on the other side of it is that I have been taking steps the last few days to take charge of our fertility once again. I went through a period immediately following the BFN of doing things specifically counterproductive to fertility - such as having a diet pepsi and donut for breakfast. Let's face it - I was just mad at my body for betraying me, and therefore, I decided to punish it for a few weeks. I now feel like taking that energy I was using for negative behavior and putting it into something positive...

Many of you reading this blog know that I just started a Master's in Social Work (MSW) program this fall. This is a very academically challenging program - much more than I anticipated. My eventual, long-term goal (I'm talking 10-15 years from now - after a several years of experience in agencies) is private practice. I figure I've just added "infertility" to my direct experience hat. I am currently taking a course in US Social Welfare Policy. We just had to write a paper on a pending piece of legislation of our choice - I chose the Family Building Act of 2007 (currently a bill). You can find it at http://thomas.loc.gov. This bill basically states that insurance companies (under specific circumstances based on specific definitions and treatments) would be required to cover infertility treatments. Right now, 15 states have laws requiring varying degrees of coverage. Unfortunately, Michigan is not one of the 15 states. It is an interesting bill to read through if you have the chance. The thing I found most interesting was a statement under the "findings" part of the bill stating that "a fundamental part of the human experience is fulfilling the desire to reproduce". Amen.

The other thing I did today was join Resolve. This is the National Infertility Association. It is only $55 a year and provides a lot of support for the infertility and adoption processes. They offer local group support meetings which I plan on attending in October. I look forward to talking to others who have been through this and hearing about the paths people chose (or didn't choose) in their attempt to become parents.

I hope this finds you all well.

Monday, September 8, 2008

45 - The past few days - Sept. 8th, 2008


The above picture was taken when Alex and I decided to take back roads all the away from Estes park to Castle Rock. This scene was taken right off of a small dirt road that followed the river. Good times.

Well, we did in fact go out to dinner the night of the BFN. We both ordered a beer, and when they came, I raised my glass to Alex and said "cheers". He looked at me like I had two heads. I explained - although we are completely devastated by the end result, I wasn't going to let that devastation completely negate the wonderful experience we had with each other while we were out in Colorado. He agreed and raised his glass.

Each of the last few days has had a different feel. On Friday, I felt a strong motivation to have hope for the frozen embryo transfer mixed with a bit of denial. Our frozen embryo report came in the mail on Friday. When I first saw the return address of Lone Tree, CO (the location of CCRM) on the envelope, I thought, "What's this? a rejection letter? -'We regret to inform you that you have failed your first ivf cycle. Please try again.'" I then realized it was actually the FE report with an attached "Frozen Embryo Emergency Contact List" to be filled out and sent back. What immediately went through my mind was "For what? In case the frosties fall of the monkey bars or something?"...add 'sarcastic' to the feel I was experiencing on Friday.

On Saturday, I think the emotional and physical effort of the cycle hit us. My hubby went to the U of M football game and I laid on the couch and watched "Steel Magnolias" and managed to take a shower. When he got home, we took a walk. By the time we got back from the walk, we were both exhausted and just didn't feel good. We made a quick dinner - shortly after we returned from Colorado, I spent a day cooking a bunch of meals I could freeze - in case we were pregnant, and the fall was going to be so busy. Freezing those meals ended up being a great thing the last few days because we didn't feel like cooking, yet it was important for us to at least try to eat healthy. Then we laid on the couch and watched movies all night. It was exactly what we needed that night.

Yesterday (Sunday), we both felt pretty good. We ran errands together and went out for Thai at lunch...nothing a little panang curry can't heal :-)... got a lot of stuff done around the house, went for a walk, and made a nice dinner. I imagine there will be good and bad days for awhile. The one thing I've learned is that the more we just go with the flow and follow our hearts on how we're feeling on a particular day, the less anxiety we feel.

Fall is in full swing. I started teaching and taking classes. The hubby heads back to work this morning. I'm going to pick out a couple of destinations to visit this fall (to go with him on his trips - for those of you who don't know, the hubby is a Delta pilot). I went with him to Rome this summer and we made the comment "Well, this might be the last trip for awhile."....based on the hope that I would be pregnant and not feel like traveling in the fall. Since that's not the case, I'm going to take advantage of these travel benefits for at least three or four more months. We decided that we will return to Colorado for the frozen embryo transfer in January. We want to experience the fall and holidays with hope.

I'll keep posting throughout the fall. Thank you all for so much support...and thank you to those I don't even know who post comments. The comments have been very helpful and supportive.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

44 - Beta confirmed BFN - Sept. 4th, 2008

Just got the CCRM call - beta confirmed my negative home pregnancy test this morning. The nurse said she didn't expect the BFN because everything looked so good (in terms of egg quality, uterus, etc.). I almost wish something was obviously wrong - something concrete that could be addressed and changed. She said Dr. Surrey would call tonight and discuss the cycle, but even the nurse admitted that she wasn't exactly sure what would be discussed.

My therapist once claimed that the reason many parts of my life are challenging is because I am destined to be a very wise woman - while I don't disagree with the idea the wisdom often follows suffering, at this moment I would much rather be pregnant and forgo any wisdom gained from this failed ivf cycle.

So here my husband and I sit, trying to come up with questions for the doc. I have a couple: Why the *%$!?@ didn't this work? How much does a frozen transfer cost? and When can we come back for the frozen transfer? That about sums up my questions.

For those of you at CCRM or headed to CCRM, I hope this is not discouraging in anyway. I truly believe CCRM is amazing and is definitely our best shot...I have hope with the frozen embryo cycle. They are a top notch facility with a 62% percent success rate (for my category, 2007 stats)...but some people have to fall in the other 38%. We, unfortunately, were part of that 38%.

We may still go out to dinner tonight - I think that would have been the plan had we received the news of a positive and now, more than ever, I think it is really important for us to nurture and take care of ourselves. The cycle brought us even closer together (which I am so grateful for because it could easily go in the other direction), and it really was a great 17 days in Colorado...I'm actually excited about returning for the frozen embryo transfer at some point.

So I probably won't call anyone tonight...maybe tomorrow or over the weekend. I'll post again sometime in the next couple of days with an update of the conversation with Dr. Surrey.

43 - HPT=BFN 11dp3dt - Sept. 4th, 2008

So, for those of you not familiar with the crazy world of ivf acronyms, HPT=BFN 11dp3dt stands for "home pregnancy test equals big fat negative 11 days past the 3 day transfer". That happened today (as well as yesterday, 10dp3dt). Now I know - hpt's are evil when if comes to ivf, but I also know that the chance of them being accurate the day of the beta blood test is pretty high. So we are expecting bad news...but won't know for a fact until late afternoon early evening today. I just got back from the beta blood test.

The other strange thing is that last night I had this dream that I was doing all the things I can't do right now during the 2 week wait - I was running, eating crap and diet, caffeine soda, drinking beer, and vigorously doing housework (I love housework and it has actually been a challenge to not do it the past week...I know, I'm a freak that way). Not a great dream, obviously, because doing all those things would mean that we're not pregnant.

I will tell you that if it is confirmed negative with the beta, I am having a drink...or two, or three tonight. Although, I might consider going direct to a heroin addiction considering that I have become so proficient with the needle - kidding, of course...probably a distasteful joke, but I have to keep the humor some how :-). It will be devastating and I will probably turn off my phone, crawl onto the couch and drown myself in comfort food, soda, and Coronas for the next few days. But then I will get up, brush off, call CCRM and make plans for the frozen transfer (I'm so grateful for our two little "frosties"...another unofficial ivf term for frozen embryos which my husband hates, sorry babe). I'm strong - that's one thing I have realized through this process that I really didn't understand before. All couples who make it through a whole cycle of ivf (and of course, there are plenty of couples who make it through multiple cycles of ivf) are extremely strong individuals - there would be no way to make it through this otherwise.

So look for another post tonight. Hopefully with surprise good news, or perhaps with the expected news. Either way, we'll be okay...even if it takes a few days.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

42 - Transfer details - August 30th, 2008



The above picture was taken the day before we left Colorado. I know you can only see their backsides, but this mom and baby would come by every morning around 7AM for a little drink from the fountain.

Sorry about the delay in blogging...I just haven't been in the mood since we returned on Wednesday night. So here is a catch up on the details of the transfer.

On the day of the transfer, the hubby and I went out to breakfast at a great place called MiMi's Cafe near CCRM (off of Yosemite near the mall, for those of you who may be going to CCRM). I ate a pretty big breakfast because the I didn't want to take the Valium (taken before the transfer) on an empty stomach. Besides, I really like big breakfasts - this was a good excuse. We arrived at CCRM at 8:30AM. They immediately took me back for blood work - they wanted to check my estrogen level (more on this later). Then I was immediately sent upstairs for the acupuncture treatment.

They took me back to a room that looked very similar to a massage therapy room - soft, new age music, low lighting, nature pictures on the wall. However, this room was right in the middle of their other operating rooms. I got undressed and they had warm blankets to cover up with - the blankets literally felt like they had just come out of an oven...very cozy. I asked if my hubby could come in for the whole process and they said he could, so he did. Then the acupuncture lady came back in the room and did her thing - it was only about 10 needles total. She explained the theory about how the fertility acupuncture balances the energy and hormones and improves blood flow to the uterus. I don't know a ton about acupuncture, but if all it did was relax me for the transfer, it was completely worth the $225 (especially in the scheme of $20,000...I'll lay out specific costs in another post). After she initially put in the needles, she left for about 15 minutes, then came back in for a little "tweaking"...that hurt a little in a few places, but nothing unbearable. Then she left again, and when she came back about 10 minutes later, she removed all the needles. She said good bye and told me she would see me for the rest of the treatment after the transfer. She also told me to start drinking my water because a full-bladder would be needed for the transfer.

So I drank. And waited. And drank some more. And waited. And drank, and drank, and drank....about a liter and a half, actually. First, a nurse popped in and gave me the Valium. Then FINALLY the ultrasound tech came in with the ultrasound machine in tow - everything was a little delayed because they had an emergency surgery that morning. The ultrasound tech was going to check my bladder - "How's the bladder?" she asked. "Super great" I said through the pain..."I tend to over achieve" I told her,"Filling my bladder is no exception.":-) As soon as she put the ultrasound on my belly she said something along the lines of "Holy %&%*! How have you not pissed yourself?". She immediately took me to a bathroom and handed me a very large plastic cup - "Here - fill this.". Honestly, pissing in that cup felt more relaxing than the $225 acupuncture treatment :-).

I returned to the room and then realized that the actual transfer would take place in this same room - it was so peaceful and private...I was very pleased. Soon, the doctor came in - Dr. Gustofson. We had actually been working with Dr. Surrey the whole time, but at one point Dr. Surrey advised us that depending on what day of the week our transfer happened, the transfer may be done by another doctor. He told us, of course, not to worry - that all the docs there were equally qualified and that actually the real magic was performed by the embryologists behind the scenes. So Dr. Gustofson gave us the quality/number report (see previous blog) and confirmed that we wanted two embryos transferred - this was his recommendation as well. When the papers were signed, the embryologist rolled in her machine - hard to explain what the machine looked like or did, but there was a computer screen where you could see the embryos (where the embryo picture came from - the hubby took a pic of the computer screen). Then the doc did a practice transfer with the catheter to make sure there were no problems. During this whole time the ultrasound was going so I could see my uterus. The practice transfer went very smoothly. Then the embryologist very carefully handed the doc the embryos. We watched the ultrasound, and we could see a very bright light go about half way into my uterus...the light wasn't our embryos (they're too small to show up on the ultrasound). The light was actually the air bubble that pushed the embryos into my uterus. Everyone in the room said everything looked great, and they all wished us all the "best" - which, of course, at that point translated into a BABY (everyone there hopes for 1 baby because apparently multiples are considered a "management failure" on the part of the clinic...due to the increased risks involved for both babies and mom).

The acupuncture lady came back in for the second half of the treatment (which was exactly like the first), then we were on our way. Overall, it was really a wonderful experience.

So since the transfer, we found out that they were able to freeze two additional embryos. We were so happy - I said early on that if we got two high quality ones for a fresh transfer and two good quality ones to freeze that I would consider this whole process a success. Now we have another opportunity if it doesn't take this time or we have the option for siblings.

Pregnancy blood test is this Thursday, Sept. 4th. Not sure if I will post between now and then.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

41 - Transfer- August 24th, 2008



Here they are - the two embryos that are hopefully hanging on tight in my uterus as I type!

Today went very smooth - we were so pleased with our embryo quality report -

1 - 8 cell - A+, no fragmentation (one of the two pictured above)
2 - 8 cell - A, less than 5% fragmentation
1 - 9 cell - A, less than 5% fragmentation
1 - 10 cell - A, less than 5% fragmentation (one of the two pictured above)
1 - 5 cell - B-C grade, not sure about the fragmentation

The doctor said that the 3 eggs that matured and fertilized a day later didn't look as good, but he said that based on the above numbers we could end up with between 2-3 to freeze...that would be a bonus. We are just so pleased we had good quality ones to transfer today.

So, now's the 48 hour bed rest stint...I still a little sleepy from the valium, so I will post more details about the transfer tomorrow.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

40 - Fertilization Report - August 23rd, 2008

So I guess 6 of the 14 eggs were mature at the time of retrieval. They ICSI'd all 6 that day (August 21st) and all 6 fertilized normally. Then by Friday morning (August 22nd) 4 more eggs had matured and they ICSI'd those as well. We just got the report this morning that 3 of those 4 eggs fertilized normally - a total of 9 fertilized eggs. I thought they would have graded the first 6 today, but they said they won't grade them until Day 3 (tomorrow). They also said that the 3 they fertilized a day later won't probably be ready to be considered for the fresh transfer, so they will keep watching them for possible freezing.

We will be doing a Day 3 transfer tomorrow at 10:15AM. We will show up at 8:30AM because I have elected to do the acupuncture treatment. So they do that first, then the transfer, then another round of acupuncture, then home for 48 hours of strict bed rest. We will head back to Michigan on Tuesday morning, arriving home Wednesday afternoon.

I started the progesterone suppositories today - not a big deal. The nurse said that the applicator gets the progesterone high enough that you don't have to lay down for 15 minutes or anything afterwords.

The hubby and I are just doing laundry, cleaning the rooms we've been using at the friend's house we've been staying at, and preparing for the 2 days of bed rest and our Tuesday departure.

Friday, August 22, 2008

39 - Retrieval - August 21st, 2008


The above picture is a result of my husband screwing around while I was waiting for the anesthesiologist to come in before retrieval. He took it on his iphone. I told him to send it to some of my closest friends and title it "Christina on vacation in Colorado". We have a similar picture of me laying on the table waiting for the ultrasound on our one day work-up at CCRM. I think my husband takes unflattering pictures of me on his iphone as a form of stress relief during this process. Ah well, better than hitting the bottle or doing drugs, I guess :-). My form of stress relief at this wait time was holding my breath in an attempt to see how low I could get my heart rate - of course, I was hooked up to all the monitors. We were both being completely silly, and I've discovered that "silly" is a good way to be at various times throughout this process.

The retrieval went great. No problems. No bleeding. No cramping. No nausea. I have never had any kind of surgery before, so I asked the anesthesiologist if she could give me some extra anti-nausea meds just in case. She was happy to comply. I probably would have been okay without the extra, but I just didn't want to have the additional stress of worrying about being nauseated. Last time I had looked at the clock before they rolled me into the operating room was 12:21PM...when I opened my eyes in recovery, it was 1:08PM. The nurse was right there and asked about my pain. I told her "no pain" and she brought me some crackers and ginger ale. I was starving and thirsty because the last time I ate/drank was 8PM the previous night. Then the nurse we had been working with since the beginning of this journey at CCRM stopped by to give me a hug and see how we were doing. I love her - she is such an angel. Then I moved to a reclining chair and the embryologist came up to discuss the results. 14 eggs. We were pleased. And it looked like my husband did a good job as well :-). There is a chance we may not have to do ICSI, or maybe only half ICSI.

The nurse explained that I should drink plenty of fluids and eat a lot of salt the rest of the day to prevent hyperstimulation. No problem - I love salt and had actually been avoiding salty food since prior to the stim process. So on the way home we stopped by the store to pick up cheetos (I've been craving them - today was a great excuse). When I first got home from retrieval, I watched a little tv and had some lunch and made a few phone calls. Then I took a two hour nap. When I woke up from the nap was the first time I felt any pain...but two max strength Tylenol took care of it. Then the hubby and I went out to dinner.

No more shots! I've decided to do the suppositories 3Xday of progesterone instead of the shots. Those will start tomorrow. 9 days from today, I will also start estrogen patches. For the next few days I will also be on tetracycline, medrol, and
baby aspirin.

So today is the big fertilization phone call. They said they would probably call before noon (denver time).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

38 - Trigger shot complete/summary - August 20th, 2008

So the trigger shot is complete. It did not hurt at all, but I did numb the area a little with some ice. The trigger shot is HCG which will induce ovulation. Today we just go in for blood work in a hour or so - they want to make sure that we injected the HCG correctly. No more shots or drugs for today.

Summary of our cycle so far:

49 sub q shots total (lupron, menopur, gonal) + 1 HCG im shot
Started the lurpon/dexamethasone on 07/28/08
Started the stim drugs on 08/09/08 - 2 amps menopur, 150 gonal, 5 lupron

6 stim check ultrasounds:
STIM DAY 4 - 08/12/08 - baseline, eggs are small, E2 (estradiol) was low - 121
up stims to 2 amps menopur, 300 gonal, 5 Lurpon,
STIM DAY 6 - 08/14/08 - eggs are small, about 4-5 maturing, E2 - 433
stims still 2 amps menopur, 300 gonal, 5 lurpon
STIM DAY 8 - 08/16/08 - better, still about 5-6 maturing, E2 - 866
stims still 2 amps menopur, 300 gonal, 5 lurpon
STIM DAY 9 - 08/17/08 - still about 5-6 maturing + some slow growers, E2 - 1794
reduced stims to 2 amps menopur, 150 gonal, 5 lurpon
STIM DAY 10 - 08/18/08 - about 7-8 close to mature + some slow growers, E2 - 2096
stims still reduced to 2 amps menopur, 150 gonal, 5 lurpon
STIM DAY 11 - 08/19/08 - about 13 close to mature!, E2 - 2899
stims reduced to 2 amps menopur, 5 lurpon, no gonal

TRIGGER SHOT: 08/20/08 at 1AM
RETRIEVAL: Scheduled for 08/21/08 at 12PM (Denver)

I know I say this over and over, but it has been so wonderful being away from home for this process. There is no obligations - no house to clean, no lawn to care for, etc.. We have been spending our days reading, eating, watching movies, and watching the mountains and wildlife. I wonder if this contributes to the reason why CCRM has good success rates. They do have a large number of out-of-area patients and when those patients come here, while they do have the normal stress of the cycle, they don't have any of the obligations they would have at home. Can't recommend this place enough.

I probably won't post tomorrow, but I will post on Friday about the retrieval.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

37 - Trigger Night - August 19th, 2008


The above pic is my stomach on day 11 of the stimulation drugs...are they sure I'm not pregnant yet :-)?

So we got the word this afternoon that we can go ahead and give the trigger shot tonight...or rather at 1AM tomorrow morning (Wednesday morning). The timing is very critical. The hubby is going to give it to me, which will be the first shot I haven't given myself since this whole process has started. It is an IM shot. Our retrieval is scheduled for 12PM (Denver time) on Thursday.

Today was a good day - the ultrasound looked great...quite a few more mature follicles than yesterday. It looked like the possibility of 13 mature eggs at the time of retrieval. And my estrogen was 2866 which seems like a good number given the number of mature follicles.

CCRM is amazing. We were frustrated that we had to wait an additional day for the trigger shot, but it looks like that additional day may have gotten us several more eggs. They are brilliant, and I am so happy with our decision to be here.

I'm going to catch some zzzz's before the shot...good night.

Monday, August 18, 2008

36 - Mile 18 - August 18th, 2008

Back in 1999 I ran the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C.. Miles 1-12 felt great...lots of excitement. Miles 12-17 started to get a little tougher, but were still manageable. Then mile 18 came - the mile when I felt completely torn between two worlds - the knowledge that this, too, would soon end and I would feel completely elated at such an accomplishment and the fear that I was actually going to die before I crossed the finish line. We are at mile 18 in this ivf process.

We just got the news that they want us to do yet another night of stimulation medication. We were really hoping that they would give us the go ahead for the trigger shot tonight, which would mean a Wednesday retrieval. Now the earliest day for retrieval will be Thursday. My estradiol only rose to 2093 from 1794 yesterday - nothing to be concerned about, but I think that number allows for a few more days of egg growth without running the risk of hyperstimulation (which can be dangerous).

So tomorrow look for a post unfortunately titled "Sixth Ultrasound and Blood Work".

Tonight we are going out for Mexican with the woman we are staying with...for some reason I can't remember the last time I've looked so forward to Mexican food - must be the hormones :-).

35 - Dreams of med dosages - August 18th, 2008


The above picture is taken on the deck of the house we are staying at while in Colorado...humming birds everywhere.

Last night was a true example of how invasive the whole ivf process really is...I spent a majority of the night (so it felt) dreaming of various med dosage situations. In one dream, the clinic called and said that because my estradiol was so high, they needed to but me on different meds for another 5 days. So then, in my dream, I was spending a ton of time online learning everything I could about the new meds and finding out what being on meds for an additional 5 days did to the success statistics. This is just one example of several med dosage dreams I had last night...time to officially stay off the internet, you think?

Had my 5th ultrasound and blood work (and hopefully last before trigger/retrieval) this morning. The lab tech who drew my blood told me an inspiring story. Her daughter did ivf through ccrm. They got 19 eggs from her, but by day 5 after fertilization, all but 1 egg died. They implanted that one egg and she is now due in about 3 weeks...

I will post again this afternoon when we find out if tonight will be trigger night.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

34 - Fourth Ultrasound and blood work - August 17th, 2008

So today was the fourth ultrasound and blood work. For the first time since the whole process has started, we felt really happy when we saw the ultrasound...lots of big eggs. She actually measured 14 eggs today, with about 8 of them looking close to mature (able to fertilize). We are also learning that the eggs really keep growing, so the number can increase at every ultrasound. As for my blood work, my estrogen came back at 1794 today...yikes...considering it was 891 yesterday. That is a really big jump in 24 hours - almost too big. So they cut my stim meds in 1/2 tonight. There is a chance we might trigger tomorrow night for a Wednesday retrieval.

I'm still feeling pretty well - just very tired and exceptionally hungry. The sun has finally come out after three days of rain (which wasn't bad at all - a great excuse to crawl under the covers and take long naps...as if large doses of hormones isn't enough of an excuse :-)). The hubby and I just came back from a long walk. Our 5th ultrasound (and hopefully last before retrieval)is tomorrow morning.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

33 - Third ultrasound/ blood work - August 16th, 2008


The above picture is the view from the house we are staying at while we are in Colorado.

Today's ultrasound went better - the eggs are growing nicely. It looks like they will probably get 10 eggs with about 6-7 probably fertilizing. We were again reminded that it only takes 1 to make a baby. Now we are just waiting for the routine afternoon call about my blood levels. They might do the egg retrieval on Tuesday now...we'll know more tomorrow.

Today is the first day I'm starting to feel things physically - my stomach area is sore and I am pretty tired. I'm not bitchy, though (I confirmed this with my husband)...pretty sensitive, but at least not making other people's lives miserable :-).

Colorado is very rainy and cold today - 45 degrees. The hubby and I are having a bum day - just eating, surfing the net, reading, and watching movies. We have another ultrasound/ blood work date tomorrow.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

32 - IVF=DRAMA FEST - August 14th, 2008

So this is the biggest thing I've learned so far...this process of ivf is one big roller coaster where all you can do is raise your hands high in the air, scream at the top of your lungs, and hope you don't get thrown off.

Today was our second ultrasound and blood work day. The minute the ultrasound tech started, my heart sank. You could tell that my eggs had not grown much at all since the previous ultrasound on Tuesday. I said "Wow, those are really small.". She said "Yes they are.". As soon as she left the room I looked at Alex and shook my head "Not good". He agreed. Then we met with the nurse to review the ultrasound. And, of course, I was already in tears by the time she entered the room. "This isn't good" I kept saying. She never denied that, but just said "We need to see what your estradiol level is this afternoon. If it hasn't climbed, we'll cancel the cycle.". I was devastated. I never knew that canceling the cycle at this point was even a possibility. I thought for sure we'd at least make it to implantation. WTF !(For those of you who aren't aware of what "WTF" means, ask someone. I'm trying to keep this site clean - which will probably become increasingly difficult as my hormones continue to surge :-)).

So I tried to hold it together through the blood work which, of course, was an impossible task. I asked the blood lab tech if she sees a lot of weepy women - "A ton", she said, "Those hormones do quite a job on you girls' bodies.". Then, if that wasn't torture enough (by the way, they even had trouble getting my vain with a butterfly needle today), I had to stick around for a physical. The physical went fine. By the time I got to the car I was sobbing. I totally blew my religious diet on a cheeseburger, french fries, and a diet pepsi at lunch...attempted sabotage on my uncooperative eggs...but then, by 3:00PM, there was a ray of hope...

The nurse called and said that my estradiol actually looked wonderful today - Up from 121 to 433...a great number indicating the possibility of good egg quality and continued growth. Alas, my cycle has not been cancelled.

So we have another day off tomorrow. Because my eggs are kind of growing slowly, they cancelled tomorrow's ultrasound...fine by me. We need a day to rest from all this drama. The next ultrasound will be Saturday morning. Oh, and because the eggs are growing slowly, retrieval will now be delayed several days. That's okay. I'm just grateful my estradiol went up today...baby steps...and back to my protien shakes and fresh fruit and vegetables after my lapse in diet behavior.

Welcome to the ivf drama fest!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

31 - Low Estradiol - August 12th, 2008

So I just got a phone call from the nurse...my estradiol is lower than they would like to see, so they are doubling my stimulation drugs starting tonight. I guess estradiol is an indication of how the follicles are responding to the drugs. Bummer. Another bummer is that based on the new doseage, I had to order more drugs...another $750.00 worth. Double bummer. So the hope is that by Thursday this estradiol number will have increased considerably. Again I am grateful that I am in the care of CCRM and they are really on top of this. As my friend put it - they really want to do everything in their power to help us have a baby.

As I a type this I am watching a storm approach over the mountains. The wind is really kicking up...another reminder that regardless of how much technology we have, Mother Nature still has the ultimate control.

30 - In Colorado/First Ultrasound - August 12th, 2008

I made it to Colorado. The drive was very smooth, with an overnight stop in Omaha. We are so fortunate to be staying with my friend's sister for the first week of this process. We are staying in a beautiful house - the back of the house is all windows and looks out onto the Rockies. Yesterday, when I was settling into our room, a deer came up about three feet from the bedroom window. And I hear there is a neighborhood black bear, which I am hoping to see... from a distance. This is a very peaceful location for these eggs to grow...

This morning was the first ultrasound at CCRM. It was good to see our nurse, Marsha. She gave me a big hug...I feel like we have a connection because I have emailed her so much since our last visit. The ultrasound and blood work went fine, although they are reluctant to give too much information at this point. I wanted to scream "THROW ME A BONE - I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE WRONG", but I understand their position - it is just to early to tell either way. I think the purpose of today's ultrasound was to get a baseline. I am waiting for a call back from the nurse about the blood work and to see if the doc wants to up the med doses.

In terms of the effects of the stim drugs - I did have a major headache the first day, but it is hard to tell if it was because of the stim drugs or because it was a particular day in my cycle (I happened to get it on the day I usually get a headache in my cycle). Last night I did start to notice some bloating, but I don't mind. To me, it is a sign that the eggs are growing.

Tomorrow is a day off from ultrasounds/blood work. The hubby and I are headed south to visit some of his distant relatives. It is suppose to be a beautiful drive, and I am looking forward to it. Thursday we resume with the ultrasounds and bloodwork, and, we just found out today, that my husband has to give a back-up sample in case something goes wrong with the sample he gives on the day of the retrieval.

So that's the latest. I stopped by Whole Foods after my ultrasound and made myself a nice salad to have for lunch. I totally deserve it...and so do my eggs. So I am going to have a little nap right now, then I am going to sit out on the deck, eat my salad, read a book, and be thankful that we are going through this process in the middle of the beautiful Rockies.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

29 - Time to hit the road - August 10th


Well, I finished the painting I had been working on as a meditative/positive thinking art therapy. I finished it last night. This is a painting of my uterus and the multicell embryos that will hopefully try to implant. At first I thought it may be risky to paint this in case the procedure doesn't work, but then I realized that the chance of us at least getting to this stage is very high.

Time to hit the road. I may or may not post from Omaha depending on the internet situation.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

28 - Abundant Support - August 9th, 2008

So today was the first day of three shots - Menopur in the morning, Gonal and Lurpon at night (and the Dexamethasone pill). Everything went fine and I really don't feel any side effects from the additional drugs yet.

We are so fortunate to have so many supportive friends and family as we go through this...all kinds of fun things happened this week. On Wednesday I received a package of candy and a music card wishing us luck from a long time friend from the place I use to work at. Then that night my husband gave me a very thoughtful care package - it contained color pencils and a sketchbook, a romance book that takes place in Italy, some dark chocolate, magazine, etc.. And then on Friday I received another care package from my three best friends (of 28 years) with, again, very thoughtful items - lounge pants, healthy food, a book about friendship, magazines, etc.. Then that night another good friend let me pick out one of her stuffed animals (I chose the stuffed unicorn) to take with me for comfort. I've put together a care package for the hubby, but I can't list the contents as he may read this before he receives it. Perhaps the best "good luck" send off came from my best friend's son. He drew me a picture. I was obviously in the middle of the picture, with two smallish people on each side. I asked my him who the one small person was. He said "your baby"...his smile was beaming ear to ear. He was the other small person in the picture. I'm bringing the picture with us to hang in our room in Colorado.

So as I get ready for bed the night before we head out west, I can say that I feel content, relaxed, and at peace. I feel nurtured and cared for - by myself and my loved ones. And I feel healthy. And I feel tired. Good night.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

27 - Suppression Ultrasound - August 7th, 2008

So today was the day of my suppression ultrasound and blood work. This could not be completed through my ob/gyn office, so I again had to schedule through the hospital. I called as soon as my period arrived (Tuesday) and scheduled it for 7:15AM this morning. They did a external and trans vaginal ultrasound this time, checking to make sure the lupron was doing its job and suppressing any eggs from developing. I had to drink 48 ounces of water 1 hour prior to the test, but was allowed to go to the bathroom as soon as the external portion was complete, prior to the trans vaginal part. The Manifestation of the Devil (i.e. the speculum....see other posts to read about my relationship with that thing) was not used and it was a uneventful exam. It was a little uncomfortable having an ultrasound while I was only on Day 3 of my period and still bleeding a little heavy, but I got over it pretty quickly. The most exciting part of the exam was the following: when my lab tech confirmed my birthday (12/26/74), her eyes got huge. She has the EXACT same birthday - same year and everything. I'm going to take it as a sign that good things are about to come...

I also had blood drawn today - progesterone and estradiol. I gave my whole butterfly needle speech, and Hallelujah, the lab person listened to me and immediately used the butterfly needle and even thanked me for being so forward with that information. I seriously wanted to kiss her.

So then I just waited for my CCRM nurse to call with the results. She called at about 4PM est and said the blood work looked great, but she hadn't received the ultrasound results yet. I called the lab here in Michigan and the results were in...they faxed them as soon as I called. My CCRM nurse called back within a few minutes and said everything looked great and we were ready to go. Tonight I will cut the lurpon dose in half and continue with the dexamethasone. Then on Saturday, the fun begins. I will take a shot of Menopur in the morning (2 amps) and a shot of 150 of the Gonal-f in the evening (along with continuing the lurpon and the dexamethasone).

The CCRM nurse also informed me that the insomnia was a result of the lupron removing all the estrogen from my system. She said that the insomnia would go away as soon as I start the other drugs and informed me that I could take a sleeping aid, such as my all time favorite, Tylenol PM. I'm going to try to hold off and sleep on my own for now - the last two nights were a little better.

So the next step is to prepare to drive out to Denver. I'll probably post everyday now through the whole process out in Denver.