Friday, October 31, 2008

Twisted trick-or-treating

ER went fine this morning. I awoke to see the surgeon's blurry, still-masked head poking through the ugly recovery-area curtains. He said, "Eyes are open! We got 6 eggs for sure! We might have 8 — I'll be right back." And he dashed away.


Here's a cool public domain National Park Service photo (by Peter Jones) of Lechuguilla Cave (named for an agave plant . . . mmm, tequila!), which — according to one shaky-looking online source — might also be known as "Halloween Cave."

It's a nice visual representation of the follicle hunt, don't you think? (Please note that I'm on drugs.)

I don't think I blogged before that my ER doc was the one from both our empty-follicle cycle and the D&C. I got a tad emotional Thursday at hearing he'd be on call today. Despite knowing he's one of the best anywhere, I'd envisioned working with someone else for this last gasp. But, I quickly accepted reality and decided it would be a good way to come full circle on my IVF loop.

In lieu of a costume I wore a camouflage-print tank under my sweater (had to take it off, but I soaked up its combat-ready vibes in the car), wrote a sparkly-silver "BOO!" on my IV-arm, and drew a mini goblin on my shin. Might as well lighten things up. The nurse gasped when she rolled up my gown sleeve ("Did you get a tattoo!?"). Whether the OR staff discussed my goblin, I don't know. I was out before getting fully settled on the operating table. Last thing I remember, the gentle-giant surgical assistant (he could probably bench press everyone in the room) was moving me and saying, "Okay, Lisa, lift your bottom and I'll —."

I was down for the count. Didn't even get to hear what music they turned on or see the doctor enter the room.

Afterward I ran the "6 maybe 8" through my foggy head. I tried to reason whether the "maybe 8" meant good things for any of the ones over 5 I hadn't planned to hear about at all. And I hoped it might translate to maybe getting 4 mature instead of 3. Or just 3 really great ones — or 1 really excellent one! No way to further predict a single thing until tomorrow's fertilization report, though.

The doctor came back and explained that he'd retrieved 8 big-enough follicles, and that 6 gave up the ghost rather easily. The embryologist got nothing out of the other 2 . . . but she did flush the bejeebers out of them.

I mentioned my earlier worst- and best-case predictions. The doc grinned and said, "We usually get good Halloween news here."

DH and I are relieved to have made it this far, and we'll sit on pins and needles till the phone rings tomorrow.


I chuckled at this (minimally monkeyed with by me) wiki description of Lechuguilla Cave, aka MY Halloween Cave. Every time you see "the cave," and so on, substitute "Lisa's uterus" or another suitably parallel phrase. It's fun. ------

Access to the cave is limited to approved scientific researchers and survey and exploration teams . . . [the cave] was known until 1986 as a small, fairly insignificant historic site in the park's back country. (Hey, how do THEY know about 1986?) The cave contains [an] entrance pit known as Misery Hole, which [for a time] led to 400 feet of dry dead-end passages.

The cave was visited infrequently after mining activities ceased. Although there was no obvious route, different people concluded that cave passages did in fact lay below the rubble.

[Explorers] have mapped passages and have pushed the depth of the cave . . . Cavers, drawn by the caves' pristine condition and rare beauty, come from around the world to explore and map its passages and geology.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


That thing stings every time.

My Day 12 follicles met triggering criteria this morning — so trigger I did, at 8:00 pm on the dot.

For those who want numbers — I'm talking to YOU, current and future IVF-ers scouring the Web to obsess about how your follicles compare to others' — here's my size breakdown:

The Presumptive Leaders

3 follicles at 18–21 mm

The Still-in-the-Running Hopeful
1 follicle at 16.5 mm

The Scrappy, Ready-to-Come-from-Behind Underdog
1 follicle at 15.5 mm

The Also-Rans
3 follicles at 9.5–12.5 mm

The "Less Thans" (actual clinic-speak)
3 follicles at less than 7 mm

My E2 today was at 1,600, only slightly higher than my trigger-day E2 during IVF #2. But it's a better number (I think) because I have many fewer mature-looking follicles, which are the ones that give off the measurable E2 reading. So, relative to the last cycle, the reading is higher in a potentially desirable way. I think.

In any case, this is the thought process that's allowing me to feel not so glum about having less than half the seemingly mature follies I did last time. It's also keeping me from letting my mind revisit the time where we thought we had 4 follicles at retrieval but got nothing. These 4 follicles are different from those 4 follicles.

Please, please, please, please don't let these 4 follicles be empty. Please.

My personal best-case prediction is that we can possibly get 5 eggs with 3 acting mature.

ER is Friday morning at 7:30.

Busy with a cycle? Circle November 4 on your calendar now!

Just a pitch for everyone to get out there and pull those levers, press those buttons, and fill in those tiny circles! I love this one in particular because it doesn't push any candidates (a refreshing change as the season winds down) — it just says to VOTE!

Had to add this one, too, because it mentions multiples (that makes it kinda on topic for select IVF-ers, right?) . . . plus, I still think Opie is adorable.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


When I was 14, I used to substitute "Tusk!" for one of the more popular 4-letter expletives. I only did this around one friend. We thought it was funny. Private joke.

I hadn't thought about that in YEARS until I shouted it out in frustration today. This afternoon's report from my coordinator gave me a different take than I'd had just hours before about where I sit on the stimmed-up scale. I seem to be losing ground, or at least several potentially viable follicles. Tomorrow's measurements will give a better picture. So I am trying to stay calm, collected, controlled.

After my blast-from-the past outburst, I said "Tusk!" the rest of the day.

"Tusk!" I said at hearing today's drug re-order would cost more than yesterday's.

"Tusk!" I said at grasping that I seem to have just 4 good follies to root for now.

"Tusk, tusk, tusk!" I said at developing a purple bruise, itchy red rash, AND nausea after tonight's 3 injections.

Cussin' around has made me slightly smiley instead of fully frowny.

Meanwhile, look how young the Fleetwood Mac-ers look in this video from 1979!

The even, pulsing beat of the music suits me right now: Hormones coursing; me marching, marching onward.

Waiting (for) to go

That's "go" with a silent "t."

Don't mind me, folks, just entertaining myself.

It's Day 11 of stims, and I'm in the clinic's atrium pilfering wi-fi while waiting for acupuncture, waiting for my follicles to grow big enough to trigger, waiting for another chance to get knocked up, and — ultimately — waiting to see what's next for me in this life.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 8: Feeling the swings

Went in this morning for pokes and peeks. My 10 follies are still there: 6 are of a fairly uniform size at 14–14.5 mm, and the 4 laggers are at 10–10.5 mm. I'll stop stims when at least 2 reach 18 mm. Best guess is that could be Monday but might be Tuesday. Retrieval will happen during the second half of the week.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the progress, but I got veeerrrryyy sad about the 4 smaller follicles afterward. They can still make it to maturity by ER. But there's a bigger size gap between the two sets than there was last time.

DH's first question was whether those 4 might just drop out of the picture . . . a reasonable q, and exactly the possibility that was making me blue. The NP who did the ultrasound today, though, assured me — in the "maybe not, mind you" way the clinic HAS to put things — that most/all of those will keep going, and that "Things will happen as they're supposed to."

I know that general sentiment is usually meant as a comfort, as something positive about the bigger picture (and in this case, I of course know the NP was really just being upbeat, saying that things look fine). But my personal belief is that things will happen as they will. I don't see that as a negative POV, just what is, and it's different from what's supposed to be.

So, sometimes — like after my miscarriage, or when I'm looking at facts that point to the possibility of something not going well, or when I'm pushing my own hormones on an old-school swing — hearing that things only happen because they're supposed to makes me feel a little bad.

I'm taking my antagonist shot each morning now (it counteracts all the stimulation meds so I don't accidentally surge and release those eggies before ER). Think that helps create my pitiful Debbie Downer moments? I do.

Lucky for me I'm just a few hours away from my nighttime batch of happy shots — 7:30 upswing, here I come. Whee!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bye-bye black jeans

While zipping up my stiff-denim black jeans this morning, I thought I could probably wear them one more time after today before the bloating made them uncomfortable.

I just had to change my pants. I'd unbuttoned them almost as soon as I settled in at my desk, and I'd had them unzipped — all the way — for at least 2 hours. Good thing I work from home.

Updates from yesterday's Day 5 happenings:

10 of the 11 resting follicles are still showing up; 4 are measuring 9–10 mm, and the rest are right behind at 6–8mm.

My E2 was 166, which is right where it should be at this stage.

I am generally stimming at a slower pace than I have in the past, so I may stim longer. I started stims earlier (CD 2 — one could even argue it was CD 1.5), so I like to imagine that I caught some of the follies before they had a chance to start the normal dying-off process they'd go through in an unmedicated cycle . . . and so maybe we'll get a few that are truly helped along by the hormones I'm aiming at them . . . instead of just a bunch of artificially mature-looking eggs that took the hormone bait and grew, but are missing the components needed to create an embryo that properly divides ALL THE WAY through the stages of cell division and turns into the poor bean that will have to take care of its older-than-dirt parents while still young.

I had acupuncture yesterday, too. During this phase of the cycle, I get electro-stimmed twice a week. On Monday, I had trouble feeling the fluttering sensation from the needles, and acupuncturist J had to keep turning up the "volume." I never really did feel anything. But yesterday the buzzing feeling was strong. Instead of acclimating to it, I sensed it all the way through the treatment and ended up a little nauseated at the end. Maybe those 6 smaller follicles will now wake up, shape up, and join the party by the Day 8 scan.

Have I mentioned that I've been talking to my follicles since the suppression check? I'm thinking of every last one of 'em as a potential keeper.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October's path

Today in relevant history:

  • 1987 — Knew my October AF was everything but normal. Couldn't begin to fathom that the things that do/don't grow inside my uterus would so profoundly affect not just that year, but the next 20+.
  • 1995 — Married my sweetheart.
  • 2000 — Knew I needed a second myomectomy.
  • 2003 — Started TTC for our 8th anniversary.
  • 2007 — "Skipped" our 12th anniversary because I was in the hospital for surgery that would allow us to try IVF.
  • 2008 (that's today) — Hugged DH extra hard at 5:58 am when he whispered "Happy anniversary," then teared up when he added a soft "thank you."
Cycle status:
  • Day 4 of stims.
  • Feeling strong and not too stressed.
  • Bloating is trying to start.
  • Headache pops up about an hour before my shots each evening. (Can you say, "Hormone dip"?)
  • Day 5 monitoring tomorrow.
Things I'm doing to help myself stay calm and focused:
  • Staying ahead of my work.
  • Listening to meditation CDs and music.
  • Reading books.
  • Watching movies.
  • Flipping through magazines.
  • Using the "good" lotions and potions.
  • Going to twice-weekly acupuncture sessions.
  • Soaking my feet nightly in warm water. (Gotta get that blood and good Qi moving!)
  • Taking fistfuls of vitamins and supplements.
  • Consuming IVF-/fertility-friendly foods.
  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Walking the dog (see photo for today's path).
  • Cooking and baking.
  • Consciously choosing positivity.
  • Planning for an "IVF #3 failed" future.
  • Trusting that an "IVF #3 worked" future is possible.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ride my see-saw

Video post!

I'm watching Miss Pettigrew's Something or Other. The film looks pretty, and most of the acting seems solid . . . but it's not holding my interest. Oh wait, it just ended kind of sweet-like — as expected, but a whole lot faster. Hmm. Thumbs sideways.

Back on topic:

One minute tonight I was in good spirits, waiting for 7 pm to really-truly start this cycle by shooting up with my first round of stims. The next minute I was prepping my shots and surprising myself by a bitter burst of blubbering that there I was, right back where I was in January (IVF #1) . . . and April (IVF #2).

BUT. I took the shots and felt better. Still feeling good now, 3 hours later.

Enjoy the video. My Follistim-Menopur combo doesn't produce the psychedelic effects suggested by the little intro. But it does do a number on me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This was a bad day to look at my retirement funds

Ugh. I held off peeking at the volatile-economy-driven losses in my retirement funds until last Sunday — the day before all payments for IVF #3 were due.

The news was as expected. Sobering. Then came today's downturn. I read that this marked the 20th business day out of the last 23 that the Dow has logged a triple-digit move. Today it was down 733 points.

I couldn't stop myself from looking at my funds again. It's sick-making on a number of levels.

At the top of the list here and now, of course, is that IVF is so very, very expensive.

DH and I have talked, many times, about the serious financial hit we've volunteered to take. We've been revisiting the topic this week (and last), while there's still time to back out and bury the money in the backyard. But we keep coming to the same conclusion: The hit still seems worth it, even if all we get is a chance.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Had my suppression check this morning, and things look good all up in there. My ovaries are quiet. No cysts. And I have 11 resting follicles.

That's the same number I started with last time, so I've decided to view this cycle as a JEN-yoo-INE do-over in which I will do everything I can to help these follies along and, I hope, stay open to whatever forces might come together to improve the outcome with a healthy, sticky bean.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The drugs are making me weepy

Yet I haven't taken a thing. All meds are in the house. But I'm still 2 days away from my first antagonist shot and 10, maybe 12, from starting stims.

In the past few days I've teared up about all kinds of good stuff:

mistakenly cutting someone off during rush hour; receiving my cycle meds; chipping a mug I actually hate; seeing the pup take a 2-second detour on the way to her food bowl (hey, she needed to make her screaming monkey scream); getting a bill for extended storage of the sperm sample DH banked in our last cycle; buying a new sweater, then unpacking my winter wardrobe to find a near-identical match from an end-of-season sale last year; noticing (with relief) that DH looks relatively untroubled for the first time in many months; sending my brother a DVD of a goofy movie we used to watch as kids; thinking about WWII; learning that DH will be traveling during IVF . . . again; getting a compliment from a complete stranger at Target; noting the tragic fall of the Jackson family (triggered by an old Jermaine song on the radio);


My suppression check is Monday, and I am more than a little nervous about what we'll see. Hoping for no cysts. And a goodly number of resting follicles. With no cysts. And a nice batch of follicles.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cold dawns and pretty bridges

I'm home from my trip and doing my best to get ahead on work and household issues before everything goes to heck in a biohazardous waste container starting . . . oh well, better blog it like it is . . . starting last year right about this time.

The trip had its moments, both lovely and atrocious. And although I would balk at calling it a "vacation," it was clearly good for DH and me to just exist elsewhere for a bit. Bonding and a reversion to a more effortless connection ensued.

One morning last week I woke up extra early. We'd just spent our first night in my parents' home, and I wanted to see the sunrise on the lake. I crept out to the family room and was blown away by the beauty of the mist on the water. I (quietly) gathered up my eyeglasses, slippers, and camera, and I curled up on a patio chair — outside in 40-degree weather, wearing thin pajamas — to capture the scene.

I was ready to go inside about 30 minutes before snapping this dock photo, but I'd locked myself out. I didn't much mind. I was happy to stay outside for a while and enjoy some quiet moments alone with the lake. It never fails to restore me.

At first glance of this image, my immediate thought was "bridge to nowhere." (Hmm, wonder why that term was in my head.) The next startled thought I had was "Oh, is that what I think about IVF for us? Maybe. Kinda. Yes. But look at the pretty bridge."

Then I recalled writing about the lake and the feeling of "twilight" a few months back. My reaction to this image of dawn struck me as apropos to everything: The bridge shows a bit of age . . . but it still looks beautiful, even hopeful, bathed in first light.

All at once it appears to be sturdy and delicate. Weary and open. Wise and clueless. Resolute and peaceful.