Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the eve of the New Year

A message for you, dear readers and fellow bloggers:

"For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning."
—T.S. Eliot

Tonight, with Bing playing in the background and champagne chilling in the foreground, DH and I will gratefully "watch the old year die with a fond good-bye" and step into our future.

How will you celebrate? Whatever your plans, I wish you all the best for a safe, warm, and smooth transition into 2009.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A circuitous tale of waking up thinner, the scourge called IF, and feeling ticked about all of it

As 2009 approaches, I am thinner than when 2008 came knocking. Not by much, but I notice it and so does my scale.

Quick tip for the wise:
Scroll down to the large bold phrase near the end to get to the point sooooo much faster. You're welcome!

I've been fine with Not Being Thinner ever since early 2007 when I gained 25–30 pounds in 2 staggeringly fast month-long periods: March, I think, and then again in July. At the time we were between REs (thinking we were done with REs, mind you) and I was effectively grieving the loss of my fertility, such that it never was. In March of that year I contracted a strange, made-up-sounding viral infection whose treatment was to fast for a few days and then slowly reintroduce food from the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) before gradually returning to regular food. It took about 10 days for me to tolerate anything but BRAT food and at least another week after that to eat normally.

I consumed very little food, FAR less than my typical diet provided, yet I managed to gain 7 pounds during the BRAT-only phase. I thought it odd but assumed my system would normalize on its own now that I felt healthy again. A few weeks later—after setting aside yet another pair of shrunk-in-the-wash underwear—I caught a clue and gingerly stepped on the scale. Another 8 pounds up for a total of 15 (or, as I said, "fiffffteeeeeeeen?"). JUST LIKE THAT!

Now this did catch my attention. But I still believed it was a temporary thing and that my awareness alone would be enough to reverse the gain. I'd simply move more and eat less, and soon all would be fine. Thing is, I made good on my plan but nothing changed. This failure threw me for a loop because several years earlier I'd gained and lost what I can now grudgingly call my "first" package of stress weight—I had no trouble losing it once I cared enough to try, and for 4 years I'd kept it off with what I perceived as no effort. I'd actually come to the smug belief that I was in control of something.

This is just a chemical glitch,
I thought. I'll bet the Clomid from the RE Who Shall Not Be Mentioned triggered something. Maybe that screwy infection screwed me up. Or was it the Fertility Bl.end? Whatever the reason, I can make it go away anytime I want to.

In the face of concluding we weren't done seeking help on our quest to conceive, the weight quickly became a nonissue to me. My concentration shifted to finding a new RE. I interviewed prospects during June and July (can you say "Discouraging"?) and—BAM!—next time I looked up 10 or 15 additional pounds had debuted in time for bathing-suit season. That gain happened, too, with such dizzying speed that I almost couldn't process it. But damn, there I was needing new pants again.

DH and I planned an IVF for October 2007. In September the RE did a pre-cycle hysteroscopy. She literally gasped upon seeing a large fibroid onscreen, brand-spanking new since the fairly recent ultrasound we had *just* reviewed. The tumor had originated outside my uterus and poked right on through the uterine wall into the cavity. That sucker had to come out.

Both my RE and OB say there is no way to prove my theory, but nobody will EVER persuade me away from the firm belief that the rapid-fire weight gains and fibroid growth went hand-in-hand and were directly tied to the stress of trying to "get over" my desire to conceive and move on before I was ready. No way could I ignore that an immediate need for a myomectomy had cropped up, with extra poundage, during all 3 of the hands-down worst times of my life. (Not that I don't understand that I must also have been eating and moving differently. Chronic stress changes the way you function, inside and out.) But my experience with all of it doesn't inform anyone but me.

No matter, though. As DH and I pursued the end of our ttc story, I put weight out of my mind. I couldn't spare the effort to care about it while dealing with the rigors of ARTfulness and consistently tenuous pregnancies. Although 7–10 pharmaceutically-induced pounds came and went with each IVF, my weight held steady overall. No true gains in 2008. A plus that, thankfully, was not. (Assuming you ignore the given that I would give anything to be waddling around with a weight gain of a different stripe.)

I didn't mention this before because I still plan to do a separate post about my recent D&C, but . . . the day after the procedure I felt lighter. I looked it, too. That day my scale said that all the extra IVF #3 weight had disappeared in a surreal sort of POOF.

Well today I woke up looking slightly thinner yet again—3 more pounds gone.

Honestly, I don't know how that could even be possible. I mean, 'tis still the holiday season at my house, and a less-than-jolly one at that. I'm regularly comforting myself with toffee and tea, egg nog and cookies, wine and something cheesy, and so on. Even as I work today, DH is out hunting and gathering a long list of ingredients for the New Year–appropriate appetizers, goodies, and cocktails we'll make and I'll help consume. Not really a weight-shedding setup.

I know. Those 3 pounds probably found their way back to me while I wrote this post. But whether they or their 10+ IVF siblings have left me for good is not the point today.

The point is what ticked me off:

Here's a case where I have not been trying to do something I'd very much like to do. Namely, to start losing my "no baby" weight that so callously attached itself to me 2 years ago. I've done nothing whatsoever to advance the cause and practically everything one might think of to achieve the opposite effect. Yet quite a few pounds have gone missing anyway. I was "relaxing" about the whole deal, if you will, and suddenly I ended up with a desirable outcome. Thinking about it that way really burned me up for a minute.

You see, it's just one more item on life's infinite list that, ultimately, I will never control, even when I think I know for sure that I can and will.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A favorite Christmas song

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been a favorite of mine since I was but a girl. I loved it even before seeing Meet Me in St. Louis for the first time at age 12 or so. But once I saw the film, the beautiful melancholy theme of the song came into focus for me and I loved it even more. Purposely making my heart hurt a little was something I couldn't get enough of at that age. My mom noticed same and surprised me with the sheet music so I could play the song and think about the heart-rending situation till I could play and think no more.

For anyone feeling like you're "muddling through" right now, you are not alone. Happens to the best of us. Just keep on muddling, and I promise I will too. Better days are coming. That's how it works.

Happy holidays to one and all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Behold the negative HPT!

The poor little "Not Pregnant" ones never seem to get photographed, so I thought I'd make mine feel loved.

(To digress: Does anyone else chuckle a little at photos of "Pregnant" digitals? Am I the only one who doesn't see the point of that particular pic?!)

As I think I mentioned, I opted out of officially following my HCG levels down. I decided I didn't need the hassles related to continued fertility-clinic visits, such as . . .
  • Taking time out of every few workday mornings to crawl along ice-covered roads, to and from the clinic.
  • Feeling compelled to tell the (truly) sweet, sunny, young receptionist who is young enough to be my daughter that I'm "great" while checking in to track my failed-pregnancy hormones back down to zero.
  • Wincing at the harried phlebotomist's tale of how unbelievably hard it is to hide gifts and create a faux Santa sighting for the toddlers at home. Heard it already. I am genuinely happy to hear such accounts from friends and family and even total strangers in the insanely long holiday lines at Tarjay. It's normal chatter about real events in people's lives, and I like it. But in the clinic setting, this very particular type of small talk is sometimes hard to take.
  • Deciding to let the afternoon bloodwork-report call go to voicemail so I don't have to reply to another pitying "How are you doing?" or strangely chipper "Have a WONDERFUL holiday!"
Last week was a veritable bust for me. After my ER visit, I experienced some heavy clean-out bleeding, and I stayed on meds for a few days to deal with a crushing hormonal headache and its accompanying nausea. Somehow I powered through one of my year-end projects and finished that on Thursday. (Did I do a good job? Well, I couldn't judge it AT ALL, but nobody has said anything!)

Friday was my first day totally drug, headache, and blood free. A relief that then opened the door to my starting to "feel." Oh boy. I spent that day doing nothing but feeling everything to the core, barely able to move. DH and I had dinner reservations and tickets to the Nutcracker that night, and I managed to pull myself together to go. While dressing, I really worried I might lose it at any number of points in the evening. But it was good to get out and I did well. The swarms of adorable costumed children (both in the audience and onstage) made me smile, as did the requistite dozens of glowing, belly-rubbing preggos who'd bought tickets for the same damn night. It helped that attendance was greatly reduced due to the weather and DH and I had several rows of a nosebleed-box-seat section to ourselves. The lovely wine we had with dinner helped too.

I spent Saturday alone with thousands of other sardines buying groceries, hitting the discount stores, mailing packages, and returning library books (okay, nobody else was at the library). And since Sunday, I've been doing my best to catch up on my other year-end work project. It's moving along. Not as quickly as is typical. But I am doing the best I can with it.

Sunday night brought another spate of cramping and bleeding. Monday morning, I felt like the HCG was gone. Not sure a person can tell, so I used the digital test pictured up top — along with a pink-lined one that was taking up too much space in the cabinet — to see what I'd see. I learned in words and a stark-white testing area that I'm in the clear. The hormones left my system about 2 weeks faster than with the June miscarriage, and that makes sense since I was about 2 weeks farther along with that pregnancy.

So, here I sit. Ready to move on. Or, to be precise, ready to figure out how to.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I don't have the energy for a full-on post right now, but I wanted to check in. I'm around. Alive, as noted. Not really kicking yet, but looking forward to being okay.

I've been wanting to write about the D&C experience, but surprisingly (to me, anyway) that experience hasn't yet run its course. Odd after-effects are still showing up even 5 days later. I've had a rough hormonal transition, which basically wiped out Sunday, Monday, and today. I went to the ER last night (so glad I finally did), and I'm hoping that the drugs I'm on now will allow me to be productive the rest of the week and then find a little time to blog it out.

Write at you soon!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Peace, baby

I wore a peace-sign pendant to my ultrasound today. The RE lit up when she noticed it — she's not much older than I am, 5–6 years if the graduation dates on her CV correlate to age in a typical way. That would make her my brother's age. So my guess is that in the 70s perhaps she, too, drew peace symbols all over her school notebooks, notes she passed in class, and maybe even her faded denim bell-bottoms. If she didn't, then she surely knew the girls who did — they were the groovy chicks my brother liked and that I wanted to be.

Dr. K said, "I love your necklace. It's the peace sign!"

I smiled, clutched it, and flashed on all thoughts above in the split second before saying, "I wanted a little peace on Earth today."

Next up, the assistant dimmed the lights. DH took my hand, and 5 seconds later the 4 of us silently viewed the baby's image. It was fuzzy . . . not sharp and distinct like before . . . yet clearly — and entirely — still.

The measurements indicated that the baby had grown by exactly a week since the scan 8 days ago. Of course there's no way to know, but the guess is that our bean's heart had just recently stopped.

Amazingly, my heart is still beating. Even broken it finds a way to keep me going. You wouldn't believe all that I've done since leaving the clinic: I've picked up groceries; sat with no thoughts at Starbucks; checked to see that DH made it back to work; called the family; ordered straggler holiday gifts; discussed in detail a current project with a client; unsubscribed from two pregnancy newsletters; thrown out the half-read issue of Fit Pregnancy I bought last weekend; stroked the sweet dog that kissed me when I got home and sits by my side as I write; taken both Tylenol and Advil for the painful cramps that have shown up; and set up a D&C for tomorrow. I've dropped a few hot tears, sure, but the floodgates haven't opened. Plenty of time for that later.

I'll allow that shock may be at play. It does have a way at times of helping you function. But I have to say, for whatever it's worth, that I don't feel shock-y. Instead I feel surrounded by a very strong sense of peace. On Earth.

I like to think that the baby gifted me with peace as it left this world behind. And that there was plenty left over to accompany the baby wherever it needed to go.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh, the conversations we weave

When first we think we might conceive.

Early days
DH: Should we take a break until after the holidays?
Me: Why?
DH: Seems like we have a lot going on right now.
Me: I don't think we can bank on something happening right away. There will always be something going on. And at 38, I am not getting any younger.
DH: Right. No break, then.
Me: Right.

Six months in
Me: Great news! The OB says our chemical pregnancy confirms that everything's working properly. Said it was probably just some fluke-y "bad sperm" or something. Ha! She says to use a fertility monitor and call her with a positive HPT in the next couple of months.
DH: How much does the fertility monitor cost?
Me: It's kind of expensive, but I think it's worth it.

One year in
Me: I'll be traveling during my fertile window this cycle.
DH: We can try before you leave town.
Me: Might as well. Sperm can potentially live up to 5 days.

Two years in
Me: The RE said your sperm is 100% misshapen and most of it dies overnight. He recommends more tests for both of us.
DH: More tests . . . expensive?
Me: Expensive.

Two and a half years in
DH: I need to be gone for 3 weeks next month. When are you ovulating?
Me: You know I can't predict that now.
DH: Could you make up a calendar that outlines the likeliest 2 or 3 scenarios? I can pick travel dates accordingly.
Me: Hokay. Worth a shot.

Two years and seven months in
Me: Whew, we got you home in time. Lucky those long trips don't pop up very often.
DH: Actually, I'm going to be traveling like this for the foreseeable future. That calendar you made . . . can you do one that covers the rest of the year?
Me: Are you serious?
DH: Yes.

Three and a half years in
RE: My partners won't agree to us cycling you with your eggs unless you're prepared to start in 3 days. You're too old, literally, starting later this month.
DH: You have age criteria . . . explain to me why we've spent thousands of dollars this past year only to be hearing this news TODAY.
RE: I'm sorry. I can have my donor egg coordinator call you Monday. And there are several good adoption agencies in town.
DH: So another $350 for your thoughts, right? We'll leave a check on the way out.

Me (in the car): It's over.
DH: We'll get a second opinion.
Me: It's too late. We wasted too much time with that RE.
DH: We'll keep trying.

Me (later that night): Remember that home-insemination product I told you about? I'm too old for the clinical trial they're doing, but they still need people to give feedback on the instructions.
DH: We can do whatever you want.
Me: You'd get to wear a condom.
DH: Sounds smart. Maybe they're onto something.
Me: It's for collection purposes only.
DH: "Collection purposes." Great.

Four years in
Me: The new RE thinks we have a chance with IVF. Not a great one, but not NO chance.
DH: How much is IVF going to cost at her clinic?
Me: A lot.
DH: We'll do it once. For closure.
Me: Agreed. I'm going to need surgery first.
DH: Let's get moving.

Four and a half years in

Me: That IVF didn't really count.
DH: Why not? It failed. Now we know.
Me: But we didn't retrieve anything and so didn't find out if your sperm and my eggs can make nice. That was the "closure" we were looking for. I think.
DH: What's our savings look like these days?
Me: Smaller than before. But we're okay.
DH: Let me know when I need to be in town.

Four years and seven months in
Me: I got a positive test.
DH: (Silence)
Me: Are you there?
DH: This is good. (More silence)
Me: Hello???
DH: I'm in the car with some clients. We're heading out to dinner.
Me: Call me later?
DH: Love you.

Four years and ten months in
DH: Well, IVF worked last time, to a degree. Should we try again?
Me: You're asking ME?

Five years and one month in
Me: I just took a test: 2 lines.
DH (barely looking up from organizing his underwear drawer): Okay.
Me (after a 10-second delay): Wow. "Okay"? That's all you've got? Way to feign excitement, sweetie.
DH (trapping me into a hug): Look, I thought we already thought you were pregnant. And it's not like we know how things will go yet.
Me: You're right, it's not like that.

Last week
Me (walking to the car after the first ultrasound): If something bad is going to happen, I hope it happens soon.
DH: Sooner is better.
Me: Aren't we the happy parents-to-be.

DH (calling from the road): Still pregnant?
Me: So far. The spotting started up again late today.
DH: Oh no.
Me: It's just brown, but I still hate it.
DH: Can you just lay low tonight?
Me: In a little bit. I'm trying to finish some work first.
DH: I thought you had till the end of the week for that.
Me: I do. I just want to stay ahead of things in case . . .
DH: In case?
Me: In case. I'm working with the same clients as when we miscarried in June, and I'd prefer to not have to share any bad news this time. Last thing I need is a rep as the girl who cries miscarriage every time there's an important deadline.
DH: This has always been an uphill battle. But it ain't over.
Me: I haven't given up. It's hard to visualize success — but I still have hope.
DH: Me too.
Me: Where do you think we get it?
DH: The "stupid" genes I like to think we'll pass on.
Me: Ah, the "stupid" genes. Those are the sweet ones, aren't they? "Hope you got 'em, little baby."


The preceding text constitutes an interpretive paraphrasing of several select real-life conversations DH and I have had since late 2003. Any resemblance to random conversations starring other infertile couples is purely probable.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hanging on

I'm hanging on by a thread, and — right now, bless its little heartbeat — the baby is still hanging out.

I went in a day early for my ultrasound because I woke up to red blood this morning. Strange thing is I usually keep the light off for my 5:45 bathroom trip. But today I flipped the switch and then flipped my lid to see a grape-sized red clot and some red flow. That soon turned to pink mucus and then, later, to the brown spotting and steady cramping I'm still sporting this afternoon.

My RE fit me in at lunchtime to see what's what. DH was able to meet me at the clinic for the ultrasound.

Good news first is that the heartbeat is at a healthy 125 bpm. I'm at 6w4d today, so everyone was pleased with that reading.

The rest of the news is that both the sac and the fetus are measuring behind. Also, the sac is located fairly low in the uterus. Lower than they normally see but not so low as to say that in itself is "bad."

The baby measures at 5w5d, and the sac was 5.7 something. I remember thinking "She doesn't mean 5-weeks-7-days because that would be 6 . . ." and so I assumed she meant 5.7 millimeters, but I honestly don't know more about this detail because I asked one of the many other questions populating my head at the same time.

Frankly, the RE was concerned to see the smaller sac, sac-to-fetus ratio*, low uterine placement, and bleeding all in one package: aka my "less than pristine uterus." (Yeah, she said that, but I knew what she meant and it's true — that there uterus has seen lots of action!) At one point she zeroed in on an enlarged vessel (it had its own pulse), but she found no clot, hematoma, or any other physically viewable cause for the bleeding.

Officially, the RE has deemed this a threatened miscarriage. So we've entered another round of wait-and-see. I'm to go back in anytime the bleeding picks up, but if it doesn't we'll meet next Wednesday for another look-see.

I know it's not supposed to mean anything, but darned if my pregnancy symptoms don't seem to have vanished.

*Do not go looking for information about THIS with measurements like mine.