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Okay. Well, that didn’t go as expected, but such is life.

Don’t get me wrong; my current zen-like attitude was paved with more than a few tears over the last few days. But I can only look ahead or go completely insane.

DH and I spent the weekend with my family. I don’t get to see them much, since it’s so expensive to fly from the village, but they’re only a 6-hour drive from this city. It was a great distraction. My mom likes to feed my poor husband. She’s one of those moms who’ll slip more food on your plate when you’re not looking. I don’t think we’ll eat for another week (especially since I’m absolutely determined to lose the weight gained from the two IVF cycles).  We also took my parents to see an Abba tribute band. I defy anyone to stay sad while listening to Abba!  The guy playing “Bjorn” looked like he was out of place though… he had the long, curly, rocker hair and we suspect this Abba-thing is a side gig from his regular job rocking out to AC/DC or Led Zeppelin. If you closed your eyes, they were pretty convincing!

So, in a week, we fly back to our little village in the middle of nowhere. Am I ready for that? Absolutely not. Returning to work to see my pregnant co-worker is not going to be easy, especially since she suffers from pregnancy-brain and prattles on about her pregnancy symptoms regardless of the current work-related discussions. Oh well. She was annoying before she was pregnant, and she’s even more annoying now; no love lost there.

I guess when we get back home, we can focus on the next step: adoption. We submitted our application to initiate the process before we left in April. Unless I win the lottery soon, IVF #3 is not in our future. Well, I won’t rule anything out just yet: maybe if I just save a little more money, if an estrogen-priming protocol might be worthwhile, and we move from the village before I’m 40… maybe, just maybe, the conditions will be right for #3. I’ll wait for the follow-up with my RE before considering this.

Thanks to you all for your support during our recent journey. It was great to know I wasn’t alone.

Now, I think it’s time I searched for the perfect mojito…  🙂

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BFN. Damnit.

rollercoaster

I’ve been really good about not peeing on sticks. Unfortunately, it’s because I’m certain of my BFN. This cycle has been so different from last year’s. First, I’m only working with half of the number of antral follicles. Second, my meds were quadrupled this year, leaving me with migraines and moodiness but didn’t really end in great results. I definitely had more side effects this time. Today, all our hopes rest on one precious embryo. Last year, I thought I felt no symptoms… I can’t remember exactly when I started feeling tenderness in my breasts, the overwhelming fatigue and the hunger… maybe they started before my beta, maybe after, I really can’t recall. This year, I did start off with tenderness, but that’s gone now. I guess this is too similar to my miscarriage. One day, I simply noticed it was no longer painful to put on a bra, and that I wasn’t constantly tired or hungry. A few days later, I began spotting and it was all over. It’s so hard to stay positive… it’s too painful to hold onto hope and then have it dashed so quickly.

As I face my beta, I have to learn how to stop defining myself by my infertility. Brave words, I know, but this time, I have to mean it. I can’t keep living like this. We’ve been TTC since Dec. 2005. That’s roughly 41 disappointments each time my period arrived (based on my 28 day average cycle, and not including the months I was on the BCP, pre-IVF, or the 2.5 months I was pregnant). When we began this journey, I never entertained the possibility that I might ever try IVF… the cost, the low success rates. But until you’ve been on the interminable roller coaster of hope and despair and reached the breaking point, you don’t know what you’re capable of. Injecting myself with daily needles? No problem! Dropping $15K into IVF, where my odds are, at best, 30-40% of ending up with a baby? Will do! Risk another devastation after recovering emotionally from the miscarriage by doing one more IVF with an increased likelihood of failure? Sign me up!

I needed to know I gave it my all. At the risk of our jobs, our savings, and definitely, my sanity, I needed to know.

I’ve withdrawn a lot from life over the last 3+ years, as I began avoiding friends who were pregnant, social occasions involving kids, the traumatizing baby showers… I find I’ve also withdrawn generally, in an attempt to avoid any conversations about pregnancies and babies. It’s hard when you live in a village where the birth rate is 3-times the national average. I’m not joking. Many women have had two children in the time I’ve tried to have one. It’s painful and disappointing and sucks. It’s hard not to feel like a failure when you’re surrounded by so many successes. I guess that’s why I decided to start a blog. There are so few people who understand, especially in the village.

So, this is not the happiest post but I think I’m just trying to figure out how to best prepare and protect myself from another disappointment. I would love to be pleasantly surprised, but I can’t even entertain that glimmer of hope. You do what you need to do to get by, right?

Okay, so it’s been a week since my transfer, and it’s a week away from my beta. The temptation is definitely there to pee on a stick. Yah, I know I know… the HCG could still be in my system. I’ve read it can last in your system two weeks, though others say it’s gone after 6-10 days. Part of me wants to try… since my odds are not great, I sort’ve want to know it’s negative before being told that it’s negative (does that make any sense?). But if HCG IS still floating around, I’ll have false hope from a false positive and feel devastated. Augh. My head knows it’s a bad idea to do this, so I’ll try to refrain. During IVF#1, I easily resisted the urge during IVF#1: why is it so hard for IVF#2?

Fortunately, this weekend, I’ll have a fun distraction: my husband’s sister and brother are coming up for a visit, so we can cruise around the city’s sites, maybe catch a play… It should be fun! It’s definitely nice to be in the city again, and it’ll be a lot of fun to share it with family. If I’m to count my blessings, my amazing in-laws would definitely be counted.

staircaseI thought I was safe from the vortex of infertility obsession: checking out web stats in various permutations on 3-day transfers… IVF success rates, success by age, by number of embryos transferred, by grade, protocols, previous diagnoses… You get the picture. I had this month all planned out too! I’d keep myself busy by blogging, completing the revisions for the final paper for my Masters, taking the dogs out for long walks in the local park and tackling the mountain of work from my day-job. Yet, I STILL spend endless hours mired in the spiral, with Dr. Google.

It’s a dangerous place. I go through these obsessive phases where I can’t seem to find enough information on infertility, though it happens less frequently now than during the first, disappointing couple of years when we started TTC. I definitely spiraled during my first IVF. And until recently, I’d been pretty good about staying away from the endless searches on the computer for information and stats on women going through IVF#2.

I really have to get some work done and stop obsessing. Anyone have any ideas on how to do this? I guess fear of getting fired, or failing my Masters should be pretty good motivation! Well, tomorrow is another day, and I did plow through a few pages of work. I even almost forgot that I was in the 2WW for a little while. Sigh.

Is it wrong that I love this video so much? If you’re reading this blog, you’ll probably enjoy it too.

The link is to a YouTube video, Pregnant Women are Smug, by Garfunkel and Oats.  I had to share it after seeing it on Barren Babe’s blog because it  made me laugh. And then I had to play it again because it was just that good. If you need a smile today, take a look!

dice3I’ve been feeling blue since Wednesday when I was told that out of the 3 eggs retrieved, only 1 fertilized. I spent most of Thursday in a daze, waiting for a phone call that would tell me we lost the last, precious embryo, and right up to the moment I walked into the clinic this morning, I was expecting to hear “We’re so sorry, but…”

But, miraculously it didn’t happen.

I know the odds are against me. I’m in my late 30s. Only 1 embryo was transferred. And it’s a 3-day transfer instead of a 5-day. But we still have that 1 embryo. After my pre-transfer acupuncture treatment, the doctors came in to say that the little embryo looks really good, it’s dividing well, and shows little fragmentation. Finally, the first good news since the retrieval!

We went back to the room with the comfy chairs, and I let my bladder fill… and fill… and fill…! I’m not a big person and it doesn’t take much to fill my bladder, so the nurse let me ‘release’ some before the procedure. I think that’s the worst part of the whole IVF process. In the surgery, we got to see our beautiful embryo on the screen, and I was really happy to see that one of my favorite doctors would be performing the ultrasound while another doctor completed the transfer. I didn’t feel a thing, other than my very large, stretched bladder. It’s also really fascinating to watch everything on the screen and see the two little bubbles that come through the catheter, knowing that the little embryo is floating between them. After the process, I returned to the acupuncture room and felt wonderful, knowing that there was something inside of me: I don’t know how long it will stay with us, but right at that moment, it was in there, hopefully looking for a place to call home for the next nine months.

I’ve read in some places that success at IVF is like winning the lottery. But you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket, and though only one precious embryo resulted from this IVF treatment, this one gives me better odds than I’ve had in the last 3+ years.

This morning I had my retrieval. Like last year, I was nervous. Our clinic doesn’t put you out during the procedure: Instead, you’re given this morphine-like medication that puts you in a funky haze. But why don’t they put you out? I’d rather sleep through the whole thing rather than experience it, to be honest. But the nurses are great and definitely do what they can to make us comfortable.

I was given a needle in the hip, and IV’d about 40 min before the procedure. The doctor dropped by while we were waiting and I was relieved to see it was the same one who did the retrieval last year. During the procedure, since I was awake (!), I watched the procedure on the monitor while he explained what was happening. It was sort’ve neat and alarming at the same time to see the follicles collapse so easily.

I think he worked on about 7 follicles, but in the end, they retrieved 3 eggs… 4 less than last year. I guess the other follicles just didn’t progress. I’m really worried that we lose them. Out of the 7 we retrieved last year, we only ended up with three for transfer. It’s a bit disappointing to say the least. They kept saying it’s quality, not quantity, and that it only takes one good embryo to make a baby. Well, ok, I’ll take that for now and pray these precious 3 stay with me until Friday.

I’ve been trying not to get my hopes up throughout this process. I’ve remained much more detached than last year. But it’s still hard not to feel so frustrated with your body. How could my ovaries deteriorate so badly in one year? I need to prepare for any outcome but I can’t help but feel so sad already.

Not much to report today… it’s weird to have a day with no meds as I prepare for retrieval tomorrow. I’ll admit that I was a bit sad to do my HCG trigger injection last night. That could be the final needle I ever give myself, since this is our last IVF. And I’m still nervous about tomorrow! Even though I’ve gone through this before and all was fine, the thought of someone perforating my innards to get at the follicles is freaking me out. Calm thoughts… deep breaths…

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my eyes closed, waiting for headaches to pass. It’s got me thinking about conversations with my pregnant and/or fertile friends who really have no idea what it’s like to ride on the roller coaster of infertility. When I talk about the frustration and depression associated with infertility, loss or miscarriage, I can see by their expression that they just don’t get it.

cactus2All of us who have experienced infertility or miscarriage are pretty amazing women. We’re warrior women! We’ve experienced incredible sadness, frustration, ignorance and insensitivity. We’ve placed our feet in countless stirrups, had numerous painful tests [“you’re putting what where ?”], and oh, who can forget the needles, Lord, how many needles do we have to endure for blood work, for medications, for acupuncture… We’ve experienced the scorn from peers who don’t understand, who make assumptions, who call us selfish, who have strong opinions on assisted reproduction, adoption, international adoption and surrogacy, yet, they’ve never been in the situation themselves.

Still, we keep going. No matter what people say, what they think, how much physical or emotional pain we experience, we find a way to cope. Ladies, if I ever needed an army of women to go into battle with, I would want you on my side.

This is it: my eggs are ready to go. I’ve got three mongo-sized follicles and about five in various stages of growth. The doctors are pleased with my response, all things considered, so my retrieval is booked for Tuesday. We’re hoping for 3 embryos to transfer at day three (the alternative being 2 embryos at day five, which is what I did last year). One more Puregon dose today, my HCG injection tonight, and a break on Monday, just before Tuesday’s retrieval.

stop_sign2WAIT! HOLD ON! I don’t think I’m ready. At least when I’m doing the daily injections and visits to the clinic, I feel like we’re doing something to bring us closer to becoming parents. I even begrudgingly appreciated the side-effects because I knew that the hormones causing them were also pushing out follicles. Whether we’re successful with this second round of IVF or not, this will be our last attempt. My ovarian reserves are dropping at an alarming rate and with the nearest clinic being so far from where we live, time off work, accommodations and other arrangements are cost-prohibitive. So, this is it. I hope and pray it works. But I take some comfort in the fact that we submitted all the paperwork to initiate the adoption process before we left.

It’s been a rough three + years. The last year has been especially rough, with the joy of pregnancy being crushed by miscarriage, just shy of the end of my first trimester. The professionals I’ve encountered at the clinic and  acupuncture centre have been amazing, though. It was the first place to address my infertility with the sensitivity and humanity that I seldom experience.

So, I am proceeding with caution, and protecting my heart from possible disappointments. Though I’m trying not to think too far ahead, I will be saying an extra prayer or two over the next week.