Simply Positive

I’m really at a loss as what to write. For months, I had this post planned in my head. But today, I really am just thankful and in awe. Yesterday, my beta came back at 525. My husband took the call because I just couldn’t, and when he told me I screamed a little bit. I think I paced for awhile before I finally sat down to the realization that I am actually pregnant.

After the shock wore off, I took a pee test of my own. I needed to see the words written in a clear blue before I actually believed them. There were some promising signs that led up to this moment; some that could just be coincidence but I thought I would share them anyway. During the dreaded TTW I kept dreaming about the number 25. The morning of the beta I googled the number and the first sight I came to stated the 25 meant an intelligent child would be born. The number 25 is also my lucky number. It has been since I was 16 when I worked at Denny’s. It was my server number. The beta results also have the number 25 in them. The next coincidence was that the date of the beta test – the 27th of December – was the due date for the child I miscarried. So I found out I am pregnant again on the due date my first child would have been born.

Perhaps, none of these things mean anything. But for some reason I keep thinking about them. I do have some other physical signs (sore boobs, tiredness, and insomnia) but for the most part I wasn’t sure what the results would bring. I’m so thankful and happy. For those waiting for good news, my heart is still with you.

Hope Stands

Talks to watch when every conceivable thing goes wrong

Today, as I was preparing a course using TED Talks, I stumbled across a playlist of talks to watch when every conceivable bad thing has happened to you. The first one I watched was by Stacey Kramer who talks about the biggest gift she ever received. I won’t ruin it for you by telling you what that gift was, you’ll just have to watch, but I will say that it is connected to wat what most people who get off the infertility train say – I learned so much and wouldn’t change a thing.

So, here’s to the gift of this journey. May it arrive earlier than expected.

2 Days Out

I’ve resisted the urge to test before the scheduled beta. I’m now 13DP3DT. Up until today it was relatively easy. Now I just want to be past this TTW. I find that I’ve turned into some sort of zombie. I’m a zombie on Christmas. My husband has commented on how quiet I’ve become. I’m a hermit zombie with no desire for human flesh.

I’ve had all kinds of symptoms that could be from the progesterone supplements, all in my zombie mind, or from the real enchilada. The two main symptoms have been intense bloating and belly cramping. Yesterday, I felt like it was the day of retrieval when balloons of embies dangled off of my overworked ovaries, waiting to be relieved of their precious cargo. I, of course, have scoured multiple fertility sites and chat rooms for success stories with off and on cramping and sharp pains. The success stories have given me hope.

But, really there is no way to know.

Hecho en Mexico

Not many people can say they saw their babies projected on a screen three days after conception. This may be one of the coolest aspects of going through IVF. It puts a whole new spin on, “I knew you when . . . ” One uncool aspect of IVF, besides the bloating, the uncertainty, the cost, and the silence, is the two week wait (I sometimes refuse to use acronyms). In this two week window, I’ve been reflecting mostly on the silence and the shadows of infertility. When one has cancer, I suppose this silence exists, but when the silence is broken, comes a flood of sympathy. When the silence of infertility is broken, well-meaning friends, co-workers, bosses, and family members say what may seem to them as helpful, things like, “Just relax, it’ll happen.” Or some will even tell you that they got pregnant the first month of trying, with both children. You listen and nod, not knowing what else to say. They can’t possible understand what it is like to have this total desire for child, something that every women seems to be able to do, but you. They can’t possible understand the sleepless nights or the fear that it may be too late. They can’t possible understand what it is like to live with unknown and not being able to control the outcome.

Some well-meaning friends even have children and regret them. Your viewed as someone enviable, with all the time in the world on your hands. Others, the sensitive ones, who started the fertility journey with you, but moved on, into mommy land, understand, but don’t know what to say. Guilt is what they feel when they see you. The conversations with them involve anything but babies and since it is exactly what is on both of your minds, the conversations basically evolve around nothing. Fluff. The wind.

Eight is Enough

My husband drove carefully over the border from San Diego into TJ. We had hit some traffic, and as much as I wanted to tell him to press on the gas, I also wanted to arrive all in one piece. I had an egg retrieval to get to, and I was all bloated and ready. My nipples were saluting the president  We parked in our normal parking lot and told the attendant por dia. Once inside the clinic we waited in our usual spots in the reception. My husband went to use the bathroom and then the nurse took the opportune time to lead me to my hospital room. Before I knew it, I was undressing and wrapping myself in a hospital gown. I was worried that Cristian wasn’t there and that they would take me away before I got to say goodbye. I told the nurse I wanted to see him and she told me after she started my IV. We communicated completely in Spanish and if my anxiety hadn’t started to rise, I might have preened a little bit at my developing Spanish skills.

Eventually, once I was settled in, Cristian did find his way to me. The doctor popped in to say hello. She asked how I was feeling and then told me to do a pee. Everything starts with doing a pee, she said. She then laughed and so did I because it was true. Every time I saw her it always begins with doing a pee. This time I had an IV and a bag of saline to carry.

After the pee, I did kiss Cristian goodbye and followed the doctor into another room with a table that had the largest stirrups I have ever seen. Up until that point I actually hadn’t been nervous because in that moment seeing the stirrups and the stage light perched over it, the nervousness did settle in.  There were six people, including myself in the room: the anesthesiologist, two doctors, two nurses and me. As I was sliding onto the table, the doctor told me that pretty soon it would be like having a margarita with an extra shot on the side. I laughed again. I hadn’t realized what a great sense of humor my doctor had. The minute I had met this women wearing a tight pony tail and brown knee-length boots I knew that she was the doctor for me. But I had no idea she was funny. Perhaps, it was because our conversations have primarily consisted of cervical mucus, follicle growth, and quality of semen. It seems like there are plenty of jokes there and perhaps Chris Rock would be all up in the that stuff, but for us, this is hum drum in the realm of IVF.

I don’t remember having the margarita, but I woke up 30 minutes later, back in the recovery room. My first question was, “How many eggs did you get?” I could have been falling off a cliff and this would have been my last question. The doctor came in a few minutes later and proudly exclaimed, “Great news. We got eight eggs.” If I hadn’t been half out of it, I would have danced a follie  jig. I only had 8 follicles and we got 8 eggs. It was a complete success. Then came the bag of new drugs and ones to buy at the pharmacy. I got a shot of progesterone in the bum and off we went. The last words from the doctor were to eat a big steak later. Cristian perked up at the mention of steak. This is his favorite meal and now having been ordered by the doctor to have one, he was ecstatic.

After crossing back into the U.S. we headed for the Outback close to our house. One steak and lobster later, I was ready for sleep. I didn’t want to sleep that much because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep later. Boy was I wrong. I slept all day. Woke up and streamed Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, then fell back asleep again. Sleep was my friend.

The next day the bloating is still my constant companion. My nipples are super sore, and this is what it feels like to be pregnant. The doctor called to say that 5 embies had fertilized. I had dreamt of winning 5,000 dollars at a casino. In the dream, I also held a full house with two aces. It looks like my dream had come true. So, now the waiting game. Hopefully, the transfer will be on Saturday or Monday. We will transfer 3 and freeze 2. I went to acupuncture again today and have basically spent the day watching romantic comedies (I want to keep my mood positive) and eating sweet potatoes with guacamole and cheese. It a delicious combination that I found on All Recipes. Still extremely sore and bloated but hopeful.

Getting Eggy

Today in acupuncture, as I lay in the prone position with various needles in important and tender spots, I began to write my thank you conception letter to all that have helped me so far on my journey. It was filled with tears and gratitude. It began with a simple Dear Giselle, and I continued from there. You see, I’m ready for this journey to be over. I want to get on the short or the long bus or any bus that will have me. I’m ready not to take daily swigs of wheat grass; prenatals divided into three portions; royal jelly with a shot of honey; needles filled with LH, FSH, and HCG. I’m ready to wear a squishy Bjorn and buy little socks with Santa’s face. I’m ready for cheesy family photos and nights of no sleep. I’m ready for the next step.

During acupuncture, I practice my visualizations while listening to a gurgling fountain and soothing music. Peace does descend and in that hour I believe that one day I will get to cross over. I will get to cross over to the inclusive and elusive mommy club. One day I will complain about poopie diapers and leaky nipples. I will get to be normal. I see a little girl, sometimes a little boy. I can smell their hair and feel their shoulders. They squeeze me tightly and tell me they are coming. I just have to be patient.

Patience I have learned. I have had no other choice. Trying to conceive requires an overabundance of this virtue. It should be marketed along with folic acid, omegas, and vitex. If patience could be bottled and stamped with organic, sales would surpass milk and bread as a daily staple. Stores wouldn’t be able to keep it in stock.

Tomorrow is egg retrieval day. My eggs have performed beautifully so far. I have five ready to go and two more hidden under the chicken and will be ready tomorrow. I only have eight follicles to begin with, so a healthy seven is a success. I injected the trigger shot last night, and all day I’ve felt what it is like to be pregnant. I spent the afternoon wandering Target buying a baby gift for a good friend of mine. Everywhere I turned (I was after all in the children’s section) were mothers with babies of all shapes and sizes, packaged in fat strollers loaded with must have baby stuff. For the first time in a long time, I did not experience the sensation of being forgotten, but rather the sensation that my time was near.

After retrieval, I plan on streaming romantic comedies on Netflix, starting with Love Actually, followed by a long nap and a antioxidant milkshake. I will continue with my wheat grass and beet and carrot juices. I will continue swallowing my vitamins and hoping, hoping that one day very soon, I will no longer need so much patience because my time, our time has come.

Follicles

The whole IVF process is confusing. It feels like at anytime you will come to a detour or make a wrong turn. It’s exhausting. I made it through 8 days of meds (Menupur and Lucrin) feeling as if I had somehow starred in the Gladiator. On the surface, injecting oneself twice a day and going to see the doctor every other day for roughly an hour, doesn’t seem that bad. Until you have to do it. My one biggest worry ended up not being that big a deal – driving to Mexico alone. I was a machine with my twists and turns. In fact, I was there and back in 2.5 hours.

Now what has me worried, is my follicles. I only started with eight, which in Chinese culture is a very lucky number, but in the land of egg extraction is barely respectable. At first, only one ovary was responding to the meds, but now both are (praise the egg goddess) but I only have 6 maybe 7 follicles at 11 – 14 mm. The doctor keeps telling me it’s my age.

So, we are going for quality over quantity.

Once back home, I made a garbanzo bean and kale soup. As I was lapping up the broth, it occurred to me that my follies were behaving just like I normally do. As a child it took me a long time to learn how to read. For some reason (could have been my parents divorce) I was a little behind the other kids, and refusing to put all the letters together to form a sentence. I remember my first grade teacher met with my parents to express her concerns. I sat and listened and worried; just like I do now. Then I had an angel come into my life in the name of Vennie White who patiently encouraged me to discover books and slowly (oh yes, slowly) learn to appreciate them. Appreciate them I did. I became the best reader in the class and had the longest caterpillar in the library. For every book you read, you got one caterpillar body circle. My caterpillar stretched from one side of the library to the other (I’m from a small town – libraries are relatively small). So it took me a while to learn how to read, but once I did, you couldn’t stop me. The same with driving to Mexico. The first three times I was nervous and made some wrong moves, but now I’m Batman in a Toyota. I’m a slow learner but I usually finish first. My egg follicles must be the same way – slow but steady.

Plus it really only takes one really good one.