Thursday, August 31, 2006

Trite observations

News flash: FETs feel different from fresh cycles. First, with a fresh cycle, there's a kind of build to a crescendo of activity - you're doing shots, you're feeling your ovaries grow, you're getting tests done, then you have the retrieval, then the transfer, then the recovery and wait. With an FET, it's just a whole lot of nothing, then a flurry of activity, then back to nothing.

Which brings me to my second point. After my previous ETs, I felt a great deal going on in my pelvis, since my ovaries were still XXL. Today, I feel just like my normal self (albeit a somewhat estradiol-plumped self). On the one hand, this may make things more agonizing, since it'll be easier to detect symptoms (or, in my case, probably "symptoms"), but on the other hand, since I just feel like my normal self, I keep forgetting that I should even be wondering if I have any symptoms.

I hope those little fuckers implant soon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Update, in list format

1. My frozen blast thawed and became a glorious hatched blastocyst (grade: excellent). I'll try to scan in the picture, but, for now, see this. See how much bigger the hatched one is than the shell? That's what my hatched blast looked like compared to...

2. ...a cultured embryo that became a good-quality early blastocyst, which looked like this.

3. We transferred both. (The other four were still at cleavage stage and will be discarded.)

4. The pregnant RE did my procedure quickly and with minimal pain. The ultrasound tech was very gentle and I didn't even need the urinary catheter; I just lay there calmly after transfer and had no problem waiting to pee.

5. The Demer*ol and Bus*par didn't help as much as I'd have hoped, but they did help my overall mood. If I'd received a bad culture report, I probably would have freaked out regardless, but the drugs did help me feel better. I had some nausea after I got home, but I stuck a delightful Phen*ergan suppository up my sphincter, and the nausea abated (so long as I don't spend too much time thinking about the gelatinous goo that will eventually make its way back out).

6. Let's hope my endometriosis doesn't scare our visitors away.

7. Thanks for everyone's comments on the posts below - I really appreciate them!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Et tu, roof-repair man?

Yesterday, I was standing on a rug near our front door, thinking, "Why is this rug wet?" After more minutes than I'd like to admit had elapsed, I looked up and realized we had a leak. Now, when we bought the house a year ago, the sellers told us that there was some damage to this part of the roof, and that the whole roof might need replacing at some point. We promptly put this out of our minds and blithely went about our unsavvy-homeowners' ways (i.e., watching TiVo instead of learning skills).

Well, so now it's leaking. Neither my husband nor I can even fathom the handiness of Bihari's doctor/weekend-roofer husband; for us, that would be like trying to understand the proof of the Poincare Conjecture (or the Poincare Conjecture itself). Finally, I was compelled to act. I asked around for roof-repair recommendations, and began calling roofers for estimates. Here's my phone conversation with the first roof-repair man to complete an estimate.

MM: Tell me - can we fix just this part of the roof?
RRM: I can probably stop the leak. That would be a band-aid. But your roof...(pauses)
MM: Yes? What is it?
RRM: Let me see; how can I explain it. Uh, hmm...(struggles for words)
MM: Tell it to me straight.
RRM: Okay, I've got it. If your roof were a pregnant woman, she'd be in her third trimester. I mean, it hasn't got much time left.
MM: Ah.

Now, leaving aside the fact that the roof isn't going to produce a baby roof anytime soon, his analogy naturally troubled me. On further reflection, however, I realized I should be relieved, since he hadn't sniffed out my desperate childlessness over the phone. That's something!

Public Service Announcements

I have two PSAs to make, one on-topic, one off-topic.

First, the on-topic one: As one of my high-school teachers helpfully taught us, you should never ask a woman between the ages of 20 and 45 if she is pregnant. No, this didn't happen to me (although I did notice a colleague I hadn't seen in a while eying my belly area the other day; I was wearing a sort of loose shirt that perhaps made her think I was hiding something), but it happened to a friend and IF sister last week. My friend went with her husband and another couple to their neighborhood cafe, where the staff knows them. The waitress pointed at my friend's belly, which was perhaps slightly distended from infertility-induced-stress-snacking, and said, "Do you have something there?" My friend blushed and tried to give the waitress a sideways glance that obviously meant Um, shut the fuck up, ho-bag? But the waitress continued, "Are you pregnant?" she asked, grinning happily, so sure was she that her intuition was correct. My friend, who had just gotten an unwanted AF that very afternoon, said, "No, I'm not," and looked away. She held it together through dinner, but then went home and cried for three hours. Oh, invasive waitress, I hope you realize your sins!

The off-topic PSA: I am currently involved in hiring for a major position at work. Accordingly, I am reading a large number of resumes and cover letters, and you would not believe the number of people who have a cutesy/nicknamy/borderline-risque email address on their resume - e.g., gemini_hottie at yahoo or ragingdave at gmail (email handles have been altered to protect the offenders). I mean, it's okay to have those email addresses for those friends who think you're hot and/or raging, but if you're applying for jobs, then get another account with just your name or something relatively close to your name. Also, try to spell the company's name correctly in the cover letter. I would think these things would be common sense, but then I am also the same person who will schedule myself to be in two places at once, so who am I to talk?

Clearly, I am a bit surly in the hours leading up to my FET. Thank goodness I've got drugs lined up. Let the good times roll!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The secret-agent hotline

At my clinic, and maybe your clinics, one of the most (and only) amusing accoutrements to the whole IVF process has been what I think of as the secret-agent hotline. You call this number after 3pm on any day you've had bloodwork done, and you punch in a couple of codes. These codes get you to a recording from a nurse, who tells you your estradiol level and what your instructions are for the next phase of your cycle. She generally will also provide some brief commentary on your results (very good, good, fine, etc.). So, for example, you might hear: "Your estradiol level is 774, which is very good. Tonight, you will do 150 of Foll*istim, 5 of L*upron, and 1 unit of Re*pronex. You will come back to the clinic at 9am on Friday."

You also call this number to get your fertilization report the day after transfer, and again to find out your transfer day and time. For me, every time I've called the secret-agent hotline, I've had good news - about my estradiol, my fertilization rate, and the fact that on both cycles I had at least one major event (retrieval or transfer) occur on a weekend, which meant I didn't have to lie twice in one week about why I was going to be out of the office, something that might tax my already-feeble powers of prevarication. Moreover, that record of good news, combined with the suspense inherent in this arrangement, has made the hotline seem a bit thrilling to me. Which is profoundly sad, but that is not the point.

The point is that today I have to call the secret-agent hotline to receive my "thaw report." And given my record of embryo development, I am nervous. In addition, even if I get a good report today (which is like day 3), that doesn't mean the embryos will be good at day 5. I just hope my one good blastocyst thaws out well at day 5 if it is called upon to serve.

In other news, real tragedy has struck our household: our TiVo had a nervous breakdown and began rebooting itself every few minutes. Fortunately, a replacement is on the way. I just hope it will arrive by the drug-induced haze I've got scheduled for Wednesday!

(I'll report back on the secret-agent hotline results later.)

Update: Well, that was a bit anticlimactic. My secret-agent instructions said that I have to be there at 10:15 on Wednesday morning, and that all five of my embryos survived the thaw. Well, great, but how do they look? There was no information on that. I hope that this means my frozen blast will be hardy enough to survive the thaw. We'll see.

Friday, August 25, 2006

If endometriomas were dollars...

...then I would be Warren fucking Buffett. Shit, man. My ultrasound showed I've now got billions of endometriomas, by which I mean "five," including a pretty big one. Yes, my uterine lining is really rather breathtaking in its plump beauty, but the endometriomas are responding to the same hormones with similar gusto. It is all rather discouraging, by which I mean "too depressing to contemplate, lest I start crying (again) right before I have to speak to a group of 40 people." I just want you all to know that if endometriomas do become valuable on the open market, I will donate them to the Gates Foundation.

My new favorite RE, who achieved his new status by virtue of not being pregnant, was more than willing to provide me with drugs for transfer. The words "We'll do whatever you want" were uttered, and I assure you that I was not armed at the time. The plan is for me to take ibuprofen, then dem*erol, then maybe phen*ergan if I am feeling barfy, then busp*ar (or something that sounds like that). AND, ladies and ladies, I will get my bladder drained post-transfer by a catheter, which I will not care about since I will not be caring about anything. Isn't it nice sometimes just not to care? So liberating.

But we have two hurdles in our way before transfer (that is, in addition to the nuclear-waste dump that is my uterus). One is my progesterone level, which is currently being checked to make sure I didn't ovulate. The other is that a series of snafus occurred, and my embryo-thawing consent form needs to be re-done, and I have to get it to them by 8:00am tomorrow. We get up early, so that shouldn't be a problem. (Famous last words?) We just need someone to witness it. I’ll try to find the one remaining person in town who doesn’t know I’m infertile.

Yesterday, I went to acupuncture, and my acupuncturist said my Qi is right on the surface and my kidney energy is strong, whatever that means.

Update: My progesterone was fine (0.5, low like they want it to be - no illegal ovulation here), so we will forge ahead as planned. I start progesterone-in-oil shots tonight, unbeknownst to my ass.

Update 2: They found my thaw-consent form, so we don't have to re-do it. That's a pleasant stroke of luck.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Tomorrow, Friday, I have my "pre-operative" appointment to see whether my uterine lining has developed appropriately. If it has, and if I'm free of cysts, then they'll thaw out five embryos (frozen at day one) and see if they (the embryos) can get themselves to the blastocyst stage in style. If not, they'll try to thaw my favorite child, the grade 4AA expanding blastocyst that was frozen in the last cycle. They didn't transfer that one the last time because they thought it was growing too fast at day three and would likely arrest. Au contraire, it said to them, and brandished an epee.

It is a bit discouraging, of course, that the one high-quality blast that I've produced out of 15 embryos cultured (so far) may never get transferred. Anyway, we requested to transfer two blasts if we have that many. Caution, I toss thee to the wind as if thou were a copy of Us that I had already read!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I've had menstrual-like cramps the past two days, which makes me wonder what's going on in my uterus, other than a pervasive nihilism. Have any of you FET pioneers experienced the same?

Dear Universe: you suck.

Nilla didn't get the news she deserved at her latest beta. Send her some hugs!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More good news (of the vicarious variety)

Nilla over at Vanilla Dreams finds herself in possession of a double line. Congrats!!

Really, I only cry about 75% of the time

So, yesterday, my husband and I went on a fact-finding mission to an international adoption agency. I scheduled this a while back in a burst of energy and forced optimism, and I didn't feel as if I could cancel it at the last minute, which I really wanted to do because I'm just not there yet. In any event, I figured we'd go and ask questions and figure out what sorts of judgment would have to be visited upon us by external observers during the adoption process (answer: staggering and varied amounts of it).

Well, on the way to this appointment, I got a fucking SPEEDING TICKET (for going 32 in a 25). And the officer threw on an additional $70 ticket because my front license plate was missing (I have it, but it just isn't on the car because one of the bolts rusted out and I hadn't fixed it). Now, the police in our town are not known for being understanding, but, for the first time in my speeding-ticket history (this was the fourth, but the first in eight years), I attempted to get out of it. I said, "I have an appointment at an adoption agency," and immediately dissolved into tears. The officer brusquely asked me what time and where, and I told him, and he said that this would just take a few minutes, at which time he sat in his car for 15 minutes and thus forced me to speed the remaining 30 miles to the appointment, weeping the whole way. That's the problem with me these days (okay, one of many problems) - once I lose it, I really lose it, and I cannot be stopped. The same mechanism in my brain that makes me think that maybe I deserve to be infertile also makes me think that because I have always confessed to my traffic sins in the past I should have gotten off easy for once, when it actually mattered. Alas, no.

So I met my husband at the agency, and I looked like shit. I mean, shit. Red nose, puffy and red eyes, a general tremulousness about me. I could tell that the social worker knew something was up. And, yep, this would be the same social worker who would do our home study, should we proceed down that road. I had to keep rubbing my eyes because they got so dry in the a/c. And on the drive home, I kept re-living my encounter with the law and imagining cutting remarks I could have delivered (had I not been sobbing), and began weeping anew over the injustice of it all.

[As an aside, some interesting international-adoption facts: (1) to adopt from India, you must have been married for five years, (2) to adopt from Korea, you cannot be overweight and one spouse max can be on antidepressants, both of which strictures I thought were rather judgmental, (3) it is still totally unclear to me whether you will be able to adopt from Guatemala or not after 2007, (4) Ethiopia offers the fastest timeline for adoption, and (5) Korea and China are soon going to take even longer than they currently take, which is already really damned long.]

On a happier note, when I was clearing out my parents' old house, I found the book that told me about the birds and the bees. I remember poring over this spread and obsessing about how babies were made. I didn't realize that, for me, this might as well have been a fantasy novel.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Girl power!

The update will have to wait because I'm totally swamped at work. But I totally love being swamped these days, because it keeps me from being as depressed as I get when I have time on my hands. Nice, huh?

Anyway, in the meantime, I direct you to two places:

1. Here's a JCrew skirt that I bought this weekend when I was in the motherland. This is just one of many, many items I purchased at the mall, without any regard whatsoever to looming financial burdens. Fuck it - I'm going to look hot this fall, even if I'm infertile, depressed, bloated, and prone to giving the stinkeye to innocent pregnant women.

2. To this post by Akeeyu at Her Very Own. Girl power! Infertile girl power!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Money - It's What's for Your RE

I had my phone consultation with the high-success-rates clinic in the Rocky Mountains today. What I learned:

(1) I am currently at an "excellent" IVF clinic. It sounds odd, but I'd almost rather I were at a clinic run by FEMA so that I would have higher hopes about switching. Anyway, the phone doctor totally hearts my current doctors.
(2) #1 does mean that I could have most of my monitoring done at home, were I to end up cycling at the more famous clinic. So at least that's convenient.
(3) There are many things that could be going wrong. They include the lab, a genetic issue with either me or my husband or just our ungrateful offspring themselves, the effects of endometriosis, or maybe even ovarian age (even though I have always shown a heartwarming number of antral follicles). Testing should be done if this FET fails! Which he hopes it doesn't!
(4) Probably, if all that testing were to come back normal, what would happen if I did a fresh cycle there would be that I'd go on three months of Lup*ron De*pot to allow for the return of integrin, which sounds like a science-fiction title but which apparently helps with implantation. There might also be some PGD to see why my embryos hate freedom. And we'd see if their shiny lab could kick my current lab's linoleum ass.

The only really heartening thing was that he said that their endo success rates are the same as their overall success rates. And their overall success rates are high, as all of us desperate IVFers know - yes, those success rates make us willing to hand over piles and piles of money that we could otherwise spend on desperately needed new fall fashions.

In other news, I'm leaving town again. I'm heading to the land of my birth because my parents have moved into a new house, and I need to clean out my national archives before they sell the place so that the lot may be bulldozed and a McMansion erected. I look forward to re-reading my middle-school journal entries, which I recall went mostly like this: I wonder if maybe I will be popular this year. I sure would like to be popular.

(N.b., it never turned out that way.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Or, Because I Said So.

Our weekend at the lakehouse was refreshing. No one asked about my fertility situation, and I was able to relax (mostly) and enjoy our friends' children without feeling as if everyone was looking at me and thinking, How sad that she can't have her own or maybe Thank god she can't have her own. They might have been thinking these things, but at least the I word (infertility, yo) wasn't percolating in the air the way it tends to if you've just been having teary conversations about your cervix. Denial = Fun! (I did notice that one of my non-mom friends wasn't drinking, though - I don't think she was pregnant, but she may have been 2ww-ing; I banished these ruminations fairly successfully.)

ANYWAY. I called my clinic yesterday to reschedule my "pre-op" appointment on the 25th because I realized that, um, I have a big meeting that day that I scheduled and cannot change. I often schedule things as though I exist in two parallel worlds simultaneously. While I was on the phone with the nurse, I decided to throw in an extra question, just for fun: Why am I not supposed to take Me*drol and tetra*cycline for my FET? It was my understanding that I have taken these in the past because my embryos have been ICSIed and thus my already-hostile uterus might mistake them for a marauding army or, alternatively, a cheeseburger. In either case, it would do away with them.

So the nurse said, "Oh, you don't do those for FETs." Why? I asked. The embryos are still ICSIed. Does the freezing render them benign? She shifted tactics. "I don't think we do those for blastocyst transfers." I referred her to my chart for IVF#1, when I did a blastocyst transfer and took those drugs. She said she'd ask the doctor and call me back.

She called back later and said something that I can only recall as sounding a lot like, "The doctors said you don't take those drugs on an FET because you don't take those drugs on an FET." She could tell I wasn't satisfied (maybe she could sense in my pregnant - ha! - pauses that I had looked things up on the Internets and knew that this "rule" didn't hold across the board), and she wanted me to be satisfied. She said she would ask again, but I've heard nothing.

I want to be liked by doctors and nurses. I want to be their favorite patient. I want them to sit in their team meetings, behold my chart with delight, and say in unison, "That Motel Manager - she's so smart, slender, and hygienic!" But I know I am annoying them at this point. And it makes me feel as if I must gird myself for battle each time I go in, and I don't want this to get adversarial (like my relationship with certain telecom providers). In reality, they probably look at my chart and say in unison, "That Motel Manager - boy, does she bug the shit out of me!"

But I was further annoyed today when I discovered that the hospital had not sent my records to the high-success-rates clinic in Colorado, with which I have a phone consultation tomorrow for 250 of my hard-earned dollars. Calls were lobbied. Pressure was applied. The hospital records office promises to fax my chart to the clinic by the end of business today. I really hope they do, because I really want to hear some answers from somebody at some point. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The manager, once again, is out.

We are heading to a lakehouse with friends for the weekend. I am looking forward to it. We went to this same place with the same people (who live all over the country) three years ago, and I think back fondly upon the experience - we hiked, we ate, we drank, we slept, we swam, we read, we played card and board games in a spirited fashion, and I believe there was even a bat in the house at some point (exciting!).

I was thinking that this trip would involve much of the same, but then I realized that a new element will be present: multiple children, and thus much talk of children, and thus perhaps discussions of making children. But I'm not too worried - I've almost perfected my "Don't ask me if we're going to have children, because I might dissolve into tears, or, alternatively, deliver a stern lecture about infertility" face. Woe unto the unsuspecting inquirer!

Good news...may it spread like a virus

A happy, wonderful, pregnancy-inducing virus, that is. The lovely Meg and the lovely Jenny have both heard good news, even after the going looked tough.

Nice work, gals!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Too Much, I Say!

I have just been over in the RE clinic, where seaweed was placed in my hoo-ha. It wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad, either. (One recommendation: take four ibuprofen (800 mg total) an hour beforehand.) Normally, I would go into deep detail about the procedure, perhaps including ruminations as to how someone first discovered that seaweed could dilate a cervix (snorkeling accident?), but today I'm keeping it brief. Here's the process of getting a laminaria put in: (1) the RE inserts a speculum, then cranks it open as if it were a cartoon dental instrument, (2) the ultrasound tech presses painfully on your full bladder to get an image of your freakish uterus, at which point she marvels at its zany appearance, (3) the RE injects local anesthetic into four places on your cervix, asking you to cough each time to distract yourself from the prick (not too bad), (4) for fun, the RE decides to thread a catheter through, just to see if it'll work, even though it hasn't worked before without a stylet, (5) it doesn't work, and the RE and ultrasound tech observe that the cervix isn't really the problem; it's the place where the cervix and uterus meet, and you notice that this anatomical feature recalls the cliffs of Big Sur, plunging into the ocean, (6) the overly emotive nurse rubs your arm, even though you just want to grip your t-shirt and think negative thoughts, (7) the RE remembers the task at hand and sticks the laminaria in, warning you that (a) it might hurt and (b) your freakish anatomy probably won't let the laminaria all the way through, and thus this whole little adventure may or may not even work in terms of making transfer easier, (8) it doesn't really hurt, given that you have ingested a narcotic amount of ibuprofen, (9) the overly emotive nurse points out that this will be good practice for labor, to which you reply: "Ha!" (10) the RE removes the speculum, packs your hoo-ha full of spongy stuff, and tells you to return in five hours so that they can remove the laminaria. (They said I could also remove it myself. I declined.) All in all, not so bad. Really! Also, they promised that the dilation would last until transfer (barring complications), and that the embryos would not fall through the hole and into my threadbare underpants.

But that's not what I want to talk about. You may recall that Hopeful Mother recently posted on the topic of her RE's real-life existence. Various stalker-ish readers (like me) replied, betraying something of an obsession with our REs. The truth is, I don't think much about most of my REs (I go to a clinic where there are five main REs and some Fellows, and you see whoever is on duty). But, as I replied to HM's post, there is one RE who is about my age on whom I totally have a girl-crush - or perhaps it's just that I wish I were her. She's tall, thin, pretty, smart, athletic, calm, and nice, and she exudes competence. I call her Dr., and not by her first name (for a survey of how people refer to their doctors, see DoctorMama's recent post on the subject) - I think this is because I am in awe of her. I wish we could be friends, but (a) she's seen my nether regions too many times for a casual friendship to blossom, and (b) I would probably vomit from anxiety regarding hanging out with her.

Anyway, to make a really long post only slightly less long, I hadn't seen her since the demise of my first IVF. I think I saw her the day I got the official negative and had to discuss next steps - this would have been mid-April or so. I didn't see her at all during IVF#2, to my disappointment. So I showed up today to get the laminaria inserted, and I saw that her name was on the whiteboard that shows which doctors are on duty. Imagine my joy! I practically skipped into the ultrasound room, and I would have added a mirthful hip-shake had there been more room between the side chairs and the ultrasound table. Apparently, I believe that every time I see her, it might be the time that I at last say something so witty or incisive that she cannot help but demand to be friends with me.

But then she walked in. Wearing a hip, tunic-style maternity shirt, which somehow both hid and displayed her cute little pregnant belly on her tall, thin frame. I am not kidding when I say that my heart plunged through the floor of the ultrasound room and into the Employee Health Clinic downstairs. I almost started crying. And, I mean, for what? Because she got pregnant? Because she didn't send out a personal email to each of her patients informing us of the news? Because she was now even more decisively better than me? Probably all of these things. As I talked with her about the laminaria procedure, I felt as if I were dissolving into the ultrasound table, just fading away in the face of so much effectiveness.

And of course this is all ridiculous. She's a great RE and an asset to the clinic. What's she supposed to do - never have a baby? At the same time, though, it made me think of the Raymond Carver story "Cathedral" - or, rather, what someone I knew thought about the Raymond Carver story "Cathedral." For those of you who haven't read it, it's a short story narrated by man whose wife has invited a blind man whom she's friends with to come visit the couple. The narrator is, in short, irritated. Well, the blind man shows up and various quiet, minimalist events ensue. But I used to know someone who loved a particular line from the story, and it has always stayed with me. When the blind man shows up at the house, the narrator, being irritated, finds fault with him, including with the fact that the blind man wears a full beard. This is the line that my classmate loved: "A blind man with a beard? Too much, I say!"

And that's how I felt today. A pregnant RE? Too much, I say!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Shama Laminaria Ding Dong

Normally, I am a well-informed (or "neurotic") patient, although it could be said that I apply a very self-centered and just-in-time philosophy to my collection of information. Still, by the time I reached the start of my stims for IVF#1, I knew how the process worked and what the general mechanism for each drug or event was. Yes, I ended up with some questions (e.g., "Why the F didn't it work?"), but I basically knew the drill. I knew why you'd do a standard protocol vs. a flare protocol, for example, as well as under what circumstances the RE would try to get you to a blast transfer vs. a day-three transfer. Stuff like that.

But I am bordering on irresponsibly uninformed about my FET. Many red flags have gone up in the dim and plaque-filled recesses of my brain, and I pay vague notice to these flags, only to shrug and say, "Eh." (In a Simpsons episode circa 1995, the following exchange occurs. Lisa: "Dad, I'm a member of the MTV generation. We feel neither highs nor lows." Homer: "Really? What's it like?" Lisa: [shrugs] "Eh.")

For instance, Larisa over at the Waiting Womb is in a similar situation. She has had failed two IVFs, has had difficult ETs both times, and is moving on to an FET. But there have been some differences - e.g., she had a baseline ultrasound to check for cysts. She did indeed have cysts. Her FET was delayed.

But no one has checked me for cysts - I simply started taking the Es*trace. After reading L.'s blog, I asked one of the nurses why I didn't get a baseline ultrasound. The answer seems to be that I'll have an ultrasound at my pre-op appointment five days before transfer. So I might have cysts then, and maybe I'll get cancelled, and then I'll have felt nauseated and bloated for four weeks for no reason. Great. But have I done anything about this? Eh.

Similarly, L. is getting a laminaria inserted pre-transfer to dilate her cervix and make transfer easier. So am I. But I am getting mine inserted for four hours tomorrow - i.e., three weeks pre-transfer. Why is this? Will it work? I have no idea. Maybe I'll ask tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just lie there and take it up the cervix like a woman.

I've even lost my drive to go post frantic questions on the message boards I frequent. Maybe this will be better for me in the end; maybe ignorance really does equal bliss. (Britney Spears would seem to indicate that ignorance does often result in pregnancy.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Just desserts? Part 3.

And now: the rousing conclusion (for the time being) of our series about why my husband and I perhaps deserve our infertility. This installment's topic: We Would Be Bad Parents, As Evidenced By How We Have Raised Our Dog.

The background: we have a dog who is a little over a year old. He is very, very handsome - really, you have rarely (if ever) seen a more handsome dog. If he were a breed instead of a mix, people would pay jodhpur-wearing breeders thousands of dollars for the privilege of adopting a companion who so perfectly combines a noble affect with fluffy fur and floppy ears.

But after watching several episodes of "The Dog Whisperer," as well as having, uh, observed reality, it has occurred to us that we may have made some missteps in our dog-parenting, and these have had consequences. To wit:

1. We often take our dog to doggie daycare. He loves it and even has a girlfriend there; her name is Kyra and she's taller than he is. But the point is that we are also a little addicted to doggie daycare. When it's really cold in the winter or really hot in the summer, or perhaps a little too balmy, we will think to ourselves that it is too hot or too cold or too perfect to take him on walks, and we'll deposit him at daycare. And that shit costs money. So we work more. So we have to take him to daycare more. You get the idea.

2. Because we take him to doggie daycare so often and don't spend as much time as Cesar Millan would want walking him (the dog, not Cesar), he has become very much a dog's dog, and he can be ill-behaved on walks. He hates bicyclists. And screaming toddlers. And old ladies with walkers. But, most of all, he hates bunnies - picture the conflict in the Middle East, or the sectarian violence in Iraq, and that gives you a sense of the sort of combustion that occurs when our dog descries a bunny. He will lunge at the bunny in the manner of a recently launched missile; this rapid motion recently caused leash burn on my husband's hand. No amount of reasoning can distract our dog from his mission to chase bunnies; we could be handing him a bowl brimming with LiverSnax and dangling a pressed-rawhide bone before his handsome little dog-eyes and he would still lunge toward any bunny in a 50-foot radius.

3. When we leave him in our yard, he barks at pedestrians. All pedestrians. Even pedestrians he likes - e.g., our next-door neighbors or our friends who are walking by with their dogs. It's something about the fence, we think - he is not barky if we're at one of those friends' houses. But he's very loud at times. And we get annoyed. But mostly we just leave him out there unless it's early (defined as before 8am) or late (after 9pm) - he likes being outside, and so we kind of shrug and say, Eh. Yeah.

4. He has developed what we refer to as Threshold Anxiety. When he's going to the living room from the dining room, or vice versa, he hesitates at the threshold and cries and kind of does a little anxious dance. Sometimes, we have to go to him, or at least call to him, in order for him to make the crossing. Cesar Millan would solve this in about five seconds, I'm sure. But we have no idea what to do. And we probably caused it in the first place!

5. Warning: this one is weird. Our dog likes to eat once a day, in the evening. He gobbles up his bowl of food, and then his little dog-mind says: My meal feels...I don't know, lacking - yes, it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Wait, I've got it: the perfect top-off right now would be a stuffed animal. And he will stuff a stuffed animal back in his throat, thereby inadvertently activating his gag reflex. He will stand there, hedgehog or kitty stuffed in his mouth, crying because the gag reflex has been activated. But he will not drop the animal, and, if you take it away from him, he will pick it back up. Eventually, he will vomit on the hedgehog or kitty. He will then re-eat the recently vomited meal (thank goodness, since we buy him only the finest in dog food). We ignore that part, choosing to pretend it never happened. I can just picture us with children. Oh, sure, maybe Jenny's using heroin, but she always hides her syringes, right?

6. I speak ill of the dog's intelligence. For instance, sometimes he will sprint out into the yard with the hedgehog in his mouth, and he will encounter a pedestrian. Faced with the depressing choice either of not barking or of removing the hedgehog, he will instead bark with the hedgehog in his mouth, which doesn't really work all that well - it sounds vaguely like Mrrrfff. The pedestrian will laugh and say, "You've got to take it out of your mouth, Mr. Dog." And I'll say, "He's not very smart." Egad! (As an aside: one of my friends once adopted an adult dog, and she took him to an obedience class at a Petco-type place. On the first day, he was the worst-behaved dog by far, and he ended up peeing all over the center of the room. And she found herself saying, "Sorry - he's adopted.")

Yes, I can see the expression on your face now - perhaps it's aghast, perhaps it's mortified, perhaps it's merely deeply disturbed. I will say that we love our dog an absurd amount, and we spend way too much time thinking about him and talking about him when we're away (like this past weekend). But, as parents, we obviously need an intervention from Cesar Millan. (Geopolitics could also use an intervention from Cesar Millan, in my opinion.)

Edited to add:
8. I can't believe I almost forgot this. Last night, my husband got back before me from New York (we have different preferred airlines - another story for another time). He picked up the dog from the boarder and returned home. After he'd let the dog outside for a bit, the dog came back in smelling like shit. Literally, like shit. He had rolled in it or something. My husband wasn't feeling all that well, so he sort of rubbed the dog with a towel and left me a message saying that the dog smelled like shit and, well, he didn't feel like dealing with it. So I got home late to find a shit-smelling dog who seemed a bit upset that no one would hug him. He's too big for me to wash on my own, so I just spritzed him with some eucalyptus spray and we left him there in the kitchen overnight. Let me repeat that: We left our shit-smelling dog smelling like shit overnight. To our credit, we did wash him this morning before we went to work.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The manager heads to the big city.

I am flying to NYC today in order to see friends and hemorrhage cash. I'll then meet up with my husband on Long Island for what should be a very, very festive wedding. I suppose it should be some small consolation that I can drink at this particular wedding, but I no longer find drinking to be as compelling a consolation prize as I once did.

I'll try to post the climactic Part 3 of our ongoing series while I'm there, but, if not, I'll see y'all (and your blogs) on Monday. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I am not as calm as I sometimes think I am.

I just got back from a visit to the cardiologist. The quick version of why I was at the cardiologist is that I have heart palpitations, and my RE wanted me to get checked out before my my most recent ET, since, as she put it, I might want to have this problem assessed in case I got pregnant. Please, try not to spit out (or inhale) your morning coffee as break down at the hilarity of that statement. Anyway, I had some preliminary tests done before the ET, got the okay to move ahead (and we all know how that turned out), and was back today to be further inspected by an electrophysiologist and his trusty sidekick, the medical student on rotation. (I go to a large teaching hospital, and so there is always, always, a trusty sidekick of one variety or another.)

In short, the electrophysiologist told me that the palpitations are nothing to worry about, but they'll get worse as I get older. He complimented my blood pressure and my "disgustingly amazing" cholesterol level (my 85 of good cholesterol nearly brought him to awed tears). He told me to keep up the exercise and go forth and conquer. I left the clinic with a spring in my step.

That spring, however, slowed to more of a trudge within minutes, as I descended the stairs to the main level. The reason? I have walked down identical stairs across the hospital on numerous occasions in my to-ings and fro-ings from the RE clinic, and the muscle memory brought my emotional state down with it. Not only was I near the scene of numerous disappointments, but I also suddenly recalled that a woman from an online buddy group I'm in had her pregnancy test today - perhaps right at that very instant - in that very hospital. I don't know what she looks like, but, rather than comforting me, this thought merely made me suspect every couple there of having just joyously received the good news. She had transferred one excellent blast ten days ago and seems already to have been having symptoms, though she had shown remarkable restraint in not POAS. (And excellent blasts transferred into under-35s at my clinic have an 80% chance of success.) She is a kind and lovely person and has been through a great deal before getting to IVF, so I certainly would not begrudge her a BFP, but I was indecorously awash in self-pity by the time I reached the first floor. That compassion I said I had learned in the post below was nowhere on display when I tried to exit the parking garage and was delayed by elderly out-of-towners confused by the flow of traffic. Curse words were uttered. Hand gestures indicating frustration occurred. The best thing I can say is that those hand gestures were not obscene.

I feel as if I'm going through waves of wanting to try everything before I give up - damn the cost or the effort or the time required - alternating with waves of feeling as if I have had enough already and don't even want to do this FET. I guess I just feel as if it's likely to be a long road ahead still - that even if I got pregnant for a few days, something would probably go wrong, and then I'd just be moving on from one problem to another, but still nothing to show for my efforts in the end. I might feel more patience if I were 30, but I'm 34, which seems way older to me even than 33.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Just desserts? Part 2.

Everyone who's dealt with any sort of infertility is aware of one undeniable accoutrement to the infertility experience: namely, other people will say retarded and/or offensive things to you, and they will solemnly believe that they (a) have the right to do so and (b) are being helpful. This is known as "assvice," and it runs the gamut from the weak "just relax" to the more flagrantly insulting "maybe you weren't meant to have children." There are many varieties and permutations of assvice, but they share the common trait of becoming more annoying over time, until, perhaps, you reach a zen-like state in which these helpful suggestions cannot penetrate your magic shield of equanimity.

I have not reached this state. I spend approximately 50% of my time either worrying that someone is going to say something upsetting to me, or stewing over something upsetting that someone said to me at some point in the near or distant past. I analyze and categorize assvice and think of snappy comebacks several months too late. Different versions of assvice rise and fall in their ability to anger or hurt me. (Currently, I am dangerously likely to splash my cocktail into the face of anyone who informs me that their husband just looks at them and they get pregnant.)

All of this having been said, however, certain memories have begun to afflict me, and, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I present to you things that I definitely said, possibly said, or would probably have said if given the opportunity back in the day when I was an unconfirmed infertile. Now they're all coming back to haunt me.

Things I Definitely Said:
1. To a friend who'd just had a blighted ovum: "At least you know you can get pregnant."
2. To another friend who'd had a blighted ovum: "At least it happened early on."
3. To my fertile friend A, who expressed concern that maybe she shouldn't have mentioned in front of infertile friend B that she, A, had accidentally gotten pregnant: "No, I'm sure it's fine - B must be inured to it by now."
4. To friend C, about infertile friend D, who was on her fifth IUI: "Maybe she just needs to gain some weight - she's so skinny!"
5. To friend E, about infertile friend F, who had had repeated early miscarriages: "She should adopt, don't you think?"
6. "I would never want twins - it's such a difficult pregnancy!"

Things I Probably Said at One Point or Another:
1. "I would never do IVF because you get hugely bloated and can't move!" [or some other uninformed vision of IVF]
2. "I would never spend so much money on fertility treatments."
3. "I would just adopt if I had any fertility issues. There are so many perfectly good children out there, etc., etc., [insert your preferred cliche here]."
4. Something about how since my cycles were regular and my charts were beautiful, I would probably get pregnant quickly.
5. "She's overthinking it."

Things I Most Likely Would Have Said, If Given the Opportunity:
1. "Have you tried [insert ill-informed and/or irrelevant treatment here]?"
2. "You still have plenty of time."
3. "Maybe this pregnancy just wasn't meant to be."
4. [Describe someone else's worse situation in a lame attempt to make the listener feel "better."]

I am pleased to note that I would never have told anyone they weren't meant to have children. But I am ashamed about the rest and feel that my past misdeeds have stalked me into the present.

In all seriousness, I do feel as though infertility has been a very useful (if painful) exercise in compassion for me. I find myself being much more open-minded and sympathetic about a range of situations that my friends have experienced and I have not (though I certainly still have a ways to go). These skills would seem to be good for parenting. I hope I get to find out.

Stay tuned for part 3 in our series.

The manager is back in.

Thanks for all of your comments on the posts below! I was away this weekend in Colorado with a couple of my BFFs on a long-planned trip. The timing couldn't have been better - it was great to have a weekend of hiking, spa-ing, and general relaxation after getting BFN #5,678 (or so it felt). And if I'd actually been pg, then it would have been great, too. Perhaps everyone should have a trip planned for right after their betas! We can put together post-IVF travel packages and make a fortune!

Anyway, more to come later today, including Part 2 of our continuing series, Just Desserts?