Recap and Game Plan

We are a little over two weeks post of our last egg retrieval. And I can officially say that that was our last round of IVF. There is no way in hell I’m putting my body through that again. Pretty much from the day after my first injection, I have to stop running because my ovaries go gangbuster on the hormones. I can feel my ovaries when I walk and have this irrational (perhaps rational) fear of ovarian torsion. No trampolines for me during IVF. Everyone, even fertility nurses, tells me that I’m doing so well and I’ll have plenty of eggs. Whoopie fucking do because that means shit.

Eggs out of here

On this third round, the protocol was modified yet again to avoid ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Yet again, I developed OHSS. I have no idea how people go back to work the day after the transfer. I’m large, uncomfortable, and in pain. By the time I went back to work four days post transfer, I was using a rubberband to close my pants. Beats the first round when I had to wear maternity pants.

When I start to deflate and piss out all that water I retained (8lbs of it this round!), all day daily migraines begin as my body crashes from the hormones. This is followed by the heaviest period in history. Ten days post retrieval, I went to my local clinic for a polyp check so we can start on the transfers. “Holy crap, your ovaries are huge,” the Dr. remarked. That was 10 days after retrieval, after deflating, and after my period. Yup, IVF for me is weeks of pure hell.

The best thing about this round is our clinic did not give us a blow by blow about how shitty our embryos were doing as our previous clinic did. They told us how many fertilized on day two then gave us a report on how many they froze on day five. We went from 26 eggs retrieved, 25 mature, 23 fertilized, to four to freeze. A bit crushing but better than the other two rounds where we got 1 to transfer and 0 that implanted.

While I wish we had more in the freezer, a part of me is glad that we do not. After watching others go through transfer after transfer, the heartache and the money spent, I’m glad this purgatory is limited to four.

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It is hard to wonder as we start the embryo transfers if we picked the right path. A friend of my husband had their adoption finalized today. They started adoption process when we started fertility treatments. It is hard not to second guess our choices especially when our house seems oh so quiet today and a bit too clean. I need to accept that this is our journey and we are on the right path even if it is a bit longer then we’d prefer. The next hurdle is going to be doing a natural transfer while living 4,000 miles from our clinic. This should be interesting yet I’m so glad the clinic is willing to work with us on this. A natural cycle transfer means no progesterone in oil shots. None. Zilch. Kein. I’m polyp free as of this week’s check. Now waiting to hear back on my thyroid values. Then once my period starts in a few weeks, we are on.

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As a side note for a friend that is thinking about heading down the IVF path that reads my blog: While IVF has been no cake walk for me (though I have consumed a lot of cake on this journey), I will say I’m glad we have done these three rounds of IVF. And I’ll still be glad even if this 3rd one fails because I will never wonder if. I will know. Everyone has a different experience with IVF and how their body responds. I don’t want my experience to deter you from trying, if you want to try. It is hard but doable.

Jammin

Make sure to hit play on the above mood music before you start in on this post.

In anticipation of 23 chickens going into the freezer in a little over a month, I started to clean out the freezer this past weekend. Old and freezer burned berries went to the birds. Good berries that we haven’t polished off, jammin! We had some rhubarb to harvest and use, so pretty much all the jam was fruit plus rhubarb.

Salmobarb Jam –> salmonberry (picked in Cordova, Alaska) and rhubarb; turned out too runny in my opinion but Shane says it is his favorite. I think it will be good more as a syrup over pancakes.

Peabarb Jam –> peaches (leftover from last summer’s Oregon trip) and rhubarb jam. One of my favorites! I made a ton last summer and ate it all, so glad to have more in the pantry! This goes great with plain yogurt.

Blubarb Jam –> wild Alaskan blueberries (smaller and tarter than what most Americans know as a blueberry) and rhubarb jam. Another of Shane’s favorite since he loves tart foods, this may have ended up a bit thick but still delicious.

Cranberry Butter –> Alaskan highbush cranberries with homemade applesauce. First time making this and it is a keeper! I used my juicer to get the seeds out and simmered it down with baking applesauce (a batch of the applesauce I made last year that doesn’t taste stellar, so we simply use it for baking). It turned out this deep red color. We were putting it on dark chocolate as it simmered down.

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I don’t know if we save much money canning. Everyone says they do, but I’ve never tracked it. Shane said we at least eat better since we tend not to buy the high priced yet delectable jars of jam at our Farmer’s Market. Plus, I’ve never seen pickled watermelon rind for sale. I’m making this for my dad for Christmas. I guess his grandma use to make these when he was a kid.

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And in the words of the late Bob Marley:

“Ooh yeah, we’re jammin’, hey
To think that jammin’ was a thing of the past
We’re jammin’, we’re jammin’
And I hope this jam is gonna last”

 

A Literal Pity Party

Pity. We have all at one time or another thrown ourselves a pity party. You know, hiding in a closet screaming into a half empty ice cream carton, “why me?” About six months after my husband’s hypopanpituitarism diagnosis (summer 2015), my husband was in the midst of a major pity party for one. He was a joy to live with. The treatments were not working fast enough or actually working at all or causing horrible side effects, we were always battling insurance companies, and we were both utterly frustrated. There was a lot of “Why me??” going on. He was feeling pretty alone in all of this – kind of how depression (pity) works.

I decided to host a surprise pity party for him. He needed to feel some love. My mom and I got crafty. It turns out a pituitary looks like testicles. I kid you not.

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Old Juneau Dog really got into the party spirit with her homemade pituitary pity party hat!
His mother was late to the party which made my blood boil. She was not into the idea of the pity party, thinking Shane wouldn’t like it. Boy, was she fucking wrong. Shane loved it. Perhaps this is not how she wanted her pity party to look like for she was also dealing with the fact that her son was diagnosed with a disorder that none of us knew that much about. It was good for everyone to have this elephant in the room dragged out for the world to see. This is life, and we can’t pretend that it always goes as planned. In fact, I’ve noticed it really never goes to plan.

 

Pinata
Nothing as therapeutic as smashing something that represents what you are so mad at.

The party was a hit – literally as we all smashed the pituitary pinata. Shane even had a friend drive 7 hours to come to the party. Sometimes, a pity party is best with friends. And cake.

 

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Flowers (leftover from our wedding) had little pity sayings like this one that reads “You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Really? Watch me!”

 

22 jars of radishes on the wall

While grocery shopping this past week, I noticed they were having a screaming deal on radishes but didn’t have many in stock (maybe 2 bunches). I mentioned this to Shane as our radishes in our garden do okay but not enough to make radish pickles. They are excellent on sandwiches, but we haven’t made any for about two years.

I get home Wednesday to find that they had restocked them and that my husband bought 22 lbs. of them (weight post stem removal). I guess he has been jonesing for some radish pickles. He said he bought some, then decided we needed more so went back for a second batch. Then when getting beer, he decided we needed even more.

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I scrubbed and trimmed while he worked the mandolin. They then got to soak overnight in brine. A few we set aside to make radish kimchi. That evening I made three large jars of the kimchi.

The next night, Shane simmered the radishes in the vinegar seasoning. It took three large pots to hold them all. I hot packed the jars, and Shane got them in the water bath. By the end of it, we had 22 pints of pickled radishes. Thus this begins Summer 2017 Canning Palooza!

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Mid-Summer Aspirations

It is mostly in the summer when I have moments where I think that I would love to learn or do X, Y, or Z. Then the ducks are out of water, the dogs need dinner, and the garden weeded. Inspired by EcoFeminst, I thought I ought to start recording my homesteading goals so I can remember them. And perhaps one day accomplish them.

–> Perfect bread making. I can make basic bread, but I’d like to expand and get quick at it so we can stop buying store bought bread.

–> Learn how to mill our own flour.

–> Make our own vinegars.

–> Make vegetable, duck, and chicken stock from our garden and birds.

–> Get over my fear of the pressure canner so I can stock and beans. I may need to con my mom in helping me since she has done more of it then I have.

–> Dry my own herbs.

–> Grow herbs and greens year-round inside in Alaska! I’m going to even drag in a few of my tomato plants inside this fall to see how long I can keep them.

–> Overwinter our bees. Not an easy feat when you have -40F winters. Our current plan is to drive our bees 5 hours south of Fairbanks and put them in my parent’s old trappers cabin. The look on my mom’s face when I told her our plan was priceless. It was that or in her crawlspace at her home. 😉

–> Expand the garden, so we have enough to can and put away for winter. We pretty much eat as we harvest. I plant more, and we simply eat more. I need enough where we cannot out eat it.

–> Save seeds. This year I planted everything from seed. I’d like to eventually not even need to buy seeds but baby steps.

I’m sure I’ll think of more as I go. As for now, I have some rhubarb that I harvested that needs to be made into jam! Blueberry rhubarb jam, peach rhubarb jam, and salmonberry rhubarb jam, plus watermelon rind pickles are on the agenda today.

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Seattle Update

I’m enjoying a coffee (haven’t had a coffee in weeks!) and watching trashy TV (currently Catfish on MTV). I’m about two hours post egg retrieval and so far, so good. Shane is out getting me a heating pad and McDonalds. 

We arrived in Seattle this past weekend. I’ve been feeling very large and grouchy (comes in waves) as I spent this week expanding and growing my eggs. To prevent OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome) we did a Lupron trigger and freeze all protocol.

All appointments have been in the morning so we have been able to enjoy the days here. Monday was a short hike on Tiger Mtn. with a good friend of mine. The three hour hike turned into a six hour excursion. We got a we bit lost but it was beautiful.


For the 4th, we headed to a Mariners baseball game. They lost, we sat directly in the sun, and it was great! Hot dogs and baseball, felt very American!


On the way back to the hotel, my brother-in-law (also critter sitter back in Alaska) called. Ugh, seeing his name on caller ID, I knew something not good had happened. His dog and one of ours met their first porcupine. Porcupine won. Ade dog had a few in her face. Buddy dog (doggie cousin) had it worse with quills in his tongue and mouth (we know what he was trying to do to the porcupine). Both pups had to be knocked out on a holiday to have the quills removed so I know it won’t be cheap. Echo puppy was bored while her playmates were recovering. Felt good that they were well taken care of but I miss our pups.


The following day we had my appointment and my husband’s pituitary appointment followed by a lazy day by the pool at the hotel and my Lupron trigger! 

Thursday we headed to the Terracotta warrior exhibit at the Pacific Science Center after yet another blood drawl, a nap, then a walk along the waterfront with Shane and a friend. Glorious.


Today, retrieval. Shane and I took bets on egg numbers. Shane won and was under – he guessed 25 and they got 26. They looked good and tomorrow we’ll know how many were mature and how many fertilized. Next week, how many made it to day 5, that is where it always goes to shit for us. 

Plans for the rest of the weekend dependent on how I feel but thinking Polish festival – perogies! Head home on Sunday. Looking forward to seeing the critters and the garden! 

Mom, I’m okay. Really.

I have been debating sharing my blog with my mother and have been thinking why I haven’t to date. She knows I have a blog but hasn’t pressed the matter. That is how my mother works, she lets me share when I’m ready. She doesn’t pry but is always there to listen when I get there. I always eventually get there.

My mother and I talk about infertility, IVF, adoption, and my husband’s disorder. We talk a lot about pretty much anything and everything. She lives next door, and we see each other often. Needless to say, I have been blessed with an amazing mother, and we are extremely close. She knows that infertility is hard on me, but I do not know if she really understands how hard. I want to shield my mother from this pain. I don’t want my mother to see me suffer, especially when there is little she can do to make it better.

Infertility is a world my mother, fortunately, didn’t journey through. My mother stopped birth control and three months later was pregnant with me. My brother was planned for a later date, instead, when I was 6 months old and still breastfeeding, she got pregnant with him. She has never dealt with the grief and pain of infertility until now as she watches me navigate it.

 

 

Both my family and my inlaws have been overly supportive. Something I’m thankful for since I know many folks going through infertility have family members that are aloof and utterly callous on the matter. I know that both sides want grandchildren but don’t press it, understanding we have little control over all of this. I am aware that this infertility is robbing my parents the chance at being grandparents since my brother is childless by choice. However, my parents were awarded the opportunity to parent two wonderful children (yes, we are wonderful). Shane and I, on the other hand, have lost both being parents and grandparents in one fell swoop.

My blog is my place to express all aspects of this journey, most of it extremely painful. I worry by sharing it with my mother, I’ll start to sugarcoat it to make her feel better. To shield her from this world she has only got a small glimpse of.

At the same time, I want to share it all with her. And to know that I am okay and I’ll be okay, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.