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.

FrozenSperm

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.

womb

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.

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.

Week to Go

We are well into our third IVF round, and I don’t have a lot to say on it. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to simply moving through this and seeing what it holds. Egg retrieval is scheduled tentatively for the 6th. I’m not putting a lot of hope in this but there is hope, or I wouldn’t be doing this again. It is going to be what it is going to be.

ExcitedFace

Though I wouldn’t say, I’m completely calm on the matter. I did polish off an entire pan of brownies last night. Shane helped some, but it was pretty much a solo job. I’m also eating as if this is going to work. I’ve been doing the garden salad thing daily. It truly is a garden salad – it is all from my garden! I’m also keeping my protein intake high and keeping up with all those damn miracle supplements.

This has also made me feel like a horrible scientist going through this. In a normal experiment, you would change one or two variables plus have a control (I feel like a lab rat in a very messed up science experiment). For this third round of IVF, we have changed pretty much everything. Shane is on different meds. I’m on a high-protein diet. We are at a new clinic. I’m on levothyroxine for my thyroid. Shane and I are on 101 supplements that are supposed to cure infertility (I picked the ones that had at least some science backing to them). We are at a new clinic. Slightly new protocol. No fresh transfer and Lupron trigger (no OHSS in my future, hopefully!) If this works, I have no idea what variable was the magic bullet. If it all fails, well, at least I gave it all we had.

And I’ve previously mentioned that this is our last IVF round. I’ve stopped saying last. The word gives me heart palpitations. I don’t know if it is our last, maybe in a year, we will think a 4th round is a good idea. I simply can’t handle right now closing that door even if in all honestly, this is our last.

 

SpermMeetEgg

 

 

Acceptance

I was brought up in the generation right before the “Everyone is a Winner!” generation. I grew up in the “You can do anything you set your mind to” generation. Why do we raise children on such false promises? I know reality is a tough pill swallow but what is harder is realizing as an adult, that no matter how hard you work, some things you simply do not have control of.

It has been hard to accept that I truly have minimal control if I will be a biological parent or not. I have minimal control of becoming a mother. Period. It is out of my hands, and I know life would be easier if I could accept it. Not roll over and take it, but accept that which I cannot control.

I have a good friend that has been looking for a job post-graduation and the pickings have been slim. In an email, she wrote that she is “working on adjusting my goals so that they reflect things that I have control over.” Yes!

I’ve been standing in the crowd, watching my life unfold on the big screen and yelling, “This wasn’t part of the script!” How do you accept that you may not have your dream job after you spent years going to school? How do you accept that you may never be a mother no matter what supplement you take, what fertility procedure you do, or which adoption agency you choose? How do you accept this when you have been told growing up that you could have it all if you simply set your mind to it? Have I not worked hard enough? Have I not sacrificed enough of myself to achieve this goal? I’ve done everything I should have done and more, yet I’m coming to realize that you cannot truly have it all, no matter how hard you work for it. Life simply doesn’t work that way. I need to accept this and get back to living my life, even the parts I don’t quite accept yet. Time to set goals I do have control of.

Accept

A Childless Father

The first sign that I knew that my husband was going to make a great father was his fear of being a bad father. As we enter our fourth year of being childless not by choice and enter our 3rd round of IVF, I still see a pretty amazing father. He has already given his children more than many fathers will. While we cannot parent our children, he is not shy about being fatherly to others. As a paramedic, he calms and treats scared, hurt children too often. As an uncle, he plays the serious yet fun one. Who else would give a toddler a huge stick to beat a pinata with? That was his idea.

ToddlerWithAStick

He loves to introduce them to his favorite pastimes such as skiing. He will patiently untangle them. When they are tired of skiing, he is willing to play sled dog, pulling the child behind him as they hold onto his ski poles.

Ski

He sacrifices his own comfort for kids he doesn’t even know. When teaching high school, I needed Elodea (an invasive aquatic weed) for my students. My husband put on his waders and went into a creek in October to gather it for them. In Alaska. He said it was cold but I wouldn’t know since I didn’t go in.

Eloda

He is okay with being the bad influence to his friend’s kids. In fact, someone needs to be it so it might as well be us.

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We are there also to help out our friends with kids. Even though we were experiencing our first IVF failure, we agreed to watching a friend’s infant while he got his work schedule figured out. He looks so good with a baby.

IMG_3140

Since we have yet to our own human child, our IVF puppy has won the lottery. All of our critters are simply spoiled.

 

So today, I celebrate fathers with children but also the childless fathers that do not get the recognition that they deserve. They help shape and nurture your children while they wait for theirs.

We find ourselves here, again.

I’ve been putting this update off for awhile now. I mostly don’t want to say we are doing it again to simply say a few weeks later that it all went to shit again.

here again

I’ve jumped through most of the hoops our new clinic requires. We had to take online educational modules on how IVF works and how to inject myself with mind-altering hormones. As a biologist on round 3 here, I understand the process a bit too well and have read all the literature in my spare time. I know I could have tested out of the module, but we endured. Isn’t that what we infertiles do?

I emailed the clinic today to make sure we have checked all the boxes on their IVF checklist, but I think we are ready to roll. It is becoming a bit too real that we are subjecting ourselves to this torture, again.

Money

The only things we have left are to give them a crap ton of money, buy airline tickets, and start menstruating. Let the fun begin. It has been six months since I had my vagina looked at by someone other than my husband. It has been glorious. I keep telling myself, this is the last peep show for awhile and then moving on. Unless I’ll be pushing a baby out of it next year but I’m guessing if that is the case, I won’t give a shit. One step at a time though.

I’m not sure if it is good to be a veteran, to know what to ask and what to expect. I think back to the naïve us when we first started. It was going to work the first time. Wham. Bam. Thank you, IVF doctor. I’d like to think we have a better handle on all of this – the nuts and bolts plus the emotional shitstorm. I remember honestly thinking going through my first round that this isn’t so bad. It then proceeded to go from doable to I’m going to burst (OHSS) and all the embryos are dying. It turns out, whether you think hormones affect you or not, the truth is they do. And IVF is that bad.

Violet
Thank goodness OHSS doesn’t turn you blue too!

I’d like to say I’m looking forward to our final round of IVF, but I’m not. I am looking forward to being able to move forward with my life without regrets. One more go before taking biological children off the table. We are not giving up but choosing to live again.

Pity Party for One In the Hammock

Cheese, chocolate, wine, and salad. Balanced meal. Right? My husband is at work, only 36 more hours to go. Now, if I had kids, I would have to do a balanced meal, set a good example, yatta, yatta, yatta but I don’t. So this is what I’m fucking eating. Maybe my diet is the reason I can’t get pregnant? Fuck it, this is what I’m having. If people can be morbidly obese, subsist off of meth and Cheetos, and still get pregnant – pretty sure my dinner tonight isn’t going to completely tank my fertility. Something else already has.

After work, I needed tampons (again because I’m not pregnant) so I hit the grocery while hungry and after a run. I also go to the busier grocery store because I wanted the cotton, non-bleached, organic tampons sold only there. My vagina deserves only the best after what she has endured. I go in the store knowing it is busy and full of kids because again, my vagina has earned it.

Right off the bat, I see one of my husband’s good friends. Okay, we are friends too. He is there with his one-year-old. He knows that we are infertile. When he told us he was having a baby, he said we should have one so we can go at this together. I said that would be great but we cannot have kids. Then at one of his court events for custody, another friend of us asks us about kids and again, I’m brutally honest. He also got my IVF laden Christmas card. This guy knows we are infertile.

I debate the avoidance move but suck it up and say hi. I can’t avoid everyone though I do try. I haven’t seen the kid in about a year – we babysat the baby while he was dealing with mama drama and work issues. So we make small talk. It was awkward. He said something about the kid not sitting in the cart so carrying him as he pushed the cart.

He then said, “Ah, the joys of parenting.”

Inner monolog “I wouldn’t fucking know.”

The polite me said, “Okay, I’m going grocery shopping.”

I know he didn’t mean to piss me off or offend me which makes me feel even worse. You know, it is something you say and I’m sure if I was a parent and not infertile, we’d chuckle and that would be that. Like how we say the “joys of home ownership” when shit starts to break. Though you would NEVER say that to a homeless person or at least I wouldn’t. I also wouldn’t ask my friend who is in AA to come over for a few beers or tell them about my stellar dinner consisting primarily of wine.

Yet, my reaction to seeing children and talking to parents, makes me feel as if I’m what is wrong with society. I don’t belong in this space they have created. There is simply no space in the world for the fragility of infertility. It would be easier if we simply did not exist and people could complain about having kids without fear of upsetting the Infertiles.

Now, I’m going to take my wine, my barren uterus, and my bruised heart to my hammock for an evening debriefing. It is a mighty fine night to feel sorry for oneself.