March 31, 2013 § 22 Comments
We’re trying to decide what to do next.
Say next cycle works. Next cycle’s maybe baby would end up birthed in early January of 2014. For those of you who have stellar memories, you may recall that this coming December-January is also the time that I will (hopefully) be interviewing for internship positions all over the country. Yes, I could probably arrange phone interviews for one or two if absolutely necessary. But I can’t help but assume that would put me at a disadvantage. And, yes, I could turn down all interviews that were not within driving distance. But only 3/4 of applicants match to a program at all, so limiting my options is not something I want to do.
My RE has said that we have the option of either continuing with one more round of letrozole+timed intercourse or moving ahead to IUI. Of course, there are other possibilities. We can do no treatment and still try. Or we can take a month off to ensure that I can go on interviews.
Y’all. The idea of taking a month off is met with a huge “hell no” from my brain. I can’t even think about it rationally. My brain doesn’t give me the opportunity. I’ve tried to think clearly about the pros of doing this, but it’s immediately blocked by the much more overwhelming need to continue to push forward. It may be the best option. But it’s such an aversive idea that I can’t even think about it. That is some seriously powerful shit, friends.
If I’m not going to even entertain the thought (which apparently I’m not), then I guess we’re trying. And if we’re trying, maybe we should go all out. Skip ahead to IUI. But then what if I get pregnant and don’t match to an internship and have to spend an entire additional year in graduate school.
So, because both of those options are scary, I’m leaning toward the nonsensical decision that looks something like this. We try (so treatment, in general, is a yes). But not so hard that we actually might get pregnant* (so IUI is a no). Letrozole cycle #3, then?
That “logic” is so absurd.
*Because if we did get pregnant, of course we’d be thrilled and of course I would make it work. And maybe I wouldn’t even care if I had to tack on an additional year to graduate school even though that would make it 7 years instead of 6 and even 6 is INSANE and right now I REALLY, REALLY CARE. So much so that I am being SCREAMY about it, apparently.
March 26, 2013 § 29 Comments
You know when you are standing on a cliff overlooking a quarry or lake and you’re about to jump off and you just freeze? Because it’s so scary to let go of the ground with which you are so familiar. And because it’s terrifying to plunge yourself into the unknown.
That happened to me this morning. I had a beta scheduled for 7 am. The hope I had been feeling for about a week after ovulation had fizzled down to 0. As usual. What was not usual, though, was that I was feeling no emotion about it. I wouldn’t say I was ambivalent. I still wanted very badly to be pregnant. But I was kind of emotionally numb in my response to that wanting. It was bizarre and unlike me. I’m very much a feeler. Some might argue excessively so.
I typically test a day or two before the beta. But this cycle I had such a carefree, happy two week wait that I couldn’t bear to face what I knew was going to be on that stick. So I didn’t test. And I didn’t feel about trying to conceive. I busied myself with exercise, good food and wine (small amounts), trip planning, and quality time with the pooches and the Artsy Engineer. I did things that made me feel good and completely avoided things that didn’t (like my dissertation, which is now glaring at me from it’s minimized position on this computer screen).
And then today.
When it was time to leave for the clinic this morning, I just couldn’t get myself to go. I knew the beta would be negative. I’d been in such a state of ease. It had felt sooo sooo good and all the sudden I felt panic. It was going to end and I didn’t want it to end.
I ended up dragging myself into my clinic 15 minutes later than I should have. I even got there and sat in my car for awhile, screwing around on my phone, not even realizing I what I was doing – my subconscious desperately trying to maintain the status quo. Until that jolt. Lentil, hello? You’re already really late and you hate being late. Go inside.
And now here we are. Blood results are in. They are negative. Of course.
And here I am. Just as I thought I’d be. Crushed.*
*Even as I say this, I know it will be temporary. With every failed cycle, I have a shitty day (or maybe two). And then I move on to the next. Everything is transient (which is true and good). But right now in this moment it effing sucks.
March 23, 2013 § 30 Comments
I have been hesitant to show my face on here. My actual face, I mean.
I’ve always been a pretty private person. So, I suppose that talking about trying to make a baby on the internet is something that scares me. And I guess that the idea of linking these words to my face makes me feel more exposed.
But I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I want to be brave. I want to be one of those women who provides an in for other women to talk openly about infertility and miscarriage. I think I’ve mentioned that I’m one of the first of my friends and coworkers to try to conceive. I don’t want anyone else to feel like they have to keep this battle to themselves if this sort of thing happens to any of them in the future (which it will, because we know how common it is even though no one talks about it). I don’t want anyone else to feel ashamed.
I deal with difficult things by talking about them, but, until recently, I only talked to a very select few. We’re talking about like two people other than the Artsy Engineer. I didn’t even tell ANYONE we were trying until after the miscarriage. And then I told a lot of people. Like, everybody (not really, but a lot more bodies than I would have ever guessed). About all of it. I needed support. I needed people to understand. So the lips got loose. And I feel good about it. People care. And I can get things out of my head out of my head out of my head and into the world.
But I still worry about the internet. I worry that some future client or future patient will find me out. And will care. Which they probably won’t. And I probably won’t either.
So, I’m going to quit screwing around and just show you my face, because I feel like I need to do this. I won’t promise that it will be here forever. I may freak out and take it down one day. No promises. But, for now. Me. Selfie style.
Meanwhile, in case you all are interested. I’m at 10 dpo. My temperature dipped significantly today. I’m trying to not read too much into it. Last cycle it stayed up until a couple of days after I discontinued the progesterone, so I just expected that it would do the same thing this time around. Bleh. Whatever. I’ve been good at ignoring the two week wait so far. I’m going to try to keep that up for another couple of days. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting promised photos of my stitch fix, which arrived at a perfectly distracting time. And, right now, I’m going to go read for book club. And maybe watch some basketball. Peace, y’all.
March 18, 2013 § 14 Comments
I have been bloggy boring even myself lately.
I have a mildly decent excuse, though, I guess. Non-internets life got in the way.
Somehow, despite recently quitting my only paying (very) part-time job, I have managed to stay really busy off of the internet, and it’s actually felt marvelous. Now that I’m home more often, it took me awhile to figure out how to be not “at work” and to be still working. When I was in classes it was easier, because there were deadlines. But now I have no hard deadlines, and the ones I set for myself just aren’t anxiety-provoking enough to get me moving.
I’m home two days a week now. These days are supposed to be research days – days during which I am focused on manuscripts and my dissertation. Of course, instead of writing, I often surf the web, do the laundry and other household chores (that I typically don’t do unless I’m avoiding doing something else), and read all of your lovely blogs.
All of the sudden, over the last few weeks, I’m finding myself better able to concentrate than since before my miscarriage in October. That was a real productivity killer, let me tell you. I don’t suppose it will last indefinitely, but I am immensely thankful that it’s happening and am trying to take advantage of it while it’s here.
In other news, I ovulated during the middle of last week and am now 5 dpo. Over the last six months or so, I’ve been using a lot of cycle imagery. You can call it hocus pocus if you’d like. But I find it’s a powerful coping mechanism. It works for me. Lately I’ve been picturing an embryo traveling down my fallopian tubes, and I sometimes talk to it (not out loud yet, thank god), offering encouraging words. It’s kind of like I would do if I was cheering on an exhausted marathon runner at mile 21. You’re almost there! Hang in there! Put one foot in front of the other!
Here, drink this water! If there is indeed an embryo in there, it should be nearing the end of my fallopian tubes very soon and descending upon the entry to my uterus. Make it happen terbs.
March 6, 2013 § 15 Comments
Things are ticking along swimmingly here.
I’m on my second letrozole cycle, and it’s my last day of pill popping. Other than my ovaries being a achy (which is weird and didn’t happen last cycle), nothing all that exciting is going on with my vagina and its related parts. We decided to hold off on the mid-cycle ultrasound and trigger shot this go around. I don’t think I actually needed it last cycle. My body responded well to the drug. I had pretty follicles and thick lining, and I’m pretty sure I actually ovulated the night of the trigger (and would have done so whether The Artsy Engineer had poked me, live on the interwebs, or not).
I haven’t really been thinking much about cycling and babies over the last few days. I tend to get a nice bit of calm during the first week of my cycle during which my obsessive thoughts subside and I can just be Lentil.
Today is one of those days. Today I’m finding myself getting excited for totally frivolous reasons.
Now, I’ve never been the most fashionable individual. I like to look nice, but I’m not good at putting effort into it. I want to look nice without trying. In fact, if that was a style, I’d claim it.
A friend of mine introduced me to this the other day. It’s an online personal styling company. Which, in my opinion, is genius. The idea is this. You fill out a profile about yourself that includes everything from your size to your style to your desire for work versus play clothes to your cleavage (and rear end*) flaunting preferences. You then pay $20, and they will send you a box of clothes based on your profile. If you keep any of the items in the box, that $20 actually goes toward the cost of whatever you decide to keep. The clothes are from small and up-and-coming brands, which this Midwestern girl does not typically have access to. I’d rather give my money to these types of companies than to Ta.rget.
I’m not particularly into fashion, but I think this is nice for two reasons:
1) I’m lazy. I hate shopping. I don’t have the patience for it. And I never look as good in those dressing room mirrors as I think I do in real life, and
2) I work in healthcare and need to look nice. Everyday. That’s a lot to ask! And I have no idea how to do this. I’m afraid I either look unprofessional (I’ve never been anything but a student and very much have ‘grad student style’) or 15 years older than I am.
So, I could use help with this whole dressing myself thing. And I’ll gladly pay someone with good style $20 to pick out clothes for me. I spent $20 on decaf coffee over the last week while working on my dissertation at the coffee shop. It’s worth it. (Decaf coffee, on the other hand, is nothing but filler. Not at all worth it.) And who doesn’t love getting a box of surprise stuff in the mail that someone else has picked out for you? It’s like having an anonymous pen pal. And you get to be lazy about responding.
Anyway, I hope this can provide as nice of a little distraction for someone else as it has for me. Because filling out my style profile took me something like 45 minutes. And that’s 45 fewer minutes that I spent thinking about my empty uterus.
*Don’t ask me what kinds of clothes might exist that are designed to flaunt your rear end. I have no idea.
March 3, 2013 § 16 Comments
I think I’ve alluded to the fact that I have a sister on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve revealed much more than that. She’s my only sibling, and I love her dearly. It’s time she was introduced.
My sister is almost 4 years younger than me. We were in high school together for one year, when I was a senior and she was a freshman. We didn’t get along very well when we were kids. Essentially, I was critical of her and bitchy to her. And, in turn, she was stubborn and kind of manipulative (because she’s so damned smart). This is, of course, my perception of our relationship as children. I’m sure hers is different. She told me a couple of years ago that she straight up hated me in high school. That still makes me feel terrible.
Anyway, things are different now. I’ve always loved her. Now I also appreciate her. We don’t have a perfect relationship. We are still very different people, and we butt heads regularly. We are into different things. To choose one of many examples, I veer toward the crunchy, granola variety of human and she smokes cigarettes and eats mostly processed foods. And I probably judge her for her Kraft mac and cheese more than I would like to admit. And, well, she’s never been quiet in her judging of my wierdie grains and obscure vegetable-based diet. The list of differences is long.
But, there is one thing we have in common.
We both have messed up lady bits.
When I was 19, my extended family learned that we are carriers of the BRCA1 genetic mutation. Several of my dad’s female cousins were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30s, so when they and their father tested positive for the mutation, my grandfather decided to get tested to see if he was a carrier as well. As you can probably guess, he was positive. And so was my dad. For men, there is an increased risk of cancer, too, but the risk remains relatively small.
The next step would be for my sister and I to be tested to see if my dad passed this mutation on to us. If you’re unfamiliar with the BRCA1 genetic mutation, the basic idea is this. BRCA1 refers to a protein called the breast cancer type 1 susceptibility protein. The purpose of this protein is to repair damaged DNA or to destroy cells that contained damaged DNA that cannot be repaired. If you have a mutation in this gene, your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and several other cancers (e.g., uterine, cervical, pancreatic) goes way up. You go from a 12% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer to a 60% risk. For ovarian cancer, the lifetime risk goes from 1.4% to 40%. And while I specify “lifetime,” many of these cancers end up showing up early, when women are still premenopausal. It is heavy stuff, people. The course of action recommended to people with this mutation is different for everybody (depending on how early other people in your family have developed cancer and a host of other factors), but it includes anything from dietary changes and close surveillance to prophylactic surgery (where they remove at-risk tissue which, in this case, would be the breasts and the ovaries).
I was tested when I was 19. Unable to actually pull the trigger and find out the results, I simply didn’t. I opted to remain oblivious. Dumb to my fate. I was away at college. I didn’t want to think about possible future sickness. My 30s still felt like a long way off. And, well, my 15 year-old sister was much too young to think about this stuff yet, so my parents chose (wisely, I think) not to tell her about it.
Because I didn’t know whether or not I carried this mutation, my brain just decided that it was going to assume that I did. And that my sister didn’t. It became part of who I was. I was a person who may very likely get sick at a young age. I was a person who would need to do everything she could to prevent that, like changing my life plan and removing body parts. Over the next several years, this part of my self started to consciously and subconsciously create small changes in my behavior. I quit a few unhealthy behaviors. I started exercising regularly. You could probably say go so far as to say that I became obsessed with wellness. And I began to appreciate life’s transience.
And then, finally, when I was 25, I decided to call the university medical center that was conducting the study and ask them if I could come in so someone could read the results to me of a blood test that was performed 6 years before.
Meanwhile, my sister was growing up. She was told of the mutation. Unlike me (of course, as always), she decided she wanted to know immediately. So, at 21 years old, she was tested. And she was positive.
My appointment was a couple of weeks after hers. I sat, shaking, in an office with both of my parents, waiting for the genetic counselor to arrive. She came in, shook my hand and the hands of my mom and dad, and, before even sitting down, said, “I’m going to cut to the chase. Your test was negative. You do not have the BRCA1 mutation.”
And then came an uncontrollable wave of tears. And, no, they were not tears of relief. They were tears of unfairness. Of loss. Of guilt. Me being BRCA1 positive had become part of my identity and that was now gone. Somehow, the universe got things all confused. I was supposed to have to bear this burden. I’m the older. I was the one who had spent the last 6 years preparing for this life. I should have been the one to live it. Not my sister. My little sister.
This continues to be a struggle for my family. My parents worry about her until it makes them sick. And, at the young age of 21, my sister was told that, should she want the best chance of successfully avoiding early-onset cancer, she needed to have children early and then get her ovaries removed. Do you know what this does to a 21 year-old woman with graduate school on the horizon and very little focus on marriage and children? It fucks things up. The pressure to find “the one” is debilitating. You view your body as a ticking time bomb.
My dear sister is now 25. She’s finishing graduate school. Like many other normal 25 year olds, she is looking for her first real job. But unlike other normal 25 year olds, she gets mammograms and blood work every 6 months, always awaiting that next appointment and fearing the worst. She’s already had to have biopsies and additional tests when things have turned up funny. And, most salient to her, she is single. When first diagnosed, she had hoped to have a couple of quick children and to have her ovaries removed by 30. Now, she is thinking about freezing eggs, just in case (half of which will likely carry the same BRCA1 mutation she has). She is worried about missing her chance of having a baby the normal way. Her window is smaller than ours. To those of us who have struggled with fertility, this seems like a given (or, to me, it does). Freeze your eggs just in case. If you haven’t gotten pregnant by the age of whatever-you-decide, remove your ovaries. Try IVF. But she desperately wants her babies the “normal” way. And I completely get that. A year ago, I would have felt the same way.
I want her to be healthy and well for as long as possible. I can’t push my plan – the plan I had for myself when I thought I was positive – on her. It should have been my body. But it’s not. It’s her body. Her potential future illness. Her potential future babies. She needs to decide.
I just wish there was more I could do. Like take it back and make it mine again. Or, since that is not possible, help her understand her options.
I love her I love her and I want to make it better.