August 6, 2013 § 54 Comments
The subconscious is a powerful beast.
I wrote that post last night feeling all zen, and then I tossed and turned all night long and somewhere in there I fell asleep for long enough to have at least three nightmares about horrible ultrasounds. I guess I could police my fears well enough when the sun was up, but my ego was off the clock when I crawled into bed.
I finally gave up and got out of bed at 5:15 and showered. Then, to distract myself, I read through some internship program brochures, since I have to narrow down the list to 15(ish) by the end of the month.
Artsy Engineer and I drove together to the appointment. I felt pretty numb while in the car, but as soon as we walked into the RE’s office, I started crying. Luckily it was only us in there. We talked about what we’d do if it was bad news. We had zero ideas.
They took me back, drew some blood, asked for a urine sample, and took my blood pressure, which was through the roof. We got one of our favorite nurses (they have several stellar ones who I feel I’ve bonded with), and both she and the doc were present for the actual ultrasound.
I looked at the screen briefly right away and saw black space but nothing inside, so I promptly looked away from the screen and at my husband’s face. The RE said, “huh.” And then she asked me to give her just a minute to “see what’s going on.”
What sort of response is that?!!
But then I understood.
You guys. There were two babies in there. Two babies.
Both were 7mm. I don’t know if this was the measurement for the fetal pole or crown to rump length. I thought you couldn’t do the latter until 7 weeks, right?
Then she turned on the audio. This was the most surreal moment I have ever experienced. Baby A (I have a baby A?!!) had a heart rate of 122 bpm. Baby B’s was 124. Both were incredible and each one made me cry.
I let out many exclamations of surprise. We were and are completely (completely!) shocked. This possibility did not cross my mind even once. We had sooo many chances over the course of months and months and months and this cycle has two eggs and they are both fertilized, implant, and have grown (on track) to the stage where I can hear their hearts beating. It seems like such a very odd thing.
Artsy Engineer couldn’t bear to go straight to work afterward, so we went for coffee and a second small breakfast. We just sat across from one another, staring at each other and smiling every couple of minutes and shaking our heads.
The doctor warned us (and of course, we know) that it is still very early and that there remains a high chance of miscarriage. We will do another ultrasound two weeks from today. She said that the 8 week ultrasound is the “big one” and that if things look well at 8 weeks, they typically continue to look well.
There is no doubt that I’ll worry about this as the 8 week mark gets closer. But, for now, I have ultrasound pictures of our two babies on my refrigerator and I have three heartbeats happening inside of me.
Artsy Engineer said that we’re already making music.
August 5, 2013 § 17 Comments
I’m going to make this short and sweet.
I have had a really optimistic and joyful week. All of your words of encouragement the weekend before last were not for naught. I took them and I wrapped myself in them and I swallowed them and here I am. So, thank you.
This week was all about how I have no control over what is going to happen with this pregnancy. And how if I continue to be paralyzed with worry, I will be doing nothing but forcing myself to experience heartbreak overandoverandover again every day amen, whether or not it is warranted. And how I deserve to enjoy this and to be excited and to feel happy and lucky and warm. And, you know, puppies and all baby animals and pasta and blankets and wood stoves and tea.
This is not to say that I have not had moments or hours or half days of worry.
They’ve just all been covered in a blanket of this sense that everything is going to be okay. Which may or may not be the case, but somehow I’m making myself believe it. At least about 50% of the time (which I’d say is pretty good). 15% of the time I’m sure there is nothing in my uterus but an empty sac and the last 35% of the time I have successfully distracted myself from all thoughts baby. (The only things that seem to successfully serve as distractions are actually physically being in the room with patients and also watching mindless and horrible television on netflix.)
Anyway, I said short, right?
My first ultrasound is tomorrow morning at 8:15.
I know I will be anxious and it will be visible. I can picture my hands shaking and my heart pounding. And that weird buzzing in my ears and that feeling of being a bit disconnected from myself. My self. At my clinic, they are kind enough to have two screens for the verrrry fancy looking ultrasound machines, one right in front of the nurse or doctor and one (a nice, big one) right over my head and slightly to the left, angled down for a perfect viewing. But I imagine that I’ll have the heels of my palms pressed firmly over my eyes. And I’ll stay that way until they say, “there is it, Lentil. it looks great.”
(I’ve been practicing some visualization, can you tell?)
Much love to you all. I’ll check back in soon. xo and signing out.
July 24, 2013 § 42 Comments
I owe you guys a little bit of an update, I think.
First, again, I think I a-little-bit love each and every one of you. Thank you for your support. It has been mind-blowing.
Today (like yesterday and the day before and the 5 days before that), I am barely pregnant. 4 weeks and 5 days pregnant, to be exact. This week has gone by incredibly slowly, and I can’t imagine that the next two will be any quicker.
I feel like I need to fill in the last week, so here it is. This will be wordy and manic, for sure. But I really need to be dissertating right now, so I’m going to leave grammar and proper paragraph formation to the real writers out there.
The day I found out that first beta was positive was absolutely surreal. I was home by myself when I heard the news. The nurse called at 10 AM, which is EARLY (usually they call around noon), so I wondered briefly if something good might be up. Why would they rush to deliver bad news? But no, of course not, Lentil. Don’t be silly. This cycle is a bust. You are doing IVF in September. All she said was, “Lentil, is it a good time to talk?” And you guys. I knew then. Because I could hear the excitement in her voice. And then she said, “Good. Because I have some wonderful news for you.” I think I might have yelped. And then cried a little. And then told her (nonsensically, I believe, as I was not in any state to be storytelling) about the avocado allergy and the vomiting at work. And then I had to KEEP being home by myself for the rest of the day. I was super antsy couldntsitstill so I went out. I decided on a whim that I did not want to tell Artsy Engineer about the positive beta until he got home and I could do it in person. I knew he had meetings all day and it just didn’t seem like an option to tell him in between meetings when the excitement might have to be cut short. It was a weird decision and not at all like me. I hate big to-do’s. I hate surprises. But in that moment, it just seemed like the only decision.
So I lied. I sent him a text that the beta was negative. It was cruel. I’m not sure what I was thinking.
Anyway. Antsy. I went out. And I went to Target to buy some pregnancy tests, because dear GOD I had been waiting so long to see that second line. The manager checked me out when I was making my purchases. She was a woman about my age. Probably 8 months pregnant. And she said, “make sure you don’t throw away the instructions, because there are always dollar off coupons on them for another set of tests.” And my infertile radar was like, she’s one of us. And so I said, “thanks! It looks like you’ve probably used these once or twice.” And. Get this. Right there while she was checking me out, with a line of people behind me, she confirmed my suspicion. She said that she used them A LOT. That it took her three years. And that the month before she conceived, she was told she would never have children. That she needed to have to have a hysterectomy. She wished me luck and told me to maintain hope. It was incredible. Here I was, one hour pregnant, and my first ever random real life infertile meeting happens. And it was a wonderfully uplifting story. I floated out the door. And I went home and took that pregnancy test and, at 12 days past ovulation, that sucker was darker than the control line. UNREAL. Is this really happening? And to me?!
Then, I went to Pea in the Pod (what the hell was I thinking?!) and bought a onesie (and got a free baby bottle.. so weird! for me?) and to Barnes and Noble and bought a baby name book and to the market and bought a jellybean assortment. And I came home and made a babyarrangement on the table. I was going to present to Artsy Engineer our pregnancy.
And then he hit infertility rock bottom. He called on the way home and just let loose with the itsnotfair’s and the screweveryoneelse’s and the curse words and the tears. And I felt like a monster. But I was sooo close to being able to tell him in person, so all I could do was say, uh huh; I know, baby; it’s not fair over and over again.
Then he got home and saw the baby stuff and he cried. And cried. He was elated, of course. But somewhere in the crying was a pathetic sounding “why did you do that to me?”
I still feel horribly guilty about it.
The next few days were very difficult. I felt a few hours of relief after the second beta came back well, but it didn’t last long. And on top of intense fear of miscarriage, I was also dealing with another thing.
I’ve been lucky enough to go to grad school in the city near where my parents live. And I’ve loved being close to them. We see them once or twice in a two week period. They live out in the country in this beautiful old farmhouse that was built in the 1800s. There is an enormous garden, and wildlife, and a skyfull of stars. To say that this home has been a safe haven for me over the past 5 years is to put it mildly. This has been my refuge. My warm place. My place of peace.
I’ve known for a year that they were moving this weekend. They got jobs at the university in their own hometown, where my grandparents and many aunts and uncles still live. At a topnotch university. Six hours away. My dad actually moved in November and would come back every other weekend to be with my mom.
But the time had come. And this past weekend just so happened to be the last weekend that we would get to spend in the house. They actually drive away with the moving truck today.
I cried all weekend. I cried when we pulled up the winding and tree-lined driveway. I cried when I ate my last dinner at the kitchen table. I cried when I saw the stars out there for the last time. I cried over breakfast on Sunday morning. And I sobbed when we pulled away on Sunday afternoon.
But that is that, I guess. I buried the house. I will probably be grieving it for awhile. Just, dearlord, don’t give me two things to grieve.
Beta on Sunday was 569. 41 hour doubling time. So far, it looks like we’re progressing as we should be. But, obviously, it’s still so so early. Part of me wants to scold myself for making purchases. For getting amped up about having a small living thing in my uterus. What if I jinxed it? But that’s a crock of shit and we all know it. If this thing is going to stop growing, it’s going to do so regardless of whether or not I’ve let myself get excited about it.
And over the last day or two, I have. I have allowed some happy thoughts in. I even went to the library and picked up a pregnancy book (or three), so I could read about what’s happening in my body. And I can’t withhold this excitement from Artsy Engineer, either. It wouldn’t be fair. On Monday, he downloaded the What to Expect app on his phone while at work, apparently, and I got the following text while I was breaking between patients:
Hey you. Guess what. The baby is as big as an orange seed and it has these two tubes which will fuse together soon to become the two main chambers of the heart. Then the brain and spinal cord get sucked up into the baby next week. Cooooool.
And my heart melted.
My next milestone is getting through this weekend. I started bleeding at 5 weeks last time. There is lots of checking for blood. And yesterday I had a bunch of period-like cramping, which sucked because what does it mean? Luckily, I will be going to Chicago this weekend to see my childhood BFF, who is there for a work trip. Hopefully that will provide a little bit of a distraction.
No more betas, though. My first ultrasound is scheduled for 6w4d. 9 am. Tuesday, August 6th. 14 days away (counting today because I still have to make it through today). I think the next two weeks are going to take years.
June 16, 2013 § 29 Comments
I’m not sure where to begin. I think I’ve been missing for nearly 5 weeks.
It was not a premeditated absence. I planned to keep up with everyone while in Ecuador. And then I planned to write about the trip as soon as I got home. Instead, I forgot (mostly) about the fact that I am a person who is trying to have a baby and who can’t. And I withdrew entirely from this infertile world.
And it felt so freeing. I felt so light.
Not the part about being ‘away’ from you guys. That part I felt guilty about. And I wondered about you all. In fact, I lurked. Reading on the periphery but hesitant to dive back in, as if one comment here or there would be like removing my finger from the dike and would result in me (and those close to me) drowning in a wave of my infertileness.
This was not the only reason I was absent. I have also been the outofcontrol holy-shit kind of busy. Aside from two weeks in Ecuador, I was in dissertation boot camp for a week, writing for 10 hours a day in a semi-organized fashion in the library of the university (jealous?), had two friends staying with us for 10 days, and just got back from an extended weekend in Ann Arbor. We’ve been in the company of a good number of the members of our mishpocha. I have not been to yoga since pre-Ecuador, which is a pretty good marker for how off my schedule has been, since that is something I do rather zealously. The Artsy Engineer and I actually counted the days where we’ve had more than an hour to ourselves since May 14th, when we haven’t been sharing rooms in hostels in Ecuador with friends or sharing our home with friends or sharing our family’s homes. It comes out to 5.*
I’m not going to go into any crazy details with this post. I feel the need to just break the silence. Remove my finger from the dike.
But. I will tell you that I am very much not pregnant. And I am doing remarkably well. IUI #1 was a bust. I snuck into the bathroom first thing in the morning, while our friends slept in the bed right next to ours, and took the test, then crawled back into bed and whispered to Bryan the negative result. We were momentarily (and, oddly, superficially almost) bummed. Then we got up, had rich coffee on the porch in our pajamas, and spent the rest of the day rappelling down waterfalls outside of a town situated in a valley where the Andes and the Amazon rainforest meet. It was hard to stay disappointed about anything. IUI #2 took place exactly one week ago, while we had friends staying with us. They are very close friends, and they know about our whole infertile history, so I didn’t have to make up any stories about going out to get bagels on Sunday morning when, in fact, I was being inseminated. They even watched, wide-eyes and jawed, as the Artsy Engineer gave me my trigger shot. These friends are the kind who say all the right things, ask all the right questions, and who have never tried to give us advice of any kind. You know the kind. They were a breath of fresh air. They are also psychologists, so I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that they know how to talk to people about difficult things. And even appear not just interested, but also curious and almost excited about the process. It was just so terribly nice.
Despite my attempt to avoid it, a lot of things have been happening on the fertility front. Last Friday, when I had the mid-cycle ultrasound to monitor follicle growth, I learned that I had three mature follicles (!!) and beautiful, thick lining. Letrozole and I, we clearly get along. I also scheduled and attended my first “what’s next” appointment with my RE, during which she was extremely pleasant and easy-going. She spent 40 minutes with me, which I thought was huge. And she answered every last one of the questions I had prepared without the slightest bit of annoyance. And she seemed to respect my thoughts and take me seriously. I was so relieved.
Right now I am 7dpiui and I have the most sore boobs I’ve had maybe ever (but that makes sense because I also had the most mature follicles I’ve had ever and, thus, the most corpora lutea to produce progesterone I’ve had ever). I’m hopeful. But we also are trying to devise our plan of what to do next. And IVF it is.
We haven’t decided the ‘when’ part, though. The thoughts on this will be included in another post, because this one is becoming a bit of a tome.
We have a couple of what I guess one could call possibilities. We’re on the waiting list for the New Hope IVF Clinical Trial, which would allow us to pursue IVF for the cost of several trips to New York. That is option #1. Options #2 is less good, I think, but we are incredibly lucky to have it. We drive janked up cars from the mid-90s. Mine died mid-left turn this afternoon after we picked up the dogs from kennel. We cannot afford IVF on our own. My parents have graciously (god, that word doesn’t do it justice or even anything close) offered to pay for the entire treatment, stating that they “cannot think of anything better to spend [their] money on.” But this idea is incredibly hard for us to swallow. My parents have some savings, but they are by no means wealthy. And IVF with our clinic is going to cost close to $20,000 when all is said and done. They pay for dinner when we go out together and it makes me uncomfortable. How am I supposed to accept a gift at this level of bigness?
Ok, More later. I have several things to expand upon. The Artsy Engineer and I have different ideas of when (and how) to move forward with IVF. I am beginning to think about which internship sites I will apply to, which is exciting and also terrifying. My parents are moving away in a month. My sister is dating a guy and I don’t like him and I feel like an judgy asshole about it. The dogs spent their first weekend at doggie daycare/boarding and I’m so proud of them for not freaking out and being miserable. Andonandonandon. Progesterone test is tomorrow. Conference in Chicago on Thursday. Beta is Friday. And go.
*I am an introvert in the sense that I love to be around others, but I find it physically and emotionally exhausting if I don’t get a good deal of ‘me’ time in order to recharge. So this has been a wonderful but draining month.
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.
February 25, 2013 § 17 Comments
First of all, I am floored by all of your thoughtful comments on my last post. Truthfully, I didn’t realize how many people both read this and care. You all are amazing.
Yesterday was a bad day. And, ya know, this morning didn’t start out so great either. First, the car in front of me getting onto the ramp headed toward the highway plowed over a bunny who was just sitting tharn in the middle of the road. Right in front of my face. And, don’t say he didn’t see it. He saw the bunny. It was in the middle of the freaking road. And it wasn’t moving. And there were no other cars around. This jackass just chose to not slow down to allow it to get out of the way. Admittedly, this kind of thing probably bothers me more than it should. Forgive me. And then, I somehow just forgot to get off at my exit for the hospital this morning. So, not the best entry into Monday.
But, as the day wore on, my mood improved. The Artsy Engineer called me around 10 to tell me that, whatever the results of this morning’s beta, he is 100% on board with moving forward with treatment. He said that he was having a rough day yesterday, too. He was anxious about money and work. And the prospect of another failed cycle. If I’m allowed to feel shitty and hopeless at the very end of the 2ww, he certainly is, too.
Weird thing. So, a couple of days ago I had really swollen boobs. It lasted for two days. I allowed myself to get a little excited, but I figured it was mostly the progesterone talking. Then, yesterday, the swelling went down. They were still tender, just not as big. I think this is part of what sent me into a tizzy.
But maybe it makes sense.
I went in at 7:45 for the beta, and I got the call back around 11.
In the words of the nurse on the other end of the line (my favorite nurse, by the way), the beta results were not quite negative, but they weren’t positive either. Let me explain. At my clinic, a “negative beta” is below 1. (I’ve always read that the number is 5, but my RE explained to me that their tests are really, really sensitive and can detect trace amounts of hCG that are in the blood stream even before implantation.) My number was a 2. The nurse explained that we clearly achieved fertilization but that it didn’t get much farther than that – it probably never made it’s way out of the tube.
Of course, we are disappointed.
But, I actually don’t feel nearly as crushed as I thought I would feel. I felt momentarily upset, but then it quickly went away. We achieved conception. Step two may have been a bust, but step one worked. I know the stats. 50% (or up to 70% depending on you who you talk to) of all fertilized eggs end up this way.
I guess this just wasn’t the right combination.
Thanks for all of your support, friends.
On to round 2.
February 11, 2013 § 8 Comments
You know those days when you feel like everything is going beautifully? Well, I haven’t had too many of them in the past several months. I’ve had some, for sure. But, for the most part, I’ve felt unsettled.
I decided today that I think that notion of being unsettled is the result of feeling hopeless. And, I know this because today I felt great nearly all day (except when an old friend announced her pregnancy with number two and I had about of ten minute period of the why is everyone fertile but me‘s).
My mid-cycle ultrasound was at 8 AM this morning. And I think I’m pretty pleased with my response to the Femara. This morning, which is my CD 12, my lining weighed in at a beautiful 9.2 mm. I had three measurable follicles – one at 21.5 mm, one at 13.5 mm, and one at 13 mm. From what I’ve read on the all-knowing Dr. Google, the smaller two will likely do nothing for me.
Overall, I’m really pleased. My body is really weird and finicky. It responds to meds/supplements/substances in a really funky way. Either a) nothing happens or b) I’m extraordinarily sensitive and have every weirdie side effect in the book. For instance, I am super super sensitive to caffeine. I stopped drinking it about 4 months ago, but before that, I had only about 8 oz of coffee a day (almost nothing), which I had to make sure to drink first thing in the morning. If I didn’t have any by 11:00 AM, I’d get a terrible withdrawal headache by 1:00. And if I drank anything at all with caffeine after about noon, I would straight not sleep that night. For the whole night. Which is why I felt like a slave and finally quit cold turkey after a 15 year love affair with coffee.
I do kind of wish that one of those other two measurable follies would have been a little bigger. If we’re dropping a Grover Cleveland* on one cycle, I wanted to get my money’s worth with a shot at two mature eggs.
Tonight, we triggered. And I actually took video of it. Because, y’all. The Artsy Engineer was hilarious. He wasn’t at my appointment this morning, so he didn’t get to hear the instructions first hand. He also hates needles. He admitted to me this morning that he has been looking at the package that was so dear to my heart with dread. In fact, when I pulled the materials out tonight, he developed all sorts of different kinds of symptoms. By the time we had everything sterilized and prepped, he was white as a sheet, his hands were shaking, and he’d been telling me for about 45 minutes that he thought he was getting sick**.
But he did it, and he did a great job. I didn’t feel a thing.
I’m now about ready for bed. According to the chart my RE gave me, we have to go have sex now, so cover your eyes. In approximately 36 hours, I will hopefully ovulate. This sucker will be the freshest egg I have ever ovulated (usually they sit around in there for at least another week or two before they decide to make the trip). I know our odds are still not good. But I feel some hope, because I think they’re at least a little better than they have been up to this point. And that little bit of hope went a long way for me today. Me and my healthy, average response to medication. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a celebrity. Happier than a pig in shit. Like a million bucks.
*Apparently Grover Cleveland, US President #22 and #24 (the only US President to serve two nonconsecutive terms), was on a $1000 bill that was published in the 1934. Who knew.
**It’s now an hour and a half later and (lo and behold!) he’s not sick. He’s playing his guitar with his harmonica strapped around his neck. Full of energy and zest. And health.
February 6, 2013 § 10 Comments
Today, I met a new guy. He came right up to my door (ballsy!) and proceeded to try to engage me in small talk about dogs (mine were barking their sweet little noggins off at him) and the weather (it’s sunny and there is snow on the ground; whoohooo) and the superbowl (meh). He was nice enough. And not unattractive. But I kind of ignored his face and his words. Because I could not keep my eyes off the box he was holding in his arms. My eyes were so attracted to it that you would think that it was glowing. Or on fire. Something.
If this very kind Fedex man knew what was in the box I was struggling internally not to yank from his hands, he probably would not have been semi-flirting with me. He might have averted his eyes, as have a few of my male (and female) friends who I have told about my miscarriage and about my infertility. He likely would not have had much to say except an awkward “Uhhh, are you Lentil? Can you sign for this?”
But he didn’t know. And so he engaged. And I kind of fell a little bit in love with this kind, chatty Fedex guy. Little does he know that he has now played a roll in helping me knocked up.
Once I finally got the box inside, I ripped it open (after feeling oddly compelled to document it for you all), and emptied the contents onto my kitchen counter. One box of Pregnyl HCG trigger components. Two syringes. Two needles. A prescription bottle of progesterone (The Artsy Engineer, funny guy, already informed me that he keeps the applicator for the these vaginal suppositories in his pants). And a bag of Hershey kisses.
I was so excited to get this package. And y’all. I was tickled to death that they put a bag of Hershey kisses in the package. I have no idea why. I’m no big sweets person. I’d choose a second helping of pasta over dessert any day. And I know this pharmacy in New Jersey that specializes in infertility medication very likely puts Hershey kisses in with their shipments purely for business reasons, to make me feel special and cared for so that I continue to purchase my expensive drugs from them. But, they got this girl. Those kisses made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And those syringes made me feel hopeful. Not too bad a combination for a Wednesday afternoon.