Calm Before the Storm

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After our retrieval, once we had received the news that 5 of our embryos had made it to freeze, it felt as though life quieted down. I didn’t have to think about treatment, we weren’t constantly running to the clinic for appointments, or blood draws and I wasn’t in the pharmacy every other day picking up meds. I had some time for myself, to recuperate and even out from the immense highs and lows of the stimming process.

Once we got closer and closer to September I began to think ahead to my transfer (if it were to happen). But, trying not to get too ahead of myself, because even though CD1 in September would mean the beginning of the transfer process, nothing would even happen until CD21 of my September cycle and the transfer itself not until mid to late October. When my period was late, and I was looking at having to delay our transfer by a month, it just felt like more waiting again.

I spoke to the clinic on Sunday about my being out-of-town possibly conflicting with my transfer. The nurse said we could possibly have me coast on Estrace for a few extra days, depending on when my next CD1 fell, but that too many days and my lining could end up being too thick. She suggested that it may not be worth the risk if the transfer didn’t work I may blame myself for not just waiting another cycle. I agreed with her on this, and she suggested that she could speak to my doctor to see if he had any suggestion. I told her I would really appreciate that. So far, this was the most helpful nurse I have dealt with. She truly seemed to want to find a solution for me, and that she understood that it wasn’t just one more month, it was now going on 27 months. She told me she would speak to Dr. M and get back to me.

I made sure to have my phone by my side all morning. I thought she was going to call me back fairly shortly, but when I didn’t hear from her by noon (when she had initially called around 8am) I thought perhaps she didn’t mean today. Perhaps Dr. M wasn’t even working, and she would have to talk to him the next time he was in. A little after 1pm my phone rang, it was the clinic. She apologized for taking so long to get back to me, which I told her was quite alright, as I really appreciated what she was doing for me. Then she said the magic words; “we’re a go”. Dr. M said that I can stay on Suprefact (my down reg nasal spray) for 5 more days, to put me safely past the date of my trip. It will prevent me from producing estrogen so my lining should stay put until we give it the go ahead by starting the Estrace. Fantastic! She is sending my protocol in the mail and as of now I start Suprefact Sept. 26, my transfer should fall somewhere around the end of October. That still seems so far away, but with two trips between now and then, plus J’s birthday, I’m sure time will fly.

Since we got the go ahead on the transfer, the rest of life seems to have taken flight as well. At the moment J and I are the main contacts in charge of our condo building right now as the woman who normally takes care of any maintenance, ect. is out of the country until the end of the month. So far we’ve had 2 “emergencies” crop up and then this afternoon someone broke the glass in the secure front entry door to our building.  We had to spring into action, call the police, have an emergency glass repair service come out, and advise all tenants.

While we were dealing with the police, J got a call. The condo that we are trying to purchase (in our same building, bigger unit, higher floor) has just cleared probate. It was part of an estate, and it was looking like clearing the estate was going to take foreveeeer so we had kind of resigned ourselves that the opportunity may pass (we made an offer back in July). Well, it is a go, and the executor is speaking with his lawyer tomorrow about how we can proceed. Holy shit, all of a sudden we may have a new place on our hands (that needs about $15k of renos, mind you). I’m starting to freak out a little bit about the money, even though we really should be able to manage it (our mortgage was pre-approved back when we made the offer), and it would be a great investment opportunity.

So we went from a complete standstill to taking off at top speed. Hopefully I don’t get motion sick…

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Déjà vu

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My period has finally arrived, 4 days late. We can only hope the next cycle is also late, or the clinic can work around my trip. That is yet to be determined. We stayed in a hotel last night because we are out of town visiting family. So not fun hotel sex. Good thing I didn’t bleed all over the immaculate white bedding. I’m relieved to get the next cycle started, but nervous about what this cycle may or may not be the beginning of.

Today, I will be attending my nieces’ joint birthday party (they were born on the same day, both by c-section. So, yes, it was intentional). I am having a sense of deja vu, because close to this time last year we were visiting my sister in law in the hospital just after she had my niece, her second daughter. This same weekend we were visiting their new baby, my period decided to show up, driving us closer and closer to beginning our journey with IUIs, and then IVF.

While we were staring down infertility treatment, my brother and sister in law had just added another child to their family and been discussing adopting two little boys. Because my sister in laws pregnancies had been very difficult, but they (she) wanted to continue to build their family, they thought adoption would be a good “solution”. I’m certain they knew nothing about adoption, how it works, and what it cost. It was just their newest fantasy, they had cooked up while enjoying their new sweet baby. But it led to me cry in a mall food court when J told me. Happy birthday to my darling nieces, the living reminders of my infertility.

The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Timing

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All throughout the process of trying to conceive, naturally, through IUIs and now IVF, all I’ve really wanted was a little control. But, alas, not only do you lose your dignity being subjected to multiple wandings, pokes, prods and being treated like a science experiment, you also lose control of your entire life. Plus paying thousands of dollars for it. Fun, hey!?

So, with this upcoming transfer cycle, although I still don’t really have any control I felt as though I had overcome the major hurdle of IVF/retrieval, and the transfer would be a piece of cake. Back in May, we booked to go to Las Vegas for my friend’s wedding in October. Not knowing how our IVF cycle was going to go, we just booked it and decided we would sort it out down the road. I think we thought that we would have already managed a transfer by that time, so the biggest worry was being pregnant in Vegas. Then, I found out I would be going to Alaska for work in September, and was slightly concerned that having two trips within a month of each other might prove to be problematic.

Once I got my period after my retrieval I was able to start counting the days for the transfer. I didn’t have all of the details of the process, but I figured it should be ok. Once I got the schedule for the transfer and I started counting the days, I quickly found that Alaska would be fine. I may have been looking at starting the nasal spray (on CD21) while I’m there, but I could deal with that. Counting from my next tentative CD1 (somewhere towards the end of Sept. or beginning of Oct.), I would have to start estrogen on CD3 for 12 – 14 days after which point they would check to make sure my lining was at 8mm which is considered day “0”, then 5 days later, when my lining is in sync with the day 5 embryos, the transfer would be performed. This would put the transfer somewhere in the week of Oct. 19 – 25.

We leave for Las Vegas on Oct. 24, very early in the morning, so there wouldn’t even be a chance of transfer and then hop on a plane. We have non refundable flights, I bought show tickets for the evening we get in for J’s birthday this month, and my friend’s wedding is on the Saturday. The flights that weekend are super full so even if we could change them it would cost a small fortune. Obviously money is not the be all end all as I’ve thrown thousands at my uterus to no avail (yet), but I have a little more control over this situation. I just have to delay the transfer cycle.

Ever since the clinic gave me the protocol and I counted the tentative days I knew it was going to be tight, but do-able I figured. So long as AF cooperated. But why would she, why can’t one tiny fucking thing work in my favour!? I should have gotten my period Monday, or even yesterday (by normal standards). It is now CD29 going on 30 and she still hasn’t made an appearance. I have been feeling cramps since Saturday, and thought “ok, here we go”. And then nothing. So frustrating. I know my cycles may still be a bit jacked up from the IVF meds, and the fact that I was on birth control from February to July, which kept me fairly regular. But seriously, cut me some freakin’ slack here, Universe!

Now that my CD1 has seemingly been bumped and bumped, it is going to be near impossible to start the transfer process this cycle, barring some sort of miracle. I could cancel the trip right now, and go gung-ho at the transfer, or I could start the transfer process and wait to see if the transfer date will interfere with the trip, at which point I can either scrap the cycle, or the trip (last-minute decision). Or, I can delay by a month, take the trip, and get both things by sacrificing one more month of life to infertility. I’d rather that, than give up the trip to infertility. Maybe I’m being selfish, or silly, but I can control when I start the transfer process, so I am taking that and holding on.

I am planning on calling the clinic anyways, once CD1 arrives, just to give them the rundown of the situation and hope they have some sort of hail mary plan they can throw at it. Unless my period is exceedingly late, then it may still work after all. But it would have to be like a week late, which in an of itself causes more questions, and possibly bigger issues.

Last crazy thought rattling around in my head…the 1% of me that thinks “holy shit what if I got pregnant…naturally!” But that’s ridiculous right? Because if it hasn’t happened in two years of trying, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen in one month of not trying, coming down from all sorts of crazy IVF hormones. So mostly I am being stupid even thinking it. Plus I would be livid if that happened! Is that weird, that an infertile would be irate at getting pregnant naturally? I have babies, they’re frozen and waiting for me!

So let’s hope for a CD1 around…Sept. 6 and then let’s delay CD1 in October too, just so we can leave Vegas out of the equation…mmmk?

What Will the Future Bring?

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Last week J broke down and told me he thinks he is depressed. I can’t say I was too surprised, he’s not been himself recently. Since we had that talk, he’s seemed to be doing a bit better. I think for him just saying it out loud to me and having my support and understanding has been a good step. I would be willing to admit that I would probably be categorized as depressed as well. I grew up with a first hand view of depression in my home, I know what it looks like and I have been especially vigilant in monitoring myself, for fear that the hereditary link will eventually take me into that dark place. At the moment, I can see what’s happening to myself, and most of the time I can manage, deal with the darkest times, and realize what I am feeling is situational.

I have sought counselling when I felt I didn’t have the right tools to help myself, and I have urged J to do the same. Not only has infertility affected both of us, but he is also dissatisfied at work. I have had this feeling too, but I think mine stems more from the underlying depression and general melancholy. I think his feelings may be exacerbated by our struggles, but he truly is unhappy in his work. It is a desperate seeming situation for him. But he recognizes it, and agrees that a therapist would be beneficial.

In that same vein, he is considering a new position with his company, it would be longer hours, and more stress to begin with but it is a huge opportunity for him, and really is the next step in his career. I fully believe that he can take on the role, but I fear the timing is not ideal. We had a discussion about it, and how we have so much on our plate already, this new position would probably make life more difficult for us for a while. Once again I find myself being pissed that IF is forcing us to think very carefully about an opportunity that would normally be a no-brainer. In the end I told him I fully support whatever decision he makes, but that it is just going to mean more effort at work, as well as on the home front, if he decides to pursue it.

If he were to take the position, and if I get pregnant on our first transfer, it would create a perfect little two-ish year plan, but I have no hope that the universe will let me have even that. My plans have already been derailed too many times.

I just finished a book called What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty. It deals with a woman who loses ten years of her memory, so while she is actually 39 years old, in her mind she is living everything as her 29-year-old self. She is surprised at the direction her life has taken in the 10 years she can’t recall. I know the feeling, and I still have all of my memories. Another reason I loved this book is there is a strong side story of infertility, and it is spot on. I would highly recommend it, but be forewarned, it brought up a lot of tough emotions.

I also watched the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love this weekend and while it was a little cheesy it touched on a marriage falling apart because life got in the way. Right now, although we are in the midst of turmoil, I feel extremely close to J. But I have real fears that as time goes on, we may grow complacent and  take each other for granted, or become resentful of one another as so many couples do, out of the doldrums of life, and the petty annoyances that accumulate over the years. I am cognisent of the work that is required in a marriage and try to be ever vigilant to resolve problems and nurture our relationship, but I am afraid apathy may be like a slow creeping poison that we may not realize until it’s too late.

I don’t want to invite more stress and drama into our lives, but I hope being aware of what we are taking on and still making a concerted effort in our relationship and with our self-care will keep us on a good path.

On an actual IVF note, CD1 should be tomorrow. I’ve been feeling nasty and crampy yesterday and today. Once AF arrives I’ll call the clinic to start the process for the FET though nothing happens until CD21 when I start suprefact nasal spray. At this point I really need my period to show ASAP, because based on the tentative timeline it is going to put the transfer date exceedingly close to the day we leave for Las Vegas for a friends wedding. Just one more thing to stress about.

Melancholy, Friendship and the Avoidance Tactic

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Lately, I’ve been stuck in a fog of my own thoughts, unable to gather enough motivation to do more than the basic necessities. When I am feeling this way, having a sense of ennui (<— that is my favourite word as of late), I tend to avoid. I have emails to return, phone calls to make, errands to run, a house to keep, and I just don’t feel like it.

Besides these minor things, I have larger avoidance issues, like with work. I am generally very prompt in my work life; in showing up for work, getting back to people, other such follow-up. Lately, I have been screeching in the door mere minutes before I am to start work, I delay returning emails, and calling clients, for no discernible reason. My work is getting done, but at a slower pace than I am known for, and for no good reason.

Another pretty significant avoidance that I finally tackled came in the form of having a discussion with my best friend. She recently had her second child, and her first was born when I was in the early days of TTC. Her children are living reminders of our ongoing failure to produce offspring. And I won’t lie, that hurts. It hurts my self-confidence, but mostly it has hurt our friendship. I used to always discuss with her what was going on with our conception efforts, when we were still trying au natural, and after we were labelled “officially infertile” and sent off to Ye Olde Fertility clinic. Right around the time of our last IUI that stopped. She found out she was pregnant with her newest addition sometime between my first and second IUIs. It put us in an awkward position, but I tried to push past it. As her belly became more prominent, I withdrew from her.

After our final IUI, I told her it didn’t work, and that we had an appointment in April at the fertility clinic to discuss next steps. After that, not a word was uttered. It was like there was a silent agreement between us not to discuss it. She didn’t ask, and I didn’t offer. We saw each other very few times in her second trimester, and not at all in the third. I made the obligatory visit (that sounds terrible, considering she’s my dear friend) when the baby was born, and it was very awkward. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. I brought hubby along to try to defuse the situation but it probably only made it weirder, not to mention then both of us felt shitty after we left.

Even in times when my friend and I haven’t seen each other often, we generally keep in touch, with a text here and there, or through Facebook. Even that had started to wane. Finally a couple of weeks ago, she reached out, and we made tentative plans to get together. Those plans fell through because I procrastinated getting in touch with her until it was too late. I sent her a text a couple of days after, apologizing for missing our date, and earnestly offered to try for another day. We settled on a time and a place, and rescheduled our date. 

I should also mention, that her older son turned 2 earlier in August (actually the day after our missed meet up) and I didn’t remember the date. I knew his birthday was in early August, but by the time I looked up the date, it had already passed. I apologized and sent him belated birthday wishes, but I know she was hurt. Although, apparently I was not the only friend who didn’t remember (not a good excuse though).

We met up on a Sunday afternoon at my place and walked to a nearby restaurant that we used to frequent together, for margaritas and nachos. Our conversation was superficial and stunted, as I asked about life with two littles, and she asked about my life (with not a whole lot going on). We both knew we were side stepping the issue at hand, and I had every intention of discussing it, but she beat me to the point, and asked what was going on. She knew we had had our appointment in April, and she hadn’t heard anything from me about it. I let out a sigh, and an apology for not keeping her posted (not that I owe her that, but I knew she would be wondering).

I dove right in, and told her basically we were half way through IVF. I knew she had no concept of how IVF really worked, so I gave her the quickest run down of what transpired without bogging her down with too much information. I know she doesn’t understand the emotional toll of it all, and she seemed hopeful for me when I told her we had 5 embryos on ice. I told her more than once that it doesn’t always work on the first try, or at all, but I think she wanted to be the positive angel on my shoulder. Obviously if someone is telling you they are about to do something that may not work, you’re not going to agree and tell them it’s a shit idea. So, I can understand her somewhat misguided reassurances.

I told her I was sorry for being a bad friend, but that it was really difficult when she was pregnant, and that she has what I have been struggling for. She sort of just let that part slide, we didn’t really get into it. I know there’s nothing she can do about it, and it’s probably hard for her that I feel that way. Despite my avoiding her, it is harder and harder for her and I to find time to see each other, and when we do it’s just not the same. We live such different lives, and sometimes it’s hard to find common ground anymore. Why do I need to be part of the mommy club just to relate to my best friend?

But in the end, I know I need to make a better effort. Just because we’re in very different stages in our lives, doesn’t mean we have to cease being friends. As I was telling J how I feel like I don’t relate to her anymore, he told me I can’t expect to live a mirror of her life. I was gobsmacked by his wise words, he’s not really the type to bestow sage words of wisdom (love the guy, but just not his style usually). And then I felt shame, because of course he’s right. I have friends of all different types, and stages of life. They are my friends because I like them as people, not because they are a reflection of my life.

This past weekend I had a short burst of motivation, enough to clean the house thoroughly (partly motivation, partly due to the fact that we had company for dinner yesterday). Today I had a day off, with no pressing errands to deal with, but I didn’t want to spend the day inside laying on the couch. I made myself go out, got some sushi for lunch (because I can, little win for the infertile girl!), walked to my favourite tea shop and pick up some of the new seasonal teas, and got some banking done. When I came home I finally made some mint ice cream custard (to be churned tomorrow) that I have been procrastinating for weeks (and J has been reminding me of, he really wants some), then since I was on a roll, I made some chocolate protein balls, and some homemade peanut butter (all you do is put peanuts in a food processor and let them go, can you believe it’s that easy?).

I have to take advantage of my momentary burst of energy when they come. I am working on pushing through the fog, taking care of my life, surviving until I can start focusing on what I need to do for the transfer, but it’s hard. The littlest things get put of and put of, and everything just seems like too much effort. How do you survive periods of limbo without sleepwalking through life?

The Lucky Ones

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This week two of my IVF buddies have had less than stellar news, both to do with the quality of their embryos. Both had stimulated well, and had high hopes for the number of quality embryos they might have only to find out this would not be the case. In an instant my perspective changed; am I the lucky one? Throughout this journey and in life I’ve never considered myself “lucky”. Lucky to have suffered through a year of trying naturally with no success? Lucky to have been diagnosed infertile? Lucky to have tried, and failed 3 IUIs? Lucky to have had to endure IVF, as my last resort for biological children (still with no promise that that will be the result)?

In my mind, those that get pregnant in the first month are the lucky ones, or just as they are seeking IF treatment, those elusive two lines make their appearance. Even the ones who have success with IUIs, although I wish no one had to get to even that point. But then there are those who see me as the lucky one, to have five good quality (one perfect) day five embryos waiting on ice for me, when there are others who end up with four, two, none? There are those who have to do multiple rounds of IVF, suffer through OHSS, end up with no viable embryos, learn that IVF will not be the solution to their infertility. Not to say that my battle is over, my embryos do not promise me a flesh and blood baby to take home (yet), but I do have them for now. Others may see my cycle and see me as lucky.

Puts things into perspective. I suppose although there are people I look to thinking “I wish that were me”, there are people that look to me and think the same. I try and remember this as I wish I had more embryos, that I wish an IUI had work for us, when I wish we had succeeded naturally. Maybe I am one of the lucky ones?

*I won’t count my chickens though, for all I know, all my of embryos could be crap.

Emotional Hangover

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Today has been a bit of a downer day, I am having one of those days where I am just struggling to stay afloat. I didn’t have to work today, which I am thankful for, as this week has bee a trying one work-wise (though I do have to work tomorrow). I think all of the emotion over the past few months came to a culmination with the egg retrieval and final count of our frozen embryos. There was impatience in waiting to get started, feeling like we were finally moving again after being stalled for several months once I reached CD1 and called in to start my cycle. Leading up to starting our IVF cycle there was anticipation, hope, nervousness, and a little bit of excitement. The massive ups and downs of the stimming, and then retrieval. Waiting for the phone calls from embryology to up date us on our growing little balls of cells, there was always a next thing to move toward.

And now, nothing. Just like my estrogen levels came crashing down, so too have my emotions. I am once again left with waiting, waiting for the next piece to start. Although I am happy to have a next piece, that will hopefully be the final piece, I am somehow left with a feeling of melancholy. The immense crush of infertility is again resting on my shoulders. I was able to put it aside for the task at hand that was IVF, but now it’s just limbo again.

I think know that part of this feeling is due to the fact that we have to choose whether to transfer one embryo or two. Before we even started our cycle I had my mind set on one (depending on the quality of the embryos) and I am still firm in that decision, especially since they are all of good quality. The problem is that J is not in agreeance. We had a very short, very emotional, clipped conversation about it the other night. He wants two, I tried to explain my side to him, but he doesn’t really even want to discuss it. Not because he doesn’t want to see my side, but he is very emotional about it. He just told me to choose, that he didn’t want to argue about it. I don’t want to argue about it either but I did want to discuss it. He told me he wants to do whatever will give us better odds because he doesn’t think he can go through another failure. I don’t see that as a good enough reason for us to take the riskier chance of multiples to increase our odds, when even that is not a guarantee that it will work. Not with the first transfer at least.

With my age, and the fact that we are dealing with MFI, which has been overcome by using ICSI, I feel that we have a genuinely good chance of our first single FET working. Our clinic gave us the average success rate for a single transfer being around 45%. Now interestingly enough, this is not our clinic’s figure, it is from Quebec, where IVF is provincially funded, but only for single transfer. Our clinic does not do enough single transfers to have the data for success rates. So obviously my choice of a single is not a popular one. I am willing to do a double but only if the single doesn’t work. I asked the embryologist if doing two single transfers was equal to doing a double, and he told me no. For some reason double embryo transfers do better, as if the embryos help each other, even if only one of them implants. It is some sort of weird anomaly that makes it even harder for me to turn away from a double transfer.

We have time to decide, but I doubt either of us will change our minds. If he is telling me to decide, then he is consenting to a single transfer, even if it is not what he wants, I feel it is what’s best. I just don’t want to feel guilt if a single doesn’t work. I feel doing a double right off the bat, for us, is like taking a risk, just to get something done more quickly. One may be enough, and then we would have 4 left for future use, if we want.

So, all in all, infertility is still beating me down. I thought I might have a nice reprieve between my retrieval and transfer, but I should have known better.