Wholly Unprepared

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I’ve been staring at this empty page for what feels like ages.  I’m just not sure what to say.  Our retrieval has been scheduled and I’m feeling entirely unprepared.

We went in for an ultrasound and blood draw on Sunday morning.  At last count, I’ve got roughly 30 follicles, roughly half of which were at about 12-14 mm. The others were all under 10 mm.  At that point, the nurses weren’t quite sure whether they would try to bring me in for one more ultrasound or if they were going to schedule the trigger shot.  Sunday afternoon we received a call letting us know it was time.  We would do one more stimulation shot, two more follicle maturing shots and 3 more anti-ovulation shots.  The HCG and the Lupron trigger shot (designed to keep my ovaries from hyper stimulation – common in women with PCOS) were scheduled for 10:30 p.m. on Memorial Day, with the retrieval scheduled for exactly 36 hours later, at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

If it seems to you that things are progressing a lot faster this time around, that’s because they are.  We had 12 days between our first shot and egg retrieval on our last cycle.  This time it was only 9.  I don’t honestly know if that’s a good or a bad thing.  It just is what it is, I guess.  What I do know, is that everything seems different this time.  I don’t remember feeling bloated and achy last time, until the day of the retrieval.  This time, I feel like the fricken Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I haven’t gained any weight during this cycle.  If anything, I’ve dropped a couple of pounds, but I’m so bloated that I feel as though I look like I could already be pregnant.  I also don’t remember being this sad.  I’m sure it’s mostly hormonal, but I can’t seem to shake it.  Most days have been fine, but the last couple have been pretty terrible.  And I can’t quite figure out why.  Maybe because I have no choice but to be ready before I truly feel ready.

That’s all I know for now.  Our transfer date won’t be determined until after the retrieval and will be contingent upon how many eggs successfully fertilize.  At this point, we know it will either be Saturday or Monday.  I’m desperately hoping that we have better luck with that this time.  If you remember our last retrieval they took 26 eggs.  One of their technicians even mentioned that she’d never seen so many eggs get collected at one time.  That left me feeling pretty amazing.  Sore as fuck, but incredibly proud of what my body was capable of.  Of the 26 eggs, 19 were considered normal.  Again, great news and higher than average numbers.  Of those 19, 12 fertilized normally.  Lee and I were overjoyed at the these facts, feeling pretty confident that we would be an IVF success story.  And yet, none of those 12 ended up being viable embryos.  I honestly don’t know if I’m strong enough to endure that kind of pain again.  And I don’t know that I’m ready to find out.  But I don’t really have a choice anymore, do I?

I’m going to go underground again for a bit.  Call it self-preservation, if you will.  To those of you that have followed along through our journey, thank you.  To those that have felt compelled to reach out, just to let us know you’re hoping for the best for us, I can’t even begin to describe what your thoughts and kindness have meant.  Know that I’ll be carrying those thoughts with me tomorrow, all the way through our transfer, up to our pregnancy test, and beyond.  I hope this story finally gives us the happy ending (beginning, really) that we’ve been hoping for.

 

 

Europe 2k18

Well, this should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but surprise!  Lee and I are planning another Europe trip.  5 months from today, we’ll be on our way.

How can we afford this you ask?  Skymiles.  You see, roughly 5 years ago, when Lee and I were planning our wedding, I suggested that we sign up for the Delta Skymiles Card.  While we had some money set aside for our wedding, I figured if we were going to have the party we wanted, it was going to involve some debt.  And if we were going to incur some debt, we might as well get some credit card perks to go with it.  As we planned our wedding, we would put all purchases on the credit card, and then pay it off as soon as possible.  We managed to amass a fair number of miles this way, but not quite enough to pay for a honeymoon.  That would have to wait.

Then 4 rounds of IUI and 2 rounds of IVF happened.  We’ve got miles coming out of our ears at this point.  So many, in fact, that we’re able to pay for both of our flights with miles and still have enough leftover for another trip.  I guess that’s our silver lining?  Thanks inferility!

We’ll start the trip in London as usual, because that’s our favorite place in the entire world.

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Why do we love London so much?   The history is definitely a huge part of it.  Walking through a city with over 1,000 years of well-documented history is pretty awe-inspiring.  Also, the food is pretty amazing.  Don’t let anyone tell you that Brits don’t know food.  That’s false.  London is a melting pot of culture, so there’s something for everyone when it comes to food.  The last time we were there, we had great pub food, but we enjoyed fantastic Italian and Turkish fare as well.  The walkability of the city is another reason to be obsessed.  There’s so much to see in London and most everything is conveniently accessible by foot, tube or train.  Finally, the hotel company I work for has such great hotel deals over in Europe that it allows us to stay in luxury without breaking the bank.  As long as they keep offering such a generous perk, I will make sure to take advantage.

After a fun-filled 4 days in London, we’re heading to Amsterdam!

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Neither Lee and I have ever been to Amsterdam, unless you count an hour-long layover at their airport.  There’s so much to see in the Netherlands!  We’ll be spending 3 days there, and so far have plans to do a half-day trip out to the countryside as well as a trip to the Anne Frank museum.  Other than that?  We’ll do what we do best on vacation.  Walk around and take in the sights.

We’re hoping to take the Eurostar out to Amsterdam, as they now have a direct from London.  On the way back we’re planning on making a stopover in Brussels.  Depending on how long we have in Belgium, Lee would like to make a quick trip to Bruges as well.  One of his favorite movies is the dark comedy “In Bruges” so Lee’s looking forward to channeling his inner Colin Farrell for an afternoon.  (I’d personally prefer that he channel his inner Colin Firth, but that’s another discussion altogether).

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Bruges is known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so I’m looking forward to taking in the history!  After a quick trip through Belgium, it’s back to London for a couple more days to wrap up our vacation.

Naturally, we’re hoping for a big fat positive at the end of this cycle, which would make this vacation a pretty epic babymoon.  In the event that we don’t get the outcome we’re hoping for, we’ll need something to look forward to.  While I don’t know that there’s anything that will quell the sadness and disappointment we’ll be experiencing if this round doesn’t work, spending some time in our favorite place will probably help to ease the pain; at least for a little while.

Keeping up the cautiously optimistic attitude in the meantime.  T-minus 4 weeks until we learn the outcome.

 

It Begins…..Again

We hit the ground running today.  Ready or not, the time has arrived.

Our first ultrasound took place this morning.  My endometrial lining is right where they want it, all of my cysts are under control, my ovaries look good.  I was instructed to go ahead with my first dose of hormones.  We should be excited, right?  Well, we are, except for one thing:  We’ve been here before.

It feels like we’re walking an emotional tightrope this time around.  We get good news and feel on top of the world.  But then we remember we’ve heard this good news before and didn’t fall pregnant, which brings us right back down to earth.  Naturally we want to stay optimistic, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.  If our cycles had an underlying theme, this one’s would be “cautiously optimistic”.

My focus this time will be a little bit different than it was during our last go around.  Last time I was very focused on healthy eating, exercise and all that jazz.  While I still plan on keeping a healthy lifestyle, this time around I’m going to be laser-focused on my attitude and stress levels.  My emotions have been a veritable smorgasbord, much, I’m sure, to Lee’s dismay.  Emotions have been heightened for the last few months as I’ve tried to come to terms with our last cycle as well as attempting to mentally prepare for this one.  The stress and anger have been a little too much at times.  And I’m letting things that normally shouldn’t bother me throw me completely off-kilter.  I really need to focus on not letting the minutiae of every day life get to me as much as it has the last few months.  Try as I might, I can’t control everything.  I can only control how I react.  And my reactions need to chill out a bit.

The good news is, it’s almost impossible to be upset in Minneapolis in late spring.  Spring started off like an evil joke this year, but we’re finally getting the mid 70s and sunny days that keep most of us Minnesotans in the bold North.  It’s also a short week for me!  I’m two weeks from my 2-year anniversary at my job and have a few vacation days to use or lose.  I’m choosing to enjoy a 5-day weekend this week.  And I’m trying to ensure I make enough time this week to do the things I enjoy.  I have 3 books on loan from my local library, and my goal is to finish at least one this weekend.  Other plans include drinking tea on my deck, planting some flowers and enjoying the beauty of the season.  I’ll also probably spend an exorbitant amount of time with my husband.  Did I mention how much I enjoy his company?  I feel like I might have casually mentioned it once or twice on this blog.  A long weekend with my main squeeze sounds like the perfect way to spend a holiday.

I have no doubt the second cycle will seem to go much faster than the first one.  We’re excited and scared, hopeful and nervous for the outcome.  The time has arrived and now we’ve got to put our game faces on and get ready for a whirlwind of a month.

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Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is always a funny day for those of us that struggle with infertility.  If you dare to go on any form of social media, you will no doubt see pictures of mothers with their children and sappy, albeit beautifully written posts from sons and daughters touting the super women they are lucky enough to call mom.  And while you’re so incredibly happy for the outpouring of love that every mother is receiving, there’s still a part of your heart that breaks if you’re not a mom but want to be.

So you know what?  I might not be the mother of another human, but I’m most definitely the mother of three amazing animals.  This is my mother’s day tribute to them.

Omar

Omar is an 11 year-old Rat Terrier.  I got Omar when he was just an adorable little 6-week old puppy; practically small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

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Omar is an incredibly well-behaved little dude.  He never wants to be too far away from Mom and Dad and prefers when both Lee and I are home together.  If one of us is missing from the homestead, it’s safe to say that Omar will be laying in our bedroom, completely morose until we return.

Omar believes that he should be the center of our universe.  He doesn’t appreciate when we pay too much attention to the cats, and he especially doesn’t like it when Lee and I pay too much attention to each other.  In his mind, his spot on the couch, in bed, and in life should always be right between us.

Omar loves car rides, human food, wearing clothes, and an early bedtime.  Yet, for as excited as he gets to go to bed at a decent hour, he still has so much life and playfulness in him.  He especially loves to put on a show whenever we have friends over.  He parades around with his squeaky toys, daring our guests to play tug of war.  He’ll drop the toy at their feet, almost as if he’s offering a welcome present, only to snatch it back up and growl playfully as they try to wrench it from his mouth.

Omar has forever spoiled me as a dog mom.  The love that he puts forth is so pure, so unconditional.  I’m most definitely a better person for having been his mom.

 

Gladys

I refer to Gladys as my “angel princess”.  Named after my paternal grandmother because of her beautiful green eyes, Gladys is extremely cuddly and affectionate girl.  She expects pets and head scratches first thing when you walk in the door, and she expects a lot of them.  So much so, that if you even think about walking away from the pets before she’s had enough, you can expect that she will try to hook your hand with her paw to get your attention.  Don’t be surprised if she also tries to bite you to get her point across.  The good news, however, is that half of her teeth were removed last year due to a mouth infection, so when she bites, you won’t feel a thing.  If she really wants to get her point across, she’ll just climb right on top of you and make herself comfortable.

Gladys enjoys pets, rubber bands, playing with her mouse toys, waking us up with meows in the middle of the night to let us know she’s playing with her mouse toys, dry food and me.  She will accept affection from her father, but she’s a mama’s girl through and through.  Gladys’ dislikes include playing with our other cat, Roger, and when any of the neighbor cats walk through our yard.  Gladys spends many nights sleeping on my pillow, right above my head as if she’s my very own cat hat.

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I’ve said before, in this blog and in daily conversation, but I’ll say it again:  Gladys might very well be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  Gladys greets me at the door every day when I get home from work, ready for affection.  Whenever I’m having a bad day, Gladys is there to make me feel better with cuddles and nuzzles.  Cats can often be such finicky creatures, but I really hit the jackpot with this one.

Roger

How do I explain Roger?  He’s just a super chill little dude.  Actually, he’s not all that little.  The fact that he helps himself to Omar’s food and attempts to steal food from Lee and I has given him a little bit of a pooch.  He’s not fat per sé, but the vet has advised not to let him gain any more weight.

Roger came to us when he was 8 weeks old.  He and Gladys took to each other initially, because he was an adorable helpless little kitten who needed a mom.  However, he soon grew out of his cuddly phase and has been rocking the tormenting little brother phase for the last 5 and a half years.

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Roger lives for food and naps.  He also enjoys making space for himself in places where he doesn’t quite fit.  He’s the most malleable cat I’ve ever met.  You can pick him up, move him around, make him dance, whatever.  He’s never bothered.  And while he’s just as affectionate as Gladys, he’s not nearly as needy.  Mostly he just wants a comfortable place to take one of his 500 daily naps.

He’s a creature of habit, following us to bed every night and staying with us straight through until morning.  He takes turns sleeping between my legs and Lee’s but he’s definitely a “bros before hos” kind of cat.  Most nights, Roger can be found “bro-ing” out with his dad and watching TV.

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As I write this blog post, my heart is filled with such pride.  While I hope our family isn’t done growing, I do have to say we are a pretty amazing little family of  5.  These 3 (and Lee) are my absolute world.  I’m so thankful to be their mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you amazing women out there.  Whether you’re a Grandma, Mom, Mother-in-Law, Mother-to-Be, Cat Mom, Dog Mom, Aunt, Sister, or just one hell of a woman, you deserve to be celebrated for all you bring to the table.

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After my last breakdown, I received the following message from a friend, one who knows the struggle all too well.  I’ve been ruminating on her message for the last few weeks, and about what her kind words have meant to me.  It is so beautifully written, that I felt I had to share.

Even though my journey ended with 3 beautiful gifts from God – it doesn’t mean, for one second, that my heart isn’t with you.

I know your pain.  Your anger.  Your frustration.  Your exhaustion.  Your hope.  Your prayers.  Your tears.  Your anxiety.  Your desperation.  I know all of it.  The financial struggle, the energy to keep going after so many disappointments.  The feeling of why her?

My heart is with you.  And while our journeys may be different – please know I pray for yours everyday.  Every single day.  Every time I look at my gifts from God.  Every time they make a mess or won’t sleep.  Each time they make me want to hide in the closet with a back of Reese’s.  I stop – and pray for you.  You yearn for the “bad toddler” days.  I know you do.  Because I yearned for them.  For years.

So I am here to tell you are justified in EVERY emotion you feel.  Except loneliness.  Please, please promise me you’ll keep reaching out – to me, to a support group, to anyone who will listen.  If a baby is the desire of your heart, then you have to walk this road – but you don’t have to walk it alone.  And I promise you – I promise with every fiber of my being – it’s all worth it.  Every last bit.

Her message got me thinking, specifically about friendship.  I’ve tried to stay off the grid the last few weeks, as I deal with my anxiety over the impending cycle.  Yet, there have been a small handful of people who refuse to let me go it alone, despite how much I’ve tried to evade all human contact.   And this post is, in small part, a way to thank them for their kindness and friendship, as I go through the hardest thing I’ve ever endured in my life for a second time.

To my best friend, my ride or die, my PIC.  Who has refused to let me go through any of this alone.  Who has called after appointments, shot me up with fertility drugs, held my hand and wiped my tears.  Who oozes enough positivity for the both of us, so on the days when I feel particularly hopeless and self-deprecating, I know she’ll carry me through until I can stand on my own two feet again.  Who understands that sometimes I just need to be alone and never takes it personally, but instead, keeps calling, texting and sending me funny memes just to let me know she’s thinking of me.

To the girls in my book club, who always make a point to ask how we’re doing every time I see them.  They make me feel comfortable with talking about where we’re at and how I feel.  And after my last breakdown, a card and beautiful little plant showed up on our doorstep.  It was such a nice little pick-me-up and both Lee and I appreciated the thought and kind words.

To the friends, going all the way back to elementary school all the way up through college and beyond, that have reached out and sent messages filled with kind thoughts from all across the country.

To the friend who listened to me vent as we walked 3 miles around the lake and then took me out for sushi afterward.

To the friend who came over so we could co-celebrate our April birthdays with cake that we wouldn’t have to share with anyone else.  The same friend, who, every time I see her, asks what she can do to support me.

The friend who’s going through enough of her own personal issues right now, but still sends the occasional text telling me that we’re on her mind  and my personal favorite, that she “believes in my uterus”.

To my two coworkers (friends, really) who ask how I’m doing and give me a safe space to be vulnerable if the need hits me mid-workday.

I can’t even begin to describe what each and every one of these kindnesses has meant to me in the last few weeks.  Ever since I went public with our struggle,  every now and then, I find myself wondering if being so public and vocal about our infertility was the right thing to do.  It seems to make some people uncomfortable.  But I hope that whoever is out there reading this blog, that you have managed to find something to take away from it.  Whether you’ve recognized the struggle because you’re currently going through it, or perhaps, you’ve watched a loved one endure the same pain.  If anything I’ve shared over the last year has made a difference to you, then I’ve been successful.

To those that have reached out and been supportive, especially those that have helped us gear up for our second round, I am forever grateful.  I might not have the biggest support system, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got the best one.

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