Wholly Unprepared

687474703a2f2f7777772e71756f74656d61737465722e6f72672f696d616765732f33622f33626634653932313866393739633762306531363666343931323662363739612e6a7067

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.

 

 

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.

true-friends-are-those-rare-people-who-come-to-find-6400187

Parade Raining

Pardon me, while I fall off the face of the earth for a while.

Today has been a stressful day and it’s only half over.  I sit at my desk trying to focus on work, when what I really want to do is eat and drink my feelings.  Or escape this reality for a little while.  Anything to take my mind off the next week.

Our IVF down payment is due next Tuesday.  We are prepared for this.  We owe $11,735 up front to cover the retrieval and transplant.  All other appointments will be billed separately with the final payment due 30 days after all is said and done.  I looked back at how much those appointments cost last year and it ended up being about $2200.  Not cheap, but we’ve got some time to save and pay those off.  I’m not worried about that at all.  After all, I work in finance, so money is kind of my thing.

What we were not prepared for, however, was the ASTRONOMICAL cost for the fertility drugs,  Remember, if you will, that when we went through this last year, I had already met my medical deductible due to my gallbladder surgery.  When we ordered our medications, I only had to pay for one drug, due to my insurance not covering that particular one.  Our drug treatments costs a whopping $450.  I knew we were lucky; I had done some research on how much fertility drugs would cost and ballpark was $3-5k.  Staggering, right?  Well, let me tell you, that even if you’ve done your research and you feel like you’re mentally prepared to handle the cost of these drugs, you’re not ACTUALLY prepared to handle the final total.  This round of medications?  $4,612.86.  To my knowledge, that doesn’t include refills on any of the medications.  Just let that sink in for a second.

I’ve been trying so hard to work on my attitude this last week.  Just yesterday, I volunteered at a place called Open Arms in Minneapolis.  Open Arms is a non-profit organization that delivers free healthy, nutritious meals to people with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.  As I worked alongside my co-workers, I was struck by how lucky I am.  I have my health, my husband, a roof over my head.  It could be a lot worse.  Then I get hit with this fertility medication total and I’m pissed off at the world again.  It shouldn’t be this hard.  It shouldn’t cost this much.  Terrible people have kids everyday and yet, all my husband and I want is to have one (seriously, we’ll settle for just one!) child of our own and the universe says “fuck you.”  You want this to happen?  Well, we’re going to make you work really fucking hard for it, and we’re not guaranteeing shit.

We’ve got the love.  We’ve got the desire.  We’ve got the money.  We’ve got the space.  We’ve got everything we need to welcome a child into this world. Apparently, that just isn’t enough.

So excuse me, while I ponder the unfairness of it all.  Because, right now, I’ve had about enough of this bullshit.

download

It’s All Happening

It’s been a weird week.  I think most Minnesotans would agree.  It’s the middle of April and we just got hit with a two-day snowstorm that left over a foot of snow in the Twin Cities area.  Spring has been an elusive slag, with temperatures averaging about 15 degrees below normal.  While I’m sure these meteorological issues aren’t the sole reason for the depression that barreled at me this week, I’m sure it didn’t help matters.

It started with insomnia on Sunday night.  For whatever reason, insomnia is a common side effect with PCOS.  There’s no real evidence that I’ve found to explain why it happens, but insomnia seems to occur frequently with my fellow cysters. For me, there’s no telling how many consecutive nights I’ll be subjected to sleeplessness.  Sometimes, it’s just a night, sometimes it can last up to a week or more.  Unfortunately, this time around, it lasted for a solid 6 days.  Each night, I’d wake up at roughly the same time, and turn on the TV, tossing and turning, hoping the voices would lull me back into a fruitful REM cycle.  Yet each morning, I would get out of bed more delirious than the day before.  By Thursday, I was so exhausted that everything took too much effort.  I went radio silent, refusing to answer text messages or phone calls.  When Lee got home, I told him I was sorry, and that I wasn’t mad at him, but I needed him not to talk to me.  Lee was a trooper, and just let me be.  He sat on the opposite couch all evening being silent, his presence so very appreciated.

By the weekend, I started to recover.  I was finally able to fall asleep and stay asleep Friday night.  I still wasn’t ready to be too social, but I slowly felt like I was becoming myself again.  The blizzard was almost a blessing in disguise, really.  I often spread myself too thin on weekends and I didn’t have the opportunity to do that.  The blizzard almost kind of saved me from myself this weekend.  I was able to lay around, be lazy and really focus on listening to my body and what it needed.  My amazing husband took care of all of the shoveling and laundry, and even made a mid-snowstorm grocery run, so that we’d have snacks on hand for the impending snowpocalypse.  By Sunday, I felt as though I was finally back to my old self.  And just in time:  We have a big week ahead of us.

We didn’t get the good news we were hoping for with Lee’s sperm sample.  We didn’t get bad news, per sé, but it wasn’t the news we were hoping for.  Lee’s sample has not improved.  It’s frustrating for both of us, but especially for him.  I see him trying everything he can think of to improve his health and lifestyle.  He had such a good feeling about this analysis, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t great.  Oh well.  I told him we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.  No reason to derail just yet.

I have another fun procedure on the docket today of which, I’m sure you’ll all be extremely jealous.  Have you ever heard of uterine scoring?  Me neither.  But it’s a procedure that Dr. Corfman suggested.  There isn’t a lot of evidence to support uterine scoring, but he said that theoretically, it makes a lot of sense.  It’s where they go in and actually scrape a small portion of the uterus to help with implantation of the embryos when they are placed in the uterus during in vitro.  I’ve been struggling with whether or not to agree to this procedure for the last month or so.  It’s like I have the proverbial angel and devil sitting on my shoulders.  The doom and gloom version of me wants nothing to do with this procedure.  After all, it seems that I’d be undergoing this procedure based on hypotheticals.  The procedure is only going to work IF we get viable embryos.  Last time none of our embryos ended up being viable, so why would this time be any different?  However, the positive version of me is screaming at the doom and gloom through all of this.  Just because we didn’t have any last time doesn’t mean we won’t this time.  There’s no harm in trying, right?  It’s not that expensive and Dr. Corfman thinks it might help, so shut the fuck up, Doom and Gloom Katherine, and give it a shot.

After that, Lee and I have to sit down to go over our medication plan with the IVF coordinator.  That will take place over the phone, so I will have time to go home after the procedure, change in to comfy pants and make a heating pad my bitch before we dial in.  As of right now, our IVF plan is on track, with the my next retrieval estimated to take place at the beginning of June.  While it’s very surreal that this is all happening again, I anticipate that it will sneak up on us yet again, almost as if out of nowhere.  Spring weather does appear to finally be on the horizon and I’m hopeful that it will bring with it, the desire and motivation I have been lacking this time around.

brite-lite-tribe-new-neon-it-s-all-happening-18808923075_1024x1024

Valentine’s Day

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, which means……

Absolutely nothing.

If you’re one of those people who gets really excited about this holiday and looks forward to spending the day showering your loved ones with chocolate and accolades, that’s wonderful!  Back in the day, in my younger years, I was exactly like you.  As I’ve gotten older (and maybe wiser?) I put much less stock in the Hallmark holiday.  Because if I’ve realized anything over the course of the last few years, it’s this:  Love is hard.

Not always, of course.  When life is going well, it can be so easy to love!  It’s the times of adversity that are the problem.  When life gives you lemons, or worse yet, drops an entire lemon tree on your head, that’s when love can get tough.

Lee and I have been together almost 8 years now.  The first 4 and half (the dating years) were smooth sailing.  The last 3 and a half, well, at times, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle.  I think back to our wedding day, and of the vows we took,  how we both promised to love and support each other in these times of adversity.   It seemed so easy!  Of course I will continue to love you when things get tough!  How could I not?

Well, you know what?  It’s just not that simple.  I wish it were.  As Lee and I have struggled to conceive, I’ve heard from a lot of other couples that were faced with tough times.  Some were able to rebound, and some were not.  Does that mean they loved each other any less than the couples that were able to work it out?  Probably not.  But sometimes the struggles just become too much to bear.

As I’ve struggled to come to terms with some of the cards we’ve been dealt, it’s made it really easy to want to give up.  Not because I don’t love my husband; I’ve never loved anyone or anything as much as I love him (except for maybe my cat, Gladys, but Lee knows this).  It’s just because when times get tough, all I want to do is shut people out.  I’ll dream of running away and disappearing off the face of the earth.  It’s how I’ve always been, and frankly, it’s a hard habit to break.  Depression is a sonuvabitch, man.

Luckily for me, this is where Lee’s stubbornness comes in to play.  He refuses to give up on me.  He refuses to allow me the easy way out.  He thinks I’m perfect.  Well, maybe not perfect, but he appreciates my imperfections, because to him, I’m his perfect person.  And he’s most definitely mine.  And knowing that he sees so much good in me has allowed me to see some of it in myself.

We’ll spend our Valentine’s Day doing absolutely nothing special.  We’ll go to the gym, probably grab something quick and easy for dinner on the way home and be in our pajamas by 7.  But the fact that I’m spending another day with my one and only (my lobster, if you will), well, that is pretty fucking special.

So Happy Valentine’s Day to all those celebrating today.  Tell your loved ones how much you love them, not just today, but everyday.  And make sure to take some time to do something nice for yourself.  Take some sage advice from the illustrious Ru Paul, because:

mp,550x550,matte,ffffff,t.3u2