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a summer in brief

So last time I posted was after that miserable failure of an IVF in April.  Around that time I hit a point where it was no longer helpful to talk about my shrinking window, my crusty ovaries, or my dwindling hopes.  Voicing all this did nothing but give center stage to all the anxiety crowding around the edges of my mind.  I stopped blogging. We told our families that IVF didn’t work. (Those who asked. Mostly my family sucks and pretends I don’t exist, so we just let them figure it out.) But we didn’t tell any of them that it would probably never work, that my body just didn’t respond to the drugs anymore.  I just stopped talking about my reproductive system, except when I cried and grieved to my therapist about it, and in those periodic what the heck do we do now conversations with B. In general, it was too heavy to give words to.

Without any further plan, we took a break. We had family visits over the summer. We grew our little business. We got all obsessed with food allergies and got expensive tests done. We talked about adopting. We found out B is supposedly allergic to All Foods Known To Man. We started identifying friends and friends of friends who had adopted so we could get together and ask them about their experiences. We didn’t follow through.

We talked about doing that absurd aggressive IVF which had such slim chances of working. We saw naturopaths about the damn allergies.  Mine told me I needed to detox from all those years of fertility drugs.  I figured, what the hell, and I forced us both on a 3-week detox / elimination diet to kill the dual birds of allergies and toxins with the one Mediclear stone.  No coffee, sugar, alcohol, eggs, dairy, meat, gluten, tomatoes, almonds, soy, etc. etc. etc. made for a super boring summer, but I had minimal expectations for the summer anyway. We reintroduced the allergens one at a time. B decided that each of his reactions was attributable to something else – like how hot it was that day, making this whole exercise essentially pointless as far as he was concerned.

We visited our friends at their cabin on the Sunshine Coast. We drank. I learned to wakeboard. (This is major.) That weekend I finally dumped it all out on my friend that we were pretty much never going to have children. She didn’t say anything particularly horrible.  We jumped off the pier. (Also major.)

We came home, closed our eyes, and dialed up the fertility clinic. In the absence of being able to wrap our heads around anything else, we decided to do one more try with IVF.  We told no one. I think I kind of just wanted to pretend it wasn’t happening until it was over. I didn’t know how I was going to get through it this time, frankly, but I didn’t see any other way to move forward except to get this over with and out of my system. I had my orientation, started my inositol/coQ10/vitamin cocktail and waited for CD1 to call and schedule everything. Went to a double baby shower for two friends that are both on their 2nd since I started trying. Survived by subversively conspiring with H2 to wear matching black tees she got us as gifts when one of those friends announced. (We’ve started buying each other presents when other people get pregnant.)

The next week I suddenly became super chatty about my ovaries.  Had a picnic at the beach with a couple of girlfriends, threw back some gin and tonics and told them all about how I was doing to do one more shitty IVF before giving up completely. Next day another picnic at the beach with a friend who has endo (she comes from a family of endo sufferers, and her sister had just had her second failed IVF cycle that week).  We grieved together about never having babies that will look like us.

B and I took our staff out for drinks that Friday night and felt excited that our little crew was finally starting to feel like a team.  Got home and realized it was too late to call the clinic before the weekend to kick off IVF scheduling.  Also realized CD1 should have been yesterday.

And this brings us almost to the end of summer.  Hold up, I’ve got to pee.

 

 


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in search of quiet knowing

Hi all.

Just wanted to drop in and let you all know I’m still alive.

We met with our doctor to discuss my dismal IVF response.  Apparently all the doctors at the clinic met to discuss my case.  I hate being special.  After looking at my eggs under a microscope, she was able to confirm that I have the eggs of a much older woman.  I knew that already – because AMH + my family history + the internet helped me figure that out.  She was the one who was all blowy-offy about my AMH results (which I had to push her to even have done in the first place), telling me that it would have no impact on IVF.  I knew different. I also hate being right.

Basically, my eggs are crusty, and there aren’t many of them.  They had me on the most aggressive hormone protocol they use, and I only got 2 mature eggs.  Evidently, there is no amount of hormones that will cause my body to respond differently.  Here’s the kicker though: immediately after telling us that, she says that all the doctors decided that the thing for me to do is go with something called “aggressive IVF” where they max out all the drugs and also inject me with Human Growth Hormone.  Will it work?  They don’t know.  It’s kind of experimental.  What will it look like if it works? I might get one or two more eggs.  Will they be any good? Probably not.  But I can do supplements and acupuncture to try to make them better.  (I’ve been doing supplements and acupuncture for three years, but never mind all that.)  What’s that?  You want to know if your miscarriage was a shitty egg issue?  Probably.  Will it happen again?  Oh – don’t worry about it – you’re not considered high risk until you have had three miscarriages.  (Pause for me to repeatedly bang my head on her desk.)  This aggressive IVF, it’s much more expensive than IVF, and your odds of succeeding are extremely low.  So when do you want to start?  Because you wouldn’t want to quit after just one failed cycle.

Just one failed cycle.  Have you been here for the last three years?  Those seven cycles leading up to this one? The surgery? The miscarriage? The D&C? The career I had that no longer exists? The life that has been put entirely on pause?  The tens of thousands of dollars poured into absolutely nothing?  The conversion of my body from something that belongs to me into a laboratory? Have you seen the stress on my marriage? The friendships I’ve lost? The dreams that have slipped, one by one, through my fingers?  Just. One. Failed. Cycle.

And now you want me to throw money that isn’t there at something that won’t work, prolonging my misery even more so that you can all sit in a room and analyze the results?  Or whatever it is that you get out of this.  ?

But it’s hard to walk away entirely.  I asked how quickly I was in decline.  She said I probably had a year before there was absolutely no point in trying anymore.

Needless to say, this was not where I was expecting this all to end.  I truly don’t know what we’ll do.  We’re considering trying this stupid option.  We’re talking about adoption, about not having kids, about other ways of having meaning in life.  There is a very real element of relief in the idea of not being in this horrid process anymore.  I even binge watched “Call the Midwife” last week without feeling all emotional about all the babies.  It was like watching a tribe in the Amazon whose lives and customs were unknowable to me.  I felt outside it in a good, disengaged, not hurt by it all way.  But last night I dreamt I had a daughter.  That she came out with a full head of hair because she’d been kicking around in there since the IVF.  My subconscious doesn’t know yet that we’re trying to move on.  When I’m honest with my heart, I still hope.  It’s a miracle that I hope for now, not a successful IVF cycle.

Right now in this not knowing, I’m exploring neglected, non-baby parts of me, and I’m listening.  To my own instincts, to my desires, to my husband’s thoughts and longings.  I’m listening for the whisper of the holy spirit – it usually comes in the form of peace…of quiet knowing.  I’m waiting for that quiet knowing.  I need it so very much.


11 Comments

eggs

I have 6 eggs.  First of all, I realize I’m lucky to have 6 eggs.  That said, in my orientation, my doctor told me to expect 10, but that was before she looked at my AMH results, which she quickly dismissed.  So, much as I’ve been obsessing about my AMH level, part of me was still clinging to my doctor’s dismissal of it, and I was really hoping to have in the ballpark of 10 eggs.  It was another doctor who did my ultrasound this morning, and he said that, given my AMH, 6 eggs makes sense.  I think this all just feels a little more final now.  The AMH is not a fluke.  They didn’t mix up the results.  My mom’s last period at 36 does have bearing on my life.  And it makes me feel like, no, I probably won’t be doing this again.  My time is limited.  All that stuff.

We really struggled with the whole idea of IVF.  I feel like IVF is a very personal journey, and everybody’s got a different process.  Our process involved not wanting to leave a frozen embryo in limbo.  I felt like I was ok freezing an embryo and knowing that I’d get to it later.  DH told me I could get hit by a bus.  I told him if I got hit by a bus, I felt like I was off the hook.  Ultimately, we had to arrive at a decision that we were both comfortable with, and that was to only “mix” as many eggs as we were willing to have implanted, and then freeze the rest.

So we won’t be freezing embryos, but eggs.  I know I could have an egg on ice and not stress about it, but if it were an embryo, I know I’d feel responsible for it until it was implanted.  That seemed like a nice, easy decision when we had 10 imaginary eggs to deal with, but now that it’s fewer, and I know that the thaw survival rate is something like 75% for an egg, I feel like I just want to mix them all and not take any chances that none fertilize in the first round and we have to run the risk of losing a precious egg in the thaw process.  But I’ve got to remember that the survival rate for a frozen embryo is only 50%.  And I’ve got to just stick with what we decided.  We decided it for a reason.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I’m tired.  I have?  Oh.  Well, yes, I’m tired.  At this point I just have to trust that whatever happens, all will be well.  But I’m still crying just a little.


9 Comments

aaaaaahhhhhhhgggggggggg

With all the money I’ve spent on therapy, you’d think I’d have a handle on this.  I don’t.  Today I am a relationally inept, sobbing moron.

My shrink’s general take is that my mother was a narcissist, meaning that my needs were never important, so now I have this deep cry to have people see my needs coupled with a crippling inability to make my needs known.  I’m not sure what I think about that first part (I’ve always thought she was more inept than narcissistic…but in this book I’m reading, I’m pretty much the poster child for a narcissist’s progeny.  So there’s that.)  At any rate, whatever the reason, I’ve successfully ensured that I have zero support from pretty much everyone in my life except my husband and my shrink.

Ok…not true.  What I don’t have is the support that I want from the people that I want it from.  That’s more accurate.  And today it’s coming to a head.  For starters, I stayed home from church to avoid being asked why I’m not going to a baby shower for my friend’s “oops” baby.  Background: I MC’d her wedding in August, then she called me afterwards to say she was preggers and keep it on the DL…she literally said, “It was one of those ‘first time’s the charm’ things.”  (No, it wasn’t.  You don’t have to say that. Quite frankly I don’t give a shit whether or not you were having sex before you got married, but fuck you so very much for getting pregnant on accident when you didn’t want to.)  That was my internal monologue.  Externally, I said a lot of nice and supportive things and then hung up the phone and wept for an hour.

I contemplated attending her shower, but my DH talked some sense into me and told me I absolutely did not have to do that.  So I didn’t.  But the shower was immediately after church with a bunch of church ladies, so I skipped church.  This is why I’m sitting at home.

Aaaaaand I get a bunch of emails from my sister.  The anniversary of my Dad’s death was a few days ago, and today she sent me all these sobby emails about how her kids will never know their grandfather.  Granted, that sucks.  But guess what?  She gets the chance to know her kids, so that’s nice.  Also, she knows I’m doing IVF and hasn’t reached out to me about it once.  Not once.  Not a word since I told her about it at Christmas.  She’s my fucking sister.  She sucks.  I’m not sure why she doesn’t make any attempts on this front, but she doesn’t.

Oh, then there’s my potentially-but-we’re-not-sure-yet narcissist mother.  She doesn’t know that I’m on the brink of menopause or that I’m doing IVF.  I had planned on telling her when I was down at Christmas, but there was not a moment of genuine communication between us, and I thought, why?  She is a source of precisely zero support – we’ve spoken about my miscarriage on exactly one occasion…months after the fact…and she offered (by way of comfort, I assume) that she thought she might have had a miscarriage once but she wasn’t sure.  So I figured I’d save the energy of bringing her into the loop on this simply because she gave birth to me.  There’s really no other reason I’d want her to be involved.

Finally, (only nowhere close to finally – I haven’t even started on my in-laws or other friends – but finally for what I’m saying here) my SIL, typically very self-involved, has actually been showing some interest and expressing concern about this, so, feeling a need to connect with someone, I reached out to her today and let her know where I was at in the process and that we’d probably know the # of eggs late next week.  There was some promising back and forth about what the process is actually like, and a little sympathy, which was nice.  Then – POW!  “Then they grow up to be snotty teenagers.  Parenting’s really hard for us right now.  You can be praying about that.”  It was the last straw for me.  I’m sick of taking it up the ass and pretending that people’s myopic comments don’t bug me.  I’m sick of the high road.  It’s painful and lonely.  So I struck back: “Well, you have living children, so that’s a bonus.”  Stupid, but whatever.  She, alarmed that the conversation was turning away from her, wrote back about what their emergency actually was…and she begged me not to tell anyone so I won’t. But seriously. I’m sure it seems big to them, but it’s basically a teenage rite of passage and they need to calm the hell down.  I haven’t written back, because I can only think of dismissive things to say.

I think with this post I’ve officially crossed the line and will now never be able to make this blog public.

I’m angry and sad and lonely and hopped up on a lot of drugs right now.  I’m terrified that it won’t work and terrified that it will.  Work is stressful, life is hectic, and I am barely holding on.  I wish people could understand that without me having to say all of that point blank and begging them to pretend that my shit matters for 10 minutes.  I probably need to work on being vulnerable – but I’m afraid I might actually be surrounded by particularly shitty people.  Of course, children of narcissists tend to think that they’re surrounded by particularly shitty people.  So I probably need to work on being vulnerable.  Some other day.  If I try today, I’m just going to piss everybody off.

****Update*****

My SIL apologized for being insensitive.  Unexpected.  Impressive.  I also apologized for being insensitive, we are now both back to trying to be supportive, and I shall remove her from the List of People I Shall Never Trust Again.  (Can you see what it’s like to live in my head?  Exhausting.)

My mom still totally sucks, though.

Look at that.  I’ve made it through another day.


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another kick in the gut

I haven’t written any updates in a while, as I’ve been taking my first self-imposed break from babymaking since November 2011.  I was going to write a post about how awesome it is to not take a thousand supplements and vitamins everyday.  To not have a single fertility-related appointment for an entire month.  To drink wine and not have guilt and to not have sex when you’re ovulating because frankly, you’re not in the mood.  And then to have fabulous sex a few days later just because of sex.  How you start to feel like a person again, rather than a mere vessel, and you find yourself making time for other pursuits, pursuits that make you feel a little more like you again.  This was going to be a whole post about that.  But then yesterday happened.

I was very much enjoying my time off, so much so that I was contemplating extending it.  I had in my mind that I would let my ovaries rest up for the holidays and would just enjoy personhood during that time.  If I felt like having sex while ovulating, I would.  If not, I wouldn’t.  There was a vague thought of doing IVF in January.  But I didn’t need to think about that now.  In the midst of this heady freedom, however, I remembered that my RE gets booked up months in advance, and I thought I had better call and set something up now for January.  Come to find out, she was already booked through January, but she had a cancelation yesterday.  So I broke my “no babymaking appointments” rule and headed over with my husband to talk about next steps.

My acupuncturist/doctor of chinese medicine advised me to get my AMH tested a while ago, based on the fact that my mom had her last period in her mid-30s.  I talked to my RE about this, and she said that it was unlikely to be an issue in my case, since I respond pretty well to fertility drugs.  I pushed the issue, and she obliged me and ordered the test.  I had the requisition sitting on my desk for months, expecting one of the IUI treatments to work and for the whole ovarian reserve thing to become a non-issue.  After my fourth IUI failed, however, I got the bloodwork  done.  This was over a month ago, so one of my first questions was if those results were in.  She hadn’t even checked.  I asked if she could please look and pull them up.  She reiterated that she didn’t think it was an issue, but when she did pull them up, she was visibly shocked.

My AMH level is 0.47 – which, if you’re not familiar with AMH levels, isn’t even inside the low range for a woman of my age.  She started to brush past it and talk about IVF, saying that since I respond to drugs well, this doesn’t really matter.  I stopped her and asked what this meant in terms of early menopause.  She just said flat-out, you will have an early menopause.  You probably have a year or two before you lose fertility.

I’ve had a handful of moments in my life where I’ve received news that kicked the world into slow motion.  This was one of them.  Clearly, this wasn’t a total shock to me, as I was worried enough about it to press the issue and get the test, but having that nagging base-level fear confirmed was like a punch in the gut.  Then we continued talking as if someone had not just taken a decade of childbearing years away from me with one sentence.

Suddenly turning 35 next month (which I was half-dreading, half-grieving) was a non-issue, since in reproductive years I’m already about 46. This of course also means I’m on my very last eggs right now, which from everything I’ve come to understand, is not a good thing in terms of the chances of bringing a healthy baby to term.

The plan now is to kick off the IVF process in January.  I’m realizing I don’t have time for this not to work, don’t have time for another miscarriage.  The window is closing, the stakes are getting higher, and the hits just keep coming.  The list of ways in which my body betrays me continues to grow.  The sense that I’m broken, defective is hard to shake.

The odds of my having a child (let alone children, as I had once hoped) are moving solidly into the “miracle” category…a place where I am uncomfortable leaving them, not because I don’t believe that God can do it…I just don’t know if he will do it.  I have no assurances to that effect.  I told my therapist recently that I know I will be able to move on with my life if this doesn’t happen, but at this point I just have no idea how.  I’m terrified at the thought of picking myself back up after losing all hope of this dream – having that door solidly shut, possibly very soon.  At the same time, it would probably take full-blown menopause to give me the closure I would need to ever be able to walk away from this, so in some sense, there is some comfort in knowing this process won’t last forever.  It’s a small comfort, though.

I’m trying to trust, but I’m finding it almost impossible.  I know that by entertaining worst-case scenarios, I’m only adding to my own torment, but I just don’t have that solid faith that I used to.  If I get my miracle, I’ll be like the guy who was dragged to Jesus on a mat by his friends.  I’m hoping it’s enough.