First Scan of the First IVF

I had my first scan this morning for my first IVF cycle. After 3 nights of injections, here’s what I’ve got:

11 follicles on the right all under 10mm
7 follicles on the left all under 10mm
Lining is about a 5

They’ll call me with my blood work results this afternoon and let me know if I need to make adjustments in my med dosage.

I have no idea if this is good or not. I asked the (pregnant) woman doing my scan, and she said it was a “good start”. I asked if she expected all of my follicles to grow, and she said not all but most. And maybe at different rates, so not all those that grow will end up being mature. I guess that puts me roughly on track to have between 10-15 mature eggs at retrieval?

Well, this has been a thrilling update. Try to stay calm, everyone.

UPDATE: The doctor’s office just called. I have to add more of one of my meds tonight, as my estrogen is only at 125. Fuck. Is this bad? Fuck. I think it’s bad. My fingers are ITCHING to ask Dr. Google what the fuck this means (IT MEANS SOMETHING BAD!!!) but I need to step away from the keyboard.

Advertisements

Family Linen

I had two very different interactions with two of my sisters-in-law at the wedding this weekend.

The Bad
We drove up to the wedding location Thursday morning, in time for the rehearsal Thursday afternoon. It was chaos, as most things having to do with Tammy’s large, boisterous family are. As I was making the rounds, I ran into one of the two sisters-in-law that knew about my (lack of) pregnancy troubles. I leaned in for the hug, and immediately felt the hard press of her stomach against mine. My heart sank, and my throat clenched up. I knew. FUCK. FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK. I pulled back, and she opened her sweater to flash her stomach at me while chirping on about how she was knocked up with an “oops” baby. I hugged my smug brother-in-law (he of the sanctimonious comments regarding infertility treatment), but couldn’t even bear to look at my sister-in-law (V) as I mumbled my congratulations.

Now, we all know how hard it can be to hear of friends and family members who get pregnant with ease, and especially by accident. And that would have been bad enough. But this bothered me particularly because she knew what I was going through, and admitted later in the weekend that she was nervous about telling me she was pregnant. WTF?! If you were nervous, that would indicate you realize the situation could call for some sensitivity. Pressing your pregnant stomach against me is one of the most insensitive ways I can think of.

Then of course, the rest of the family was falling all over her, and I had to listen to interminable questions, comments, excitement, sex guesses, and “maybe it’s twins!” har har. She’s three months along. She would know if she were pregnant with twins.

The Goodish
Tammy’s brother got married this weekend to my new sister-in-law (M). M was married before, and has two kids from her first marriage. When she was pregnant with her second, she got into a bad car accident (was hit by a drunk driver) and had resulting complications. I’m not entirely clear on the details, but when her second was delivered via C-Section, she had a hysterectomy. Now she’s married again, and her new husband (Tammy’s brother, my in-law) really really wants a biological kid. And M would really really like to provide him with one, but lacks the necessary equipment (still has ovaries but doesn’t have a uterus anymore) to do this easily. This is all fairly well-known within the family (or so I thought).

When we were on the way to the wedding, some of the other bridesmaids started singing “[Tammy’s brother] and M, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage!”

WHY they were singing this song, I will never know. I looked at M after the song was over, and she looked absolutely crestfallen. My heart broke for her.

The day after the wedding, the whole family got together for lunch. By chance, I ended up sitting next to M, and we chatted about various things. At one point, someone at the table brought up how V was pregnant, and maybe M would be next? My mother-in-law made a few comments about how M’s kids are growing up, and would she really want to go back to having diapers and midnight feedings, etc. M was stammering about how it would take a miracle, and finally I cut to the chase. I leaned over to my MIL and said, “she doesn’t have a uterus.” (unsaid message: please shut the fuck up and change the subject.) MIL laughed uproariously as if that were the most hilarious thing she’d ever heard. I’m sorry, It’s FUNNY that your son, who desperately wants a biological child, and new daughter-in-law that desperately wants to be able to provide that for him, cannot do so without great emotional, physical and financial expense? Ugh. That woman.

M and I were chatting later, and I brought up the “baby carriage” song. I apologized, and told her I knew how hard that must have been for her. She nodded, and said “the most annoying thing is that all of them singing that song knew our situation”. We began discussing surrogacy, who she would want to do it (family member or professional surrogacy match?) and the logistics. As we were running through the list of family members, I told her that I was probably out, as you would a) want someone with proven success and b) want someone who wasn’t trying themselves. I told her how long we’d been trying, and I told her about my miscarriage. She said all the right things. That she was sorry, that it must be so hard. That she would be thinking about me. Perfect.

I felt like we “got” each other. We may have different issues, but neither of us can have a baby without medical intervention. While I’m really sad that they are going through this, I’m so grateful that there’s SOMEONE in Tammy’s family that can discuss in/fertility with a modicum of sensitivity.

IN OTHER NEWS…
I started stims Saturday night. I already feel bloated and exhausted. Fingers crossed that means the perfect number of follicles are growing, perfectly paced, in my ovaries. Pleaseletthisworkpleaseletthisworkpleaseletthiswork.

Coming Out

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to chat a little bit about coming out. I know this is a big topic of discussion among the infertility community: Do you talk about it openly? Completely in the closet? Only tell a few specific friends? What about telling your family? What about work, does your boss know? What do you tell work when you have to take off? If you’re reading this, you probably have a blog, but most of them are anonymous or semi-anonymous.

I have a lot of experience with the coming out process. You see, when you’re gay, coming out is not one big “here I am, world!” moment (although that’s often part of it). It’s a decision you have to make every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It can be as small as when the woman ringing up my groceries asking “how do I like that vegan cheese?” and I have to make the instant decision: do I say “oh, I have no idea. My wife is the vegan” or do I say “I haven’t tried it yet”, and move on?

GAYPRIDE_FLAG_1251120c

It can be a bigger deal, of course. In a job interview, do you mention your wife? Will that have an impact on getting hired? What about colleagues you don’t work with very often. When they ask you about your plans for the weekend, do you mention her? Or do you say something non-committal about chores and weekends never being long enough? I’ve been at my job for over three years now, and I hate that I still have to have these thoughts (it’s a fairly large office). And do you correct people when they say something about my “husband”?

Being openly gay and being openly infertile is not a perfect comparison, of course. But there are similarities.

1) Judgment. If you tell, are they going to judge you? Say it was your choice (i.e. the gay “lifestyle” or promiscuity or putting your career first or waiting too long, blah blah blah)? I’ve gotten judgment about being gay, mostly from Tammy’s family, but also from former “friends” from high school (there’s a damn good reason I left that hick town) and strangers. I haven’t had the joy of experiencing much infertility judgment directly. The “best” example I can think of is Tammy’s brother, a year before we started trying, telling us that he didn’t support infertility treatment, because if you cannot have kids “naturally”, then “nature” is trying to tell you something and you shouldn’t reproduce. Sanctimonious ass. I think he might change his tune if he and his wife had any trouble getting pregnant (they didn’t. Tammy’s family is disgustingly fertile. Fertile and sanctimonious).

2) Which leads me to my next point, unhelpful comments. I think everyone in the infertility community has experienced this. We have a “once burned, twice shy” mentality about telling, because so many people we’ve told have been complete idiots with their response. They’re trying, bless their hearts*, but so often fail miserably. I’ve experienced way too many of these:
“why don’t you just adopt?”
“I’d NEVER do IVF. I don’t believe in playing God”
“Maybe God doesn’t want you to be parents”
“It was a blessing the miscarriage happened when it did”
“Want to borrow mine?”
“Be glad you don’t have kids – you can sleep in, enjoy “you” time, and you have money to spend on yourself!”
Etc. etc., ad nauseum.

Gay people also experience their fair share of unhelpful comments. I’ve also experienced way too many of these:
“Are you sure it’s not just a phase?”
“Maybe you just haven’t met the right guy yet”
“Can I watch?”
“So who’s the man?”
“Hate the sin, love the sinner”
“God has a plan for your life, and it doesn’t include being gay”
Etc. etc., ad nauseum.

So, have I come out? (Gosh, don’t I make it sound GREAT to be out?) I’m pretty much as far out as a person can be with my sexual orientation. I’m very hopeful that at some point in my life I’ll stop caring about the judgment from random people at the grocery store, and I’m also hopeful that as our society advances, judgment that matters (in terms of employment, housing, etc.) will lessen. As will the shit comments.

Am I out with my infertility? Not really. My immediate family knows, and I talk about it a lot with my parents. Many of my aunts and uncles know as well. Most of Tammy’s family does NOT know, due to their shaky status on their sister/daughter/etc. being married to a woman (THE HORROR). The poor dears might lose their damn minds if I threw GAY BABIES into the mix. I did tell two of my sisters in law after my miscarriage, and regretted it immediately. SIL #1 kept saying things like “well, you’re getting closer. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen”, and SIL #2 asks me about it every. damn. time. we see each other, while eyeing my stomach suspiciously. Damn, I wish I hadn’t told them. Seeing them this weekend for a family wedding (remind me to bitch at/tell you about this damn wedding).

I DID, however, tell my boss on Friday. I had to let him know I needed 2+ days off in early May, but I didn’t know the exact dates. I have taken a lot of time off over the past year, and he’s been very/mostly good about it. I had a monthly meeting with him, and he asked me, very concerned like, if everything was OK. And it just tumbled out of my mouth. He looked VERY surprised (now I’m curious as to what he thinks was going on) but quickly pulled himself together. He really knew almost nothing about infertility and treatement, but he asked decent, semi-intelligent questions, and wished me luck. When I told him about my miscarriage, he said his wife had had one. She was 11 weeks. Now of course, they have one and another on the way. He said I could take off all the time I need for appointments, treatment, etc. Yay! One non-shit response from the big bad world.

I know the value in coming out. The gay community has benefitted immensely from people coming out. Studies show that people change their mind about gay rights when they find out they know someone who is gay. If you trust the statistics, there are roughly the same number of gay people as there are infertile people (and then you have fabulous crossovers, like yours truly!). What would happen if we all came out? All posted our blogs on our Facebook page, or just started casually dropping appointments and bloodwork and all that jazz into conversation?

I’m not brave enough. I wish I was, but I’m not. I feel too raw to open myself up to the judgment and critisism that I’m sure will follow. I’ve told myself that once I have a baby, I’ll start being open about how hard it was to get him/her. But what if I never get there? Will I be in the closet forever?

*Where I come from, “bless your heart” is the perfect insult. It blends sugary southern sweetness with absolute biting criticism. You can almost always follow “bless your heart” with, “you fucking idiot”.

Neurosis, on Display

I’ve been hesitant to post this, because I feel it comes across as very self-centered and not paying proper respect for the people directly affected in Boston. But it’s my blog, so I’m going to post it. If you think I’m a hateful, terrible person, please say so respectfully (if that’s possible?).

I’m a worrier. I have anxiety, sometimes controlled and sometimes not. I do not live in Boston, but I do live in an east coast city that is no stranger to terrorism*.

The Boston bombings didn’t concern me so much right when it happened. I read the developing news stories with a curious detachment. It wasn’t until Tammy texted me that she was leaving work to get on the train home that I felt the first tickle of panic. And then when I got on the train an hour late, I found myself scanning people’s faces for…what? There was a woman talking to herself on my car, and I found myself anxiously eyeing her tote bag, trying to decide if there was a vague…bomb outline inside (because I know so much about what bombs look like??). Any other time I would dismiss her as just another crazy person (I know, am a model of compassion and generosity) but yesterday she freaked me the hell out.

When I got home I told myself that I was safe, Tammy was safe, our cat was safe. All of our family was safe (even those living in Boston) and my stomach unclenched slightly. I must not have relaxed as much as I thought though, because I snapped at Tammy twice last night, over stupid, inconsequential things. She didn’t dispose of the cat barf the way *I* would have, therefore it’s WRONG. And she DARED ask me to pass her a glass of water which prompted a meltdown from me. I don’t even have hormones as an excuse. I’m ashamed of the way I acted.

The next morning, some idiotic part of my brain thought it would be a great idea to read a news article about the bombings, before I’d even gotten out of bed. Reading about limbs on the ground was bad enough on its own. But then I got to the section on how my city was beefing up security for the events downtown today and it was all over for me. I convinced Tammy to drive us to work today so we wouldn’t have to be on public transportation (avoid crowds!!) and was an absolute monster during the drive, snapping and clutching and gasping, and generally being a fabulous person to be around.

I’ve spent a large portion of my work day reading up on emergency preparedness, emergency kits, evacuation routes, etc. etc (winner employee, obviously). I’ve determined that I can walk home from work in 1 hour, 40 minutes. It will take Tammy more like 3 hours. That’s if she can cross the bridge. You see, she works in a suburb south of the city, and there’s a damn river between our offices. If the city gets bombed, they’ll probably shut down the bridge, right? Should she then just head south, toward my parents? Should I go home, pick up the cat and try to go north, toward her family? Leaving the cat is not an option.

I’ve had a few mini panic attacks while researching all of this, and remembering an article I read in Time Magazine a few years after 9/11. The article described how quickly/slowly you would die if a nuke hit the city. At the time I was living RIGHT downtown, and was strangely comforted by the fact that I would pretty much be incinerated immediately. Now we’re a good 10-15 minute drive from downtown, so does that mean we would die over an agonizing 10 minute period? Damn. I wish I could find that article, but I don’t want to google “nuke _____ how quickly will you die” on my work computer. I prefer to keep my job, thanks. Even if I am a shit employee today.

Sometimes you don’t need to know things. Sometimes knowledge is not power.

*YES, I’m being purposefully vague. All of you are lovely people, but the internet is a big place and there are wackos out there. It does get tiring calling it “the city that I live in” rather than ______, but I prefer safety over convenience.

Odds & Ends (No, I’m Not Describing Myself)

Alternate title: “In Which I Dazzle You With My Stunning Non Sequiturs”

  • Dr. Robert Edwards, the man who pioneered IVF, has died. Let’s all take a moment to honor his memory.
  • I’m on my second round of birth control for my first cycle of IVF, and I’m both butt-clenchingly nervous that a) the cycle will be cancelled due to no/poor response or I’ll hyperstimulate (please see my about page for my feelings on contradicting myself) and excited that it might work. (Ohpleaseletitwork) 
  • Tammy and I are debating transferring one or two (should we get that far/have enough to even get to make that decision). I’m curious as to how others feel on that issue, or what helped them make their decision. Potentially important facts that may influence your advice: I have “unexplained” infertility and I’m under 30. I’m waiting to hear back from my doctor, but I’d appreciate your thoughts.
  • It hasn’t gotten any easier to learn of other people’s pregnancies. I have a friend, C., who lived with my family as an exchange student from France while we were in high school. She’s been living with her boyfriend in Nepal for the past few years, and sent me a message the other day saying she was “shocked” to find herself pregnant. And then she asked what was up with me. I haven’t responded, because I’m probably incapable of finding the right balance of “oh, congratulations! How wonderful for you! And by the way my ass is barren! That’s what’s up with me!” Add in the odd assortment of high school and college friends who are popping up (and out) in my news feed with ultrasound pictures, cutesy “I’m going to be a big brother” pictures, and belly pictures and you get me, approaching Facebook like it’s loaded with TNT.
  • There is a woman at my office who may, in fact, be the devil I do not believe in. But if anyone could convince me there IS a devil, it would be her. She is THE MOST vindictive, nasty, horrifying excuse for a human being I’ve ever met. I hate her with the passion of a thousand suns. But…(there’s always a but) she’s infertile. It was passed on to me by her former assistant (why yes it IS a breach of trust/invasion of privacy, why do you ask?) that she and her husband had tried for years, probably two decades ago. And they were never successful. I’ve tried to use this information to temper my loathing with compassion (success: miniscule). But it also scares the bejeezus out of me that I’ll end up like her if I don’t have a baby. What if all of the anger, fear, bitterness and anxiety I walk around with on a daily basis goes further inward, and I end up like her – a brittle, hellish shell of a person?
  • To cleanse the palate, I leave you with this picture of my cat, Baker. He was sick a few weeks ago, and we had to take him to the vet for some shots. Here’s the picture the vet uploaded to their facebook page:

BakerHa! Love my cat. He is so freakin’ pissed off in this picture. The vet’s hip glasses, sadly, did not make him feel better.

Today, on “Obnoxious Family Members”

1. Scenario One:
My cousin, let’s call her M, came down to visit the extended family this weekend, and she brought her two kids. She used to live just south of the city where I live, and so we’ve spent a good amount of time together in the past few years (including staying overnight with her toddler while her second was being born). It’s been a change, because they lived hours and hours away when we were kids – we got together once a year for our family’s beach week.

She and her husband have given us some baby items over the past few years. I had never really discussed our baby making plans with her, but she knew we wanted to have kids; we were just vague on the timeline. We were talking on the phone on Friday, and for some reason, I decided to open my trap about what’s been going on (or not) with my uterus (MISTAKE). What follows is our exchange about my misadventures:

SARAH: …so, after all that, we did get pregnant once. Unfortunately it ended in an early miscarriage. I was pretty upset about it. Still am.
M: Well, you know I had both of mine early.
SARAH: [frantically trying to remember if M has ever told me about a miscarriage before] M, you had miscarriages? I’m so sorry! When was this?
M: No, I mean I gave birth to both of my kids early. Technically I’ve never carried a baby to term.
SARAH: …

Obama-angry-face

Yes, M did have her kids early. Her first was a month early, and her second was six weeks early. I don’t want to take away from the fact that it must have been incredibly scary for her to go into labor before she was expecting to. But both of her kids are FINE. Neither of them had to stay in the NICU. Neither of them have any problems as a result of being born early. Both of her kids weighed over 7lbs when they were born. So let’s recap: M, two pregnancies, two healthy kids. Sarah: 1 pregnancy, zero kids. TOTALLY APPROPRIATE TO COMPARE.

Scenario Two:
I have an aunt, let’s call her Aunt L, who lives in the same city as I do. She is my Mom’s late brother’s wife. I have a long history with her, as I lived with her and my uncle when I first moved to the city. Even after I moved out of their house, I stayed in the neighborhood and we hung out a lot. I was also her favorite as a kid. She would invite me over for a sleepover, while pointedly excluding my sister (which, as an adult, I can see is totally fucked up. As a kid, I thought it was awesome). Anyway, that’s all to show you why I put up with her incredibly insensitive comments. Shortly before Tammy and I had our first IUI (almost a year ago, OMFG) I told Aunt L that we were going to be trying. I sincerely wish that I hadn’t said anything, because she asks every single time she sees me – including at Christmas when she GRABBED MY STOMACH and asked if there were any babies in there.

Anyway, when I saw Aunt L this weekend, she asked how the baby making was going and I told her that we were doing IVF next month. Here’s how that exchange went:

SARAH: …so we’re going to do IVF next month.
AUNT L: Oh, you don’t need that!
SARAH: Actually, to have a baby it looks like I do. I’ve talked with my doctor about it, and this is the best way forward.
AUNT L: You just need to relax! I know TONS of people who adopted and then got pregnant right away!
SARAH: Actually, that’s an old wives’ tale. And, even if that were the case, we can’t exactly try at home.
AUNT L: [not listening] You know what you should do? I saw this program on Anderson Cooper a while back, where men donated sperm for free! Like, you just meet them somewhere and they hand you some sperm. You should try that!
SARAH: Ummm. I like my sperm disease free, thanks. Also, sperm is not the issue. There’s something wrong with me, but we don’t know what. My doctor said it’s unexplained.
AUNT L: Oh, I don’t believe in all that!
SARAH: … Yeah, my uterus doesn’t believe it either (??)jackie-chan-wtf-face-i16

Look, I get it. People don’t know what to say about a reproductive system that doesn’t work…quite…right. People are uncomfortable talking about sex in general (throw in LESBIAN sex, and let’s not even go there). We like to genteelly ignore the whole P in V aspect (if that’s your kind of dish) and just focus on cuddly cute babies. But infertility and ART forces people to discuss it, and people seem to lose what little tact they possessed to begin with. For an added bonus, throw in a little miscarriage – wheee!!! NOW we’re having fun!

Fuckin’ A, man. Family. I was trying to be open about our struggles to help end the stigmatization of infertility. Clearly I didn’t do so well for team IF. I didn’t say anything rude in response, but that was only because I was so busy scraping my jaw off the floor. I fear that next time I’ll actually get something out, and it might not be pretty. Any suggestions on how to handle these kinds of comments in the future?