9.5

Hi, my name is Sarah. It’s been 12 days since my last ultrasound. [Hi, Sarah.]

I’m 9 weeks, 5 days today. I vacillate multiple times a day between joy that I’m pregnant and fear that the b-b-b-baby is dead.

I’ve been feeling physically better since my post a few weeks back. My doctor recommended I take vitamin B-6, and it seemed to help. I also stopped taking my prenatal vitamin, at least for the time being, as it increased my nausea and caused crippling constipation. In the next few weeks I’m hoping to ease back on to it; I know it’s important.

Care to indulge me in a little game I like to play? It’s called, “Is the Baby Still Alive?” To play, we run through my symptoms at any given moment. Here, let me show you:

-Nausea has decreased dramatically. Could definitely be +1 on the Dead Baby side, but could just be a result of the B-6, lack of prenatal vitamins, and time. Let’s call this one a wash. (but secretly I always count this on the Dead Baby side.)
-Bo.obs have grown 2 cup sizes. +1 on Live Baby side.
-Food Cravings and aversions noted. Could be +1 on Live Baby side, but also could be just in my head.
-Tammy says I have a “glow”, but I call bullshit on that one. In punishment for her (sweet) lying, I’m putting +1 on Dead Baby side. Because the universe is a bitch.
-Peeing a LOT – waking up multiples times a night. Also very thirsty. Could be +1 for Live Baby, but it’s also summer, so it makes sense that I’m drinking more. Ok, I’m feeling generous, so I’ll give this to Live Baby.
-Bought maternity clothes. Definitely a +1 for Dead Baby.
-Toilet paper checks come up clear every time. +1 for Live Baby.
-LOTS of twinges, pains, cramps, twitches, pulls, stretches, etc in the abdomen. +1 for both Live and Dead. Could go either way.

OK! Let’s tally the score! One plus one plus one, times eleventy, carry the fuck, and you get a win for Live Baby. Unless you count the secret point for Dead Baby and then it’s a tie.

Damn, I wish I could have another ultrasound. I feel like sending an email to my fertility clinic, begging for a fix. I’ll take my pants off in the waiting room! I’ll have Tammy do the ultrasound! We’ll clean up after!

My next scan is July 12th, with my (gulp) OB. I’ll be 11 weeks (in theory). My biggest fear is being told it’s been dead for days or weeks. I’m not sure why a missed miscarriage seems so much more terrible than a regular miscarriage, but to me it does. Don’t misunderstand me, either would be absolutely devastating. Maybe It’s a control thing? With a regular miscarriage the cramps and bleeding would give you some kind of warning, no? Not that it would be less terrifying to look down and see blood than it would be to look on an ultrasound screen and see…nothing, but…oh shit. I don’t know.

Hi, my name is Sarah. It’s been 12 days since my last ultrasound. [Hi, Sarah.]

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In which I am an idiot

I’ve been peeing a lot more than usual, which is good. On the negative side of Things That Enter and Exit From That Region, I also have to use progesterone suppositories three times a day. A side effect of which is some rather unpleasant leakage. So I’ve established a close personal relationship with panty* liners. Unfortunately, I ran OUT of panty liners the other day, and haven’t had a chance to go buy more. In the meantime, I’ve been wrapping my underwear with toilet paper that I swap out a few times a day (yes, just like you did in middle school when you got your period for the first time). I do my best to keep things classy around here.

Mid-morning today I went to the bathroom at work. I entered the stall, pulled down my pants and underwear, and burst into tears. There was a beigeish, reddish stain on my underpants. It’s a good thing no one was in the bathroom with me, because I sobbed hysterically for a full 90 seconds before realizing the (white) toilet paper had ripped down the center, exposing my (beigeish, reddish) underpants underneath. Friends, there was no blood. It was my underpants, moistened by the progesterone ooze. I am now officially only wearing white underpants (the better to analyze the color of discharge) until I am AT LEAST in my second trimester. If I make it that far.

*Is there a more upsetting word than “panties”? I think not.

************************************

My scan today went perfectly.

sac

One gestational sac, located in the uterus (rather than a fallopian tube, for which the embryo would be SO GROUNDED. Next scan is on the 11th. I will endeavor to make it there with some shred of my sanity intact. Wearing white underwear.

A Fix

I’ve been having cramping.

Nobody panic (I’m doing enough for all of us), as I’ve been told this is completely normal, both by the good Dr. Google, and my RE. Honestly, I’ve been cramping since a few days after my transfer, but it does seem to be getting worse. I sent my doctor an email yesterday, stating the following:

“I’ve been having some cramping, and I wanted to check in with you on that. From what I’ve seen online, it’s probably fine, but it does make me worried (I’m probably being paranoid though). It’s similar to menstrual cramps, and it seems to vary from one side to the other. It isn’t consistent, and doesn’t seem to be sparked by any activity (or lack of activity) in particular. I get cramping multiple times a day, and it lasts for a few minutes. Is this something I should be concerned about?”

My doctor called me after reading my email and asked me a few questions. Was I having any spotting? (No) How painful is the cramping? (No worse than cramps from my period) And then she reassured me that cramping in the first trimester is very normal, and does not mean I will have a miscarriage. Even if I develop some spotting, it does not mean I will be having a miscarriage. But she suggested I come in for an early scan to “check the placement of the gestational sac.”

You better believe I took her up on it. I’m like a junkie, in withdrawal from my drug of choice (ultrasound wands, of course). It’s too early to see a heartbeat, but I’m hoping for a gestational sac located firmly in the uterus (this is the ONLY acceptable place to be parked, little one).

I’ll update tomorrow.

The Pirate has Commandeered the Mother…Ship

The transfer went well yesterday. The appointment was set for 9:15, but we had to be there at 8:45. Due to the general suckitude of the traffic, we decided to stay in a hotel 1/2 a mile from the clinic, and that was an AWESOME decision.

Tammy has to travel for work more often than we’d like, but the upside of this is that she has hotel points. Cashing in those suckers was SUCH a good idea. We didn’t have to pay for the room (which is good, because we have no mas money after paying for all this IVF shit), got to sleep in, had an awesome breakfast at the hotel, didn’t have to sit in traffic, and got to the clinic in literally 3 minutes.

When we got to the clinic, I was told to put on booties (AGAIN WITH THE BOOTIES) but didn’t have to change into anything else. Except take my pants off. (Isn’t that a given?)

booties

They made Tammy put on booties as well. On one hand, I don’t really understand WHY we had to put on the booties, but it made it seem more sanitary (I guess? Like are they worried they’re going to drop the blast on my dirty foot?).

I got another ID wrist band.

wrist ID

And then the doctor came in and ran us through the stats:

23 eggs retrieved
18 mature enough for ICSI
15 fertilized normally (I found out an additional one fertilized abnormally – WTF is that? I didn’t even know that was a THING)
Day 1: 14 in the 2-4 cell range (GOOD) 1 at 7 cells (BAD)
Day 2: 14 still growing at the appropriate pace
Day 3: Down to 12 – 2 have slowed down and don’t have as many cells as they should
Day 4: No update, they just leave ’em in the incubator (MY BABIES ARE ALL ALLOOONNNEEE)
Day 5: 5 at the transfer/freeze stage (blastocysts), 5 more just one step behind that they’re going to watch until Thursday and potentially freeze.

The doctor strongly (STRONGLY) recommended that we transfer 1. Tammy and I had discussed this ad nauseum, and were still somewhat divided. (HA! Get it?! I made a cell division joke! Divided?! Cell division?! Nevermind…) We decided to wait and hear the doctor’s recommendation to help make our final decision. My waffling decision making on this issue looked something like this:
Transferring 1
-Same pregnancy success rate at my clinic as transferring 2 (60%)
-Would be easier on my body to carry 1
-Would be nice to be able to focus on one baby at a time
Transferring 2
-Would get the whole “having babies” thing out of the way in one go – only have to go through this (emotionally, physically, financially) once
-It would be fun for our kids to have a friend to grow up with that was their age.
-The “luck” factor. If my chances are roughly 60% with this IVF, what if we transfer 1 and it wasn’t THE one? What if it was the unlucky embryo? Wouldn’t transferring 2 give us more of a shot?

But like I said, the doctor STRONGLY recommended that we transfer 1. And Tammy was STRONGLY leaning in that direction also. The doctor got me to agree by telling me how much higher the miscarriage rates are for twins than a singleton. Now, I know as much as the next person that miscarriages can happen regardless of how many are in there. But having experienced one, I’m fairly desperate not to go through that again (my heart goes out to all you RPL ladies. You are so strong and it is so unfair. I’m so sorry).

So one it was. And it was a beautiful one.

Perfect Blast

Internet, meet Captain Jack Sparrow. It is currently chilling (hopefully NOT chilling – get to WORK young man*. We’ve got IMPLANTATION to do) in my uterus. They put a picture of it on a TV screen while the embryologist brought it in. Tammy’s first comment was “look how big it is!” Mine was “look how tiny!”

Speaking of wee, you must have a “moderately full” bladder for the transfer. And by “moderately full”, they mean HOLY GOD YOU ARE ABOUT TO PEE ON THE DOCTOR LOOK OUT. I actually asked the doctor if anyone had ever peed on her during transfer and she said only once, but the woman was under sedation for the transfer and didn’t have control over her bladder. Then she told me she used to be in obstetrics so a little pee and a little poo don’t faze her. “Now VOMIT on the other hand, I don’t do so well with,” she said. (Duly noted. I will aim my vomit on the nurse.) I only had a FEW panicky moments when the damn nurse pressed on my stomach with the ultrasound wand, but I was distracted by the small flash of light in my uterus, which was the moment the doctor ejected Captain Jack into my uterus. You can’t actually see the blast, of course, but the flash is the fluid surrounding it.

After 5 minutes of laying still, and about 5 minutes of blissful peeing, I went home and I climbed into bed to do my 24 hours of bed rest. Normally I enjoy nothing more than some downtime to laze around and read or watch movies. But yesterday I was bored as hell. Apparently sometimes I can be a wee bit stubborn and contrary. Just a teeny tiny bit.

The next two weeks are going to be agonizing.

*We both for some odd reason think it’s a future boy. NO idea why. But IF this sticks, and IF it’s a girl, well, Captain Jack Sparrow is still a badass name.

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”.

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?