Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can't accuse me of being half-assed

When I broke my foot this past February, I really broke it.  I busted four out of five metatarsal bones, one in two places.  I had two screws installed and later removed, was on a scooter, did crutches, had a spaceman boot and everything.  When I do something, I go all out. 

So, when I was handed the task of cranking out some eggs for this IVF thing, I did just that.  And then some.  I have close to (drumroll, please) forty follicles.  And the bloodwork I had done yesterday (e2 was at 474) I nearly doubled today.  837, thankyouverymuch.

However, turns out that this is not a race to make the most as I can as fast as I can.  My nurse called this afternoon and told me to take it down a notch, quite literally.  So, I was instructed to lower my dose of follistim to 100 units tonight and tomorrow night and to come in for more poking and probing on Thursday.

But the best part of my day?  The doc that saw me today was looking through my chart as I was having blood drawn.  She held up the chart to the front, inside flap where a picture of Jeff and I was paperclipped.  (They take a picture of every patient/couple to keep in the chart...I guess it helps keep faces with names.)  She said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "This is the best one of these I've ever seen!  You guys look so happy and so in love!  I really like it!"

Even as I type this, I'm smiling.  I'm just the luckiest girl in the world and I'm savoring every minute of it.  I love you, Jeff!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Like a stuffed turkey

Jeff and I went in for my baseline ultrasound and blood draw on Wednesday the 24th.  No cysts, but I have about 10 starter follicles on each of the "cysters".  (Heidi and Polly, the ovarian cysters...remember them?)  Also, my baseline e2 (serum estradiol) was at 50.  (50 = good)

I started my "stims" (drugs that stimulate the ovaries to make lots and lots of follicles, which contain eggs) the following day.  Yes, as in Thanksgiving.  It was appropriate timing, really.  Kind of like a foreshadowing of how I would feel by the end of the holiday weekend.  It started with "sore" ovaries.  You know how your muscles feel after you run a marathon or go skiing?  Yeah, me neither, but I hear your muscles get really sore.  Wasn't so much of a "hurt" as it was a "tender".

After two days of stims, I went in at the ass-crack of dawn, or "8:30am" as it's known to those weird, morning types, and had blood drawn.  I got a call later that day saying that at this point in the process, they like to see e2 between 100 and 200.  The doc said I was at 159.  See?  Proof that I am nine points above "perfect".  So there.

This morning I had to apply a heating pad to the baby factory because I felt really sore, uncomfortable and just downright crappy.  As I type this at 10:30-ish in the pm, my midsection feels like a Thanksgiving turkey:  Absolutely stuffed!  And just 30 minutes ago, the Crazy-Cryin' Train blew past me.  I'm so glad I've never had one of those ridiculous crying spells in public.  They come on like bad nausea: you can't fight it, you know you're going to end up doing it, it hits hard and fast, and just like that, you're done and feel better.  I'm just glad Jeff was here to hug me until it was over...I just love that man!

Well, I'm taking my gut upstairs and we're going to sleep until the ass-crack of dawn, when I have another blood draw to check the e2.  I should have results by 5pm and am scheduled to go in for more blood work and an ultrasound on Wednesday.  If everything goes according to schedule, the doc should be digging around with a laser-wearing shark by next Monday.  Woohoo!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Duh, you guys...

I thought I'd share a quick story.  A few months ago, I was telling Andy that Jeff and I were going to be seeing a doctor that could, hopefully, help us make a baby.  I told him about the process (if you ever want a challenge, try breaking IVF/ICSI down to a 7 year old's level of comprehension) and the shots involved and the appointments and the shots and the side effects and the shots.

When I had finished explaining the whole ordeal he looks at me, and with a very "you guys are really stupid" look he says, "Mom...why don't you guys just try sex?"

I thought I was going to piss myself, I was laughing so hard.  Of COURSE!  Why hadn't we thought of that before?  My god, could it really be that we'd just never tried that method?  Wait until I tell Jeff that I saved us $15K AND we get to do it!  Win-win!

I just smiled at Andy and told him I'd pass the suggestion along to his dad.

Man, I love that kid.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Side effects

Yeah, they've totally kicked in.  Unfortunately, none of the side effects are of the fun variety, such as hallucinations, an increased urge to gamble or increased sexual urges and/or behavior.  It would absolutely make my day to get a friendly wave from Adam West, riding an elephant.  Anyhow, I realized the side effects had kicked in last Saturday morning.  I told Jeff that I was looking forward to December 7th because I wouldn't have to deal with the cat litter box until 9 months later.  Jeff made a joke about putting the cats in the kennel for those several months, and instead of joking right back and saying something about putting the kids in the kennel, too...I cried.

I felt like a total dork when it was all over, but still...I cried.  I explained it to him like this:  You know when you have that feeling that you're going to puke, but you lay there in bed, trying to psych yourself out of it, you put it off, try to overcome the nausea, but then you hurl all over yourself, and then feel much better?

Totally what it's like when you feel the sads coming on, when you're on fertility drugs.  The headaches and hot flashes (well, mine are only from the neck up...go figure) have also joined the party.  Oooh, and they brought along their friend, "Exhaustion" to crash the party.  I think there was one day this week where I was asleep for more hours than I was awake.

Which is why this blog post is going to be a short one. 


Monday, November 15, 2010

One more time, from the top

This cute, LOLdog photo pretty much sums up how I'm feeling right now.  So, remember a few posts back when I said that we were doing IVF because we knew we would love a REAL child way more than those adopted things we have running around?

Yeah, you don't remember that because I never wrote it.  Or said it.  Or thought it.

But here we are, day 6 of Lupron shots and I've already received my first insensitive comment.  This gem comes to us from someone who shall remain nameless, doesn't read this blog and is a friend of the family.  Something along the lines of, "I'm just concerned that she's risking the relationship she has with the boys, because it's going to be different when she has one of her own." 

Give me a minute...must count to ten so that I don't kick the nearest cat.

I don't really even know where to begin with tackling this one.  I guess I'll start by quoting myself from an earlier blog post:

When I got my Happy Fun Time Box (it's what I'm calling the box o' needles...just go with it) in the mail, I sat the boys down and had a heart-to-heart with them.  I wanted them to know that I am so lucky to have them as my sons and that I am so grateful their birthmoms chose J and I to be their parents.  I told them that we weren't doing IVF because we want a baby that looks like us or that shares our blood or because we think we'd love a bio-kid more than we love them.  I told them that we wanted to experience pregnancy and that I wanted us to experience that as a family.  I want the boys to go in and hear #3's heart beat, come with me to an ultrasound, feel my kicking belly and come visit us in the hospital when #3 arrives.  I really tried to stress that we didn't care how we got to be parents again, because blood doesn't equal family, love does.

I'd also like to add that the cost of IVF/ICSI has come down, considerably, and we are in a program where we get four tries for half of what we paid for Andy's adoption fees.  (And just so I'm not misquoted anywhere, I said "paid for adoption fees" not, "paid for Andy".)  Not only would I very much like to experience a pregnancy, labor and delivery, but it's cheaper.  Momma is going to need a mini-van for her child-army, afterall.

Next, I'd like to take on the whole "real child" thing.  Aside from the fact that it implies that adopted children are somehow mystical, magical, imaginary beings, it implies that they are not as part of the family, therefore not as loved, as biological children.  Put it to you this way: If it were possible to love a child more than I love my boys, the universe would implode upon itself. 

To quote the legendary Stevie Wonder, I will love another child more than I love my boys "the day the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea, the day that 8 x 8 x 8 is 4, the day that is the day there are no more, the day the earth starts turning right to left, the day dear Mother Nature says her work is through, the day that you are me and I am you."

And last, the idea that I'm someone who could love a child of my womb more than a child of my heart is just downright insulting.

I need to go kick a cat, now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cannot self-terminate

Ok, so you know that one scene at the end of Terminator 2 where they've killed that melty-metal cyborg thingie and then they have to destroy the computer chips and whatnot?  The Governator says to the Connor family, "There is one more chip that needs to be destroyed" and then ever so dramatic-like, he points to his noggin.  Arnie says "I cannot self terminate", (the fact that there is a Terminator Wiki makes me sad) the whiney, emo kid flips out and bad-ass Momma Conner lowers the Schwarz into the molten steel. 

That scene always came to mind whenever I was faced with the possibility of having to give myself a shot.  No matter how great the end result could possibly be, my hand was just not going to thrust a needle into my flesh.  So, when this cycle of IVF rolled around, I drafted several friends to do the injecting for me.

Last night, I thought I'd be able to shoot up by myself, but it just didn't happen.  Unfortunately, Jeff is leaving for 8 days, and I'm going to have to inject myself.  So tonight, I stood in my bathroom, sans pants (of course, only AFTER all of this did I even realize that my window blinds were wide open.  Nice.) and attempted to jab my thigh with a needle.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am beyond proud to announce that I was successful.

Jeff was with me at first, but after realizing that in his attempts to make me feel better, he was only making me more nervous, he left and waited for me downstairs.  As soon as he left, I was able to focus and stuck that puppy into my leg.

I am a bad-ass.  I am a bad-ass wearing a disco-ball looking band-aid on my thigh, but still: bad-ass.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Much better this time around

For Jeff and I, the first round of fertility treatments were not pretty.  We were just a year into marriage, the shots hurt like a mofo and we were very, very sad people.  Fast forward to this evening.  Jeff and I are 12 years into our relationship, solid as a freaking diamond, the first few weeks of shots are all sub-q (infertile speak for subcutaneous shots; under the skin, not intramuscular [IM shots]).  

And the best part of tonight's shot compared to what it was like 8 years ago?  My hands were being held by the hands of my sweet, man-children.

I totally chickened out and asked Jeff to give me the first shot.  A few weeks ago, when I got the Happy Fun Time Box in the mail, I was more confident than a gorgeous, Italian man in a room full of single women.  I looked at the box, and it flinched.  The box shivered in my presence.  But then tonight, the box transformed from silly, little, rectangle thing made of cardboard into Chuck freaking Norris.

My eyes started playing tricks on me.  Instead of seeing the itty-bitty, 1/2" sub-q needle, I saw a 10' steel pole.  Instead of seeing my husband as he really was, like this:

I saw him as this:

After three false-starts, I was poked in the belly with the "ultra-comfort" needle (which, I must say, lived up to its name), injected with 10units of Lupron and then had a Toy Story band-aid slapped on the injection site.

I am proud to say that the needle poke didn't hurt and that the Lupron didn't sting.  There was a teeny-tiny bit of itching about 5 minutes later, but that went away after about 3 rounds of Bejeweled Blitz.  (STAY AWAY FROM MY HIGH SCORE, YOUNG AND CONLEY!!)

And if it's not asking too much of the Fertility Gods, I'd like to put off the dreaded Lupron headaches until after this Saturday.  I have a wedding to go to and already have three, very precious gentlemen on my dance card.  I cannot disappoint.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A whole month dedicated to gratitude

I start Lupron injections in little less than 48 hours and I'm a tad on the nervous side.  You see, I was a kid who, when approached with a needle, had to be held down by an entire brigade of nurses so that said needle could do its job.  I don't know if it was some horrible, past life experience, or my dramatic nature kicking in, but nothing could get my heart racing, stomach churning or lungs pumping like having to get a shot.

So really, the fact that I'm going to attempt to give myself a shot, is quite impressive.

To get my mind off of all things needly and sharp, I turned to "happy thoughts".  After several "happy thoughts" of George Clooney and running naked through a field of cotton candy (you have your "happy thoughts" and I have mine), my mind turned to my boys.  I started thinking about the first few days as their momma, how I'd be forever grateful to their birthmothers, their teeny, tiny little toes and fingers (the boys, not their birthmoms) and how incredibly blessed and honored I am to get to be their mother.

It was then that I realized that it's absolutely no coincidence that National Adoption Month and Thanksgiving share the same month.  I've always counted my blessings and try to keep a glow of gratitude in my heart, but in this month, it all doubles.

When I got my Happy Fun Time Box (it's what I'm calling the box o' needles...just go with it) in the mail, I sat the boys down and had a heart-to-heart with them.  I wanted them to know that I am so lucky to have them as my sons and that I am so grateful their birthmoms chose J and I to be their parents.  I told them that we weren't doing IVF because we want a baby that looks like us or that shares our blood or because we think we'd love a bio-kid more than we love them.  I told them that we wanted to experience pregnancy and that I wanted us to experience that as a family.  I want the boys to go in and hear #3's heart beat, come with me to an ultrasound, feel my kicking belly and come visit us in the hospital when #3 arrives.  I really tried to stress that we didn't care how we got to be parents again, because blood doesn't equal family, love does.

After my Hallmark Channel speech, B asked if he could have a popsicle and A asked if he could play outside until dinner time.  Not sure if anything I said to them stuck, but I tried.

But since you are a rather captive audience, I have more to add.  

See, the first time J and I went through infertility treatments, the process killed me.  It shattered my heart and annihilated my spirit.  I felt like a ghost in my own life; a shadow of the person who used to live in this skin.

But with the birth of my oldest son, I was reborn.  When I first laid eyes on that pink, sleeping, 4 pound baby, my heart began to beat again.  A mighty gale of love and life and gratitude blasted away the sorrow and despair that had taken up residence in my bones.  Life was in color again, and I had this little human to thank for it.

Being in the delivery room when my second son was born was a dream come true.  As a woman, I had always assumed that I would be present at the birth of my children.  So when I learned that my reproductive system was experiencing "technical difficulties", I gave up on all hopes of ever hearing that beautiful, first cry of a newborn.

And then along came K.  This brave girl gave me not only the gift of a beautiful, second son, but she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and allowed me to be in the delivery room with her.  When that little boy of mine took his first breath and sang his first cry, I felt that familiar blast of love and life and gratitude, and I cried right along with him.

So you see, our choice to take this journey through the IVF/ICSI process isn't because we want a child with DNA similar to ours.  I want to see my husband's face light up when I tell him that we're pregnant.  I want to study an ultrasound screen and figure out where the toes and fingers are.  I want to have my sons press their cheeks to my belly and "listen" for the baby.  I want to pee when I sneeze and laugh.

Ok, so not really so much with that last one, but if it means I get to do all that other stuff, I'll take it.

Well, I am going to go into the boys' room and re-tuck arms and legs and butts under the covers.  I'm also going to sit in the silence and count each one of my blessings, starting with my guys.

Then I'm totally going to bed and dream of running naked, through a field of cotton candy.

Don't judge.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Egg retrieval

I would just like to point out that you can't say, "egg retrieval" without saying, "evil".  I find this to be the most morbidly fascinating step of the whole "makin'-a-baby-in-a-lab" process.  The doctor will use an ultrasound to find the follicles (the little sac-thingies on the ovaries that contain the egg-thingies).  Once the follicles are located, they're punctured and aspirated.  The fluid and eggs are collected and taken back to the lab for a very complicated game of "hide-and-go-seek" with the lab techs.

"But, Fertile Rock Lady, what do they use to go on this follicle hunting and extracting expedition?" you ask?

I will tell you, but it's not pretty.  As a matter of fact, I have a crisp dollar-bill that says this device was most likely used in "advanced interrogation situations" at Guantanamo Bay. Ladies, muffle your midsections with a kitchen towel or decorative throw-pillow so your lady-bits don't hear this: An internal ultrasound probe with a needle attached.


For those of you lucky enough to never have had an internal ultrasound, check this out.  Once you've finished crying on the floor in the fetal position, imagine that done with A FRICKIN' NEEDLE ATTACHED.

And because I'm me, my demented brain pulled up this clip and played it over and over and over again, in my head.  And, because I like to take things too far, I sketched this out:

The good news is, not only do I get to take a happy pill, but I go under "twilight sedation".  (I'm really hoping that has nothing to do with that weird, sparkly, British vampire guy.)  However, I've heard that if you're really friendly to the anesthesiologist, they have ways of making sure you never remember the whole ordeal.  I think I might bake up an arsenal of chocolate chip cookies the night before.  I have no desire to have any memory, whatsoever, of someone digging through my netheregions with a laser-wearing shark.

If I'm lucky, I'll end up like our friend David, of youtube and laughing-gas fame.  Except, not actually ending up on youtube. 

Did I mention the probe has a needle attached?


I wanted to get your attention and set the tone for this blog, right off the bat.  I'm going to be using words like "cervix" and "lady bits" and "hoo ha" and "vajayjay".  If this makes you blush, cringe or turn your nose up in self-righteous maturity, then you're probably not anyone I know.  Well, maybe one of several people I know.  Either way, stay and read for a while...you might just laugh.

So, to make a long story short, my husband and I have done a year of shots and IUI (intrauterine insemination), adopted two, gorgeous, amazing boys and now, almost 10 years after our first attempts at getting knocked up, we're starting the IVF process (in vitro fertilization).

I've had a handful of very early miscarriages, have had a ton of fake outs (my reproductive system is such a prankster!) and have even developed two, pin-dot sized blisters, one on each eye from all the tears I've shed through all of this.  (The eye doctor actually asked me if I was a farmer.  He said that he only saw them in farmers when the weather turned dry.  Um, ok.  He also said it could be from constant eye irritation like rubbing or crying, but that I looked like a happy person, so I must be a farmer.  Riiiiight.)

Fast forward to now.  The price of IVF/ICSI (in vitro fertilization & intracytoplasmic sperm injection) has fallen well below the price of the average adoption, we're extremely fortunate to be able to have the cash in reserves (well, had the cash in reserves...it was wired to these lovely people a few weeks ago) and there is a massive box of needles, alcohol swabs, and tiny vials of drugs that, Fertility Gods permitting, are going to add up to a baby (or four, according to my best friend.)

So, I start injecting myself (yes, I am going to attempt to shoot myself up) on November 10th.  As in, next week.  As in, holy-crap-this-is-coming-up-sooner-than-I-thought.  Not that I'm nervous or anything.  The Lupron injections are done with insulin needles (the words "ultra-comfort" are actually on each, individual wrapper.  I'm calling "bullshit" on this claim.) but the other drugs (progesterone IN FREAKING OIL and hCG) are done with 10 inch needles and are launched at my rump by my husband.

Our doctor goes in and digs out some eggs on December 7th (or somewhere around there) and three days later, I'm going to be what the IVF message board world calls, "PUPO" or, "pregnant until proven otherwise".

And not to put any pressure on things, but I am supposed to go in for a pregnancy test (bloodwork) on the 24th of December.  My dear husband said that it'd be kind of like the immaculate conception, because none of the "baby making" is actually happening in me.  I told him that if we get a big, ol' positive pregnancy test, I'd convert to Catholicism.

Although, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't let me in.  The last time I drove by a church, my flesh started to sizzle.

True story.