Embryo Transfer

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Yesterday I had my embryo transfer and it went better than I could have possibly imagined!

My step-daughter is in town so she and DH dropped me off at the clinic and went GeoCaching. It sucks that he wasn’t there for the transfer but it would have been really boring for her, and we don’t want to tell her what’s going on. Right now we just say that I have something wrong with my tummy, it doesn’t work quite right, and the doctors are trying to fix it.

Anyway, I got my acupuncture (the needles in the ears hurt like a mofo!!) and then they sent me into the operating room and sat me in that weird “hang upside down by your feet with your legs spread” contraption. As I was getting settled the doctor said,

Dr: “I have some good news, but we have to talk. 5 of your 6 embryos made it blastocysts (!!!), and 2 of them are perfect 5AA blasts. You and S had mentioned that you want to transfer 2. I need to warn you that these embryos are of excellent quality, and if you transfer 2 you have a very good chance of getting pregnant with twins. A good chance like 55%. Is that still what you’d like to do?”

Me: …..Valium stare…..

Dr: “I would advise that you transfer 1, but I understand if you want to transfer 2. But I need to know that you understand the risks that we previously discussed.”

Me: “2. Yes. We want 2. The path of least regret for us is 2.”

Dr. “Ok.2 it is.”

Then the embryologist comes out and tells me that in addition to the 2 perfect little guys who are already hatching and are going into the oven today we also have 2 4BB embryos and an early blast that they think will progress nicely and be frozen along with its siblings. So, 2 go in and 3 go on ice!!

My bladder wasn’t quite full enough (easy for them to say) so the transfer took a while, but I finally saw the 2 little dots of light on the ultrasound go into my uterus and settle in. I can tell you as a fact that I once worried that I wouldn’t feel like donor eggs would be mine – that the children wouldn’t feel like mine – but I felt every bit as protective and excited about those little dots of light as I did when they were from my own eggs. The only difference is that this was tinged with an almost overwhelming gratitude for our donor, who made this possible. If anything, it added to the feeling of wonder.

They wheeled me out and then I had more acupuncture (ouchie ears!!!) and then home for a Valium induced sleep.

I am still tired today, and my stomach is upset from the antibiotics and all the other meds, but I am over the moon!! 2 in the oven and 2-3 as a back up!! Better than I could have ever expected! I’ve included a photo below of our 2 5AA hatching blasts. Sorry for the quality – it’s a phone picture of print out so whaddyagonnado?

 

Our 5AA hatching blastocysts, currently in the oven.

Our 5AA hatching blastocysts, currently in the oven.

Because I’m a POAS addict, and because we have a back-up plan and because I live right next to a Dollar Store I’ve decided to start testing on my own pretty early, probably 3dp5dt, PM. I feel like with hatching blasts people usually get a BFP (if they’re going to get it) starting around 5-6dp5dt.  In the meantime, I’m just going to try to relax and stay off the internet (yeah, right).

*On a different note – we’ve filed an emergency custody order to get my step-daughter away from her pregnant druggy mom who (3 days ago) threatened suicide, again. We have her for the whole week of Thanksgiving so it’s likely she just won’t go home again (of course, her mother is currently homeless so she doesn’t actually have a home to go back to). We could go from 0 kids to 3 kids in 3 weeks! Wouldn’t that be something.

Good news!! Good news!!

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Hear ye, hear ye – the next time I start to throw a pity party someone remind me of this moment!

I swear, I feel like a dog that’s been kicked. With regards to IF I anticipate the worst constantly, mainly because that’s pretty much what’s it always been. I’m always cowering from the next blow. BUT, here’s what happened today.

When we got to our RE’s office for the transfer the Dr called us back to his office…weird. As it turns out 10 out of the 12 eggs were mature, and we had 7, not 6 that fertilized. Which means we’re well above my dreaded and feared 50% fertilization cut off. AND, 6 of the 7 of them are progressing very well, and we’ve been moved to a 5-day transfer! YIPPPEEEEEE!!!  So, the criteria are Cell Number, Embryo Grade (Good, Fair, Poor), Cell Symmetry (Perfect, Moderate, Severe), and Percent Fragmentation. Here’s the stats on Day 3…

  1. 8, Good, Perfect, 0%
  2. 10, Good, Moderate, 5%
  3. 10, Good, Moderate, 10%
  4. 14, Good, Moderate, 0%
  5. 8, Good, Moderate, 15%
  6. 8, Good, Moderate, 5%

Sorry for being such a whiny downer lately. And for posting so much. I promise not to post again until after the transfer. In the meantime…url

Fertilization report

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I’ve been posting a lot of doom and gloom lately so I thought I’d give y’all a break. Break’s over.

My donor only produced 12 eggs. And while 12 isn’t awful, it isn’t great, especially with a young donor. And certainly it was lower than my expectations. Especially since the girls on my board were coming back with numbers like 21 and 25. But, ok, it’s not quantity it’s quality right? And donors have good quality eggs, that’s why we choose them. And a good way to assess quality is fertilization rate with ICSI (according to many papers in different journals). Average fertilization rate with ICSI is 70-80%. Anything below 50% seems to be an indicator of poor egg quality. In fact, I found a study by Rinaudo et al., 2010 (Fertilization rate is an independent predictor of implantation rate)  that shows that fertilization rate is a robust indictor of implantation potential. If less than 50% of your eggs fertilize (using ICSI) there is a 65% decrease in the chances of implantation.

6 eggs fertilized. 6 out of 12. That would be 50%.

For fun, lets continue our little math tutorial. If we assume I originally had a 50% of conceiving during this cycle but that the fertilization rate indicates sub-par egg quality and thus my odds are decreased by a further 65% that gives me a 17.5% chance of pregnancy. That’s about $2000 per percent, in case you’re keeping track. However, not only are the eggs (apparently) not of the highest quality, there aren’t that many of them, which further decreases the odds of a positive outcome. Grrrrrrrr…..

I’m holding on to the hope that the embryologist can answer some of my questions (he’s supposed to call today), because they didn’t tell me how many eggs were mature, which makes a difference. For example, if only 8 of the 12 were mature, and if 6 of those 8 fertilized there may not be a quality problem. That would be more of a protocol issue – why weren’t there more mature eggs? Which means there would be much more hope for the few we have left.

In any case, they’ve scheduled me for 2 transfers – one for tomorrow at 12:30 and one for Sunday at 10:30, because, why the hell not make things even MORE complicated!? If they don’t call it means I have to report tomorrow, which means most of the embryos didn’t progress and they are afraid to wait to put the other/s back in (make the patient feel like they get their money’s worth, I guess). If they do call that means all of them are progressing and we’ll wait to do a 5dt.

I’ll keep you updated.

**A sincere thank you to everyone who has been commenting on my blog lately. Your humor, understanding and support have been truly incredible and I am humbled and grateful.**

 

FML (NSFW)

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*This is a rant. Beware. You ready for some straight up Jerry Springer shit?*

c849e3afa484d2ac27a1fc61f69b46dfMy husband’s alcoholic, drug addicted 41 year old ex-wife is “accidentally” 6 weeks pregnant. By a man she met 8 weeks ago, and has been living with for 6 weeks. We find this out while I’m literally in the stirrups getting my lining checked for my donor egg cycle. Fuck you, universe. FUCK YOU

This is the same woman who told her dad that she hopes his wife of 30 years dies horribly so he can know what pain feels like. The same women who took her 7-year-old child out of school on a Tues morning and took her on a bender that ended with my step-daughter in a sleazy hotel calling 911 and applying pressure to her mother’s head wound until the ambulance came (a bottle of 100 proof vodka after a day of drinking and a handful of Vicodin and Xanax will do that to you. But she “was stressed out” you guys. 3 days in ICU on the taxpayer’s dime – you’re welcome.). This is the same women who told her live-in-boyfriend that if he didn’t do (whatever it was) she would call the police and say he beat her, which she did and he was taken out of his office in hand-cuffs. The charges were dropped and later found to be fraudulent. The same women who hasn’t worked in 13 months because she says she has severe nerve damage in her neck, head, shoulder, arm and hand from her job as an esthetician (because “waxing is hard” you guys). She is currently under investigation for Workers Comp fraud. She was just evicted from her 2rd apartment and is being sued for back rent by her apartment building and by her roommate (whose rent and utility money she spent on a new boob job, face filler injections and her BMW). She and my step-daughter have lived in 12 places in less than 4 years, and as of Dec. 1 they will be homeless (again) because the guy she was living with this time (in a 1 bedroom, 800 sq ft apartment), the one that impregnated her, got kicked out. That’s when she decided to tell him she was pregnant. This is the 19th boyfriend (that we know of) who has been introduced to her current child, in less than 3 years. CPS has been called on her by teachers, 2 different boyfriends, her father and medical personnel, and she has been found guilty by CPS of 4 counts of severe child neglect and endangerment and 3 counts of mild to moderate child abuse, as well as educational neglect for my step-daughters chronic truancy (she was absent from 2nd grade 32% of the time, despite living <1 mi from her school and her mother not working). At our last custody hearing the judge said she would give her another chance, but she had to attend drug and alcohol abuse counseling, psychological counseling, anger management counseling and parenting classes, submit to random drugs tests and she wasn’t allowed to consume alcohol while with her child, or within 12 hours of being with her. AND SHE’S PREGNANT. AT 41.

And here’s me. 37. Psychologically stable and financially competent. Employed every day of my adult life. Masters Degree. Ph.D. Happily married in a stable and loving relationship. Non-smoker, non drug user, occasional drinker. Exercise regularly and a healthy lifestyle. Close with family, lots of friends. Never been arrested, never even had a speeding ticket. NOT PREGNANT.

I mean, come on, universe. I know that life isn’t fair, but this is ridiculous.

And, DH doesn’t get it. He and his mom were on the phone for an hour this morning talking about the crazy ex, her new pregnancy, the living situation… He missed almost all of my lining check because he was on the phone. I told him it upset me and he said “Why? Why does it matter what she does? It doesn’t affect us.” Well, it matters because you’re missing OUR lives to talk about HER life. It matters because what we’re going through is now overshadowed, once again, by her bad choices. I know it’s the mother of his child. That’s part of the reason it bothers me!!! This horrible, hateful, awful woman could give him a child and I can’t! And she didn’t/doesn’t love and cherish either one of them!! And now, after all I’ve done to get pregnant, after all of the tests and pills, and doctors, and bills, and shots and heartaches we still have no baby and SHE’S FUCKING PREGNANT!! If I get pregnant and she keeps the baby, the whole time I’m pregnant it’ll be all about her – what’s she going to do? Where will they live? Is she getting the proper care? Nutrition? Is she drinking? Drugging? Going to Dr. appointments? And if I’m being selfish I don’t care! I have put myself through hell to pregnant, and I don’t want my whole pregnancy (assuming the best) to be overshadowed by her bullshit! For once, I want it to be about me! I want to enjoy, with my husband and family, this time that I have worked so hard for!!

And since I am suddenly emotionally alone in this DE cycle I am going to turn to you guys with my happy news, in order to get a little cheering and support. My lining was perfect. 9 mm. It also had the triple stripe, although the doctor didn’t say that, but I could see it on the monitor. There was an intern in the room and he was explaining things to her and said “Here we go. Look at this – this is the perfect mid-cycle uterus. Perfect 9mm lining, excellent receptivity for implantation.” So, all of the shots and pills and Pom juice and kale and raspberries and fertility yoga have produced the perfect uterine lining. Finally. This is the first and only time I have ever received positive news in the stirrups. The only time my reproductive system has been average, much less excellent. So, yay me. Also our retrieval is tomorrow.

*sigh* Ok, I guess my pity party is over. I know I shouldn’t let it get to me so much, but COME ON! Am I being completely unreasonable, or does this suck as much as I think it does?

 

Gift for our egg donor

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Hand painted card for our donor

Hand painted card for our donor

Our donors egg retrieval is coming up (either Tues or Wed, depending on how her follicles look today) so it was time to put her gift basket together. I wanted it to be elegant, put together, thoughtful, sweet…. Nope, that’s just not how I roll! In the end though, I think it reflects me in all of my silly, crazy but well-intentioned glory. Frankly, I put in the things that I wanted after my egg retrieval, and then some other stuff just ’cause. In the end, this is what went in…

  1. The basket, obviously, with a silly flower wrapped around the handle (she has a small child, so I thought the silly stuff would be appreciated).
  2. Thanksgiving/fall themed kitchen towels as a liner, because tis the season.
  3. Super fluffy warm soft socks.
  4. A pumpkin scented candle.
  5. Relaxation tea.
  6. A jar filled with beauty stuff – nail polish, lotion, shower gel, eye mask, silly frog loofa, etc.
  7. A stuffed animal for her little boy.
  8. The Willow Tree “Thank You” angel.
  9. Chocolate! And chocolate chip cookies, Gatorade and Applesauce.
  10. And finally, a card that one of my closest friends painted for the donor. I’ve spent the last few nights mulling over what to say in it, and finally wrote it this morning.

Here’s what I said, more or less…

Words can never truly express how grateful we are for what you have done.  We know what a commitment it is to go through the grueling process of injections and monitoring, and we understand all that you’ve had to endure to help us start our family. For several long years we have gone through one failed IVF cycle after another, desperately trying to have a baby.  When we learned last Christmas that my ovaries had failed to the point where we could no longer use my eggs, my little sister offered to donate her eggs to us. Tragically, during the donor testing, ARMS discovered that she also has Diminished Ovarian Reserve and may never have children of her own. It seemed that our dream of holding our baby in our arms was slipping away.  And then came you! You have given us the chance to become the parents that we know in our hearts we are meant to be.  You are our angel of hope and grace, and although we can never repay your kindness and generosity, please know that we acknowledge how truly wonderful and special you are.  Regardless of the outcome of this cycle, we cannot thank you enough for your selflessness. If we are lucky enough to have children as a result of your gift I know we will think of you often with love, wonder and appreciation. You will always have a special place in our hearts. Gratefully, the hopefully mom and dad to be

On the back – *Here are a few little things to help you relax after the retrieval. There is also an angel for you. Whenever you look at her, remember that you are our angel and that you are appreciated!

I’ve added some pictures of the basket and card. Let me know what you think, especially if you think we should add anything. We have a few days to make changes!

Gift basket for our egg donor

Gift basket for our egg donor

Present Tense

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I really like this article – Present Tense

First, it talks about Hyperbole and a Half, which is my favoritest blog EVER. But the author is correct in saying that there’s something unsettling about reading people’s thoughts while they are truly right in the middle of whatever it is that they’re describing.

We’re more accustomed as readers to the memoir model, where depression — or addiction, or even ordinary anxiety [or infertility] — appears as a monster from the past, one against which you still have to bolt the door every day, but one that’s not there right now, not interfering with your writing about it, not writing about it with you….It’s very sterile and very misleading to hear about battles only from people who either have already won or at least have already experienced the stability of intermediate victories. It presents a false sense of how hard those battles are. It understates the perilous sense of being in the middle of them. It understates how scary they are…

Obvious, it makes me think of infertility and of my blog. And of your blogs. How we are all right in the middle of this and it’s huge and it’s scary and we don’t have the luxury of knowing how it it’ll turn out. But it’s also powerful. It’s real. It’s honest and raw. I’m proud of myself, and proud of all of you, for sharing your thoughts, your experiences, your pain, your victories – your JOURNEY.

DE cycle update

Things are moving right along!

I’ve stopped birth control and started the Lupron injections. No major swelling or pain with injection, so it seems that the Lupron I had before (that caused IVF cycle #2 to be cancelled) was compounded incorrectly. I started on the Estrace on Monday and thankfully the Lupron headaches have eased up a bit. My donor starts her injections on Sat.

I think of her all the time, and not in the way I thought I’d think of her. I think of her like a comrade, or secret pen pal. Every time I give myself the injection I think of her, in her bathroom or kitchen, giving herself the injection too. I hope it’s not too bad for her. I hope she’s not regretting her decision now that she’s getting to the hard part. I hope she thinks of me. I hope she’s excited. I hope she knows how excited I am and how much this means to me and my husband and our families.

In an uncharacteristically optimistic moment my husband and I decided to rent a house with 4 bedrooms instead of 3, so that we can have a nursery if this works. We have to be out of our house by Dec 31 (the landlord is trying to sell) and we don’t want to buy since we’ll likely have to move for my job once I finish the Ph.D. So, we were looking at both 3 and 4 bedroom homes and just decided to throw caution to the wind and hope for the best and get 4 instead of 3. It seems like tempting fate, but I’m so tired of being cautious! I’m so tired of hedging my bets and expecting the worst and guarding my heart and waiting for the other shoe to drop! I’m excited! I just want to be hopeful and excited. 32900254

Starting my DE cycle

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Just got back from the teaching visit with my RE, where I wrote the biggest check I’ve ever written in my whole life. Here’s the plan!

  • 10/25 start Lupron
  • 10/29 stop BC
  • 11/4 start Estrace
  • ~11/17 – ultrasound lining check
  • ~11/18 Donor egg retrieval
  • ~11/19 we’ll be told how many eggs were retrieved
  • ~11/20 we’ll be told how many fertilized
  • ~11/24 Transfer
  • ~12/3 Beta

Everyone I spoke to told me how much they loved my donor, how sweet she was, and how excited she was to be starting the cycle. I’m putting together a little gift basket for her – the DE nurse says I can leave it at the clinic and they’ll give it to her the day of the retrieval. I got a nice basket and lined it with Thanksgiving themed kitchen towels. I’m putting in a stuffed animal (for her young son), a Willow Tree angel (here), a jar of homemade bath salts and homemade soap and some chocolate. I’ve also gotten an artist friend of mine to hand paint a card. Now I just have to figure out what to say! I mean, how do you thank someone for this? I have one chance to express to this woman how much this act, this gift, will mean to me and my family. I want her to know how much I appreciate her putting herself through this (I’ve been through IVF – it’s rough). I know she’s getting paid and I’m sure the money is an important consideration for her, but there are easier ways to make a buck. Plus, according to my DE nurse she isn’t doing this for the money – she seems to truly have altruistic intentions. Maybe they always say that, I don’t know. Regardless, I want to give her some sense of how grateful and thankful we are.

You know, it’s weird. IVF, DE, infertility – it’s a super intensity experience. And somewhere, nearby, is a women who is thinking of me and I am thinking of her. We’re on this parallel path, she and I, with coordinated cycles, blood draws, doctor visits. We’re both going through a significant amount of trouble, spending an incredible amount of time to achieve a common goal, and yet I’ll never meet her. I think of her every day, and I’m sure she thinks of me sometimes, and we’re sharing a very unusual and strangely intimate experience, but we’re strangers. It’s just….odd.

I Used an Egg Donor

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“Oh my god!” I said. “What if this procreation thing works?”
We never thought to ask: What if it doesn’t?

Large sections of this essay (I Used an Egg Donor) resonated with me. Some didn’t – clearly I didn’t natural and quickly accept the idea of donor eggs like this women did – but overall I think this presents a light-hearted (as light as is possible with this heavy-assed topic) glimpse into DE IVF. I certainly love the quote below.

“When you’re busy playing hide-and-seek and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and scraping peas off the floor, the last thing you think about is your babies’ DNA.”

 

Some days

A year ago today my pregnancy ended.

20 minutes ago I told my my 8 year old step-daughter (who has been in my life for 4+ years) “I love you!”.  She said “Well, I don’t love you. You’re just my dad’s new wife”.

Some days it’s all just too much.  Some days I can’t suck it up, turn the other cheek, ignore it, focus on the positive, be the better person.  Some days it’s just too hard.

Here we go…

Our donor passed all of her tests. She doesn’t have the official doctors stamp of approval yet since the blood work came back an hour ago, but the nurses say it looks fine. Also, she started her period this morning and starts birth control pills tomorrow.

Assuming all goes well she’ll start stimming on Nov. 8, her retrieval will be Nov. 18 and the transfer will be Nov. 24 (give or take a few days on any of those dates). Is there an emoticon for the shock/fear/excitement/disbelief I’m feeling right now, because 0_o doesn’t cut it! After all, it’s been a long, difficult road to get to this point – could we finally be having some luck? Could this actually work?

Waiting

My donor took her final tests last week and we should find out the results next week. Her psychological exams are the in the middle of Oct. I start birth control pills (oh, the sad irony, every time) with my next period, in 2 weeks.

I decided to post this singularly uninteresting update to highlight the fact that much of infertility (and treatment) is waiting. And waiting is HARD. Oh so very hard. Waiting for the next appointment. Waiting for your period. Waiting for the blood results. Waiting to stim. Waiting to trigger. Waiting for your follies to grow. Waiting to POAS. Everything – EVERYTHING – seems to happen in 2 week increments. 2 weeks + 2 weeks + 2 weeks, eventually = years of your life. Waiting. It’s not a wonder we drive ourselves nuts.

**Pregnancy mentioned**

In other news…One of the ladies I follow (http://theunexpectedtrip.wordpress.com/) is in the early stages of a DE pregnancy after recurrent pregnancy losses. The heart rate of her little bambino came back a touch low and she is worrying herself sick (as we all would). I’m not religious at all but I do believe that positive energy and positive thoughts can’t possibly hurt, so if you get a minute, send a little love/prayer/happiness/peace/goodness in her direction. She’s waiting (of course) for her next ultrasound to make sure everything is ok. And it’s driving her nuts!

The road to donor eggs

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No one expects that they’ll need to use someone else’s eggs to conceive a child. Well, maybe a few do, but for most of us this is not the way we planned it. It’s a last resort, rather than a first choice. And it is a long and painful road to get to the point where you make that decision.

First, there is the decision to go to the fertility clinic, usually after months or years of dedicated effort to procreate and continual, repeated disappointment. At the fertility clinic there are the tests, the waiting, the fear. Then the shock of “The Diagnosis” – that condition that suddenly defines your reproductive potential and, by proxy, redefines how you see yourself. Then “The Treatment”. Whether it’s corrective surgery, medicated cycles, IUI’s, IVF, etc, it is invasive, expensive, time-consuming, soul crushing, relationship damaging and anxiety ridden. Add in generous measures of shame, guilt, fear, failure and anxiety and you can come close to understanding how absolutely devastating infertility can be. But, we all think that treatment will work for us, we all think we’re the lucky one. Maybe you are, but maybe you aren’t. If you are, congrats! But if you aren’t (and statistically most of us aren’t) – you search your soul and you muster your courage, because either you will move forward and try another treatment, or you will reevaluate and choose a different path. Both roads take immense courage and sacrifice. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until your strength, patience, or bank account run out.

At some point during this process you will have a crisis of confidence, a crisis of self, a breakdown, a total loss of joy. There will be moments where you can’t go on, where you can’t get out of bed, where you can’t face your husband/wife/mother/father/friends/doctor/expectations/life. Days of extreme anger and frustration and “why me?”. There will be bargaining and pleading and praying. And there will be pain, both physical and emotional. Lots and lots of pain.

At some point during this process someone may say some version of “This isn’t going to work. I’m sorry. Despite all of the advances of medical science we can’t help you. You will never have children.” And at that point you will begin to consider things that you never imagined you would consider. For me, that was egg donation.

Early on, my RE asked me if we would consider using an egg donor. I gave her an absolute, unequivocal NO. No way, never, not ever would I ever even consider that.  NO.  NEVER.  EVER. But, that was before 2 failed IUI’s, 3 failed IVF’s, 1 miscarriage, countless nights spent crying, untold numbers of heartfelt talks with my husband, and hundreds of hours of considering my dwindling options for motherhood. That was before I spoke to many, many people who decide to use egg donation to help create their families. And then, once I began to consider it, I was completely overwhelmed by my feelings about what that would mean for me, for my husband, any DE conceived children, our families…. Would I be the mother? Would I feel like an impostor? Would I love the child the same as if it was my own? Would my husband/family/society view me or my child differently? And how on earth do I choose a woman to replace me? Because that’s what it feels like initially – that you’re choosing a replacement.  I didn’t think I could live with the decision to use an egg donor, but I also didn’t think I live with not having a child. (The adoption conversation we will need to save for another time). One of the wonderful ladies who follows my blog wrote to me and told me that at some point you magically turn a corner – it may be finding the right donor, or coming to terms with the situation, or completing the grieving process – and it suddenly feels ok. Not perfect, not ideal – but doable. And she was right. One day I woke up and it didn’t hurt to look at the profiles. I start to feel excited. I stopped looking for myself on the donor sites and started looking for traits I would like to pass on to my children. Somehow, lord only knows how, I was not only ok with donor eggs, but embracing the idea and excited to begin.

I chose to share our decision to use an egg donor with some close friends (we don’t plan on keeping our conception journey a secret from our children so we may as well start getting used to talking about it now) and unfortunately we were met with mixed reactions. I don’t know why I was surprised given that I was conflicted initially as well. But, it still hurt to have my friends tell me that our choice is “unnatural”, “deviant”, “desperate and selfish” and “horrifying”. Of course, those same people had to get off the phone with me to go put their children to bed. So, easy for them to make pronouncements from on high. But, I can understand their knee-jerk reaction. Truly, I can. But the thing that I wasn’t able to communicate to them and the point that I’m trying to make here is that no one arrives at this decision quickly. No one takes it lightly. We have all, every last one of us, been through hell before we arrived at this particular cross roads. I would wager that everyone who has ever chosen to use donor eggs gave it an incredible amount of thought and did an unbelievable amount of soul-searching. And something that I have learned from this is that my choices are for me, my husband and my family. These are the right things for US. They may not be the choices you would make, they may not be the right thing for your family. But I believe they are the right choices for me and my family. I hope that we get support, but if we don’t – oh well. I can live with that.

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Liebster Award time!! Woot woot!

Liebster AwardMany many thanks to “the unexpected trip”  for nominating my for a Liebster Award. It’s always nice to feel appreciated, especially by someone I admire! Her journey is truly inspirational – check it out at http://theunexpectedtrip.wordpress.com/

Anywho, I stole this part from her to help explain what a Liebster award is…

“The interwebs tells me that the Liebster Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is German and means: “sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, valued, welcome.” The award is given not by a committee but by fellow bloggers and is a way to spread the word about great blogs out there, and a way to get to know new (or new-ish) bloggers as people. I did a little digging and found what I think are the original rules of the Liebster. Here they are:”

rules

Here are 11 things about me that you don’t know.

  1. I have classic arachnophobia (spider, ticks and mites). It’s so bad that I was once taken to the hospital because I walked by a bunch of hatching baby spiders and they got on my legs. I broke out in hives and had such a massive panic attack my friends thought I had been bitten and was going into anaphylactic shock. Now I have Xanax on hand, just in case.
  2. I have lived in a tent for more than 2 years of my life. Most of that time I was doing field work in either Bolivia, Argentina or the Himalayas.
  3. I was married once before.
  4. I am the tallest women in my family by more than 5 inches.
  5. I am allergic to peppermint and latex, but I have no reaction to mosquito bites or poison ivy.
  6. I did theatre in high school, and was offered full theatre scholarships to every college I applied to.
  7. I love my dog more than anything in the entire world, but consider myself to be a cat person.
  8. When I was a little girl I told my mom I died in a car crash.
  9. I have no idea how to blow dry my hair, and I only own a blow-dryer because we needed to thaw out pipes when I lived in Ohio.
  10. I am an excellent cook, and have a cooking blog.
  11. I have had the same recurring nightmare since I was about 5 years old. I’m standing on the beach and there’s a storm coming. The waves are getting bigger and I turn to run away but there is a huge sand cliff. I try to climb the cliff but it falls down, pushing me closer to the water.

Here are my questions from TUT

1. Name 3 – 5 of your favorite books. – World War Z, Lord of the Rings, Dhalgren, The Night Circus, The White Queen

2. What kind of music really moves you at soul-level? Tori Amos, Glen Phillips, Greg Brown

3. Link to a piece of art you like. – http://www.spiritart.org/Present/WillowArlenea/Ascension.jpg
4. Describe an outfit (clothing, shoes), head to foot, that embodies who you are. – black fitted tank top, cargo shorts and hiking boots
5. If you were on an airplane that was about to crash into the ground, what do you think your last thoughts would be? – about my family, hoping they know how much I love them.
6. Describe something imaginative and perhaps unusual you used to do as a child. – I would tame the wild forest cats on our farm. Also, my cousin and I would draw pictures of the grocery store and have “art shows” where we made our mother buy them.
7. Describe your absolute perfect job (what the office looks like, what you do, what your hours are, etc). – It would be some traditional teaching and advising of students, some research and some outreach and media relations. My office would have floor to ceiling bookcases on 2 walls and a large picture frame window with a window seat on the far wall. Lots of light, comfie chairs, lots of plants.
8. What are some of your very favorite movies? – House of 1000 Corpses, The Princess Bride, Zombieland, James Bond, Paranormal Activity
9. What is one of the most adventurous things you’ve ever done? – Trekking in the Himalayas 
10. Country, city, or suburb? – country
11. What is your idea of a perfect day? – Hard to say. Some days it would be reading a book in bed with the rain falling outside, other days it would be hiking in the Andes, some days it would be relaxing on the beach.

Here are my nominees (in no particular order)

  • HER bun. MY oven.
  • The Empress and the Fool
  • No Good Eggs
  • NewtoIVF
  • My Preconceived life
  • Idiotic Infertility
  • Rain before rainbow
  • It Only Takes One

And the questions for them to answer if they’d like to participate –

  1. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
  2. What is your happiest memory?
  3. What are you most afraid of?
  4. What thing could you not live without?
  5. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 1 book, 1 movie and 1 kind of food what would they be?
  6. If you were a tree what tree would you be and why?
  7. If your house was burning down (and you were alone) what would you carry out with you?
  8. Where do you want to settle down?
  9. What is your favorite smell?
  10. What is your favorite joke?
  11. Mayo or mustard?

Sh!t happened on Friday the 13th

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Yesterday I was pooped on (by the dog, twice), vomited on (by myself and the dog), pulled over (by a cop), vomited on someone else (same cop; he quickly determined I had a good reason for not coming to a complete stop at the stop sign but decided against helping me clean up the dog butt explosion in the car). I striped to my skivvies on the side of the road (twice) and washed myself and the dog with a hose behind a gas station, all while driving 350 miles from CA to AZ. I have now rewashed myself and the dog several times, but I refuse to go near the car. Side note – I challenge anyone to be stuck in a car on a curvy road, unable to pull over, with a dog in the backseat spraying diarrhea everywhere (including on you and the windshield) and not vomit. Can’t be done

After a day like that, no one wants to get a call from their fertility clinic. As I saw the number come up I wondered if I was about to get shit on yet again. Bracing myself, I answered. Turns out my DE nurse had some news. She hadn’t called me all week because she wanted to give us and the donor a week to consider moving forward. She said especially in light of all that we’ve been through, in particular while choosing a donor, she wanted to make sure everyone was 100% on board. She spoke with the donor 3 separate times this past week, reiterating the processes and giving her a bit of information about us – nothing too personal, just the basics of the situation. She says the donor is excited to move forward, pleased to be matched with us and has a solid understanding of both the process and the commitment. The only things she has left to do are the genetic testing and psychological profile and the nurse isn’t worried about either. On Monday, I am to call the financial gal at the clinic to firm up all the numbers and send the next check, as well as the cycling nurse to discuss where I am in my cycle and start getting synced up with the donor. It looks like it’s happening. It’ll take about 2 weeks (on the outside) for the donor to complete her testing and then all we have to do is….the cycle itself.

Considering that we’ve never gotten this far before you’d think I’d be ecstatic, but really I’m extremely cautiously optimistic. The bitter, hardened part of me is working overtime to hedge my bets and prep my soul for disaster (that would be the devil on my shoulder saying “The timing couldn’t be worse. You’re going to finish your dissertation while pregnant? Who’s going to hire a pregnant women once you’re done? So you’ll be unemployed? You know your lease is up in Jan and the landlord is selling the house so you have to move? You’re going to be pregnant AND unemployed AND homeless? If this doesn’t work it out it will be a blessing in disguise.” And the angel on the other shoulder whispers “Of course you’ll find a job, don’t be silly. You already have 2 job possibilities lined up. And you’ll just move into another house and this will let you have a nursery, and it will be a great chance to get rid of all the extra junk (physical and emotional) you’ve been wool gathering for the last few years.”)

Either way, here are the things I know for certain

  1. There is never a perfect time to have a baby. No one ever looks at their watch and goes “I have the next 18 years free, let’s have a kid.” No one ever looks in their wallet and goes “Too much money in here, we should have a kid.”
  2. I’m not getting any younger. (My eggs are already shot, but they were probably crappy by the time I was 25.) My ability to easily and successfully have a comfortable and complication free pregnancy decreases with every passing year. My energy level for chasing toddlers isn’t going to increase in my 40’s either.
  3. I want a child. My husband wants a child. And in the end this is the only thing that matters.

Plot twist!

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Do you ever feel like infertility is one big soap opera and every single step is a possible life changing plot twist? Me too.

You know how we found the perfect donor? Turns out she’s perfect except that she has NO follow through. I’ll spare you the details, but  basically she never even filled out the paperwork, never mind coming in for doctors appointments or testing. So after 5+ weeks of waiting on tenter hooks for her to do SOMETHING we decided to pull the plug.  After all, if she has cold feet now there’s no way she’s going to be up for the daily dildo cam and shots in the gut. So, our options were to choose someone else from The World Egg Bank or to cancel with them and be out $1000 (this is only an option if no testing has begun, otherwise you owe them the full amount of +$10,000).

Heart broken (again) I called the donor nurse at my clinic to ask for advice. Lo and behold the mythical red haired donor she’s been telling us about for months has passed all of her prescreening (ovarian assessment, paperwork, genetic history) and is up for grabs. Technically we’re on a rather lengthy waiting list for a donor through the clinic but given our arduous journey (2 medicated IUI’s, 3 IVF’s and a miscarriage), multiple setbacks (sister to donate eggs only to find out that she also has DOR; multiple issues with donors) and very specific donor characteristics (small stature, red hair) the clinic has put us at the front of the line for this particular donor. She has red hair, blue eyes, is 5’4″ and has a clean bill of health. The nurse says she’s mature, committed, vivacious and sweet. She kept talking about her “wonderful personality”. Of course, my husband immediately assumed she must be a troll, since in “man talk” a wonderful personality = not so cute. The nurse sent us her profile, which seemed great. We requested a picture, and I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting for it to come. I got it this morning. And immediately I called and cancelled with The World Egg Bank and sent a message to the nurse that we want her.

She looks exactly like my mom.

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Controlling your (in)fertility

As I’m sitting here happily drinking my morning coffee I started thinking back to the time, not so long ago, when I wouldn’t let myself drink coffee, or even tea, forget about wine/beer/margaritas. The time when I was eating kale like it was my job. And blueberries and pineapple (only the center) and avocados and avoiding anything with sugar or corn syrup. I was doing fertility yoga, avoiding nail salons, doing meditations and spending hundreds of dollars a month on supplements. I was driving myself crazy. I have some thoughts on that time, from the other side, for those of you who are there now. For me (this may not be true for you) this was what was going on…

  1. I needed a sense of control. Infertility takes away your control over your body and over your future. These measures, however silly they may seem, were a way for me to exert some control over my life.
  2. I needed to DO something. There’s lot of waiting involved when you are “actively” dealing with infertility. You’re waiting for your cycle to start, waiting for your appointment, waiting for the cyst to go away, waiting for the blood results to come back, waiting for a call from the doctor… it was something to DO.
  3. I wanted to make a “deal”. I was raised to believe that if I was good enough, tried hard enough, did well enough I could do whatever I wanted. Generally, this has been true. So I felt like if I did everything, tried everything, ate perfectly, exercised properly and consistently, avoided anything potentially harmful – if I made myself the perfect vessel I could have a baby. I just needed to figure out what all the right things were, and then I could have my family. I wanted to make a deal with the universe – “See, I’m perfect. I did everything right. Can I have my baby now please?”

And it didn’t work (obviously). And so I started getting into this very emotionally damaging cycle of “it must not be working because I’m taking the wrong brand of supplement” or “I must not be exercising/eating/mediating enough”. Eventually this morphed into a general “I’m not good enough.” Even though I knew (logically) that I had a medical condition and even though I understood very well the odds of us getting pregnant I still felt like I could make a deal, if I just tried hard enough. After all, I had read the well-worn stories we’ve all read about the woman from Europe who took the supplements and suddenly had lots of healthy eggs, or the woman who started doing yoga and got pregnant naturally after years of failed fertility treatments. If they could do it, why not me? I know now (and knew then too although I didn’t want to admit it) that for every “success story” there are thousands of “failures” (although I don’t like to think of them that way anymore – now I think of them as “the ending we hope for” and the “road less traveled”).

I’m not trying to take away your hope,or telling you not to try every single thing you can, especially if it will make you feel better in the long run to feel that you did everything you possibly could. What I’m saying is cut yourself a break. Your fertility doesn’t hinge on one glass of wine. Eating one more pineapple isn’t suddenly going to create the perfect viable egg. Missing one yoga class doesn’t mean you’re not “committed to the process”.

I’m still dealing with feelings of shame and inadequacy because of my infertility. There’s still guilt. But it’s getting better. The unwavering love and support of my husband, my parents, my sister and my friends is going a long way towards healing those wounds. And I finally recognize that no perfect supplement cocktail, no magic pineapple, no perfect down dog could have cured me. My infertility isn’t a result of anything that I did, and nothing that I can do will fixed it. And it’s a relief to let go of the responsibility.

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Holding my breath…

We found someone. A donor. She’s from The World Egg Bank. They allow open donations if both parties are willing (and if you pay additional fees of course). We contacted our clinic, contacted TWEB, got the contracts. TWEB called the donor and she’s willing and able to start testing immediately. Sold our second car to get the deposits.  Today we signed the contract, wrote the check to TWEB for 50% of the fees and drove it to their doorstep. Now our clinic will get in touch with the donor and start the testing. Annnnnnndddddddd, here’s where it can all go wrong.

See, the donors aren’t prescreened which is pretty typical, I think, when you use an agency. There’s just too many people to screen, not all of them will be chosen etc. So our clinic is going to do all of the testing (which they insist on whether it’s been done in the past or not) – physical, genetic, psychological…. and our donor nurse has told us in the past that only about 1 in 8 people pass. Some fail the STD testing, many flake out, most fail the ovarian reserve assessment. She said no one really fails the psych testing because if they’ve managed to stick it out through all of the other stuff they’re pretty committed and solid mentally and emotionally. They kind of screen themselves. So now all I can think is “Oh my god. I’ve finally found someone who fits our (apparently very narrow) criteria and there’s only a 12% chance she’ll pass the testing to become a donor?” S keeps telling me to stay positive – the nurse at TWEB said she remembers her and she is isn’t flaky, that she’s very straightforward and funny and nice. She’s only 20 so the odds of her meeting the ovarian reserve testing criteria are excellent. But still, so many things could go wrong. And like I’ve said before, if infertility has taught me anything it’s that I’m not the special one, the one who beats the odds, the one who breezes through. So, for the next few weeks I’ll be holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop….

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If you’re going through hell…

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Wed. morning I did something I’ve never done before. I cried so hard I vomited.

Our DE nurse called and told us the Donor Egg Bank didn’t do open donations (which I already knew), but somehow hearing it from her made it worse. She also seemed annoyed that I wanted to have an open donation, like it didn’t make sense to her and she didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. It pushed me over the edge, and I lost it. I just straight up lost my shit y’all. I started sobbing those big, deep, horrible sobs – the kind you think will break you in half or strangle you – and I just couldn’t stop. There has been so much – stress, pressure, expectation, hope, loss, disappointment, fear, anger, sadness, guilt, exhaustion – that I just couldn’t carry it any longer. And my body quite literally purged itself of it.

I wish I could say that there was some kind of cathartic relief from that episode, like a weight has been lifted or my mind is suddenly free and clear, but that’s not really true. It felt good to cry, and it felt strangely good to acknowledge in a physical way the depth of my emotional pain, but I’m still pretty much in the same place I was before. No huge cognitive leaps or moments of clarity. It did, however, get me thinking about how far I’ve come and the things I’ve managed to overcome. Navigating infertility (and alllllllll of the things that go along with it) is like running a gauntlet in both your body and your soul. It’s hard and painful and desperately unfair. But so are a lot of things. This is my challenge, and this is my life. The conditions have been set and it’s up to me to stay the course.

Anyway, all of that reminded me of this song, especially this part

“I’ve been deep down in that darkness
I’ve been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different demons breathin’ fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled I’d fall right into the trap
That they were layin’
But the good news is there’s angels everywhere out on the street
Holdin’ out a hand to pull you back up on your feet”

Happy weekend to all of you, my angels.

 

 

Nope

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Donor Egg Bank insists on anonymous donations only.

Called my husband and told him and he said that my “unrealistic expectations and inability to compromise would keep us from ever having a family”.  !!!  Inability to compromise? I have compromised on everything! EVERYTHING. Unrealistic expectations? All I want is someone who kind of resembles me, and for them to be willing to possibly speak to a kid in 18 years. That’s unrealistic? I’ve given up the idea we can make a baby like everyone else. I’ve given up time, money, health, financial security and sanity to do IVF. I’ve given up the idea of ever having a biological child of my own. I’ve given up the idea of using my sisters eggs and having a biological connection that way. I am not willing to give up anything else. And I don’t think I’m being unreasonable, unrealistic or uncompromising. And I’m devastated that he thinks that.

Some luck at last?

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In my last post I said “I guess that means frozen eggs are out unless by some miracle a reddish haired, medium height, green-eyed donor who explicitly wants an open donation pops up on Donor Egg Bank. It could happen, right? Based on my track record with infertility…my magic 8 ball says “Not likely”.”

Well, a strawberry-blonde, medium height, blue-eyed donor showed up today on Donor Egg Bank. She’s cute, funny, and likes science (!). Good medical history, good health, repeat donor. Her reasons for donating aren’t my favorite, but whaddyagonnado? I checked 4 different times during the day waiting for her to disappear like some sort of frozen golden egg mirage, but she’s still there. I’ve emailed the nurse in charge of donor issues and asked if we can find out if she’s open to possible future contact. I’m afraid to hope, but surprisingly (to me) I’m mainly just excited. Excited that we might be able to get a donor (who meets our criteria) without wiping out our finances for the foreseeable future. Excited that I could (unlikely but possible) be pregnant  this fall. Excited to be excited instead of just sad, or angry or mopey.

Also, I want to say thank you for all of the thoughtful, helpful, wonderful comments and responses to my posts. This has been (and continues to be) a frightening and lonely journey, and you all are my light in the darkness. I feel heard, supported and understood. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thanks, internet friends!!

Thanks, internet friends!!

I am at an impasse

After a truly long and agonizing struggle I think I’m ok with moving forward with donor eggs. One thing that seems to be critically important to me is that I am 100% comfortable with the donor. And I have 2 deal breakers –

  1. She has to at least resemble me. Even if my children don’t have my genetic makeup I want them to physically blend in with our family. This part is problematic, because as I’ve mentioned before I have very red hair and there aren’t very many red-headed (or strawberry blonde or auburn) donors. She also can’t be too tall – my husband is 6’7″ so we want to minimize the possibility of any enormously tall female children (this is mainly my husbands request). In a perfect world she would have light eyes (green, blue, grey) because I think that’s very attractive and if I can choose, hey, why not? And yes, I know that having a donor with red hair doesn’t mean we’ll have a red-haired child. What it does mean is that similar characteristic to mine (including skin tone, coloring, hair, whatever) will be passed on to the child.
  2. It has to be an open donation. I absolutely understand why people (both donors and recipients) would want to be anonymous. It’s extremely appealing. But I believe that donor conceived children have a right to know their genetic heritage, both for medical and personal reasons. I feel it’s vital for humans to have a sense of who they are. Also, my husband and I are going to a great deal of trouble to ensure that our children are genetically related to at least one of us, how could we dream of taking away their right to know the people they are genetically related to? Plus, if I were a donor I would want to know that my eggs went to good people. I would be concerned for the health and happiness of any children that might have come from my donation. I would never want a donor to regret their decision to donate the eggs that allowed us to have a family. Ideally, I would like us to keep each other informed of milestones and/or health issues, with the understanding that any children I might have would have the option to contact them in the future if they ever were curious.

So, our pool of possible donors is small. My frustration with infertility and all of the testing and uncertainty is high. And our bank account (after 3 IVF cycles and all that goes along with that) is very low. Frozen eggs seem like the way to go – cheaper, easier, less uncertainty. That gives us 2 main FE options –

  • Donor Egg Bank USA – this is the group my RE works with. They have absolutely no one that fits our criteria. I am uncertain as to whether or not they allow open donations.
  • The World Egg Bank – in order to see the donors you have to be a patient of an “affiliate” and do a bunch of testing. The nearest affiliate is more than 600 miles away, and I don’t want to do more testing. I have been poked and prodded enough for 3 lifetimes. There is also a fee to see their donor database, and they do not allow open donations. So, no deal.

I guess that means frozen eggs are out unless by some miracle a reddish haired, medium height, green-eyed donor who explicitly wants an open donation pops up on Donor Egg Bank. It could happen, right? Based on my track record with infertility…my magic 8 ball says “Not likely”.

This has led me to look at fresh donation. MUCH more pricey, few or no guarantees, much more complicated. Our clinic only has 8-10 donors, none are even close to our criteria. The other local clinic doesn’t allow open donations. BUT, I’ve found a donor through a nation-wide agency that I really like. She has auburn-ish hair, blue eyes, 5’7″. She donated once before (7 years ago-no report on the outcome of the donation but she is recommended by her agency) and she has 2 kids of her own. She’s married (he’s very supportive), we have the same interests, I love her reasons for wanting to donate, she’s open to future contact. She’s currently available and interested in donating to us.

BUT, she lives 300 miles away (there are no donors in our area that meet our criteria). She’s 29. The donor fee and agency fee combined are well north of $10,000. Then there’s travel ($4000), meds ($~6000), monitoring ($3000), legal/psych/health insurance/etc ($1500) and then the actual IVF part ($14,000). In the end we’re looking at ~$40,000. With no guarantee that it’ll work. Where a million things coud go wrong. Will she pass all the tests? Will she take her meds properly? How many eggs will she produce? How many of those eggs will fertilize? And even if we get the expensive “guarantee” it only refunds the cost of the IVF itself, not the $25,000+ of donor fees, travel, meds, etc.  That’s a lot of money to gamble with. Not to mention the emotional costs.

I am truly at an impasse. Do we wait for a frozen egg donor who may never show up? How long do we wait? Also, most frozen donations aren’t open, which is a deal breaker. Do we go with this fresh donor and just hope for the best? Anyone have any suggestions? Someone? Anyone?

Screw you, hope.

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I didn’t sleep well last night. My boobs were too sore to sleep on my stomach, so I tossed and turned all night. Today, they’re still very sore and so swollen that I had to break out the serious support bra. Sitting here at my desk at work I starting counting backwards to when I had my last period (’cause why bother to keep track any more, right?) and realized it was 29 days ago, I’m late. 2 years of infertility treatment, 3 doctors, 2 failed IVF’s, 2 failed IUI’s and 1 miscarriage have finally beaten it in to my head that I can not have babies. Can’t do it. The few eggs I have left are hard-boiled. I know full well it’s my period coming. I know there is no chance I’m pregnant. But yet I sit here poking at my sore breasts and wondering if I should go get a pregnancy test, knowing full well that my period will start the minute I plunk down the money. And yet…. *sigh*hope-is-pointless

What not to say to a stranger

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Saturday was my 37th birthday. Low key, overall nice day. Sat night was my friends bachelorette party / my birthday party and we decided to go dancing with a group of girls. I didn’t know some of them as they were work friend’s of the girl getting married. So, we’re all introducing ourselves and one of the girls says to me “Is your hair real?”. I get this all the time. So I say “Yes. It was a gift from my mama.” She replies “You know, you could make a lot of money.” I get this all the time too – people telling me how much real hair red wigs go for. So I say “Yes, so I’ve heard.” But then she totally blindsided me and says “You should sell your eggs. I bet a ton of people who waited too long to have kids are dying for some eggs from red heads. I bet they’d pay thousands of dollars.” I stared at her with my mouth open. I couldn’t even believe what was happening. I mumbled some reply and walked away and she followed me still babbling about these sad old woman who couldn’t have babies that would buy my eggs.

As I’m getting into the car to go the club a friend of mine says “Can you believe the nerve of that girl? I mean, Jesus, what if you couldn’t have children or something? Can you imagine how that would make you feel?” Why yes, yes I can imagine EXACTLY how that would make me feel. It made me feel like shit. It made me feel ashamed. I wanted so bad to say to her “You know, I can’t have children, so I am one of those sad old woman who is looking for a red-haired egg donor right this minute and am going to buy her eggs for thousands of dollars, if I’m lucky. And thank you SO MUCH for reminding me of that ON MY BIRTHDAY.” But I didn’t. I hung my head and I ran away. And I’m ashamed of that too. It was an opportunity to educate someone on infertility and I was too weak/scared/sad/ashamed to stand up for myself. *sigh* Maybe one day I’ll be in a better place with this. But until then, universe, could you cut me some slack? Geez.

Flowering anyway

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This is an excerpt from a blog by one of my favorite writers, Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Although she’s clearly not talking about infertility her insight into denial and acceptance of physical limitations struck a cord with me. My condition (DOR) is beyond my control. It is my reality. I can continue to rail against it and waste precious time and energy or I can accept it (and the reality of the options that I have) and move forward. Anyway, I highlighted the parts I particularly liked.

Flowering Anyway
As I do my morning prayers and meditation I am brought- once again!- into awareness of the vastness of what I do not control and how much energy I waste in denial of this. Oh, I get that I don’t control other people or the weather or many other changing conditions. But the place where I keep hurtling myself against a brick wall (and then wondering why I wake up covered in bruises) is around my desire to control how things impact me.

…this body-self has particular limits, limits that of course are not static and unchanging but never-the-less real….Insisting that my physical body can do what it can’t lands me in bed or at the medical clinic with some frustrated and bewildered doctor asking (voice volume just slightly shy of shouting) “What are you not getting about this? What can I say that will communicate to you that if you insist on doing what your body cannot you will end or housebound or bedbound or worse?”

What am I not getting? That although we have choices we are- I am- not in charge of a great deal.

So, once again I surrender to what is, accepting – albeit not as gracefully as I would have liked- my limitations in this moment. I accepted long ago that hang gliding and seventeen hour work days are not in the cards for me. With more difficulty, I recognize that there are very real limits to the assistance I can offer others right now, that they may be disappointed and angry or may not believe that these limits are real. I surrender to the possibility of being misunderstood or judged. Because I can’t control that either.

My favourite card in the Xultan Tarot deck is “Strength.” It’s an image of a cactus flowering in a pot. It reminds me that at any given moment we find ourselves in a particular “pot,” a set of of conditions that may be personal and specific to us or embedded in the reality we share, things that shape and limit available choices. 

But there is nothing within the present moment limitations that stops us from flowering, from being all of who we are and offering what we are to the world. The form may be not as we had hoped or imagined, but unfolding and living from our essential beingness is always possible.

I want to use all that I am and all that I have for flowering. I don’t want to waste one bit of time or energy on denial of or fighting with present-moment limitations that are beyond my control. Because flowering, unfolding into the life we are given regardless of the ever-changing conditions, is what brings us joy. . . . is what heals the world. . . . is why we are here.

Oriah (c) 2013 (You can subscribe to Oriah’s weekly blog athttp://oriahsinvitation.blogspot.ca/)

Donor eggs?

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Hi everyone – sorry I’ve been gone for so long. First I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your thoughts, comments and well wishes. There are times in the last few months when I’ve been in a pretty dark place and your support has been invaluable to me. So, thank you.

Things have been pretty rough ’round these parts. A few days after we found out that my sister has DOR and can’t donate my whole family came out to visit. It was already planned – my mom wanted to be out here while my sister and I got our tests finished. And it was terrible and awkward. We didn’t discuss it. Not even once. Such a huuuuuuuge elephant in the room!! It was awful.

After they left I just tried to put the whole thing from my mind. It was just too big, too much to deal with. Once again, I felt totally overwhelmed, completed defeated and entirely alone. *sigh*

A few weeks ago when my husband was out of town I spent an entire day watching documentaries on adoption. Not gonna lie, they painted a pretty dismal picture of adult children with serious attachment issues, separation anxiety and abandonment issues, even when they were adopted as babies and raised by warm and loving adoptive parents. Clearly, not all (or even most) of adopted people feel that way but it was eye opening. That same night I started looking at egg donor registries, just to see what was out there. I saw a girl who had a teenage photo that looked just like me – I sent it to my mom and she said “I don’t remember you dressing up as a cowgirl for Halloween”. It’s pretty good if even your own mom can’t tell! But, to use that girl would be upwards of $35K (not including travel) which is way outside of our budget considering that our savings are already drained from all this other infertility BS.

So, now I’m looking at frozen eggs. However, the more reading that I do about egg donation the more “on the fence” I become. Most frozen egg donors are anonymous, and I don’t want that. I don’t want them all up in my business, but (if I were to go this route) I believe donor conceived children have a right to know their genetic heritage. After all, S and I would have gone to a hell of a lot of trouble to ensure that our child was genetically related to us (well, one of us), how could we take away our child’s right to know the people they are genetically related to?

Plus, if I were the donor (HA) I would want to know that the eggs I donated went to good people. I don’t know that I would want to be heavily involved with them or the children, but I’d like to know. 

There’s a girl in the egg donor registry that I like. A lot. She looks like me – red hair, green eyes, similar build. Her nose is bigger, her lips are fuller, her eyes are slanted. I think she’s lovely – a prettier, more petite version of me. But she’s 22. Which is great, reproductively. But who’s to say that at 27, or 30 or 35 or when she wants to have her own children that she won’t regret her decision to donate? That she won’t wonder about her “other” possible children and be concerned for their health and happiness? I would be, if I were her. So for her, the potential future genetic mother of my potential future donor children and for those children themselves I’d want at least to have the option for limited future contact. But I don’t think that’s possible with frozen eggs. 

On top of this, I have all the usual fears about using donor gametes. Will I be able to bond with a child that’s not genetically mine? Will I always be looking for the donors traits? Will I be able to handle it? Will the child love me? Will I always feel second rate, second best, like I’m not really their mother? Will my family/friends/society be able to accept the child? Will the child think we were selfish for focusing on our desire for a child rather than what that decision would mean for the child who has to live with our choices? Would the child feel “incomplete”? Have I thought through this decision enough? Will the child want to find/have a relationship with their donor?

I know a lot of you have been here and have grappled with these same issues. Any thoughts or advice you have would be awesome. We have a meeting with our RE tomorrow to discuss donor eggs (including whether or not this particular donor would be open to limited contact) so hopefully he’ll be able to help clarify some things as well.

Man, remember when things were straightforward and easy? Nah, me neither.

Bravery

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528896_10151621172757784_1024423227_nI have always been and advocate of gay marriage. It seems ridiculous and presumptuous in the extreme for folks to try to interfere with two people they don’t even know who love each other. What difference does the color of their skin, their age (assuming they are consenting adults) or what’s between their legs make? Why is it anyone else’s business? Our genitalia do not define us.

So, I’ve been very interested in the court hearings of the last few days. And I’ve been watching the marching, the fund-raisers, the speeches etc. Now, I’ve often participated in these both to show my support to the cause and to support my LGBT friends. But watching over the last few days is different. I suddenly see an unexpected resemblance between their fight and my infertility fight.

I feel that my infertility struggle is extremely private and personal. And I have intense feelings of shame and guilt associated with it, even thought it’s not my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to talk about not only because of those feelings but because it (implicitly or explicitly) involves my sex life, which is nobody’s business. I also feel like I’ve let my husband down, my family down. And there are intense feelings of anger because I can’t have what seems to be everyone else’s god given right – children. See the similarities yet?

I am only just now TRULY beginning to understand how hard it must be to come out. First, to have to quietly and privately accept that you are different from other people, even though it’s not your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it. I imagine (especially in certain situations) there must be extreme amounts of guilt and shame, and the feeling that you’re letting your family down. And then you have to explain to people, talk about your sex life, and then stand by while they judge you. Judge you about something that isn’t any of their business. Judge you about something you have no control over. And then, after all of that, a bunch of strangers who don’t know you and have never met you tell you that you can’t have what is everyone else’s right – to marry the person you love. What a terrible, terrible affront. It’s criminal. Mindless, needless suffering.

And then I see these people on the news standing proudly and telling the world “Yes, I am gay. And I am worthy. And you are wrong for judging me just because I’m different.” They aren’t ashamed. They’re brave. I want to be like them. To be able to say “I am infertile but I am still worthwhile. I can’t have a child but that doesn’t make me any less of a woman.”

So keep fighting the good fight my friends. Know that you have love and support. And know that people are watching and being inspired by your bravery and self-acceptance. I certainly am.

Oh my god

My sister has DOR too. She isn’t a suitable donor candidate, and her OAR (Ovarian Assessment Report) is 7, which is borderline low. That’s what mine was when we started aggressive IVF treatment. So not only is she not a suitable donor, she has seriously decreased fertility

I…I don’t even know what to say. I’m devastated for her, for us both. There are just no words.

A manifesto on fear.

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One day soon I hope I’ll have good news – happy things to post on here – rather than the usual doom and gloom complaining. But, I don’t. Not yet.

My sadness from the other day has shifted into something a bit more sinister that feels uncannily like fear. I am afraid (there, I said it) of what comes next. This feels dangerously like putting all of my eggs in one basket (which it is, physically and metaphorically). My sister is our last chance, and that is a HUGE scary thing. What if it doesn’t work? After all, if infertility has taught me anything it’s that I’m not the exception, I’m the worst case scenario. My usual “Hope for the best prepare for the worst” model doesn’t work; it’s more like “Don’t let yourself hope at all and wear a helmet and body armor ’cause the worst is coming and it’s gonna hurt like hell”.  S and I had a conversation today that broke my heart. He wanted to talk about baby names, asked me if I had picked a boy name. He’s hoping again, he’s back onboard. We talked about it for a few minutes, laughing and smiling, and suddenly I realized what I was doing and was furious with myself. It felt like leading him on, allowing him to hope so freely. It felt like it was jinxing it.

I’m afraid to hope again. I’m afraid that if it doesn’t work I’ll fall apart. I’m afraid that if it doesn’t work my sister will feel like she failed. I’m afraid her test results will come back as borderline DOR and we won’t be able to even try. I’m afraid she has the same thing as me and that she’ll be thrown into infertility hell with us. THAT would be the absolute worst thing that could happen.

My sister and her fiance fly out here on Easter (fittingly the holiday where eggs take center stage), and the following week she has her appointments with our doctors here (she had her initial consultation in her home state-no results yet) and with the psychologist and the lawyer. It’s getting real up in here. It’s not just the happy feelings of sisterly love and nebulous future possibilities – we’re back to cold hard facts, appointments, statistics, probabilities… and once bitten, twice shy. I have learned the hard way that I fall on the wrong side of all those numbers. And I’m scared.