When Life Gives You Lemons

Trying to make the most out of infertility, and life in general. This is my journey to conceive, after a miscarriage and D&C that left me with Asherman's Syndrome.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The symbolic 18th cycle begins

This week I officially begin a new cycle of TTC. This will be my first cycle of injecitbles + IUI. I was thinking today that this officially marks our 18th month of TTC. Granted, for many of these months I was unable to TTC – either I was already pregnant, or I wasn’t getting a period post D&C, or the timing was just off. But nonetheless, I realize my journey to start a family began 18 months ago. I noticed that this is symbolic for many reasons. In Judaism, the number 18 is significant of “life”. Many people give money in mulitiples of $18 as presents to someone celebrating a birth, a bar or bat mitzvah or a wedding. So the number 18 is tied to happy occasions all relating to lifecycle events and observances. I’ve always been fascinated by numbers (former Mathlete – go ahead, laugh behind my back). While I’m not religious at all, I think of myself as a spiritual person and I like to explore the mysticism and hidden meaning behind things. For me, the number 18 is therefore a significant number.

18 months is the equivalent of 2 pregnancies. It makes me think back to the time when B and I first decided we were ready to start trying, and how nervous I was about actually being pregnant. I was more than nervous, I was downright petrified. I didn’t know if I could handle it. My biggest fear was that I'd be nauseated in an inconvenient location, like on the bus ride to work. I wouldn’t even let myself think about labor and delivery. I dreaded the whole thing. What I didn’t think about was the potential joy a pregnancy could bring. I knew I wanted a family, and we were ready, and all I could see was the end result – the actual baby. I didn’t want to go though the process it would take to get there. But then I did get pregnant and I was elated. I looked forward to how my body was going to change, how I was going to sustain life, and I wanted to wear my pregnancy proudly. I still thought 9 months was a long time and I didn’t know how I’d get through the passage of time. But I promised myself I would take it day by day, week by week and somehow the 9 months would’ve been here in no time at all. And now that 18 months have passed, I am left wondering how it could’ve gone so slowly and so quickly at the same time. I can’t believe it was only 18 months ago that we started this journey. I feel like we’ve been riding this out for much longer. And I can’t believe in 18 months I’ve learned more about my body that in all of my biology, health and science classes put together. What IF has given me is a med school worthy education on reproduction and my own strength. And I’m amazed it only took 18 months to acquire this crash course knowledge. In 18 months, I could’ve been pregnant twice over.

Yet here I am in the early stages of yet another cycle and I find myself completely baffled. I went to the RE yesterday, and as it’s a group practice, my RE (RE1 or Dr. S as I call him) was unavailable. I saw RE2 and according to my ultrasound, he said I was definitely on day 3 or possibly even day 4 of my cycle. I would not have known this since I didn't bleed at all on what would have been day 1. Last night I started the Follistim injections, as part of a cycle of IUI with injectibles. The injectibles were not as bad as I thought. I’m a wimp, a big wimp, so I couldn’t stick it to myself. B had to do it for me, and as much as I think he doesn’t enjoy the thought of hurting me, he is much better at this stuff than I am. It wasn’t too bad though. The needle really is quite thin and it was over before I even knew it was in me. I guess having some extra meat on my bones, especially around the belly area, comes in handy. Now if I only I could put my good ‘ole birthing hips (thanks for the genetics, Mom) to good use…

The thing is, aside from some very light brown spotting Friday and Saturday, I have not had a drop of blood. I asked RE2 and he said it's probably b/c my lining is not to the minimum 7mm that he would like to see. I had an HSG last cycle in which the dye was able to get in and show a clear cavity, with some scarring in the lower uterine segment but definitely enough room for blood to flow out an sperm to flow in. I reminded RE2 that last cycle my lining got up to 8mm and he basically said that he then had no answers for me. He said if this cycle of injectibles/IUI doesn't work he might want to take another look via hysteroscopy. I'm so confused. I don't understand how I can have a mostly clear HSG - which showed a band of scarring along the lower segment of the uterus but a clear cavity that my RE was thrilled with, and an 8mm lining -and yet I don't have a period at all? I sometimes feel like these RE's are just clearly wasting my time. My periods have gotten lighter and lighter, yet my lining has been ok and my HSG results have improved. What gives? If I have to go through 2 rounds of injectibles/IUI and nothing happens I’m going to be so pissed off.
It's so frustrating that B and I get only so far and we keep getting road blocked. Life can't be this unfair - we are due our successes and happiness too, aren't we? I just have to believe that when my next pregnancy happens, and I have to believe it WILL happen, we are going to love that baby and appreciate that baby more than anyone else. I will relish every poopie diaper and cherish every screaming sleepless night. And when my kid is a teenager and hates me, I'll still adore him/her more than anything on earth.

But I digress. Back to this cycle and the injectibles. I'm so freaked out about the possibility of overstimualting my ovaries with the Follistim and of having twisted ovaries and all the other side effects they warned me about in injectibles class. I know they have to tell you these are consequences that happen to maybe 5% of the population. But all of these “oh it’ll never happen to you” things seem to always happen to me. Stay positive Ella, stay positive! Hope for the best. That’s what I keep trying to tell myself subconsciously.

But back to symbolism. Next month is also the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, which is the start of the Jewish new year. Again, I'm not terribly religious, but this holiday is one I always enjoyed. It’s a happy holiday and we don’t have many of those It’s a holiday about new beginnings and I like new beginnings. And I hope that this new year brings me a new beginning. Maybe this, the 18th cycle, will be the lucky one.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The perfect poem

I found the perfect poem to describe my feelings toward my miscarriage. It's on a website called ritualwell.org, which gives meaninful ceremony ideas for Jewish lifecycle events. I came across this site when I was planning my wedding and on a whim jsut logged back in today to see if they address issues related to infertility and pregnancy loss. Sure enough, they do. So without further ado, here's the poem I found ( I can't copy and paste the text because of their privacy policy, but you can read it for yourself).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

“What have you been up to”

Sorry I’ve been out of touch lately. It’s been a busy week between work and family commitments. This past weekend was B’s birthday. We went out for a really nice dinner to celebrate, but before dinner on Friday, we met up with an old friend of B’s who was in town from Denver. Actually he had just gotten back from Sarajevo, where he spent the summer working with victims of trauma from the Bosnian War. This is actually the friend that is responsible for introducing B and I so we always feel a special bond with this guy. He’s a crazy world traveler, so it had been a while since either B or I had seen him or caught up with him.

What I hate about get to-gethers to “catch up” with old friends who I haven’t seen in a while is that inevitably certain questions come up about the status of our lives. Of course these questions are said with the best intentions, out of a general need to know what we have been up to. With this type of conversation it’s always only a short matter of time before the friend says “So, what’s been up with you guys this past year/Are you thinking about a family yet?” This is exactly what happened on Friday night and I immediately burst into tears. I said the easy answer is yes, of course we are thinking about kids, but life sometimes has other plans for you. I told him the whole story – the miscarriage, the subsequent problems, the questionable state of my fertility for all those months, and finally ended with the fact that I refuse to allow myself to believe – that things are slowly starting to look up. It’s hard to share all of this with a good friend. Especially a male friend, but surprisingly he was very sympathetic. He said he was sorry for everything we’ve been through and wanted us to know that although we might not speak often or be close in distance or even in thought, he wanted to be there for us and expressed his sadness for what we’ve been through.

Contrary to this heartwarming reaction from a male friend, I spoke to a female friend of mine who showed complete apathy for my situation. This is a college friend who is organizing a baby shower for a mutual friend. I called to decline the baby shower invite ( I have a wedding that date, so didn’t even need to make up a lame excuse for why I couldn’t go – score!!). She then asked the dreaded….so, what’s going on with you guys. I also gave her the Cliff Note version of the story and she didn’t say one word to me. She just gave me a couple of “ums” and never once expressed any sympathy. Never did the sentiment “I’m sorry for what you’ve been through “ come from her. This really appalls me. This is someone who has a 2+ yr old and is pregnant with her second. I can’t believe that someone who is female, and a mother, and a friend could be so heartless to not utter a single expression of condolence. I would never wish my pain upon anyone, but I can’t imagine how another woman could be so unsympathetic, and on top of that make me feel guilty for missing a baby shower. How could she intrinsically not understand?

A few months ago a similar situation happened to me. I got invited to another college friend’s baby shower. The person throwing the shower was the sister-in-law of the expectant mother. When I called to decline the invitation, I was met with hostility from the sister-in-law. She literally said, “J’s going to be so disappointed you can’t come. Are you sure you can’t change your plans.” I had lied and told her we had plans to go away for the weekend. I said “Yes, I’m sure”, but what I really wanted to say was “How dare you expect me to celebrate a baby shower for someone I’m barely even friends with on the anniversary of what would’ve been my due date”.

Can’t we come up with some written and verbalized code of sisterhood that is inherent among all women, that makes us understand other people’s infertility issues and be respective of our need to avoid baby showers and the like? Can it also be part of our female genetic make-up to know that it’s appropriate to say “I’m sorry” when someone shared with you their pregnancy loss? I am just baffled by the fact that a male friend of B’s was able to say the right thing, yet female friends of mine say nothing and by doing so end up saying the wrong thing with their actions.

I dread getting together with friends who I haven’t seen who don’t know the whole situation we’ve been dealt. I don’t’ know what to say. I’ve avoided so many people for this exact reason. I just don’t know what to tell them. I can no longer lie, and yet I’m finding myself to be unable to avoid the topic entirely. It’s only natural that after 3 years of marriage and at this age, people would ask what our thoughts are on kids. Part of me wants to be snarky and just say “We had a miscarriage and now we might never be able to have our own children, thanks for asking” and hope that this will teach them a lesson about asking this of someone in the future. But I can’t do that or think that way. Most people ask because they are just curious and they don’t mean to stir up any ill feelings. They just want to make conversation and I know that. I just have a hard time coming up with the right answer.

I try to focus the conversation on other things – to talk about work, travel, other things going on in our lives. But as anyone who has been down the dark road of infertility knows, your entire life becomes about this one thing. I can’t talk about my job, because when I talk about my job I automatically link the conversation to the fact that I’m stuck in this job that I don’t love anymore and am sick of doing but yet I can’t imagine starting a new job and having to go on job interviews and deal with Dr’s appointments at the same time. And what happens if I actually get a new job – how do I start a new job and give it my all when my all can only focus on our struggles with infertility. And travel, something B and I love to do…how do I explain that as much as we love to travel and have made that a priority in our lives in the past, IF makes it impossible to go away for more than a long weekend, when you are scheduling all of your free time around your cycle monitoring days at the fertility clinic. And when you don’t know the exact day your cycle is going to start, it makes it impossible to plan a vacation. I’m so sick of the advice from people to enjoy my time without kids, to make the most of our time together, to travel to all these exciting places. Really I wish for nothing more. But all of our resources, both financial, emotional and in terms of planning out our vacation time are tied up in infertility. I just wish everyone would stop asking me this questions and stop inquiring about my life. But really more than that, I wish I had a different life to talk about. I wish I could share news of my pregnancy, our joys in finally starting our most cherished family. I wish that could be my answer to the “What have you been up to” question.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mortifying experience at the RE's

Today I went in for my IUI. I get called into the room, and the RE walks in and it’s this young guy I've never seen at RE office before. He holds up B's "sample" and has me ok all the info. Then he says, “Did your husband grow up in [suburb of NYC]?” I said “yes” and he said..."oh, I grew up with him. He's a really nice guy." I am mortified. Here I am in this vulnerable state with my hoohah on display for all to see, and the guy who is doing my IUI has known B since about the age of 4. They weren’t good friends but were friendly when they were younger. I am beyond mortified. This guy now knows the intimate details of me better than B does! So he's making small talk --asking me how B and I met and I said through another hometown friend of theirs, etc., but the whole time I'm thinking...please stop talking to me. Then he said “B's a really great guy, but you married him so probably already know that.” I am so weirded out. Mortified. Embarrassed. Humiliated. Have I mentioned mortified. The least I could’ve done was gotten a bikini wax or even shaved - much neglected on my part due to lack of time. I told B about this encounter and he was like I can't show my face around there anymore! He thinks it’s weirder for him, since he knows this guy but I’d say it was pretty weird for me too. I’ll bet this RE went home to his wife and told him about the encounter and is thinking well at least my wife gets herself waxed. I’m a mess down there and I was putting off getting my bikini wax for another 2 weeks – when we have plans to go out of town to Chicago for a vacation (and to celebrate our third anniversary). There’s nothing more humiliating than having your husband’s childhood friend stick a speculum in you and then insert your husband’s sperm directly into your uterus, especially when you didn’t primp for the occasion.

Anyway, my lining was the best it’s been so far – a whopping 8.5 mm yesterday, on cycle day 16. I don’t know if it’s the acupuncture, the CoQ10, the baby aspirin, the Chinese herbs, the red raspberry tea, the clear HSG, the longer cycle since it’s natural and not Clomid-induced, the drinking a glass of wine a day this past week, the daily rain dance I do hoping that this is it or all these forces combined that attributed to my thickened lining this cycle but whatever it is, I’ll take it! I’m feeling uplifted. I hope this IUI works of course, since we’re doing the baby dance thing on our own also, but if it doesn’t work I’m hoping that my period will at least be nice and red and heavy flow-y due to the good lining. Staying positive…

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Day 12

Yesterday I went in for my day 12 ultrasound. I'm not doing Clomid this month, but decided it might be worthwhile to do an IUI, just to give us another chance at TTC this month. Can't hurt, right. Having good HSG results means we can try on our own but since my insurance covers the IUI, I called the RE’s office and they said they could still do an IUI.

So I go to my RE's office yesterday, and as it's a group practice, you never know which RE you'll actually see.The RE on call walks in, and it's not my primary RE. It’s this young guy who doesn't look a day over 18. He enters the room, and without making any eye contact with me says "We've met before, nice to see you again." In fact, we had met before. He did my IUI last cycle. But it kinda freaked me out that he said this to me without actually looking up at my face.

Did he recognize me by my ultrasound? It's as if he's subtly saying I don't know you but I sure do know your follicles. We go way back. Your ovaries and I had dinner last week, where were you.

Now I wasn't totally put off by this because the RE is perfectly nice and perfectly pleasant, but it's just a little odd. Was he flirting? Didn’t his mom ever tell him that being a doctor is surely a great wait to meet women, but perhaps not so much if he goes into fertility as his medical specialty. All the women he will meet as patients will be otherwise engaged I would think. Or, perhaps he’s banking on some of his patients having hot, single sisters and friends and they’d offer up said sisters and friends on a blind date as payment for getting pregnant with his help. But I digress.

As of day 12, my follicles weren’t big enough yet for the HCG trigger and the IUI. I had 2 on the left side, with the largest measuring about 15 mm. This is good news I think, but the weird thing is that I had about 2 good follicles with similar measurements when I was on the Clomid the last 2cycles. So it seems the Clomid did jack shit for me. It didn’t tip the scale at all. I was told to come back on Friday, Day 14, for another ultrasound. Let’s hope my follicles are big and juicy by then, and that my lining is looking good. Then my IUI will probably be on Saturday or Sunday. In the meantime, B and I are just enjoying ourselves, drinking wine (at least I am!) and TTCing the ole fashioned way.

Oh, I think I got tagged by Zee and Watson. I’ll respond to the questions soon – I promise. This will keep me sane during next week’s two week wait. My first tag. I’m so excited. Has anyone not gotten tagged who would like to be? Let me know.

Monday, August 07, 2006

More stupid things that people say

So I came home from work on Friday to find B and our pooch across the hall at our neighbor's apartment. The neighbors have an 8 month old baby, and the baby is obsessed with our dog. I walked into the neighbor's apartment, and was greeted with a big smile. She took one look at me in my tight-ish summery dress and asked me if I was expecting and smiled at me with this big stupid grin. Now of course I'm not pregnant. I'm just bloated, crampy, achy, and that makes me look about 3 months along. So I told her I wasn't and instantly felt stupid, like I had something to apologize for. she couldn't' think of anything to say, which was probably best. So I hung out there for about 5 minutes and then walked out and back to my own apartment, crying. B followed behind me and reminded me that she didn't mean to upset me. People just have no couth. I can't blame this neighbor for making me upset but in this day and age, you'd think people would learn to be more sensitive.

It just sucks when someone says something with the best of intentions, but doesn't realize how hurtful their comment is. It reminds me of the time a few months ago when I had a woman at work fired for saying something stupid/pregnancy related. Long story short, I work in a building that requires all employees to walk through a metal detector when they first walk into the building. One afternoon, I was returning from lunch with a few co-workers, and one of the security guards who works the metal detector asked if she could ask me a question. I said sure and she asked me if I was pregnant. I responded with a resounding no, and she proceeded to debate me on the subject, in front of my co-workers/friends. She said, "are you sure, because you should know that we don't let pregnant women walk through the metal detectors." I said, "yes, I'm sure." And she actually responded with, "well, you're starting to get a little big around the middle." Needless to say, I took this up with HR and she was soon reassigned to another company. Are people really that stupid to say things like that? I mean first of all, even if I were pregnant, it would be perfectly safe for me to walk through the metal detector. This was something that concerned me when I actually was pregnant for those precious 6 weeks last summer, so I investigated. Second, who actually says "are you sure" and debates someone on the status of their pregnancy. Just because I've been eating nothing but bagels and muffins non stop for a year doesn't make me pregnant. Having a booty doesn't make me pregnant. There's nothing worse than being accused of being pregnant when it's what you want most but yet seems so unattainable. For the record, this security guard was a large woman. She should be the last person to be insinuating someone was pregnant when really they just had a date with their bagel that morning.

On a side note, B and I went to a wedding last night. We had a great time, and were dancing to Michael Jackson's Wanna Be Startin' Something. I love that song. I was having fun singing along, until the following lyric burst out of me

If you can't have a baby (Yeah, Yeah)
Then don't have a baby (Yeah, Yeah)

What do you think the gloved one was trying to tell me? Then I looked up the lyric this morning and realized I had it al wrong. It's actually

If you can't Feed yor baby (Yeah, Yeah)
Then don't have a baby (Yeah, Yeah)

I'm a moron. It clearly shows where my head is at. Everything is relative to the fact that I can't have a baby. This feels very all consuming, even though my HSG last week showed a nice, healthy looking uterus (or what B and I have dubbed my 'cuterus' - b/c it's just so cute. haha).

This isn't related, but Kris's post about the concept of waiting was just too beautiful, so I had to share.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Square peg fits into a round hole for once

I finally have good news to share for a change. My HSG today showed a clear, scar-free uterus. I’m so excited. Finally some good news. I was freaking out over it and anticipated the worst. I panicked. I went in there with a completely nervous stomach and an abundance of emotional tears. But this time the HSG wasn’t as uncomfortable. I guess it makes a huge difference if they’re trying to get the catheter in through scarring. That’s probably what made it hurt like hell previously. B was watching the dye fill in and for a second thought all hope was lost. I couldn’t look at him, I was too worried that looking at him and seeing the look on his face (if it was a “not good news” look) would only make me panic more. He said at first it looked like the dye hovered around my cervix and wasn’t going to go any further. Damn stubborn dye! But then it burst through and filled up the entire uterus. And what a uterus it is - I was told it’s the right size, shape and looked as good as it gets. I’m ecstatic. I also asked the radiologist if my tubes were open and he said one definitely, and the other most likely. He needed to review the report some more to confirm but hey, one good tube is all it takes.

So now I left a message for the RE to see if we can still do a round of IUI this cycle. I’m not on Clomid, and today is day 6 so I feel like I missed the Clomid boat. But perhaps they can still do an IUI at ovulation time, just to give us a little insurance for this cycle. It can’t hurt. If not, we’ll do the baby dance the ole fashioned way. IT works for millions of people so why couldn’t it work for me. Who knows – maybe we’ll get lucky for a change.

The past 3 nights I’ve been enjoying wine again. It had been over a year since I really allowed myself a glass of wine. I could get used to this. I’m feeling so much better. Thanks for all of your support. It means the world to me.