Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Trails

Today is a day of pulling together loose ends. Finalizing the list of things to pack. Calling the pet hotel to let them know what time we'll be dropping off the dogs in the morning. Making sure I bring all my meds and a sharps container (could you imagine forgetting to bring meds?!).

When I was a kid I'd go to a friend's house for the occasional slumber party. I was the kid who forgot to bring pajamas and always had to borrow a pair. Duh. So now, I have lists. I check them twice. Even if it is a last minute list, there is a list.

Oh, I found a cool gadget at the local hardware store to water some of my plants while we're gone. It's a small clay cone that you stick into the dirt. You screw a 2 liter bottle of water upside down to the top (like a water cooler). Something about the porousness and density and blah, blah, blah....suffice it to say that when the dirt gets dry, it sucks water from the bottle. Cool! I bought 6 of them for $20.

I know that I go on and on about this mini garden of mine, and I apologize if you're not into dirt and plants. It's just that it's exciting for me...I tend to kill I'm thrilled that my experimental garden has thus far worked.

Remember what they looked like a little over a month ago when I was going to take them with me to the hotel for our May 21 transfer? (the cantaloupe are on the left (7 of them in there!) and tomatoes on the right):

Well here are my cantaloupe now (there are three plants in this photo):

And here are the tomatoes (in the back, in front are cilantro, basil and red bell pepper):

A few other tomatoes are in the ground:

And the coolest thing of all is that this morning I found my first tomato!

Isn't it beautiful?! It is the size of a tiny pearl earring.

Well, what can I say? If something grows and needs nurturing, I'm your gal.

Of course, if someone needs the riot act red to them, if they're not fulfilling their contractual obligation, or if they give me an especially painful shot in the rump and some anger and tears need to happen, I'm your gal for that too. :)

Tomorrow we will be on the road most of the day. Thank you all for your positive thoughts, prayers and good vibes. I can use them! I will definitely check in and write a post after the transfer.

I want to wish good luck and send strong positive vibes to those who are also having transfers week. Musicmakermomma, Lorraine, Clean Slate, I am thinking of you!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Getting Things to Grow

I deeply appreciate the kind comments sent over to Looking4#3...thank you.

It is 108 degrees outside here right now. Bleah. It's hard to even think when it's this hot. Fortunately we typically only get a few days this hot each year. It is supposed to duck back into the lower-mid 90's later in the week. I sure hope so.

My mini garden is growing beautifully. Beautifully. I have 10 gorgeous tomato plants. The cantaloupe vines are climbing. The sweet red peppers have pretty white flowers. No - no fruit yet, but the plants themselves are my little charges over which I fawn and tend and adore.

We are leaving town the day after tomorrow and won't return for 4 or 5 days. Several of my plants are in pots, which I am going to move to the center of the lawn, where the automatic sprinklers will take care of them. The others, however, are out of reach of anything automatic. I have lovingly hand-watered everything. I thought about asking a neighbor to come over on Wednesday and Friday to water, but, you know, I hate to ask favors and it's a bit complicated. So, I'll water deeply before we go and hope for the best. Of course, perspective helps a lot. I'm going for my FET! If my cantaloupe plants don't make it, there will always be another opportunity next year.

This morning my DH said that when we return home after the FET, he wants me to rest as much as possible and to let him take care of everything else that needs to be taken care of so as to reduce my stress and help the embies get used to their new home. What a sweet thing to say.

Of course I'm as anal as they come...and trying to let go and let him do things....oh boy...that could be stressful! I'm going to try though. I mean, who cares if he splatters food inside the refrigerator and doesn't clean it up? Who cares if the puppies go into the pool and come tromping back into the house with sopping mop paws and bellies? Who cares if we eat spaghetti and jarred sauce (just about the only thing he knows how to make) for 7 straight days? Who cares if all of the laundry is washed together in a single, gigantic load (with too much soap)? Who cares?

He specifically said he would go outside and water my (surviving) plants, so I'm happy about that. And the most important thing will be that we are home, together, waiting, hoping and praying for one or two little miracles.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

If You Would...Please

I was going to complain about today's unbelievably painful Delestrogen shot (despite ice) and how I subsequently lost my temper with my DH over it.

Then I read Looking4#3's post.

I have nothing to complain about.

Her father had open heart bypass surgery a few weeks ago (thankfully he is recovering nicely). Her mom has been ill and was diagnosed with cellulitis. Looking4#3 just found out this past Tuesday that her baby had no heartbeat and on Wednesday she had a D&C. And now, her sil gave birth yesterday to a sweet baby boy who has fluid in his lungs and who is on oxygen in neonatal intensive care.

How much can a person bear?

Please, please stop by her blog and give her a {hug}, offer her a prayer or just tell her you are sorry for all the hardship she and her family have endured. I think she could use some support and comfort right now.

Blessings to all. Thank you, my friends.

Friday, June 26, 2009

At Last

I dragged out my archaic 7 year old laptop and bought a wireless internet adapter so that I could use it while my other laptop is in the shop. The giant,heavy old laptop is grumbly and slow and kept thinking the date was 2002. The computer repair guy seemed nice enough but was the most ineffective businessman I ever met. He had my computer for 3 days and had not yet been able to diagnose it, although he replaced the power input jack. That apparently wasn't the problem. Could be the battery. Could be the mother board. He didn't have the parts or accessories to test it. His shop was an unkempt disaster area. He was slow about doing everything and never called when he said he would. I finally got fed up and went over there and picked my computer up. Three days with no diagnosis is too long.

Besides, I have other things to focus on now. Like getting ready for my FET next week!

As it turns out, I ended up with Dr. Creepy this morning doing my U/S to check my lining (please, God, let it be my last U/S at the OMC). Oh yeah, Dr. Creepy strolled into the room and I thought, "Whatever" and sure enough, he indicated that I should slide down the table and assume the position, whereupon he lifted the pink paper drape TWICE to have a gander before sitting down and picking up the wand. I almost wanted to say, "Worried I forgot to take my panties off?" or "Yep, doc, it's a vagina all right."

As it turned out, my lining is up to a fabulous 9.6 mm. The Clinic gave me new med instructions, including when to begin taking the progesterone suppositories. Tomorrow is my final Lupron shot. We'll have to head out of town on Tuesday. They will thaw the embies on Wednesday and depending on how they look once thawed, they will transfer the same day, or they will be cultured overnight and transferred Thursday. Then we'll hang out in a hotel room for 3 days (oh yeah, EB, it will be a nice hotel room, because my husband insists if he has to be cooped up that long, he wants it to be a nice place).

I don't know what will happen. The chips will fall where they will fall. I just want a shot at this. A chance to see whether it can work. Get these embies into the nest and let God and nature take their course. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to the 2ww.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Taking Chances

I have a sister who is 11 months older than me. With a 2 month old infant barely able to lift her own neck, my mother was not delighted to discover she was pregnant again. She had barely turned 20 years old when my sister was born - a honeymoon baby. It was 1965 and when her water broke, my Dad took my Mom to the hospital. Apparently in those days, once you went into the hospital to have a baby, you were trapped. They made her stay in bed. They wouldn't let her eat. She felt like a prisoner until my sister was born. It was her first, so I guess it took a while.

Eleven months later her belly bulged with me. Her water broke and my Dad wanted to take her to the hospital. She said, "No way!" as she remembered the events leading up to my sister's birth. She did not want to go hungry this time and began raiding the refrigerator, stuffing anything she could find in her mouth. Bologna. Hard boiled eggs. Peanut butter. Anything. Her labor began. My Dad begged her to let him take her to the hospital. Again, she refused. She continued to eat. She said she wasn't going till the kid began to crown! He finally called the doctor who asked how far apart my Mom's contractions were. My Dad watched and counted. "Three minutes," he told the doctor, who ordered my Dad to throw my mother in the car and get her to the hospital. Which he did.

Twenty minutes after they arrived, and before my Dad could set himself down in a chair in the fathers' waiting room, amid the other exhausted, frazzled, unshaven men and overflowing ashtrays, the doctor came into the room and announced, "Mr. M, congratulations! You have another daughter!" The other to-be fathers who had been waiting for hours shot my Dad a dirty though he hadn't yet served his time in that hellish room.

I tell you this story because in some ways, my DH and I are now like my Mom. We're waiting. Until the last minute.

During my last cycle, two weeks before the anticipated (and ultimately cancelled) transfer date, I was making lists of things we would need to take on the trip. Our Clinic is 500 miles from our home and we will be gone a total of 5 days, including the mandatory 3 day bed rest following the transfer. So I was checking out hotels. I booked a stay at the pet hotel for our dogs. I was buying crossword puzzle books and finding my camera battery charger. I told a few friends we'd be out of town. I was about to pull the suitcase from storage and start packing when the cycle was cancelled.

This time, until we know for sure, we haven't done a thing. We're chancing it. Like my Mom standing at the fridge with her finger plunged into the peanut butter jar, we're holding tight until we get word that the transfer is a go. No reservations have been made. For us or the dogs. I don't know where my list is from last time, so I don't know what I'll want or need to bring. If it's a go, it will all have to come together quickly.

Last time my husband told his boss he wanted to take some vacation days. Then he had to say, "Oh, never mind." This time he hasn't said anything because he just finished a couple of big projects and figured that his work load has diminished so much, it won't be a problem. Today he received a flurry of emails from several of the managers saying they wanted him in San Luis Obispo next week to oversee some field work. Uh, next week is when the transfer will be - if it is to be at all.

I didn't panic. My heart rate didn't rise. I stayed perfectly calm. He'll figure this one out. He has to. And he did. One quick phone call to mention "a medical appointment" and he's off the hook with a resounding, "Don't worry about it" from the boss.

So maybe there is no need to panic and plan and worry and schedule and create lists and such after all. Things play out as they arise. Cross each bridge as it presents itself. Stay calm and let time tell. It worked for my Dad. He was in and out of that stale, smoky waiting room in no time. With a new daughter to boot!

Maybe if we follow in these footsteps, we'll be so lucky.

If you're wondering about my Mom and all that food she ate, well, she wasn't hungry at the hospital and she didn't feel trapped there for very long. However, because she had eaten so much, the nurses "tsk-tsk'd" her and gave her an enema for her trouble. I think I'd rather be hungry. I guess you can't win 'em all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tick Tock

I type this post on my DH's ancient desktop computer. My laptop was having some issues during the past week and yesterday afternoon I finally took it to the computer doctor. It's still in the shop. All day long today (until my DH went to the gym so I could read and type alone in peace) I have not been able to be online. I really hope we won't be buying a new laptop this weekend, but it could happen. Sigh.

My DH gives me Delestrogen shots on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We used to do them at night, around 8:30pm or so, but the day long wait just increased his anxiety. So last Saturday we decided to do it mid-afternoon. It worked out great. Today we did the same thing. I iced my cheek for about 15 minutes, drew an ink circle in the proper spot (a target helps him focus) and laid on the bed, exposing my red, icy hip to the ceiling. He has this purpose tremor that is unbelievable. His hand wobbles and shakes and it's frightening as hell to watch. No amount of "practice" will help. It's an anxiety issue. But you know what? I don't care anymore. With an O.reo cookie sized frozen area on my bum, I just don't care. I can't feel it. I smile and say, "Good job, hon!" and he's all proud of himself. His mastery of good form just ain't gonna happen. In the end it only matters that the doggone med gets into my muscle. Results. Right?

With a fresh dose in my veins, I'm just waiting for Friday's U/S. And news about my poor computer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Waiting Game

Thank you all so much for your kind words and support and hugs in response to my last post. I appreciate your tenderness. I know many of you have losses of your own that live inside your hearts and minds. A sad bond we share.

I had my appointment at the OMC this morning. Remember my 3-part mantra?

Perfect E2!
Thick, thick lining!
No Dr. Creepy!

Well, as the old song goes, two out of three ain't bad. My E2 was great this time. We've found the right dosage. One big victory. I had Dr. Tall and pleasant. Such a kind man. Reassuring. He measured my lining at 8.1. I thought this would be a fine measurement. BUT, my Clinic, in abundance of caution, wants to see it at least 9 mm. I am 1 mm shy. Or 0.9, technically. The Clinic thinks I just need a little more time to build the lining. So, I have another U/S on Friday. I have every hope that I will pass with flying colors.

Thus, the waiting game continues. But we are inching closer.

Some sad news to report. My dear bloggy friend Looking4#3 went for her U/S today and there was no heartbeat. She and her family have endured so much lately. My heart and my prayers are with her and her family.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Miscarriages

I have been wanting to write a post about my two miscarriages for some time. Only because I have mentioned them in passing several times, but never spelled out how they came about, how their effect impacts me now and how I feel about them.

I know that reading about miscarriage is difficult for some people, so if you'd rather not, it's okay.

Both were in 2007. We were ttc for several months and finally I got a BFP in May. My DH was so cute...protective and not wanting me to do much in the way of work. But we had a shipment of brick delivered for a patio we wanted to put in. I loaded bricks into a wheelbarrow, hauled and unloaded them. Of course after the mc I wondered whether the work could have caused the mc. Little did I know.

One Saturday in June when I was about 6 weeks, we went to a backyard BBQ at the home of one of my co-workers. He and his wife had an 8 mo old baby girl. I looked at her bopping in her chair, watched as people passed her around, and sent knowing glances to my DH. In a year we'd have a little one too!

The next day, Sunday, I drove my DH to the airport in the early afternoon. He was to be gone all week for a work related conference in southern California. I spent the day with our dogs, watching movies on TV and just hanging out. At 10 pm I put the puppies to bed and went to the bathroom to clean up and brush my teeth. When I peed, there was blood. It suddenly occurred to me that I had been feeling AF type cramps during the evening.

It was 10 o'clock at night, I was alone and I was scared. I called the advice nurse phone number on the back of my insurance card. The woman was calm and kind and reassuring, but straight forward. If I was miscarrying, there was nothing anyone could do to prevent it. I was crying. She was very sweet and told me to watch how much I bled and she made me an appointment for the morning. I hung up and called my DH who immediately arranged to come home first thing in the morning. I also called my friend J, who knew of the pregnancy. She asked me questions but never offered to come stay with me. I was awake much of the night, bleeding.

Monday morning I called in sick to work. My DH got home and went with me to the OB's office. She was cool and matter-of-fact. "Well, you are definitely NOT 6 weeks. There's a sac but it looks like 4 weeks, or it could be that you are miscarrying and the sac is degrading. Come back in 2 days for another blood test."

Needless to say, it was a mc. I bled for a week or so. I went back to work on Tuesday. No one at work knew anything about the pregnancy. And although I was an emotional wreck, I was also trying to work hard as an associate to climb that freaking corporate ladder.

The co-worker whose house we went to on Saturday for the BBQ teased, "Hey! Must be somebody wanted to have a nice long weekend! You seemed fine on Saturday." I tried a weak smile, went into my office and sobbed. I wanted to scream, "No, buddy, not a long, fun weekend. I was miscarrying my baby, okay? I was bleeding my baby right out of my body, if you really want to know!" Two weeks later I got a statement in the mail from the OB's office which said, "Your HCG is x and this confirms you had a miscarriage." Gee, thanks for the bulletin.

In the third week of August I got another BFP. I was more cautious this time. I quit exercising or doing anything that I thought could hurt the baby. I was ignorant about the real effect of my age on my eggs and why I miscarried. I thought the first miscarriage was a fluke and that if I was just more careful this time, everything would be okay. My DH and I actually went to a bookstore and bought "THE" book (W.hat to E.xpect).

Remember my co-worker with his 8 mo old baby? Well, he announced his wife was pregnant again. Funny thing was that by my calculation, my baby would be due only 2 weeks after hers! I of course told no one, but I thought about how great it was going to be to make my announcement and how our babies would only be 2 weeks apart and how he would think back and know that when he made his announcement, I knew I was pregnant too.

At week 7, I wanted to relax. I had passed the point at which I had had my first mc. But something happened during week 7. It was a weekend. I woke up in the morning and the "presence" was gone. The "presence" was a feeling I had which began sometime after the stick turned positive. I can't say exactly when it began, but with each pregnancy, at some point I had a sensation that I was not alone in my body. There was a presence. It's like the feeling when you are home and someone else is there too. Even if your back is to that person, or they are in another room, there is a feeling - a state of mind - that you are not alone. Contrast that feeling with the feeling or state of mind when you are home alone. Alone in the house, your mind feels and thinks a little differently.

Anyway, one morning I woke up and I could not feel the presence. I felt alone in my body. I freaked. I cried and sobbed and curled up on the floor telling my DH that I thought I was about to miscarry. He couldn't' understand me. There was no bleeding. No cramping. He tried to reassure me. My first OB appointment was still weeks away. After "just" one mc, they didn't consider me high risk.

Nothing happened, I did not bleed or cramp, so I tried to carry on. Maybe the presence only lasts for a while? My boobs swelled, my belly bloated and I was pregnant. In October, at 11 weeks, there was blood. And cramping. I called the OB's office. New insurance now, new doctor. The nurse practitioner got me in right away. I was becoming familiar with the U/S wand. She turned the monitor so I could see and she inserted the wand. I saw it! I saw a sac and a little bean! I saw my baby! I gasped and almost cried out loud! A tear began to squeeze out of the corner of my eye. A baby! But wait....

The nurse practitioner was quiet. She looked at the screen too. She finally spoke. "I'm so sorry, hon, but there is no flicker. There is no heartbeat. There should be a flicker by now." I stared at the screen. Flicker? What flicker? Maybe it would come. I didn't know about the flicker. She went on, "You say you're 11 weeks? The crown-rump length indicates that the baby is only 7 weeks. It probably never developed a heartbeat and simply stopped growing at 7 weeks. I'm so sorry."

I had carried my baby 4 weeks after it was no longer viable. My body wanted this baby. We scheduled a D&C for the next morning. But you know, the mind-body connection is an amazing thing. I knew my baby was gone. I went home that night and on its own, my body began to miscarry. Twelve hours through the night I had horrendous contractions, 3 minutes apart. Yes, I timed them. This was my baby. This was the birth/death of my baby and I monitored every minute of it. The contractions were just horrible. I was on my hands and knees in the bathroom. I passed huge clots. My DH slept through the night. But what use could he have been anyway?

In the morning I was supposed to report to the hospital at 7 am for the D&C. I had the nurse practitioner paged and told her I miscarried. She got me in at 6:30 for an U/S. My uterus was completely empty. The D&C was cancelled. All I have from that pregnancy is a copy of the U/S where I can clearly see a baby bean. A bean who never had a flicker.

I went back to work two days later. Screw them. At one point my co-worker casually said to me that he hoped this time his wife would have a boy. He said, "If God gives us 5 daughters I will love them to death, but I'd really like a boy." I thought, "Gee, I'd just take one, either gender." I said nothing of course. Yeah, in late April 2008, my co-worker's wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

No one at work, except my friend L, ever knew we were ttc, or that we had 2 BFPs or that I had 2 miscarriages. My DH and I continued ttc using OPKs for several more months. We finally gave in and went to a fertility clinic (the OMC!) in June 2008. Our original doc was Dr. Creepy. He wanted us to do an IUI. By the time all the testing was done - it took forever! - and by the time the IUI was scheduled, I had been laid off. We cancelled the IUI while I reeled from the loss of my job. At home every day, I had time to peruse the internet. That's when I stumbled across embryo donation.

It has been 2 years since my miscarriages. I can think about them now without crying. I actually remember those pregnancies fondly. I was pregnant! I remember shopping and looking out of the corner of my eye hopefully at the maternity section. I remember walking around and saying silently to myself inside my head, "I am pregnant! There is a little baby inside of me that no one knows about!" In my heart, I know that I am mom to those 2 little babies. Losing them was painful, but I don't wish for a minute that those pregnancies never happened. I hated my miscarriages and wouldn't wish one upon anyone, but the old saying really is true: 'Tis b.etter to h.ave l.oved and lost than to have n.ever lo.ved at all.

At my age I never wanted to do an IUI. I just thought it could end in nothing but another mc. I was afraid. But with our donated embryos, this upcoming FET fills me with hope. My body knows how to be pregnant! It knows how to grab and hold onto a baby. It never wanted to give up. I hope and pray that it will embrace these little embryos and do the job it has longed to do. But even if we are successful, I will always remember that I was first mom to 2 other little ones. And their memory will be with me always.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For the Love of Ice Cream

My all-time favorite sweet treat is ice cream. As a kid, whenever my sisters and I visited our grandmother, we'd have a big dinner which was inevitably followed by dessert. And there were always choices. Thinking back upon it now, I judge myself an idiot.

Time after time, year after year, I passed up grandma's home made apple, pumpkin or berry pie (complete with a home made flaky crust), for cheap, store bought, vanilla ice cream. But wait! She always kept sprinkles in the house (some of you may call them "shotz"). So after dinner, some adult would scoop one and half stingy scoops of ice cream into a bowl for each of us kids, then we'd stand at the kitchen counter and decorate our respective bowls with way too many sprinkles.

If I could go back, I'd take a slice of grandma's pie over the ice cream. But I still adore ice cream. I am a purist though. My favorite flavor of all time will always be vanilla. My favorite brand is H.aagen D.azs. Their vanilla is a heavenly dream. My second favorite flavor is H.aagen D.azs coffee ice cream. Light creamy flavor, rich, perfect.

As the number of words in the name of an ice cream flavor increase, my preference for that flavor decreases. Don't get me wrong, the only ice cream flavor I would actually decline to eat is probably Bubble Gum...that blue ice cream with hard little bits of colored gum in it. But a flavor named something like "Double Fudgy Striped Caramel Nutty Marshmallow Chip" is just too.....busy.....for me. I am interested in the smoothness of the cream, the perfect level of sweetness and the delicacy of the predominant flavor.

So, a year or so ago, I invested in an electric ice cream machine. Sorry, the ole hand crank, wooden barrel style is a little too rustic for me. I want product, not pain.

I read the booklet, bought the ingredients, and set my new friend to work. The results to date had been....well...mediocre. I had not made any ice cream in a while. Last week, with a ton of fresh blueberries in the fridge, I decided to make blueberry ice cream. As always, though, it was more like blueberry hard-as-a-rock-ice brick.

I searched Chef Google. You know, his twin brother is Dr. Google? Anyway, I made some interesting discoveries. Use more egg yolks. Add booze (it doesn't freeze!). Make sure all the ingredients are COLD, best if mixed and put in the refrigerator overnight. Let the machine run longer. Keep ice cream in a shallow container.

Armed with new knowledge, I tried again. I decided to go for coffee ice cream - H.aagen Daz.s style. Three cups whole milk, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar. Simmered. Cooled in the fridge for 3 hours. Three tablespoons strong coffee and 1.5 tablespoons Kahlua added. Three hours later the mixture went into the machine. Thirty minutes later I had the smoothest, richest, most delicious coffee ice cream this side of H.aagen Daz.s! Maybe a wee stronger (their list of ingredients does not include Kahlua) but wow - it is fantastic.

Almost like Italian gelato. Here's my handiwork:

I feel like I have discovered a new world! I have visions of making fantastic batches of ice cream. Peach. Strawberry. Cinnamon. Pineapple coconut (I know, two words, living dangerously here!). And of course, Vanilla.

My hips and thighs are never going to be the same. But neither will my taste buds!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Working and Getting Ready

Yesterday and today have been HOT. Yesterday morning I started early - all I did was go in the yard with the dogs and next thing I knew I had a shovel in hand and was digging up weeds, turning and amending soil, building up a small rock retaining wall (think, 2 feet square), nurturing my garden, setting a couple brick pavers and watering all my plants....good grief! Sometimes I don't consciously decide what I'm about to do, I just suddenly find myself doing it! (If it weren't for these drugs I'm on, I'd prefer to find myself sipping a Mojito in the shade!).

No big news here. I started Delestrogen shots a couple days ago. My DH's technique led to a little argument. I started it, saying, "God, man, get a grip!" I don't recommend arguing when someone is standing over you with a sharp instrument in their hand, but it couldn't be helped. We got through it okay. Whew!

I owe a special thanks to musicmakermomma who previously recommended to me a pre-icing, post-heating technique to help reduce discomfort. It worked great!

I have an appointment at the dreaded OMC on Tuesday to check my lining and E2. Hope, pray and wish on a star that my numbers are okay this time. The good news is that when I made the appointment, the girl casually mentioned which doc would be doing the U/S. And it's not Dr. Creepy! Yayyyy! It's "the tall one" (in her words), who happens to be the guy who stands, watches the monitor and barely glances for the target.

If the results from Tuesday's appointment are good, then I think we are good to go and will have no further appointments until the transfer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tickling the Fringe of Consciousness

Some of you know about my good friend L, whose husband was diagnosed last Thanksgiving with a stage 4 brain tumor. She is one of the few people IRL who know my husband and I are seeing an RE and that we've been cycling our way toward an FET with donated embryos.

Once again as our tentative FET date draws near, I can't help but start thinking about possibilities. My husband and I have never discussed baby names. I can't do it. I can't indulge myself in such a luxury. It would jinx the transfer for sure.

Months ago when I first told my friend L about the donated embryos, the FET process, and how excited I was that this could actually work, she said one short sentence that caused me to crumple into tears.

She said, "Well, we'll have to throw you a baby shower."

For someone who has suffered miscarriages, having watched her hopes, love, dreams, beliefs and the whole beautiful future that had been riding on that baby, crumble to dust before her eyes, the mere concept of a baby shower never - never - exists in her mind as a conscious thought.

If she is lucky enough to get another BFP, her first thought is, when is my next beta? Will it have doubled properly? Will it continue to double? She then worries whether there is a heart beat. And whether that heart beat will continue to exist. She notices every twinge and wonders whether it is signaling the beginning of another miscarriage. If she is lucky enough to pass these hurdles, she then begins to think about quad screens and whether the baby could have a genetic defect. Is her placenta sufficient? Is the baby reaching the target milestones for size and development? Each day presents a new set of questions and risks that need to be met and overcome.

A baby shower? When L said it, an image flashed in my mind. It was me. Huge belly pregnant me. On our lawn under the tree in the backyard. All my friends, laughing and chatting and hugging me and setting down pastel yellow and green and pink and blue wrapped and ribboned gifts. There was a table with punch and cake and sandwiches. The flowers bloomed and the sun shone and it was a perfect day.

The image presented itself. I never went looking for it. I wouldn't dare. I began to quietly sob. L felt so badly and began apologizing. Through my tears and shaky voice, I said, "No. It's wonderful. You don't understand. It's really wonderful. A baby shower never occurred to me. I could never permit myself to imagine such a fantastic thing as my own baby shower. But it could really happen, couldn't it? We might one day really have a baby shower! The thought alone is a gift. Thank you."

And then I was laughing even as I cried.

Since that conversation, I haven't quite been able to bring myself to think of it again fully. Just shallowly, around the edges. I know what must come first. The meds. The U/S and b/w. The transfer. The pregnancy. The betas. The heartbeat. And everything else. But somewhere in the outer fringe of my consciousness drifts the idea that perhaps one day I will be lucky enough to attend my own baby shower. It is a sweet whisper all its own.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Leering Dr. Creepy and E2 Anxiety (Updated)

I had an appointment at the OMC this morning. Dr. Creepy did the U/S. I think he's a bit of a perv. He's the only one who does not knock or call out a "hello?" before entering the room. He's also the only one who feels the need to sit down between my knees once I'm in position, lift the paper drape and have himself a good long stare before taking the wand and doing the job. One of the other docs doesn't even sit and barely glances down to locate the target. That doc stands the whole time and watches the monitor. Not Dr. Creepy. I'm just waiting one of these days for him to be so close "down there" that I feel his breath. Gross. Sorry.

Ovaries quiet, lining thin. Good things. Just waiting for my E2 results. Pending those, my coordinator already called and said if the E2 is fine, I'll start Delestrogen tomorrow and if everything stays on track, my FET will be July 1st or 2nd.

I have been more relaxed this cycle, but I'll become more anxious once I start the Delestrogen. Last time my E2 spiked too high. My Delestrogen dosage this time will be 1/3 less than my dosage last time. Hopefully that will allow me to stay in range. I know I have no control, but I'll be worried about the level anyway. I just want to get to transfer this time.

E2 was fine. I can start Delestrogen and other meds tomorrow. I will have an U/S and b/w in a week.

Here's my manatra:
Perfect E2!
Thick, thick lining!
No Dr. Creepy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Don't Hold Your Breath

AF arrived like a freight train early Saturday morning. Wow, that was quick. So Monday will be CD3. I know my Clinic likes to do an U/S and b/w before noon on CD2 or CD3. But, you know, we have to coordinate this with the outside monitoring clinic (OMC). My Clinic is not open on the weekend, so they'll get my message about AF early Monday and may try to get me in for an appointment with the OMC a few hours later.

Ohhhhhhh, the OMC hates being rushed about anything. They recoil when demands are placed upon them. Let's see if my $125 per visit coordination fee buys me a timely appointment! It is all about coordination, after all. Right? [I hope you all can hear my cynical, contemptuous laugh from where you are - as though I think there is a shot in hell of getting in on Monday]. Funny how eye-rolling cynicism sets in so quickly.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Paying Up and Reading Up

Today, just simple things.

I took my final BCP Wednesday morning (2 days ago). I am already spotting (!) and AF should be here by Sunday. Usually 4 days precisely, maybe early this time. On CD 2 or 3, I will go for U/S and b/w. Presuming all looks fine, I'll begin taking the other slew of meds including twice weekly Delestrogen shots.

Delestrogen is considered a stim med. My Clinic requires payment in full before start of stim meds. Ha ha ha, here we go again. My friend M at the Clinic emailed me the contract form to sign and return with payment. I will. The refund posted to my credit card account today.

When I was cleaning out the garage this week, I came across a box of dusty books I intended to donate to G.ood W.ill. Among them I found John S.teinbeck's "East of E.den." I think I purchased it at a used bookstore long ago, but never actually read it. I used to be a voracious reader. Law school and law practice changed that. After spending my days reading, analyzing, drafting and editing legal documents, I could barely manage to read the newspaper. Now, however, my brain is much more relaxed. I pulled the book from the box, dusted it off, and have been sinking myself into the story for the past several days. I realize that I missed pleasure reading.

My DH and I have tossed around the idea of reading some of the classics - sort of our own book club. We'd take turns choosing the next book to read. It could be kind of fun. Maybe we'll head over to the bookstore this weekend and get started (he's the idea man, but I am generally the one nudging things into motion!).

Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Beauty, Despite Injustice

Today is a picture perfect, gorgeous, sunny, breezy day. It was calling to me. I took the dogs to the park for a nice, long walk. It's a wonderful park and I always feel peaceful and centered there. It's a place where I can think. There is a dirt path that circles it, it's about a mile around. There are always joggers and people walking, and women pushing baby strollers and lots of dogs. A young girl will stretch out on a towel in the grass and read a book. Ducks and geese waddle about the tiny pond in the center of the park. Huge trees stand here and there while squirrels race up and down the trunks. One or two homeless men can be seen sitting on a bench, their worn bicycles leaning against a nearby tree. There is a huge rose garden on one side, the colors and fragrance grabbing you by the eyes and nose as you walk past. Sometimes an aspiring artist will sit under a tree with an easel, painting. It's really quite wonderful.

So today I walked. In one of the open grassy fields a soccer game was going on. More than a dozen grown men, in uniforms even, ran and hollered at their teammates and chased the ball. The ball got away as I neared and rolled across the dirt path about 20 feet in front of me. One of the players was right behind it, stopping it expertly with his foot, looking over his shoulder and calling back to his friends.

I watched as joggers passed me, huffing, ipods in their ears. Two young women pushed baby strollers side by side, one had a double stroller. They chatted, although I couldn't hear what they talked about. My own dogs skipped happily along, trying to dart after an occasional squirrel and excited to meet other dogs.

I suddenly became acutely aware of the fact that the world is such an unjust place. In this park, I can have these thoughts. I feel safe thinking about such things and exploring my emotions, because I feel so open and serene there.

Watching those men play soccer on a sunny Thursday afternoon, I badly wished my friend's husband could be there playing soccer. Instead he is in the hospital, 6 months post brain tumor surgery, trying now to recover from a blood infection, hydrocephalus, spinal compression fractures and God knows what else. How I wished he could be running carelessly in the sun, chasing a soccer ball. Why can they play freely while he suffers in the hospital? It seemed so unjust.

Watching the young women push the baby strollers, crossing the street out of the park and into the quite well to do neighborhood, chatting lightly, I thought of so many of my bloggy friends, and myself, aching and struggling and paying and praying and riding the horrendous roller coaster that is IF, all in hopes of having babies to push in a stroller. Why is it so easy for some and insurmountable for others? It seems so unjust.

Watching (from the corner of my eye) the homeless men sitting on the park bench, their grizzled faces, filthy clothes and wild stringy hair blowing about in the wind, I thought of a former co-worker of mine. She wears religion and faith on her sleeve like a piece of ostentatious jewelry. She goes around announcing to everyone, all the time, how "blessed" she is (which always seems to starkly contrast with the facts of some nearby person's life, intimating how "un-blessed" they must be). Currently she is "so blessed" to have bought a 3,200 sf "resort" home (her words) at a rock-bottom-price foreclosure sale. She's having an open house to show off the gourmet kitchen, soaring ceilings, in-ground pool surrounding by bowing palm trees, gorgeously manicured acreage and everything else. Is she so much more worthy of blessings than those homeless men? It does not seem just.

How can life be so unbalanced? So unfair? I mean, I know life is not fair. It's an axiom. But doesn't everything equal out eventually? It has to, doesn't it?

From some long ago physics class I remember the principle: For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.

That must be true, right? For every suffering, mustn't there be a joy? For every loss, surely there must be a gain? It can't be true that some people are endowed with all the blessings, can it? I think of men spending years in prisons for crimes they did not commit. Where is their justice?

These thoughts reached into me and shook me to the core, as the sun shone and dogs walked and the men kicked their soccer ball.

Did you see the movie A.merican B.eauty? One of the characters is a teenage boy who is regularly beaten by his father. There is a scene where the boy tells his girlfriend he wants to show her something really beautiful - some video footage he shot with his camcorder. The video plays. It shows a small paper bag, outside, trapped in a corner of a building. The wind blows and the paper bag leaps into the air, twirling and twisting and dancing again and again. The boy's eyes gleam as he watches it. He says something like (paraphrasing): There is so much beauty in the world that sometimes I feel my heart will burst because I can barely take so much beauty. Despite his father's cruelty, he was able to find joy in the small movement of the paper bag.

Maybe that's the only way to get through difficulties and come to terms with all the injustice. By focusing on the little pieces of beauty around us. By accepting them and finding joy in them and letting all the bad stuff go out of focus. A beautiful day, a blue sky, a cool breeze. These are beautiful. A rose garden and waddling ducks. Pink puppy tongues and the sound of a friend's voice. My DH's warm embrace. Perhaps these are the beautiful things that will fill my heart and keep me from going insane thinking about all the injustice. But I know it is out there.

I guess a heart can burst either way, can't it?

Please tell me about some little beautiful thing in your life that makes your heart burst with joy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gently Apply Pressure HERE

You guys are so funny. Wishing you had seen my cursing, ranting, all-fired-up post about my billing refund problem. I was mortified what you would think of me. You might think I was a cursing, ranting, all-fired-up woman who was really off her nut this time.

But to give you a little satisfaction, I will tell you that I had it out with them on the phone today.

I was stomping mad all day yesterday after an unsuccessful telephone call to the Clinic. I was mad all afternoon. All evening. My DH even gave me a really nice, 30 minute foot rub/calf massage to help soothe me. I went to bed mad (not at him) and I woke up mad. I watched the clock this morning and waited.

At 10:45am this morning I finally called M at the Clinic. She is the one I have been trying to work with for the past 2 weeks. I began calmly and pleasantly, inquiring about the status of my refund (again). When I got the same song and dance (sorry, need manager's approval, he's out on a family emergency, nothing I can do, sorry to inconvenience you), I launched.

In a stern, tight, teeth-clenched but completely under control voice, I said, "I'm sorry, but this is beginning to border on unacceptable. We have been discussing this for 2 full weeks now. You were to discuss this with the office manager a week ago. I do not understand why my request has not been approved. It is ridiculous that it has taken even this long. I imagine that your office has been able to make charges on people's credit cards during the past 2 weeks. You should be able to make refunds. I cannot believe that no one in the entire office other than the manager has the authority to approve my refund. If, God forbid, something terrible happened to him, are you telling me that the entire financial dealings of your office would come to a screeching halt? I somehow believe that someone else is able to make a decision."

She was polite but I had clearly ruffled her feathers. She asked me again why I didn't want to leave the funds on their books since we are currently in a new cycle. I already had this conversation with her here under update item (5) and I was sick of having to explain why they are not entitled to keep my money.

Finally she said she would have A, the IVF coordinator, and definitely a person of position and power in that office, call me. Twenty minutes later I received an email from A, promising my account would be refunded by Friday, apologizing for the delay and stating that the refund person has been out of the office. I responded, thanking her and explaining that I understand it is the Clinic's policy that they receive payment in advance, but that because there are no assurances that any given cycle won't be cancelled, I prefer not to have to pay in excess of $5,600 to my credit card company until necessary.

Shortly after that, M the finance girl called back (wow, she is brave!) and told me that she was processing my refund right now and wanted to confirm my card number.

My credit card company says it will be 2 days until the credit posts to my account.

By late this afternoon, I actually was feeling guilty for how harshly I spoke to M (although no F-bombs passed my lips!). I called her back. She took my call! I sincerely apologized for being so angry this morning. She was very sweet, sounded at ease, and said she completely understood. We talked and even laughed a little bit. She said that in fact, after she spoke with me this morning, she decided to go ahead and just post refunds to several patients who requested them (jeepers, how many were there? How many cancelled cycles? But this is an entirely different issue).

Anyway, the whole thing ended on a positive note. I should have my funds back, I remain on good terms with the Clinic (at least I think), and I never said the F-word once.

I did ask my DH whether he thought a person who is fuming angry burns more calories than the same person when relaxed. He just shook his head, smiling.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Where is my F*&!ing Refund????

I was pretty angry about not being able, after several attempts, to get my unused funds refunded by my Clinic. It's been one delay after another.

I, uh, wrote a pretty angry post.

So far, I think....only musicmakermomma actually read my angry words.

I'm a bit embarrassed at my repeated use of the F word.

Oh boy.

Well, at midnight I came back to delete.

I hate sounding so angry.

But thank you, Jill, for understanding.

Let's just all move on to tomorrow.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Less Certainty = More Relaxed

In April I set up a table in a Word document and created a calendar. The first day was April 19. In each square of the calendar I typed in the IF meds I was to take that day, when AF came, when my U/S's took place, how thick my lining was, what my b/w results were. And as the days came and went, I marked off the meds I took by highlighting them in green. Green means "go" right?...each bit of green ostensibly carried me one day closer to our transfer.

In the May 19 square, in capital letters, highlighted in red, are the words: STOP ALL MEDS; CYCLE CANCELLED. Not that I needed to see in on the calendar lest I forget and accidentally have my DH give me the Delestrogen shot. I think the act of typing the words and highlighting them were more symbolic - like pounding my fist on the table.

Rather than create a new calendar for our current cycle, I simply added onto the existing one. In a strange way I enjoy looking back at those first weeks. The days when I thought nothing would go wrong. When I took the meds and crossed them off eagerly. I thought that when I finished the Lupron, I was forever finished with Lupron. I was oh so careful about what I ate and drank and made sure I took the meds at precisely the same moment each day.

I'm crossing off the meds again in green. U/S and b/w dates are listed, waiting for lining thickness and E2 values to be filled in. I see the words "tentative transfer date" highlighted in yellow (caution!) in a square just 3 weeks from now.

I'm less sure this time. Less sure we will get to transfer without a cancellation. Less sure my numbers will go the way I want them to. Less sure that things will go without a hitch. But strangely, I feel more relaxed. I'm not as worried about what I'm eating (oh - but I should be - after chocolate silk pie, toll house cookies and wine over the weekend). I'm less worried about what time I take the meds as long as it is within a certain window. I don't care which doc at the outside monitoring clinic wands me anymore. Whatever. Just get the job done, buddy, okay? I'm all together less consumed by the whole thing this time. Which, you know, feels much better.

Other tidbits:
I accepted the job offer today. Soon-to-be boss is okay with me starting after my "procedure." Presuming (ha!) that in fact it happens on time!

I transplanted my cantaloupe plants again - to large planter boxes where they will get more sunlight. This is their 3rd re-location, and if they survive and actually produce fruit, it will be a miracle! Tomatoes and red bell peppers continue to grow.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hello, Lupron, My Old Friend

First, I want to thank Alex P for explaining why a creditor has little incentive to credit unused funds back to your credit card. When they refund you, they pay a fee to the credit card company amounting to a percentage of the charge amount. My Clinic can drag its feet all they want. It's now a matter of principle, and I will get the refund even if the new charge for this cycle is applied the next day!

My new shipment of meds arrived yesterday, including a new vial of Lupron.

I had some Lupron left over from my last cycle. It's been in it's box, tucked in a drawer in the refrigerator. My IVF coordinator said it is okay to use the old Lupron as long as it has been in the refrigerator.

Have any of you heard that unused Lupron should be discarded? Just wondering. I don't want to screw up this cycle using Lupron that has lost efficacy (the expiration day is 2011, but I'm not sure whether that only applies to an unopened vial).

Finally, on the job front. I guess I will accept the state job offer. I previously told the boss I'm having a "procedure" that could take place early in July. Hoping that we actually get to transfer this time, I'd like to tell her that I prefer to start work July 13, after I "recover" from the procedure. It would allow me a week of rest following the transfer. I would rather not to add stress to my life during such a precarious time. It's stressful enough as it is!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

And the Magic Number is.....Not So Much

Well, so much for my crazy blog header. I guess simpler is better. As a compromise, I created yet a new header, but much more like my old one.

In other news, the Prospective Employer emailed me today with the salary offer.

It's not good. The salary is more than 40% less than what I earned at my last job. After taxes, I will bring home $400 per month LESS than I need to cover my monthly expenses. That's purely expenses - no extras or luxuries.

I will have to pay to have a job. This is not what I expected.

My DH and hashed it out. We can cover the deficit if we make some changes. Get rid of the cable TV and newspaper. No more dining out at all. Buy only groceries on sale - no expensive meats or out of season anything. Tighten our belts significantly. I may try to find a per diem nursing position so that I can work a few extra days a month. My retirement fund will come to a screeching halt.

But as my DH reminded me, this is not forever. This will just buy us a little time, perhaps. You may be wondering why the pay is so low. It's because this is an attorney position with the state. This particular department is involved in health care, so it seems a perfect fit for my law/nursing background. The boss is a fantastic lady. The hours are reasonable. The benefits good. It could take my career to a place I'd like to go.

My former job was at a private law firm. Private law firms pay way better than state positions. Did you know there is a huge shortage of judges in this country? They can't get enough experienced attorneys to apply for judgeships. Do you know why? Because a judge, who is a public employee, earns crap as compared to an attorney in private practice. Just as an example, a magistrate judge in California might earn $150,000 a year. A 15 year attorney who is a partner at a law firm could easily be pulling in $500,000 or more a year. You think those fat cats are going to leave their cushy firm jobs for a crummy $150k? No way.

So why not get a position with another private firm? Ha. No way. Been there, done that. IN MY OPINION and ONLY IN MY OPINION (that was the O.prah b.eef industry caveat, for those of you who remember), law firms are good ole boy clubs where women are second class citizens and associates are treated like furniture. Sit there and be quiet but be ready to do what I ask when I ask. Sell your soul and give your life for the firm. I refuse to live my life that way anymore. I was miserable.

So where does this leave me? Frustrated. Disappointed. Worried. Scared. But also hopeful that we can make it work, that I will love the job and that in the end, it will be worth it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You're In the Right Place

New blog look. I got crazy with the camera today. Do you like it? Or does it give you a headache and push you to the brink of a seizure? Is it too much? I can go back to the simple egg header.

One thing....I now know that we have a LOT of expired food items in our house!

UPDATE: AT the brilliant suggestion of musicmakermomma, I added a short survey to your right. Thanks!


Weird, overcast, white-sky, silent world kind of day. It makes me want to take a nap for some reason.

Here are a few update items:

(1) Prospective job. Waiting to find out proposed salary. The person who offered the job did not know the salary b/c it is apparently an HR issue. I had a frank discussion with her about my need to cover expenses. Largely because of (a) our outrageous and grossly upside down mortgage and (b) my expensive student loans, plus other typical household expenses (not even raising the IF issue), the job has to pay enough or I simply cannot accept. She was kind and understanding is working relentlessly to "prove" to HR that I am worth a high salary.

(2) Job interview? When it rains, it pours. I received a call today from a different office, but in the same department as Prospective Job (1) above. You know, when you are looking for a job, you apply everywhere. The woman invited me to interview next week for a job in this other office. Uh, ok. I made the interview appointment, but it feels a little weird. Obviously (1) and (2) are not aware of each other. I did not know what to say. I have not accepted or declined the other position yet, so I thought it was okay to make the interview appointment. Should I have handled this differently?

(3) Insurance. I sent my receipts from the outside monitoring clinic together with a claim form to the very nice insurance representative whom I spoke with last week. She let me know my paperwork is in the queue. In 30 days or so I should know whether I'll get some of the money for U/S's and b/w reimbursed.

(4) FET. In 4 weeks we should be heading to the Clinic for my FET. Ha! I know better than to count those chickens yet, though. Four weeks of every little detail playing out perfectly so that we can drive to the Clinic for the FET....that's what I meant to say.

(5) Clinic. Speaking of my primary Clinic, I'm a little irked with them at the moment too (always a fight....everything always has to be a fight). They require payment in full upon starting stim meds. Ok. So last month they charged approximately $6,300 to my credit card for the FET. The week after the FET was cancelled, I called to ask whether they had credited the funds (minus their $750 fee for services rendered) to my credit card. Here was the conversation:

Financial Person: Oh, are you not going to do another cycle?

Me: Yes, we are, right away.

Her: Well, then either we can refund the money, minus our fee, or we can just leave the money on the books which will be applied to your next cycle.

Me: I prefer to have the funds credited to my credit card, thank you.

Her: [sounding not happy about my election] Ok. I have to get it approved by my manager first. He'll be in the office tomorrow.

Me: Great. Thank you.

Why is she so bent out of shape that I want my $5,600 refunded to me? IT'S MY MONEY. Hello? Yeah, it will be YOUR money again later in the month, but if you had refunded it to me immediately, it would not have already shown up on my credit card bill, and could remain in my bank account whereupon I collect interest. She can't guarantee this cycle won't be cancelled either. Just how long does she think I want my $5,600 posted on their books?

That conversation was a week ago. I emailed her again today to ask about my refund. She responded saying she will check with the office manager when he gets in today. What is the problem????? I'm a little ticked about it. I'm really sorry if this charge on/charge off creates burdensome office work, but paying up front is their rule. I would suggest charging the $750 the day I start the stims and then charge me the rest the day I walk out of the Clinic after my FET. Why would that be so difficult? It would seem to make more sense. But, hey, I'm just playing by their rules.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sing it, Gene!

Did you ever see the movie "Sleep;less in S;eattle"? Okay, yeah, total gooey chick flick. Every once in a while I get a kick out of seeing that movie. H.anks' character and his kid live on a cool houseboat in Seattle. Tom's wife died and after a year or two, he begins trying to date again. Eventually his adorable kid sets him up with the adorable R.yan. Anyway, Tom goes on his first date since losing his wife. The woman (not Meg) was....well...not right for him. As accompaniment to the scene after the date, they played the original G.ene A.utry version of "B.ack in the S;addle Again." It was supposed to signal Tom getting his groove back, if you know what I mean.

This morning I went to the outside monitoring clinic for an U/S and E2 level. This afternoon my IVF coordinator called. Here are my stats:

Lining: thin
Ovaries: clear
E2: 30 (nice and low)

Back on BCPs today. Start Lupron Saturday. Delestrogen should start sometime during the week of June 15.

If all goes well (whispering prayers, holding my breath and knocking and wood), our new FET transfer date will be July 2nd or July 3rd.

As the IVF coordinator gave me my orders, I heard G.ene A.utry in my head, singing "B.ack in the S.addle Again." It sounded wonderful.