You may wonder how the ultrasound happened, given the past week's difficulty in getting much of anything out of anyone in the medical establishment. No, it was a real ultrasound, not an illicit procedure occuring in my kitchen incorporating rudimentary tools fashioned out of various utensils. Here is the secret--it all comes down to my astounding stupidity.
For all the obsessing I have done since the start of the IVF cycle, it seems that I am nonetheless capable of forgetting major information, such as when my retrieval took place. The retrieval was of course not that long ago, yet somehow I already managed to get the dates muddled up. I had calculated my current stage as 6w0d as of today, based on the retrieval taking place on 18 November. A small look at the calendar or a glance at my blog would have clarified that I am in fact a complete simpleton and that the retrieval occurred on 22 November. So rather than being just at 6 weeks, I am in fact at 5w3d. Yes, I am an imbecile.
Let us pretend for just a moment that this rather significant event did not yet dawn on me. As I mentioned in my previous post, I enlisted my mom to find out if I could get a scan locally whilst in the States*. She arranged one for me, stating that I would only need a prescription/letter from WHYBAML. I emailed WHYBAML, who said I could collect the letter from him today after 2pm. When I went to his office, he sat down with me, asked me when the retrieval was, and said that as I was at 6 weeks, we could do a scan now. Never before have I been so anxious to drop my trousers for a man. This despite the fact that it has been a good lunar month since I shaved my legs, and at least a few weeks since I tended the garden. Some may not have accumulated much hair during this period, but as a woman with PCOS I'm like a fucking Yeti after a mere two days of not shaving. It ain't pretty.
WHYBAML said the sac looked great, and that he anticipated a heartbeat would be visible by the time I had my scan in the States next Thursday. Fast forward to post-ultrasound time spent lounging in his office smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, when he realised that my retrieval was on the 22nd. I felt like a complete airhead as it was, and even more so when he said he would not have done the scan had he realised I was not yet at 6 weeks. He said that regardless, Bertrand/Enid's house was all the more impressive being 4 days behind the stage he initially thought it was.
Before we left, WHYBAML said congratulations a few times, as well as saying "Well done" twice. The whole idea of "well done" makes me laugh, as if this is a test I studied really hard for and consequently got a high grade. My role in this whole process was minimal. All I did was swear off coffee and have long needles stuck up my cootch. Just another day at the office really.
This is the end of the road for me and WHYBAML assuming Enid/Bertrand progresses normally. After I get back from my holiday I am in the hopefully capable hands of the NHS. WHYBAML specified, like the good little doctor that he is, that he would like to know how things go. He shook my hand warmly, and gave me one last pat on the back. He's nice like that. Godspeed WHYBAML. What a long, strange trip it has been.
*I have been quoted the bargain basement price of $160 for the transvaginal ultrasound next week. Here I was fearful of it being $500+, so this is a huge relief.
I phoned up the GP on Tuesday to see if my results were in yet. Herein is the abridged transcript:
Me: Hi, this is Ms Pru, I'm calling to check on results of my blood test.
Ignorant bitchslut from hell: What kind of blood test?
Her: Uh...yeah. Let me look...oh. Oh. Hmmm...yeah, it's uh, positive for pregnancy.
Me: Oooook...is there a number included?
Her: :::incredulously:::: What kind of number?
Me: I don't know, that's why I'm asking. Hopefully a high one, a beta.
Her: I don't know what that is, but there is a 202 or something on the form.
Me: Do you think that could be it?
Her: I have absolutely no idea. Does that sound like what you're looking for?
Me: Uh, maybe.
Her: So anyway, it's positive for pregnancy. Is that everything?
Me: It appears that way, yes. Thank you.
It's so easy in their world, isn't it? You pee on some sticks that say you're pregnant, a blood test says you're pregnant and that's it. I'm a freak for wanting to get a rough idea of viability.
After this debacle, I called WHYBAML's office. I spoke to his lovely practice nurse, who in comparison to IBSFH was an absolute dream despite not telling me what I wanted to hear. I was hoping to squeeze a scan in before I left for the States on Sunday, as we will then be away until 2 January. If this whole thing is to be believed, I am 5w5d today, which I know is a push for a scan which would be at the very latest, 6 weeks, but I thought I'd try. No dice. I would have to wait until I get back, and probably wouldn't get one until 4 or 5 January at the very earliest. That didn't go down well in Pruland because it is hard enough being in limbo now, let alone all the way to 8 weeks and some days without a scan.
This is where it gets tricky. I have had to draft in my Mom, which means I had to make with the "pregnancy" announcement last night on the phone. My Mom never takes no for an answer, so I thought she'd be the perfect person to try and get me a scan while I'm in the States, despite not being a patient of any local clinic. I feel evil getting my Mom to do my dirty work, but she seems content given the circumstances. I hope it works out in our favour. I can't imagine not being able to see anything until 8 1/2 weeks. Does anyone happen to know if my plan is feasible? I have attempted to block out all memories of the US healthcare system, so I have no idea if I'm asking for the moon on a stick (I have no idea what that means, but I like it).
Meanwhile, in a world consumed with doubt and self-pity, I'm trying to keep The Dude from being too optimistic. I have explained to him that this could all go tits up in a moment's notice, but he's just too damn excited. It makes me sad really, knowing how desperately he has wanted this to happen. I'm hopeful that either Bertrand or Enid (this is the non-slow embryo) hang on and develop into one of those real live baby things I've heard so much about. If it does, I'll have to tell him to stop calling it Embryo Fred, because Bertrand and Enid are far more fetching names for embryos.
Moving right along, I want to thank everyone for all the fantastic and supporting comments you have left lately. When I say that I don't know what I'd do without all of you, I mean it from the very bottom of my selfish, canary-loving heart. I would certainly lose my way without the infertile brethren contingent. That said, I would like to apologise for not commenting on many blogs as of late, or for that matter, much ever. I'm a really dull commenter and feel tremendously inadequate when so many of you are beautifully eloquent and say such heartfelt things. I can generally only muster a, "Uhh...durrr...I'm....duhhh...sorry to hear you're upset." before shuffling off to read more blogs. Rest assured I am reading, and often many posts make me cry like the poor excuse for a bitter cynic that I am.
I had some blood taken yesterday which will hopefully yield a beta result if one is even noted to be passed on to me. Of course, the results are not expected to be available until Wednesday at the very earliest. Fanfuckingtastic. I know betas don't necessarily rule out the things that can go wrong prior to the first ultrasound, but I just wanted brief respite from constant worry. If I get to the point of ultrasound, it will not be until at least the first week of January as I am away on holiday until then. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting.
I'll admit it, I'm jealous too. Everyone else always gets lovely betas just after a few positive HPTs, so they know where they stand. I'm in a miserable state of limbo at the moment and I hate it. That happiness was as fleeting as I predicted it would be. Throughout four years of infertility I struggled with not being "normal", and to a certain extent I thought, well, hoped that would change if I got pregnant. It doesn't take long to realise that things will never be normal. I do not have the luxury of a positive pregnancy test or four materialising into a healthy baby nine months later without worry and obsession ruling the duration of that time.
Can't I just go to sleep for a few weeks and wake up right before my ultrasound? :::sigh:::
The story is this - my clinic is in London, which is about 2 hours from me. In order to get to the clinic, I need to take a day off work, drive to a place outside London, park, take a train, then take the Tube. After my transfer the clinic gave me a form which clearly ticks the box marked "Beta HCG (Blood)". The assumption was that all of their patients must live in London, and hence it must be simple for them to have blood drawn and analysed. I stupidly believed that this would be easily obtained from my local hospital, which, thanks to an email to WHYBAML, I learned only does urine tests. I do not need this, as I have already peed on four of my own.
Oh, you can get a standard blood test. You just have to call your GP, have them write a form consenting for your blood to be let, and then you're good to go. Or are you? The blood may be taken, but I am not entirely sure if they give you an actual beta number. If they do, it takes about a week if not more to get it. I spoke to my GP at great length today, trying to maintain composure whilst insisting that I get this test done. She was sympathetic and asked me to go in tomorrow to have some blood taken, and I believe the insinuation was that I would come out of it all with a beta. Maybe. In a week. Or two.
I don't want this to turn into a flame war on the UK health care system. Aside from this, I have no complaints. We never had to pay $500 here for the privilege of waiting in the ER for 4 hours and an aspirin as we have in the States. I can go to the doctor here if I'm sick without worrying how I'm going to come up with the $200-$250 it would cost back home without insurance. Part of me thinks that perhaps not coddling patients so much is a good thing. After all, don't all these betas just cause people more worry?
Regardless of how long this takes, I'm relieved to have it sorted. Last night I was agonising over it, debating who I would call and how I could find out if they even do betas here. This morning The Dude called me at work to talk about it and I started crying at my desk. I tried to push all of my hair into my face to disguise the sobbing, but I think the incessant sniffling and choked "yeah, I'll be fine"-type things I was muttering to The Dude gave it away to my co-workers. After I hung up the phone I ran down the hallway to the bathroom, locked myself in a stall and cried for 15 minutes. Tonight I realised that this is the first time I have cried at work during all of this infertility stuff, and it's when things *might* finally be looking up! I didn't cry after all of the negative tests. I didn't cry when I was on some severe mood-altering shit during my IUIs. Yet here I am with potential good news for once and what do I do but break down at work. Leave it to me to do it the wrong way round.
On a somewhat related note, I learned that husbands cannot be trusted to purchase pregnancy tests. After the distress pregnancy test number 2 caused with its I'm-kinda-there-but-kinda-not-just-to-fuck-with-your-head second line, I sent The Dude out to get more for me to pee on. He came back with these completely antiquated tests straight out of the early 20th century, or else left over from some high school chemistry lab in the 1950s. I don't know if any of you connoisseurs are familiar with these fossils, but they are composed of a little stick, like litmus paper, which you dip into a plastic container of your urine. You have to leave the little litmus thing in the container (but only up the the line!!) for up to 10 minutes. Do not let the litmus slide into the urine and past the line, because well...who knows what will happen then. I dread to think. You might get four lines, and wouldn't that be even more baffling?
Husbands can, however, surprise you. They may not be able to pick out the right pregnancy test to calm your frazzled nerves, but they are occasionally capable of having moments when it is realised how invested he is in all of this too. The Dude spent some of his drive to work yesterday working out the probability that all four tests could be wrong. I'm not talking a basic calculation taking into account the accuracy rates of the tests, but a full-on, brain-busting precise measurement of how unlikely it would be that all of them are inaccurate. Needless to say it's a large number. I can't count higher than 100, so I won't go in to details. Now I'm just waiting for the detailed, colour-coded chart to be drawn up.
There once was a test, peed on by a girl at 10dp3dt. The girl looked at the test after a minute and decided that the second window, was, like all the others that came before, a stark and offensive white. The girl sighed, rolled her eyes, and sat on the toilet pondering how to tell her husband that this too had failed. She got up, went to put the test in the bin that had seen many of these white sticks in its short time, and realised that there was a second line. The girl felt her stomach rising up through her throat, believing that in any minute it would fade to white.
She ran up the stairs to tell the boy, waving the test and saying, "oh my god" over and over again. The boy grabbed it, peered at the stick and shouted, "I don't know how to read one of these things!" The girl frantically explained that he was clearly a fucking idiot, and that two lines meant something good. Something never anticipated. The boy hugged the girl tightly and proceeded to lecture the girl on fully cleaning off the stick after urination. He is nothing if not practical.
The girl spent all of 11dp3dt pretending to work, but internally agonising over ectopics, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and dodgy pregnancy tests. The boy spent his day shaking and avoiding all emails from the girl lest they contain bad news. The girl got home and wasted no time peeing on another stick. The line was evident, but lighter than the day before. The girl and the boy panic. Perhaps it is all an illusion. Perhaps the joy and excitement will be over before it really began.
They wonder how they will make it to the blood test on Friday. If they make it to that point and it is good news, they will worry about the first ultrasound to see if there is life inside that crazy, mixed up body. They don't know what they would do if there was not. They do know, however, that the unimaginable bliss seeing the two lines for the first time in 4 years of trying, and those 30 seconds of shock, amazement and joy made all of that agony go away, if only for a moment.
I was telling The Dude last night that it's the element of surprise that I can't handle. If it was just the matter of a negative or positive test on a certain day, I could deal with the outcome much better. The idea that at any moment this could all come crashing down on me is terrifying. My clinic doesn't want me to have a blood test until Friday, exactly two weeks post transfer. Pfft. I'm a well-travelled infertile people, there ain't no way I'm waiting to test until that point! Surely they are aware of our incessant need to test. Assuming my period does not arrive before Tuesday, I plan on practicing the ancient infertile art of peeing on a stick on that day. I'm crossing my fingers and praying to the god of canaries that there is no bleeding or spotting before that point.
On a much lighter and significantly less sanguine note, I eagerly look forward to hearing how the Midwestern gathering of infertiles knees up went yesterday. I'm hoping my Cheese Wife didn't drink too many mojitos and get her tits out, thus embarrassing herself, my Innard Twin, and a few other notable luminaries.
I have been thinking about what my options are at the end of this, whether the result is positive or negative. If it is positive, will I continue to blog? I think I have decided that I would, because I cannot fathom not being in constant contact with all of you wonderful people. Infertility has been such a large part of my life in the past three years, and now that has enveloped the blogging community to the point that I would feel as if I'm losing friends, not random people scattered over the globe that happen to read what I write. Granted, I could just hang around and comment, but it wouldn't afford me the same level of interaction that I possess now.
Months ago, upon starting IUI 2, I had the stupidly naive thought that I could get pregnant on that cycle. My blog had just started and I thought how ridiculous it would be to start this thing and magically end up pregnant right after I committed fingers to keyboard. I felt like if that happened, that I wanted to spend months giving my back story, proving to people that I had struggled before the pregnancy came about.
I still feel I would need that validation if I got pregnant during this cycle. I know a lot of bloggers who are not yet pregnant cease reading the blogs of the newly pregnant. Though I understand the raw emotion behind such a decision, I don't like thinking about all the people I would lose if I were one of the new pregnants. There are times that perhaps I don't read a pregnant blogger as faithfully, but some of them are as much of my blogging life as writing my own blog is.
I completely support whatever decisions individuals make on this subject. Knowing the immense pain that we all go through on a near-daily basis leads me to be acutely aware that people need to do what is best for them. I guess the only resolution is for everyone to get pregnant, so we'll have to work on that. All of us will have to just relax, unclench our genitals and hold our fertility icons tightly.
I'm not rambling about any of this because I think I am, or will be pregnant. Pregnancy is alien to me, to the point that it seems like something that doesn't even happen to my species, let alone myself. I expect to be greeted with a streak of violent red in my underwear about a week and two days from now, and I won't be surprised when that occurs. However, I thought the best time to write a post like this was without my mind being clouded with the knowledge of being pregnant.
The moral of this story is that if the IVF worked and Bertrand or his cohort implanted, please don't all leave at once. Don't read my blog perhaps, but at least email me. Otherwise, I'll be like the drunken ex-girlfriend throwing myself in front of you shouting, "Why don't you love me?", with tears running down my mascara-stained face. I'll totally do it.
Nurse Abrupt became very agitated, shaking her head every two minutes when the catheter would fail to pass through to the uterus. The doctor doing the transfer, Dr Chirpy, held his head high the whole time and persevered. Meanwhile, the embryologist, Dr Suave, kept me informed of the trial going on below. During all of this, The Dude sat to my left looking as if he was either going to cry or vomit. Later he told me that he felt very emotional during the procedure, vacillating from concern for my well-being to the thought of these two genetic combinations of us being (eventually) transferred.
After about 15 minutes Dr Chirpy reassuringly patted my thigh and said, "You are being very brave", to which I shrugged my shoulders at The Dude and muttered a thank you to Dr Chirpy. I appreciate his words, but I've been through a lot while climbing this IF mountain. I never expect things to run smoothly, and I always expect them to be a bit painful. What's another 20 minutes spent jamming a catheter up your cooter unsuccessfully? Dr Suave, so called because he was about 12 and seemed like he could be a bit of a ladies' man, popped up to my end of the blanket periodically to say "Nearly there" and "Almost time for the embryos".
Two catheters and 30 minutes later the embryos were successfully transferred. The two that were put back in were nearly perfect specimens according to Dr Suave, both 8 celled and grade 4. Well, apparently the slower of the two embryos, who Desmond has named Bertrand, was very nearly a grade 4, but still languished at the high end of grade 3 at transfer. For the record, my clinic rates grade 1 as the weakest and grade 4 as the strongest. So I'm told. The stronger embryo had next to no fragmentation, and the simple one had >10% fragmentation.
For now I am, dare I say, verging on the optimistic. Don't worry, it will soon dissipate and optimism will once again be banished, saved only for the normal women out there for whom pregnancy is a straightforward occurance.
I was giddy at the concept of going to a clinic on Harley Street, which is a posh area of London with some of the best private medical facilities in the country. Thalia and other Londoners are probably thinking, "It's not that posh", but it is to this bumpkin from Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania. The clinic is based in a gorgeous old house, with my only complaint with the decor being the wallpaper. Tasteful and probably appropriate for the age of the house, but they should know that I detest wallpaper as it is the devil in decorative form.
A male doctor summoned The Dude soon after arrival to make his mark in all of this. He was taken away down a long and winding staircase to wank his worries away. All I could think was you lucky bastard. I sat in the waiting room nervously tapping my fingers and pretending to read a book while he got to masturbate. Not a bad deal for him. Soon after he disappeared I was was called by a woman I shall call Nurse Jolly.
Nurse Jolly is a lovely maternal woman with a beautiful Scottish accent. The words "darlin" and "luv" are prominent in her conversation which is something I usually find grating but this time found comforting. When she took my blood pressure and commented that it was high, she stroked my forearm and said, "It's a wee bit high my darlin, a bit nervous are we?" and then frowned as if she too was ready to have a monstrous needle shoved up her cooter.
The final issue of business was the matter of painkillers. Fine. I love them. The more the better. However, I do not like them when they are introduced like this by Nurse Jolly - "Now luv, we will issue a painkiller by suppository. The doctor will need to insert the suppository UP (cue motion of her shoving a finger, uh, up something) your back passage. Could you please sign here to indicate that it is ok for the doctor to put the suppository UP the back passage?" I paused, looking at her incredulously. I was repulsed at the thought, but common sense soon prevailed and I came to the realisation that though the back passage has remained untouched by medical staff up to this point, it's one less thing I have to worry about being introduced to in the future.
After we got all the administrative and pre-op stuff out of the way, I met The Dude back in the waiting room. He had a big stupid grin on his face and was eager to tell me of his sojourn. He gave the facilities a 6 out of 10, complaining they were a bit too "clinical" (Really?!?! In a clinic?), and slagged off their porn collection. He felt as if they could have gone the more Jenna Jameson route, less Ron Jeremy. I cringed in horror at the thought of Ron Jeremy getting a blow job and tried to focus on the task at hand. I tried to drop barely-a-whisper hints to The Dude that I would have to endure a suppository given by someone other than myself, but he wasn't getting my clues nor my subtle "up the ass" motions. I grabbed a pen and bit of paper from my bag, scribbled "Suppository. They put it up the wrong 'un", at which point it was his turn to be repulsed. Fear not, I crumpled the paper up again and put it in my bag. Imagine coming upon that note on the floor of the waiting room.
A half hour passed, when I was collected from the waiting room by Dr Near Death. Dr Near Death appeared to be about 800 years old, with a slightly hunched back and veiny, arthritic looking hands. That said, when he uttered the words, "I am the anaesthesiologist", I nearly grabbed The Dude and ran out the door. Dr Near Death instructed me to get changed into the gown and robe, and said he would meet me again in theatre*. Once I changed, a new nurse, Nurse Abrupt, led me into the room where I met with Dr Near Death and Nurse Jolly again. Nurse Jolly asked me if I had taken out my contacts yet, and I said that I wanted to wait until the last possible moment given my blindness without them. Nurse Abrupt rolled her eyes, annoyed at the cheek of someone to want to see before surgery. Nurse Jolly countered her look with, "The poor dear is nearly blind. She cannae see without them! Cannae see!**" She said it really loudly too, as if I was also nearly deaf.
Sans contacts, I sat up on the chair, with Dr Near Death instructing me to bare my arms so he could scope for veins. He kept shuffling back and forth, and said at least twice, "Now where did I put..." while looking around for lost needles and absent drugs. I closed my eyes and took deep breaths, hoping that his dementia would at least taper off during my surgery. At this time Dr Stranger came in, given this name because it was the first time I saw him and I didn't see him much after the surgery either. Dr Near Death started sticking needles in my arm, and I got no further than, "Now think happy thou...." and I was out.
I became aware at some point of jabbing and quite extreme pain. When a moment of pain hit, I would do something with my thigh, though I'm not altogether sure what that was. Someone kept putting a reassuring palm on my thigh when this happened, but as my eyes were closed I don't know who it was. This is when I heard the mention of four eggs that I talked about yesterday. I was still heavily under the influence of whatever they doped me up on, so beyond hearing and touch my other senses had abandoned me. I felt like when you are waking up from a deep sleep and cannot make sense of what is real, and what is imagined. I was lamenting the four eggs comment made by Nurse Abrupt, but then things would get foggy and I'd drift off momentarily. Not long after that Nurse Abrupt did the suppository thing, which I felt, but was too spacy to battle against.
I was scooted to the end of the table and ushered into a wheelchair. Despite my head feeling like a very large helium balloon, I was surprised at how well I felt. Nurse Abrupt glared at me and mentioned that 11 eggs were retrieved, which made me feel much better as I was still clinging to the four I heard mentioned earlier. I was taken to the recovery area, covered with a heavy blanket, and given coffee and biscuits. The Dude came in to sit beside me, and I could not stop gushing about how much I loved my retrieval. I kept saying, "I want to do it again" with zeal that should not be used in connection with IVF. The Dude just nodded his head and told me to eat my biscuits and shut up. I got my contacts back, and even after putting them in, kept asking The Dude if I could have them.
After a half an hour or so, Nurse Jolly came back, laden with three boxes of suppositories which she instructed me to insert up the infamous back passage. Knowing my fondness for this expression, The Dude snorted. We are so mature. I was given the all clear to get dressed, so I trudged along to the changing room, relieved that the hard part was over.
Leaving the changing room was a woman that was in the waiting room earlier. As I was entering, I said something to her about the door being unlocked so she would know she didn't have to fiddle with it. She thanked me and then wished me good luck. Still under the influence of whatever it was Dr Near Death gave me I wanted to cry at those kind words. British people don't talk to strangers in enclosed spaces, so I was taken aback and moved that she said that. Being an absolute imbecile, I just said thank you, without reciprocating the good wishes. So, if you are a blog-reader and happen to make the mistake of reading this blog, thank you, and good luck to you as well.
I am feeling fine today. I have been tired since yesterday, but I'm hoping with all the sleeping I did today that the tiredness will dissipate. Now that the retrieval is done with, I am worrying about the transfer. I know the transfer itself is easy, but now I'm concerned with what they will have to transfer. I phoned the embryologist today, and apparently only 6 of the 11 fertilised. I'm really disappointed with this, and obsessing that the remaining six won't develop as they should. I'm trying desperately to just see what happens on Friday, but it's difficult to invest so much physically, emotionally and financially and not worry about it. I guess only time will tell.
*Theatre: Operating room in Britspeak.
**My attempt to write with a Scottish accent. I know I'm no Irvine Welsh.
I am in absolutely no pain at the moment, which I am finding a bit creepy and unnerving. I am very tired indeed though, so I shall be retiring to my bedchamber for a couple of hours. I will write up a more extensive catalogue of my first retrieval experience later, as there were a few things which left me making mental blogging notes.
Thank you to everyone for all the brilliant comments lately. I apologise for acting like I'm the first woman ever to undergo IVF. Pansy.
All of these thoughts are flooding my mind because in the last few days I have pushed IVF to the back of my mind. The Dude has been suffering from very severe migraines since the end of last week, often leading me to ponder whether to get him to the emergency room. He was in such agony this weekend that I thought I'd have to phone WHYBAML and call the whole thing off. Unfortunately for The Dude I can go from calm to panic attack in about 10 seconds flat, and my attempts to stave off anxiety were proving largely unsuccessful. As I have no friends (cue sighs), I had to break down and call my mom last night just to get all of the pressure off my chest.
My mom is in the middle of a move, which I have spoken about in previous posts. I phoned her up at her new house, and she regaled me with stories of the move and my brother's inadequacy to do anything except beer runs for the assorted 20-somethings helping out. The entire time she was rattling on I was trying desperately not to burst into tears, occasionally putting my finger over the mouthpiece so that I could sob a bit and blow my nose. Eventually she said, "How was your day?" whereupon I gurgled something about The Dude being sick, me having the procedure on Tuesday, and being stressed out. She proceeded to do the motherly thing, giving advice, trying to soothe me, and told me that everything would be ok. With me still sobbing and not making much sense, she decided that this was an ok time to answer her call waiting. Five separate times. It is typical Pru's Mom to exhibit this type of behaviour. Consoling one minute, casually carrying on conversations with someone else the next. I suppose it's better than the time my brother was excitedly telling her a tale from his day at school and she was pretending to pay attention, albeit with a faraway look in her eyes. He did not even reach the denouemont of whatever boring story he was telling when she casually reached for the phone, dialled the number of her best friend and began a conversation with her, leaving my brother in the lurch.
The other entertaining aspect of this telephone conversation was when she said, "So is Tuesday when they harvest the eggs?" Egg harvesting? It's not the fucking Matrix. I assume that this is more or less the same as retrieval, but it sounds so sci fi. Hi, I'm an egg harvester. It brings to mind the Handmaid's Tale, as if I am nothing but a breeder. A crap one at that. Someone's going to want their money back.
Twelve hours from now my legs will be splayed and I my business will be exposed to yet another assortment of unfortunate individuals. So...what about those socks?
Apparently my ovaries are responding fabulously and WHYBAML is afraid that if he leaves it too much longer hyperstimulation might be an issue. During today's scan we learned there are a couple of follicles at about 17-18mm, with an assortment hovering around 14-15mm. WHYBAML said that based on what has popped up so far, he speculates that would yield 15-20 eggs. My question is--can that be predicted at this point? I feel like a complete idiot for questioning him as I am a complete IF ignoramus, but I'm intimidated by his quote because as a negative person I'd prefer that he underestimate rather than overestimate. Anyway, I'm going to put that out of my mind for now.
I am to do one last shot of Puregon (damn) at 100iu tonight, carrying on with the Cetrorelix until Sunday. He is going to phone me tomorrow to tell me when I need to hike my prodded and poked ass up to London on Tuesday for the retrieval. Yikes.
I am concerned about the size of the follicles and whether perhaps I could have been stimulated more. I understand the concern of hyperstimulation, but whilst perusing Google most protocols I have come across involve a vastly higher dosage of stims. I know everyone responds differently, and I am trying desperately to maintain my faith in the glory that is WHYBAML.
Before you venture on, two little WHYBAML stories for you. It was absolutely freezing this evening when I headed to the wanding. When I went to shake hands with WHYBAML, he said, "My, your hands are cold", and proceeded to put his non-shaking hand on top of my right hand in a comforting, albeit informal sort of way. Let it be said that he probably felt provoked to do this because I have the hands of a child and for a brief moment he may have thought that I was in fact 12, not 27. I'm not joking. My 8 year old nephew's hand are only a fingernail smaller than mine.
As this appointment was right after work, I was still a bit frazzled and yet to wind down. When I was left alone to take off my trousers and wrap the cootersafe sheet around me, it took me a bit longer than usual. Once I was sitting up in the chair, feet in stirrups, I realised the sheet was tucked under me and would thus cause complications when the ultrasound was to begin. WHYBAML was back in the room and equipping the wand for the poking by this time. In my attempt to get the sheet the way it was supposed to be, I perhaps was a bit...exposed. Nothing major really; it's not as if my snatch was giving WHYBAML a how do you do, the sheet just inched up my thighs a tiny bit. WHYBAML calmly reached over, patted the sheet down and said, "Let's cover you up a bit more." Shit WHYBAML why do you always make me feel like such a whore?
Keen readers may recall my post from a few months back when this happened previously. It seems I am quite eager to show off my beaver. Coincidentally I was laughing about the first time this occurred right before the appointment, so I smirked at The Dude when WHYBAML was forced to cover me up because I am a complete slut. My first instinct isn't even to cover up right away anymore, which is quite scary. The way I see it, I must have had over 100 scans in the past year and a half, and the Pru cooter is well-worn territory for these people. Why start to be modest now?
So, all systems are a go for Tuesday. Shit. This is real now, isn't it?
Edited to say: WHYBAML phoned me this morning to say that my appointment is for 10.30am on Tuesday. I shoot up Ovitrelle at precisely midnight tomorrow (well, I guess technically it's Monday morning), and then I'm good to go. In theory. He still insists on calling me Ms Pru, which confuses me as he has intimate contact with my cooter numerous times a week. Surely we can be on a first-name basis.
What I wanted to focus on is not this perceived notion of the pregnant versus the non-pregnant, but rather how this long slog of infertility has made me jaded and cynical with all things pregnancy and parent-oriented. If I got pregnant, I wouldn't use a parking space designated for pregnant women on principle. Pregnant women aren't disabled. I figure if they are mobile enough to waddle around a store and shop for onesies, they can walk an extra 20 paces from a normal parking space.
Wouldn't the natural inclination be that if someone struggled so long to be pregnant, that she would grab onto this opportunity to park in a space and for once be seen as "normal"? To me, this notion of the feeble pregnant woman is irritating and outmoded. Easy for me to say, I know, being distinctly not pregnant, but it's the reproductive equivalent of "women and children first". Women's lives are more valuable then the lives of men in times of disaster, and pregnant women need to park an inch outside a shop entrance because they can't walk. They'll walk around plenty IN the store, but don't ask them to walk too much OUTSIDE the store. The moral to this story is - no pregnancy parking space for me. Well, principles, and I don't drive.
Secondly, you will never hear me talk about how my baby is my little "miracle". It ain't no miracle that unites the sperm and egg in a petri dish. It's science. A miracle would be me getting pregnant naturally; polycystic posterior ovaries, tilted cervix and small-headed sperm uniting to create a life. That said, even if this happened I would still never call the child a "miracle". The very thought makes me want to roll around in babydust and set myself alight.
I am a member of a mailing list for American ex-pats residing in the UK. One of the women on the list had a baby last week and announced his birth to the list today. After giving the rundown of the usual crap - length, weight, disposition, etc...the beaming new mother said, "I probably won't have much to do now except be a mother", at which point I threw up in my mouth more than just a little. Christ on a bike woman, did you not have anything to do pre-baby? She wasn't even infertile! Surely it is just infertile women, people who have spent ages focusing on procreation, that would momentarily forget that there are more things in life than pregnancy and children? Oddly enough, we are the women who don't say things like that.
That is my drug-induced rant for today. Stay tuned for the next installment when I write 4 paragraphs on how my co-worker's stirring of Cup of Soup makes me want to crawl out of my skin and beat her with the pelt.
Today is cd3. Thank you to all of those who offered up the advice that no dumbass, spotting does not count as day one. I think The Dude probably even had an idea. Well, if the very thought of menstrual blood didn't make him get the vapours that is. I'm sure there were dozens of women reading that post that found me a disgrace to infertiles everywhere, for which I almost apologise for my ignorance.
Today I had my first onset-of-IVF WHYBAML appointment. Last night I dreamt that The Dude went to the appointment and was miraculously knowledgeable on all matters gynocological with a specialisation in IVF. In this dream he countered everything WHYBAML said, often offering an alternative to whatever treatment protocol WHYBAML suggested. In the end WHYBAML agreed with him, and it led to me laying on a table with some sort of barrel type contraption underneath me whilst The Dude and WHYBAML fondled antiquated medical instruments and discussed their next course of action. See, this is why I like the fact that The Dude barely even knows what a vagina is.
I sighed in relief tonight when I realised my dream would not come to fruition, as The Dude asked WHYBAML: "Is the retrieval (score! Who knew he was even aware such a term existed?) likely to be on a weekday? If so, when they put them all back in at the thing...the...the...putting them back in time, can that sometimes fall on a weekend?" Aww...bless. "The putting them back in time." I did whisper, "TRANSFER", but he looked at me like, "Shut up woman! I know of what I speak!"
Nothing exciting about day three scans. I am still enamoured of WHYBAML, as he told me not to worry when I apologised for sending him three emails and leaving one voicemail over the fiasco that is spotting day 1 vs proper day 1. When I asked if my posterior ovary would cause problems in retrieval, he said that it wouldn't, as "you're anaesthesised anyway, so they just jam that needle around in there until they get what they want...haha", and then he patted my shin reassuringly. Thankfully I shaved.
My next scan is on Tuesday. Until then, I am shooting up 125iu of Puregon every night, and popping a Letrozole as well for good measure. I felt like a delirious junkie tonight when I jabbed the needle full of Puregon into my more-than-an-inch, because I enjoyed it far more than I should. I have bruised before because I left the needle in too long due to staring at the whole procedure in amazement. I know, I need to find a hobby that doesn't involve needles and fertility drugs.
I did ask WHYBAML if he could write a letter stating briefly that I would need post-op recovery and may be off work for a couple of days. He said that he is accostomed to writing non-specific gyno problem letters, but I asked him to drop any mention of gyno issues. I mentioned the work situation and how I refused to divulge that information, and he agreed that it was none of their fucking business. Uh, yeah...WHYBAML kinda rules. For the record, he said it in a far more diplomatic manner. He is English, remember. If he did have to tell them it was none of their business, it would probably be to the effect of "I do beg your pardon. Kindly refrain from enquiring as to the nature of Ms Prufrock's procedure. 'Tis a private matter that does not concern her employer. I humbly request your understanding in this rather delicate and personal situation. Kindest regards, WHYBAML"
So that's where everything stands at the moment. I am sometimes struck with disbelief that I am at this point in the infertility roundabout. 27 and at the final procedure already. It's grim. Obviously I can carry on going in a circle, IVF 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on. It's the next step that I'm debating at the moment, and it's a topic for yet another day. I've been rolling the ideas around in my head without much clarity, so any post will probably just be random thoughts spewed in a blog post. Nothing new there. You lucky people. If it's not inane rambling, it's me waxing lyrical on the Puregon Pen. It's a surprise anyone is even reading this thing anymore. At least weary internet travellers searching for "fucky mother", "vegetable insertion" and "wife won't do what I tell her to" will still find their way here. Thank heavens for small mercies, eh?
I was bordering on giddy today for about 2 whole hours when my period decided to show her delinquent ass after much delay. Well, I'm spotting, which I assume will lead to a proper period. I have been let down before, so perhaps I should hold my tongue for now. So my question is - does spotting count as cd 1? I tend to spot for up to two days before full force is exhibited. I should have asked this question three years ago, thus possibly explaining why I'm still not pregnant.
I told my boss today that I would need to have off for a few days for "minor surgery", which I requested to be kept between us. I don't need my co-workers getting me cards and balloons thinking I'm on my deathbed. I later received an email from her stating that I would need to supply a doctor's note (fine), as well as a brief description of my procedure. Pardon? Now, this may surprise some of you, but I'm a bit outspoken. I have yet to respond to this email, but when I do tomorrow you can be certain that no further details of my "procedure" will be divulged. I think it's a violation of my privacy and I refuse to do it. I have failed to come up with a reason as to why they would need to know this. I'm willing to give them a note from WHYBAML, but that's as far as it will be going.
My boss has said that this info will be requested by her manager, a woman who, two weeks ago, asked me what my last name was. I have worked in my department for two years and this woman, though not my direct manager, has had a lot of interaction with me in this time. I will not give such sensitive and personal information to a woman who cannot be bothered to even know my name. The Dude has said that if I say that in defense of my privacy, he will buy me the bracelet I have been coveting for the last two months. I know what I will be doing first thing tomorrow morning.
So that is where I am at the moment. I should be excited that all of this is finally kicking off, but I cannot muster that level of emotion. My apologies for the most boring and moaning post in the history of BarrenAlbion. I felt like I needed to post, despite not knowing what to coherently post about. The harsh realisation has just hit me that I am not even in the mood for Sex and the City or Freaks and Geeks. These are truly dark times. Remind me again why I don't drink?
1) Retrieval: Tell me all about it. I know a local is used, but I truthfully don't even know what that means. Well, I know it isolates a certain area, but how much does that affect the rest of your body post-surgery? Will I be wandering around in a drugged stupor akin to the Nyquil Haze I know and love? I know, a child-like question to ask but the only surgery-type thing I've had was a tonsillectomy 15 years ago. How much recovery time is needed? A day of bedrest? 2 months (crosses fingers)?
1a) What do you tell your employer? I've got the added complication of needing to travel to London - 2 hours away, so I might need to get there the night before. With all of my IUIs and their related scans, I have just told my boss that I have hospital appointments. Since I have always been back within an hour and a half, no one has asked any questions. I would be inclined to take a sick day or two, but obviously as I could be in transit the morning of the transfer, it would be difficult to phone in sick without arousing suspicion. I know I could just *tell* my boss but that's not going to happen. I work in a small office and I don't trust her not to spread the news. I'm thinking I may just tell her ahead of time that I'm going into the hospital for a small outpatient procedure and I will need to take the rest of that day off for recovery.
2) Egg quality: I have this fear, which I hope is irrational, that I'll get to the point of retrieval and realise my eggs are baaaaaaaaaaad. Though it would explain a lot, it's not something I want to hear. How often is poor egg quality discovered at this time?
3) Transfer: Is this just like the process of IUI? If so, I can handle that.
4) Coffee: Yay or nay? I know you are told that to increase your fertility you should cut down on caffeine. I tried that for three months last year and guess what? There ain't no baby in this here stomach. Hence, I'm sticking with the caffeine.
5) I did have a fifth question, but my caffeine adled mind has deleted it.
I do know that I would like to kick my faux British ass for totally dropping myself in it the other day. I left a comment on a blog in reaction to a post about the high cost of IVF meds in the US. I was all, "Check this out muthafuckas, I pay next to nothing here in the UK. God bless the Queen" and all that shit. The next day, I got a bill in the mail that was all, "Check this out bitch, here is a bill for £600 for your medications and an added bill for £200 just for blood tests." Now deflated, I was all, "Fuck the Queen and George Bush."
After the foot-in-mouth debacle, I tried to be optimistic. When compared with paying for IVF itself, the bill for the meds is virtually inconsequential. I likened the situation to when I used to drive a much loved, but truthfully rather rustbuckety 88 Honda Accord. My Accord, christened Rudy the Bohunk after "Rudy Ricecheck" in Sixteen Candles, had all kinds of problems. It was in the shop at least once a month for one problem or another. After two or three major repairs in the region of $500 draining my already limited finances, anything under $300 was considered fantastic news. After yet another car problem, my mechanic phoned and said, "Pru, I'm afraid it's bad news." :::major exhalation from him:::: "It's going to be expensive to fix this. I think you're looking at $200-$250." Expecting the worst, I was thrilled, much to the mechanic's surprise.
I'm saying that I am an 88 Honda Accord. Light blue. A fair amount of money has been poured into this old wreck, so what is another £600? I just hope that if this IVF fails I will not meet the same demise as Rudy the Bohunk, may God rest his jalopy soul.
So I wasn't going to join in this little blogging célébration de l'amour, but after the breakdown I had over The Dude's health and well-being tonight, I have been provoked to talk about our story. The Dude was supposed to pick me up from work tonight, and after 25 minutes of waiting without him appearing, I decided to walk home. Already working myself into panic mode as The Dude is never late, I had to focus on walking when my first instincts were to not vomit or hypervenilate. Yeah, I'm a freak. There is no grey area with me, it's all black and white. Alive or dead. Alive = you're picked up on time. Dead = 25 minutes late.
With each block closer to home I became more nervous, taking into account all the signs throughout the day that surely pointed to his early demise: MP3 player on random playing songs about death, lost love, and other gothic musings; mobile left at home, preventing the police from contacting me; he said he loved me twice before we parted ways this morning, but I was too busy sorting out my jacket and purse to reciprocate. Things like that. As I started to walk up our street I actually avoided looking in the direction of our building, anticipating that I would see a police car parked outside. Once I arrived at the parking bay, it was only The Dude's car parked in our space. He was waiting at the front door, but I was too busy crying and trying to breathe to say anything to him. Yes ladies, I'm all kinds of fucked up. In honour of my rediscovered (not that it was ever buried too deep) immense love for my husband, this is our dysfunctional love story.
I was a young, fresh-faced maiden of 16. He, a red-headed, freckled man of the world and six years older. The Dude was employed by a company that brought soccer-coaching Brits to the US to teach the ignorant suburbanites the true spirit and methods of the game. My brother was to attend the camp, and upon hearing it would be run by hot athletic British men, I made it my mission to scope out the talent. My mother inadvertently helped me out with my plan by enabling one of the coaches to stay at our house in exchange for reduced tuition to the camp for my brother. Unfortunately, this one was married, but the benefit was that the other coaches often came over to plan the sessions.
When I met The Dude, I must confess that I was enamoured of the accent more than anything. Well, that and his mighty fine legs. When I knew he was coming over to meet with the other coaches, I would change my outfit numerous times until I was satisfied, and put on Portishead's "Dummy", which I knew he liked. When he inevitably commented that he really liked Portishead, I tried to act surprised, though I imagine I failed miserably. We flirted a bit, but nothing transpired that summer due to Pennsylvania having some rather firm statutory rape laws.
After he left that summer, I didn't think of him much. I was in my senior year of high school and was taken with a platinum-haired boy who wore leather pants. Unfortunately he found it difficult to not have a threesome with a friend and a random skanky underclassman, so that ended and I was free to dream of men with British accents again.
When The Dude came back, the flirting and playing of Portishead resumed. On the night of my 18th birthday, I was relegated to staying at home doing laundry, as none of my inconsiderate friends had bothered to invite me to go out to celebrate. As I had my back to the laundry room door, The Dude shuffles up to me reluctantly and says,
"So...do you want to go to a movie or something? I feel bad leaving you at home to do laundry on your 18th birthday." to which I replied:
"Sure. Nothing keeping me here!"
Those words will haunt me for the rest of my days, as this faked ambivalence is thrown back in my face regularly after nearly ten years have passed. Oh Pru, you poor stupid girl. Little did you know that those apparently harmless four words would be the punchline of your relationship with this man for decades to come.
We went to see "Phenomenon". I can only assume there was absolutely nothing of worth on the other screens, as I cannot fathom paying money for a John Travolta weepfest these days. However, it seems my hormones were all over the place back then as well, because I cried and my eyeliner etched itself into my skin and presented my emotional vulnerability for all to see. Rather than trying to be sensitive and impress upon me his kind nature, The Dude laughed at me, pointed and said, "Haha. You cried." Fuuuuuuuuuuuck you.
Despite his lack of consideration, we continued to see each other. He had some trouble with the family he was staying with, so my Mom offered him a place at our house. After a couple of months of this permutation of living together, he had to go back to the UK. For about a month or so after he left I slept in his bed just so I could smell him and pretend for a moment that he was still there. I never mentioned this during our lengthy trans-Atlantic phone calls because he was obnoxious and arrogant enough as it was and I didn't want to make him even more so.
After numerous trips to the UK, often sacrificing my college classes for 3 week trips overseas, and his many trips to the US, *perhaps* violating certain Immigration laws, he decided that he was getting too old or some such nonsense. During one of his extended trips, we went out to dinner to celebrate our 2 year anniversary. After dinner, we went to a local park to stroll around the moonlit pond and act like a stereotypical, Hallmark-style couple. He stopped on the footbridge and said he wanted to ask me something. Being stupid, naive, and ignorant, I had absolutely no idea what was to follow. He whipped out (minds out of the gutters ladies) a gorgeous, and heavy platinum and diamond ring. I grabbed the railing of the footbridge to steady myself and tried mightily to refrain from vomiting. My answer: "I'll think about it." to which he handed me the ring and walked to the car. Oops.
We had a silent 15 minute drive back to my house. Upon arriving, he jumped out of the car, ran into the house and locked himself in the guest bedroom. Oops. After much crying and gnashing of teeth, he allowed me in the room. I told him that I wasn't ready for marriage yet, and he convinced me that the engagement was meant to be long-term, which satisfied me. I said yes, and all was right with the world.
We became increasingly tired of conducting a very long-distance relationship, and decided to get married for erm...reasons other than just love that may or may not involve something green. On 6 July 1999 I put on a dress and he put on a non-soccer shirt and we made our way to the Justice of the Peace. We were out of there inside 10 minutes, and because I still didn't feel ready for marriage as such, we treated it as a practical arrangement. We agreed to not share the news with anyone outside our immediate family, and emphasised to them that this was not a "real" wedding.
The "real" wedding came later - on 18 December 2001. As I mentioned in a previous post, we were married in a 14th century church, and the bride wore white despite being more fond of something in black. So here we are, in wedded bliss...yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. You know.
One of my best friends wrote in my yearbook senior year: "Go forth young Pru and find yourself that boy across the pond with rings on his fingers and sexy sideburns. I know you'll find one."
Well, I found my boy from across the pond. He doesn't wear rings, he doesn't have sideburns, but he does have damn fine legs and verges on perfection.
Apparently there will be no photograph of the engagement and wedding rings. My digital camera has decided that zoom with any clarity is soooo last year. Bastard. Maybe next year.
Two years ago today my maternal grandfather, the only grandparent I'd ever known, died. He was 89 and had been ill on and off for about five years, so it came of no surprise. The Dude and I joke that he was finally released from my Mom's constant impassioned pleas of, "Please Pru, call/visit/write your grandfather, he won't be around much longer" which peppered each year of my life from the age of 12. The poor man was classified as nearly dead for 13 years despite being in relatively fine health until his mid-80s.
My grandfather lived in Arizona, and I in Pennsylvania until I moved to the UK, so I wasn't able to see him often. When I still lived in the States I talked to him weekly, and even as he got older and his body failed him to previously unknown heights, his mind was sharp and his wit even sharper. He had a tremendously dry sense of humour, one which, as an old man, some people interpreted as cantankerousness. Most people would look baffled when he would attempt to be funny, unsure whether to crack a smile and nod their heads at the confused old man, or pretend he said nothing at all.
I have a younger brother who is 5 years my junior, who my grandfather designated "The Chump". I, of course, was "Princess" (stop puking into your hats. I'm darling!). My brother was at one time "The Champ"--good grades, athletic, and a good churchgoing kid. Somewhere it all went wrong- the grades declined, the sports decreased in number, and church was a trial rather than a pleasure, hence his new designation of "The Chump". In his gruff voice, my grandfather stood up at a family reunion, with dozens gathered around this aged patriarch and said, "These are my only grandchildren. This beautiful young lady is my Princess. I'm so proud of her. This boy is my grandson. He used to be called 'The Champ' but now I just call him 'The Chump'." There was an awkward silence as everyone looked at each other, unsure as to how to react. I ruined the moment by laughing hysterically and mocking my humiliated brother. My brother saw the humour, reluctantly, and my grandfather looked over at me and winked.
It was difficult for my grandfather to cope with getting older. He was always being rushed to the hospital for cuts and bumps due to attempting to carry out things he could no longer manage to do, like pick oranges from the tree in the backyard, do basic DIY around the house, and play golf, which he loved. He was infuriated that he could no longer do much aside from sit in his armchair and read or watch sports on TV. One of his few joys was his evening bowl of ice cream with his Chow, Candy. He and Candy would each settle down with a bowl of ice cream every night, generally the standard strawberry, vanilla or chocolate, and put on a baseball or golf game.
Old age wasn't what he thought it would be. My Mom used to tell me about his periodic bouts of depression because he hated what he had become, but he was also terrified of dying. Talking to him after learning this made me horribly sad, as he always put up such a strong, confident front. I often wished that his mind would decline as well so he would be less aware of his ailing health, but even moments before he died he was cracking jokes to my step-grandmother.
A few weeks ago I dug out the last letter he wrote to me which said, "I think it's about time old grandad rides that trusty old steed into the sunset". Not long after that he passed away. He died on the 26th, and my birthday is also on the 26th day of a month, albeit July. When my Mom told me that he had died, I told her that I wasn't surprised that he passed on the 26th. "The Chump" was born on the 27th of July, and he certainly wouldn't want to go on the day of The Chump.
In honour of him, I thought I'd put this picture of him on my blog. He is as he would want to be remembered - young, strong, and rather dashing if I do say so myself. I love this photograph.
Because I am completely irrational and slightly crazy, I will interpret the importance of the 26th day of the month as a sign. I was born on the 26th day of July, my grandpa passed on the 26th of October, and here I am on the 26th day of October two years later, starting my meds for IVF #1. I'm not suggesting anything kooky, just that this significance might bring me a bit of luck. I do know that if I do get pregnant this cycle and it sticks, my child would likely possess at least a bit of his or her great-grandfather's black sense of humour. I wouldn't have it any other way.
"Ah!" you say, "Your ignorance has caught up with you! Not so casual as to vaunt your cluelessness now, are you?" To that, I say piss off. Ok, you're allowed to be smug now that I'm asking for your help, but I want no taunting. Taunt not. Random aside: in looking for a synonym of "ignorance", my online thesaurus has suggested "creeping meatballism". I ask you, what in the fu--...uh, fresh hell is creeping meatballism? It sounds like some sort of latent form of elephantitus, but rather than looking like John Merrick you look like a lumpy meatball conglomeration.
Anyway, creeping meatballism aside, I have no idea what sort of IVF arrangement WHYBAML has constructed for me. I'm a bit concerned that there is no Buserelin involved, despite the fact that I have no.fucking.clue what that even is. People use it, I know that. Thalia uses it, Mare used it. However, it is not on my lovely List 'O' Drugs as supplied by WHYBAML. Is this cause for concern, or shall I keep on with the blind trust of WHYBAML?
I am, according to my handy "IVF/ICSI treatment start" bible doing a short protocol. Oh. Good to know. I will be starting Norethisterone on Wednesday. We are to assume that my period will start soon after. Letrozole (Femara in Yank Speak) will commence on day 2 and carry on until day 6. The rest of my meds are as follows: Puregon (Follistim in YS), Cetrorelix, Ovitrelle (is this like Gonal-F? Colour me confused), and...PUSSARIES! Obviously we are not sure about dosages at this point, but I know my ovaries are going to be stimulated like they've never been stimulated before! Hey now.
Have I mentioned how much I am looking forward to using my Puregon Pen again? Bring it on. I love that thing. I wish there were things you could inject into your body just for the hell of it because ladies, that pen would be busy around the clock. I'm not the only one, lest you think I'm some sort of needle-happy freak; check these people out. Puregon makes them happy! They looooooooooooooove infertility. Look at those smiles.
While I'm asking questions of the learned folk, what say you on the topic of small-headed sperm? I'm sure it's no laughing matter, but really...that shit is funny, right? The Dude was crestfallen that WHYBAML told him in our last meeting that some of his sperm had small heads, and I can't stop thinking of the hilarity. I asked him tonight whether I was allowed to spread the small-headed sperm word, and he said, "Yeah, but only to bloggers!" Damn, and here I was going to go to work tomorrow and blurt out, "My husband has small-headed sperm!" in an otherwise quiet office. Pity. I do a mean 'simple' sperm impression that involves a dopey expression and a simulation of bumping into the uterine wall while saying, "Duuurrrrr", but I can't do a small-headed sperm impression yet. Yes, I'm such a sympathetic wife.
I welcome any advice you have. Just don't say "I told you so" or I will kick you in the ovaries.
NB: Quick housekeeping issue--does anyone else have difficulty viewing my posts? I don't mean that you're offended or repulsed, but rather the font is difficult to read/decipher, etc? Someone informed me that they had trouble reading it and I hope it's not a common problem.
I received a chatty email from my Mom the other day recounting the status of the house sale, the weather, and this gem to conclude the conversation:
"Oh, guess who subbed in my class the other day? Bitch Beeblebutt! Bitch just returned from Australia with her new Irish husband, and now she's ready to give birth in January! Isn't that grand?"
Yes, it's fab. Great for her! May I just mention now that Bitch Beeblebutt is the recovering alcoholic slut I blogged about a few weeks ago? I need not reiterate how very thrilled I was to hear that she had been impregnated. Yeah, people change, grow up, whatever. I'm a vile, bitter witch, what of it?
Next day came chatty email number 2 from Mom:
"Bitch Beeblebutt also said that Dweeby Nutwad is pregnant now too, do you remember her? I think she only just got married, so that didn't take long, did it?"
My Mom, bless her, is rather flighty. She is incapable of being malicious, but she is often completely and utterly blind to how her words might affect others. She would not hesitate to ask when the IVF is going ahead in one breath, and follow that query with the sudden rememberance that someone I hated in high school was pregnant. Being the person she is, she is always happy for them, without a second thought as to how I might find that juxtaposition upsetting.
What astounds me is that this is my own mother - one of the 4 or so people in my non-blogging life that knows of my infertility problems. If you can't get understanding from your own mother, you're pretty much fucked that anyone else is going to proceed with caution.
This is why I don't share my dodgy ovary tale with people. If it isn't misguided advice such as "just relax" or "if it was meant to be...", it's the absence of common sense.
The lesson today is: You're fucked if you do, and you're fucked if you don't. Basically, just fucked.
There, I have satisfied my "fuck" quota for today. Fucking marvellous.*
*Apologies to the sensitive for all the swearing. Who am I kidding? They all left months ago. Fuck 'em.
The past day has found me crying off and on about something that I'm desperately hoping some people will understand -- the sale of my family home. My Mom has been talking of selling her house and downsizing for a few years, but given her tendency for procrastination, I never thought it would happen. I received an email yesterday to say that she had accepted an offer and will move in the middle of next month. This is upsetting as is, but it is exacerbated by the fact that this Christmas will be the first one I have spent back home since moving to the UK three years ago and now it will be in an unfamiliar house, in surroundings that aren't a comfort to me as her house currently is.
I feel like I want to say goodbye to it. I lived from the age of 9 until I left at 22 (I was in college, not leeching off my Mom, for the record), so that is where so much of my life took place - climbing the trees during long, sweltering summer days spent locked outside by my mom in an effort to tear me away from the tv; the lawn I was forced to mow on our rickety riding mower, forever hoping that no cute guys from school would drive by and laugh at me bouncing up and down on this massive contraption over the slight hills in the front yard. It's strange to think I will never again sleep in the bedroom where I would sit on the floor as a teenager, phone in my lap, staring at the phone number of the latest boy that I LIKED liked and hanging up right after dialing the seventh digit.
There are bad memories too, though the fact that they took place in that house somehow tempers their negative emotional impact all these years later. The living room, where I was seated on the left side of the plush blue sofa, when my Mom told me that she and my Dad were separating. I distinctly remember seeing her distorted face as viewed from the bottom of the glass of orange juice I was drinking from as she gave me the news, with my first thoughts rushing to suspect infidelity. My mom's bedroom was the setting for the phone call telling us that my Great Aunt Betty, a woman who played a vital role in our lives as surrogate mother to my mom and surrogate grandmother to me after the death of my maternal grandmother, had passed away suddenly. I recall gazing out the window in disbelief as my Mom cried on my shoulder and I did my 12 year old best to comfort her.
The Dude tried to cheer me up with Manisms such as, "It's only a house." (Oh, THANKS. And so it is. Duh, silly me.) and "At least you have your memories, isn't that enough?" (Short answer: no). I'm sure I will get over it...I won't pine over this house when I'm 56 or anything, but it's difficult to deal with it as this is my place to go home to. Having moved 4000 miles away from "home", I am now acutely aware of that trite phrase "You can never go home again", because I have felt that in subsequent visits. However, I now feel even less that I can never go home again, because the place I will go to is not my home. Some may feel I am overemphasising this concept of "home", but for me it is my ultimate comfort. If my life here, for whatever reason, went horribly wrong I would find solace in the idea that I could go back "home" to get back on my feet. This reliance on this makes me worry that perhaps I'm holding on to something that left a long time ago. I'm an adult now, surely I shouldn't be so fixated on the past?
This is not the only property-related news in my life. On the same day a major feature in my previous life was passed on to another, a big decision was made in my current life as regards to property as well. The Dude and I decided, quite impulsively, to buy another flat in our building which we intend to let. Yes, IVF and property buying in one month is a bit overwhelming, but as we are the least spontaneous people ever, this feels good. If I do get pregnant via IVF this cycle (still not buying that), we might be bordering on the very skint for awhile, but we think it will be worth it down the road. Alternatively, if I don't get pregnant and we decide to give the finger to IF treatment once and for all, one day I'll be driving a very nice Jaguar and seducing a poor defenseless pool boy. Which is the better outcome?
A few days after our decision to carry on with IVF, I happened upon a show on the Discovery Channel entitled "Baby Lab". The Discovery Channel, in its attempt to educate, has apparently gotten confused and instead decided to cater to the agenda that chooses to portray ART as an unnatural, entirely synthetic event devoid of any human involvement. Within the first few minutes, statements such as "Brenda and Tom's baby was made in a lab" and "It takes 4 weeks to make a baby via IVF" were uttered without pause. I was shocked that 4 genuine infertile couples consented to be in this show, and I can only hope they did not know the spin that would be applied during editing.
Trust me, there is emotion and a distinctly human role in all of this. I take Metformin three times a day regardless of how horrible it makes me feel so that my body can attempt to function at least a little bit like that of a normal woman. I will be injecting myself with enough medication to make an elephant pregnant with triplets to ensure that I have enough eggs to give me the tiniest hope of reproducing. I have the added benefit of regular wandings, not to mention the times I get to have eggs removed and transferred. Inevitably I will hate everyone during the time I am going through the things on the aforementioned list, and I will tell myself that it is ok to feel that way. I might snap and beat down my co-worker with the crisp-chewing issues (Yes, that again. Can you tell it bothers me?), but I'm entitled.
The Dude would also beg to differ, as he will have to be the recipient of numerous rants and threats of violence because bitch has holes all over her stomach and wants to kick everyone in the crotch just for existing. Additionally, he has to face the pressure of performing on D-Day. Wanking into a cup whilst reading "Big Tits 4 U" is strenuous stuff if he is to be believed. My heart bleeds, it really does.
So yes, there is a human face to IVF. It's not all catheters, microscopes and petri dishes. It is all about pain, sacrifice, and mood swings - all for the elusive baby that is dismissed in a "serious" documentary as being whipped up like a smoothie.
However, I have now been inspired to creating my own Baby Lab. It's missing a good egg, and yes, I've been bitchslapped by the irony. I know I'm just copying other bloggers that have gone before me, but this is just my interpretation of the IVF meds still life genre. Please note the small sperm poised potently beside my beloved Puregon Pen. Yes ladies, I own a plastic sperm.
Eagle-eyed viewers may note the absence of pussaries. Worry not, dear friends, they are soon to follow. The pharmacy at the hospital was fresh out of pussaries, which must mean there are a lot of uncomfortably waxy women about.
And so it is. Confirmation. This woman's reproductive organs are soon to be besieged with numerous medications, the volume of which will be far greater than known previously. Fanfuckingtastic. The final marker of the assisted reproductive trail will commence within two weeks. :::gulp:::
I had appointment with WHYBAML today to discuss the next step, which of course is IVF. I didn't want to waste any more precious time deluding myself with IUIs. Apparently, it costs a couple of hundred pounds to sit at a desk for an hour and sign some release forms. Who knew? Amazingly, and also frighteningly, I will start this gig on the 26th of this month. This is what I wanted, but shit, I thought I'd have at least a month or two to stress over it and question my true desires to be a mother. Now I have to cram this into a couple of weeks. I'm sure I'll manage.
Oh, and for all women whose words I have read regarding failed IVF cycles -- WHYBAML said not to treat your words as gospel, so henceforth I shall sequester myself in the realm of TTC messageboards rather than filling my mind with your evil, cynical thoughts. Instead I will read volumes from people that have wanted to have "babys" since they were children themselves - entries written by women known by nicknames such as "DreamzOfBabys" or "Mom2Shayla". Inevitably these names are written in a sparkly font, no doubt as the result of liberal sprinklings of babydust. Below each post will be the omnipresent tickers signifying cycles, due dates, ages of children, marriages, deaths, length of time left on mortgages, etc.
If all goes as planned, and I do not assume it will, my 2ww will end about a week before our as-yet-booked trip to visit my family in the States. As WHYBAML said, allowing me just enough time to “get over it.” You know, like you do. Ah, the wisdom of the medical profession. Worry not, WHYBAML has maintained his messianic status with me despite such casual, yet mind-numbingly stupid comments.
This means if I meet up with those other infertiles at the end of December to cluck about understanding partners, not-so understanding partners, ass shots, belly shots, cooter pokings, dildocams and other polite conversation often had by the ladies who lunch, I will either be with zygote, or quite painfully without. It goes without saying that I sincerely hope it is with the former, not with the latter. That way we can go out to dinner and afterwards make a quick trip to Babies R Us, where I can be showered with gifts while sitting on a throne shaped like a uterus. I will wear a crown shaped like a string of cysts, a theme that is well known to me and my “classically” PCOS ovaries.
For those of you close to D.C. please do let me know if you are interested in joining us. I’m talking like I know I will be there, which I don’t, but it would be lovely to meet some of the glorious blogging women that I read so faithfully. Luckily Molly lives in Wisconsin and therefore cannot come. She would surely wear a low-cut top to show off her cleavage, and let’s be honest—we don’t need to see that shit.
Now is not the time to receive an email from the president of my senior class in high school regarding our 10th reunion. I perused the names of the other alum, noting the many apparent marriages of my former classmates. I came across one person (Woman A) whose name has changed, and my first reaction was, "Someone married that bitch?", which isn't the kindest initial thought to have considering I haven't seen her since graduation. In defense of myself, she went out with the guy I had a crush on all through junior and senior high. He was genuinely one of the nicest guys I have ever met, and she was (and I will just say for my own selfish reasons, still is) an evil, materialistic, big-nosed succubus.
:::Ahem::: So, like any other normal, stable person with no agenda whatsoever, I googled Woman A, with and without her married name. As it turns out, she married well -- a young, hot guy who is a professor at an Ivy League university. Typical. No word on children just yet, but I'm certain that they will soon follow. They will be blond and blue-eyed, artistic like their mother, and academically-inclined like their father. Hopefully they will also have her nose, just to make me, an anonymous spiteful bitch, satisfied with having something amiss in her life, however small the detail.
Moving onto the second name, Woman B...Married. Not a big deal. I didn't dislike this one, I actually felt sorry for her. That is, until another friend informed me post-reunion email that this woman is 6 months pregnant. Woman B went into rehab at 18. On a school-sponsored trip to the UK after graduation she spent most of her time either passed out in the coach bathroom, or slumped over its toilet. A few times she would meet random men at the hotel bars and seduce them with her overpowering breath, slurred words, and prodigious cleavage. The last time I heard about her prior to this email, she had more or less gotten her life together and her rehab stints were fewer and far between. Of course she's pregnant. Why not?
Basically, this has brought me to the conclusion that infertility has made me jealous of anyone for any reason I see fit. I have spent so long - three years and counting - envying other women's fertility, that my jealousy has oozed into other aspects of life. In the case of Woman A, I don't want her husband because mine is fabulous most of the time, so in that sense I'm not jealous, but I am irritated that despite being an absolute cow she has managed to snag herself a good-looking, successful man. Much of this is residual animosity surrounding the high school guy, but C'MON (said in Gob voice)...how many chances can one person get? Thankfully I have not read anything about her career, which I'm sure is fantastic, or else I would dangling dangerously at the end of the jealousy precipice.
Ms Prufrock. Infertile. Brunette. 27. Coffee-drinker. Animal lover. Jealous bitch.
The other day there was a thread on one of the websites concerning whether or not Alicia Silverstone is all knocked up and what not. I saw the picture, girl looks like she's packing a baby gut, so it's possible. The comments in connection with this story were laughable as well as being annoying at the same time. The basic gist was - well, Alicia Silverstone HAS been married for four months now, so why WOULDN'T she be pregnant? Duh. I'm surprised she even waited that long. Everyone who is anyone gets pregnant right after exchanging vows. Also, do non-married people not get pregnant now? Is that passe?
It is people like Alicia that sell out infertiles. Not pregnant within 6 months post-marriage? Infertile. You're outed against your will thanks to comparative measures. Given that this is the widely-held perception, I'm shocked that people still ask me when we're having kids. If I haven't had them after being married for nearly 4 years, what is the point in asking me when we are having them? There are a few possible scenarios here - a) We are not the kid-having type b) We're infertile c) We are focusing on such petty things like career and education d) None of your goddamn fucking business.
I have probably mentioned this in previous posts, but I have been hassled about my lack of children numerous times in the past few years, with advanced maternal age generally being the gem these people like to throw at me. I only turned 27 two months ago, but yet I am bordering on being the pensioner that miraculously conceives via IVF much to the consternation of most of society. A former co-worker once said to my then-24 year old self: "What is the hold up? You're not getting any younger." Eh? I still see this woman regularly and she still harps on about my lack of children. How do people not yet realise how incredibly rude this line of questioning is?
Well Queen Fuckwad, I have this wee little condition called PCOS which makes it very difficult to conceive. Unfortunately for me none of the drugs meant to assist in conception are working very well, which means I am still infertile, and still have to put up with these inane questions from inconsiderate Smug Fertile assholes. You're old -- have you still not learned tact in the many, many years you have spent on this earth?
Phew...I'm glad I got that off my heaving bosom. In other news, Gwyneth may be pregnant again. Sister, you're on my Lesbian List, do you really have to lap me twice? Show some consideration for a poor downtrodden infertile, will you? Meh.
Throughout this infertility journey...nay, mindfuck (I call it like I see it folks), I have taken great pride in the fact that I have not sacrificed my lifelong ambivalence and general dislike of children. I have not allowed myself to become all gooey and sentimental at the mere sight of a swollen belly or a gurgling infant. It's not who I am, and three long old years of infertility have only slightly weakened my resistance to all things children.
However, during my recent meltdown I had a moment of clarity. I came to the realisation that I do in fact want a child. I don't want someone's else child, so the random stranger pushing a pram down the street can keep her screaming brat without making me wistful. I was stressing about my paper, work, and every other little thing in my life, and it dawned on me that all of that paled in comparison to my desire to have a child. Given that I'm 27 and already staring down the barrel at IVF it may not be a biological child, but I'm fine with that. Cynical, embittered, innapropriate sense of humour-having, me.
I know it seems like a foregone conclusion that someone with an infertility blog would want a child. I am an enigma people, you should know that by now. In all the time that I have been attempting to get pregnant I haven't actually acknowledged that I *could* get pregnant and that it *could* lead to a real, live, breathing human being. Because of that denial, I haven't actually confronted the idea of being a mother. Now that I have realised that this appears to be the most important objective in my life at the moment, I'm forced to confront the fact that jesus...I might genuinely want one of these baby things. You know, to mother. Mind-boggling stuff.
Tune in next week, when my rapid descent into corniness finds me showering you all with babydust, buying dozens of Anne Geddes prints to plaster on the walls of the flat about which I will screech, "Oh isn't that just DARLING?" Consider yourselves warned.